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Summer Edition 2010

in Featurede this issu UTG Pete Thomson Investigates

Oh, go on, go on, go on!

Councillor Questions

Youth Flat

Interview with actress Pauline McLynn

With Kirsty West

Success Story

Summer Edition 10

Contents Editorial 1



Library News


Pauline McLynn


Councillor Question Time


Printfield Project


Youth Flat News


Annie Inglis

Uni Stories


Kittybrewster School


Local News


SVQ Stories


Local News




Woodside Medical Group

Garden Tip


Adult Learning


St Machar Funday


Woodside Network


Pete the Punk

the new To view in colour ss Free Pre se visit Plea mu

Here we are folks! The long awaited edition of Fersands and Fountain Free Press. The editorial team have been hard at work over the last few weeks to get this publication out to all you good folks in Woodside, working with shmu’s temporary publications developer, a post which will be permanently filled in the next few weeks. This magazine features articles relevant and important to your local area. Special thanks go to those who contributed their articles in time for this issue, but we desperately need YOUR input. Is there anything you feel is missing from this magazine? Can you see a way to improve this magazine? Are you involved with an organisation or group that would like to feature in this magazine? Do you have opinions, complaints or comments that you would like to share with your local neighbourhood? If so then you need to get in touch with Fersands Free Press via shmu (Station House Media Unit) on 01224 515013. It would be great if you could commit yourself to attend short editorial meetings every couple of weeks in Woodside during the lead up to quarterly magazines, but if you just want to contribute occasionally or even once, then please do get in touch. Remember it’s no use thinking it, you need to get out there and do it! Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your magazine.

union terrace gardens: the fight goes on pete thomson investigates


t was an elegant, simple plan. Aberdeen’s beautiful but neglected Union Terrace Gardens would become home to the city’s long established but currently cramped Peacock Visual Arts. With funding and planning permission in place and a superb design by Brisac Gonzalez, the new centre would not only be sympathetic to the area but would place the city firmly on the cultural map. What’s not to like? Local oil and gas mogul Sir Ian Wood had other ideas, however, and offered £50m of his own money towards an alternative plan, the grandiose City Square project. This would raise the Gardens to street level, its green space replaced with a concrete plaza and multi-storey car park. Despite a subsequent £300k public consultation in which Sir Ian’s scheme was firmly rejected by the populace, he refused to withdraw and left the decision in the hands of... yes, I’m afraid so... Aberdeen City Council. Not even their most ardent supporters could deny our council’s torrid history of incompetence, and now our elected members were faced with a simple choice of accepting money from a rich benefactor - a sum nowhere near the total cost of his preferred plan - or raising the city’s cultural profile internationally for very little outlay. Not exactly rocket science, but with the council currently slashing services while splashing out millions converting Marischal College into a fancy new HQ, I dare say it was over-optimistic to nurture even the tiniest hope that they would take the sensible option and back Peacock’s visionary proposal. Sadly, this proved to be the case. Following a chaotic voting procedure that ended in a 14-14 tie, our soon-to-retire but fabulously well-clad Lord Provost Peter Stephen, in as craven a display of corporate bootlicking as we’ve seen since Alex Salmond lifted Holyrood’s shirt-tails to Donald Trump, used his casting vote in favour of the City Square. I later asked Mr. Stephen why he had chosen to ignore the findings of a very expensive public consultation but he ignored this question, also making no attempt to explain what benefits he thought City Square would bring to the city. Instead, and with quite astonishing insularity, he replied: “The population of Aberdeen is currently around 213,000 and only 13,000 voted. 200,000 people left it to the councillors”. Subsequent emails asking Mr. Stephen to clarify this non-answer were ignored. Many observers thought the whole voting process hopelessly skewed by the exclusion from proceedings of three council members who sit on the Peacock board. On the other hand, Councillor John Stewart, member of ACSEF and wholehearted supporter of the Wood plan, was not excluded despite his obvious bias. One of those excluded, Hilton Councillor George Adam, commented: “The final vote after the debate was a complete farce. Peacock and the city have lost an iconic world-class development (which in March 2008 received unanimous support from the council planning committee) and what we face instead are many years of debate, consultations, reports, artist’s impressions, architect’s plans, planning meetings etc. all to no avail. It will be one big waste of time, money and effort. I predict the City Centre Project will not happen.”

Aberdeen North MP Frank Doran shared similar views in a letter to constituents: “I have been a long-standing supporter of Peacock Visual Arts and felt very strongly that their proposal for the Gardens would enhance artistic and cultural life in the city. We are not particularly well supplied in this respect compared to other Scottish cities and I saw the Peacock project as a significant advance. “I believed that, given the public funds already invested, the guarantee of the largest Arts Council award to the city, and their stake in the project, the City Council would prefer to support the certainty of Peacock against the uncertainty (and £90 million of extra public money) of Sir lan’s project. I was wrong and I am deeply unhappy at the inability of the Council to show the real leadership that was necessary. I deeply regret that the Peacock project has been lost. That is a great loss for the city.” Meanwhile, the council has set up a steering committee to forward the City Square project. There will be an international competition to design the new development, though it will be several years before any plans come before the council. But many doubts hang over the project’s future. As Frank Doran observed: “I think it is extremely doubtful that Sir Ian’s project, as it is currently envisaged, will ever see the light of day. The scheme needs at least £90m of public money that just isn’t available in the current climate. One funding idea is to put what is basically a surcharge on business rates. I think that many businesses in the city may support Sir Ian’s project, but will be less enthusiastic if they have to pay for it.” In conclusion, then, the whole situation is a mess. But the Gardens are not yet lost to the city. Groups against the destruction of UTG have sprung up on Facebook and other social networking sites and several well-attended picnics, fundraising gigs and other events have taken place in the Gardens and elsewhere. On a beautiful July day, I attended the Big Lunch at UTG, an event organised by university volunteers with free catering by city bistro Cafe 52. As I looked around at the hundreds of people of all ages enjoying the sunshine, the soup and the sheer serenity of this city centre oasis, I just wished that Sir Ian Wood and his cronies at ACSEF could be here, in person, to see for themselves exactly what it is they are threatening to destroy.


