P&J Column 24.11.16



Buckingham Palace belongs to all of us! But I wouldn’t want to hoover it.

Smythe-Barratt, Ordinary Mum

I’m a Jam.  Like any Ordinary Mum, I suppose I’ve been a Jam (Just About Managing) for years. Of course, austerity, tax breaks for the rich and the persecution of the needy have become part and parcel of being under the cosh of a Conservative government, and now so many of us are in the same boat that we’ve been branded with this patronising new label.

Some of you might be wondering whether or not you’re a JAM, too.  I myself was in denial, until I sat down and checked our monthly outgoings against our income and saw just how Jammy I was.

Our income is meagre.  We get what little amount Milo can wire across from tax exile in Belize, dividends on our share portfolio and the takings from our network of rented properties around the west end of Aberdeen. Profits from the vineyard in the Dordogne and the Caribbean tobacco plantation are technically owned by a trust based in Panama, so obviously, they don’t count. And when one starts to subtract the essentials, like Emmeline’s dressage lessons and Fidel’s fencing class, there’s not a lot left. Throw in the (frankly, overgenerous) wages we pay to Mellors the gardener and Snezanha our au pair (she’s Bulgarian, but she really is a marvel) and the Smythe-Barratt household is barely scraping by.

Of course, worst part of being a JAM is all the things you can no longer do.  We didn’t take our annual October trip to our Patagonian yurt this year and I haven’t driven the Alfa Romeo in weeks.  Milo even spoke about giving up his membership at Kippie to help make ends meet.  He seldom uses it as he’s only allowed to spend 5 days a year a British soil, but that’s hardly the point.

You’d be surprised who else is a Jam. It turns out Her Majesty the Queen is Jammy too! We’ve heard a lot this week about how much the Buckingham Palace renovations are going to cost the nation, and yes, she gets £40 million a year from the Sovereign Grant and yes that SOUNDS like a lot, but bear in mind – she has to work from home and that place must be an absolute bugger to heat in the winter.


View from the midden – rural Affairs with Jock Alexander

It has been a clinquant week in the village. I wis affa impressed tae see that the weel-edumacated students of the toonser University of Aiberdeen are fully engaged in mind-improving activities – cogitation; intelligent debate, and the flinging of glitter at visiting political renegades.

Noo, I’m nae a graduate of ony seat of Higher learning, masel, apart fae the Skittery Wullie Academy of Advanced Piggery, from which I am proud tae haud a BSC. (Basic Sty Cleaning). Regrettably, my qualification has little practical value. Although it does get me served first in the village tearoom, presumably because it retains Wullie’s distinctive aroma. Neither am I totally bang up to date wi’ fa’s fa the world of politics, though I think George Galloway wis in Culture Club, fan he wis a boy.

Despite these drawbacks, I ken a good publicity stunt fan I see it, and this een wiz magic. In fact, it fair impressed a lot of us here in the village. Feel Moira wiz full of admiration, as of course she wiz a bittie o an anarchist in her youth hersel. I mind back in the late 70’s fan the hale o’ Meikle wartle wis shocked tae see her stravaging aboot the village in tartan troosers wi’ straps hinging aff them held thegither wi’ saftey pins. Though it turned oot she hidna gaan punk, she’d jist shredded her dungers on a barbed wire fence and improvised replacement breeks oot of a travel rug. Onywye, she’s just ordered 5 kilos of glitter fae the card shop in Inverurie, (fa canna believe their luck at an actual sale in these times of ‘Funky Pig’ and ‘Moonpigeon’. Truly, it is the end of days).

The rest of us were somewhat concerned o’er fit she intended tae dae wi’ it aa, but as she is Heid of the Festive Celebrations Committee, she simply plans tae fling it o’er the Christmas Midden in the village square. Hopefully, this will mak it aa sparkly and bonny, and less of a hazard tae motorists fa hiv a tendency tae plow intae it after dark.  I’m sure mony of us would be delighted tae invite George Galloway here tae dae the honours himsel. Either standing right next tae the midden, or indeed a bittie closer. Cheerio!