Nineteen Eighty-Three

There are many defining moments in our lives, some change the entire world and some, no less historic events for ourselves, that no one else will ever know about. This is somewhere in between.

It’s Aberdeen and it’s 1983. If you were there you probably already know what I’m talking about, if you know Scottish football then you really should know. To set the scene I’ve never been a big follower of football myself, in fact the closest I’ve come in many years now is only the retelling of an old, old joke of mine when asked: “Who do you support?”, self-deprecatingly I’ll reply “I’m not really a football fan – I follow Aberdeen”.

Despite this seeming disinterest one of the most memorable set of events during my childhood was football related. It’s difficult for me as a non-fan to convey the level of success Aberdeen FC had during the early eighties — in my memory it feels similar to if Scotland had won the recent World Cup. They kept winning games against teams and in tournaments that felt far grander than the wee small town I lived in tucked away up in the chilly North East corner of Scotland.

European Cup Winners Cup

European Cup Winners Cup Aberdeen FC on an open top bus heading down King Street with the European Cup Winners Cup.

Photo Credit: HT Mitchell

I don’t recall much about the football itself, what I remember vividly is living in a city that was almost entirely behind the local team when they were doing well. Aberdeen was fortunate in this respect with a single top league team there was no division, no rivalry within the city itself and I guess things were different back then, people simply followed the local team: there was no marketing of “superclub” brands from down South to buy into and “steal” support from the local teams.

This all meant that the success of the football team infused the entire city (Helped no doubt by plentiful oil money at the time!) but for me as a young boy it was Aberdeen FC that were responsible.  The city, our city, my city felt like it was the best in the world, the sense of achievement was tangible, the sense of optimism was everywhere, anything seemed possible. There was a real sense that the world was going to be a great place, we were going to make sure of that. But then maybe all children feel like that for a while when they’re growing up?

Also Scottish Cup Winners

Also Scottish Cup Winners Alex Ferguson and the Aberdeen footbal team on an open top bus to parade the Scottish Cup along Union Street in 1983

Photo Credit: HT Mitchell

This blog post is the first in (hopefully!) a series about Aberdeen: local history, favourite places and personal memories.

The Three Stooges

So the plan was to invite two gerbils to live with us – but when there are three of the cute wee critters all being friendly and inquisitive then there’s no way to decide who to leave behind. So I now have three gerbils, the gerbilarium tank is now a “fine size” rather than very generous so I will have to build an extension for them (fun, so no complaints!).

The planned names of Laurel & Hardy was obvious one short so we’ve named them after the three stooges, Moe & Larry are traditional Mongolian gerbil coloured and Shemp is black – Shemp seemed to fit better than Curly as a name. Pictured here is Moe – I think, Moe has a subtle belt stripe that Larry probably doesn’t have…

Gerbil! by SpoiltCat, on Flickr

Gerbil! One of our new Mongolian Gerbils – I kept gerbils as pets as a child so I know these guys will be fun to look after.

This is Moe, or a slight chance it’s Larry but definitely not Shemp. I’ll get better at identifying them soon I hope!

Photo by SpoiltCat, on Flickr

An Empty Glass Tank

I’m uncharacteristically enthused by my current project, I’m using my limited DIY & woodworking talents to fashion a decent house for some gerbils. The plans for our gerbilarium started as just making a lid for the 16 gallon (20 US gallons) tank but it just didn’t seem enough so I am designing and building them a tank-topper that will, hopefully, be suitable for gerbil royalty. The enthusiasm is refreshing and I think it’s down to being creative in a manner that feels new to me, I’ve spent so long building intangible web solutions and for years now creating only digital photographs that I lost the joy of creation, the pleasure to be had from making something real and physical, something that exists in the physical world to step back from and be admired once I am finished.

Of course I shan’t finish it, like many of my creations it will go to permanent beta, built in modules and easily added to later. This is the way I create, I rarely see the finished object when starting out on a project, I see potentials. I saw an empty glass tank and in my head it becomes a three storey gerbil mansion. Sometimes I look at seeds and see not just the tree that will grow but the forest, complete with birds flitting about above early morning dog-walkers calling on Rover as he chases squirrels through the undergrowth!

My lesson to learn is to control my creative outpourings, to direct them towards a useful end and to learn to recognise when that has been reached and to stop. Afterall, if I never finish things how can I fully enjoy starting the new and the exciting!

