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Frank Gilfeather: Camaraderie, not booze, fuelling friends’ reunions

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It’s hospitality, Jim, but not as we know it.

OK, that’s a phrase that was never uttered on Star Trek, but the effects of Covid force us to look to the stars and wonder about the future of our food and drink industry.

Aberdeen, for example, now resembles the periphery of a major golf tournament or Colonel Gaddafi’s holiday home – without the sun, or the camels.

But put on your fleeciest long drawers, a couple of woollen pullovers and the best anorak money can buy, and you can set off for your nearest tent for a pint of gin and tonic.

Soon it will be summer when, for around 14 days – not necessarily consecutive ones – we can discard one of the jumpers, but not the thermals nor the heavy coat.

At the moment, we can stroll from Union Street and visit a series of marquees as far as Queen’s Road before hypothermia sets in and whispers: “You didn’t really enjoy that, did you?”

But my man from the al fresco boozer is quite adamant that it’s not about the alcohol.

Rather, it’s the reunion with friends that draws people to put up with the cold and the wind and the rain in these unusual times.

“The alcohol, hic, is not the attraction,” he claims. “It’s the (hic) cam, camm (burp) cammaradereriere (hic). Pardon me.”

So, on one fine spring day this week, I dodged the showers and put up with a gale to venture to a nearby cafe for an outdoor coffee with a friend; except we didn’t know we were to be outside till we arrived, three minutes after the 3pm cut-off point for admission indoors.

With teeth chattering, hands shaking and coffee spilling everywhere, our get-together lasted less time than it would have had we met under canvas.

Now we wonder what other delights our first minister has in store post-election and how long consumers of coffee – and bevvy – might be cast out into the wilderness in the guise of a car park.

We assume Professor Jason Leitch, national clinical director of the Scottish Government, on whose advice we depend, will put our minds at ease over that issue and that Scotland’s pubs will not once more be required to pour excess ale down the drain.

If we can’t see the inside of a public house soon and worship at the altar of Bacchus, I’m afraid that, for many landlords, the game will be up.

No-show council boss ‘grumblings’

Can it be true there are grumblings of discontent from within Aberdeen City Council’s HQ that there has yet to be a sighting of chief executive Angela Scott there since March 2020?

According to my Marischal College mole, Ms Scott has been running the city from her Dundee home and has yet to experience the delights of the new-look Union Street, which is a shadow of its former self. As my council bin man insisted: “If I can turn up for work every day, why can’t the boss on £150,000 a year make an appearance?”

Cold food conveyed by cyclist definitely off menu

I have never experienced a delivery of food by a cyclist bearing a rather large box on his or her back.

I lead a sheltered life, clearly.

I’ve always taken the view that there is no point in ordering hot grub from somewhere miles away just for it to be cold by the time a sweaty and out-of-breath Bradley Wiggins rings my doorbell.

And anyway, living in a microwave-free house means that to heat up my curry or pizza, I’d need to have the oven hot and ready for when Bradley decides to turn up.

Now, reports tell us there are a growing number of online takeaways which, despite depicting their premises as some kind of fancy eateries with impressive menus, are nothing more than a space in a building somewhere with adequate cooking facilities.

Indeed, you may even have two or three “restaurants” with slightly different offerings, but whose dishes are cooked in the same warehouse by the same chefs. It’s the beauty of the app society in which we live.

I have been developing my own app to cash in on the “can’t cook, won’t cook” community.

It’s called Duped.

This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.