Library NEWS

Woodside Library

Have Your Say Residents may be aware that Woodside Library on Clifton Road has been included in a review of library provision as part of a wider consultation on community facilities throughout the City presented in a report to the Council’s Education, Culture and Sport Committee at its meeting on 27 May 2010. The purpose of this report is to review the Council’s learning estate and to consider options for sustainable future service delivery based on service co-location, partnership working and the use of shared resources in order to achieve Best Value. In practice, this might result in the closure of some buildings but could also include rebuilding or extending other buildings in strategic locations in order to bring together as many services as possible under one roof. The name ‘community hub’ has been coined to encompass this type of service delivery but it should be stressed that hubs are not limited to one model, as there will not always be a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Within libraries, several examples already exist throughout the City where services are now co-located. Kincorth Customer Access Point (CAP) incorporates the library, community education centre and Customer Access Point. Cove Library, houses a police office and a community meeting room. Bucksburn Academy incorporates Bucksburn secondary school, Marlpool School, the Beacon Sports Centre, a combined public and school library and an Aberdeen College Learning Centre. Kaimhill Primary School (opening January 2011) will include a combined public and school library along with a College Learning Centre and a community centre.


What we are seeing therefore is a move away from stand alone buildings that are built for just one service provider. This is no longer economical, or even desirable, for a number of reasons such as the health and safety of staff where lone working is in place and the upkeep of buildings that serve only one purpose, within limited opening hours. There will also be services currently delivered from buildings that are no longer fit for purpose but where alternative locations cannot be identified. In such cases there are still other ways of bringing the service to the community. In libraries, this could include, for example, using the online reservation service to have books delivered to a central location within the community; wider use of the Home Service which delivers books and other items to the elderly and disabled in their own homes; bringing storytimes and rhymetimes to local playgroups, schools and nurseries; book groups meeting in community centres; or PC taster sessions held wherever there is networked or wireless access. The current status of Woodside Library is that the Council has agreed to retain the library as an operational library in the short term. In the interim period the Library Service is looking for either alternative accommodation or alternative means of delivery. Continued use of

the library as a public building would require considerable investment and even this would only be replacing ‘like with like’ by bringing the fabric of the building up to modern day standards. Consideration also needs to be given to the location of the library, and how easy residents find it to get to there in order to access the services they wish to use. User figures have been steadily declining over the years at Woodside and we believe that this is partly due to its isolation from local services and amenities. However, comments received from members of the community have made it clear that they wish to retain a library service in the Woodside area. The Library Service therefore invites readers of the Fersands Free Press to get in touch and state which aspects of the library service you would wish to continue and how you would like to see these services delivered. Comments are particularly invited on the two proposals outlined above for the future delivery of the service, i.e., shared use of another building within the Woodside area or a distributed service delivered by visiting library staff who specialise in particular areas that are of interest to you. Please take the opportunity to say what you think. All feedback is appreciated and can be sent by email to:

Oh, go on, go on, go on! Maybe you have to be a certain age or have a certain sense of humour to recognise Mrs Doyle’s catchphrase from the comedy series Father Ted – oh, and watch TV as well of course! I fall into the above category and was delighted when Pauline McLynn came to Aberdeen in May to be part of WORD10. Now you may think this is old hat now and I should be looking at more up-to-date entertainment. Well, it turns out that Pauline is the author of several rather funny and heart-warming books. This would come as no surprise if you saw the woman – she glowed with enthusiasm, warmth and humour (as well as being just this side of manic!). Since the recent threat to our Woodside Library, I’ve turned my back on Amazon and gone to Aberdeen City Library’s online catalogue. Sure enough, Pauline’s The Woman On The Bus was available at Woodside so off I toddled and now I’m hooked! In this novel she deals with serious issues including alcoholism but finds

opportunities for a gentle humour to shine through. This particular book is one for the ladies, ‘reminiscent of Maeve Binchy and Joanne Harris’ according to the blurb. In her latest book Missing You Already a family comes to terms with Alzheimer’s. Not for me at present – I’ll be back online and ordering some of her earlier comic novels featuring private detective Leo Street (‘fabulously funny’ according to Sunday Independent). It only costs 50p to request a book from another library so it’s still a great bargain. You have to get a code from the library before you can do this online but from then onwards you can pop into the Woodside and Fountain Centre and organise things on the public access computers there. Just ask the super friendly and efficient ladies behind the desk for help (yes, I was bribed

to say that – a packet of yoghurt covered raisins from the Food Co-op to be precise). For those television viewers, Pauline has now moved on to play a racier character as Libby Croker, a librarian and love interest of Frank Gallagher in Channel 4’s Shameless. It’s not a show that I’ve watched in the past but I’m kind of curious... WORD takes place every year on the University Campus. Just on our doorstep!! Let’s look forward to a weekend in May next year and WORD11. There’s always something for everyone – popular authors, music, art, poets, science ‘stuff ’ (not my thing really), face painting, Reading Bus and loads of great FREE shows for kids of all ages. So see you there! Oh, go on, go on, go on, go on...


councillor question time

Question Time with

Your Local Councillor Hilton and Stockethill Councillor Kirsty West kindly agreed to give up some time in her busy schedule to discuss aspects of her work, influences and the community. Councillor West was born in Aberdeen, grew up in Berryden and attended Ashgrove Infants School, Skene Square Primary and then Robert Gordon Secondary School. Kirsty graduatd with a number of Highers and Advanced Highers and has been an Aberdeen City councillor since May 2007, sitting on the Education, Culture and Sport Committee, the Licensing Committee and the Social Care and Wellbeing Committee Why did you decide on a career in politics and has it turned out as you expected? It was certainly not a career choice to go into politics. I joined the SNP at the age of 14 and started out by delivering leaflets. As I got more involved, I assumed more responsibility at the local branch level and was eventually asked to stand as a local councillor. I see myself as a people person and felt that I could do my best to represent the residents of the ward that I grew up in. The work is definitely not what I expected and it is so difficult to explain what a councillor does, as the job is so different and varied every day. You could find yourself being very proactive on the level of the local community one day and then proactive at a higher strategic level the next day on an Aberdeen city-wide issue. Communication skills are extremely important as well as managing your own time, which is something that people can struggle with. It used to


be seen as a part time job and there was a time not long ago when you could only be a councillor if you were retired or had an alternative source of income to support you, which meant that we had part time councillors. We now have a living wage to get by on which means that we can now afford to devote most of our time to our council work. This allows for the possibility of anyone, regardless of their background or education, becoming a councillor which can only be good for the Ward.. What influence do the other Councillors outwith the controlling LibDem-SNP parties have within the council? The council is led by a LibDem-SNP alliance, but that is not to say that councillors from other parties do not have an influence within the council. Although we will have the final decision on a particular topic, the suggestions and ideas of any of the councillors, from whichever party, are listened to and adopted if they are sensible and costed ideas.

The councillors with any specific expertise in a particular area, will be influential on the various committees within the council along with professionals outside the council who may also be asked for their input when deciding on an issue. Would these qualified professionals not be best placed to decide on issues related to their areas of expertise rather than the councillors? The professionals outside the council are asked for their advice but the fact is that they have not been elected. The councillors are elected by the people of the Ward and as such make the final decisions affecting the Wards. Ultimately the decision is based on the political direction that we wish to take the City, according to the manifesto that we were elected on. We do have issues where we have to go against the wishes of the people who elected us, because there is simply a limited amount of money that can be spent. Cuts in spending will always be unpopular.

