P&J Column 31.3.16


“Tak me tae Cuba! Or New Pitsligo. Fitever’s nearest.”

View from the Midden – Rural affairs with Jock Alexander

Weel, it’s been a controversial wik in the village! There’s been much fuss o’er a certain ‘best selfie ever’; a photie o’ a jolly North-East mannie wi a big bappit grin on his face posin’ next to a hijacker on a plane. And of course a lot o’ folk hiv been getting real het up aboot it. Partly on the grounds that it’s a trivialisation o’ what was a clearly a very serious and frightening criminal act, but mainly because he cried it a ‘selfie’ fan it wis actually taen by a stewardess.

The ither wik we hid a similar situation in the village, which just gings tae show foo close tae the zeitgeist you can be fan yer 7 miles fae Inverurie. It a’ started fan Feel Moira, suffering the effects o her seventeen lunchtime pints, climbed intae the cab o’ aul Tam Broon’s combine harvester mid-plough, and insisted he tak her tae Cuba. Or New Pitsligo, fitever wiz nearer. Noo there wiz some panic, but the situation was eventually brocht tae a peaceful conclusion fan Tam got his Kodak Instamatic 100 oot and got Moira tae pose for a photie just past Cuminestown . Momentarily blinded by the enormous flash, she fell aff her seat, and Tam wis able tae putter awa tae safety. A lesson there fer ab’dy that the auld technology is the best. Mind you, the combine disna hae GPS, so it did tak him 5 hours tae get hame.   Cheerio!

Struan Metcalfe, MSP for Aberdeenshire North and Surrounding Nether Regions

They say that nothing in this world is certain except Death & taxes. Although these days we can add the pointlessness of the Scottish Greens and the fact that right now, Big Bang Theory is on E4.

Tax has become the hot pomme de terre of this year’s Scottish elections after Nicola Sturgeon ruled out introducing a new top rate because it wouldn’t actually raise any more revenue. According to Wee Nic, anyone faced with the higher rate simply hires an incredibly smart accountant and avoids paying it. Well, that was news to me, and I was obviously appalled. How come I’m still paying full whack?

Quite how one goes about dodging tax, I have no idea; and believe me, I’ve tried. Back in the good old days Hubert Sidebottom, the dull chap from school who became a tax lawyer in the City, creatively accounted away my banking bonus by transferring it into gilts and High Art (not subject to national insurance back then, see?) But no longer. When i got him on the blower he told me the loopholes have long been closed. In fact, Hube’s said the income tax code is now as tight as a hippo’s speedos.

Nicola also suggested that if she introduced a bnew top rate anyone earning over £150k might flee to the South to escape it. Jeepers, we might moan a lot, but does she really believe that the Scottish people are prepared to move to Englandshire to save a few bob? That’s about as likely as any of us watching another Scottish Leaders’ debate!


J Fergus Lamont, Arts correspondent and author of “Nicky Campbell – lust for glory”

Setting out on Saturday evening for a brisk constitutional, I chanced upon a public art installation in the form of a humble sofa in the unassuming environs of our own Duthie Park. This workaday item, so completely out of place in the rain-lashed open air, stood in witty counterpoint to the ‘outdoors within’ of the nearby Winter Gardens. Intrigued, I asked one eager young arts enthusiast whether he thought the piece was more evocative of the work of Anish Kapoor or Anthony Gormley. His response was both cryptic and enlightening: “fit are ye on aboot? I’m ga’n tae be on telly!”

He further revealed that cameras were present recording images for a video installation entitled “Saturday Night Take Away”. You won’t have heard of it, it has received little, if any, publicity, but it’s a searing satire of the disposable emptiness of popular culture by the Newcastle-based artist Anton D’ Eck.

This brave, contemplative and profoundly moving meditation on what we consider to be ‘within’ and ‘without’ then took on yet more complexity as a flashmob of participants descended upon it waving passports and suitcases in a clear representation of our need to escape, whilst simultaneously rooted, inescapably, to a sofa.

Dramatically, the piece concluded with the soul-rending, incomprehensible, cri de coeur; ‘I’ve won a cruise’.

I wept.

See us live this Summer in ‘Dreich Encounter’