Friday, 24 June 2011



"Eff you Gideon. I am withdrawing demand from the economy because of your inflexible high VAT policy. I'm going into town for lunch. But I'VE MADE MY OWN SANDWICHES!
"And I've got a flask."



The City Garden Project proposes to radically transform a strategic central location by raising the inaccessible, under-used Union Terrace Gardens

The City Garden Project has been spear-headed by ACSEF following the announcement by Sir Ian Wood in November 2008 that he would pledge £50 million towards a transformational scheme to redevelop Union Terrace Gardens and the Denburn Valley. Similar transformational schemes have been considered by the city before but have failed due to a lack of private sector funding.



The City Garden Project will cost around £140 million.
It is anticipated that half the money will come from the private sector and half from an innovative funding mechanism known as Tax Incremental Finance (TIF).



TIF was devised in the US, where it has been hugely popular with cities as a tool that has enabled them to tackle urban blight. The key benefit of the scheme is that it enables local authorities to raise finance to fund the critical infrastructure needed to get major regeneration schemes of the ground.



The letter sent by Mayor Menino identified these issues clearly and in a colorful way. Mayor Menino speaks for all urban residents when he writes, “Let’s be clear about what blight means. It’s not just about aesthetics, though it certainly scars an urban environment. Blight kills jobs by destroying an area’s appeal to businesses and customers. It destroys a neighborhood’s residential appeal. It drives property values down, and it promotes crime. The notion that you would purposefully cause this to occur–not due to financing difficulties or other problems beyond your control, but as an intentional cynical ploy to extract concessions from the public sector–is inexcusable.”


Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Briefing


The Single Outcome Agreement and Community Plan outline
a vision for Aberdeen City which is welcoming to business (National
Outcome 1) and Vibrant, Dynamic and ForwardingLooking.
The proposals in this report contribute to this ambition and help to create the conditions necessary for the delivery of the Aberdeen Cityand Shire Economic Future’s ‘Building on Energy- An EconomicManifesto for Aberdeen City and Shire’ strategic vision of “Aberdeen City and Shire to be recognised as one of the most robust and resilient economies in Europe with a reputation for opportunity, enterprise and inventiveness that will attract and retain world-class talent of all ages”.
There are also linkages to the Economic Development theme of Vibrant Dynamic and Forward Looking through ensuring the sustainable development of the Aberdeen City and Shire economy and the pursuit of opportunities for regeneration and development shared with the City
Regeneration Strategy, and thus a positive impact is anticipated in terms of the Equalities and Human Rights Impact Assessment.

Within this backdrop, the City Development Company would seek to remediate pockets of ‘market failure’ within the City region, and to not only contribute to the sustainable ‘macro’ economic future of the area, but to facilitate with partners the capturing of value for targeted beneficiaries within a charitable / regeneration role.



Is this on? Can everyone hear me OK? Yes - good.

All cleared print ID? Yes. If you could leave all your mobile gadgets - cameras, body-mounted vid-capture devices, smartcells, enhanced biros etcetera with Judy at the thumb-print-in desk please. And step through the magnetoarch... nobody got an old-fashioned metallic hip replacement - ha ha - no? Good. Thanks.

Everybody through OK? No anomalous readings, Judy? No? Good. If you could all find a seat - is there enough room? The room is quite small, em... sorry about that, but the EM suppression means that it has to be. Everyone got a seat now? Good, we can start...

Good afternoon everyone.

Colleagues, on behalf of us all at the Trans-Conjectural Proposals Instigation Trust thank you for taking the time out of your energetic schedules to attend this brief stakeholder update presentation at this key watershed time for our iconic project. And yes, welcome along today to the splendid white-room facilities of the Querulant Suite at this new Idée Fixe Conference Centre. We thank our hosts for the provision of these splendid facilities, not only for this windowless and unrecordable environment - just the thing! - but also for their reasonably-priced and exemplary underground car-park with its innovative numberplate and face-recognition technology demonstrator. All got your PINcards? Some of you have the subcutaneous upgrades, eh? Heh-heh. Good. Shouldn't talk too much about car-parks, though.

To business...

You'll all be familiar with the surprisingly rapid progress of our most recent Trans-Conjectural Proposal which has advanced in an inspirational and iconic fashion. Now is the time for us to transform this project into what we can now call a Global Trans-Conjectural Context-Framing Opportunity. To deliver this transformative, em, transformation, we have developed a delivery plan which will champion and shepherd this agenda. Stepping up to the plate on an interlinked basis, this plan is assured of delivering the appearance of three-hundred-and-sixty degree participation models within our context.

Our overarching management strategy will be driving forward our key activity delivery and measurement plan. The delivery plan will be in the form of an inspirational yet logical legal-entity action-plan vehicle which progresses up-front objectives emerging through this unique window of opportunity towards the delivery of our most ambitious and foremost logical key priorities. It safeguards the potential for a distinct opinionscaping context-framing outlook and will greenlight fund-channeling linkages into an entirely new dynamic.

