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ferrisconspiracy : ARCHIVE/BATTLES

 

The pursuit of land, the throne and glory in the great military clashes on Scottish soil.

1 Battle of CullodenCulloden The last pitched battle on British soil, where Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobite army was routed by government forces under the Duke of Cumberland, leading to brutal suppression of the Highland culture. 2 Sword at FloddenBattle of Flodden Field James IV's incursion into England in support of France ended in disastrous defeat with 10,000 Scots dead - including the King. 3 Battle of Falkirk Some 80,000 troops under Edward I defeated 30,000 Scots volunteers under William Wallace after John Comyn's cavalry fled at a crucial point in the battle. 4 VikingBattle of Largs The battle between King Alexander III of Scotland and Norwegian king Hakon Hakonsen ended Viking domination of the Western Isles. 5 Henry VIIIBattle of Pinkie Henry VIII's army inflicted a heavy defeat on the Scots at Musselburgh, leading to English garrisons across the Lothians. 6 Dennis Munro, a crofter on Skye.Battle of the Braes Near Portree on the Isle of Skye, angry crofters armed with sticks and stones confronted 50 policemen who had come to evict them on behalf of the landowner. 7 SaltireBattle of Athelstaneford Picts and Scots defeated Athelstan's Angle army in East Lothian after timely intervention from St Andrew. 8 Robert the Bruce memorial statue at the battle siteBannockburn Robert the Bruce's decisive victory over Edward II secured Scotland's status as an independent nation. 9 Knight in armourBattle of Otterburn A bloody scrum born out of quarreling noblemen and a desire for land. 10 Battle of PrestonpansBattle of Prestonpans Bonnie Prince Charlie's emphatic defeat of George II's government forces was perhaps one of the briefest battles on British soil. 11 Detail from The Battle of Mons Graupius, by W. ReynoldsBattle of Mons Graupius Despite numbering 30,000, the Caledonians faced a better organised Roman army who won the battle but failed to fully capitalise on their victory. 
  1. Culloden
  2. Battle of Flodden Field
  3. Battle of Falkirk
  4. Battle of Largs
  5. Battle of Pinkie
  6. Battle of the Braes
  7. Battle of Athelstaneford
  8. Bannockburn
  9. Battle of Otterburn
  10. Battle of Prestonpans
  11. Battle of Mons Graupius

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Hi Admin2... thanks for your excellent post, entitled 'Fighting Spirit'.  It is good to read about such history, much of which I didn't know (never been much of an historian myself), so it was an education for me, as I hope it will be to other members too.  Fab links too!


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Lanark's statue of William Wallace

Sir William Wallace
of
Ellerslie

(AD1272 - AD1305)

Wallace coat of arms

"from Outlaw to Guardian of Scotland"


Stirling Bridge

Stirling Castle               Stirling, the gateway to the north, and the key to this gateway was a narrow wooden bridge that spanned the river Forth. This strategically important town was watched over by a castle that was perched on a lofty crag that towered above the plain of the Forth valley.

              10 September 1297, from his vantage-point on the Ochil Hills, William Wallace watched John de Warenne and his army advanced from the south, onto the town of Stirling. As they rendezvoused with the castle's garrison and its constable, Sir Richard de Waldegrave.

1297 map of Stirling

A scene from the film - Braveheart               John de Warenne had amassed a formidable army, totalling a thousand heavy cavalry and fifty thousand foot soldiers. With a formidable reputation to match as they were the most seasoned warriors of the time, the most experienced army in Europe, and more importantly they were an army that never known defeat. Morale was high, as the rank and file were confident of the generalship of their commanders, and the Scottish rebels were rated as nothing but a mere bunch of amateurs. Since the Scots had displayed poor field craft and a general lack of discipline in Dunbar; disunity among their leaders, so evident at Irvine; and the lack of support from the nobles. As most of the Scottish nobles had been tamed: they were either serving with King Edward I in Flanders, imprisoned, or hamstrung by hostages.

