Friday, 30 November 2012


Chortle, Chortle
“Good morning Convener”
Chortle, Chortle
“Is there something about my appearance that’s amusing you Convener?”
“No, no – it’s not you Nigel.  Mind you, that’s not to say that you don’t look funny as well.”
“So what’s funny on this occasion Convener?”
“Well, I’ve just come down from the council chambers and this Movember lot are just a picture!”
Movember, Convener?”
“Yes, you know, a bunch of Councillors have been growing’ moustaches all through November.  They’re doing it to support some men’s health initiative - oh but they look a right motley crew now!”
“Yes, I have seen some rather hirsute upper lips in the Chambers in recent weeks.”
“Hirsute?  It’s like a rogue’s gallery up there.  There’s one of them looks like Groucho Marx another one looks like Fu Manchu.  Then there’s Farmer Giles and a fair impression of Adolf Hitler.  I’d a real job telling who was who.”
“Well I suppose it must be difficult on occasions recognising them in their new guise”
“That’s the point.  You know, down in Westminster, when the Speaker invites an MP to address Parliament, he says, “The Chair recognises the Right Honourable Member” Well I felt like saying - I don’t recognise any of you lot.  And the Chief Executive told me that I would be out of order to say - ‘All right Fu Manchu, what have you got to say’.”
“Yes Convener, but it is for a very good cause.”
“Oh I know that!  Far too many macho blokes are ignoring their health and not taking responsibility for looking after themselves.  So - maybe having’ a shufty at that lot will be just the shock they need to bring them to their senses.”
“Quite so Convener, but I notice that you haven’t joined them in their tonsorial celebration.”
“Tonsorial?  I had my tonsils out when I was a child.  What’s that got to do with it?”
“No Convener, in this context tonsorial means hair grooming.”
“Well, I’m not growing another moustache.  I had the last one for damned near forty years – and that was long enough.”
“So why did you remove it Convener?”
“Well, I grew it when I was a young bobby.  I thought it made me look older, and that it added to my gravitas.  You see – you need a bit a gravitas -  when you’re dealing with hardened criminals!”
“Hardened criminals Convener?  I thought you were a country bobby”.
“That’s right, I was.  I was the scourge of Banff and Buchan.  Any time there were dogs attacking livestock?  I was your man!”
“Oh, I understand Convener -sheep worrying
“Oh all the time, they were just on the edge of their seats - fretting!”
“So Convener, if you grew the moustache to make you look older, why did you shave it off?”.
“Nigel - get a grip.  Take a good look at my phizog.  Do you really think I need anything nowadays to make me look older?”
“Point taken Convener.”
“No, I’ll not be growing another moustache - but I will be lending’ the lads my moral support, and perhaps putting a bit of cash into their collection.”
“Collection Convener?”
“Oh yes!  They’re raising money for men’s health charities with this lark and anybody that wants to give a donation can go onto the Interweb thingy and pledge their support.  And just for us Councillors - there’s a small collection box next door.  In fact, I think I’ll just pop through and put something in to it right now.  For I’m well known as a generous contributor!”
“Quite so Convener”
“Wait a moment though……….. you wouldn’t have change of 50pence on you by any chance?”
“Oh Convener !”
There’s still time to contribute to the Team Moray’s Movember efforts and help raise awareness of men’s health issues.  All donations will go to men’s health charities – in particular testicular and prostate cancers.
Follow this link to donate –

Friday, 23 November 2012

The best laid schemes.......

Good morning Convener, and how are you this lovely morning?

“Oh just hanging together Nigel.  I’m in an awful mess.  I’ll have to de-clutter.

“De-clutter” Convener?

“Yes, it’s this budget consultation, I’ve got bits o paper and e-mails and everything all over the place.  I’m in a right muddle.  So – when everything’s in a clutter I have to have a de-clutter – see?”

Well, whatever you say Convener - but what was it that you wanted to see me about?

“Well I’ve just heard that David Cameron has got something’ called an ‘App’ on his phone to help him run the country.  So, I thought, I could have one of those to help me run the Moray Council.  Only thing is - I don’t know what an ‘App’ is.”

Well Convener, an ‘App’ is a small computer programme that you can have on your smart phone to help you do things like book a hotel or find the nearest restaurant or..

“Could it find my car keys?”

Well,  I presume there is an ‘App’ for that too Convener but I really don’t think that it’s the sort of ‘App’ that the Prime Minister would have.

“Oh I wouldn’t’ bet on it!  Anyway I want an‘App’, I want a Sat Nav ‘App’

Sat Nav ‘App’ Convener? But you already have Sat Nav in your car.