An Empty Glass Tank by SpoiltCat, on Flickr

This tank was left by a previous tenant, the temptation to clean it and then set it up as home for a pair of gerbils was too much for me to resist. This was the first stage of my preparations, there is more of everything now – except still no gerbils!

The Sandwich

I think I have decided that my blog languishes too long between updates. It’s not the first time I’ve thought that, in fact I probably think it a couple of times each week – despite often having ideas for things to write they never seem to fit with the themes I’ve decided on, or if they do I never get around to finising off the writing part of blogging. So today’s idea is to relax on the focus and just update on a more personal level more often and let the “better” updates sit alongside a hopefully more productive output – afterall blog categories and tags are there for folks who want to filter what they read into more focussed topics.

And therefore, in the spirit of writing whenever the mood takes and including more personal blog updates I offer up this entry, The Sandwich. Being vegetarian (and a rather fussy eater) makes sandwich choices very simple: I like white bread, cheese & tomatoes. The bread is the most important part, I’d eat good bread dry with water every day and be happy, the cheese & tomato are simply there to qualify as a sandwich and anything extra added is considered a luxury treat. So there you have it, a personal fact revealed in a spontaneously written blog entry. I shall in future attempt to maintain this high standard of excitement – promise!

The Sandwich by SpoiltCat, on Flickr

Providing two of my five-a-day in the cucumber & tomato. Providing five days worth of white bread in two slices but quite stingy with the cheese I think – only enough for a mild heart attack.

A Fly Cuppie O’ Tea

A Fly Cuppie O' Tea

A Fly Cuppie O' Tea A nice mug of tea is always good for contented smiles.

Photo by SpoiltCat, on Flickr

This is the first photo taken with a brand new camera, about thirty seconds after the battery had fully charged for the first time (lucky I had an attractive subject across the room).

It is also the first photo taken as part of my new Photo Blog project!

Not Animal, Not Vegetable, Nor Mineral

I’ve always been fascinated by Fungi since I learned of their rebellion against the “plants & animals” view of living things & taxonomy. Since then I’ve learned to love the common supermarket chestnut mushroom as an almost vital ingredient when cooking. Pizza isn’t pizza without mushrooms, pasta dishes only ever lack them because I eat so many during preparation that the cost becomes prohibitive!

So it’s slightly unusual for me to think that this year is the first time I’ve taken time to try seriously photographing them – even now I have very few in my collection. Which is a shame as I think they look amazing when you get right down in the dirt to shoot them from a low angle rather than the easier “looking down at” viewpoint.

This evening then, I offer up two favourites of my mushroom photos so far – the first from a pine forest near Aberdeen & the second, much more earthy, from Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow.
[flickr ids=2821400483,2995710387]

That Silly White Band

So, what’s it all about? Folk are wearing them all over the place: celebrities keep cropping up wearing them and giving a little spiel during the ad breaks on telly and trailers at the cinema; even Alternative Nation has one stuck up there in the corner to annoy you.

Is it just a trendy new fashion thing? Or is there some worthwhile meaning behind it? Is it just a bunch of bandwagon jumpers? Or are these folk actually on to a good thing?

Is it – what we really want to know – is it, in actual fact, cool?

Well, I think so, and I’m far from alone. When you visit the Make Poverty History website you’ll find no “click to donate” buttons, no “direct debit donation” links. In fact, there’s nothing there that’s asking for your money at all. Strange, no? You were expecting requests to divvy up some beer money to help, weren’t you?

Well, no: all they’re asking for is your support; just for you to agree that making the poorest people in the world a little richer is a good idea. All they want is your voice joining with others around the world this year to say that you believe in making poverty history and that, really, so many children dying from poverty when there just isn’t any need is a pretty poor show. And just not rock ‘n’ roll.

So go on off to their website. Click the ‘Get Involved’ link and do all the online stuff to show support; if your funds can stretch to buying a stamp print out the postcard and send it off as well. There’s some great information and links around the site if you fancy learning more – they have all the ad movies there for you to watch as well if reading isn’t your thing.

And basically, that’s it. If enough people support it then governments have to listen, so spread the word to others – encourage their support and you can feel good about yourself, job well done. You’ll have helped to feed the poorest and most in need and still have all the spare change in your pocket – how can that be a bad thing?

The truth of the matter is that all together those silly white bands may just help to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people if governments make the right decisions. That’s not really such a silly thing after all.

It could maybe just change the world. Now that is definitely cool.

Make Poverty History website: http://www.makepovertyhistory.org/

MPH is the UK-based campaign of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty alliance: to find out more in other countries visit http://www.whiteband.org/