P&J Column for 25.11.13

Dundee isn’t City of Culture 2017 either. For a lot of Aberdonians , that’s as good as the win.

Ron Cluny, Official Council Spokesman

Regular readers of this column may recall the dismay with which I greeted the news that Aberdeen had been eliminated from the running to be the City of Culture 2017.  I have said it before and I say it again: when a city that boasts a great muckle Granite theatre, a great muckle Granite art gallery, and an indigenous breadstuff that looks like an air-dried cow-pat cannot waltz its way into the finals of a City of Culture competition, I don’t know what the world is coming to.  But our sense of disbelief was only heightened when we learned that Dundee had been short-listed in the final four. To finish behind Dundee had been a blow; but for them to go on and win the hale thing would have been an unmitigated disaster.

It was therefore with some trepidation that I logged onto the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s website on Wednesday; and learned that Hull had won the title.  After only three hours spent reading the poetry of Philip Larkin (you widna mistake him for a ray of sunshine), listening to the music of the Housemartins and watching the YouTube video of ex-Don Dean Windass winning Hull promotion to the Premiership by skelping the ball past Bristol City’s goalie in the 2008 play-off final, I felt sufficiently confident that I could keep a straight face to phone my opposite number in Dundee.  “Where had it all gone wrong,” I asked him?  He was unsure.  The jury’s visit seemed to go so well.  They had been impressed by the Waterfront development, the city’s commitment to theatre and the arts, and their soon-to-open branch of the V&A Museum and   He had heard an unconfirmed rumour that the judges had been adversely influenced by the city’s association with the doggerel poet, William Topaz McGonagall.  But this was a great mystery.  The city had been assiduous in ensuring that no reference was made in any of the bid material to that one terrible blot on Dundee’s cultural copybook.  How had the jury ever heard of him?

I quickly passed on my commiserations and brought the call to an end. The poor man sounded so disappointed it just didn’t seem right to intrude upon his distress, and I was concerned that I would be unable to keep the laughter out of my voice and I reflected that I have probably never made better use of a first class stamp.

Here is a short poem I have composed to mark the occasion.

Wonderful people of the banks of the Tay!

Alas, I am very sorry to say.

That all your hopes have been taken away

On twenty eleven, twenty-ten-three,

A date which I find very pleasing to me.


Struan Metcalfe, Msp For Aberdeenshire North And Surrounding Nether Regions -An Apology

 Crikey,I’ve been a jolly good boy, haven’t I? It’s been absolutely AGES since I was last gently prompted by HQ to apologise for some slight misunderstanding. Then, as sure as Aberdeen city traffic will grind to a standstill at the first glimpse of a snow-flake, I’ve gone and made a honking mess of it all. Again.

I really must apologise unreservedly to the Conservative party, to my electorate and, most importantly, to Super Dave for my recent Tweet concerning Movember. The last thing I wanted to do was offend any of the fine fellows currently raising lots of spondooliks for the worthy men’s cancer charity by gradually growing to resemble Freddie Mercury this month. I deeply regret tweeting the following:

“Grow a tache for November? And risk getting caught with white stuff stuck in my furry top lip? Not me. That’s what did for Paul Flowers?! LOL”

I can see why “some” people might have assumed I was referring to Bolivian marching powder ingested through the nasal passage, but of course, what I actually meant by “white stuff” was icing sugar. From a Yum Yum, a local delicacy for which I have something of a weakness.

The Rev. Flowers, whilst accused of serious of offences, some of them apparently on video, remains innocent until proven guilty. I should, I fully accept, have included the word ‘allegedly’ in my tweet. In my defence, you only get 150 characters, and if I’d included it I would have had to miss out the ‘LOL’ and the smiley face which followed. Also, it’s a damnably fiddly word to type. My auto-correct always turns it into ‘alligators’.

I did once grow a moustache. Funny story actually. It was my final year at Gordonstoun before the end of year dance with the girls of St Margarets. I thought it made me look distinguished, like Errol Flynn. Or Magnum PI. After building up some Dutch Courage by scoofing out of the champagne bottle in the boys toilets,  I took the captain of the netball team for a Canadian Barn Dance and I could see she was impressed with both my pas de basque and my facial foliage.  I had my killer line prepared, courtesy of Beefy Fortesque of the Sixth form (regarded as something of a Don Juan, having once spoken to a girl he wasn’t related to and who didn’t work for his family). As our eyes locked, I felt the excitement grow and I knew this might be my chance “Did you fart?’ I said ‘Because you just blew me away!”. Well, you can probably guess what happened next.

Reader, I married her.