A scene from the film - Braveheart               In comparison William Wallace had ten thousand men, and Andrew de Moray had brought six thousand men, including one hundred and fifty armed cavalry. The rebels were lightly armed, poorly trained, and with a total of sixteen thousand men they were out-numbered by 3:1. But they did have an unquenchable fighting spirit, as what they lacked in experience it made up in motivation. With its ranks motivated mainly by a sense of patriotism, as they were prepared to fight and even die, rather than to endure the tyranny of English occupation a day longer.

              William Wallace decided to make his stance on the opposite bank of the river Forth, occupying the high ground, on the slopes of Ochil Hills, thus forcing the English to fight uphill. But firstly John de Warenne had to navigate the river Forth, and the only effective means was a wooden bridge, as the fords at Cambuskenneth and Kildean were only passable at low-tide. But the wooden bridge was narrow, as it restricted riders to cross at most two abreast. Whilst the causeway on the far side of the bridge was not wider, and on either side of the causeway the ground was much too soft and swampy for the heavy cavalry to operate. And once across the narrow wooden bridge the English would have no means of a quick escape, whilst the rebels, with the Ochil Hills as a backdrop, had the opportunity to melt away into the hills.

              Two - three days earlier, some of the Scottish nobles, including James the Steward and the Earl of Lennox, caught up with John de Warenne, as he made his way to Stirling. For the nobles offered to parley with the rebels to prevent unnecessary bloodshed, a scene all too reminiscent of the incident at Irvine. But taking a charitable view the nobles were probably just gathering intelligence about Warenne forces. Then on the 10 September 1297, the nobles returned with the news that William Wallace refused to yield, and as an act of good faith the nobles promised to contribute sixty men to fight for the English cause.

              By the morning of 11 September 1297, James the Steward and the Earl of Lennox dutifully returned, but only with a handful of men, well short on the numbers originally promised. Their story was that they were unable to persuade any more of the rebel's rank and file to deflect.

              John de Warenne was now a little apprehensive about the situation, as it was becoming clear that the rebels were in the mood for a fight. And from his vantage point he saw that the rebels commanded the high ground, on the slopes of Ochil Hill, thereby placing the rebels in an unassailable position. Warenne also he noted that from their current position the rebels would threaten the left flank of any force that crossed the river and advanced along the causeway. While the swampy ground on either side of the causeway would be useless for the horses to operate in and that narrow bridge would prove to be a bottleneck. Finally Warenne would have thought, if only he could entice the rebels off the high ground and onto the plains north of Stirling, near the hamlet of Cornton, where they would become easy prey for the heavy cavalry.

              In accordance to military protocol, John de Warenne offered the rebels the opportunity to surrender before the armies engaged in battle. Therefore Warenne sent two Dominican friars across the bridge and up the causeway to invite William Wallace to accept the King's peace, and a promise of remission for past deeds.

              William Wallace rebutted John de Warenne's offer and submitted a counter-offer of his own:

'Tell your people that we have not come here to gain peace, but are prepared for battle, to avenge and deliver our country. Let them come up when they like, and they will find us ready to meet them even to their beards.'

              The expression on the faces of the English commanders said it all, as they stood there flabbergasted by Wallace's defiant reply. Far from being intimidated, William Wallace openly challenged them to do their worst. This and the inherently strong defensive position of the rebels unnerved the English, and spread dissension among its ranks. With one group urging John de Warenne to call the outlaw's bluff, whilst the other group urged caution. John de Warenne hastily convened a war council with his field commanders, to resolve the matter.

              One of the knights who addressed the war council was none other than Sir Richard Lundie, a Scot who deflected to the English at Irvine:

'My lords, if we go on to the bridge we are dead men; for we cannot cross it except two by two, and the enemy are on our flank, and can come down on us as they will, all in one front. But there is a ford not far from here, where we can cross sixty at a time. Let me now therefore have five hundred knights and a small body of infantry, and we will get round the enemy on the rear and crush them; and meanwhile you, my lord Earl, and the others who are with you, will cross the bridge in perfect safety.'