“I know, but what I really want is a Doric Sat Nav”

Doric Sat Nav? Whatever for?

“Well the lady in my Sat Nav’s got a very snooty voice.  She keeps saying’ things like “continue on the A96 for 31 miles”.  What I want is something’ that says, “Keep going until you reach Inverurie”.  And then, when I don’t do what she tells me, or miss my turning she says “Recalculating, Recalculating, Recalculating.  It gets on my wick.  I’d far rather she just said “Where on earth do you think you’re going you dunderhead!”. 

Yes Convener, I’m sure that’s all very interesting, but I doubt whether there’s much of a market for a Doric Sat Nav ‘App’.  Perhaps you will just have to manage without one.

“Well I won’t know where I’m going”

I doubt if anyone will notice the difference Convener!

“Are you suggesting’ that I don’t know what I’m doing?  Or which direction the Council’s going in?

Not at all Convener. Not at all, but it’s something I have been meaning to speak to you about for some time.  It’s the new Development Plan you see.  

“Development  Plan?”

Yes Convener.  One of the big jobs for any Council is to publish a Development Plan which sets out how land should be allocated for the next 4 or 5 years.  In that way we can make provision for land for housing, industry and recreation amongst other things.

“So what’s the big deal about that?”

Well Convener it’s extremely important to give everyone a steer on where the Planning Authority wants to see new houses or industrial estates being built or, indeed, not built as may be the case.

“Planning authority? Is that us?”

Yes Convener, the Council acts as the planning authority for the whole of Moray and right now we are starting the process of producing the next version of the Development  Plan. So, like everyone else in Moray, you have an opportunity to make suggestions about how the land should be used.  The Council will then decide which of these proposals will be included in the Development Plan.

“So let me get this right.  Anybody can make’ a proposal or suggestion and, if the Council agrees, then it’ll be in the Development Plan and that’s what the ground will be used for?”

Well that’s a bit simplistic but I think you’ve got the gist of it Convener.

“Right! I want to make’ a proposal.  I propose we have a Casino”

A Casino Convener?

“Yes Nigel - I propose that an island in the pond in the Cooper Park in Elgin be allocated for a Casino.  Will that do?”

Well I suppose, in theory, that’s a competent proposal although I can’t see it gaining any support.  Why on earth would you want a Casino in the Cooper Park?

“Well a pal of mine is just back from a holiday in Las Vegas and he says that there’s a Casino in Las Vegas with Gondooolas”

Gondooolas? Convener?

“Yes Gondoolas. I’m not very sure what they are but apparently they go in the water.  So I was thinking they might be a bit like the swans and ducks that we have in the Cooper Park.  So maybe, if we got a pair of them, they would breed.  Then we would have plenty of Gondooolas for our Casino”

Convener! You are off at a tangent again.  What you should be doing is encouraging people to make contributions to the Development Plan so that they are not faced with any surprises over the next 5 years.  By having this debate now, we can allow everyone, developers, community organisations and private individuals, to make plans for the future based on what they can reasonably expect from the Development Plan.  Does that make it clear?

“Oh absolutely, Nigel.  It’s not only clear - but it’s very close to making’ sense!.

Thank you, Convener.

“So I suppose what you’re really saying is that the Gondooolas are out of the question?”

Yes Convener!


For full information on how you can help shape the next Moray Development Plan visit the Moray Council Website by clicking this link.

