Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Recycling Revisited

“Nigel, Nigel could you come through here for a moment?”

“Good evening Convener you’re working late again.  Is there a problem?”

“Oh it’s my blog again Nigel – I’ve got nothing to say”

“Nothing to say Convener?  Why these have been two of the most momentous weeks of your, admittedly short, career - what with the by-election and everything.”

“Oh I know – but everyone’s heard the result so if I go on about it they’ll just think I’m being smug.  And you know what they say… pride comes before a fall.”

“Yes Convener, but surely the administration is a little more secure now that you’ve got another Independent member.”

“Oh well, perhaps the situation is not so perilous as it was before.  But there can’t be any room for complacency.  We’ll just have to work away and try to get this job done.  But that’s not the point – I need something to put in my blog again.”

“But Convener, you’ve now got plenty scope for political point scoring.”

“No, no Nigel.  This is neither the time nor the place.  If the shoe had been on the other foot I wouldn’t want to be seen to be complaining so I’m not going to crow about it now.  I’ll just have to speak about something else.  What is there that is non-controversial?”

“Yes, well that’s a good question because there’s not much on the agenda at the moment that fits that category - what with the western link road and the budget cuts and all that.  Perhaps the safest bet is the wheelie bins.

“Wheelie bins? What’s new about wheelie bins?”

“Well, you’ll remember that last year we introduced new recycling facilities for our rural residents.  So this month we’re starting to introduce the same facilities in our urban communities.”

“In the towns?”

“Yes Convener in the…. em  er ….towns

“So what’s the difference then?”

“Well the main differences are that we are going to be collecting plastic waste in separate bins and the recycling collections will take place every fortnight rather than weekly at present.”

“Here – wait a minute.  My recycling boxes are damned near full at the end of a week.  I’ll be in a right mess come a fortnight.”

“Yes Convener but to overcome that, we’re going to issue more bins.  As well as your usual green and brown bins you’ll have a bin for paper and cardboard, another one for plastic and cans and you’ll continue to use your present orange box for glass.  So you should have more than enough room.”

“Have you seen the amount of bottles I put out in a fortnight ?  The beer drinkers of Moray will be up in arms!!”

“Well Convener, perhaps it might dissuade them, and you, from over imbibing.  In any case, I sometimes think that politicians and alcohol don’t mix very well.  Look what happened to the MP for Falkirk, Mr Joyce.”

“Oh yes – that was awful, wasn’t it?  He’s a bit of a lad is Eric. Can’t seem to stay out of bother.  But you know what really surprised me?”

“No, what was that Convener?”

“He was in the House of Commons - in a Sports Bar !”

“Yes, well there are over 600 MP’s. I suppose they need somewhere to relax every now and then.”

“Yes – but that’s not the point.  I thought that they would have a bit more class than to have “Sports Bars”.  And do you know what they were doing?”

No what was that Convener?

“They were having a Karaoke night.  That’s not what you would expect from MP’s.  That’s more the kind of thing that you’d expect to find in the Ploo on a Saturday night.  I thought  that MP’s would have something a bit more sophisticated.  You know – perhaps a small string quartet in the corner.  I didn’t’ expect them to be murdering Status Quo or belting out “My Way”.  That’s just destroyed the picture I had of them all sitting there, with a bit o gravitas, listening to Bach or Shubert.”

“But Convener, everyone is entitled to a bit of relaxation.”

“I know Nigel, but this is the House o’ Commons.  What will they be doing next - playing bingo?  You can just imagine the Speaker calling the bingo numbers – Chancellors House - number 11, Davie’s Den - number 10,  all the Greens - number 1.  It just doesn’t bear thinking about!”

“Convener you’re ranting again.  You’d better get back to the topic - the plans for rolling out the wheelie bins?”

“Oh that’s a good one Nigel!  Rolling out the wheelie bins - but I keep telling you - I do the funnies in here!  So what’s the story?”