A strategically central numbers game will provide a fundamental plank to access innovative fund sources underpinned by this transformational drive to manage ownership and own management of this delivery plan. This development strategy is shared by key players and the uplift provided by the delivery plan mechanism is central to its delivery; it will unlock a more attractive, safer and better connected win-win managementscape and target-rich investmentscape for the key stakeholders here today.

And so contracts for community engagement initiatives will soon be in place, delivering on a range of public-relations improvements under the auspices of our best-practice masterplan which we outlined at the last presentation. These new community engagement contracts will provide us with the ideal public-realm participation management solution for the provision of the required consent-manufacturing services via this special purpose vehicle. In due course, this special purpose vehicle will be enhanced and reinvigourated. This is expected to be fully available and framework-compliant within the context-framing consent-manufacturing mindscape which we have already achieved, all the while maximising shareholder value... Oh! Thank-you, no... em... yes, thank-you. Applause isn't necessary - no, ha-ha! Thanks.

...Where was I? Ah yes... The continual securing of this self-referencing self-certified procedural approval feedback mechanism will unlock further yet imaginative, bigger, brighter and iconic leadership obscurantism. This opportunity to shape the future with self-referencing enriched vitality is truly strategic, truly innovative and the radical transformation will not only provide fascinating narcissistic appeal within our own little circle of friends - ha ha - but also wider heritage compliance lipservice services outwith it. Inspirational inclusion misdirection initiatives when appropriate via incremental rearward-facing commitments once progressed will create the appearance of a real iconic international buzz.

In conclusion, then, when we look back on what has been achieved so far in the shaping of the civic mindscape, the manipulation of the investment opportunityscape and the creation of a public opinionscape which is largely characterised by confusion if not ennui, we can look back on an approach - a resource - which we will continue to leverage towards the achievement of ever more enhanced shareholder value and stakeholder satisfaction. So long as key deliverables are progressed in accordance with opportunities within the supply chain to anchor our central objectives with respect to this clear strategy, our established undertaking of prioritising strategy themes and status updates will continue towards the feedback-enabled enhancement of project engagement resources. This provides both measurable internal accountability and vital external obfuscation services.

The vision for this exciting journey is an innovative yet highly robust process which every stakeholder here will enjoy participating in. Every stakeholder here today is part of the process. The process is the future and the future is the process. We are the future. This is a very real possibility. It is within our grasp, we are nearly there. With your continued support and with the compliance and consent we have already engineered, rates of return much higher than those available in any other investmentscape will be assured. Thank you all.

...Ha-ha, thanks, yes, thank-you. Too kind... too kind. Thanks.

...Thank you for your time today. Questions will not be necessary. And now I think Judy's got some special drinks and nibbles ready for us in the Dependency Suite... if you'd like to go through... please... thanks...



A version of this piece first appeared in the Aberdeen Voice citizen journalism online news and information source on 20 May, 2011.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Guest Contribution - Film Review

You've Been Trumped
a film by Anthony Baxter

Review by guest contributer

I would like to start this review with a disclaimer. I did not go into the Scottish premiere of the documentary feature You've Been Trumped with an open mind. I am fundamentally against the development of the Menie Estate near Balmedie, Aberdeenshire into a so called world class golf resort by tycoon Donald Trump. It's important I say that. I am a a local lass brought up a few miles along the road in the similarly stunning area of Newburgh which is a nature reserve and has what I think is the most beautiful beach in the UK. Newburgh also has a golf course, but it stops short of the amazing dunes.  Donald Trump wants to make his golf course ON the dunes of Balmedie Beach. And despite them being a SSI (Site of Scientific Interest) and therefore supposedly protected from developments like this, the Scottish Government have let him go ahead anyway with the development of a golf course, 300 houses and a hotel.  So I state my objection straight away. If he'd been building this course on the dunes of Newburgh, I'd probably be chained to one of his diggers right now.  Crying.

My goodness, though, I didn't know the half of it. Director Anthony Baxter wanted to make a documentary that got the whole story of what has been going on at the Menie Estate in the past two years. He was concerned that the local press were giving a biased view on the development, an unremittingly pro-Trump stance, demonising those difficult residents who wouldn't give up their homes so that the local economy could prosper. The ,local press has painted them as belligerent troublemakers clearly just holding out til Trump opened the cheque-book still wider. Baxter knew there was more to this story and set off to get to know all of those involved. What he found were ordinary decent and brave folks. All of whom were at the premiere last night. 

