Save Our High Streets – Union Street U Turn

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Save Our High Streets

Something needs to be done about the state of our High Streets. Especially Union Street in Aberdeen. I know there are all sorts of projects in “talk” stage but come on –  is it that difficult? The longer it is left in the state that it is then the worse it will get, surely?

I moved to Aberdeen almost 20 years ago and the main thoroughfare – Union Street – was a bustling city centre, a strong beating heart at the centre of Aberdeen – The Oil Capital Of Europe. That is a stark contrast to what it is today – empty units, bargain pound shops, betting shops and pawnbroker type shops.

I know the world has changed, the oil industry is facing tough times and the way we shop has changed. I accept that the increase of online shopping has resulted in the demise of major retailers such as Woolworths and also that most big retailers want to move into fancy new shopping centres such as Union Square. I have no problem with this and I quite happily spend most of my lunchtime wandering around the shops in Union Square. However, it is leaving these empty units on the high street and allowing other “pop-up shops” to easily take up the space.

 

So, Aberdeen City council have “plans” to rejuvenate Union Street by pedestrianizing it, creating a civic square blah blah blah. Wealthy businessmen such as Sir Ian Wood offered, on a plate, £50 million to Aberdeen City Council for them to go off and “decorate the city” but they couldn’t pull their fingers out and decide on what paint to even use and they lost the lot! I could have a whole series of posts devoted to the idiotic decisions of the council!

Now, “what if” I was in charge (yes, God help us all!)

U Turn

I would take a complete U Turn and go back to the olden days. I don’t mean re-introducing horses and carts or wearing top hats and tails to go shopping, what I mean is bring back all the independent shops to the city centre. All the little boutique shops that are hidden in side streets who have survived these changing and hard times need to come back to the front – that’s how Woolworths started off after all is it not? These type of shops offer unique products & services that can’t easily be found elsewhere and would surely bring back the bustle to our high streets.

Using Aberdeen as an example, shops such as Nova Gifts, Peapod, Juniper & Millsom and Main* to name just a few. Sure, the fact they are small may mean they cannot afford the rent it would cost to be on the high street, so, instead of the councils spending all their money on the coffee and biscuits they have during their “rejuvenation meetings” they could lower the rents for the units on the high street to an affordable price for these small businesses.

To back up the fact that this could be a success Millsom and Main have recently moved onto Union Terrace, 10 metres from Union Street and have seen a major increase in profit!

I would also spend the £2 million that the council want to spend on a deep clean on a much better investment and let the criminals tidy this up for free – bring back chain gangs I say.

Just my thoughts – but what do I know?

I think the image I have created sums up this post quite well. It is a photo I made of merging Aberdeen past and present.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and “your High Street”. Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @SteveSays2014

 

50 Thoughts That Can Motivate You To Do Anything: #28 – Experience Is Always Valuable

What are the 50 thoughts that can motivate you to do anything?

I recently stumbled across an awesome website called Entrepreneur.com and I was particularly interested in one article and want to start sharing these thoughts and giving my own personal and visual interpretations of these “50 Thoughts That Can Motivate You To Do Anything”

#28 – Experience is always valuable

“Even if your mission doesn’t turn out the way you’d expected, you’ll walk away with experience.”

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#28 – Experience is always valuable

What about you – how would you represent this particular thought? Or, if you want to know why I chose the particular image let me know in the comments below or tweet me @SteveSays2014

For the other thoughts take a look at this.

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Celebrating Scotland: 10 Things I Love About My Country #8: Actors

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Should Scotland remain part of the UK now that we have been removed from the EU despite voting against it?

When we had the vote for Scottish Independence I voted to remain part of the UK because I was happy being Scottish, part of the UK and part of the EU. Now that it has been decided for us/against us to leave the EU my thoughts about becoming an independent Scotland have changed.

I am so proud to say I live in Scotland when I think of all the great music this amazing country has produced. So #8 in this series is Actors.

I was going to go down the route of showing off all the internationally famous actors Scotland has such as Ewan McGregor, Sean Connery etc but they have been written about thousands of times before and I’d like to put a different slant to the “Scottish Actors” genre.

I’d like to show off Scottish actors acting Scottish in Scotland. You really can’t get more Scottish than that can you?

There are so many great Scottish television shows and movies so that topic will be discussed in a future post but for now I want to focus on actors from one particular Scottish sitcom – “Still Game“.

What is Still Game?

The show is centered around two Glaswegian pensioners and follows their exploits within their community…

 

The first of the two main characters is Jack Jarvis…

 

The actor playing Jack is Ford Kiernan. Born and brought up in Glasgow, Ford, is a fantastically funny comedy character actor who first shot to fame in the sketch show Chewin’ The Fat and had people across Scotland in fits of laughter at the characters he brought to life.

Ford Kiernan…

He has also had a few parts in films such as Gangs Of New York and Ecstasy by Irvine Welsh as well as a couple of other sitcoms but, in my opinion he works best when he works with his comedy partner.