              The war council rejected Sir Richard Lundie proposal, on the grounds that it was unwise to divide the forces. It was probably due to their arrogance, and the general feeling of mistrust that some of the war council members had for the turncoat, mindful of the earlier actions of James the Steward and the Earl of Lennox. But there were a few members of the war council that agreed in principle with Sir Richard Lundie's proposal, and continued to staunchly argue in favour of Lundie's proposal with their fellow war council members. It was at this stage that things degenerated into chaos, with everyone squabbling with their neighbour.

              At this point Hugh Cressingham stood up and shouted down the babble, and then he continued to address the members' of the war council:

 

 'There is no point in dragging out this business any longer, and wasting our King's revenues for nothing. Let us advance and carry out our duty as we are bound to do.'

               John de Warenne resented Cressingham's outburst, as it clearly painted him as a ditherer. This and the infighting between his field commanders finally pressurised John de Warenne into giving the order for his army to cross the bridge and to go in for the kill.

              By now it was mid-morning, and Sir Marmaduke de Thweng had rode ahead of the main column with an advance guard of heavy cavalry to secure the northern perimeter of the causeway and provide cover for the English advance. But just as Sir Richard Lundie had earlier pointed out, the wooden bridge was indeed narrow, allowing riders to cross at no more than two abreast, and only with great care and difficulty.

              Just under half a mile away, on the slopes of Ochil Hills, the rebels watched the English as they slowly negotiated the narrow wooden bridge. It must had been an awe inspiring sight, with the standard-bearers carrying the colours of King Edward I, and the Earl of Surrey, the knights with their great warhorses, the guidons, pennants and oriflammes of the leading knights and barons, together with all the pageantry and panoply of medieval warfare. Among the notable figures that made it across were Hugh Cressingham, Sir Robert de Somerville and Sir Richard de Waldegrave (the constable of Stirling).

              The tension mounted as more and more English troops crossed over the wooden bridge and poured on to the marshy plain. Yet as a testament to the discipline instilled by Andrew de Moray and William Wallace, the rebel army held their nerve, resisting the temptation to madly hurl themselves down the slopes to attack the English troops, just as they had done at Dunbar in 1296.

              From the summit of Abbey Craig, William Wallace surveys the advance of the English, as he carefully weighs up the exact moment to launch his attack. Since if he launched the attack too soon, his rebel army would stand a much better chance in defeating the smaller English force which had managed to cross the bridge. But it would have left the main division of Warenne's army still intact, and in a position to launch a counter-attack. On the other hand if he waited until Warenne's entire army had crossed, his lightly armed rebel army would be outnumbered by 3:1 and overwhelmed.

A scene from the film - Braveheart               At eleven o'clock, William Wallace gave the signal to attack by a single blast of the horn. The rebels had been eagerly waiting for this moment, charged en masse, brandishing their spears and swords, and yelling 'On them! On them! On them!'. Gathering momentum as they ran down the slopes, with their spears at the level, straight into the English ranks.

              A detachment of rebels broke away from the main force, hell bent on securing the bridgehead and thereby closing the trap, as they hacked and stabbed their way to the bridge. This caused a stampede on the bridge, as the English troops suddenly found themselves unable to proceed forward, but were still being pressed hard by those coming up behind. Many of them fell or jumped into the river and were drowned in its deep waters, weighed down by their armour and equipment.

A scene from the film - Braveheart               While the main rebel force ripped through the English lines, sending a wave of panic through its ranks. Those who tried to escape floundered with their mounts in a sea of mud and were speared to death, while the survivors were sent sprawling on to the ground only to be trampled into mud by the advancing rebels. The ferocity and speed of the rebels' attack caught the English off guard, and they were quickly driven towards the loop of the river, southeast of the causeway and the wooden bridge.

A scene from the film - Braveheart               The rebel cavalry thundered down the causeway from the north, Sir Marmaduke Thweng kept his nerve, turned his charger to face the rebels, then he gave the order to charge. His squad of heavy cavalry easily dispersed the more lightly armed rebels, but instead of giving chase Sir Marmaduke Thweng stopped and took stock of the general situation. To his horror he noted that the colours of both King Edward I's and The Earl of Surrey's had disappeared, drowned in a sea of bodies, and the rebels had secured the bridgehead, blocking his retreat.

