P&J Column 23.11.17

“Youth is wasted on the young” said George Bernard Shaw; but then he never saw The Ricciotti Ensemble at Inchgarth Community Centre

Ron Cluny, Official Council Spokesman

As chief spin doctor for the current administration, I can safely say that as my Auntie Maisie used to put it, ‘there’s aye a something’. This week my paymasters have pushed the boat out for me, after stripping it of life belts, with the decision to end the funding of The Aberdeen International Youth Festival. But, as usual, radged up by the liberal elite, the public has got hold of the wrong end of the stick and is trying to hit us over the head with it.

The decision follows an independent report from a top-class consultancy in Brighton that I can summarise as follows: ‘Nah mate.’  Unbelievably, there have even been complaints about our use of these people, on the basis that consultants in sitting in an office in Brighton have no first hand knowledge of Aberdeen and its cultural landscape. But that, I have to say, is insane. I’ve seen the invoice these boys put in for the report – Oof! Imagine how much more it would have cost if they’d actually travelled the length of the country to find stuff oot?

But more to the point, in our brave new Brexit Britain, fit is fit for the future, do we really want all these International Youths coming over here and cavorting aboot? They give very little back to the local economy; in all its 45 years, I’ve never seen a single AIYF participant in the queue at my local chipper in Kincorth. I suppose they’re too busy performing to large crowds of elitist intelligentsia in venues that are simply out of reach for the regular Aberdonian; like Inchgarth Community Hall and the top of the St Nicholas Centre.

The main issue, of course, is that when you have hundreds of prodigiously talented, multilingual young people swarming into the city every year, it rather shows up our local loons and quines for the surly layabouts that they are. My twa wouldn’t recognise an award-winning Swedish Girls’ Choir if they tripped over one on the way to Greggs, and would only feel a sense of inadequacy if they did.  But by ridding our city of this menace, we can expect a definite upswing in our own young peoples’ sense of self-worth.

Of course, fiscal probity is very much the watchword of this administration. The funds saved will be being channelled into other important city projects.   Such as the temporary tarmac used for the Christmas market (which, by happy coincidence, cost almost exactly the same as next year’s AIYF budget) or the job-lot of 250 watt light bulbs we’ve installed in our offices, to offset the large and inexplicable shadows now being cast over Marischal College.

Deep down I think everyone knows that we are dealing with a local institution which is largely ignored by the general populace, seems to be run for the benefit of a select few, and is prone to profligate overspending. No wonder it doesn’t want to pay for the Youth Festival.


Davinia Smythe-Barratt, Ordinary Mum


We shall overcome!  Like all ordinary Mums, I’ve been keeping a close eye on events in Zimbabwe as my African brethren and sistren have finally succeeded in pressurising their despotic supremo, Robert Mugabe, to resign.  I can’t tell you how delighted I am for them, having successfully ganged up on and bullied a nonagenarian into submission!


Of course, the girls from my socio-politico-prosecco discussion group (we meet every Tuesday at Kippie for a late brunch and the dismantling of the patriarchy) have been lending our support to their cause in whatever way we can.  Saskia has upped her game when it comes to correcting the grammar of strangers on the Guardian website and Genevieve has left a plethora of unfavourable Trip Advisor reviews for Zimbabwean hotels. Sample: ‘The spa is divine, but the management’s tacit support for the ruling regime, less so.’


Our activism did become confrontational on Wednesday evening, though.  Finella, our resident anarchist (part time – 2 days a week she works in PR on Albyn Place) told us about a ‘Zimbabwe Night’ she’d seen advertised at the local hall in Westhill, so kitted out with placards, whistles and a loud hailer, off we went to chant and sing protest songs.  As expected, our presence caused something of a stir, and some people came outside in garishly bright clothing to engage in lively debate.


I think it was just after things started to get ugly, that we all realised Finella had misread the notice and that we were interrupting a Zumba session.  Thank goodness I’d double-parked the Disco so we could make a swift getaway to the Chester for a Bellini!


See the best of the Flying Pigs live in ‘Now That’s What I Call Methlick!’ At HMT June 2018. Tickets available now. A rare Christmas present for onyb’dy ye like. Or even onyb’dy ye dinna like.