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Showing posts from May, 2019

An Evening of Eric and Ern @ HMT Aberdeen

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Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stevens capture the brilliance of Morecambe & Wise in this homage to Eric and Ern and, if the PR fluff is to be taken seriously, you’ll feel like you’ve seen the real thing when you take in the show described in glowing terms as being:
‘Straight from their hit West End, Olivier nominated show "Eric and Little Ern" which Ian and Jonty wrote and performed in ... see them as Eric & Ern and be taken back to a world of sunshine and laughter.
Their brilliant homage hits all the right notes! From Greig's Piano concerto to Mr Memory, "Arsenal!" A show full of Morecambe and Wise's most loved routines. Highly acclaimed for their portrayal of the legendry comedy duo, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, talented actors Ian Aspital [sic] and Jonty Stevens return in this new and fabulous show, crammed full of renditions of those famous comedy sketches, evokes memories of times when whole families would huddle around the telly on Sunday evenings t…

On This Day in 1964 – by Duncan Harley

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The Aberdeen typhoid outbreak began quietly on this day - May 16 1964 when two university students were admitted to hospital suffering from ‘pyrexia of unknown origin’. Further cases soon emerged and by the end of the epidemic a total of 507 cases had been confirmed including 86 children under the age of twelve.

There were three deaths plus an additional eight linked cases treated elsewhere including one in Canada.
By June 17 the epidemic was deemed officially over. A William Low supermarket in Aberdeen city centre was identified as being source of the epidemic and it was concluded that a 3kg can of Argentine corned beef had been the initial infective source.

Argentine factories at the time routinely used untreated river as a coolant in the canning process and suspicion focused on the possibility of contaminated water entering through burst can seams causing bacterial contamination of the contents.
The news of the epidemic was reported widely around the globe with one Spanish periodi…

Lady Chatterley's Lover - by Duncan Harley

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The media today reported on the export ban placed on the original annotated High-Court copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Seemingly, if anyone in the land has a deep-enough wallet, then the actual copy used on the bench during the landmark 1960 obscenity trial can be had for a measly £56,250 or thereabouts.

For those not in the know, the novel was penned just prior to D.H. Lawrence’s death in 1930 – well I suppose that would be a given really. Eventually published by Penguin some 30 years later the lusty tome became an underground sensation as both inquisitive schoolboys and curious adults swapped secret dog-eared copies in the hope of finding out what the lady did with the gamekeeper in the bushes behind the big house. A Crown Prosecution followed under the Obscene Publications Act and sales rocketed when the case was decided by a jury who took just a few hours to decide that the content did not deprave or corrupt anyone in the land.

A permissive 1960’s society had seemingly triumphed…

Lost at Sea @ His Majesty’s Theatre Aberdeen - Duncan Harley Reviews

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“Ask not the price of fish, for it is measured in men’s lives” runs the old adage and even today fishermen in the UK are exposed to an accident rate several times that of construction workers. Many fatalities are attributed to men going overboard. Often no burial is possible and the bereaved are left without closure.
As a troubling take on the ultimate price of fish, Lost at Sea scores highly. The best in writing often comes from personal experience and playwright Morna Young’s pedigree includes a father swept from the deck of the trawler Ardent II in 1989 and with only the ocean for a grave.

In this new and important play Sofia McLean plays Shona, a young journalist, returning to her roots and determined to unravel the mystery surrounding the death of her dad, Jock. Played ably by Ali Craig, Jock has died some decades previous to the action and those who saw him swept away are loath to speak of the dead.

At the heart of the matter, alongside the mystery that surrounds the death of Al…

Air Raids and Sardines - by Duncan Harley

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It's amazing what you learn in a pub. Although the Garioch town of Inverurie was never bombed during WW2 many, now elderly, survivors of those stressful days vividly recall being shepherding by  panicked primary school teachers towards the local bomb shelters when the air-raid siren sounded. 

Coastal towns such as Fraserburgh and Peterhead bore the brunt of enemy air-action. Raiders from occupied Norway could make landfall over the Buchan ports, drop their bombs and make off over the North Sea well before fighters from airfields at Banff and Dyce were able to intercept them. The fishing port of Peterhead suffered at least 28 air raids during World War II with nearby Fraserburgh not far behind with perhaps 26 Luftwaffe raids.

Retired railway engineer Joe Strachan recalls being in Peterhead visiting his auntie in 1940. “I must have been around eight or nine at the time. My aunt and my cousin panicked and I can vividly recall them jumping up and down on the double bed. How that was g…

@ HMT this week - Lost at Sea

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With thanks to Rachel Campbell of Aberdeen Performing Arts

One of the stars of a new drama about the lure and the risks of life on the ocean has spoken about her own life growing up in Aberdeen as the daughter of a deep-sea diver.

Sophia McLean is taking her first major Scottish role in Lost at Sea, playing Shona, a young woman returning to her home village searching for answers about her fisherman father’s death.

Lost at Sea, by Moray writer Morna Young, comes to His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, from 9 to 11 May as part of its world premiere tour and Sophia is one of several cast members with links to the North East.She said:“I’m thrilled that my first major stage role in Scotland should be one about North East Scotland where I’m from, and that it’s written in the Doric that I grew up with; living in Aberdeenshire and visiting my Dad’s family in Elgin.
“When I was wee, you didn’t get often get major productions in Scots, or about the lives and stories of rural people in this part of the …

The Terror Bombing of the Garioch - by Duncan Harley

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The editions of both the Aberdeen Free Press and the Aberdeen Daily Journal for Thursday May 4 1916 carried the news the war had finally arrived on Aberdeenshire’s doorstep in the form of aerial bombing by a German Zeppelin on the night of May 2nd. Headlines screamed “Terrific Noise of Crashing Bombs” and “Zeppelin at Rattray Head” alongside descriptions of up to 17 bombs having been dropped over the North-east in the course of the attack.

Zeppelin raids were common over Southern England and the Continent but it had been assumed that North-east Scotland was well out of range of raiders, whose bases were around 12 hours’ flying time away in Germany. The usual targets for the German crews were naval and military bases, but in 1916, the art of night time bombing was uncertain at best, with many bombs falling on civilian areas. The airships mainly relied on navigation based on ground observation and bombs were often dropped by hand.

There had been a raid on Scotland on 2 April 1916, when …