The film charts a year over which a decision by Aberdeenshire Council to deny planning permission given grave concern over the environmental impacts on the protected eco-system of Menie Sands and the  actuality of exaggerated economic claims for the local economy, was overturned by the Scottish Government. It charts a year in which residents on the proposed site lived in fear of having their homes put under a compulsory purchase order, a order usually reserved for houses in the way of civic and infrastructural developments like new motorways or new hospitals, not private developments.
The makers of the documentary got to know those people involved, the residents who had to watch as they landscape they loved and lived in for many years changed day by day as the construction workers moved in and made devastating changes to the landscape that weren't on the plans . These people had their water cut off for over a week with no emergency supplies brought to them and no interest by the local authorities who could have brought the organisation who did the damage to task. these were people who were subjected to routine observation by security patrols and in some cases arrest by the police if their activities were deemed in anyway contrary to Trump's development, even if it was just removing a marker flag from their land to stop their grandkids getting injured on its metal spike. These were people who felt cast adrift by their local authorities and support systems. They had every right to be bitter, instead they are amazing.

Baxter also tried to speak to the other side, the Trump organisation and in a film that largely provokes dismay in its audience it is the moment it is these moments spent trying to engage with trump and his employees that flashes of humour arise. Baxter as one of the few local journalists asking probing questions about the residents' situation is quickly identified by Trump himself as an enemy and his disdain for the filmmaker provides incredulous laughter in the audience. Conversely the Trump organisation's focus on Baxter also provides the film's most shocking moment in a scene where Baxter is roughly arrested with no charge by local police after visiting the site office to calmly find out why local residents have had their water cut off for over a week.

In short I thought I knew a lot of what was going on in the Menie Estate, but until I saw this film I realise that I didn't know the half of it. There is a thoroughness to Baxter's reporting that has been absent in other reports and features I have seen on the development. He gets objective views from experts in the fields of land rights, ecology, economics which open up the development for real scrutiny in a way that the national politicians in charge of the decisions made seem not to have done.

All that missing is a formal interview with the man himself, Donald Trump, which could be the film's only flaw. Where are the interviews with Trump Senior, Trump Junior, George Sorial, or any of his development team?  The answer is given in a final scene in a familiar phone box in Pennan at the end of the film.

The film won the Green Award at the Sheffield Documentary Festival. This is a massive achievement. But as yet no distributor has taken the film on, so wide distribution into mainstream cinemas is unlikely until that happens.  Similarly the Edinburgh Film festival rejected the film for inclusion in this week's programme. This is a great shame. Someone needs to take the initiative on this as I think we could, if the right distribution goes ahead be looking at a contender for Best Documentary Feature in a number of film awards. If Michael Moore could do it with Roger and Me back in 1990, then Anthony Baxter could do it with, let's face it a subject far better known on the world stage.

Find out more on the film here.

See the director and the residents of the Menie Estate (and main players of the film) at the premiere last night here. (Photo courtesy of Richard Pelling) and today's Channel 4 report.

Follow director Anthony Baxter on twitter @antbaxter


Many thanks to Gillian for the contribution. Read her blog, The Misssy M Misssives.

This review originally appeared on The Misssy M Misssives blog here.


-----------------//////EDIT - UPDATE//////-----------------


Donald Trump's plan for £750m Scottish golf resort put on hold

Donald Trump has been forced to postpone his plan to create the "world's greatest" golf resort in Scotland, complete with five-star hotel and luxury villas, because of the global financial crisis.

The billionaire property developer flew into Aberdeen on Monday on his latest luxury jet, a Boeing 757-200 fitted out with a master bedroom and five kitchens...

But the tycoon said that the full scheme, a £750m complex featuring a luxury hotel, Trump Boulevard, a golf academy, a second course and timeshare apartments, had been bunkered by the recession.

Trump said "the world has crashed" since he first bought the Menie estate and dunes in 2005, provoking a long-running battle with local residents, councillors and environmental groups about his proposals, which has involved heavily altering the legally protected rare dunes.

As Trump flew in, it emerged that a cinema in Aberdeen, the Belmont, had decided to give a new, highly-critical documentary investigating the tycoon's conflicts with local residents, called You've Been Trumped, an extended run this weekend. This was due to "an amazing response" to a screening last Friday.



In the flat bottom of the broad valley of the Ruthrieston Burn, between Garthdee and Morningside, lies an old fashioned public playing field. Overlooked by two or three blocks of recently-refurbished tenements on one side and the disused railway line on the other, the full-sized football pitch is complemented by a kiddies playground with swings, a chute and the like. The old railway line, trackbed now tarmac, is today a major commuter route for cyclists and an evening stroll for dogwalkers. But no-one ever uses the football pitch for football. Once muddy six yard box now tussock heavy grass. No nets are ever strung from these corroding municipal goalposts. The bar has fallen rusted broken from its supports at the east end of the pitch. Last week we noticed that now even the posts are gone. A football pitch with only one goal.

