The latest topical insights from Aberdeen musical sketch comedy team, The Flying Pigs, written by Andrew Brebner and Simon Fogiel.
J Fergus Lamont, arts correspondent and author of Road to Nowhere: Market Street in the Bus Gates Era
As we approach the festive season, it gladdens one’s heart to see the efforts being made by the Dadaist collective “The Aberdeen City Council” to make this time of year extra special for the population, through the medium of artistic expression. On Sunday last, I was witness to one such powerful moment.
You may not have heard of it, for it received little or no publicity, but I speak, of course, about the Turner Prize-worthy large-scale art installation “Christmas Parade and Lights Switch-On”, which entirely took over Aberdeen’s Union Street.
To attend this uplifting event, I perambulated through the post-apocalyptic vista of vape and phone repair shops, and squeezed in amongst the expectant throng of shivering families lining the pavement outside arts mecca The Music Hall, its traditionally severe frontispiece now enlivened by a selection of colourful banners and various living sculptures of lounging Deliveroo riders.
It was there I experienced a startling reinvention of the traditional parade, where, instead of the usual procession of elves, penguins, snowmen, plum puddings, fairies, pipers in Christmas jumpers, stilt-walkers, jugglers, pantomime actors, choirs of rosy-cheeked children and floats bearing the scene of the nativity or the sleigh and reindeer of Father Christmas, we were treated to the sight of a solitary urban fox, slinking along the road, cheered on by the delighted crowd.
This breathtaking vulpine visitation was quite the most exciting thing I have seen on Union Street all year. The organisers are to be commended for taking heed of current financial and sociopolitical conditions, and scrapping the usual extravaganza. Instead, they entrusted the task of conveying the true meaning of our annual festival of rapacious capitalism to this lone animal – an unloved scavenger, often desperately eking out it’s existence at the fringes.
And, what’s more, it was a truly powerful metaphor for Union Street in 2023 – somewhat mangy, rather furtive, with an unsavoury reputation, and perhaps even slightly scary during the hours of darkness. But powerful, enduring and cunning, albeit running frantically to try to keep up.
Afterwards, I left the parade area elated, though noticed that many present were so affected that they didn’t even move. I made my way towards Albyn Place, where I found my route impeded by a large number of elves, penguins, snowmen, plum puddings, fairies, pipers in Christmas jumpers, stilt-walkers, jugglers, pantomime actors, choirs of rosy-cheeked children and floats bearing the scene of the nativity or the sleigh and reindeer of Father Christmas, who had no doubt come to see the thought-provoking, mammalian installation with which they had been replaced.
It was at this point that an air horn sounded, confetti cannons went off and, in a forceful metaphor for the irresistible impact of festive consumerism on the individual, I was knocked off balance by hundreds of Santas running towards me.
As I tumbled to the ground, I must have received a blow to the head, making it seem as if coloured lights were suddenly appearing in the sky over Union Street. Whereupon, I was trod on by a Brownie dressed as a Brussels sprout. I wept.
Jonathan M Lewis, local headteacher
We are deep into the business end of a packed term here at Garioch Academy, and keeping a steady hand on the school tiller is no mean feat. The parent body can rest easy, safe in the knowledge that the headteacher will always put pupils first – joint equal with my staff and the key performance indicators set by the Scottish Government.
Our S4 pupils have started their prelim exams, which has seen the usual mix of hard graft from some pupils and futile brinkmanship from others.
These exams are so important for the pupils, even if all they achieve is what Mr Jones, our head of modern languages, describes as the proverbial “coup de pied a la derrière”. If the desperate existential angst of sitting completely bamboozled for 90 minutes in a cold, draughty school hall doesn’t scare them into action, nothing will!
It’s almost as if a family visit to the Christmas Village means more to some than the death and resurrection of the son of God. Baffling!
I’m always glad to hear from parents, and when the council announced this week that pupils will now be at school on December 22 so we can take Good Friday off next year, I couldn’t wait for the blizzard of phone calls hailing this decision as a triumph.
Bizarrely, the tone of parental feedback has been largely the polar opposite. It’s almost as if a family visit to the Christmas Village means more to some than the death and resurrection of the son of God. Baffling!
In other news, all here at Garioch Academy are very much looking forward to next week’s return to “in-person” parents’ evenings. Mrs Fiddes, from the business studies department, is particularly pleased.
A champion of our local dialect, Mrs Fiddes looks forward to conducting her appointments in her classroom again, rather than via Zoom from her spare room, where, apparently, her laundry was “hingin there like a piddled hippen”. I’ve no idea what that means, but I couldn’t agree more!