“Well the first phase of the roll… I mean the project commenced on Friday 15th March when the new bins were issued to householders in Alves and we’ll continue throughout Moray so that, hopefully, all our households will be using the new system by Friday 3rd May.

“So if anyone has any questions, where should they go?”

“Well Convener every affected household will receive a leaflet before their bins arrive, and another delivered with their bins, which explain exactly what is going to happen.  However if they have any further questions they can visit the Council’s website at or telephone our Waste Hotline on 01343 557045.”

“So come 3rd May it’ll all be sorted?”

“Absolutely Convener - in every sense of the word!!!”

If you need any advice or assistance with any aspect of the Council’s recycling programme, please visit the website link above or contact 01343 557045.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Blood Donor (II)

“Good evening Convener – you’re working late tonight - I was just about to lock up.”
“Oh hello Nigel!  I’m just getting ready for my Civic Duties down at the Town Hall”

“Civic Duties Convener?”

“Yes, I’m off to the Blood Donors Award Ceremony, so I’m just giving my chain a bit of a polish before I go”

“Ah yes Blood Donors, a most worthwhile and commendable sacrifice.  Are you making many awards?”

“Yes ndeed!.  There are 34 people getting awards for giving almost 2,000 pints of blood!  So I was hoping I would pick up a few tips”.

“Tips about giving blood?”

“No, no, Nigel.  It’s tips about the budget that I’m needing.  I’m totally fed up trying to get enough money out of the Government to pay all of our bills – and any chance of putting up the Council Tax has flown straight out of the window because we’re simply not allowed to do that without severe penalties.  So – I thought I’d turn to the experts.”

“Well I am sure that the Blood Transfusion Service is very prudent in its financial management, but I don’t know how they can help you in your dealings with the Government.”

“Well, I thought that they’d be just the chaps to tell me how to get blood out of a stone!  And whilst they’re about it they could, perhaps, come down to the Council Chambers on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s about 11 o’clock.  I somehow think that there are quite a few Councillors who would be prepared to volunteer to give blood about that time.”

“At 11 O’clock Convener?  Why on earth would they volunteer at 11 O’clock?”

“Well, it’s all these cuts you see.  The other week we put a moratorium on tea and biscuits for Councillors - so at 11 o’clock, when we used to have a cuppa, the best we can manage now is a glass o’ water.  So there’s a fair chance that, if the blood transfusion van came down, the Councillors would volunteer just to get a cup o tea and a Jammie Dodger.”

Convener, you can’t go giving blood every week for the sake of a custard cream or a bourbon.  That’s not the spirit at all – and I trust that you’ve been a regular donor yourself?

“Ahhh…. well, there’s the rub.  There’s a little bit of a problem there.  You see – for a long time I was prevented from giving blood on account of a medical condition.”
“And what condition was that?
“I was scared!  I just couldn’t look at a needle without feeling faint. Even my granny darning socks set me off.  I think it was all Tony Hancock’s fault.  He was always going on about a pint of blood being a whole armful – and I didn’t realise that he was only joking!  But don’t you go telling everyone – because it’s one of my darker secrets and I’m probably too old now to change.”
“But Convener – you’re supposed to set an example.  If you don’t practice what you preach you’ll be accused of being a hypocrite.”
“A hippo what?”
“A hypocrite – someone who says one thing but does another.”
“Don’t you dare mention Politicians!”
“I wouldn’t dream of it Convener and your secret’s safe with me….provided…..”
“Provided what?”
“Provided you mend the error of your ways and at the very least make enquiries tonight as to whether you’re suitable as a blood donor”
“Or else?”
“Or else there may be a leak of confidential information concerning the Convener’s blood donor history”
“How big a leak?”
“Oh – about a pint I imagine”
“Oh touché Nigel – I’ll do it – I’ll do it!!”
“Well, I’ll hold you to your word Convener”
It’s never too late.  You can start giving blood anytime up to your 66th birthday so for more details about how you can mend the error of your ways visit the Scottish Blood Transfusion Service on:-

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The Only Constant Is Change

“Morning Nigel – what’s doing today?”

