P&J Column 11.5.17

The return of Fox-Hunting or British Rail. What is this, an election, or a Time Machine?

Cosmo Ludovic Fawkes-Hunte, 13th Earl of Kinmuck

“What days!”  “What days!”, I thought to myself this morning, as I stopped to pull a salmon from the river.  I wasn’t fishing, I’d simply dropped it on my way back from the fishmonger.  As I surveyed the lands of Kinmuck, I felt good.  The Tories ascendant, Labour in disarray, and Dear Theresa, the Mother of our Nation proposes the return of fox hunting.  Certainly, it will be lovely to be able to participate in the old sport again without having to go through the elaborate pretence that all the dogs and equestrians in red coats accompanying me across the fields are only there to help me locate a lost corned beef sandwich. If only dear old Grandpappy, the 11th Earl, were still alive to see it.  He and his great friend Mr. Mosely would love Dear Theresa’s vision for us.  Britain reborn: a rose, aloof from the garlic-tinged overtures of the Continental seducers.

All that stands between us and glory is a Labour party led by a man who wants to renationalise the railways.  Public ownership: a vile prospect. Makes the lower orders feel they might have a stake in the running of the country, and encourages them to expect wages and the like.  Still, Corbyn may as well pledge to provide everyone with a pot of gold for all the public cares, for the papers are full of the news that his chancellor might be a Marxist; and nothing repels the electorate like a politician who might be guided by some kind of underlying philosophy.  Fortunately, being a nasty, sadistic brute with no regard for your fellow man is not a philosophy, but a personality defect; and the voting public seem perfectly relaxed about leaders with those.
Jonathan M Lewis, local Headteacher

Earlier this week a delegation of staff members came to me to vent their frustration about the problem with “finger spinners”.  Initially, I was forced to agree that the England Cricket team have never found a satisfactory replacement for Graeme Swann, but

It turned out that their beef was not with the MCC board of selectors, but with the latest classroom craze.  The offending articles are small contraptions resembling the bits which were left over after I tried to repair our washing machine. Apparently, the pupils hold them in their hands and, using Newtonian principles, they spin rapidly.  The packaging for these items suggests that they enhance concentration, which has at least some truth to it, as I’ve never seen the entirety of S3 so transfixed.  Albeit not, sadly, on their schoolwork.

My colleagues asked me to “ban” the finger spinners, which prompted me to unlock and the strongbox in my office where I store confiscated items. There’s all sorts in there!  A veritable time capsule for the tools of the troublemaker!  There’s yo-yos, laser pens, finger skateboards, pogs, furbies, catapults, trolls, whoopie cushions, Chinese finger traps, tamagotchi’s and a copy of ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ on Betamax.

The angry mob of teachers began to reminisce about the good old days and before long the pogs were flying, the tamagotchis were beeping and Miss Ellis proved a dab hand with the catapult, catching Mr Prentice on the posterior with a well-aimed lump of Blu-Tac!  I realised then that when it comes to toys designed solely to infuriate the teaching profession, they just don’t make them like they used to!

Fergus Lamont – arts correspondent

I was moved and delighted this week to see that an abandoned pineapple left on a table at RGU’s ‘Look Again’ exhibition was rightly adopted as an art installation and deemed worthy of being displayed under glass. I was particularly heartened to see that the young rapscallion who left the mysterious knobbly fruit behind did so “in the hope it would be mistaken for an art piece”. What even he failed to see, of course, is that the pineapple was not mistaken for art – it IS art.

Appearing as it did, in the wake of last week’s local elections, the piece is clearly a deft and staggeringly perceptive metaphor for the Aberdeen City Council. Consider the pineapple: like any vaunted elected position, difficult to gain access to, but rewarding once inside; like our divided, but SNP dominated chamber, a bit sticky and mostly, but not entirely, yellow; like Marischal College, it is encased within an ornate exterior which both looks impressive, and acts as a protective carapace, a cocoon against the outside world; it’s little sticker reads ‘best kept in a cool dark place’, again, just like Marischal College now that it’s in the permanent shade; and finally, like former finance convenor Willie Young, the pineapple is prone to getting canned.