How can you get people interested in their local politics? In some areas, turn out for elections is quite low and Woodside is one of those areas. There are however networks such as the Woodside Neighbourhood Network that is very active on behalf of the residents of Woodside and work closely with the council to put forward the views of their residents. I would like to see many more people getting involved in their local communities but I think the problem is partly that people do not realise the impact that politics has on their lives and also that people simply do not have the time. They have their own lives to deal with and cannot get involved in things like the Woodside Network or Community council. It is hard to get people more interested, it really is… but we do try! One of the local issues within Woodside is the threatened closure of the youth flat despite this being the only one in Woodside, with Tillydrone having two and Hilton having five youth flats of a similar nature. Can you give any updates on this situation? This is a process that the Fersands and Fountain Community Project have discussed with councillors quite a lot in the past. I actually do not know what stage the process is at the moment and therefore do not know if a decision has been made whether to keep it or not. As the youth flat is not council run and therefore not funded by the council, it does not fall under any of the above committees. The ultimate decision will probably be made by the Housing and Environment committee, headed by Aileen Malone, as this committee actually own the flat. It is therefore simply a ‘property’ decision. Any decision made, cannot be appealed against providing the report has had the correct consultation input from all parties concerned. I can certainly look into this to see where we are with the process.

What would you say are the biggest problems that you face in the Ward? Housing problems are the biggest issues that I come across, worsening over the three years I’ve been a councillor. These problems started with the ‘right to buy’ policies brought out by Thatcher. This put us in a horrible situation where we were forced to sell off too many properties and were unable to build new ones, as the rent that we would receive before having to sell the property would not cover the cost of building. Therefore our housing stock plummeted. The rules are changing now so we are able to build housing again but it will be a long time before we can get ourselves out of the situation we are in. The statutory obligations we have regarding housing, must be fulfilled. Therefore homeless people will be first on the list. Anyone else who wants to move into a council house is going to find it very difficult especially if they are inflexible in the areas they wish to move to. The reality is that people do not realise how few council properties there are and that those in perhaps the less desirable areas are the properties that are being freed up. Housing problems due to immigration are more to do with the perception rather than the reality. The fact is that the council absolutely have to build far more houses, which we are now able to do. These new builds will include areas such as Cults, Rorie Hall, Byron Park and Hayton Road. Another initiative we have is to give people incentives to downsize their living accommodation if they are able to do so, to get the benefits of smaller bills etc., thereby freeing up larger properties. Independence and the SNP. Would we have been in the same dire economic situation as Ireland had we been an independent nation? I have always believed that Scotland should be independent. We are a country and should have the right to govern ourselves. We are currently

being governed from Westminster by the parties that finished third and fourth in Scotland and that bothers me. It means we have to go in a political direction that is not right for Scotland. If we had control of our own finances then we would be able to target things in the best way for Scotland. With regards to the economy, had we had independence after the national referendum in the seventies, we could be more like Norway is today with a massive oil fund to fall back on in these hard economic times, with the opportunity to decide where to spend that money in the interests of the people of Scotland. We also have the potential ability to harness the energy from our unique natural environment to become a renewable energy centre rather then just an oil centre. I believe we should be Scottish first and then throw our hat in with Europe. What is your motivation and how would you like to see Woodside progressing? I see it as an achievement by making someone’s life a little bit better. For example, getting blocked drains cleaned out, that have been bothering residents for a while. This may seem like a little thing but if that makes a big difference to someone’s standard of living then that is great. I would also like to see Woodside keep their medical centre as, in terms of deprivation stats, Woodside would be seen as amongst the most deprived in Aberdeen if it were not for the doctors surgery and access to public transport. If they were to lose the doctors surgery it would be a blow for the area. I also think that much more community involvement would be a great way forward for Woodside, for example the wall in the Fersands community area that was painted by the kids, organised by Mark Lovie at the FFCP and supported by the whole community, is respected by the people of that community as a community project. If we can involve the community more and get a pride in the area then that would be a great way forward for the whole area.


Printfield Project Tel: 01224 276788 Monday - Friday, Project Co-ordinator - Kit Trail The Printfield Tenants Forum was formed in 1987 and got funding for the Printfield Project in 1989. Funding from the Fairer Scotland Fund, Aberdeen C.C. and other agencies has to be applied for every year to keep the Project open. The Project is run in 2 flats – 11A/B Printfield Walk and a portacabin. Volunteers help to raise funds for the Project activities. Printfield Tenants Forum 10 local people, project worker, housing officers, Community Wardens, Police and local councillors. The Forum deals with issues in the area regarding housing, the environment and the police. Printfield Community Management Committee 8 local people, project coordinator, Community Team Leader and local councillors. The Management Committee deals with the running of the project. Under 3’s drop-in crèche – Mon/Wed/Fri (75p per session towards snack) Term time and school holidays. Care Commission Inspection Report very favourable. Waiting list. 6

Woodside Partnership After School Club (for parents who are working, in education or training) Monday – Friday 3.15-5.45pm at the Woodside Community. Pick-ups from Woodside and Kittybrewster Schools. Youth Groups for 5-16 years (free) – meet every week during school terms. Activities include Art sessions with Whitespace and Youth Achievement Awards (in personal development) Holiday activities available during the Summer, October and Easter holidays. Drop-in support for young people and tenants – information and advice on anything from benefits/ council repairs to neighbour problems. Drugs Action Drop-in Tues 10 -12noon Computer/Literacy/Internet classes (free) Wed 9.30 – 11.30am, Thurs 12.30 – 2.30pm

Printfield Community Janitor – hosting a youth for 25 hours a week for 26 weeks. (Feb 2010 – Aug2010) Responsibilities include cleaning stairwells and lobbies, tidying the area and environment problems such as litter, dumping and dog fouling. Credit Union point Tues 9.30 – 10.30am Washing machine and tumble dryer use for a small fee. St Machar Parent Support Project – Project staff work closely with this group. New and nearly new Charity Shop – run by a volunteer to raise funds for Project activities. Complementary Therapy sessions – Thursdays. Free (but a £2 donation suggested towards a new therapy table.)

Pathways appointments

The Project Portacabin available for hire (£5ph) for children’s birthday parties and other social/community events.

Park Regeneration Group (part of Forum) Raising funds to improve the play park.

Workshops/courses to address needs/interests of locals and subject to gaining funding.

