P&J Column 20.4.17

An election? Great! We’re bound to get one right eventually.

Barney Eunson, Official Labour Party Spokesman

I think it is fair to say that Theresa May’s decision to call for a snap election took some of us by surprise.  Our beloved leader Jeremy was in the potting shed on his allotment when the news came through, and almost dropped his favourite trowel.  “Theresa has called an election?”  He said, “With a slim parliamentary majority, Labour 20 points behind in the polls, the papers frothing with jingoistic fervour, the certain knowledge that support for Brexit will ebb away as the negotiations grind on, nothing to lose and only a landslide majority to gain? Why ever has she done it now, when she repeatedly said she would not? It is almost as if she is without honour.”   And then he sat down on a pile of bags of John Innes Number 3 with the kind of look I last saw on my favourite uncle when he had been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Eventually we got him moving again by shoving vintage copies of the Morning Star under the shed door leaving a trail of falafel outside.   And so it was that Jeremy was back at the helm when Labour joined with the Tories yesterday in voting for an early election.

There are some who say that this was a tactical error of similar magnitude to the National Congress of Turkeys’ infamous 1955 AGM resolution, when they voted unanimously for Christmas.  There are some who say that the public – exhausted and exasperated by politics – would readily forgive Labour for dodging this particular vote, but will never forgive it for willingly hollowing itself out just at the time it was most needed to hold to account a despotic Government.  To these people, my message is a simple one.  You try telling the stubborn old git.  Mind you, it is hard to stay angry with Uncle Jeremy for long.  As I saw him yesterday evening, whistling the Red Flag and contentedly making a hanging basket out of macramé, he seemed happier than I had seen him in a long while.  Perhaps – as my own uncle did – he is finding peace in the contemplation of the merciful release that will surely follow, on the morning of the 9th of June.

Archie Fraser, Gentleman of the Road

This weekend, I had a heated exchange with another itinerant denizen of the city centre, who seemed getting very enthusiastic on the topic of Nougat.  We were both on the wrong side of a bottle of Croft original, so the conversation was not as scintillating as it might have been, but I told him I found it preferable to toffee, certainly now that I’ve lost all my teeth, but couldn’t agree that it was, as he claimed, ‘absolutely everywhere’. He then appeared to insist that the nougat her was referring to was “Muriel’s“, and when I told him I wasn’t acquainted with Muriel he became quite irate, an wrestled me to the ground in a doorway on Hadden Street. But all soon became clear as a large crowd gathered around us, wondering aloud if we might be a life-size sculpture by Spanish artist Isaac Cordal. I had inadvertently situated myself in the midst of Aberdeen’s festival of street art.

This tremendous initiative has seen previously drab and unpleasant old Aberdonian buildings turned into stunning works of art by guerilla artists, and has saved me a bit of money by transforming much of my environment into a swirling riot of colour without the usual need for an investment in White Lightning.

Like many of my fellow citizens, I joined, and indeed, parted, the large crowds in The Green to goggle at the metamorphosis of the city’s ‘New Market’ into Aberdeen’s equivalent of London’s Roundhouse. The outside of the building is now a transformative work of art; a fairytale of unicorns and dreams, in striking counterpoint to the eyebrow threading, deep fried doughnuts and nail parlours within.

I applaud the City Council on this latest initiative, what a masterstroke, to simultaneously shut both the Art Gallery and the Music Hall for a protracted period and so force artistic expression out into the streets.

Moreover, how astute to realise that the decrepit old face of Aberdeen’s neglected city centre doesn’t need ‘regeneration’ or ‘redevelopment’, it just needs the skilled and application of an aerosol can. Why solve problems, when we can simply paint over them?