“Well Convener, I wanted a word with you about your blog.”

“What about my blog?”

“Well that’s rather the point.  What about it indeed!  I’ve heard rumblings that you haven’t been very active on that front lately.  There’s been nothing heard from you for a fortnight!”

“Yes, well fair dues… but I have been trying – honestly.  It’s just that every time I get something down on paper everything changes before I can get it onto my blog.”

“What do you mean – everything changes?”

“Well, just the other week I was saying how unseasonable it had been and, as soon as I had said that, we were up to our armpits in snow.  I had to take that bit out or else they’d all be blaming me for bringing it on. 

“Well you might have been tempting fate a bit, but you surely can’t blame yourself simply because the weather does the opposite of what predict”.

“Ah well, that’s as maybe - but try telling that to Michael Fish.  Anyway, it’s much better now so we’ll just have to glory on.  Then there was my letter tae the Pope.”

“The Pope, Convener?”

“Oh yes – I was going to tell everyone about my letter to the Pope…but as soon as I had written it – he’d resigned!!”

“Well but I’m sure that your reader will still be interested in that.  We don’t have a lot of correspondence with the Vatican.  What prompted you to write?”

“Well, I just wanted to congratulate the Pope on catching up with me and getting himself onto the social media scene.  He’s started twittering you know.”

“Now we’ve had this conversation before Convener!  People using Twitter, tweet.  But why is this of particular interest to you?”

“Well, you know what they say - imitation is the sincerest form o’ flattery- and the Pope’s tweeting in Doric as well.”

“The Pope’s tweeting in Doric?”

“Yes….. well maybe not in my Doric.  He’s tweeting in his own Doric – Latin.”

“Latin is the Pope’s Doric?”

“Yes, of course it is.  It’s the old language of the Romans - just like Doric is the old language of the people from Moray.  So, I’m thinking that the Pope has cottoned on to my idea and is using Latin for his twits.”

Tweets, Convener.”

“Yes, yes… it’s all the same thing.  So I thought that I would just send him a billet-doux to congratulate him on his novel, well nearly novel, approach.”

“And have you written your….er….. billet-doux.. in Doric?

“Well, no - but I have to accept that, while Doric’s one of the world’s most romantic languages – just like Italian -  it’s maybe not all that well understood these days – especially down the Vatican way -  so I’ve had to do my usual translation for him.”

“Well I’m sure that the Pope will be gratified to learn of your admiration for his foray into the age of digital communication, but I think it’s stretching a point a bit to suggest that Doric is a language with romantic overtones similar to those found in Italian”.

“Oh not at all!.  Doric’s as romantic as any other language… It’s maybe just a bit more straight-to-the-point.  You know how the Italian’s might say “Ciao Amore! – a’ wanna cradle a’ you inna ma arms ana shower you witha ma hot keesses”?  In Doric you’d say “How are you bonny girl?  What about a cuddle?”  So there you are, exactly the same - but in half the time!”

“Convener, this isn’t providing any material for your blog.  Can’t you think of anything that’s topical but not subject to sudden change?”


“No that’s been overdone – oh! I did it again – horsemeat…. overdone!  Do you get it?”

“Yes… but only from Findus … there’s no horsemeat sold in our butchers!.  No Shergarburgers or Triggermince in Moray!  But you’re right… that story’s been round the houses more than the joke about the White Horse that went into a bar.  The barman looked at it and said – “here – we’ve got a whisky named after you.”  The horse looked at him an’ said….”What? Eric?!”

“Convener… I despair! You’re just avoiding the issue.  You’ll need to find something that people are interested in and that won’t change overnight.”

“I’ve got it!  I’ll put it out next week.”

“Won’t it change by then?”

“No, no – this one goes on forever!”

“What on earth is it then?”

“Budget cuts!!!!”