CHARITY SHOP HEADLINE There is a small charity shop based in the Project at 11B Printfield Walk, it has been open for a month and is going well. It is mainly children’s and adults’ clothes and small bric-a-brac items. We take donations and the shop is open to anyone. 21st BIRTHDAY PARTY Printfield Community Project celebrated its 21st Birthday on Saturday 24th July at the Hilton Community Centre. It was a great day and the weather was beautiful for a change. In the afternoon we had a barbecue for our families and catered for around seventy. There were children of all ages, mums, dads, grandmas, grandas, volunteers and staff. There was a great atmosphere and the kids enjoyed face painting and bouncy castles. In the evening there was adult entertainment consisting of a Quiz, Karaoke and a Tombola. There were a few surprises, we definitely have singing stars in our midst. The staff won’t be giving up their day jobs as yet.

NATIONAL PLAY DAY Wed 4th Aug 2010

Hilton Community Centre was a brilliant venue.

Printfield community project would like to thank everyone who took part in our event. There were over 150 people in attendance A good day was had by all. We managed to raise £270.00 towards the regeneration of the park and also the childrens xmas party We would like to give extra thanks to

YOUTH INTERNATIONAL PARADE Saturday 31st July - Down Union Street from 11 - 12 o’clock. 24 young people from Printfield represented the Woodside area alongside Whitespace Staff and Youthworkers.

Nana in Market Street for their 3x £25.00 vouchers for nail art • Flash Photography in George Street for their £75.00 voucher • Spar in Clifton Road for their donation towards the food hamper • Loose Ends in Clifton Road for their ladies blow dry voucher • for their donation of a guitar and amp....

They wore bright orange t-shirts with the words of WOODSIDE spread across the participants. Overall the parade was a great success with the weather staying dry.

....and last but no means least a great big thank you to H. Milne Butchers at 1 Inverurie Road, Bucksburn and P. Crockett butchers at 31 Carnie Drive, Aberdeen for their generous donation for our BBQ!

STREETPLAY Youthworkers along with play equipment were in the park area to play games with the children over the summer holidays... weather permitting!

Many Thanks Mrs. T Mearns and the Printfield Community Project


Council to evict successful Fersands community eye investigates A hugely successful Youth Flat recently opened at Sandilands Drive is being evicted by Aberdeen City Council. Housing Convener Aileen Malone insists the flat be returned to residential use despite the massive costs reinstating the property will entail. Run by the Fersands and Fountain Community Project (FFCP), the flat opened on April 12 after several weeks spent preparing the space and collecting furniture. Youth worker Claire Bradshaw told Community Eye: “The response has been fantastic. Attendance is exceeding all expectations and seems to be increasing by the week. This is a terrific facility, both boys and girls groups are doing very well. We are running excursions and residential camps all summer and the young people held a Sale Day at the Woodside Fountain Centre and raised more than £300 towards their summer camps”. The youth flat also offers a healthy eating option to young people at lunchtimes several days a week. Parttime youth worker Doddy Murdoch said: “For £1 we are offering a healthy wrap, sugar-free drink, yoghurt and fruit. We’re getting up to 25 young people a day coming in. It’s great. We’ve had groups down midnight swimming at Stonehaven outdoor pool, gorge walking, taking part in film-making classes – we’re doing stuff here on a very tight budget that would cost thousands otherwise”. So, why disrupt a successful, much-needed facility? Well, times have changed. The days of Fersands flats lying empty and unwanted for years have gone. There is a desperate shortage of housing in the city. Councillor Malone wants as many properties as possible available to homeless families. “That’s a fair point,” says local activist Peter Thomson, “But it ignores the harsh realities all disadvantaged areas face. With all due respect to Councillor Malone, this is not Cults or Bieldside. Many young people here, and in all regeneration areas, have to cope with very tough domestic circumstances on a daily basis. As a result, they must deal with a range of issues involving sexual health, drink and drugs etc. - universal issues, to be fair - but they don’t get the same level of support as young people in more affluent areas. That’s why the council has a clear duty to do everything it can to support community initiatives in what really is a difficult field”. What will happen to the youth flat when it’s evicted? Well, although it has been served notice to quit by August 28, there is a chance it might be offered a short term lease at the currently vacant 22b Sandilands Drive. This would at least keep a roof over its head, but such a move would have its own set of problems, particularly where access is concerned.

Let’s look at the facts. The community project has held the lease at 22a for 17 years. Until recently it was used as a nursery. In that time new toilets have been fitted and internal walls removed. In the last five years the project obtained funding enabling it to build an external door giving direct access to the garden. The garden itself was decked over three years ago. These structural improvements make the property ideal for youth work. The external door prevents conflict with neighbours over access, noise, litter on the stairs etc. and everyone is happy with the current arrangement. The property at 22b has no such advantages. Neighbour David Stewart told Community Eye: “It’s perfect the way it is – the kids have their own space downstairs. They’re not out vandalising stuff and not causing anyone any problems. But if they move to 22b then they will be milling around the lobby and that will cause a security problem the building didn’t have before. The council need their heads knocked together!” FFCP Coordinator Mark Lovie said: “The police, school, local housing office and other agencies working in the community are aware both that there is a great need for a youth work base in the area at this time, and that it would make poor sense to disrupt the current work that is ongoing. The problem is that the property at 22a is owned by Housing, 22b by Estates. They are both council departments, so a simple transfer of properties between them would mean a house would still be available for domestic use, the youth flat could stay where it is and residents would have no further upset.

Youth Flat as housing crisis deepens The youth provision could then be allowed to develop for 12 months while more secure arrangements are made”. Asked why the youth work couldn’t take place in FFCP’s new home at Woodside Fountain Centre, Mark explains: “There have been many positives moving here but as it is a shared space, and the layout of the building now it’s been extended makes it very hard to keep track of people moving around – that makes it quite unsuitable for youth work. On the other hand, the compact nature of the current youth flat is just perfect.” This is not just a question of premises, however. One very positive development was a £45k grant award from the London-based Tudor Trust to pay a percentage of youth flat staff costs and all other outgoings – rent, energy, internet, phone etc. - over the next three years. Tudor Trust’s Nicky Lappin told FFCP: “It’s quite unusual for us to make grants over a longer period than requested. I think this gives a sense of how much the trustees liked your plans. They thought it would be very positive for the young people to have their own space in the heart of the area, and that the accessibility of the flat would make it easier to draw in young people who are not currently involved”. Of the Trust award, Claire Bradshaw said: “This is a huge grant to a regeneration area, vital when the social sector is facing serious cuts. But if we can’t extend the lease or find new premises, we will lose this valuable funding”. Local councillor George Adam shares her concern. “It is vital we don’t lose the Tudor Trust award, especially at a