Here’s a compilation of the best of Chewin’ The Fat…

The comedy partner I speak of is, of course, Greg Hemphill who plays the character of Victor McDade…

 

Although born in Glasgow, Greg grew up in Canada which explains why in interviews he speaks with a “funny” accent.

Greg Hemphill…

In real life he is married to another Scottish actor – Miss Hoolie from children’s TV show Balamory. He has a son called Benny. Benny Hemphill. I’m not sure if there is any link to the late, great Benny Hill when they decided to choose the name?

Here comes the sad part…having been friends for many years, business partners for many years the stress took its toll on both relationships and Greg and Ford disappointingly parted ways in 2007.

Many other wonderful actors are in Still Game and there have also been a host of guest appearances by the likes of Robbie Coltrane, Lorraine Kelly and none other the Doctor himself Sylvester McCoy.

Other than the main characters Jack & Victor there are a couple of others that I would like to mention.

Jane McCarry plays Isa Drennan and she plays her brilliantly. Bearing in mind that Jane is only in her early forties she is so convincing at making this nosey old pensioner believable..

 

I’m always shocked when I see what she looks like in real life…

Jane McCarry…

I’ve been lucky enough to see Jane perform live on stage playing the part of Dolly in the legendary stage play, The Steamie. If you have never watched the TV version of The Steamie then I would urge you to do so – I watch it every Hogmanay without fail.

Finally and one of the funniest characters in the show is played by Sanjeev Kohli. He plays the corner shop owner Navid Harrid…

 

In real life he is a very clever man with a first class degree in Maths and numerous comedy writing credits to his name.

Sanjeev Kohli…

Still Game – one of the finest comedy shows to come out of Scotland in recent years…but wait – it’s not all over!

Earlier, I mentioned that Greg and Ford ended their long-standing partnership but get ready for a happy ending. The pair have reunited with a series of live stage shows and have now started working on new TV episodes.

Ya Dancer!

Are you proud of your country? Let me know about it in the comments below or tweet me @SteveSays2014 and don’t forget to take a look at other posts in this series.

Round Up: Talk About Pop Music

What’s the best music blog on the internet?

Talk About Pop Music, of course!

Here is, the latest “round up” from Talk About Pop Music – the best music blog in the universe…enjoy!

STOP! LOOK! PLAYLIST! 24TH JULY 2016

 

#DOWHATULIKE2NUMBER1 – 25 YEARS SINCE TAKE THAT RELEASED “DO WHAT U LIKE”

 

LISTEN: “ELIZABETH” BY EIGHTY NINETY

 

TALK ABOUT POP MUSIC – PLUG.DJ

 

THEN & NOW: DANCING ON MY OWN – CALUM SCOTT

 

THE AWESOME SPOTIFY “DISCOVER WEEKLY” PLAYLIST

 

COVER VERSION VS ORIGINAL VERSION: “THE STORY”

 

EVERY UK NUMBER ONE: COZ I LUV YOU

 

CELINE DION IMITATES CHER, RIHANNA, SIA ON TONIGHT SHOW AND IT’S AWESOME!

 

RECORD BREAKERS & TRIVIA: MOST WEEKS AT NUMBER ONE

Curing A Two Day Hangover With Netflix & BBC iPlayer

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What’s the best cure for a hangover?

For me – it’s Netflix.

At the weekend I had one too many cocktails and the last thing I felt like doing was sitting in front of a computer writing on this blog. All I wanted to do was be horizontal, take my brain out and connect my eye sockets to Netflix. So – I did.

I can’t remember the last time I have ever watched so much TV but it was great, well needed and I watched some great stuff!

What to watch on Netflix

You might be surprised by how much media I consumed over the past few days but bear in mind it was constant.

I started off with a film…

Joe Dirt

This was chewing gum for the eyes and gently eased me into the day. When I then realised there was a sequel that had just been released recently I had to have it…

What to watch on BBC iPlayer

Flat TV

I found a new show on BBC iPlayer called Flat TV and had quickly consumed the first four episodes…

I then moved back to Netflix and finished watching the final few episodes of a show I had started watching a few days earlier…

Stranger Things

Finally, I started to watch show which I soon was hooked on and absorbed the first season before I knew it. I love this and I am now on to the second season and can’t get enough of it…

Between

I thoroughly recommend all of these – hangover or not!

What about you? How do you cope with a hangover and have you any good TV/Film recommendations? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @SteveSays2014

Celebrating Scotland: 10 Things I Love About My Country #7: Customs

 

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Should Scotland remain part of the UK now that we have been removed from the EU despite voting against it?

When we had the vote for Scottish Independence I voted to remain part of the UK because I was happy being Scottish, part of the UK and part of the EU. Now that it has been decided for us/against us to leave the EU my thoughts about becoming an independent Scotland have changed.

