Friday, 21 December 2012

Jingle Bells

“Jingle Bells, Convener.”
“Oh not you as well, Nigel.  I’ve just about had enough of all this Christmas cheer and YO HO HO’ing all over the place.  There’s really difficult decisions to be made in here and Christmas doesn’t make it any easier.”
“Yes, I’m sorry Convener.  The budget consultations will have left you with a lot to think about.”
“Yes, but it’s worse than that… I thought I would treat the Councillors to some cakes with their Christmas fly cup but there’s none of them can agree what they’ll have.  I think their choices are being affected by their political aspirations.  There’s one lot wanting Scotch Buns and another lot insisting on Empire Biscuits!  I thought I’d keep some of them happy by having a Battenberg cake, but it’s a job finding one with blue squares in it!”
“Well why don’t you have something more traditional like mincemeat pies or even ‘clootie’ dumpling?”
“No, No – that’s no use.  Gary Coull doesn’t like raisins and I can’t take the chance of him spitting them out!”
“Well perhaps you could compromise and get something else for Gary.  Do you know if there’s anything he particularly likes?”
“Well, he’s a native of Keith - so I think I’ll not go far wrong with a buttery”
“But a buttery’s not very festive Convener.”
“Oh, I’ll spread it with cranberry sauce and put a bit of holly on it.  That’ll make all the difference!”
“So do you have any other Christmas festivities planned, Convener?”
“Oh nothing’ much Nigel – what about you own lot, the officers, are they doing anything for Christmas?”
“Oh just the usual, a few office parties here and there – nothing too disorderly.  Of course Sandy Riddell will be off skiing again with the jet set.”
“Oh yes, I heard about that.  But then that’s nothing new - Sandy’s been going downhill for years!”
“Oh, very droll Convener – but are you all organised for Christmas yourself?”
“Well, I’m getting on not too badly considering that most years I do my shopping at the Shell Garage on the way home on Christmas Eve.  Mind you, I always think that you can’t have too many Winter Car Care Kits, but some people don’t agree!  So this year I’m more or less sorted.  I’ve got all the family’s and I’ve even got the hardest one of all!”
“Whose is that?”
“My mother’s!”
“Your mother Convener, why that’s remarkable.  And what have you got for her?”
“Well I didn’t need to think for long – she told me exactly what she was wanting – a Kindle Fire HD.  I told her that it wasn’t something for getting the Aga going but she said she knows exactly what it’s for and she wants to read some of these electronic books.  Not bad for 88 years old, eh?”
“Quite remarkable, Convener.  And, tell me, which books is she interested in?”
“Well, I’m not very sure – but I got them from Amazon for her.  I think one of them’s about knitting patterns or something like that.  It’s called 50 Shades Of Grey so I’m expecting a pretty boring jumper out of that!”
“Perhaps not as boring as you might expect Convener!  But what about yourself?  Are you going to be up to anything exciting?”
“Oh, no, Nigel.  Christmas is not the same when you’re getting on like me.  No children’s stockings on the mantelpiece.  No Santa Claus, oh I really miss him!”
“Bur Convener, surely you don’t still believe in Santa Claus?”
“Oh, abso-bloomin’-lootley Nigel!  Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean that it’s not true.  Just take a look at our Annual Accounts – do you know what ‘Amortisation Of Intangible Assets’ is?  Not likely!  But that doesn’t mean to say that we don’t believe it, or that the Finance Officer doesn’t exist!  Yes, there is a Santa Claus – and I’ve seen him with my own eyes!”
“Seen him Convener?”
“Yes, I’ve seen him.  It was a long time ago now – when I was a young Bobby doing my duty as the scourge o’ Banff an’ Buchan, and stationed at Boddam.”
“You mean to tell me that you actually saw Santa Claus?”
“Well, I’m pretty sure I did – though I have tae admit that it was Christmas Eve and I’d been doing a tour o’ the village pubs just tae make sure they were all adhering to the licensing regulations.”
“And did you have a drink in any of these pubs?”
“Well it was Christmas - so I maybe had a small libation here and there.”
“Tell me – how many pubs are there in Boddam?”
“Well there were four pubs at that time, but I just thought I’d be sociable - so I did the ones in Cruden Bay as well!”
“And then you saw Santa Claus?”
“Yes I did, and I’ll tell you this – he’d a really red nose!”
“Perhaps that was Rupert, Convener?”
“No – it was Santa all right.  Listen, like all policemen have to do, I wrote it down in my notebook – so maybe I’ll put that in my blog next Christmas.  Right now I have to dash - I’m taking two or three days off to enter in to this Christmas Spirit thing.”
“Well then – Happy Christmas, Convener”
“Yes, and Jingle Bells to you and yours, Nigel”

