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The Flying Pigs: Will UTG stay Aberdeen’s secret garden forever?

Workers return the statue of Edward VII as part of the refurbishment of Union Terrace Gardens (Photo: Paul Glendell/DCT Media)
Workers return the statue of Edward VII as part of the refurbishment of Union Terrace Gardens (Photo: Paul Glendell/DCT Media)

The latest topical insights from Aberdeen musical sketch comedy team, The Flying Pigs.

J Fergus Lamont, art critic

Whilst taking my daily perambulation in the city centre recently, I chanced upon a superb new outdoor art installation. You will not have heard of it, for it has attracted little if any publicity, but “Union Terrace Gardens” is quite the most dramatic and challenging public arts project the city has ever seen. And I include in that Storybook Glen’s coruscating “Teletubbies”.

The Flying Pigs

I could not help but applaud as I watched a gargantuan yellow crane hoist the statue of Edward VII back onto its plinth. This figure, for so long a silent sentinel looking down on generations of itinerants, ne’er-do-wells and teenaged goths, was now reinstated, in a striking metaphor for the return of normality after the last two years of upheaval.

Much like Bristol’s statue of Edward Colston, I was moved.

As I watched the granite and bronze behemoth sway in the breeze, I noted it was swaddled in a harness of scarlet ribbons – accoutrements of which Edward VII himself would most likely have thoroughly approved if reports of his rather exotic love life are to be believed.

Here we stand: stoic, resilient; used to harsh winters and a world of austere hardships, with no need of such luxurious fripperies as greenery or foliage of any kind

Indeed, I was delighted to see that the statue of the monarch known colloquially as “dirty Bertie” had not, whilst absent, been cleaned at all. His patina of emerald green algae, left behind by decades’ worth of seagull and pigeon guano, lovingly retained.

Recalling the announcement by art prankster collective “The Aberdeen City Council” that the £28.3 million overhaul of Union Terrace Gardens would be “completed by the end of 2021”, I took the opportunity to squeeze through the thought-provoking new entrance – a six-inch gap between two security fences – and beheld a Gardens transformed!

The Union Terrace Gardens pavilions will soon be completed, as part of the £28.3m refurbishment of the park.
One of the Union Terrace Gardens pavilions pictured during construction last year (Photo: Wullie Marr/DCT Media)

Landscaping has been bold and distinctive, removing such outdated horticultural clichés as grass, flowers, and indeed trees, and instead presenting bare earthen slopes, a conglomeration of gleaming portacabins, and a fully functional backhoe loader. The distinctive tram-shaped “pavilions”, clearly the centrepieces of the work, architecturally evoke both the simplicity of a bygone era and the invigorating effect of double action Lockets.

The whole thing spoke to me of the rough-hewn spartan honesty of the north-east people. Here we stand: stoic, resilient; used to harsh winters and a world of austere hardships, with no need of such luxurious fripperies as greenery or foliage of any kind.

At this point, I was approached by a gentlemen in a hard hat and high visibility jacket who informed me that I was in a restricted zone, and an unsafe environment. As I was escorted out, I marvelled that each visit would conclude with a personal interaction, reminding us to contrast our experience of the gardens with the continuing Covid rules and the global climate emergency. A tour de force.

I wept.

Cava Kenny Cordiner, the football pundit who goes where the rammy is

It was great to see crowds back at the football this week, and it was even greater to see both of the Granite City’s sides put on a good show.

Aberdeen has always been a little bit gelatinous of places like Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Falkirk, because they has two football teams. But, now, with the mighty Cove Rangers flying high in League One, we can finally say we is a two-team town.

Things can get chilly in the stand at Balmoral Stadium (Photo: Kenny Elrick/DCT Media)

Old Kenny has been to Balmoral Stadium a few times this season, and I must be something of a lucky mastiff as they has won every time I’ve goed. Mind you, it is proper freezing like. Even with base layers, long johns and three pairs of socks, it’s absolutely Baltic.

I always used to think it was cold at Pittodrie but, compared to Cove’s ground, the Dick Donald is positively topical.

Paul Hartley has built a great squad and it’s full of ex-Dandies who sound like players from Roy of the Rover

Putting that to one side, Cove done themselves proud on Thursday night. They may not be full time pros, but when they stuck the mighty Hibs in the Scottish Cup, they took their Premier League rivals to extra time and very nearly became gigantic killers before a late Hibs winner. Well played, lads!

Paul Hartley has built a great squad and it’s full of ex-Dandies who sound like players from Roy of the Rovers, like Mitch Megginson and Fraser Fyvie. Plus, of course everyone’s favourite, Shay Logan.

Shay’s got everything; he’s got pace, he’s got skill, he can still ping in a wicked cross – and he can service a boiler as well. Top class.


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