Friday, 18 January 2013


"Good morning Convener - and a Happy New Year.”
“Oh, how are you Nigel – and the same to yourself.  Are you all set for 2013 and raring to go with your shoulder to the wheel and your nose to the grindstone?”

“Well, actually, I’m not sure if you can put your shoulder to the wheel when your nose is on a grindstone!  However I am much refreshed after our short break.  What about yourself?”

“Well now that all the celebrations are out of the way it’s back to simple fare and hard work.  One good thing, however, is that the weather’s not been too bad!.”

“Yes the weather has been unseasonable lately.  I heard the birds singing the other morning – quite extraordinary for this time of year”.

“Yes indeed, - but it means that all the winter bugs that are going about are thriving in the mild weather.  I’ve had a stinker of a cold for weeks and then, just when that seemed to be getting a bit better, I put my back out and I couldn’t even get out of my bed”

“That’s dreadful Convener, but you seem to be more mobile now?”

“Ah yes.  But that’s because I was dowsed !”

“Doused?  What on earth were you doused in, aftershave?”

“No … no…..not  douseddowsed  You know, like what they do when they’re looking for water.”

“They were looking for water in your back?”

No.  They were looking for the sore bits.  One of my Councillor pals is a dab hand at the dowsing, and she asked if she could have a go at finding out what was wrong.  I told her that she could do whatever she wanted – just as long as I didn’t have to take my trousers off!”

“And so she walked over your back with a pair of hazel twigs?”

“No!  Nigel – you’re not taking this seriously!  She used a crystal on a short string.  And before you say anything else, I didn’t give tuppence for her chances of finding out what was wrong”

“So you are rather sceptical about alternative medicine?”

“Abso-blooming-lootly Nigel.  But after she found the right spot she wrenched my back the other way for a short time and - do you know something? - it’s a lot easier now.”

“That’s fine Convener, but might it just be psychosomatic?”

“No…no – it’s definitely a sore back – and I’m very grateful to her because I’m a lot better now.  Mind you, there wasn’t much wrong with my own treatment – a warm toddy after every meal - strictly for medicinal purposes you know.”

“And did that prove effective?

“Oh yes – but it was a bit of a job getting through nine meals a day!!”

“Really Convener, that’s no way to deal with minor ailments.  Did you know that alcohol abuse is becoming as prevalent amongst those of….. er….. late middle age..  as it is amongst the younger partygoers who are traditionally thought to be the culprits.”

“Hey – what’s this late middle age?  I’ll have you know that I’m one of the baby boomers - in the prime of my life and as fit as a fiddle”

“Yes apart from your cold and chest infection.”

“Oh – yes – but….”

“And your dicky back.”

“Yes but ….”

“And your sciatica and flat feet.”

“Nigel – wait a minute!  You’re making’ me sound like a condemned building.  I might have one or two minor ailments, and I’m maybe not as good as I once was – but I’m as good once as I always was - so put that in your pipe and smoke it!”

“Ah well - that might be difficult because I‘ve given up smoking - it’s one of my New Year resolutions.”

“Oh well done Nigel!  I know that giving up is not easy because I was a smoker myself.’”. 

“You smoked Convener?

“Yes – and I stopped on the day that I was elected.  But over the years I think I smoked everything there was - from Woodbines to Bogie Roll.  It cost me a fortune and did me no good at all.  So I wish you every success with your New Year’s resolution.”

And have you made any resolutions yourself Convener?

“Oh yes - ‘I’m going to cut down on fattening foods.  In particular, marzipan, macaroni and brie”

“But why those in particular?”

“Because I can’t stand them!  So, if ‘I’m going to have any chance of sticking to my resolution I reckon I should start off with that lot and give myself half a chance!”

“Half a chance?  But surely there’s no point if you don’t like these things already.”

“Yes – but there’s nothing to say that I couldn’t start to like them.  I didn’t start liking’ Tiramisu  until I was forty years old.”

“Convener - Tiramisu wasn’t invented until you were forty years old!”