Timely reflection on a 20-year milestone

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Is it really 20 years since the then editor of the Ellon Times Pam Ritchie invited me to write a regular column for East Gordon’s favourite weekly newspaper.

There were in fact no specific conditions, other than producing a weekly view of my own opinion, which I have faithfully attempted to do since 1995.

I can certainly testify that the column has been regular, as only thrice has it failed to appear on each Thursday in the intervening years.

The rant, as it has become known among staff at the office, has for me been a great privilege to write, and if I say it myself has been generally well received by readers.

I know I have hit the mark when I get people in the street stopping me to say “I don’t always agree with your opinion, but this week...”

I like to think no one has been hurt in the process, and if they have I am sorry, but would point out that all I have been trying to do is to draw attention to matters that genuinely matter to me in my travels around the area, and indeed occasionally further afield.

This week rather than promote a strongly-held opinion I thought it would be interesting to focus on the issues that mattered to me 20 years ago. You will of course have your own memories of 1995, though I suspect there will be some overlap as we look back.

Firstly the political horizon has changed beyond all recognition. Who would have predicted there would be 56 SNP MP’s at Westminster, compared to the three we had there in 1995? We were also four years away from having our own parliament in Edinburgh.

Aberdeenshire had just come into existence with promises that the new administration would be less beauacratic than the outgoing Grampian Region.

John Major was stuttering through his premiership, but about to be toppled by the darling of 90’s politics Tony Blair.

Whether any of the changes brought about by the aforesaid events were for the better is for others to judge.

Away from the politics Aberdeen FC were a miserable ninth of 10 in the SPL at the end of the 1994/95 season while South Africa were announcing themselves on the world stage, celebrating the end of apartheid by winning the World Cup. Locally Ellon were embarking on a run of six successive promotions.

Interestingly the price of a barrel of oil was $21.67, while the euro was no more than a talking point.

The UK National Lottery was enjoying its first year in existence, while Pavarotti was No 1 in the UK charts. A women trainer had just won the Grand National with Royal Athlete at the mouth-watering price of 40/1 for Jenny Pitman.

The list is endless.