Ten Years On

It’s ten years today since Thomas Hamilton shot dead 16 pupils and their teacher in the small Scottish rural town of Dunblane.

I won’t make much of a fuss about that because the townsfolk themselves have decided not to, but I do still remember the morning I parked up outside work at Bournemouth Airport, and heard the news on the radio. It was all rather surreal, as many generations of my family (including my brothers, but not me) grew up in Dunblane; my parents were married there, some of their friends still live there, and my grandparents are buried there. Although I’d never lived there myself, I’d had enough of a connection with the place over the years to realise how utterly improbable a setting it was for such an event… but I suppose that’s what people always say.

You boy!!

Michael Sheard died yesterday at the age of 65. Anyone under the age of 30 will probably recognise the RADA-trained Aberdonian from his roles in The Empire Strikes Back and two Indiana Jones movies.

For those of us on the wrong side and living in the UK, though, he will forever be the scariest schoolteacher on the planet– Maurice Bronson, the bespectacled, be-wigged languages teacher at Grange Hill, and arch-enemy of artistic, chain-smoking rebel pupil Danny Kendall (who, after two years of running battles in the corridors, was to die in Bronson’s car when he blacked out at the wheel after stealing it).

They don’t make them like they used to…

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

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… almost made up for the paltry three cards I got on the day :/ 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…)