The kids are alright...

time when money is so tight at the council and projects like the FFCP are having their grants cut every year. “It’s important that youth activities go on in the area and we work with the young people to provide some of the support they need. I would like to see the youth flat continue at 22a and hope the council can be persuaded to allow this. It seems to have worked out well during the last few months and is very well used”. But what do the kids think? Hayley (16) says: “We love this place. It’s somewhere to come when it’s wet and cold. We come straight in off the street so we’re not hanging around the landing annoying the neighbours”. Marcus (14) likes the games facilities: “We come in, play pool and meet our mates. There’s Wii and TV, we can make tea and toast if we want”. Mel (17) is happy to have somewhere to go: “There’s nothing else round here, this place keeps us off the street and out of trouble. We’re all mates here and get along fine”. In conclusion, then, a youth flat is being kicked out of ideal premises simply because it’s expedient to housing politics. At Community Eye, we can only hope the council will come to recognise that youth flats and the like are the social glue that binds communities together; then they might adopt a more flexible, enlightened approach. Last word, however, goes to Claire Bradshaw: “It’s so frustrating. The young people put so much work into painting and decorating the place, they have a real sense of ownership and responsibility. They’ll all be devastated if we lose it. It means so much to them”.


Annie Inglis MBE 1922–2010 Annie believed that everyone had something to offer and could gain from exposure to the Arts. “Granny Annie” welcomed all with open arms from 3 year olds upwards. Annie was widely known for her work with Aberdeen Arts Centre and projects throughout Scotland. Less well documented was her time as a supply teacher at Powis Academy (now St Machar Academy), the formation of The Woodside Wonders (a youth theatre group in the early 80s) and the concerts she organised to entertain the Woodside Pensioners in the Woodside Burgh Hall about the same time.

Woodside resident 1980–2005 Annie Inglis died recently and, for anyone who didn’t know of her, she was an amazing woman: drama teacher, theatre director, actor, author, storyteller, mother, and Woodside resident! Steeped in the Arts, Annie would provide the push, the words of encouragement, the practical support and the unfailing enthusiasm when it came to helping people, in particular the young, to participate in the joy of theatre.

Uni Stories Former St Machar Academy head girl Leanne Bain has collected a hat-trickof awards as the top honours graduate from the School of Law. The 21-year-old, who now lives in Blackburn, Aberdeen, has won the Cruickshank Prize, awarded annually to the best student completingrequirements for the degree of LLB with first class Honours; the Lyon Prize, awarded in turn in successive years to a student in Science, Arts and Social Sciences, Divinity, Education, Law, Medicine and Engineering; and the Family law Association Prize, awarded to the best overall performance in essay and examination in Honours Family Law.

Annie lived and worked in Woodside until 2005 when she reluctantly moved into sheltered housing. This did not stop her from coaching, teaching, performing and directing plays, however, right up to the week before her death. Annie will be sadly missed but not forgotten. Her memory will be kept alive by her family, friends and generations of young people, each with their own “Annie Story”. Louisa Brown

In addition to her course commitments, Leanne also held down a part-time job and found the time to qualify as a dance teacher, gaining the Associate Diploma in ballet and tap from the British Association of Teachers of Dancing. She was also involved in the establishment of the Aberdeen Student Law Review - a journal written and edited by the students of the University’s Law School which provides a platform for both undergraduate and postgraduate students to submit scholarly essays and case notes on an area of law of their choice.

It is the second year running that the Cruickshank Prize has been awarded to a former St Machar pupil – with Leanne’s boyfriend Ryan Whelan taking the honours in 2009.

Leanne will become Managing Editor of the Review when she returns to the University of Aberdeen in September to study for a Masters in Oil and Gas Law. She undertook her own academic research last summer after being awarded the Carnegie Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship made by the Carnegie Trust for Scotland.

Leanne said: “I’m absolutely over the moon to have won three prizes,” she said. “I have loved doing my degree and it makes all the hard work worthwhile.”

Leanne’s parents Diane and Hugh Bain will be there to watch her graduate and her grandparents will join them at the end of the ceremony to see her in academic dress


school news

Kittybrewster School Update

Kittybrewster nominated three of its ongoing projects in 3 categories for this year’s Children and Young People’s Awards Ceremony. The three projects were:

Europe Presentation Kittybrewster pupils went to Europe just before the summer holidays – and never even left the classroom! The primary 5 and 6 joint class created a European presentation for the parents and guardians. Pupils split into small groups and carried out research on seven different countries: Spain, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Poland and

Italy. The groups’ hard work paid off with very successful presentations, which everyone enjoyed. After each presentation, groups answered a wide range of questions from parents about their chosen country. It was clear to see the groups had not just gained a wide range of knowledge, but also thoroughly enjoyed this class project!

The P1/P2 Skeleton The P3 Egypt Museum and KIDZ-CO - our P7 mobile disco company. Although it was a great tribute to the pupils and staff to be nominated for any award the fact that the Skeleton project actually won it’s category was great news for Kittybrewster. This piece of fantastic work won the Healthy Living Award and can be viewed by visiting our school web site - www. kittybrewster.aberdeen. and following the link to the P2 pupil work. Altogether Kittybrewster had 2 tables at the award ceremony, held in AECC on Tuesday 15th June - the only Primary school in Aberdeen that had so many representatives. This is the 4th consecutive year that Kittybrewster had some of its work nominated for awards and no doubt they’ll be back for more next year. Watch this space... 11


Woodside’s Got Talent There’s some brand new musical talent blooming in Woodside, with local youths getting music lessons at the Project. Jonathan (drummer,12), Jack (guitar, 11) and Michal (bass, also 11) are collectively known as Glitch and tutor Stuart Rennie is very impressed. “Some of the kids have a natural talent,” he told the Free Press, “And they seem to pick up new beats and new riffs really quickly. If they keep practising and continue to progress they will become very good players. “This is sometimes the first time the kids have had a chance to try out a musical instrument, Stuart continued, “But also some kids get music lessons at school and love the extra, more informal lessons we offer here with their friends. Liam (drummer,15), for example, has been coming for three months and his technique gets better every week”. Jack told us: “I’ve been practising for ages with my dad, but it’s really great doing it here with my friends”.

Jonathan, on the other hand, says he is “Addicted to tapping out rhythms now, I get into trouble at school for breaking my pencils!” Bassist Michal thinks he is still “Just learning – but I hope I will be good soon!” It’s hoped the lads’ interest continues as their skills develop so they always have a positive and artistic outlet to express their ideas and feelings. In the past the project has supported young bands like Arcadance and No Remorse who went on to play gigs around the city. Now it’s the turn of Glitch to do their stuff, and everybody at the Free Press and project wishes them well.

