It’s like half a century is just yesterday away.
This week the EE’s Forties at 50 features brought the memories flooding back. No one really took much notice of that wee paragraph in the Press & Journal in late 1969 about Amoco having discovered a small tranche of oil in the sea off Aberdeen. So what? Fa cares?
However, in November the next year, international giant BP announced a major find, to be developed as the Forties. Suddenly the north-east spurted into the headlines.Industry experts from around the world were predicting Li’l Ol’ Eberdeeeen would become the new, filthy-rich Houston. However, the canny (and, it turnsoot, correct) response from Aberdonians, was a couthy: “Aye, that would be right.”
I still get a tingle of excitement remembering I was among the team of three EE reporters allocated to BP’s grand inauguration of the Forties Field in October 1975, when the Queen pressed the button to set the oil flowing from Cruden Bay to the Grangemouth refinery.
I suspect I was only there to report on Her Maj’s outfit – which turned out to be a stunning suit and hat exactly replicating the BP bright green logo. Inspirational and unforgettable, Lizzie. As other companies discovered their own sources of black gold, our oil boom took off.
Non-local TV and newspapers were filled with total guff about the impact on the Granite City; Union Street was hoochin’ wie wealthy oilmen in 10-gallon hats. Never spotted one! Locals were drippin’ in dosh. Scyooze me? Sure, house prices were rocketing but if you were among the 70% of folkies not revelling in North Sea wages, that meant you kept being priced oot.
Let’s not forget, although there were rich pickings for the crews on the rigs, the majority of Grampian folk never benefited from a penny of the petroleum “bonanza”. And soon our fatal accident inquiries weren’t mostly about accidents on trawlers, but drilling tragedies.
As for local councils; did they strike brilliant deals with oil giants to subsidise vital improvements to roads,schools etc? Or set up special funds as an insurance for the future, like the Shetlanders? Did they heck. As a result, all the new developments came long after they were desperately needed. Exhibit 1: Aberdeen bypass. Today the oil is almost gone. The riggers are retired, or driving taxis. Did the days of black gold ever live up to their promise? For some, maybe. Definitely for those with the foresight of Ian Wood and Jimmy Milne. But for the rest of us? Thanks to short-sighted, blinkered planning, just huge opportunities missed.
We’re paying for central belt error
As Nicola Sturgeon announced her new Covid crackdown, there is still simmering anger in the North-east that the new spike in virus figures could have been avoided.
Glasgow and the surrounding area is the main hot-spot, which undoubtedly has to be tackled now. But had she closed the pubs there a few weeks ago – as she did earlier in Aberdeen for three weeks – the number of cases would undoubtedly have reduced and there would be no need for us to go through all the restrictions yet again. A hugely expensive mistake – for the sake of keeping the central belters happy.
President Meg and her First Man Harry?
Have you, like me, had more than a mugful of Meghan Markle giving interviews to, apparently, any organisation that points a camera at her?
While we heartily applaud the Me Too movement, oor Duchess of LA appears to be promoting her very own Poor Me campaign. She’s just so annoyed what she says keeps being misinterpreted or misquoted. I suggest you shut it for a whilie, Ma’am.
But as she obviously revels in her Santa Barbara mansion with its Hollywood neighbours, Harry seems more and more dour; like a henpecked hubby doing and saying what he’s told.
A sort of Mr Hyacinth Bucket. Rumour has it he’s plain homesick for the UK and his lifelong buddies.
It looks like big bro Wills was right to caution the star-struck loon before he proposed to the glam actress – said to be the source of the estrangement between the princes today, with no sign of a truce on the horizon.
Now we hear rumblings this headstrong quine has even greater ambitions than Duchess-dom. To become the president.