End of another era…

As some of you may know, my mum, Janice, sadly died on November 13th. This is one of the last pictures of us together (along with my dad!), from Christmas Day 2007, which they spent with Julie and me here in Dublin.

Mum had been battling cancer since 2003, and although we knew it wasn’t curable, her regular chemotherapy cycles (at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre in Glasgow, who were fantastic) seemed to be keeping things more or less in check. So to lose her just a couple of hours after being admitted to hospital suffering from what seemed to be non-critical abdominal pain came as quite a shock to us all. At the same time, we’re all relieved that she slipped away quickly and relatively painlessly—one of her only fears in life was that her health might decline to the point where she could do little more but lie around in agony, a fate that osteoporosis had inflicted upon her own mother some years earlier. (Her other fear was somewhat less morbid—a lifelong phobia of birds!)

Although she had been comparatively poorly for the past few weeks, Mum’s consultant expected her next cycle of chemo to clear up the main cause of her discomfort, and she remained pretty active right up to the end. Just after I last visited her and Dad back home in Scotland last month, they were off to Gran Canaria for a holiday (ironically, her 96-year-old aunt died equally-suddenly while they were away, and the first thing they had to do when they came home was arrange her funeral). And when I last spoke to Mum the weekend before she died, she had me looking up some hotel in Edinburgh on the internet for a wedding she thought she might be invited to next year!

Positive though she was, though, Mum was nothing if not ultra-organised, and she was well-prepared for the inevitable. She left us copies of directions to the cemetery to send to people who might want to come, and sheet music for the hymns she wanted sung at her funeral in case we didn’t have the right books… but best of all—and this was Mum in a nutshell—she left Dad a notebook listing all the household chores that he ought to do on a daily, weekly, monthly, annual, bi-annual and occasional basis after she was gone, right down to specifying the correct washing machine cycles for the bedclothes, and the appropriate shades of paint to use on the outside of the house!

On Thursday, we laid Mum to rest in Dunblane cemetery, near her parents and several other generations of her family, and on Saturday we had a thanksgiving service at Hillhouse Parish Church in Hamilton, where she’d been a member for the past 40 years. The turnout at both was pretty humbling.

Of course we’ll all miss Mum very much, none more so than my dad, to whom she would have been married for 47 years last Tuesday. But I certainly don’t feel sad when I think about her, so don’t feel sad for me either. Just keep your fingers crossed that she hasn’t hidden one of those household chore books away for me somewhere as well 🙂

Not forgotten

Phil O’Donnell would have turned 36 today, the same age as me (albeit only until June). Calls for a wee dram and a re-watching of the ’91 Scottish Cup Final video tonight I think, if only to reinforce just how badly we could do with him back in our midfield at the moment… 

EDIT: Coincidentally, it was also the 13th anniversary of Davie Cooper‘s untimely death a couple of days ago, too. Unbelievable that two of that cup winning team died in their 30s, while just doing their job.

Life after Phil

I like this idea. Motherwell fans have had two weeks to pay their respects, and Hearts fans have already paid theirs with a minute’s applause before their last two games (and fair play to them for doing it the second time– not entirely sure why they were asked to do it more than once…)

Let’s just get back on with the fitba’ now– it’s what Phil would have wanted!


Just noticed that KDE’s Akademy conference is taking place in my old stomping ground of Strathyclyde University’s Computer Science Department in Glasgow… pity there are no usability sessions on the schedule, might have been tempted to gatecrash for nostalgia’s sake 🙂

Back in my day (1989-93), the Graham Hills building was called Marland House (we’d just bought it off BT), and its main function was to house a lab full of QLs that Sinclair had donated. Despite the stories in the press at the time, every student didn’t get one to take home– AFAIK they all stayed in the lab, and all we ever did with them was our 68k assembly language assignments (as set by Duncan Smeed, who’s probably still setting them today…)

The top few floors of the Livingstone Tower, on the other hand, housed (as they still do) the staff offices and the 3rd and 4th year computer lab, which at the time had just been kitted out with smart new Sun terminals (ELCs, IIRC– which looking back at them now were the forerunner of Sun Rays, I guess). Little did I know then…

Ee aye adio?

Congrats to the Scotland U19 fitba’ team, who’ve reached the final of the European Championships in Poland tonight– although they’ll probably get humped in the final against Spain, having already lost 4-0 to them in the group stages. But what with that, the big team winning the Kirin Cup (against Bulgaria and Japan) in May, and our subsequent 18-place climb up the FIFA rankings, you could almost believe we might have a respectable team again soon. If nothing else, we’ve reached two more finals than England this year* 🙂

* Okay, I expect England have probably reached some equally-diddy finals this year, but why let research get in the way of a good story…

Germany So Far…

Not too many dud games in the World Cup so far… Sweden v. the Scots’ adopted team of Trinidad & Tobago was probably the least action-packed, but livened up considerably by watching it on the big screen in a pub full of Trinidadians and Tobagans (and one bloke from Montserrat).

Of course there were all the usual jibes from the English media in the build-up to the opening Germany v. Costa Rica game, about how the Central Americans beat Scotland 1-0 in Italia ’90. It’s funny how everyone conveniently forgets that in same group, Costa Rica also beat Sweden (as did Scotland) and were unlucky to lose 1-0 to Brazil (as were Scotland), thus progressing to the next round (where they were, admittedly, whipped 4-1 by Czechoslovakia). They certainly weren’t the mugs that everyone makes them out to be; it’s just unfortunate that Scotland had to play them first before everyone else cottoned on!

Incidentally, any British fans who are bemoaning the lack of Baddiel and Skinner’s Fantasy Football on the telly this time around might be interested in their World Cup Podcast instead– I only came across it by accident, so you might not have noticed it either (unless you read The Times, presumably, as they’re sponsoring it…)