Sunday Aug 28, 2005


Last week saw the 700th anniversary of the execution by the English of William Wallace, a cultural icon to Scots around the globe.

Forget what you saw in Braveheart; most of that was Hollywood tosh-- if nothing else, Mel Gibson is about a foot shorter than the real thing. (Hence the in-joke in the movie about him "not being tall enough".)

Wallace did lead the Scots to an unlikely victory over the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, but almost certainly without having painted a saltire on his face. The English won the return leg at Falkirk the following year, however, though Wallace escaped. In the aftermath, he relinquished his title of Guardian of the Kingdom of Scotland and Leader of its Armies, which had been deferred upon him by Robert the Bruce (later of spider fame) after Stirling Bridge. He was jointly succeeded by Robert himself.

In 1305, Wallace was betrayed by Scottish baron Sir John de Menteith, who delivered him to the English near Glasgow (in an area ironically called Robroyston). He was marched down to London, and tried for treason. "I cannot be a traitor", Wallace said, "for I owe (Edward I) no allegiance. He is not my sovereign; he never received my homage."

Unsurprisingly, Wallace was found guilty, and, at Smithfield, on August 23rd, 1305, he became only the second person to be hanged, drawn and quartered. His head adorned a spike on London Bridge, and his limbs were separately dispatched to Perth, Stirling, Berwick and Newcastle, so that no shrine would be available to his followers.

Needless to say, the Scots were a bit peeved about this, and in the following 10 years, under Robert the Bruce (who became King of Scotland in 1306 following another victory over Edward I), they finally saw off any English pretensions to control the northern British kingdom, most notably at Bannockburn in 1314. In 1328, the English conceded that Robert was king of an independent nation, which Scotland remained until 1603, a year which saw James I of England and VI of Scotland become the United Kingdom's first monarch. Despite that small setback, we're still just about holding 'em off to this very day :)

Sunday Aug 21, 2005

Fir Park for Thrills

Mortifed as I am by Motherwell's current schoolboyish defensive frailties, there's no doubt that if you're a neutral, Fir Park is the best place to spend your Saturday afternoon cash at the moment. In our last five games (four SPL matches plus our final pre-season friendly against Queen of the South), Motherwell have lost at least four goals on four occasions (and past three different goalkeepers). Even more remarkably, we've scored four goals ourselves in two of those games as well-- in a 4-4 draw with Celtic, and yesterday's unbelievable 5-4 defeat to Dundee United. A massive early-season injury list hasn't helped, but at least the coaching staff of Terry Butcher and Maurice Malpas must be feeling it worse than any of us long-suffering fans, having been two of the best defenders in Europe in the early 90's. They could probably do worse than pulling on the claret and amber themselves for our midweek cup tie with local Lanarkshire rivals Hamilton Accies...

Friday Aug 05, 2005

Bratislava Five-Oh

Bhoys-oh-bhoys, I hope Celtic play like this against Motherwell at Fir Park on Saturday. Knowing our luck we'll probably get the backlash though... we might only manage to score two or three :)

Update: Well, we managed four... unfortunately, so did they :/

Wednesday Jul 06, 2005

Not so Live 8

Can't believe the BBC's audio stream of the Murrayfield Live8 event isn't available outside the UK, let alone the video stream... after most of the world watched many of the same artists at the weekend, it seems hard to believe that "contractual difficulties" would really stop this one reaching a wider audience.

Consequently, I'm listening to it on the very weak AM/MW signal that's stumbling its way across the Irish Sea. Which is a shame, because so far, as predicted, it sounds rather good. Just as well I asked my parents back home to video it for me...

Update: A\*\*se! Just realised it's been on Irish telly all night, but it wasn't in any of the schedules...

Monday Jun 27, 2005

Post weekend post

Back in the office today after a long weekend back home in Scotland. Highlight of the trip was the surprisingly-impressive Falkirk Wheel, a rotating boat lift that joins the Union Canal with the Forth & Clyde Canal. It can shift up to eight boats at a time (four in each direction) weighing a combined total of six hundred tonnes, using the same trifling amount of electricity it would take to boil two kettles. The rest is all done with the weight of the water. Clever stuff.

Was nice to get up close and personal with the Forth Bridges again on the way home too... they're not looking their best at the moment thanks to a few running repairs, but the Forth Bridge itself (that's the one that carries the railway) is just a stunning piece of engineering, especially given that it's nearly 120 years old. The Forth Road Bridge is no slouch either-- it was the longest suspension bridge in Europe when it opened-- but it just doesn't have the visual impact of its neighbour's unique cantilever design.

A veritable Christmas-like array of parcels awaited me at my desk when I got back in today, mostly stuff I'd ordered with my birthday money before I left... among the highlights, a decent pair of headphones for my iPod Mini (another birthday acquisition), a PS2 controller with a built-in keyboard that I got cheap off eBay, the Uncle Devil Show CD, and The High Life and Press Gang Series 4 on DVD. (It's a crying shame that Series 2 is still the only one to feature any commentary from writer Steven Moffat, or anyone else for that matter, given how keen he's always been to contribute. Hopefully Network will redeem themselves with the fifth and final series, but I'm not hopeful...)