I am so proud to say I live in Scotland when I think of all the great music this amazing country has produced. So #7 in this series is Customs.

There is only one custom that I can really start with, one which is probably known world-wide as we do hold the biggest party for it every single year…

Hogmanay

This is the Scottish word for the last day of the year, according to the Gregorian Calendar, the 31st December. Hogmanay may be only one day but we Scots know how to party and we usually continue to celebrate right through the 1st January and possibly even on the 2nd as that is a Scottish bank holiday too.

Edinburgh holds the biggest Hogmanay party in the world and although I have sadly never been it does not stop me partying just as hard. Aberdeen used to have a street party but in recent years it has been restricted to just a firework display at the stroke of midnight. I always think they are the best fireworks I’ve ever seen but I’m usually so drunk by that time that someone waving a sparkler in front of me would probably seem to be like the most awesome thing ever.

A couple of years ago it actually snowed as the fireworks were going on and this was actually pretty amazing. I managed to “borrow” someone’s footage from YouTube and edited it and, well, I was happy with the results. The overlay of the ballerina may not be to everyone’s taste…

Aside from my tradition of getting drunk on Hogmanay this holiday has many other “sober” traditions. The famous song by Robert Burns, Auld Lang Syne, is usually always sang all over the world as the bells chime 12 but I have news for you world – you are all doing it wrong!

It is now common to sing this in a circle of linked arms that are crossed over one another as the clock strikes midnight for New Year’s Day, though it is only intended that participants link arms at the beginning of the final verse, coordinating with the lines of the song that contain the lyrics to do so. Typically, it is only in Scotland this practice is carried out correctly.

There, now get it right for this year – I will be checking.

A tradition that I vaguely remember and one that is certainly dying out is “first footing”. This basically means that the first person to set foot inside your house on the 1st January has to give you a gift. These gifts symbolise luck for the year ahead and used to be things like salt and coal – ahem, not a f****** gift! More recently though, gifts such as whisky, shortbread or fruitcake are thankfully more common place because quite honestly if you turned up to my house with some salt and a lump of coal you wouldn’t be getting your first foot in the door never mind the second one!

My best memory of New Year is from when I was young and all the family would go to my Gran’s house. There would be home-made soup, steak pie and alcohol (for the grown ups). We stayed for hours and every year the same stories were told of all the adult’s childhood memories. I miss hearing those stories…

 

Men in skirts. Basically that’s it and I’m sure many Scottish people would give you a Glasgow Kiss for saying that but it is what it is and I love them…

Kilts

Any time I am attending a formal event such as a Wedding, Ball or Christmas party I will wear a kilt. For those not up on their kilt knowledge there are many different styles as well as tartans. I don’t own my own kilt and hire one when I need to. Another Scottish tradition is Clans and they all have  associated tartans. I am lucky enough to belong to Clan McPherson and one day I will get around to researching my family tree further but I’ve only just got around to sorting the trees out in my garden so that can wait. I used think the McPherson tartan was bogging but thanks to the internet I may have changed my mind.

What do I look like in a kilt? You be the judge…

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Don’t we look smart..?

I have to give a special mention to the tartan I wore to a Ball last year – it’s called Rose Of Aberdeen and was designed by the company where I hire my kilts from, Millsom & Main as not only is it fabulous but the company itself is brilliant. The two guys in the shop provide the best service you could possibly wish for and I can’t recommend them enough!

What do I look like in a kilt by the end of the evening? Usually something like this…

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Kilts should definitely come with hats…

Her’s tae kilts and having the breeze aboot yer balls!

 

Long, snake-like monster – no, not what’s under my kilt, there is another big legend in Scotland…

Loch Ness Monster

Does it exist? Does it not exist? Who cares! Nessie is the ultimate folk story and has probably kept many people in jobs for the past few decades. I finally visited Loch Ness!

(I secretly hope it does exist and wish someone would just drain the entire Loch and then we will know for sure. I remember watching a very interesting documentary when I was growing up called “Family Ness” and that proved that their is not just one monster but a whole family so come on – get the water drained so we can meet them…

 

Other brilliant traditions of Scotland that I have never attended include the Edinburgh Tattoo, the Edinburgh Fringe and T in The Park but a Scottish traditional event that I have been to many times involves lots of spinning around…

Céilidh

Try to picture lots of drunken Scottish people dancing with people they don’t really know, to a dance that they don’t really know. Imagine “Auld Lang Syne” on speed. That’s a Céilidh. They are sooo much fun. A live band, with an accordion and you don’t feel anymore like a proud Scot than when you are “Stripping The Willow”…

I usually get it wrong, try to pick up someone who isn’t even dancing and get shouted at by the “head” person in our team. Such fun!

Wow, I feel really Scottish now. I hope you liked this wee insight into what we get up to behind closed doors.

Are you proud of your country? Let me know about it in the comments below or tweet me @SteveSays2014 and don’t forget to take a look at other posts in this series.