Just a little further down that same valley, high fenced and high-tech locked £35-a-match astroturf football pitches for rent are high-energy blue mercury-arc lit at all times to a certain level of brightness. The CCTV system which operates primarily as surveillance of the adjacent ASDA car-park provides the security footprint. Shipping containers double as changing facilities and equipment lockers, raising in our minds the questions: Just what exactly is the nature of the commodity being freighted? By who's agency is this freight being consigned, and to whom is it being delivered?


"BEST free newspaper in Scotland"


A NEW scheme has kicked off in an Aberdeen community in a bid to cut antisocial behaviour. Grampian Police are running football matches in the evenings for youngsters in Garthdee. The initiative, being run in conjunction with ASDA Garthdee, hopes to slash problems caused by youths.

ASGA general manager, said: "ASDA Bridge of Dee is delighted to be giving youths the opportunity to participate in regular football matches."



"This election Communication printed and published on behalf of Gordon Townson"


There is a council by-election taking place on 23 June in the Garthdee ward. The SNP candidate is Gordon Townson. As a former police officer with 30 years experience, Gordon has worked as a community officer and education liaison officer.

A former chairman of Grampian Police Diced Cap Charitable Trust, he currently coordinates the Jasmine Charity Challenge, working with several schools across the region, bringing schools, charities, and businesses together to help young people maximise their potential through career opportunities.

Gordon has a wealth of life experience and is well placed to serve your area with enthusiasm and integrity. He will work hard for his constituents if you elect him on 23 June.



Grampian Police has been gifted a new pint-sized patrol car.

The fuel-efficient Chevrolet Spark - the smallest in the force fleet - has been paid for by Belmont Chevrolet and Aberdeen-based Prosource.IT.

Now the car – the first to carry the "Local Policing. Closer to you" logo – will be used as part of a cost efficiency drive by officers of the divisional Mobile Support Unit (MSU)

Aberdeen Division Chief Inspector George MacDonald said: "I would like to thank Belmont Chevrolet and Prosource IT for their generosity."

Belmont Chevrolet Aberdeen sales manager Mark Stevenson said: "The Chevrolet Spark has a low vehicle excise band of £35 per year and a combined urban fuel consumption of 55.4mpg. This makes it a cost effective motoring platform. With its punchy engine and manoeuvrability it's ideal for use as an urban commuter vehicle. Belmont and Chevrolet are delighted to support Grampian Police and we feel this is an excellent example of the Chevrolet Spark igniting its appeal to our communities for cost effective motoring."

Prosource.IT director Alan Cowie added: "We're an award-winning global company headquartered in Aberdeen. We decided to put our money where our mouth is by supporting our local community in this innovative way. We see this partnership as an extension of our business principles and are delighted to support Grampian Police."


A BITTER row has broken out over a documentary film on the building of Donald Trump’s controversial new £750 million golf course and resort near Aberdeen. The film, which includes footage of Baxter’s arrest, is very critical of the behaviour of the Trump organisation, the economic and environmental planning of the golf course, Scottish reaction to it and Grampian Police’s apparent determination to defend Trump’s interests.

“Water and power is cut off, land disputes erupt, and some residents have thousands of tonnes of earth piled up next to their homes,” the storyline runs. “Complaints go ignored by the police, who instead arrest the film’s director, Anthony Baxter."

Baxter said he was particularly concerned by the role of Grampian Police. Within half-an-hour of interviewing one of Trump’s employees he claims he was put up against a car, handcuffed, taken away, had DNA and fingerprints taken and equipment and footage confiscated.

“After all this I am supposed to think the police are impartial. I call on them to make an apology.”



O'Connor who is president of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents (Asps) said:

"The election is over, the new Scottish Government is in place, and now is the time to get down to business. I hope we will see an end to the negativity and scaremongering in the debate on the future of Scottish policing."

O`Connor added:

"The majority of Asps members support a single force. Even with significantly enhanced collaboration between the existing eight forces, the service is not sustainable. Similarly, we do not believe that moving to a rationalised regional model would deliver the level of savings and improved outcomes that would be available in a single service. More importantly, if we are going to change we should do it only once. We do not want the cheapest service, we want the best."

O'Connor’s final pitch was:

"A single police service would mean that policing would be directed nationally, but delivered locally."

Anonymous said...
I agree with your narrative all things being equal. Although to balance the proposal this will be more centralisation of a potential malicious police-state in what is already a covert police-state.
Where will the checks and balances sit in this? Freemasons? Jesuits? Bankers? Who will wander onto these [local and national] boards? Common Purpose graduates?




