Thursday, 29 December 2011

Christmas Sabotage!

the sign of the missing image file
You know, I've been absolutely frantic over the past few weeks. I discovered that most of my lovely cherished photos were missing from my wee blog for 2009 - one of my most fertile periods. They were replaced by a big triangle the same as the one above - dozens of black boxes and white triangles! My lovely wee blog was critically injured and sabotaged. I was in tears.

I checked with Google to find out what had happened and soon the truth dawned on me. Now I didn't know this but when you have a Blogger blog like this one, all your images are stored on a Picasa site - I didn't even know I had one! Well I do now and I've found out that a complete folder of images was deleted from my Picasa site, irretrievably, by someone close to me. The person who did this was my own son - the boy! I've never hit the boy but I came very close to it this time.

I haven't talked much about my personal life recently as there hasn't been much to say. I haven't seen my beautiful wife in over a year although I still take the boy out every second weekend. He is handed over to me by an intermediary. I don't enjoy it much - he has become a monster. A selfish inconsiderate young thug, always wanting the latest gadgets, always wanting more - obviously going to be a Young Conservative if you ask me. It's clear that he isn't being brought up properly by my wife and her young lover - yes they are still together - but what can I do?

Anyway it has taken me two weeks to try to put it all back together again. Some of the images were rescued from Google but the quality isn't the same. I was heartbroken when I discovered that the great shot I took of my new male friends hiking in Austria was missing - I was fair blubbering into my keyboard when I discovered that. Inconsolable! I've got a poor quality version back but it isn't the same.

So there are a couple of lessons for the Festive Season. Firstly, always back up your data and your website. Secondly if you have a son who is the victim of a marraige broken by lust and the pleasures of the flesh, don't let him near your computer and don't tell him your password. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Perth enters the 21st Century

the depressing exterior of Perth's City Halls
You know, I was keeping my powder dry on the subject of the Perth City Hall demolition until the dust had cleared. But this morning I received my personal copy of Project Scotland, - the wonderful construction news magazine that features many photographs of 'Village People' type men in hard hats and other entrancing visions of a better Scotland revolutionised by the development industry - and just had to set out my stance on this as an expert planner.

So let's get started! The story is that Councillors in Perth have approved plans to splash out some £4.4m on a demolition operation to clear the city’s B listed City Halls in order to create room for a new square! Fantastic! According to Urban Realm (the best source of gossip and tittle-tattle about architecture in Scotland) the dreadful and depressing building has lain empty for years since the Council constructed a new concert venue. So you can see that it is ripe for demolition. Indeed it is low hanging fruit if I might continue the organic analogy.

It's hard to see what the fuss is all about isn't it? A derelict building being cleared away to make a new square or perhaps to make way for a new development such as a small Tesco and car park - so what? Well let me tell you that this would be an excellent initiative and would free the taxpayer of a huge liability. In fact consultants hired by the Council (probably the excellent Halcrow) speak of an additional spend per person per visit of £23 as a result of an increase in visitor numbers and lengths of stay in the vicinity of the building. This is because people don't like old buildings and prefer to be in a place where there is new development and beautiful people rather than the fat women in sandals and brightly coloured cardigans who hang about old buildings.

No doubt the conservation movement will be gearing up to protect this old ruin but they will be wasting their time as Perth decides to enter the 21st Century by having a truly contemporary centre. In fact this is just the first small step for a Council whose huge ambition and foresight could see most of the city centre's old building stock cleared away in a dramatic move to place it in the same league as Aberdeen.

Good luck to Perth and Kinross Council - they are demonstrating the very best in modern planning and I have have given this project a gold star and 9 out of 10 in my little notebook. We should all give them every support!

Monday, 5 December 2011

The true heart of Aberdeen

Sir Ian Wood's fantastic seat of power
You know, I meant to tell you about this a few weeks ago but somehow it slipped my mind. To be honest, I've been on the edge of my seat waiting for the results of the Union Terrace Gardens competition - in the full expectation that nothing short of the complete levelling of the existing gardens will triumph but sadly there is no news yet.

Meantime, I thought you would be fascinated and excited to read my report on the true beating heart of enterprise in Aberdeen. No it isn't Union Street - it vanished as a great part of town many years back. No it isn't Union Square either though it is certainly worth a big gold star in my little notebook. It's the headquarters of the Wood Group nestling in East Tullos Industrial Estate just across the railway from the slums of Torry. You can see the clever strategy at work here - baiting the plebs with a great view of rich people at work. David Cameron would be proud! This is the working home of Aberdeen's Giant of Enterprise, Economic Colossus and Patron of the Arts, Sir Ian Wood. This is where it all happens and it's the beating heart of the city.
reminiscent of the giant black stone slab in 2001 A Space Odyssey spot the monkeys
I drove down there in the autumn and boy was I excited! The first thing that struck me was the amazingly high standard of design - the elegant entrance sign, reminiscent of the giant black stone slab in 2001 A Space Odyssey that the monkeys gathered round. Same idea here but in silver and red. I expect that all employees will wear a uniform - and they will be proud to do so.

As an expert planner I was totally numbed by the extent of the surface car park - a truly great design - and so large that I could barely make out the headquarters building beyond. Fantastic! As I've said many times before, the size of a car park is in direct proportion to the virility of the designers and the success of the business attached to it. So the Wood Group are no slouches! As I peered through the security fencing I could just make out the stunning cream coloured walls and the rustic pitched roof of the offices. Amazing, or 'awesome' as the boy would say. I was perspiring and trembling with excitement.
a view over the vast car park
You know, once Sir Ian gets his hands on Union Terrace Gardens we are in for a real design treat. He is so obviously a man of great taste and judgement and entirely the best person to redesign the centre of Aberdeen, making a silk purse out of the sow's ear that is Union Terrace Gardens. So if the same talents in architecture, landscape design and town planning that laid out the Wood Group HQ are let loose on Union Terrace Gardens, Aberdeen will become one of the design centres of the World. Without question.

But meantime, let's try to be patient and see if there is any news this week - keep your eyes peeled for an announcement in the Press and Journal! I know it's a terrible newspaper but it's cheap and it loves Dr Donald and Sir Ian so buy it!