P&J column for 6.1.14

No matter how awkward your Hogmanay was, just be grateful you didn’t need an ice-breaker

Doddie Esslemont – radical Independence campaigner

It was an eventful Hogmanay in the People’s Democratic Republic of 39g Seaton Drive. Inspired by my near-neighbours in Stonehaven, I decided to see the New Year in with a spectacular fireball display.

What a sight I was, striding manfully up and down my lobby, whirling around my head a home-made fireball composed of lighter fluid-soaked “Better Together” campaign literature, retained specially for just such an occasion. “Freedom!” I declaimed. “Freedom for Scotland!” “And, for 39g Seaton Drive, freedom from Scotland.” I kept it up for a full 20 minutes, and I’m sure I could have gone on for even longer had I not succumbed to smoke inhalation after a stray spark set fire to my pouffe.

So it was that my first foot of 2014 consisted of a squad of burly firemen putting my door in and charging through the blaze to rescue me.

Generally, I will not tolerate any attempt by institutions of the illegitimate pretend state of the so-called UK to exercise authority over any aspect of my life. But on this particular occasion, I’ll let them off.


Davinia Smythe-Barratt, ordinary mum

I know that, as an ordinary mum, I’m not particularly well-off or lucky, but a recent Facebook post from a good friend of ours really had me thinking “there, but for the grace of God, go I”.  They ran into a spot of bother on an adventure holiday, a trip that Emmeline, Fidel and I almost took ourselves.  Talk about dodging a bullet!

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before the lengths to which I will go to try and avoid the masses when booking each of 5 precious fortnights of holiday we take every year.  We’ve enjoyed some of the world’s last true undiscovered gems recently; the Atacama Desert, our friend Giles’ private island off the coast of Venezuela and even our darling little riad in Marrakech.  We have to travel during term time, naturally, which means the kids missing school but I’m sure their teachers understand that travel broadens the mind. What is a fortnight in the Maldives if it is not a really intensive Geography field trip?

This winter we had hoped to jet off somewhere truly exclusive.  3 berths on the Akademik Shokalskiy, a Russian research vessel, promised “a secluded cruise to Antarctica with a handful of likeminded individuals keen to experience Earth’s last true wilderness.”  But when I heard that our friends Kitty and Rollo Hawkes-Meade were booked on the same trip I immediately cancelled our tickets.  I mean what’s the point of a holiday like that if you’re not the only person you know who’s been on it?

So imagine my shock when I heard that the ship became trapped in ice on Christmas Eve and passengers only rescued by helicopter on the 2nd of January!  How irresponsible of the tour organisers?  The Hawkes-Meades reported that they had received no warnings at all about the possibility of ice at the South Pole. I know that if I’d been made aware of the risk I would never have booked our tickets in the first place. You would think that the organisers, the Australian Antarctic Expedition, would have the gumption to pack a scraper and some deicer? I mean, it is winter after all! Poor Kitty and Rollo must have had an absolutely horrendous time, stranded like that. Apparently they had to be rescued by an ice-breaker. Well, sometimes on these cruises, making conversation can be very difficult.


Struan Metcalfe, Conservative MSP for Aberdeenshire North and Surrounding Nether Regions

Boy oh boy! What news this week in the political stratosphere. Nick Griffin has popped up on my beloved Twitter to announce that he is bankrupt. That’s financially bankrupt and not morally bankrupt, for the avoidance of any doubt. Nicky Baby tweeted that being bankrupt did not prevent him from being a MEP. He is now putting his efforts and experience into producing a booklet on dealing with debt. Pity you didn’t do that before blowing all your money on legal battles, eh Nicholas?However, I do appreciate that insolvency is a very serious business. So I sort of regret responding to him with the following tweet:

“Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. LOL”

In these straightened times, debt is a real concern for a large proportion of the people of this great nation of ours nation, as well as many of my constituents. And when people are struggling then politicians at the extremes of the spectrum can often pick up new followers (much like those of us on twitter). It was once thought that tough economic conditions would push the common man towards support for the far right, but that hasn’t materialised. Fortunately people who like to blame immigrants for all their problems are now perfectly well served by the Conservative PartyBut in all seriousness, I do understand the plight of those facing financial ruin, I truly do. I still haven’t fully recovered from my own horrid personal experience of bankruptcy. It was back in sixth form at Gordonstoun. Its still very painful, but let me just say that Fatty Blenkinsopp was absolutely merciless in collecting his debts and I’ve never played monopoly since.