Sunday May 22, 2005

Real football

Good 'ol Motherwell... last day of the season, losing 1-0 at home to Celtic with 2 minutes to go, Celtic are on course to win the league. Two minutes and two Scott McDonald goals later, we've won the game and handed the title to Rangers.

It's a pity either of those teams and their glory-hunting followers had to win again this year (particularly the one managed by Alex McLeish, whose mis-management broke up the best team Motherwell ever had in recent times, and then did much the same at Hibernian), but it doesn't half feel good to have screwed it up for one of them :) With a bit of luck, maybe some of the droves who flock from here over to Scotland every week to watch Celtic and sing their sectarianism-inducing songs will finally realise that they'd be much better off diverting all that disposable income towards their local teams in Ireland instead, and then we'd all be happy.

Tuesday Mar 22, 2005

'Well beaten

About the only positive to take from Motherwell's inexplicably poor performance in the CIS Cup Final on Sunday is that at least Rangers didn't make us look bad, which would have made it much harder to stomach-- we did it all by ourselves.  It was such an inept performance that I can't even bring myself to be annoyed about it... we had no bad luck, no near misses, no dodgy refereeing decisions (well okay, there were quite a few of those actually!).  We just played like a pub team, and Rangers took full advantage.

Will be interesting to see how serious David Murray really is about banning supporters from Ibrox who sing sectarian songs, though-- if he is, then after their performance on Sunday, expect the crowd at their next home game to consist entirely of away fans...

Tuesday Mar 15, 2005

Here's tae us- wha's like us?

Somebody found my blog today by googling for 'saying of funny Scottish grace'. I do hope they found what they were looking for somewhere, whatever it was...

Thursday Feb 24, 2005

Coop de Grace

Nice touch from the SFL to commemorate the untimely death of Davie Cooper at next month's League Cup Final between Motherwell and Rangers-- two of the three teams he played for, and ten years to the week since he collapsed and died of a brain haemorrage on the training pitch at the age of 39. Coop was probably the last true Scottish football great, and certainly the most outrageously talented player ever to grace a Motherwell shirt in my lifetime. (Reputedly, while playing in an Old Firm match for Rangers, he stuck the ball down on the penalty spot in front of the Celtic fans during the pre-match warmup, strode up to it confidently and, with unusual inaccuracy, hit the crossbar with his attempted conversion. While the Celtic fans were going wild with glee, he retrieved the ball, put it back on the penalty spot, and proceeded to hit the crossbar with pinpoint accuracy another three times in succession. Apocryphal or not, it's exactly the sort of thing he could have done...)

He was born and lived not far from me (well, before I left home anyway)... in his amateur days, he played for a team coached by my French teacher, and his funeral was held at my local church-- quite an event in itself for an unassuming wee place, with the streets around lined with fans of many Scottish teams, and the mourners including the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, and current Scotland coach Walter Smith -- how he could do with another Davie Cooper these days.

Tuesday Feb 22, 2005

Slim Jim

Thanks to Bastien for spotting this one...

Thursday Feb 17, 2005

Not that we can talk, but...

Friday Feb 04, 2005

I was right...

No 1991 Cup Final replay for us after all... Rangers just managed to sneak past Dundee Utd in the other semi-final by, er... 7-1. And they missed a penalty. Uh-oh....

Tuesday Feb 01, 2005

Woo Hoo!

After a fifty year gap, Motherwell reached this season's League Cup Final last night, with a typically-nailbiting performance over Hearts... Marc Fitzpatrick's 120th minute extra time goal seeing us squeak through 3-2 (and him sealing his Fir Park immortality), having thrown away a 2-0 lead with five minutes of normal time remaining.

Hopefully Dundee Utd can see off Rangers tomorrow night, to set up a repeat of the classic 1991 Scottish Cup Final... but somehow I doubt it.

Monday Nov 01, 2004

Blue knickers

Over here, rounders is what girls play in P.E. at the end of term (often in red socks, coincidentally enough) when it's vaguely sunny and there are too many hockey casualties to make up a worthwhile team any more. Still, they never ask any other countries to join in either, so I expect they could claim they were world champions as well :)

Wednesday Oct 27, 2004

Dae ye ken John Peel?

Motherwell were the irreplacable John Peel's adopted Scottish team, but typically we couldn't give him a victory tonight to give him a good send off... however, being a Grumpy Old Man, I'm sure he'll appreciate our miserable 1-0 defeat at home to Kilmarnock instead.


I am a Principal UX Engineer in the Systems Experience Design team, working at Oracle (via Sun Microsystems) since the turn of the century. I currently work on sysadmin user experience projects for Solaris. Formerly I worked on open source Solaris desktop projects such as GNOME, NWAM and IPS.


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