P&J Column 2.2.17

Say what you like about Donald Trump…while you still can.

Davinia Smythe-Barrett, ordinary mum

I want to raise a fist in solidarity with my brothers and sisters from Monday night’s rally at the Castlegate. It was great to see that people from all walks of life, including ordinary mums like me, were prepared to stand in the cold, shouting and waving their placards to protest a great injustice – we shall overcome!

I’ve seen some sneering about the size of the protest compared to what went off in other places round the country, but we all know how hard it is to draw a crowd in Aberdeen; just look at what happened to Jamie’s Italian! Anyway, it’s the people who did attend who matter, not the stay-at-home brigade who couldn’t be bothered.

Naturally, I was there to lend my support – in spirit, anyway. Monday nights are absolutely crazy in the Smythe-Barrett household, what with Fidel’s Latin tutor, Emmeline’s dressage lessons and my pilates at Kippie. So I sent Snezanha, our au pair (she’s Bulgarian, but she’s wonderful) on my behalf. I dropped her off in the Discovery to get the bus at the Bieldside Inn with strict instructions to protest my anger vigorously, even if it meant arrest or hypothermia!

You may have seen her in some of the press coverage. She’s the one who looks uncannily like Les Dawson with the placard that reads “immigrants should not be treated like slaves”. It’s an issue that, like myself, she feels very strongly about.

View from the midden – rural affairs with Jock Alexander

It’s been another vexatious wik in the village, as Feel Moira’s reign of terror as heid of the Women’s Institute continues unabated. The latest stooshie sterted fan the village woke up tae find a proclamation in green crayon nailed tae the door o’ the Toon Ha’ banning onyb’dy fae setting foot in Meikle Wartle if they come fae Durno, Rothienorman or Mains of Glack (though nae, as micht hiv been expected, Pitcaple wir traditional nemesis. But then Moira’s sister bides in Pitcaple and dis a verra good banana loaf.)

Onyb’dy that wiz born in ony o’ that placies is also affected, as are fowk that have been there for the day and quite enjoyed it. Although that is nae a significant number.

Weel, this caused quite a clamjammfrey. It wisnae that fowk didnae wint tae leave Meikle Wartle, mony hid been looking for an excuse, but there’s only the one bus passing through the village at the wikend, so the queue at the bus stop wis teemin’; until it turned oot the bus driver wis fae Daviot, sae he wis banned an’ a’. Noo the bus jist sails through wi’oot stopping. Nae, in fairness, a massive change.

Moira says she’s daein’ a’ this tae mak us safe, but I hiv tae say, fan she says it, I dinna feel safe.


Professor Hector Schlenk – science correspondent

As a scientist, I am often asked questions like “Do you have a reservation?”, “Is this your table?’, and “Can you please put down that sandwich or do I have to call Security?”, but this week I have mostly been inspired by the efforts of two eminent Harvard scientists who claim to have succeeded in creating Metallic Hydrogen – the rarest and possibly most valuable material on the planet. This could, of course, revolutionise the world, enabling the creation of ultra-fast computers, high-speed levitating trains, and super-speedy phone and internet connections that will allow cold callers and spam emailers to contact you the very instant you forget to tick the ‘no thank you’ box on your house insurance online application. But what is it, I hear you ask? Well, Hydrogen when cooled becomes a liquid, and then when suitably compressed, eventually transforms into a ‘VLM’ or Very Light Metal – think of it as the Bon Jovi of the periodic table. Now, a number of reputable physicists have pooh-poohed the claim as nonsense. However, some disreputable ones, such as myself, say, give it a chance! Any science sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic, and this act of alchemy certainly is.  So what if the scientists cannot show us the metal in question because it’s ‘stuck in their anvil’? Who cares if they claim that removing the material from the anvil might cause it to disappear entirely?   Having spent the morning knee-deep in chemicals, trying to reproduce (or rather ‘produce’) their results I’m feeling a bit light-headed, and ready to believe just about anything. Now I’ve melted all my cutlery and mixed it with the contents of my bathroom cabinet, so there’s a lot of strange coloured vapour floating around in the air which is quite making me forget my rhubarbs right in the middle of my ostriches, without even noticing I’m doing it.