P&J Column for 7.4.14

The Commonwealth Games organisers are going to level the playing field; along with some other bits of Glasgow.

Professor Hector Schlenk, Senior Research Fellow at the Bogton Institute for Public Engagement with Science

As a scientist, I’m often asked questions such as ‘How does GPS location work?’ ‘What are the advantages of nuclear medicine?’ and ‘Could you do that somewhere else, please?’  But recently, people have been asking me about smog.   “Well”, I advise, “he’s a dragon and the primary antagonist in ‘The Hobbit’.”  And then we laugh.  Or at least I do. Not many of the people I meet are Tolkein fans.

Much of England suffered last week when a cloud of pollution, bulked out by sand from the Sahara desert, filled the air.  When the atmosphere is full of tiny particles it can make breathing difficult, very much like flatus under a duvet.  DEFRA advised those with respiratory conditions not to run to work during rush hour. Like those with repiratory conditions would no doubt otherwise have done. Even the Prime Minister forwent his morning jog, acknowledging that the smog in London had made it ‘unpleasant’. That must have been irritating for him, to be directly affected by the problem of air pollution. If only he was in a position to do something about it.

How fascinating, then, that the organisers of the forthcomong Commonwealth Games have decided that, during the opening ceremony, instead of the traditional fireworks display, a global audience of over a billion people will see some skyscrapers getting blown up. This may sound odd, or even spectacularly tasteless, to you and I.  Because, of course, it is. But we should remember the Games are a celebration of Glasgow, where the destruction of property has always been considered a source of entertainment.  

Naturally, the enormous cloud of dust and debris caused by the demolition of five 28-storey tower blocks will cover the city like a shroud. This will make all physical activity exhausting to even the most highly trained athlete.  Thankfully, the Scottish participants have been brought up exercising with lungs full of smoke, so they’re expected to thrive on it.


View from the Midden with MTv (Meikle Wartle Television) presenter Jock Alexander

It’s been an olfactory wik in the village. Fit a lot of noise we’ve heard fae the moaning minnies doon in Englandshire aboot air pollution. Apparently it’s been a bittie foggy, and folk hiv been staying indoors tae avoid it. Weel, michty, here in Meikle Wartle we canna see fit aa the fuss is aboot – it’s hard tae get excited aboot a thochtie smog fan the air is heavy wi Strathbogie Sharn!

Some days, fan the wind sweeps across the sewage works and the temperature soars tae an unseasonal high of 8 degrees centigrade, a hazy broon mist hings aboot. But we welcome it, the distinctive sharny tang of the countryside is unbeatable at keeping away unwanted pests like grey squirrels and toonsers.

True, fan the air’s particularly chewy, aa the grass in the village gings a funny colour, but there’s nae herm in it. Ab’dy in Meikle Wartle unaffected by agricultural accidents lives tae a ripe auld age – ye can hear them in the pub, happily comparing the severity of their emphysema and chewing the fat. We leave it oot fer them specially. They enjoy it fine, since they’ve lost their sense of smell and, indeed, aa their teeth.  Feel Moira also swears by an early morning stroll fan the air is at it’s thickest – she says it pits hairs on yer chest. And michty, she should ken. Cheerio!


Entertainment news with showbiz insider Shelly Shingles (Miss Fetteresso, 1993)

OMG!  SBF is retiring from SCD on the BBC!  In case you don’t speak twit, Sir Bruce Forsyth is retiring from Strictly Come Dancing. I’m sad for Brucie, obvs, but he’s been struggling to keep up with the demands of working 2 hours a week for a few years now. Speculation is rife amongst all my showbiz pals as to who could possibly fill his patent shoes. Anton du Beke, Vernon Kaye and Claudia Winkelpicker have all been mentioned, but Sir Bruce is a hard act to follow. He’s been in showbusiness for  over 70 years, that’s nearly half a century, and no-one nearly reads an autocue correctly quite like Brucie.

Of course, me and Sir Bruce go way back.  I first met him at the Deeside Golf Club Pro-Cel-Am in 1989. He was playing a two-ball with Ronnie Corbett and I was a spokesmodel for Cadbury’s,handing out chocolate bars on the 18th green.  I’ll never forget what he said to me –

“Alright my love? Give us a twirl!”

Wise words from a great man. 


‘Cava’ Kenny Cordiner, the sports writer who won’t take part in a Stewards’ Enquiry.

You could have knocked me down with a fanfare when I heard my old gaffer, Fergie, has got hiself a job at Harvard Business School, teaching management techniques. It’s amazing that there is no native born Yanks what can chew chuddy and go red-faced while they points at their watch.

Anyway, having learned them very things from the feet of the master myself, I offered my services to Aberdeen College. To show them what I could do, I goes into the canteen, kicks over a tray of tea-cups and shouts at some wifies. I’ve not heard back, but I have had a visit from the Police who gave me a caution. As I says to the Bobbies, that’s not the first of those I’ve seen in my career. Not by a long shop.