Time to give and take Hundreds of people across Scotland are experiencing the benefits of being part of a time bank by getting help when they want it and by recognising they have skills of value to others. What is Time Banking? A time bank is a new and exciting way for people to come together to help others and help themselves at the same time. Participants ‘deposit’ their time in the bank by giving practical help and support to others and are able to ‘withdraw’ their time when they need something done themselves. The starting point for Time Banks is the recognition people are the real wealth in our community. Every individual can contribute to the benefit and well being of Woodside through giving their time, sharing their skills and providing practical support. Giving and Receiving Time Time banks measure and value all the different kinds of help and skills we can offer each other. In a time bank, everyone becomes both a giver and a receiver. Everyone’s time is valued equally: One hour = 1 time credit


Participants can spend their time credits on the skills and support of other participants when they need a helping hand. People help each other out with everything from making phone calls to sharing meals and giving lifts to the shops anything that brings them together: Help when you need it ~ DIY ~ help with the kids ~ trips out ~ exercise ~ making friends ~ shopping ~ new grandparents ~ talking on the phone ~ having a break ~ gaining new skills ~ crafts ~ going to the park ~ cooking ~ getting to know your neighbours. Sound good to you? We don’t have a Time Bank in Woodside yet – but we’re working on it, watch this space! To find out more (without committing yourself to anything) please contact: Mark 01224 524926 (See also who kindly gave permission to use their articles as a basis for this piece)

News from Murray Court & Fullerton Court What’s happening – Well I’ve been a resident of Murray Court now for the last five years. I arrived in June 2005 and I can’t believe how the time has past so quickly. A lot of changes have taken place over the years, one of the important ones was I exchanged my bath for a shower. I must say I enjoy my shower very much. I think it would be fair to say that most flats have had showers built in over the past four years if requested. At the present time the activities of both Murray and Fullerton Courts are run separately. Both have regular Bingo sessions and other programmes. At Murray Court we play carpet bowls downstairs in the lower common room where there are about 15 of us. We admit we are not professionals but we have a fun night with lots of laughs. The changes in the staff over the years has caused us a ‘little’ upheaval after all no one likes changes. Sorry – I don’t but if that’s how it’s got to be ‘We shall survive!! As most Senior Citizens usually do! Elsie Rennie

Small Miracles Small miracle happening often, add up to something rather surprising.

“Do come and join us and keep fit, have fun and make new friends!” Pat

The physical & mental benefits of Tai Chi Chuan have been known to the Chinese for centuries. These were not often shared with outsiders since at one time survival may have depended on keeping such knowledge within the ‘family’. But, around the 1920s the practice of Tai Chi Chuan became more open and widespread in China and it is now one of the fastest-growing exercise routines among people of all ages. It has many benefits including improving balance, lessening back pain and increasing mobility and muscle tone. It is also a great way to learn how to listen to your body and relax.

“Fantastic exercise for all ages and the history of it is interesting.” Anne

Here’s what some group members have to say: “It is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I’m really glad I’m doing it now.” Pete

“Now is a good time to start and you can keep it up for life.” Dave “This is a great way to exercise – I’m definitely getting stronger and I can do it anywhere when I have a few spare minutes. It’s also a great way to relax!” Louisa Tai Chi Classes are held at the Woodside and Fountain Centre on Thursdays 12-1pm. All welcome. Suitable for all ages and levels of fitness. Currently these sessions are free. For more information contact: Mark Lovie 524925 Brian Allan 248745 or email

Aberdeen and North East Deaf Society The Woodside Local Community Planning and Regeneration Network have raised concerns regarding the future of the Aberdeen and North East Deaf Society and their premises at 13 Smithfield Road. (opposite Woodside School) Aberdeen City Council has been striving to provide a single sensory service in Aberdeen City Council so that people with a hearing or sight problem can obtain help and support from a single organisation.

The Council have written to ANEDS to advise them that their contract to provide specialised Social Work Service on behalf of Aberdeen City Council was to be terminated on 9 June 2010.

Council’s Single Sensory Service, which went live on 1 August. Aberdeen City Council is striving to ensure there is a minimum of disruption for service users.

ANEDS have decided to wind up the society and to sell their building located at 13 Smithfield Road.

To meet the Council’s statutory duties until then any new or urgent referrals will be received by the Social Work Duty Team who will arrange for the appropriate response.

Grampian Society for the Blind have been awarded a three year fixed-term contract to run the



S.V.Q Success Stories

The Fersands Family Centre’s staff have recently been presented with several awards. Nicki Duff the Nursery worker has achieved level 3 of the “Child Care Learning & Development SVQ. Amanda Connor and Christine Armstrong who both work in the Twos group have achieved level 2. Nicki is the first woman in the area to work through the different level at the Family Centre to receive a level three SVQ. It really is a great achievement for Nicki. She started working at the Family Centre as a crèche worker many years ago (9), working only a few hours per week. Now she has built up the skills, knowledge and experience to become a Fully qualified Nursery Worker. Amanda and Christine have also done very well to achieve level 2. This again shows that the girls know such a lot about child development.


They have all been working so hard, hopefully they will now have the confidence to go on and get the level 3 award next. The Family Centre believe in developing the workers skills whenever possible. Our Nursery workers Marie and Nicki have been awarded the “I CAN –EARLY TALK” accreditation. The workers attended training sessions completed assessments and submitted a portfolio to get the awards. This means they promote speech and language to children and parents and can identify when children need more support and can refer them to get help at an early stage. Congratulations to all the workers who keep working hard to give a better service to children and families in the Fersands area.


Grampian Police Changes In April 2010 Grampian Police underwent a major restructure to their approach to local Policing. The aim was to put local policing at the forefront and provide a Police team who are known to you and who have real ownership of local problems. Tillydrone and Woodside have many particular issues and the Local Police Team are addressing these in consultation with the local community groups and other partners. Similarly, Officers will be working as closely as possible with the community in the Old Aberdeen area to address matters there. Grampian Police have placed a strong emphasis on putting communities at the heart of their service and “Community Focus” is one of their priorities. What does this mean for you? Well, it means that you now have a Local

Policing Team (LPT) consisting of a local Inspector, a number of Sergeants and a team of Constables, whose aim is to deal efficiently and effectively with all aspects of Policing in the community. They are located at the Police Office in Coningham Terrace, Tillydrone and are happy to hear from you on any subject. Officers will also attend the majority of community meetings so you can also meet them there. The LPT Officers want to work with you to make a real difference in the Tillydrone, Woodside and Old Aberdeen neighbourhoods. Inspector Ed Fitzgibbon has overall responsibility for the three neighbourhoods. He said: “Tillydrone, Woodside and Old

Aberdeen are good communities. They are nice places to live and work, and we will continue to police them to the best of our ability. We welcome any information from the public so that we can target the criminals and those committing anti social behaviour, in the most effective way.”