Stirling Bridge               He paused for a while, then with the body of his nephew slung across his saddle Sir Marmaduke Thweng charged straight at the rebels, hacking and slashing a path with his great broad sword to the bridgehead. And as soon as Sir Marmaduke Thweng and his squad had recrossed the river to safety, the order was given to destroy the bridge.

              The three hundred strong detachment of Welsh archers tried to offer some resistance, but were jostled by their English colleagues scramble to evade the wrath of the rebels, with no room to manoeuvre the archers were swiftly dispatched. Within the chaos and mayhem of the English ranks, its foot soldiers were being trampled to death, by the hooves of their own cavalry, or by their own colleagues, and those knights who were thrown off their mounts also suffered a similar fate. Others jumped or fell into the river, and were drowned, but a few managed to divest themselves of their armour and swim the river to safety.

A scene from the film - Braveheart               From his vantage point on the south bank of the river, John de Warenne watched aghast as the remains of his vanguard were corralled and then systematically butchered by the rebels, as they worked themselves into a killing frenzy. For he was reduced to a mere helpless observer, as he had committed all of his archers in the vanguard, otherwise he could have been able to direct deadly fire across the river. And he couldn't even mobilise his remaining troops to their aid, as he had already severed the only lines of communication with his vanguard.

              By 12 o'clock, the battle was all but over, but the mopping-up operation would have taken much longer, as the rebels typically took no prisoners. At a single stroke the rebels wiped out almost all of the one hundred heavy cavalry, and five thousand foot soldiers, including three hundred Welsh archers, who had crossed the bridge that day. This clearly demonstrated that an army of 'common men' with the discipline, the courage to fight and die for their country, were able to shatter the myth of English invincibility.

              The rebel losses were negligible, but Andrew de Moray was seriously wounded, and died from his injuries several weeks later. Andrew de Moray's death marked a turning point in William Wallace's future, since de Moray's family connections would have lent Wallace the necessary credentials to have ensured a firm commitment to his cause by others in the Scottish nobility. As they continued to view Wallace as a commoner, an outlaw, and a major threat to their feudal grip of power. They were the very members of the upper class whose disgraceful behaviour was graphically illustrated at Irvine when they surrendered without even striking a single blow in anger, as they were more interested in their own self-preservation rather than in any conflict. And now they were to hinder and ultimately undo Wallace's efforts to govern Scotland.

              John de Warenne had seen enough and gave the order for a hasty evacuation, pausing long enough to appoint his kinsman, Sir William Fitz-Warine, the new constable of Stirling, and with the promise that he would return within ten weeks. Mounting his horse, Warenne led his remaining men south with due haste, not pausing until they had reached the safety of England.

              Once the outcome of the battle was certain, those like James the Steward and the Earl of Lennox, who were waiting on the sidelines, now openly supported the rebels. And to demonstrate their allegiance, James the Steward and the Earl of Lennox led a squadron of their vassals from a hidden location in Torwood, to harass the retreating English army, cutting down the stragglers and attacking the baggage trains.

              As soon as the tide had ebbed sufficiently the rebel cavalry crossed the river at Abbey Ford, near Cambuskenneth. The rebels then stalked and harassed the retreating English army through Torwood…, Haddington…, seizing their pack animals and repeatedly attacking them from the rear, but finally they broke off their chase at Belton, near Dunbar.

              William Wallace then returned to Stirling, whilst a token force under the command of Henry de Halburton continued to harass a now demoralised English army to as far as Berwick. Where de Halburton found the town abandoned by its garrison, but the Earl of March, a fanatical Anglophile, and a few of his followers occupied its castle and refused to surrender. With neither the manpower nor the resources for a siege Henry de Halburton was satisfied with just occupying the town, and he remained there with his men until Wallace's invasion of England (in 18 October 1297).

              After the battle the rebels systematically stripped the dead of their armour and weapons, where they came across the body of Hugh Cressingham, the much hated Treasurer of Scotland. Not content in stripping the corpse of its armour and clothing, the rebels flayed and mutilated him, and as a token of their hatred towards the man they distributed his skin among themselves. For which the chronicle of Lanercost Priory reported that the rebels dried and cured Cressingham's hide and 'of his skin William Wallace caused a broad strip to be taken from his head to the heel, to make therewith a baldric for his sword'.