Sunday, 16 December 2012


““Aawww yukk!  Aawww goodness! That’s just disgusting.”
“Morning Convener – why the grimace?”
“Oh!  How are you Nigel – you’d be pulling faces too if you were reading this report!”
“Report Convener?”
“Yes, it’s a report that was before the Committee today.  It’s about all the unsavoury practices that this Council has to deal with.  I’ve just got to the bit about dog poo – for goodness sake it would put you off your lunch!”
“Ah yes!  But I think that it’s more delicately referred to as dog fouling these days”
“Nigel – this is what you always do.  Dog fouling sounds like my collie’s been chasing a hen.  You’d be better calling a spade a spade and this is just dog shi……”
Convener!  That’s highly inappropriate language!
“Ahh well – I’ve no doubt that is what you’d say if you stood on it.”
“So what does the report suggest that we do about it?”
“Well the report says that we’re doing quite a bit about it already.  The Community Wardens have been sharpening their pencils and they’ve already got the names of five offenders in their books.”
“Five offenders?  What like,  Fido, Rover, Rex and ……”
“Nigel! I’m not telling you again.  I do the funnies in here!!  This is a serious business.  This report says that lots o’ folk are responding to this initiative and there’s a pile of reports coming in about who’s doing it.  And before you start – it’s the owners’ names, not the dogs!  I’ve heard there’s even a group of dog owners that have joined together to fight this menace – just like I used to do when I was the scourge of Banff and Buchan”
“Ah yes, Convener.  That would be the Green Dog Walkers.  A very worthwhile initiative.”
“Yes – you’re right.  But there’s only one problem – there’s a dreadful shortage of green dogs!”
“No Convener – you don’t have to have a green dog.  A Green Dog Walker is someone who cares for the environment and who, when walking their dog, encourages other dog owners to act responsibly and to dispose of any dog mess that may occur.  They’re only GREEN in the environmental sense.”
“Encourage them?  I could encourage then all right.  I’d give them an encouraging size 12 right up their …..”
Convener. The days of geriatric bobbies dispensing summary justice are long gone.  Better behaviour can be achieved by education and good example – not by brute force!”
“Yes… well maybe you’re right but there’s other hooligans costing the Council money by their antisocial behaviour.   Take graffiti for instance – I can’t stand grafitti, and it costs the Council money to clear it up.  Do you know we spent £8,000 last year removing all these vile slanderous remarks off of walls in Moray?”
“Slanderous, Convenor”
“Absolutely.  Do you know what one of them said?  It said ‘Stewartie Cree’s a baldy nitwit’.  Is that not slander?”
“Well, as it’s the written word, it would be more correctly to call it Libel.  However, I suppose that it could be argued that in some ways it’s a fair description as you must admit that you’ve lost most of your crowning glory!”
“Be that as it may but moss doesn’t grow on a busy street.  However, it’s worse than that.  There’s folk dumping rubbish in lay-bys and car parks and….. oh, all over the place.  They’re just a menace!”
“Ah, yes – the fly tippers”
“Fly tippers?  There’s nothing fly about them.  We’ve to come along and clean up all  the mess that they make – and that’s even more money spent.  What are we going to do about it?
“Well, one thing that you can do Convener is to remind the public that they can report these sort of incidents to our Hotlines.”
“Hotlines?.  Oh not more buzzwords Nigel.  Just tell it like it is.  Give me a list of all the numbers that folk can use to phone to report the grafitti mongers and the sofa dumpers and I’ll put it at the bottom of my blog.  If we can get the folk out there to help us then we’ll maybe make a difference”
“And does that hold true for unserviceable street lights Convener?”
“Fit lights, Nigel?”
“Oh just a minute Convener - I think I know that one – ‘Nae bad, foo’s yersel?’”
 The Council's Environmental Health Section will accept complaints relating to dog fouling and will make contact with the dog owner to prevent a recurrence of the practice. Tel: 01343 563345.  Or Report Dog fouling using our online form

If you see anyone dumping rubbish illegally then call the Dumb Dumpers Stop Line on 0845 2 30 40 90, or contact Moray Council at 01343 557045 -  email:

For all other cases of antisocial behaviour - call 0800 58 77 197.  You can also use our - online form  to report such behaviour.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Economy Drive

“Morning Convener, what on earth are you doing under your desk?”
“Oh, how are you Nigel?  I’m just having a good rake about.  I know I had a lottery ticket lying about somewhere and I can’t find it.  It might have fallen on the floor under my desk”
“Is it a winner Convener?”
“I’ve no blooming idea Nigel – but I’ve got to find it because there’s only eight hours to go!”
“Eight hours to go?  To go to what Convener”
“Eight hours to go until I can’t make a claim on it.  Did you not hear the news?  There’s a jackpot ticket worth £64 million out there somewhere and if it’s not claimed by eleven o’clock tonight - then it’s ‘tatties o’er the side’”**
“Tatties? Convener”
“Yes, tatties – you know - po-tat-oes, pommes de terre.  And, if that ticket’s not found before eleven o’clock, then the ‘pommes de terre’ will be right ‘dans la mer’.
“Oh, whatever you say Convener, but what makes you think that you’ve won it?”
“I don’t know Nigel, but I’ve got a feeling’ in my waters that something good is coming’ our way.  Last week I won a raffle at the Sports Moray Awards and twice this week I found 20p in the coffee machine.  Things are definitely looking up!!
“But Convener, the missing lottery ticket was sold in Hertfordshire six months ago – how on earth could you be the winner?”
“That’s as maybe, but I’m not taking any chances.  With a hole in the budget like we’re going to have, £64 million is worth scrabbling about on the floor for.”
“Convener – I fear you’re going to have to be more realistic and look at other ways of saving money.  I see you have a meeting tomorrow in Edinburgh – have you ever thought about Video Conferencing?”
“Video – what?”
“Video Conferencing, Convener.  It’s a way of attending a conference without actually being there.”
“Waait a minute.  Attending without being there?  Are you having me on?  I’ve been at plenty meetings with folk that are ‘not all there’ but at least their bums were on the seats!  How can I be there and not be there?”
“Well, you’re image will be there and the other members of the committee will see and hear you because you’ll be connected to the meeting through a video link.”
“What, like the telly?”
“Yes Convener, although you’ll actually appear in a box on a large screen along with other members who are Video Conferencing”
“Oh!  I see – like Celebrity Squares.  Does Terry Wogan run it?”
“No Convener, this has nothing to do with game shows or Terry Wogan.  It’s simply a way of saving time and money”
“Well I’m all for that.  Sign me up – Scotty.  Just one thing though.”
“What’s that Convener”
“I want to be in the top row!”
“I’ll do my best Convener, now what about some other savings.  Christmas cards for instance”
“Oh don’t mention Christmas Nigel!  I’m doing my best to ignore it, but it’s right on top of us now.  I even got one of those Christmas cards where they give you the whole story of their life over the past twelve months.”
“Oh yes Convener – a Round Robin
“Yes, whatever!  But the one I got doesn’t bob along!  It’s from some woman boasting about Lucinda winning the gymkhana and Torquil ‘finding himself’ in Kathmandu.  What’s that got to do with me?”
“Yes, well these annual updates do tend to guild the lily somewhat.  But you could do something similar in your Blog – you know, a short, to-the-point, resumé of your first 6 months in the Convener’s chair”
“Get away with you!.  You’d be better getting Roddy Burns to do that – he’s short and to the point!  Look, there’s not been much o’ a festive feel about the last 6 months and I don’t want to put the dampers on what’s left.  Maybe I’ll leave that to the New Year” 
“So no official Christmas cards this year then?”
“No, Nigel – this is another belt-tightening opportunity.  Have you seen the price of stamps?  50 pence for second class!  It’s a liberty. 50 pence is ten shillings.  When I was at College I could have a first-class dinner and a good night out for ten shillings - and now all I can do is send a begging letter!  My granny could……”
“Please Convener – If you’re going to bring up your granny again I feel it’s time to leave.  But before I go - remember those 20p’s you found in the Coffee machine?”
“Yes -  oh, don’t tell me they were yours!”
“No Convener – I believe they were your change!!”
 **    Tatties o’er the side:-          A Doric colloquialism inferring that a stage has been reached when there is no turning back from a course of action.  Believed to have arisen from the practice of jettisoning vegetables from fishing boats when a decision has been made to return to port.  The subsequent absence of provisions prevented further prevarication on the matter.  See also “Ba’s on the slates”

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