Family Moves – and new visions

Add comment March 17th, 2013 12:35am billmarshall

It’s been a rather busy week – the culmination of a busy few months. After two days in Carlisle tidying up the loose ends of my aunt Jean’s estate, we got back in time to send dad up to the hospital to have his cataract operation which we hope will restore clear sight in at least one eye and allow him to read and drive again in safety. At the same time he completed his move to Lanark where he’ll be staying from now on, and we cleared the last of his stuff from his old house prior to it being rented out.

His house now looks infinitely more inviting than it did prior to the extensive improvements we’ve been making to it over the last few months. The new kitchen is brighter and far more modern, the lowered ceiling giving it better proportions and the new units producing a much more pleasing effect. White walls and new lighting in a number of the rooms give them a much more spacious feel and the new carpets finish off the effect. I could almost imagine living there – something I could never have considered previously. It must feel strange for dad – leaving after supervising all the improvements to a home he’s lived in for over 25 years, but his new home is very comfortable and I’m certain he’ll be happy there.

The contrast with auntie Jean’s old house was interesting; while a nice enough house, though the rooms are on the small side, it didn’t really feel like a home to me and being empty now didn’t change that feeling. I could never imagine living there and will be glad when it’s sold.

All being well dad’s vision should be good in 4 weeks and stable in 6. He’s already planning his next trip to London for a Normandy Veteran’s council meeting in 5 weeks. If I have half his energy at 89 I’ll be happy. They don’t make them like that anymore!


National No Pulling Week

Add comment September 19th, 2012 10:05am billmarshall

I don’t normally promote the work of my professional clients on this blog but I’m going to make an exception today because I believe it’s a good cause. Working with Lucinda Ellery I’ve read a lot of very moving stories about women who’ve lost their hair for a variety of reasons, whether it be through illness, the effects of chemotherapy or a variety of other causes. While most of us men have to learn to live with hair loss, for a woman it’s much harder, because it strikes at their basic identity as a woman, and it can blight their lives.

The most difficult hair issue to understand is Trichotillomania – pulling out your own hair. Often triggered by trauma, it has similarities to OCD and self-harming conditions. The women who suffer from it are often misunderstood and treated with little sympathy by the medical profession simply because so little is known about the condition and its causes. They often hide the problem from their families and loved ones and feel dreadfully guilty and depressed about it, yet are unable to stop doing it without help.

In a attempt to raise awareness Lucinda has come up with National No Pulling Week (Twitter hashtag #NoPullingWeek) and is working with a number of magazines and media organisations to increase the visibility of the issue and encourage sufferers who feel isolated to seek help. Today is the second day and there have so far been articles in the following places.

If you think that a loved one may have Trichotillomania, or if you have it yourself, then read some of these articles, visit Lucinda’s pages on the subject, or visit one of the charities such as and find out all you can so that you can get help for the person suffering from it.

Winners and losers

Add comment May 23rd, 2012 12:11am billmarshall

The last couple of weeks has been pretty interesting in the football world. Manchester City beat Manchester United to the English Premier title by goal difference. Chelsea won the misnamed European Champions League in a year they were least expected to. The two Edinburgh clubs contested the Scottish Cup final, while Rangers stagger from crisis to crisis. And Liverpool sacked Kenny Dalglish.

While most people seem to think the most important of these for football is Manchester City, and it could be argued that the eventual fate of Rangers could have major repercussions for the Scottish game, I feel the most significant change lies at Liverpool.

Dalglish has been a legend there for longer than most of their supporters have been alive, not only for his exceptional contributions as a player and manager on the field, and not only for his loyalty when he could have gone to any club in Europe, but even more so because he has earned the respect and love of everyone in the city for his exceptional conduct through the most traumatic and tragic times. Attending countless funerals and being the personal face of the club to bereaved families. It was a task that eventually took a great toll on him and caused him to leave football for a while.

But it’s not just that the American owners have sacked a legend – they’ve also severed the old “bootroom” connection, probably forever. It was from Shankly’s time and through Bob Paisley’s golden period the embodiment of the continuity and support that created stability and an orderly transition through managers and eras . It was that loss during the Gillett and Hicks era that many believe caused Liverpool’s decline and it seemed that Dalglish, with his old school sense of values and tradition might be able to bring it back.

Without it, and without the sense of connection to the fans that Dalglish also embodied, it seems likely that Liverpool will join the trend towards football as simply a TV commodity and business opportunity, with no loyalties amongst either players, managers or owners, and the fans taken for granted or for a financial ride. For a club and a community like Liverpool that would be a tragedy.

End of an Awful Season – and Goodbye to a Legend

Add comment March 17th, 2012 03:19pm billmarshall

Scotland’s rugby season has just ended with an appallingly inept performance against Italy which consigned us to a whitewash and left the overall structure of the team even less certain than it was at the beginning. The lineout, which had been a strength even in defeat earlier in the season, was a shambles with Ford overthrowing horribly and the preparation seemingly confused and giving Italy easy targets. Generally there was a lack of urgency and a lack of leadership and awareness – in the second half with an Italian down injured why was Denton not told to spread the ball from his mark rather than passing it back for a kick?