              Ironically on 12 September 1297, the Prince of Wales, regent during his father's absence, sent a dispatch to John de Warenne, ordering him to remain in Scotland till the rebellion had been quashed. But by the time the dispatch finally caught up with Warenne he was two hundred miles south in York.

              After a brief siege, the garrison at Stirling Castle capitulated, apparently they had no faith in John de Warenne's promise of returning. Among those captured and later incarcerated in Dumbarton Castle were Sir William Fitz-Warine and his lieutenant, Sir Marmaduke de Thweng. But their releases were eventually secured after negotiations in 7 April 1299 culminated in the exchange for some Scottish prisoners.

              William Wallace now concentrated on clearing out the remaining pockets of English resistance, he remained in Stirling long enough to reorganise his rebel forces before returning to the siege of Dundee. But with the news of John de Warenne's defeat filtering through and of William Wallace's return, the English garrison at Dundee gradually lost their will to fight and surrendered, yielding a vast armoury of weapons and booty.

              During about this time a council meeting was held at Perth by those members of Scottish nobility who supported William Wallace and elected him and Andrew de Moray the Guardians of Scotland in the name of King John Balliol. But by the 7 November 1297 Andrew de Moray's name disappeared from all official documents relating from that period, due to his untimely death from the injuries he sustained at the battle of Stirling Bridge.

              Continuing with his mopping up operation William Wallace attacked and captured Cupar Castle, killing its entire garrison of two hundred men in the process. By now the English were hastily abandoning their positions and retreating south, except for the garrisons of Edinburgh, Dunbar, Roxburgh and Berwick who were determined to stand firm. But by the third week of October 1297 not a single English soldier remained on Scottish soil.

              As the English retreated they employed a scorched earth policy, farms were burned, crops destroyed, and livestock slaughtered. Combined with a poor harvest many Scots by now were at a point of starvation, and with onset of winter a decision had to be made.

              18 October 1297, to alleviate the mounting food crisis William Wallace made the decision to invade England, for its northern counties had abundant supplies of food and livestock, and to demonstrate that Scotland was a force to be reckon with. He assembled the Scottish army on Roslin Moor and then marched south, crossing the river Tweed into Northumberland…

              …About Christmas 1297, William Wallace recrossed the river Tweed, after he had meticulously ravaged the northern counties of County Durham, Cumbria and Northumbria as he pleased, and everything of value was removed and carted across the border.

A scene from the film - Braveheart               It was about this time that William Wallace was knighted, possibly by the 2nd Earl of Carrick, Robert Bruce (the future King of Scotland)....


Bibliography

Bold, Alan, Robert the Bruce, Pitkin Pictorials, Andover, 1994.

Carruth, J.A., Heroic: Wallace and Bruce, Jarrold Publishing, Norwich, 1997.

Gibson, Mel, Braveheart, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 1995.

Gray, D.J., William Wallace: The King's Enemy, Robert Hale Limited, London, 1995.

MacKay, James, William Wallace: Braveheart, Mainstream Publishing Company Ltd., Edinburgh, 1997.


Page 1-Background
Page 2-The Outlaw
Page 3-Toom Tabard
Page 4-Guerrilla Leader
Page 5-Rebel Commander
Previous Page Stirling Bridge *

[Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 ]

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Hi mactheknife... thanks for yet another excellent post (and history lesson!).  I find it extremely interesting to read about the history of our country, and the links in the post were fantastic.  I particularly liked the quote by William Wallace, which is as follows:

'Tell your people that we have not come here to gain peace, but are prepared for battle, to avenge and deliver our country. Let them come up when they like, and they will find us ready to meet them even to their beards.'