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Monday, 20 June 2011

Denburn Dérive #00 PROLOGUE

Up and down Ferryhill pushing the clock to make the appointment with my collaborator. London train rumbling overhead - noisy through the alarming crack in the viaduct arch, the strain gauges the filth. Rainshowers patrol the horizons, darkening out to sea and orbiting our basin-bound town. Will we get wet today? But for now, sun breaks through and provokes a little sheen of sweat - sunglasses on I'm in too much of a hurry to be lingering and photographing all these edges, but I can't help myself. The weather is on the same edge as the transformed and re-transforming littoral of these flatlands between re-routed river and the harbour, this mudflat where once the Denburn and Backburn of Ferryhill mingled their braided way to the mightier estuary beyond and the sea.

Palmerston who bought his way into Parliament, and who opposed any extension of the franchise to the urban working class, posthumously awarded his own One Way Street with Rotten Dyke
John Aberdein

Hydroponic supplies and consumables for the cultivators of certain giggly crops snuggle cocking a snook under the slime-filthy arches of Palmerston Road at the site of stalled comprehensive redevelopment on the Denburn estuary flatlands.
Once hailed by the local authority as an exciting, emerging, dynamic new business district south of the city centre, development work here is stalled. Freedom House has been built and occupied, Pilgrim House remains a vacant lot of rubble and estuarine sand. Ready for occupation Summer 2009. The economic crisis made a liar of the developer's billboard - just as on the TV news every weekday we see and hear (and feel) the cognitive dissonant stress of special economic correspondents as they struggle to find a way to tell the tea-time massed prolity: the dawning realisation that a return to growth may not actually be feasible.

Half demolished fish smokehouses remain in a stand-off with the abandoned demolition-man's bulldozer. The anodized aluminium clad high-tech HQ of the local development corporation is gullshit streaked, neighbouring as it does the fish-packers' brick sheds with their robust business model stubborn - no spreadsheet-misdirected finance capital required. No lease-out real-estate capital leverage buy-back vehicle. Just boxed fish from the harbour; finance capital for real-estate bets might have dried up, but we all must still eat. Fishy industry half-here half-away; pencilneck suited and booted spreadsheet wranglers half-arrived. An electric tension discharges in the arc between the now and the then, and between the then and the future. That rapidly receding future juxtaposed with a past that isn't compatible with the new aspiration.


It is morning in Rubislaw Den, Aberdeen's most prosperous neighbourhood. The sumptuous, granite-faced villas erected by the Victorian shipbuilders and mill barons who made this corner of Scotland rich more than a century ago, rise up and down the tree-lined streets. In the surrounding parkland, deer graze and kingfishers swoop. All is quiet, apart from the occasional crunch of tyres on gravel as Bentleys and Lamborghinis bearing personalised number plates slip out of double-gated driveways to convey their owners to work, or ferry spouses to another day of retail therapy in the city centre.

It might stick in the craw of those living elsewhere in the UK to see wealth being so conspicuously flaunted in Aberdeen's West End – battling as they are to cope with a 35 per cent hike in gas bills or the cost of filling a fuel tank – but here, in the backyard of Europe's high-powered oil and gas executives, the latest round of soaring world energy prices are helping the industry reap rewards unseen since the boom days of the 1970s.


Aberdeen - widely thought to be the town the credit crunch forgot - but the now-stalled development tells us otherwise. High oil prices have kept the debt-wolf from the door for a while, but Aberdeen is the dead man walking - and those walking the concourses of its amerimall shopping centres are its zombies.


Fred Magdoff and Michael D Yates
The ABCs of the Economic Crisis

A working person toiling away on an automobile assembly line or in a restaurant kitchen must have found it difficult to understand how the bankers and brokers who have brought the economy to its knees made so much money simply by selling pieces of paper. When workers make cars, houses or meals, and when farmers produce food, they are producing something that people need and can use. But those who sell complex financial instruments don't produce anything tangible at all. Something doesn't seem right about making money without producing a useful good or service. And indeed, no society can survive if the only economic activity - or even the dominant activity - is lending and borrowing money. The same can be said for buying already-made things at one price and selling them at a higher price. If the only economic activity is merchant trade, everyone will soon die because nothing is being produced.

I've arranged to meet my collaborator in Union Square. Thinking that perhaps it would be ironic for us to start our collaberation there, at the sight of consumer capitalism's highest form - on the northern edge of its imperial reach - Aberdeen's newest shopping and leisure destination is, maybe, too big a bite to chew in one.


