P&J Column for 13.1.14

The Northern Lights of Aberdeen just mean standing in a freezing garden and a crick in the neck to me

Professor Hector Schlenk, Senior Research Fellow at the Bogton Institute for Public Engagement with Science

As a scientist, I’m always being asked questions such as ‘What will climate change mean for us in the future’, ‘What exactly is a black hole?’ and ‘What are you doing here, have you forgotten about the restraining order?’ But recently, people have been asking me all about the Northern Lights. “Well”, I advise “it was written in 1952 by Mary Webb, from Leamington Spa. Ironically, she’d never even visited Aberdeen’” And then we laugh. Uncomfortably. The Northern lights, or Aurora Borealis, which were allegedly visible last week in the North East of Scotland, are an astrological phenomenon caused by something called the Solar Wind. The Solar Wind blows on an 11 year cycle and is currently at its most celestially flatulent, sending energetic charged particles into the thermosphere above the Earth. The famous light show we can see is the result of these particles colliding with the atmosphere at enormous altitude. They would be harmful to us but thankfully the ozone layer and the ionosphere protect us, a bit like the sun tan lotion we lather upon ourselves during our annual pilgrimage to the Costa Dorada. Here in Aberdeen, where the Northern Lights is sung as something of a city anthem, we can’t see them at all. This is because of the light pollution, caused by street-lamps, neds with laser pens and the lights at the old Twin Spires Creamery. To truly witness the marvel of the Northern Lights one should, as I did, drive South to the Muchalls bend, stop your car in the middle of the A90 and look skyward. The view was magnificent, although the detention, breathalyser and night in the cells were a pest.

Ron Cluny, Official Council Spokesman

Few things in politics really surprise me anymore.  But recent events in New Jersey have taken my breath away.  The economically-named Governor Chris Christie has become embroiled in a scandal.  Leaked emails have established that a senior member of his administration instructed a contact in the Port Authority to close two lanes of a crucial bridge in order to bring traffic chaos to the citizens of Fort Lee as part of a petty political vendetta against the Mayor of that town, who had not supported the Governor’s re-election.  That public officials should collude in order to inflict intentional harm upon a blameless electorate is bad enough.  But that in America – the land of the free, the birthplace of modern political intrigue, the country that gave us Watergate, J Edgar Hoover and McCarthyism – they should be stupid enough to leave an easily discoverable email trail is truly shocking.  Have they no under-utilised city centre parks in which to have whispered, plausibly-deniable conversations? Thank heavens for Union Terrace Gardens.

Cava Kenny Cordiner, The Footballer’s Footballer

I have been keeping my baldy eyes on the sporting world this week and, you could not make it up, believe me you. Back when I was applying my trade as a footballer, you knew you was going to be playing your matches at 3pm on a Saturday. Them days is behind us as was proved by the Dons’ match against Hibs on Friday night. It was a great evening, and I was enjoying drinks with some sponsors in the lounge so I missed half of the whole first half. It was looking like the match was going to end in mate-lock until Willo the Wisp stepped up to the hotplate and scored a peach. Then I got a bit confused, because I could swear the Red Army started singing ‘The Sheep are on Fire’. Maybe I’ll need to go easy on the corpulent hostility in future. David Moyes is having a tough old time at Man United, trying to stimulate Fergie’s proud record. Old Trafford used to be something of a buttress under Sir Alex but poor old Moyes cannot buy a win. Some people in the medium is all saying that Moyes needs to be given his jotters but I stand by my original statement – Rome wasn’t built in 2 days. David will need time to put his stump on the team, but like I says when I was eating Melody’s sherry trifle on Christmas day, cream always rises to the top. Speaking of the lovely Melody, after she spent 5 hours online we got our tickets for the Commonwealth games in Glasgow. Sadly we will not get to see one of Britain’s sporting greats, Jessica Ennis. The Olympian has decided that she will not be managing the games because she has a bun in the family way. I am not wanting to designate Britain’s Golden Girl, but I think that is a poor show. In the 21 years I played football plenty of my team-mates had kids, but I never heard none of the lads use that excuse. But the biggest news of all was the shock announcement from former footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger. I do not know no-one who doesn’t agree that it was real brave of him brave to admit, even after all these years, that he used to play for West Ham.