 

A fantastic quote, which can be used an an analogy for the fight for justice that we, at ferrisconspircay.com will continue to battle for. Great post


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Scotland the Brave
Download Midi File

Hark where the night is falling
hark hear the pipes a calling
Loudly and proudly calling down thru the glen
There where the hills are sleeping
Now feel the blood a leaping
High as the spirits of the old highland men

Towering in gallant fame
Scotland my mountain hame
High may your proud standards gloriously wave
Land of my high endeavor
Land of the shining river
Land of my heart forever, Scotland the Brave

High in the misty mountains
Out by the purple highlands
Brave are the hearts that beat beneath Scottish skies
Wild are the winds to meet you
Staunch are the friends that greet you
Kind as the love that shines from fair maidens eyes


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Hear hear mactheknife!  Excellent post - Scotland the Brave indeed.  Now tell me, were you a poet in a former life, or are you just a very talented wordsmith?


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UPDATE

 

Jinky, a star to the last Laughter and tears as the game's stars join the fans to say farewell to the greatest Celt of them all.

FROM the humblest fan to the greats of the game, football swathed itself in green and white to pay its last respects to the player they knew simply as Jinky.

Thousands of mourners, including a litany of football legends of every hue, celebrities, politicians and even a pop star, stood shoulder to shoulder to bid farewell at the funeral of Celtic and Scotland star Jimmy Johnstone.

Dozens of famous names packed the modest Roman Catholic church of St John the Baptist in Jinky's native Uddingston, Lanarkshire, to hear the Bishop of Motherwell, Joseph Devine, lead a requiem mass for the man he hailed as 'our wee genius'.

Four days after he lost a four-year battle with motor neurone disease, the 61-year-old Lisbon Lion was laid to rest in a ceremony which, true to the spirit of a man imbued with a mischievous sense of humour, mingled tears of laughter with tears of grief.

His passing also united players from across Glasgow's great sporting divide, unified by their admiration for the unique talent of the diminutive winger who was voted Celtic's greatest ever player in 2002.

As the mourners filed into the church, the green-blazered members of the club's European Cup winning side, the Lisbon Lions, sat in their reserved seats alongside Jinky's family, led by his widow, Agnes, son James, daughters Marie and Eileen and granddaughter Mykala.

Behind them sat stars from the Celtic squad, including Roy Keane and Neil Lennon, and manager Gordon Strachan, who placed their preparations for Sunday's CIS Insurance Cup Final clash with Dunfermline on hold to attend.

Further back sat Scotland boss Walter Smith, Rangers manager Alex McLeish and a host of former Celts, including Kenny Dalglish, Danny McGrain and Frank McAvennie, as well as many ex-Ibrox stars who had become Jinky's friends, notably rival winger Willie Henderson.

Rod Stewart and his fiancee Penny Lancaster arrived at the service 20 minutes late after being held up in traffic, followed closely by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Scotland legend Denis Law.

Another rock star, Frankie Miller, himself ravaged by ill health, arrived in a wheelchair pushed by actor Ian Robertson, star of BBC Scotland's Sea of Souls.

First Minister Jack McConnell and the Scottish Executive were represented by Minister for Parliament Margaret Curran.

Outside, a crowd of more than 1,000 fans braved a biting wind to listen to the 90-minute service on loudspeakers.

In his homily, Bishop Devine said: 'I sensed a tidal wave of sorrow across the land when people began to be aware of the passing of the greatest- ever Celtic player.

'It was the kind of sadness that eclipsed Old Firm rivalries, indeed all manner of rivalries, as Jimmy was beloved of all supporters of the beautiful game.' The bishop added: 'Today is St Patrick's Day. Given the history of the little team founded in 1888 to counteract the poverty of the Catholic community in Glasgow's East End, I think our wee genius would appreciate that fact.' His words were followed by tributes from Billy McNeill, captain of the Lisbon Lions, and Celtic chairman Brian Quinn.

Businessman Willie Haughey, a close friend, recalled some of Jinky's pranks, including turning up at 3am at the house of nightclub owner James Mortimer with three of the Harlem Globetrotters in tow, looking for a night's entertainment.

He added that Jinky had recently told Rod Stewart that 'he didn't like his new swing music'.

