P&J Column for 27.10.14

Drink-drive limit to be reduced. At last, an excuse to refuse Mulled Wine.

Professor Hector J Schlenk, Senior Research Fellow at the Bogton Institute for Public Engagement with Science

As a scientist, I’m always being asked questions such as ‘Will it be possible to clone extinct animals?’, ‘Are e-Cigarattes harmful?’ and ‘Do you realise your flies are undone?’ Recently, people have been asking me about the legal blood alcohol level for driving.  “Well”, I tell them, “If you buy me a pint I’ll explain everything”.  And then I laugh uproariously, snort through my nose, wipe the tears of mirth from my eyes and look up, only to see my inquisitor has gone.

When we drink, alcohol passes through our stomach into our bloodstream like water through a defective damp-proof course (curse those builders!). It is then carried to our brains, where it impairs our balance, reaction time and ability to talk at appropriate volumes in restaurants.  Blood-alcohol concentration can be determined in several ways but the police’s method of choice is the breathalyser, the science behind which is remarkable, especially as there isn’t actually any blood in your breath.  Unless you’ve got a pulmonary oedema, in which case you probably shouldn’t be driving anyway!

The Scottish government plan to lower the limit from 80mg per 100ml to 50mg. For most people, this would mean even one pint or glass of wine would see them providing a positive sample.  The reduced limit is due to be in place before Christmas which provides an extra headache for motorists.  Many will be only too pleased to decline a mulled wine but can one truly resist Sherry trifle or those devilish liqueur chocolates your Auntie always brings?!

Scotland’s reduced limit will bring us into line with much of mainland Europe but I for one hope that the changes stop there.  They drive on the right of the road over there but having tried that here when I first arrived I wouldn’t want to try it again!

Ron Cluny, Official Council Spokesman

This week brought the news that the Urban Realm website had shortlisted Aberdeen for the dubious honour of one of its Carbuncle awards. “Aberdeen”, they say, “is where architecture goes to die.” As a civic leader, I must respond.

There is too much name-calling and incivility in modern life, and this jibe from Urban Realm is just the latest example. I don’t intend to provide them with the publicity they obviously crave by getting drawn into a slanging match. They are plainly a band of sneering, hipster-bearded ninnies whose condescending opinions amount to no more than spit in the rain. But I’m certainly not going to get personal about it.

Clearly, though, these people have no concept whatever of what we in Aberdeen have been trying to achieve as we renovate our great city. Of course the new Children’s hospital looks like it has been built out of lego. What better material to give a sense of comfort to kids who have had their childhood cruelly interrupted? Yes, we know that the plans for a new 12-storey glass office block looming up out of the façade of the old Capitol theatre are nightmarishly out of proportion. It’s a subtle homage to “Attack of the 50-foot Woman” – Eric from the planning department is a big fan of classic 1950s B-Movies. And of course we are aware that the new Accident and Emergency facility is mind-bogglingly awful. That is the point. Imagine that you have been seriously injured at work and are being rushed up to Forresterhill in an ambulance. What train of thought would you rather have in your mind: “Am I going to make it?”, or “Good God, who the hell designed that?”

This sums up Aberdeen’s architectural strategy in a nutshell. It is there to make people feel better about themselves. Great architecture does not do this. No-one has ever gazed at St Peter’s Basilica without feeling humbled. But now, in Aberdeen, the common man, although wholly untrained in design, can look at any number of faintly comical buildings, say, “I could have done better than that” and feel curiously uplifted.

Cava Kenny Cordiner, the football pundit who goes in studs up

If there is one thing what my 50 inch OCD telly is designed for, it is for watching Champions League matches in HD. HD stands for High Defamation, and no player lived up to that title more last week than Liverpool’s bad boy – Super Mario Balotelli.

I feel dead sorrow for Super Mario, mainly because I sees a lot of myself in him. The medium is always describing him as ‘tempura mental’ which is the label old Kenny got stuck with! His gaffer was not chuffed when he seen Mario swapping shirts with Madrid’s Pepe Le Pew at half time. He says that players should wait til the end of the match. I can see Balotelli’s point, though. After 90 minutes that boy’s shirt would have been reeking of sweat and all covered in grass stains. And that stuff is murder to get out of a white shirt – just ask my Melody!

The hotbedded Italian’s antics reminded me of an occlusion when I fell foul of a shirt swap. It was back when I was playing for Culter and we’d just thrashed Turriff United 1-1. When the ref blew for full time one of the Turriff boys comes up to me and hauls off his shirt. Well, to a lad who grew up in Kincorth, a gadgy stripping to the waist means one thing – a square go. So I lamped him. You can imagine how daft old Kenny feeled when my team mates pointed out he just wanted to swap shirts! I never knew what was going on because that was the first time in my career I’d lasted 90 minutes!