Having read Tom Chidwick's
piece in last week's Scottish Review, I think that New St Andrew's House, opened in 1975 and demolished recently, had a lot more wrong with it than its ugly, overbearing appearance. Its very name misled many people, invited to attend meetings, to turn up at the other St Andrew's House – a quarter-mile away as the crow flies, but rather longer on a slightly complicated walk.
The windows couldn't be opened. Air was circulated through an overhead system of pipes which had some apparently incurable fault, so water regularly sprayed down into a room where legal documents were stored. To clean the windows, there was a railway on the roof from which the cleaners could be lowered in a cradle by ropes. Except for a higher section, whose 7th- and 8th-storey windows required the erection of scaffolding to clean them, every year or so.
From its opening, a rumour circulated that asbestos had been used in the building's construction. This was officially denied, until a small repair to a ceiling panel proved it to be true. Thereafter, a man was employed to test every room, every week, for any trace of asbestos dust in the air.
The corners weren't all at (boring!) 90-degree angles, and in walking along the corridors you soon lost your bearings, so internal walls were removed to give access to windows with a view of the outside surroundings. Several times I met strangers, totally lost, trying to find their way out. 'Go along here, turn left, get into the lift, go down to the second floor, turn right, then left and get into the other lift. That'll take you down to the entrance hall', would be my helpful advice.
'Raw, muscular, angular, concrete Brutalism'? Oh yes, it's 'art' – like somebody's unmade bed.
Bring on the bulldozers! There will always be photographs which record these examples of a (hopefully) bygone architectural fashion.
As I live on the 16th/top floor of an Aberdeen beachfront multi-storey, dog-owning is neither practical nor sensible. However, excitingly, a 'virtual' friend has entered my life – Sprout, a cross Labrador/Golden Retriever – whom I am sponsoring through the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association's splendid Sponsor a Puppy project. I have absolutely no inkling why he has the nomenclature of Sprout... I will have to investigate his lineage.
Sprout is six-weeks old and about to embark on 24 months training. His photograph already adorns my living room wall – with the poor chap looking ever so melancholy. I have intended to sponsor a puppy for many years – my interest in the association sparked in the 1970s when a colleague at the Press and Journal
, features editor, Pearl Murray, wrote a memorable series of articles on its training centre in Forfar.
I have always loved dogs from the bygone days of our ever-so-loyal black and white collie, Prince, whom, as I was growing up, roamed my home village of Armadale, North Sutherland, with gay abandon. He simply adored showing his great cunning by lying await in ditches before springing out to ferociously attack the tyres of anything on wheels. Welcome on board wee fellow!
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