P&J Column for 26.8.13

How to transform Aberdeen for £50 million: That’s £250 each. Just give us the cash, and we’ll all put smiles on our faces.

Sir Ian Wood’s £50 million is back on the table, but no-one seems to be clear what it should be spent on. We asked some of our regular contributors for their views.

Ron Cluny, Council Spokesman

The recent dialogue between Sir Ian Wood and the local authority has been much reported over the last week, with some reports presenting it as if it were some kind of high-stakes game of shove-ha’penny, with £50 million being shoved back and forth across the table as if by two elderly women arguing over who is going to pay the bill for tea and scones.  The Council’s wariness about accepting the money has been presented as sulky and ungrateful.  As usual, this is a complete misrepresentation.  The Council’s stance is not a churlish one; it is based upon sound principles.  It is about accountability; it is about honouring our democratic mandate; and it is about ensuring that Barney Crockett is seen to have the final word in any given argument that he happens to get involved in.

Doddie Esslemont, President, Prime Minister and Chief Cook and Bottle Washer of 39G Seaton Drive

So Sir Ian Wood wishes to make a donation to a local authority in order to fund redevelopment but is being frustrated by the Council’s reticence.  I can empathise.  I too am used to having my plans frustrated by the dead hand of administration, what with the United Nations still having failed to process my application for recognition of the sovereign status of 39G Seaton Drive.  I will be delighted to receive this money, which will be poured into the redevelopment of my drying green out the back.  The plans are still to be finalised but in my mind’s eye I see solid silver drying poles and a 50-foot burnished bronze statue of me that constantly rotates so as to face the direction of the sun.  I will accept bankers’ draft, electronic transfer or an Asda’s ‘bag for life’ stapped foo with cash.

Professor Hector Schlenk, science explained

As a scientist, I am often asked questions, such as ‘in a universe in which everything is constantly expanding, is there any point in going on a diet?’ But this week I have been principally asked what transformative project I would fund with Sir Ian Wood’s £50 million. Obviously, in this day and age, environmental concerns are paramount. So my first priority would be the long-overdue pedestrianisation of Union Street.  Some suggest that this would simply cause gridlock elsewhere in the city, and that is why I would simultaneously propose an exciting new scheme to take the burden away from cars and buses.  A system of clear perspex travel tubes, which will wheech you from Union Street to all outlying areas of the town. Just like in Willie Wonka’s Chocolate factory.

Back to School with Jonathan M Lewis, local headmaster

Well, what a week that was!  The collective sigh of relief was almost audible here at Garioch Academy on Friday at 3.20pm.  Not due to pupils and teachers alike glad to see the back of the place after 6 weeks of joyous, worry-free liberty – not a bit of it.  More so a relief that we’ll all be back again on Monday, hungry, nay zealous in our common goal of universal excellence!

A new term is always an opportunity for new beginnings here at Garioch.  Many new staff has joined our dedicated ranks, ready to begin moulding our young people into the luminaries, visionaries and champions of tomorrow.  Miss Watson, our latest recruit in the Biology department has proven very popular, with staff and pupils alike. We are often told that the sciences are too commonly a male preserve, but Miss Watson demonstrates that they are also a field in which young women can excel. Very, very, feminine young women, in her case. She has ably communicated that enthusiasm, being an instant hit particularly with the S5 boys.  Indeed, a small delegation of these eager lads came to my door asking if she could run additional practical support on their “human reproduction” topic work.

Pupils, too, make new starts.  I’m quite sure our second year boys will grow to love our two new arrivals from the city, though I do confess to being most confused by the nicknames these youngsters come up with!  I mean, why on earth would these pupils be referred to as “The Nipple Crippler” and “Commander Wedgie”?

My final note sees me dispense with my usual understated modesty to mention one final new arrival that has caused quite a stir throughout the school.  I’ve not worn a beard since my student days, but decided over the summer in Tuscany to cultivate some well-tended facial topiary.  Some have observed that in a certain light I now remind them of Che Guevara.  Though pronunciation has posed problems for some.  The most common misnomer was, would you believe it, “Che Vyaminker”!


See the Flying Pigs live in ‘Finzean in the Rain’ at HMT Aberdeen November 7th-16th