If we’re suffering economic pain with our mortgages now, it was nothing compared to this day in 1992, when Britain’s ill-fated flirtation with the European Exchange Rate Mechanism ended in failure and interest rates soared, as Susy Macaulay was reminded when she browsed the P&J archives…
Candacraig for sale?
But first, gossip was flying about Candacraig House in Strathdon.
It was in the hands of Body Shop millionaire Anita Roddick and her husband Gordon in 1992.
As the Body Shop’s profits had slumped due to the ongoing recession (do you ever wonder if there has ever been a time when we are not in recession?) conclusions were jumped to when a For Sale sign appeared near the estate.
The Roddicks denied the rumours, saying the sign was for a nearby property.
But in 1998, the couple did sell Candacraig — and no P&J reader needs prompting as to who the new owner was.
Billy Connolly and his wife Pamela Stephenson owned the property until 2014.
Nothing new under the sun
Troubled by today’s economic turmoil and soaring interest rates? The pain was even greater in September, 1992.
Forever known as Black Wednesday, September 16 opened with interest rates already sky-high at 10%. By lunch time they were 12% and by the afternoon, 15%.
The whys and wherefores of that particular dose of economic turmoil are beyond the scope of this column, and the wit of its writer, but Shetlander Norman Lamont was Chancellor at the time.
He was resisting calls to resign at this point, and apparently had the full backing of PM John Major.
But he did go eight months later, perhaps sparing his own pain, but leaving thousands of those he’d saddled with unexpectedly gigantic mortgages staring repossession in the face.
With the benefit of hindsight, later commentators dubbed the crisis as ‘laying the groundwork for Brexit’.
Schools condom stooshie
In Grampian Council, there was a stooshie about whether or not to install condoms in schools.
The idea was to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, the epidemic which had been terrifying the world since 1981.
Councillor Terry Penny had proposed at full council that condoms should be placed in regional council buildings.
Objections on religious grounds
Cllr Penny said he realised there might be some objections on religious grounds, but the council owed it to their employees to be stalwarts in the fight against ‘perhaps one of the most serious health issues in the world.’
The debate quickly focused on schools, with councillors worried that the installation of machines there ‘would give the impression that they were encouraging casual sex.’
The only supporters for the move came from the SNP, but ‘they represent many of the deeply religious coastal areas of the Moray Firth and some of them abstained,’ the reporter noted.
Cllr Penny’s motion was resoundingly defeated.
And how did Excalibur House get its name?
I’m sure many of you have wondered down the years how Excalibur House in Woodburn Road, Blackburn, Aberdeen got its name. (What do you mean, you haven’t?)
All was revealed in the P&J on this day in 1992.
When David Landsell formed HOSE Ltd, the offshore subsea engineering company, with colleague Colin George Campbell, they wondered what to call their HQ.
Turns out David had an actual Excalibur, hewn for him from scrap metal by Norwegian Egil Torgeran when they shared a cabin for 60 days. (Alas the reporter adds no flesh to those bones.)
The sword was driven into a lump of Aberdeenshire granite and became the centre of attraction at the naming of the HOSE HQ.
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