P&J Column 28.5.15


Big fire in the North-East this week. No, not the Broadford Works, Alistair Carmichael’s pants.

PC Bobby Constable, Community Policeman (Retired)

I was shocked to see anither suspicious fire broke oot at the auld Broadford Works, partly because it wiz yet mair evidence o’ the total disrespect fowk hiv for property these days, but mainly because it’s been up in flames that often I didna think there could be onything left to burn. But there wiz, and at its height up to 40 firefighters were there alang wi’ countless police officers. It must have given householders in the area a real fleg, but on the plus side, it will have been a great boost for local bookies and doughnut vendors.

The papers said the blaze wiz the work of “firebugs”. I suppose that is one possibility, but I think it’s much mair likely to have been young loons oot for kicks – or, as we used to cry them fan I wiz on the force, “vratches wi’ matches”.

They were the bane of my life fan I wiz stationed at Kincorth. Barely a week went by wi’oot some wee gowk trying to set fire to the Gramps hill. It aye amazed me how ignorant they wiz aboot the dangers o’ fire, so my top priority wiz edumacation.

Fan I caught a budding arsonist, I wid torch a gorse bush and mak them stand aside it and count as the flames started to tak ahaud. Very few hid the nerve to count beyond 20 afore pleading wi’ me to pit the fire oot. It gied them a fear; it made them think. I hid a lot o’ success wi’ that tactic – right up to the time that I set fire to the bush and only then minded that my fire extinguisher wiz still teem fae my last demonstration. I dread to think fit would’ve happened if my sergeant, “Dunter” Duncan hidna been wi’ me, or if he hidna hid six pints at lunchtime.

Jonathan M Lewis, local headteacher

What a wonderful week it’s been at Garioch Academy! True, my email inbox is replete with parental complaints, but for once they’re not directed at me. The current object of their ire is the Higher Maths paper, which many seem to think was unnecessarily difficult. I said to one tearful pupil ‘come on, it’s not rocket science’ but, as it transpires, some of it was.

This exam expected pupils to think on their feet and apply their skills in unfamiliar contexts to demonstrate a truly deep understanding of their learning. What good is that to anybody? Exams have always been built on the principle that those who learn how to correctly respond to the same bog-standard questions year in, year out will pass with flying colours. This new style of exam sets a dangerous precedent for the future of education. Every single teacher at Garioch Academy got where they are today by passing exams the old fashioned way. Asking them to teach pupils to think out of the box is like asking Bruce Forsyth to break dance. They might be willing, but they’d do a lot of damage in the attempt.

I, for one, support the pupils in their national campaign to have the pass mark for the maths exam lowered, and not just for the boost to Garioch’s results. I am seldom prouder than when our young people display their maturity. And what could be more grown-up than moaning bitterly when something doesn’t go your way?

Ron Cluny, Official Council Spokesman

I see that Sir Malcolm Bruce has leapt to the defence of Alistair Carmichael in the furore over the leaked memo that claimed that Nicola Sturgeon preferred David Cameron as a PM to Ed Miliband. Carmichael initially claimed he knew nothing about it, but has now admitted to having orchestrated the whole thing. Sir Malcolm doesn’t think that this is a resigning issue. This will have been a comfort for Alistair – right up until the time that he realised that Sir Malcolm’s defence was that politicians lie all the time On one level, this is about as surprising as learning that bears have a preference for arboreal ablutions, or that the Pope is not a Rangers fan. But on another, it is truly shocking to hear a politician candidly admit that his entire career has been punctuated by a series of whoppers. I may only be a lowly local authority spin doctor, but that message can’t be the best way to restore public confidence in our tarnished political system. Sir Malcom’s mistake is obvious. Honesty. Clearly, he should have fibbed.


See the Flying Pigs live this summer at HMT Aberdeen and the King’s Theatre Edinburgh