Shelley Shingles, Showbiz Correspondent and Miss Fetteresso 1983
What a week it’s been! Of course, all showbiz eyes were firmly fixed on events in the United States of OMG where it was the end of an error. The White House has got a new resident president now that the Donald is not “Biden” there any more.
This year’s inauguration ceremony wasn’t quite as full of razzmatazz as it can be, but it was a step up from the last one where the entertainment world was represented by DJ Ravidrums and a Bruce Springsteen tribute act.
The event was enhanced by an inspirational poem from Amanda Gorman (who’s come a long way since her days on New Tricks), great performances by J-Lo and Lady Gaga – and, perhaps most of all, by Trump not being there.
Gaga gave a stirring rendition of the Star Bangled Spanner, and was quite conservatively dressed by her own standards – leaving her melted wax candle outfit and potted-heid dress at home – in a sober fitted navy jacket with a life-size golden dove and a puffed red skirt the size of Canada. She looked just like the crocheted lavvy roll cover in my nana’s cludgie. It was bonny, but she must have had a hell of a job getting on to her bus home.
But there’s no doubting my favourite bit – country legend and hat-wearing hero Garth Brooks belting out Amazing Grace fair brought a tear to my eye!
Of course, me and Garth go way back. I first bumped into him at one of his wife’s concerts at the SECC back in the 90s. My pal Emma just LOVES Trisha Yearwood and managed to score us a pair of backstage passes. We were at the buffet table when Garth sidled up to us and helped himself to a Scotch egg. Emma nudged me and whispered: “That’s Garth Brooks”.
Well, as a journalist I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. So I asked him: “Garth, what was it like forming a strike partnership with former Don Steve Archibald at Spurs in the 1980s?” I’ll never forget what he said to me. “Sorry ma’am, but that’s Garth Crooks you’re thinking of. Could y’all pass the hummus?”
Wise words from a real country gent.
J Fergus Lamont, Arts Critic
During lockdown I have grown ever more fond of my daily perambulations around Aberdeen, which have given me a new appreciation of our city’s architectural delights. Not merely the contemporary majesty of Marischal Square and The Point (to which I have heard some wags add the prefix “What is. . ?”), but also some older, brutalist examples – the curved concrete porticos of the John Lewis building, the stark utilitarian majesty of the Denburn car park.
But this week’s news has brought surpassing rapture. You may not be aware, it has received little, if any, publicity, but eight of Aberdeen’s high-rise tower blocks have been awarded “category A” listed status by the redoubtable aesthetes of Historic Environment Scotland.
These vertical villages, rejoicing in names redolent of promise such as “Greig Court”, have previously been sadly neglected, but now have the same rarified architectural status as Marischal College and the Music Hall. How reassuring that the fine minds of HES were not swayed by objectors. Aberdeen City Council thought the award so exceptional that they took exception to it.
Whereas in other parts of the country, similar structures are being pulled down or even blown up, here they shall remain as evocative unchanging monuments to progressive social housing, largely because no one will be able to afford the increased maintenance costs.
Eager to pay a personal homage to one of these architectural miracles I selected my most daring William Morris print face mask and visited Seamount Court.
As I peered into the ground floor reception area I was profoundly struck by the emotional resonance of its faded 1960s optimism. I hallooed one of the residents, complimented her on her leisure wear and inquired if she was aware that her building stood as a noble parallel to Le Corbusier’s famous “Unite d’Habitation” in Marseille.
Regrettably, I was unable to understand what she shouted at me in response, but given the strength of the invective and the power of the gesture that went with it, I could see that she strongly agreed.
As I stood amidst echoes of the landscape of Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange, I found myself lost in a reverie as my nasal passages took in the heady aroma of the bin store area – a familiar vintage with notes of yeast and cabbage and a somewhat acrid finish. As the miasma assailed my soft palate, I wept.