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New Year, New You, New Pitsligo

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Tanya soutar, local lifestyle guru


I dinna ken about yous, but I jist love New Year. “New Year, New You” as een o’ my exes ayewis used to say, and he should ken – he’s serving six year for identity theft.

But January is the time fan a’bdy’s trying tae mak the changes that will set them up for the year ahead, and there’s ayewis some new fad tae be followed.

Me and my cousin Tracey, fa bides near Peterheid, is trying oot that ‘Veganuary’. She’s finding it tough, though. I telt her nae tae give up, I says there’s plenty places dae vegan food these days. She says ‘Nae in New Pitsligo’. And fair play, ye widnae believe how much stuff his got animal products hidden awa in it somwye! Jelly – that’s got gelatine in it fit is made oot o’ animals; Cake-mix, fit contains beef fat; even Macaroni pies and fish fingers, apparently. Disnae leave ye wi ‘much! Fan I went tae the Chinese last wik I got Kung Po Tofu. It looked a bittie like a plate o’ stir fried fire-lighters, but it wis right fine. Man, was it spicy, though! Nae lang efter I’d eaten it I lost a couple of pounds pretty much instantaneously, if ye ken fit I mean, so I guess the new diet’s paying off!

Meanwhile, Big Sonya his taken the New Year as her cue tae turn intae a fitness fanatic. I chummed her along tae one o her classes, “Body Attack” she cried it. It’s an appropriate name – the next day I felt like I’d been mugged! I could barely get oot o’ my bed, but she was hammering on my door the next morning so’s we could ging oot fer a run. She says we were doing some FARTLEK training. I said that probably wisnae a good idea fer me, nae efter the Kung Po Tofu, so she said I should dae 10 burpees. I did them nae bother, but she still made me do exercises an’ a’.

But the hardest thing of a’ is this ‘Dry January’. I thought I’d help support my pal Crazy Debz in her efforts tae stay clear o’ the demon drink for the month. She’s an affa een Debz, ab’dy says so – her freens, her femily, her schedule o’ previous convictions. Obviously, we hinna cut oot alcohol entirely – that would be pretty much impossible, as there’s traces o’ it in everyday things like malt vinegar, tiramisu or Blue Wicked. But, as soon as my Hogmanay celebrations finished (on the 4th o’ January – we party hard in Mastrick) I hopped on the wagon with her. The rules is simple; nae booze in the hoose, and nae tae set foot in ony licensed premises for the hale month.

That’s fit wye, for my last big change for 2019, I’ve converted tae Catholicism. I’m absolutely choking for my gless o’ wine at Communion on Sunday. I’ve niver been afore. Div they dae Prossecco?

J Fergus Lamont, arts correspondent


With the emergence of Taipei as a global art market, the rise of the New York Gallery scene and the new European School of disruptive iconography in full swing,  one could be forgiven for thinking that Scotland’s role as a hub of the creative arts has subsided, but au contraire. A stunning video installation came to my attention this week which has shown we are still very much blazing a trail at the forefront of the vanguard of the zeitgeist. I speak, of course, of the piece comprising a nine-second video of a little mouse making a dash for freedom from the Scottish Parliament during a meeting of the education committee about school testing.  The mouse, clearly well-trained for its task, by an as yet unknown auteur, is seen scurrying along the skirting board, then doubling back, attempting and failing to climb it, then changing direction completely and scampering out of sight.

What a coruscating satire of the Sisyphean travails of our Scottish parliamentarians debating the latest changes to an education system still attempting to get to grips with the changes to the previous changes, scurrying hither and yon, with no firm destination in mind. Futhermore, appearing  as this meistewrwerk does shortly before Burns night it’s a timely allusion to the Bard’s famous ‘To a Mouse’ , the use of this particular animal (rather than the rather more obvious choice of rodent to represent politicians) reminds us that even the best-laid schemes are aft to gang agley. So it’s anyone’s guess what’s in store for us with the cack-handedly idiotic ones we’ve been getting lately.

But away from the capital, local art is also thriving – there is a Stonehaven-based Banksy, who leaves metal sculptures around the bay, whilst remaining anonymous. I was convinced a similar artist was at work in Aberdeen, spotting his work as I left a paper shop in Woodside after a lengthy but ultimately fruitless discussion with the Newsvendor about his willingness, or otherwise, to henceforth carry ‘The Stage’. But it transpired that the stunning creation in blackened and twisted metalwork which I studied, enraptured was, in fact, a burnt-out car. When I realised the car was my own. I wept.

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