Unfinished short story

One of the many things which troubled him was the standard of product which was available from many of the retail outlets in The New Centre. It was a kind of inside out transaction, he thought. The appearance of sumptuous luxury and opulent prestige telegraphed by the surroundings was belied by the lack of choice and just-about-OK quality of the goods on offer. He sighed. He knew that this was the way of things; that the act of retail - the consumerist consummation, was now almost entirely about the experience of shopping itself. Products, once purchased, became almost irrelevant as the unsatisfiable shimmering simmering need to buy more grasped the shopper and promptly propelled him or her through the doors of the next shop along. Inside out. Like the centre itself; concrete multi-level carpark and aluminium clad shed from most exterior views but the interior veneered with brass and oak, marble and crystal glass. He understood the need for the constant renewal of businesses - the creative destruction at the heart of capitalism - "all that is solid melts into air". He appreciated the reasons for consumers' constant craving for novelty. At the heart of the human condition was the need to seek out new delights; that was hard-wired into the brains of the nomadic hunter-gatherers which we had been until only ten millenia earlier - a mere eyeblink in the full sweeping arc of human evolution. Biologically and psychologically we remained hunter-gatherers, and that heritage was best and fully both expressed in and exploited by The New Centre.


Past the road-freight loading bay of the new shopping mall which is in the same space as once occupied by a railhead freight terminal which operated fully integrated with the sea-port beyond, I arrive inside the surveillance footprint of the mall's security zone. The cycle racks once trumpeted as evidence of the mall management's committtment to sustainability now exclusively occupied by large-engine-capacity motorbikes. An automatic door and I'm inside the conditioned environment, the mediated experience of the mall. In sharp contrast to the deserted and desolated streets outside, the mall's marble veneered ersatz street is crammed with people. Their contemporary fashion uniforms instantly let me know what sort of people they are - or, more accurately, what their favorite TV programmes are.


She teamed the stripy socks and black gymshoes with the flowery dress because one of the fat girls on that American high-school singalong show did the same - so it's OK to be bigger these days - it must be, or those girls wouldn't be on the TV. It's all about messages, you know. Her whole life is one of messages, her branded possessions are laden with messages. Her car is marque "x" which says "y" about her. She reckons it says "y" about her, 'cos the advert and the carsalesman (her great annual friend - he's so flirty!) implied heavily that it would. It also lets everyone know what her paygrade is. That's very important. By the badges of their cars they keep their scores in the hierarchies.

All these things are signifiers of 'her', but, although she exercised the final and one true freedom of consumer choice, she did not truly choose them - rather they were chosen for her; they chose her. Unheedingly she spins the hamsterwheel on the neverending upgrade cycle. Surely the next upgrade iteration of her chosen phone and car or gamesconsole and kitchen appliance or laptop and holiday package or tv broadcasting standard; whatever will be the one which will make her life complete! She doesn't care that the upgrade cycle has effectively rendered the ownership of her possessions merely short term leases towards planned obsolescence - that's OK! The subscription model embraces and guides her towards a future on the upgrade path, the roadmap to forever, the added functionality, the software/hardware nexus. Mobile phone teleco business models lead the way to the free provision of hardware in return for a monthly subscription fee. The more she pays, the quicker she gets upgraded to newer more functional flashier hardware which she displays visibly to the chagrin of her inferiors in the lounge bar restaurant leisure and retail destination.

Does it trouble her that, seen from the other end of the telescope, she is in fact the product which has been manufactured conditioned moulded and finalised by her own agency; compliant vacuous consumption of advertising media (the adverts are sometimes better than the programmes!). The living room was the factory - the product being manufactured was she. She has been told what to want, told when to want it, but never told why. A pre-indebted fully conditioned compliant producer-consumer, her contract is negotiable. She is the 'installed base' to which the providers must continually 'upsell'. Her eyes are the eyes delivered to the advertisers by her media provider. Her subscription is the unarguably certain future revenue upon which the media providers base their corporate profitability forecasts as they strategise and organise: the world and its minds being theirs to homogenise.

So does it trouble her? Sometimes she wonders - is this all there is? Sometimes the shadow of the beginning of knowledge flits darkening across her consciousness, but usually, she's too distracted, too put upon, too tired to entertain these thoughts. Does it trouble her? No, she's too busy at work: crushed by the unhuman commute, enriching far-off faceless shareholders by her toils. That is when she's not going through the motions with displacement activity and clock-watching till 5 o'clock and the tea-time glass of wine (or two or three) which she's convinced herself that she deserves; digging ever deeper into the easy-credit overdraft of ersatz happiness and good cheer from the bank of Boozy Britain. Then an exhausted evening slumped in front of the plasma, ready-meal in one hand, balloon goblet of pinot grigio in the other; conditioned by advertising-funded broadcasting to be a good consumer - a commercial commodity, bought, sold and delivered gift-wrapped to the corporations; endentured, bonded, enslaved by the upgrade cycle. Then the same again tomorrow.

Ah, but retail therapy on a Saturday morning! "This is the highlight of my week" she can be heard saying to her companions, only just a little too loudly.


