The latest topical insights from Aberdeen musical sketch comedy team, The Flying Pigs.
Professor Henk Schlenk, senior research fellow at the Bogton Institute for Public Engagement With Science
As a scientist, people are always asking me questions. Questions like: “Is real progress on climate change possible at COP26?”; “Should scientists do more to correct popular scientific misconceptions on social media?” and “Do you realize the pen in the breast pocket of your lab coat is leaking?”
To which the answers are: “With political will, certainly”; “Probably, but don’t bet on it making a difference” and “Yes, in scientific circles the breast pocket ink stain is a status symbol almost as prized as a Nobel”.
This week, people have mostly been asking me about eels, which has, I have to confess, made a somewhat refreshing change. News broke recently that public urination at the Glastonbury festival has led to elevated levels of cocaine and ecstasy entering river water, causing damage to a rare population of the European eel.
It’s an already endangered variety of that particular Anguillidae, whose ecological prospects can scarcely have been improved by becoming unwillingly ripped on eccies and blow.
I have three principal reactions to this story. Firstly, what a sad parable it is for the way we live now, that human hedonism and self-indulgence impacts so destructively upon the natural world.
Secondly, in these days of Brexit fallout, how fitting it is that it is a population of European eels that should suffer the consequences.
And, thirdly, when I close my eyes and call to mind these mysterious, slimy creatures, befuddled and confused in the dark, why, in my imagination, are they all dancing like Michael Gove?
View From The Midden – rural affairs with Jock Alexander
It’s been an exiguous wik in the village. The hale o’ UK his hid petrol shortages, queues at the pumps and punch-ups on the forecourts, so athin seems tae be gearing up for a classic winter o’ discontent; it fair maks ye nostalgic for the cundlelit three-day wiks of the 1970s.
Noo ye may think that being miles fae civilisation means Meikle Wartle wid avoid these various calamities, but nae such luck. We’ve hid loads o’ desperate motorists driving oot here in search o’ unleaded, attracted by rumours of us haein the last fully-fuelled petrol station in the country. Rumours, it his tae be said, fit hiv been pit aboot by aul Billy Grunt, fa rins it and fa hisna hid a customer since 1993.
Some stranded motorists hiv a’ready been press-ganged intae helping Skittery Wullie round up his massive drove of unruly pigs, fa hiv been running amok for wiks noo
Unfortunately, he’s nae hid a delivery since then either, so he’s got nae fuel, but the batch of Ginsters pasties he’s hid on display since the same date winna sell themsels. Of course, the peer desperate motorists dinna ken they’re on a hiding tae nithin, and eence they’ve made the lang and hazardous journey oot tae Grunt’s Garage and Bodyshop (pimped oot tractors a speciality) they’ve used up a’ their petrol.
So, there’s a lot of abandoned vehicles roon aboot the sewage works fit Moira his been tipping ontae their bonnets tae turn intae a sort o’ automotive Steenhenge. Fan we asked her fit it wis for she said she wis preparing for the arrival o’ “The Great Old One”. So we just left her til it.
We’ve hid packs of angry, stranded, motorists roaming the streets, but that could yet be something of a boon. Some hiv a’ready been press-ganged intae helping Skittery Wullie round up his massive drove of unruly pigs, fa hiv been running amok for wiks noo, fit wi’ the CO2 shortage keeping them resolutely unstunned.
Seeing as it’s almost that mugical time o’ year, I’m gan tae see if I canna chunnel their aggression and despair intae the vital work o’ tattie howking. In previous years it wid hiv been daen by workers fae Europe, but they hiv proved strangely elusive of late. I canna think fit wye at wid be of a’.
But as Meiklewartle’s foremost tattie magnate, I’m needing them lifted; and tattie howkers is hard to come by, not withstanding the enhanced remuneration package fit I am offering; a sack o’ Kerr’s Pinks and a’ the sharn ye can cairry.
Desperate times ca’ for desperate measures. So, I’ve taken a leaf oot o’ Billy Grunt’s Haynes Manual and stairted spreading it aboot the village. We’ll soon be reverting tae the aul wyes, and adopting the tattie as wir principal foodstuff, fuel source, and unit of currency. We winna really, of course – but it’s a grand wye tae get fowk tae howk them for me for free.