“Grampian Police have placed a strong emphasis on putting communities at the heart of their service and “Community Focus” is one of their priorities.”

Family Learning News Update Fa’s in their eyes? The event on the 17th April was a huge success, thanks to all who came along and supported the night. We raised nearly £1,300 and it is very much appreciated. Several people who live and work in your area have indicated they will be taking part in Fa’s in their eyes II next year. So watch this space. Challenge Mum and Dad Look out Mum and Dad exciting challenges ahead! If you are free on a Saturday and fancy trying something new then you need to contact Greig on 01224 487822. Future Challenge Mum events include: Jewellery Making, Digital Photography, Residential weekend,

cooking. Future Challenge Dad events include: Trampolining, Raft Building, Residential weekend. Come on you lot, take up the challenge! PEER Project Volunteer opportunities will continue at Family Learning thanks to funding from the Fairer Scotland Fund. If you fancy volunteering and/ or would like additional information in regard to further education/ employment information and advice, then get in touch with Louise on 01224 487822. We have close links with a variety of agencies and can provide training and learning opportunities for you to build your confidence.

I’m a parent … get me out of here! Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world which doesn’t come with a manual. We have a positive parenting programme that will enhance your parenting skills and give you a chance to speak to other parents and have a moan about the little cherubs. The course should be starting in your local area in August 2010, so why not get booked on. 70% Parents who have attended in the past have said they see an improvement in their kids and their own behaviour. For more details phone Shona or Greig on 01224 487822.

In fact if you have any queries about what Family Learning can do for you then contact the office on the number above.


Station House Media Unit (shmu) is situated just off Great Nothern Road in the old Station House Community Centre, Woodside. We offer free access to, and training in video and radio production, and magazine and online publications to residents of all ages living in Seaton, Woodside, Middlefield, Tillydrone, Torry, Northfield and Cummings Park.

t 01224 515013


shmuTRAIN Station House Media Unit (shmu) are running a full-time twelve week training course to help young people get in to education, employment or training. Currently we have eight trainees doing the course, here is Danielle Hay’s story. (Image -1st from right) “I first heard about shmuTRAIN from a friend. She was going on about this training course that lasts for 12 weeks and you get paid £55 a week for attending. The thing that attracted me the most though was it’s about radio, video and music training, things I really like, I mean who doesn’t like music!” “Now 11 weeks into the course so much has changed. The shmu training course has helped me with my confidence because before the course I just didn’t bother looking for jobs with the scary thought of being rejected. Now I’m looking for work all the time and if I get rejected, so what, I just keep looking because I know I will get there eventually!”

“The shmu training course is an amazing experience because I have never had a job and this is like a job. It has taught me about how important it is to be on time for things and to always do my best.”

shmuFM shmuFM is offering training opportunities to anyone who lives or works within Woodside. The training will run in blocks of 6 weeks. As well as learning new exciting skills in radio production, presenting and broadcasting you’ll meet new people and build your confidence and self-esteem. If this sounds like something you fancy getting involved with please phone 01224 515 013, or email You can also text us on 60300 - start your message with training, leave a space and then leave your name. Whatever way you get in touch, someone will be in contact with you asap.

If this sounds like something you fancy getting involved with please phone 01224 515 013, or email You can also text us on 60300 - start your message with training, leave a space and then leave your name. Whatever way you get in touch, someone will be in contact with you asap. You need to be quick though as spaces are limited!


Beginners Training (6 weeks) Mondays 7pm – 9pm 20th September – 25th October Fridays 2pm –4pm 24th September – 29th October

You need to be quick though as spaces are limited!

I wrote this after spending about an hour trying to clear up broken glass in our garden so that the kids from the building can play in it. Suzanne

Proposed Move for

Woodside Medical Group Woodside Medical Group (WMG) is working with NHS Grampian to look at the possibility of moving to a new, modern, purpose-built facility that will be situated adjacent to Woodside Community Centre on Great Northern Road. The existing premises on Western Road are not suitable for development and new premises are being looked at in order to provide improved services. This development is in the very early stages of planning and formal approval from NHS Grampian and Scottish Government is still awaited. As part of the design process we held an open day on the 10th August 2010 that patients and members of the local community were invited along to. From all of our consultations and discussions we have collected comments and answered questions and we now have a clearer picture of what patients and the local community want.

This premises development is part of an ongoing primary care redesign programme in the city. The focus of the redesign programme is to deliver the right services in the right place, with the right people; thereby ensuring primary care is able to meet both current and future healthcare needs for patients. Dr Julia Wallace of Woodside Medical Group said: “The potential relocation of WMG to new premises has been a desire for some years and it is heartening to see progress being made. We hope patients and the Woodside community will welcome these proposed changes.” Throughout the planning process patients will continue to receive general medical services from the existing premises in Western Road. NHS Grampian is committed to keeping patients and the community informed and involved and will keep you up-to-date with progress.

Garden Tip Now spring is here In Aberdeen, The sun is out The grass is green. Showers of rain May wet your head, But mind it’s grand For flower beds. And when the rain Has blown away, A new Fersands Covers the grey. Wet granite mixed With lots of Sun, Helps buildings to glitter all day long. We sit outside to catch the rays, And watch the kids Having fun and play. But keep in mind Little feet n’ toes, Are often first To cause them woe. Pick up your glass and dog turds too, As damage done Makes everyone blue. So do your part And tidy up, Or try to use more plastic cups! 17


Nothing Going On For Adults?

LEADING THE WAY BACK TO A BRIGHTER FUTURE Providing Advice, Support and Direction on: - Confidence Building