Outside the mall I saw the rump of a fishing-industry food sector, clinging on against the tide of valueless vague papershuffling make-work, so inside the mall I'm momentarily disgusted and disorientated by by the food-chain inversion implied by the foot-skin nibbling-fish stall in the centre of the concourse. I look away retching, my consciousness is diverted elsewhere and I percieve a psychogeograpical fault-line. Who else has allowed themselves to notice that two security guards - one of them very short, but with a hollow-eyed "don't fuck with me" look in his hard-life face and a tight-wound flick-knife potential to his bearing - have four or five boys lined up against the hoarding of an unoccupied shop unit? Apart from one, who is clearly much older, the boys look like brothers - they've all got the same haircut and are graded in height. All are wearing similarly hand-down cheap unbranded sportswear and trainers. They know what's next - the best they can hope for is summary ejection from the mall. They just don't fit here, you see.

And now across the crowd, I can see my collaborator - psychogeographer Lewis Dryburgh - man with détournement on his mind. We've arranged to meet today for a dérive up the valley of the Denburn from its outfall into the Upper Dock of the harbour. He's leaning against a pillar and putting his phone back in his pocket. I wave at him as my own phone thrums and toots - a text from Lewis. I'm late - but only by 5 minutes. We greet each other and make a start...

So, in search of an ancient watercourse, we head off towards the Upper Dock, through the new bus and coach terminal which is aesthetically very similar to (but planographically opposite from) the roadfreight loading bay at the other end of the shopping mall. "Welcome to Aberdeen!" But which is the true freight of this mall? In which direction does this building cause value to flow?

Thursday, 16 June 2011

March Stones 52 to 54 ABD. Woodside and Hilton

Confirmed in his Great Charter of 1319 (an ancient document which founded the real-estate and political power regime which prevails over the polity in Aberdeen to this day), in 1315 Robert the Bruce endowed the Burgesses of Aberdeen with a huge estate of land - The Freedom Lands. The medieval burgesses were a powerful group of men: police and army and lawmaking body and local authority all rolled into one, With a royal mandate behind them, their monopoly on force enabled them to enforce a monopoly on trade. They were the burgh. How our concept of freedom has changed.

The extent of this "gift" of land (which required an annual rent to be paid to the crown) can be seen around Aberdeen today. Often mistaken for milestones, the engraved numbered stelae which lie hidden in plain view around Aberdeen mark the boundary between the gifted estate and the hinterland beyond - Kincardine to the south, Mar to the west and Buchan to the North. Bruce had occupied Aberdeen in 1307 and 1308 while he laid waste to a large part of that hinterland.


The Harrying of Buchan was a devastating event for this area, characterised by its (surprisingly modern) ruthlessly systematic nature. This was a policy, managed and executed with businesslike efficency; entire towns like Ellon were completely eradicated, livestock and crops were burned in the fields, infrastructure was dismantled and dissipated. Some historians say that so complete was the destruction that the innate and potential wealth of Buchan was damaged for centuries after. A terrible and exceptional act of vengeful spite, unparalleled in these islands before or since.

Small wonder the Aberdonians cowered and offered Bruce whatever he wanted. The fearful and pusillanimous capitulation of Aberdeen's burghers (who had been loyal to the English crown until the pogrom in the hinterland) no doubt, in time, pricked Bruces' conscience and lead to his eventual largesse. According to the Aberdeen City and Shire website, the ordinary people of Aberdeen also "furnished" Bruce with "large supplies" of cash, food and other goods. Under what levels of terror and sword-edge compulsion was this "furnishing" obliged?



The boundary markers are know as March Stones ("march" being the Old Scots word for "boundary"). Between March Stones 49 and 51 we traversed a psychogeography of loss: a loss of social justice; a loss of workers' lives and dignity; the loss of industry and the loss of the independent burgh of Woodside. This time we climb Rosehill, following the line of the boundary between the present-day areas of Woodside and Hilton. The housing in this part of Hilton is partly characterised by doorways resembling ancient Egyptian temple pylons.

The boundary stone marked "52 ABD" is tucked up against a wall and fence at the back of the pavement on the north side of Smithfield Road, just up the hill from its junction with Clifton Road. As we walk up the steep hill, we notice that the boundary describes a narrowish tongue of land descending to the river Don at Scatterburn, then sharp back uphill, leaving Woodside outwith the boundary.




A free-standing block of granite, c.9 to 10 feet in height, which Dr Simpson believes to be a Bronze Age standing stone. It now stands in the grounds of Hilton School and may have been moved when the school was built (Anon 1949), but if so it was replaced in its original position (information from Dr W Douglas Simpson, Librarian, Aberdeen University). Anon 1949.
Visited by OS (JLD) 10 September 1952.

This standing stone is situated on a gentle ENE-facing slope at an altitude of about 80m OD. It stands within a school playground at adjacent to the gates onto Hilton Drive.
(Newspaper reference cited).
NMRS, MS/712/83, visited 11 January 1991.