Friday, 16 November 2012


“Two forty five … two sixty five … two seventy five … two eighty.  Not enough!”
“Good morning Convener, still figuring out the budget?”
“Hello Nigel, right now I’m on the Catering Budget.  It’s a bit of a job though.”
“So how much have you got so far?”
“Well I’m at two eighty, but it’s not enough!”
“Two hundred and eighty thousand pounds off the catering budget?  That’s remarkable – and you don’t think it’s enough?”
“Don’t be silly!  I’ve got two pounds an’ eighty pence!  But it’s not enough for a three pound sandwich for my lunch from the vending machine.  My budget’s just like the Council’s – my stomach has demands and expectations that can’t be met with ‘current resources’.”
“Well, we’re all going to have to make sacrifices Convener.  I suppose that you’ll just have to choose something less expensive”
“Well I was going to have ‘Tai Chicken in Chilli Sauce’ but I’ll just have to make do with tuna or cheese”
“Well that’s the sort of choices that are facing us now.  It’s no good having a caviar lifestyle on a corned beef budget”
“Oh I like corned beef!  My Granny always gave us corned beef.  I had corned beef every Tuesday right up ‘till 1964”
“1964 Convener?”
“Yes – that was the year of the Typhoid outbreak in Aberdeen.  It was blamed on the corned beef – so after that we just had to make do with a boiled egg - until Edwina Currie came along and put the kybosh on them!  Then it was BSE in hamburgers and Listeria in cheese.  It’s a wonder we’ve anything’ left to eat at all.  Have you seen what’s in sandwiches nowadays?”
“In them? Convener?”
“Yes – look what it says on this sandwich packet -“This product contains mechanically recovered chicken”.  Sounds like it fell down a hole and then they dug it out with a JCB!
Convener! - you’re off at a tangent again!”
“Perhaps, but my granny would never have ….”
“Yes Convener, I think we’ve heard quite enough about your granny, this is getting us nowhere.  What was it that you wanted to see me about?”
“Oh!  It’s this budget workshop thingamajig.  I’ve got the first one in Forres tonight and I don’t know what I’m supposed to say or do.  I’ve never been to a workshop before – do you have to take a hammer and saw?”
“No Convener.  A workshop is an event where people get together to work on options for saving the Council money.  The have discussions and exercises to go through.”
“Exercises?  Oh, I’m not up for running on the spot or star jumps.  Not at my time of life!”
“No Convener.  They’ll be undertaking desktop exercises that help us prioritise the way that money is spent.  You see, our budget’s really about choices – we know we’ll be getting less money so it’s what we use it for that counts.  The people at the workshops help us make these decisions by comparing different council services and deciding which, in their view, need to be protected from any cuts or alternatively those that might be reduced.
“So, it’s not about me telling them what to do and then listening to what they have to say?
“Not at all Convener. That’s not the way it works this time. We want to hear ideas from the public.  That’s why the workshop gives them the opportunity to introduce their own ideas and to challenge the way things are done at present.
“You mean they’re going to tell me what to do?”
“Absolutely, Convener”
“Well that’s a new idea!  Who’s idea was that?”
“Mine Convener!”
“Oh well, don’t get too cocky about it because we’ll probably need all the ideas we can get.  Mind you, I’ve not heard any from you – can you help as well?
“Of course Convener”
“All right – lend me 20 pence for my sandwich then!”
“……..Yes Convener.”

There are still places available for the forthcoming Budget Workshops which will be held as follows;
  • Forres area - Forres Town Hall on 16 November 7-9pm
  • Buckie area- Fisherman’s Hall on 19 November 7-9pm
  • Elgin area - TA Centre on 21 November 7-9pm    
  • Keith area - Longmore Hall on 27 November 7-9pm
  • Lhanbryde area - Community Centre on 29 November 7-9pm
  • Elgin area - Bishopmill Hall on 30 November 7-9pm
  • Speyside area - Fleming Hall, Aberlour on 4 December 7-9pm
  • Lossiemouth area - Lossiemouth Town Hall on 6 December 7-9pm
Places can be booked by calling 01343 563996 or via the budget consultation section on the Council website at   If there are still places available on the night then every effort will be made to accomodate anyone who might turn up, however it should be stressed that this will be strictly on a first come first served basis and we cannot accomodate more than 64 persons at any venue. 