Nothing Going On For Adults? OK, so the kids seem to have plenty of clubs and activities but - unless you like bingo - there’s nothing on for adults in Woodside! Oh yeah, there is a Tai Chi class that’s been running for more than 10 weeks, adults of all ages and ability attend every Thursday at noon. But if you don’t fancy Tai Chi there’s not a lot on... is there? Well, on a Monday they have a Words and Numbers class, but If you don’t want to brush up on your literacy skills there’s nothing much on for adults in the Fountain Centre - unless you want to count the Art Group that’s started on Thursday evenings 6.30-8.30pm, where you can experiment with all kinds of materials and techniques with an experienced tutor to show you the ropes. You don’t have to be Van Gogh either - anyone is welcome, you just need to be willing to give it go. So, there’s not much on apart from Art, Tai Chi and Literacy Classes - and there’s nothing happening on a Thursday either - well, nothing apart from Computer Classes in the morning, or English Classes for non English speakers in the afternoon. Wednesdays are a dead loss too, unless you fancy meeting up with the Gym Group,


who will take you to a city facility where you can exercise, swim and sauna from 9-45-11-30am .So, if you don’t like the Art or Gym Groups, the Computer, Literacy or English Classes, or even the Tai Chi or Bingo, and you don’t fancy the more energetic Boxercise Class, no, there’s nothing for you at the new Woodside Fountain Centre. Well, nothing except the Community Café - with free internet access - and the local Food Coop run by volunteers offering well priced fruit and groceries. And then there’s the Credit Union, which encourages saving and offers low interest loans. If you don’t like any of that, then there’s not a great deal for adults in the Woodside Fountain Centre. That’s why we are trying to put on more activities that Woodside adults may find useful or interesting! A Basic Cooking Class is one idea, while we are keen to organise Creative Writing and Walking Groups if there is enough demand. If you have ideas for groups that you would like to see getting started, please come along and let us know! Come in to the Centre and ask for Mark Lovie or call 524926.

- Training - Further Education - Employment - Small Business Start Up

Help us to Help you... Share your Ideas, Voice your Concerns and Together we can find a Solution Tel: 01224 686058 Email: communityanimator

St Machar Parent Support “My nails look the best, I like getting them painted and I’ve never had sparkly bits before” Shannon

“I got my nails painted today and it’s the 3rd time I’ve had it done. I also got my hair from my mum who is helping and it has been an ace day!” Demi

Fun Day 29th July 2010 Our annual fun day took place on 29th July at Froghall Community Centre where 15 families came along and joined in on the fun activities. The fun day concluded a fun packed 4 week summer playscheme made up of day trips, swimming sessions and arts and crafts. Throughout the 4 weeks in total 60 parents and child participated in the activities. The feedback at the fun day was extremely positive so I think it is safe to say the summer playscheme organised and supported by St Machar Parent Support Project was a huge success.



The Woodside Network The Network is just like a residents’ group, where concerned community-minded residents raise issues about Woodside. Residents can work with councillors and many different agencies with responsibility in the area (Aberdeen Housing, SHMU, Job Seekers, NHS Grampian etc.) to find ways of improving the community or local services. The Network meets once a month at the Woodside Fountain Centre and is always on the look out for more members to help us influence decisions about Woodside. The network has three themes which it currently works on: 1) Education, Employment &Training. 2) Housing & Environment. 3) Health & Wellbeing. Networks in each area of Aberdeen champion the voice of their own Community. Come and make our voice a bit louder! Issues that are being addressed include: • The underpass upgrade • Proposed location of the new doctors’ and dentists’ surgeries • Introduction and positioning of recycling units • Threatened closure of local amenities • Proposed tenants’ repair survey Fairer Scotland Neighbourhood Fund Woodside qualifies for this special funding from the Scottish Government. This year the Network


recommended the funding of £75,000 to projects and groups working in the Woodside area. So local people had a real say in the type of projects that were funded and they can look at regular reports to see the money is being used accordingly. These organisations all benefit from the Fairer Scotland Fund: Station House Media Unit, Fersands & Fountain Community Project, Printfield Community Project, WhiteSpace. The Woodside Network is hoping to find residents of Woodside who are prepared to give up some of their time to help influence the decisions made regarding their community. No qualifications or experience is required, just a commitment and enthusiasm to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in to the issues that affect our community. In order to have a range of interests represented within the Network, we would be particularly keen to attract volunteers from the younger generation, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities. The Network has access to funds to help residents get more involved in community issues. Applications can be made for visits to conferences or training events or simply child care costs to allow people to attend meetings.

If you think you would like to get involved: • • •

You’d need two or three spare hours per month to attend meetings.* You’d have the chance to meet new friends. You’d discover new talents such as the ability to work within a group.

*There are opportunities for greater involvement if you have more free time than this. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact: David Henderson (Chair) 07814689788 Gordon Donald 07768874427 Kit Trail 01224 276788 Mark Lovie 01224 524925



The Damned

at The Warehouse Thousands of songs embed themselves in your consciousness over the years but not too many change the course of your life forever. But that’s exactly what happened when I turned the radio on one night in late February 1977. I had no idea what was about to hit me but hit me it did: Neat Neat Neat, The Damned’s classic sunburst of utter, anarchic brilliance, the most astonishing thing I’d ever heard. Blame it on John Peel if you will, but that night Pete The Punk was born. I’ve seen The Damned several times since and tonight they’re at the Warehouse, a sticky-carpeted hell doing its utmost to maintain Aberdeen’s long-established reputation as a haven for manky live venues. Even though the management is clearly not fussed by the stinking gents toilets, it’s to their credit they put on gigs early enough to admit anyone over the age of 14, a far cry from the bad old days when the public-spirited amongst us had to kick open the emergency exits to let the under-age kids in. Support tonight is from the fabulously bug-eyed Ed Tenpole Tudor, a delinquent troubadour accompanying his offbeat drolleries on a battered old acoustic guitar. A true minstrel, he entertains us in authentic music hall style, his lively wit and deceptively hamfisted guitar technique nonetheless hitting all the right notes. The Damned follow, a band that’s surfed many genres over the decades. They kick off with a fair-to-middling selection from their rockier period but, while this does get the mosh-pit bouncing famously along, to the many first generation punksters in the crowd it’s all just a little bit, well, boring - can we have some proper punk rock, please? Early classic Fish is rolled out as if in answer to our prayers, followed swiftly by the band’s singles chart debut from 1979, the superb Love Song. This is more like it. Captain Sensible is his normal good-natured self, the perennially underrated guitarist gurning manically while machine-gunning riffs throughout a set including I Just Can’t Be Happy Today, the eternally wonderful New Rose and Smash It Up. Vocalist Dave Vanian is in fine voice indeed, careening around the stage cool as ever in black tee, gloves and

shades. While Vanian and the Captain are a brilliant double act, the axis around which The Damned revolves, it would be a disservice to ignore long-serving keyboards whizz Monty Oxy Moron, powerhouse drummer Pinch and the indefatigable Stu West on bass, each vital to the band’s widescreen vision. Paradoxically, it’s from a fiendishly grim phase of the band’s history that the night’s unexpected highlight arrives, their cover of 60s pop classic Elouise. I didn’t much care for this when The Damned first released it but Paul Ryan’s beautifully constructed song is delivered with a full-blooded combination of power and panache that catapults the evening, if not to the heights of their legendary 2003 Forum gig, then firmly into the realm of the warmly memorable.

images: Dod Morrison


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Free Press - Summer 2010  

A magazine for the community of Woodside in Aberdeen