P&J Column for 15.1.15

‘Big Brother is watching you’. Though going by the viewing figures, nobody else is.

J Fergus Lamont, arts critic and author of “‘Two Points to Kintore Rotary’ – The Top Club Story”

Regular readers will be aware of my profound disinterest in Television. I own a set, of course (in the forlorn hope that Melvyn Bragg might, one day, return to our screens) but I invariably turn it on with a terrible sense of ennui. Imagine my surprise, then, when I stumbled upon a hitherto unheralded gem – the ‘Channel 5’ (5 channels? Surely we can’t need so many?) current affairs discussion forum, “Celebrity Big Brother”.

Most will have missed this delight, which received little, if any, promotion, but I can assure you it is the most coruscating examination of contemporary society since the Singing Kettle’s dystopian meisterwerk, ‘Calamity Castle’.

Who has not longed for a platform for debate that is free from the bourgeois shackles of order, civility and logic? In this televised version of ‘The Moral Maze’ a cross section of humanity are brought together, and each participant’s attitudes relentlessly scrutinized. If they take up an unacceptable position (on race, gender or in relation to someone else’s dressing gown) they are ejected from the discussion. The inevitable conclusion, I realised, was that ultimately the only participant left would be the one who most closely reflects and represents the views and mores shared by us all. A true Brechtian Everyman. In all probability, Cheggers.

I wept.

Struan Metcalfe, Conservative MSP for Aberdeenshire North – an apology

Once in a lifetime one realises that it’s time make a drastic change, to move on, to skedaddle before even more skeletons topple out of the cupboard.To quote a true hero of mine, “With great power comes great responsibility” (Winston Churchill. or possibly Spider-Man. Either way). As an MSP, one does have responsibility – but ultimately one realises that to make it worth the hassle, one really needs a lot more power. As MSP for Aberdeenshire North, I have neither great power nor great responsibility. I am a supremely able and surprisingly humble politician stuck in a provincial backwater.

One of my favourite TV series of the 1990’s was Boon, with Michael Elphick playing an amiable rouge of a motorcycle courier and a young Neil Morissey (before his singing career with The Smiths) playing his amiable rogue of a sidekick. So I was delighted when, late last night, I stumbled across an episode somewhere in the high numbers of the TV guide as I sped past the shopping channels on my way to Babestation. The title song ‘Hi Ho Silver ‘ got me pretty fired up, I can tell you, and in that moment; at 3 am, half-cut on Peach Schnapps and Crabbie’s, watching UK Gold in my kimono, it struck me that, like Boon, I had an important delivery to make. It is the delivery of my extraordinary talents from the North East of Scotland to Westminster.

So this week my apology is not for my latest gin-fuelled escapade. Nor for my expenses claim for purchases made at a specialist shop in Diamond Street. It is to say “Sorry, but I’m off. It’s Auf Wiedersehen, Pet!” (Another of my favourite TV Series of the 90’s, with Tim Healy as an amiable rogue of a bricklayer.)

I’m following Michael Gove’s lead, and quitting Jocksville for a safe Tory seat in the South of England! To raise my profile, I’m starting a weekly column in a newspaper of some import and gravitas. You can read my explosive revelations and astute political insight from Monday in the Turriff Squeak.

Ron Cluny, Official Council Spokesman

This week saw great excitement as hundreds of bird-watchers flocked to Aberdeen in search of a Harlequin sea-duck – more usually found in Iceland – which had made a visit to the Don Estuary. I am pleased to say that it looked a great deal livelier than the last duck I saw in Iceland, although rather lacking in hoisin sauce and pancakes (Willie Young bet me £5 I wouldn’t include that joke). It was pleasing, too, in the present political climate, to see people unequivocally welcoming the arrival of an unscheduled immigrant.

Of course, at these times of uncertainty over the oil industry, the incident provided a much-needed boon to the city’s hospitality trade. Your council is, as always, working tirelessly on behalf of the City, and we have taken immediate steps to ensure that we can continue to attract the twitcher pound. We’re dressing up Barney Crockett as a Count Raggi’s Bird of Paradise and Len Ironside as an Emperor Penguin.