P&J Column for 31.3.14

Situation vacant  – Aberdeen City Council Chief Executive. Experience preferred, but nothing could prepare you for this.


Ron Cluny, Official Council Spokesman

The council’s adversaries have been cock-a-hoop this week, their porkish faces contorted in glee, as they work themselves into an unseemly froth about the departure of our Chief Executive, and heap invective upon the Council Leader.

We, of course, would never stoop to their kind of cheap abuse.

Our antagonists – bottom-feeders, all – note that Valerie Watts wrote a letter to Council workers, warning that the Administration’s pro-independence stance might result in public complaints.  They imagine a connection between the writing of that letter and her resignation, a couple of weeks later.  Well, we all know the kind of people we are dealing with here; the perpetually aggrieved, the delusional conspiracists. They shout ‘fire! ‘ whenever they see smoke.  Politically, they are a menace. Although it would have been handy if some of them had been out for a nocturnal jog past Jimmy Chung’s last month.

As Ms Watts made absolutely clear, she had been thinking of moving on for some time.  Indeed I do not think I am breaching any confidences when I say that throughout the whole period I have known her –the duration of the current administration – there was not a time when she has not been thinking of moving on.

Valerie leaves with our best wishes, and of course, minds now turn to the task of replacing her as Chief Executive.  What sort of person has the attributes necessary to take over the running of this fair city? Well it is clear that what we need, first and foremost, is a person – a fact which, sadly, rules out the most popular name in the suggestion box at the moment, Angus the Bull.  We need an insider; a person who knows how the Council works, and who could work hand in glove with the administration.  A skilled communicator, comfortable with the process of taking to the local media in order to disseminate the Council’s message.  Perhaps it is the kind of job that I might be well suited to myself.  You may think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment.

Lord Cosmo Ludovik Fawkes-Hunte, 13th Earl of Kinmuck

26 March 2014.  The day of the Clegg-Farage debate, and the day I finally gave up hope for the future of this country.  Of course, I knew Clegg was a write-off.  The fellow has the mien of a troubled hamster and policies so wet you could farm salmon in them.   It was plain that he wouldn’t have the spine to take the measures the country so desperately needs.  But I did hope that Farage might have the gumption to restore the monarchy to absolute power and return us to the glories of the past.  But in this I was sadly mistaken.  You don’t win back the empire by cosying up to Putin, and the man’s hatred of the EU is totally misplaced.  There is nothing wrong in having an institution that joins together 27 countries.  The problem lies in our not being in charge of it.  But this business about him maybe having a mistress is the clincher.  I won’t vote for a man who might have been involved in marital infidelity.  Long-standing Fawkes-Hunte tradition dictates that we will only support a politician with a proven record of shameless roistering.

Davinia Smythe-Barratt, Ordinary Mum

 It has been a week of strained emotions in the Smythe-Barratt household and with continued transport chaos on the horizon there’s no end in sight.  The problem with these so-called “essential” roadworks is that they never seem to make any difference to the lives of us ordinary folk.

 Take that beastly industrial development out at Westhill, for instance.  For months now poor Emmeline has had to endure a sea of cones and barriers on our daily drive to the stables to feed and ride Sandinista, her thoroughbred stallion. Usually I wouldn’t mind, but I’ve learned that these roadworks are not designed to improve access to Kirkton of Skene for 4×4 users with a horsebox.  As it happens, they are solely to accommodate new business premises that will provide thousands of skilled and unskilled jobs that will boost our local economy.  Is it just me or does that seem extraordinarily selfish?

It’s not just big business that twists the arm of our local planners. Muggiemoss Road, a vital arterial route for ordinary folk like me, is currently closed for four months. Apparently, it’s for essential work to provide amenities such as sewage and drainage for a new housing development.  You’ll note that there is no mention of improving access to leisure facilities for ordinary people who live in converted steadings to the West of the City? These roadworks have made my weekly session over at Danestone with Sergio, my Portuguese personal trainer and masseuse, an absolute nightmare. He’s had to double up the Reiki just to balance my Chakras. Luckily, he’s been able to source some very powerful crystals for me to keep in the glove compartment of the Discovery. Inner peace for only £1000 a set. We shall overcome.