Friday, 9 November 2012


“Good morning Convener.”
“Ah, how are you Nigel, and how are your pigeons getting on?”
“How are my what? Convener?”
“Oh it doesn’t matter, how are things today?”
“Well I was wondering how you were getting on with the budget consultation exercise?  We really need to make sure that our message is getting out there and that people recognise what’s in front of us.”
“Well it’s not been too bad.  I was up at Aberlour the other night and there was a fair turnout.  Mind you, it could have been better but we were up against Inverness Caledonian Thistle playing Rangers in the Scottish League Cup.  So maybe that had something to do with it”?
“And do you think that the people in Moray now understand the scale of the problem and the sacrifices they may have to make?”
“Well I have real misgivings about that.  Quite a number of them were looking for more money to be spent upgrading roads and putting on more buses and improving libraries and so on when what we’re really trying to do is save money.  I really don’t know how to get the message across.”
“Well what about recycling?  Recycling costs a lot of money you know.  For every ton of rubbish that the Council sends to the landfill sites, it costs us £64 pounds in landfill tax.”
“Landfill tax!  Now there’s a good idea.  What do we spend that money on?”
“No, no Convener, you misunderstand.  The landfill tax is imposed by the Scottish Government.  The money goes to the Government not to the Moray Council.”
“Wait a minute!  That’s not fair – we collect the rubbish, truck it all the way to Dallachy and then we have to pay £64 a ton to put it in the ground?”
“Precisely, Convener.  And the really bad news is that the cost rises by £8 a ton every year.  It’s a way of encouraging local authorities to stop sending their refuse to landfill because of the environmental impact that this has on all of us.”
“Is there not a “get-out” clause?”
“Get-out, Convener?”
“Yes.  You know, nudge, nudge , wink, wink.  You guys always find ways of getting around this sort of thing.  Is there not some way we can avoid paying?”
“I’m afraid not Convener.  The process is strictly monitored.  The only way we can avoid it, is by recycling.  Are you a keen recycler yourself?”
“Oh - absolutely, I’ve been recycling since I was a child.  I even had a bitsa bike!”
“Bitsa? Convener.”
“Yes – you know, it was made from bits of one bike and bits of another one.  We got them up at the rubbish dump an’ joined them together.  He Presto - a bitza bike!”
“Yes, very good Convener but I think we need more modern examples to encourage people to recycle.”
“Well they can put their lemonade bottles back for a start!  My granny always sent me to the sweetie shop to get thrupence back on every one.  And it was the same with the milk bottles, a quick rinse out and they were out the door for the milkman in the morning’ – recycled!”
“Yes, Convener.  Most illuminating - but we need to concentrate on the here and now.  Perhaps you should do more to encourage waste food recycling.”
“Waste food recycling?  There’s nothing new about that either.  My granny used to keep a bucket at the back door and anything that was left over after our dinner – mind you there wasn’t much – went in the bucket and then she fed it to the hens.  Then, every now and then, we would recycle a hen”

“Recycle a hen Convener?”
“Certainly. She would draw its neck and we would have it for our dinner!.  Then a day or two later, nature would take its course and we would recycle it”
“CONVENER!, that’s far too much information.
“Maybe - but that was real recycling”
“Well that’s what you’ve got to do now Convener.  You’ve got to help persuade people to use their food recycling containers and cut down the amount of food waste that is sent to landfill.  Remember, every ton of food waste is another £64 pounds.” 
“How about a poem?”
“A poem, Convener?”
“Yes, like we had a school when we needed to remember something. You know – Thirty days has September, April June and November .. it made it easier to remember which one was which…”
“Well it might work, Convener…”
“All right, here we go ……
Please don’t throw your food waste out
That’s not what recycling’s all about
No cabbage leaves or potato skins
Or Brussel sprouts put in green bins
Just put them in your grey container
There you go - it’s a real no brainer!
“Will that do?”
“Yes Convener but perhaps you should start with the line “With apologies to William McGonagall””
For further information on how you can help the Council save money by recycling (including food waste) visit the Council's website by clicking the link here.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Lost In Translation

Well this is not at all what I had intended.  I had hoped that, when I persuaded the Convener to become a Blogger, that would be the end of it; but now it seems that I bear the responsibility of turning his idle Doric ramblings into something that everyone can understand.  This marks the interface between Diversity and Equality, however I must point out that there are occasions where no English equivalent is available for Doric vocabulary but I’ll do my best to maintain the sense (or nonsense!) of the text.  Here goes ……
“Nigel! Nigel! – come through to my office a minute”
“What’s up Convener?”
“It’s this thingymablog thing – it’s not working!”
“Not working Convener?”
“No – nobody understands a word I’m saying.  Here’s Rupert, being very kind about what I’m trying to do but the poor man’s not got the foggiest idea what I’m on about!”
“Oh dear, Convener”
“Oh dear precisely! – It was your blessed idea!!  What are we going to do?”
“Well Convener, I do agree that I should take some responsibility, but it seemed like such a good idea.  Perhaps I could tidy it up a bit – you know – take out some of the more unusual expressions?”
“Not on your Nellie, Nigel!”  ‘That’s the way I speak and I’m trying to communicate in my mother tongue”
“But Rupert’s right Convener.  There’s little point of trying to get a message out if it sounds like Greek to a large section of your intended audience.”
“Don’t mention the Greeks!  They’re in a right mess as well.  But we’ll have to do something.”
“Well maybe I could provide an alternative version – you know, on my own blog.”
“What? Have a Nigel’s blog as well?”
“Yes Convener”
“Not a bad idea - then when someone’s having a bit of difficulty with the Doric they can still get the message somewhere else.  A bit like having a Google Translate for Doric?
“Yes Convener”
“Well that should please Rupert – I hope he doesn’t bear a grudge.  Bear a grudgeRupert – do you get it?”
“Unfortunately yes, Convener”