This large granite standing stone, which until recently stood within the grounds of Hilton School, now forms a landscape feature in a new housing development. It measures about 1.5m in breadth by 0.9m in thickness at ground-level and 2.95m in height, and its broad face is aligned WNW and ESE. A scar on its SSW corner suggests that the top of the stone has been broken off.
The stone, which is enclosed by narrow iron railings set on a circular plinth, is depicted on both the 1st and 2nd editions of the OS 6-inch map (Aberdeenshire, 1869, sheet lxxv; 1902, lxxv.NW).
Visited by RCAHMS (JRS), 19 June 2002.



Across the curiously quiet Hilton Drive from the Lang Sane, boundary stone 53 ABD is integrated into the pavement outside a corner shop. It has an Ordnance Survey benchmark rivet embedded in its face. The views down Hilton Road towards the mouth of the River Don and the North Sea have made the ascent so far up from the river worthwhile. But there's a good bit more climbing still to come.

Half-a-kilometer away we can hear the continual traffic rumble and swish of Anderson Drive, all the more audible since the removal last year of the verge-side shrubbery which had acoustically shielded residential areas from the carriageways since the 1960's. The line of the March Stone boundary draws us up Hilton Road between the the three hectares of open space at Stewart Park and the abandoned Rosehill Quarry which mirrors it opposite. Again, the area is curiously quiet. No-one plays the all-weather tennis courts, no-cricketers in the Victorian pavilion by the oval. No children kick footballs on the grassy extents of the park; a philantrhopic gift from the widow of a Woodside merchant. Other than us, only those handful walking their dogs give themselves the permission to be out in the air, walking in the neat park and wild overgrown abandoned quarry.


Presented to the park by the Captain
of the Arctic whaler "Benbow" in 1903


In order to obtain historical evidence for price trends, one needs to examine a case where a non-recyclable resource went through a complete Hubbert cycle worldwide. There are no previous examples of a mineral resource that has done so. In fact, crude oil may turn out to be the first, which incidentally may be one of the reasons why the concept of "peak oil" is so difficult for many people to grasp.

A resource does not need to be a mineral one to show a Hubbert curve. A biological resource which is produced (or "extracted") much faster than it is replaced may also follow a bell-curve. Historically, there have been several cases of terminally depleted biological resources. The whaling industry of the 19th Century is a good example, as already noted by Coleman (Non Renewable Resources, Oxford University Press, 4(1995) 273).


From the figure [above], it is evident that the production of whale oil followed a bell-curve according to Hubbert's theory, modelled with a simple Gaussian curve, albeit showing strong oscillations. These data are in excellent agreement with the report on Right Whale abundance by Baker and Clapham (Trends in Ecology and Evolution Vol.19 No.7 July 2004), indicating that the fall in production after the peak was caused by depletion and not by the switching to different fuels.




The atmosphere is charged with granite dust; factory stacks and quarry tips mingle incongrously with woods and pastures. From the Cruvies to Stoneywood, the banks of Don are dotted with factories in all the stages between full activity and silent decay.


Abridged from "Woodside Nae Mair!"
Fullerton Court and Murray Court Oral History Group
Frae a the Airts to Haudagain

Dorothy Crichton

In 1798, Lord George Gordon Noel Byron, celebrated English poet, was a young lad living a short time in Woodside with his old nurse, Agnes Gray. She lived on the first floor of the old house at 719 Great Northern Road. The house was demolished in the 1950's to make way for the dual carriageway. The exact date of Byron's visit and length of stay in Woodside isn't known. But when there he 'fell in love' with an attractive girl named Lexy Campbell who lived with a very respectable spinster - Nelly Calder. Poor Lexy lost face by this affair and her subsequent history was unfortunate. 


Crossing North Anderson Drive at its junction with Rosehill Drive/Provost Rust Drive is a trial for pedestrians. A two-stage pelican crossing with the usual central reservation 'sheep-pen' (that's what the traffic engineers actually call these things) in the middle places the pedestrian in the centre of the high-speed traffic flow, surrounded by fast-moving traffic, oppressed by noise and fumes. To get to the sheep pen we press and wait. When at last the green man shows, it's necessary to remain vigilant and be sure that the motor traffic actually does bother to stop for the red-light, which is these days so often taken to mean: "first three only please". When sure that the vehicles have actually stopped, the pedestrian crosses meekly under the frowning glare of the impeded motorists who's high speed progress has been so thoughlessly interrupted by young mother with buggy, elderly carmudgeon with some shopping, pre-teen kids in their own worlds and a couple of middle aged researchers. < why don't these people just get about by car>  Then standing crammed into the sheep-pen we press the button and wait again.

Across at last, we would be taken by the pavement round a pointless loop to get to where we want to go. Instead, we use the well-worn desire-line path which crosses the grass and bisects the shabby shrubbery to reach the top of Smithfield Drive.

54 ABD