P&J Column 5.1.17

This statue is like a Council debate – a point here, a point there, and an awful lot of bull in between

J Fergus Lamont – arts critic and author of ‘Damed For All Eternity: Elaine C. Smith, the Panto Years’

Truly, this promises to be a Happy New Year for those of us steeped in the Visual Arts. You wont have heard about it, it has received little if any publicity, but plans are afoot to create a giant sculpture to stand watch over the new Aberdeen bypass. What greater declaration of the indomitable esprit de les Aberdonians than an enormous public artwork to rival Tyneside’s ‘Angel of the North’, or the Falkirk ‘Kelpies’. And what better subject for such a piece than a gigantic Aberdeen Angus bull? Initially, I confess, I had reservations, having misunderstood the proposal to be for a 50 foot high statue of the AFC mascot, but even if it were, it’s high time such powerful artistic statements became part of our local plan – it’s dynamic, it’s powerful, and it’ll give everyone affected by the downturn in oil & gas something inspiring to look at as they leave the region in search of work.

Predictably, some philistines have made disparaging remarks regarding the artist’s impression of the statue. For my part, I consider it to be a work of subtle self-reflective, genius. It goes without saying that there is a poetic resonance in the harmony of form and content that a work commissioned by Aberdeen City Council is a massive load of bull, so I wont detain you with such a trite observation; but what inspiration to render the animal complete with horns, ignoring the fact that in the real world, this animal is polled. A powerful metaphor for our City Fathers, whose disregard of the real world, and especially of polls, is their defining characteristic.

Of course, our city has been making great strides of late in dramatic public art – witness the near completion of the ominous concrete monolith on display opposite Marischal College. As I stopped to contemplate it’s foreboding modernism this morning, I marveled at how our leaders could conceive of such a powerful work of art – simultaneously a grey brutalist cuboid and also a huge white elephant. I wept.

Professor Hector J Schlenk

As a scientist on Hogmanay, people only ever ask me one question. “How long til Midnight?” And while a simple answer suffices most years, the transition from 2016 to 2017 was unusually complex.

As is well known, a year (the time taken for the Earth to orbit the sun) is not exactly 365 days long. And, although ingenious, our system of inserting the 29th of February every 4 years is not quite accurate enough an adjustment to satisfy the scientific community.

So, I find myself simultaneously in awe of my cleverer colleagues who have calculated that the best way to cook the celestial books is to periodically add a “leap second”, but in exasperation with them for deciding that the best time to do this was when the whole world is three sheets to the wind and staring intently at a clock.

Thus, on Hogmanay, spent at my neighbour’s open house shindig, I sensed the potential for confusion at the stroke of midnight and briefed the merry-makers that my countdown would end ‘3-2-1-0 , Happy New Year!’ Rather than the more traditional ‘3-2-1 Happy New Year’. These briefings initially caused some arguments, and so I prepared a 2 hour lecture which I delivered by commandeering the karaoke equipment. I can only assume that my talk was both effective and positively received, as, when I left the soirée, my neighbour told me I wouldn’t need to come back next year!

Shelley Shingles, Showbiz Correspondent and Miss Fetteresso 1983

OM actual G! Facebook was ablaze this week with the news that pop princess Kylie Minogue was in Aberdeenshire for Hogmanay! There was pictures of her buying joob joobs and giving bairns a bosie and all sorts. Poor quine – comes all the way to the Scottish highlands for a quiet and restful break, and gets pestered by folks wanting autographs and selfies! So of course I did what any responsible journo would do in these circumstances – and high tailed it out Royal Deeside, tracked her down to her exclusive lodge, and asked her what she thought about all the intrusion. “You get used to it”, she said, while signing the gold lame hotpants I’d taken with me on the off-chance. Then I asked if she would mind giving me an exclusive interview. I’ll never forget what she said to me.

“You should be so lucky!”

Wise words from a classy lady!