P&J Column for 25.3.13

It was the ‘#Aspirationnation’ Budget – Aspiration, [noun]  a pronouncement accompanied by an expulsion of gas.

STRUAN METCALFE, MSP for Aberdeenshire North (and Surrounding Nether Regions)

Hoorah! The Chancellor of the Exchequer, my good pal Gorgeous George, has finally embraced Twitter. Poor bloke wasn’t necessarily welcomed with open arms, mind you. The reception he got in the Twitter-sphere was every bit as warm as the one he got at the Olympic Games. And it turns out you can say quite a lot more than ‘boo’ in a hundred and forty characters. That said, I for one, am following him. Nothing new there, I followed him at Oxford. And I don’t just mean I went there shortly after him. I to used mimic his speech and copy his attire. I would frequent his haunts – every coffee house, political gathering and gentlemen’s convenience he went into. And I only ever received the one written warning from the Rozzers. Result.

Sadly, his Twitter popularity contest with Ed Balls isn’t going too well. So far, The Great and Powerful Osborne has only racked up thirty-eight thousand followers, and Ballsy has twice that. In fact, Nana Metcalf has twice that, and she’s only ever tweeted once, to say ‘is that it on?’

To be fair to George, it must be impossible to address the complex question of the national deficit in less than 140 characters. After all, it’s impossible to type the national deficit in less than 140 characters.

His speech on Wednesday was a ground-breaking, inspiring, fracking Shale Gas amaze-balls of a fiscal statement. It was a Budget that favoured beer-drinking motorists, which makes a nice change. We’re usually being named and shamed.

OK, ok, so the growth forecasts have been halved to 0.6% (funnily enough my final grade in Higher Economics!), but, by Jingo, Giddy Gideon has had a whizzo of an idea this time.  A penny off the pint! Absolute genius. Now I’m off to down 300 pints in the Fife Arms. That way, I’ll eventually clawback a free one, courtesy of the Treasury. The financial recovery starts now, the hangover recovery starts tomorrow.  Cheers!

JONATHAN M LEWIS, Inspirational Headteacher of Garioch Academy

Last week saw an historic day.  Our local MSP and perennial School Board Meeting absentee, Alex Salmond, announced Thursday 18th September 2014 as the date of the Independence Referendum.

What makes this exciting is that with the voting age reduced to 16, pupils currently as young as third year will have a hand in the outcome. And let me reassure you that the 14 and 15 year olds who will be allowed to vote next September can, in fact, be trusted with the constitutional future of our nation. Even if they can’t be trusted not to sneak out to the bookies during a free period.  We at Garioch have been moulding these Young People for years to be responsible citizens and effective contributors. I cite the shining example of Andy Moir.  So proud of the civic responsibility newly bestowed upon him that he demonstrated it by drawing a large X in permanent marker on the forehead of each member of the Chess Club. Not only was this educational for the younger pupils, but Andy served as a positive role model, someone who knows the importance of practice before a big event.

And then there’s Kyle Buchan, so passionately engaged by the issues at stake that he painted the flag of his preferred nation-state on the side of the new science block. It’s just a pity that flags of the world are no longer part of the geography syllabus, or we’d have known which one it was meant to be (I think it’s an attempt at the Saltire, but there’s a significant number in the staff room who swear it’s the flag of Jamaica).

Of course, the teaching staff at Garioch are renowned for their motivational dialogue with pupils.  I often overhear encouraging remarks like “Next year, when you’re flipping burgers…” or “I’ll still see you after you leave school, Tyler.  Every Thursday when the bin lorry comes.”  Naturally, the forthcoming referendum has served to galvanise our efforts at providing positive reinforcement.  Many pupils have already been bolstered by the phrase: “And they’re going to let you vote!”

I seldom need to be reminded why I responded to my calling to become an educator, but as I observe these decision-makers of tomorrow on my weekly tour of the school corridors it brings it into sharp focus.  Yes, currently they appear entirely preoccupied by Call of Duty, vampire fiction, love bites, and watching ‘Harlem Shake’ videos on YouTube, but we can be confident that when the time comes to exercise their democratic right to determine all our futures, the fate of our country is in safe hands.


‘CAVA KENNY CORDINER’ The football pundit who kicks back!

Football is a game of two halfs, as Gordon Strachan’s Scotland found out about on Friday night against Wales.

Obviously, halfing Gareth Bale early doors was good tic-tacs, but we should of halfed the boy Robson-Kanu as well.

Schoolboy stuff.