P&J Column 7.9.17

Offshore Europe, filling bus shelters with bamboozled visitors since 1973

Kevin Cash, moneysaving expert and king of the grips

Times is hard here in Aiberdeen, but if ye follow my advice, you can still manage tae stay afloat. Recently I’ve been trying my hand at the noble art o’ the independent taxi driver. Sort of like Uber, but a bittie less tied up wi’ a’ the unnecessary red tape of MOTs, insurance and driving licenses, ken? Conditions this wik hiv been ideal, thanks tae a combination of dreich weather, tons o’ road closures and the twin delights of baith Offshore Europe and Freshers Week.

First, get yer vehicle, and mak it stand oot fae the crowd. A black cab is good, but an auld ice-cream van stands oot mair. I customised my een by blacking out the picters of Noddy and Big Ears, scrawling “Kev’s Kool Kabs” on the side and installing a horn like the een fae the Dukes of Hazard. It’s also very important tae offer an inclusive service, so mak sure your taxi is wheelchair accessible. I have daen mines by making a handy ramp oot o’ a sheet of corrugated iron aff the roof o’ a garage in Gladstone place.

Next, choose yer fare. Freshers hiv potential, because they’re nae skint yet, they’ve nae idea far onything is and they’re usually plastered. But therein lies the doonside and I’m nae a fan o’ hosing boak oot o’ my footwells.

So this week I have been soley targeting bewildered visitors tae Offshore Europe. It’s nae hard tae spot those in need of transport, thanks to the tell-tale signs; the weel-pressed suit, (worn wi’ oot a tie, ‘cause they’re on a jolly) the luggage on wheels, and the look o’ total incomprehension files standing on Union Street trying to decipher the bus timetable. Weel daen tae FirstBus, by the way, for creating a public transport system far ye hiv tae ken the number, colour and noo also the name o’ the bus yer needing. I’ve bade here my hale life and I’ve got nae idea far ony o’ the buses ging onymair – so vistors hiv got nae chance! Suitably disoriented, they will be only too delighted to take refuge in yer van, especially if ye dae fit I dae and park in Back Wynd at a 90 degree angle so naen o’ the ither taxis can get past.

I ken it sounds boring, but Offshore Europe itsel’ is weel worth a visit. At the entrance, you’ll get past security if ye fashion a lanyard fae the shiny side o’ an fag packet and a Tesco’s Strawberry Lace. Once in, grab as mony freebies and goodie bags as ye can stagger oot wi’. They’ve got a’ sorts o’ swag there, ye ken. Pens, mints, that dongle thingies fit attach tae a laptop, and if, you’re lucky enough to spy een unattended, a laptop. If onyb’dy questions ye, simply respond “Ostali su otišli na zahod!” fit is Croatian for “Ab’dy else has jist nipped tae the lavvie”.

Then its time to take your precious cargo back intae toon (having left the meter running a’day, of course). But da be feel and ging straight there; these peer fowk are exhausted efter a hard day’s schmoozing, so help them tae relax by taking them by ‘scenic’ route fae the Exhibition Centre to Union Street; via Bucksburn.

Shelley Shingles, showbiz correspondent and Miss Fetteresso 1985

OMG! I couldn’t believe it when I seen that Scotland has been voted the most beautiful country on the planet by the Rough Guide. I was fair chuffed until I realised it was talking about the countryside and not us lovely lassies! Still, it’s a great accolade, although, speaking as someone who has travelled the length and breadth of the country as a spokes-model for the House of Bruar, I think that we have to count ourselves lucky that whoever judged it was obviously a midgie enthusiast with a sun allergy and a fetish for waterproof clothing who went to Skye on one of the three days of the year when the Cuillins weren’t obscured by mist who’s never seen twa drunk mannies fight a seagull for a dropped fish supper on the top deck of the St Nicholas Centre.

But still, it’s true what they say – familiarity breeds contempt. I think we often forget just how bonny Scotland really is, and it’s only when you see visitors gawping aboot, eyes wide wi’ wonder, that you mind to tak in the majesty o’ wir surroundings. Aye, after you’ve sworn at them for getting in your road!