Yet we’ve had two of the standout forwards of the season in Ritchie Gray and David Denton, the back-row in general has been a good-looking unit, Mike Blair has looked much more like his old self and we have an exciting new full-back in Hogg. So what has gone wrong? Admittedly the match against England was a horror story for Dan Parks and caused his retirement – we should have won that easily but couldn’t cross the line. With Jackson still recovering his form after injury that pitched in Laidlaw, who has done quite well but his small stature has been occasionally exposed in tackle situations. The bad injury to Rory Lamont both removed a strong player and disrupted the momentum in the game it occurred and evoked bad memories of the injury which finished Thom Evan’s career – we do seem to have been unlucky with injury in this way.

Given the platform that the forwards produced early in the season we should have had a better functioning back division. There seems to be a lack of direction and pace about the backs in set-piece attacks which suggests lack of belief – the defence always seems to have the command of the situation and is never under pressure, while the attackers always seem to be looking to see what to do instead of running fast first and then reacting to the gaps that open because of it. There also seems to be a reluctance to engage in broken play attacks which we used to be so good at exploiting. To me the responsibility for this has to rest with the backs coach Gregor Townsend – never a favourite of mine during his playing career – though Andy Robinson will undoubtedly come under pressure too given his 3/11 record. If the rumours of Townsend going to Glasgow to replace Sean Lineen are true then we may see some difference there next year depending on who is appointed.

Mervyn Davies

Sad to see the death from cancer of Mervyn Davies. Watching rugby as a youngster he was one of those player you couldn’t help but admire even when he was hammering your own country. A big man for his time he was a fine link between forwards and backs, and his ability to poach ball from the back of the lineout with a seemingly telescopic reach remains in the mind’s eye. But not just as a wonderful player but as a leader, who led by example and a quiet word here and there, is how he will be remembered. His presence had much to do with the two most successful Lions tours ever. In an era of incomparable stars – Barry John, Gerald Davies, Gareth Edwards, JPR, Phil Bennett, JJ Williams, most of them glamorous backs, he was a forward who everyone knew and everyone respected. He will be much missed.

Chris Paterson MBE

Add comment December 31st, 2011 11:04pm billmarshall

One of Scotland’s longest serving and best rugby stars announced his retirement from international play a few days ago and in today’s New Year Honours list was awarded a much deserved MBE.

After the World Cup I said I hoped that he would carry on playing for another year but it seems he’s decided that he wants to go out at the top, and maybe the current hip injury that is preventing him from performing his usual kicking duties for Edinburgh has been a contributory factor.

Always an exciting runner in whatever position he appeared, he also became probably the best kicker in the world for a substantial part of his career. The big question has always been what his best position was. His early career seemed to suggest he would be a natural running stand-off of a type that we haven’t had since John Rutherford, but a number of coaches seemed to disagree and since he wasn’t being played there regularly it was always going to be difficult to capture that spot in the national side. As a result he mostly appeared at either full back or wing and while he was often deadly in broken play there are many who will always wonder if he could have controlled games from the number 10 shirt and encouraged the sort of running rugby that we aspire to.

He’ll be missed, both for his jinking running and his faultless kicking; particularly as Rory Lamont seems to keep getting injured. Thanks for some great memories Chris  – enjoy your remaining time club career.

Who will replace Shane?

Add comment December 3rd, 2011 02:46pm billmarshall

I’m just about to watch the Wales v Australia rugby international at which Shane Williams will end a glorious career. The worry is that we might never see another like him.

Earlier this week no less a legend than Barry John praised Williams as a player who would get into the best ever Wales team – high praise indeed when you consider the wonderful wingers that Wales have had over the years – the immortal Gerald Davies with a side-step to die for, and the electric-paced JJ Williams to name only two of the obvious candidates. But John was also concerned that we may have seen the last of the small, fast, balanced wingers who run round people instead of the man-mountains who run through them. A few years ago I voiced the same concerns in a post here Rugby’s problem in the professional era – big strong men.

Somehow rugby has turned into American Football – everyone except the scrum-halfs seems to be built bigger than the lock forwards I remember from my youth. Only in sevens do we still regularly see the value of the smaller men. Remember the wonderful Scottish three-quarters from a couple of decades ago? If Chris Paterson is criticised for being too small for full back what chance would Andy Irvine have? What of that lovely pairing of Jim Renwick and David Johnston. Would even as magnificent a player as Philippe Sella the magnificent French centre get into a modern international team?

If there is no room for player like these to flourish in the game then the glorious entertainment of rugby played with flair and imagination may become a thing of the past and it will descend into a wrestling match with the occasional kick. And that would be a tragedy. lets hope the coaches that watch todays’s match recognise the value and excitement that Shane has brought back into rugby during his career.

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