When Rod said it was making him money, Jinky replied: 'I don't care, go back to the old stuff.' To warm applause, Mr Haughey concluded: 'Agnes asked me to finish on a light note. To all the people who lent Jimmy money over the years, they should remember an old Scottish saying - when you die, your debt dies with you.' As the coffin was borne out of the church on the shoulders of Lisbon Lions to the strains of football's unofficial anthem, You'll Never Walk Alone, the emotion finally overwhelmed Jinky's son, who burst into tears.

Outside the church, wreaths covered the ground, a tribute to the down-to- earth player who remained close to his roots in Glasgow's East End. One read: 'Jinky, the Greatest Celt Ever' and was signed by Rod Stewart.

After the ceremony, the rock star said: 'Jinky was a good friend and the reason I became a Celtic fan. So I just had to be here today.

'It was a sad day but it was also full of humour. Jimmy would have loved it.

We kept it together until we saw the grandchildren cry.

'It was great to see Alex McLeish here - proving Jimmy helped fans cross the great divide.' Former Celtic manager Martin O'Neill said Jinky had provided inspiration to him in coping with his wife Geraldine's battle with illness.

He added: 'He was so special, not just as a footballer but as a man. He was fighting this dreadful illness but it seemed as if he didn't pay it much attention.

'He'd often turn conversations about himself around to speak about others.

He was a cheeky chappie but he was also an incredibly humble person. I'm sure he would have been proud, but a touch embarrassed, at all this today.' Later, thousands of fans lined the streets applauding as the funeral cortege wound its way through the East End to Celtic Park before arriving at his final resting place, Bothwell Park Cemetery, for a private interment.

It was a mark of the universal admiration in which he was held that among the sea of green and white tributes from Celtic fans hanging from the railings were numerous blue and white Rangers scarves.

Among the items was Jinky's favourite No 7 jersey. On it, a fan had written: 'Jinky, you were a legend. And legends never die.'


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Attitude! When Winning is Everything:

The Will to Live.

How often do you use the expression the will to live? Does it have any meaning? Can it prolong your life? Can it bolster your immune system? In our oncology practice, we can unequivocally affirm that the expression does have meaning and that it can vastly improve the quality of life and may even prolong the life of a cancer survivor. However, it will be many years before we know the answer to the third question.

As medical professionals, we have always been fascinated by the power of the will to live. Like all creatures in the animal world, human beings have a fierce instinct for survival. The will to live is a force within all of us to fight for survival when our lives are threatened by a disease such as cancer. Yet this force is stronger in some people than in others..

Sometimes the biology of a cancer will dictate the course of events regardless of the patient's attitude and fighting spirit. These events are often beyond our control. But patients with positive attitudes are better able to cope with disease-related problems and may respond better to therapy. Many physicians have seen how two patients of similar ages and with the same diagnosis, degree of illness and treatment program experience vastly different results. One of the few apparent differences was that one patient was pessimistic and the other optimistic.

We have known for over 2,000 years--from the writings of Plato and Galen--that there is a direct correlation between the mind, the body and one's health. "The cure of many diseases is unknown to physicians,'' Plato concluded, "because they are ignorant of the whole. For the part can never be well unless the whole is well.''

Recently, there has been a shift in health care toward recognizing this wisdom, namely that the psychological and the physical elements of a body are not separate, isolated and unrelated, but are vitally linked elements of a total system. Health is increasingly being recognized as a balance of many inputs, including physical and environmental factors, emotional and psychological states, nutritional habits and exercise patterns.

Researchers are now experimenting with methods of actively enlisting the mind in the body's combat with cancer, using techniques such as meditation, biofeedback and visualization (creating in the mind positive images about what is occurring in the body). Some doctors and psychologists now believe that the proper attitude may even have a direct effect on cell function and consequently may be used to arrest, if not cure, cancer. This new field of scientific study, called psychoneuroimmunology, focuses on the effect that mental and emotional activity has on physical well-being, indicating that patients can play a much larger role in their recovery.

It will be many years before we know whether it is possible for the mind to control the immune defense system. Experiments with biofeedback and visualization are helpful in that they encourage positive thinking and provide relaxation, thereby increasing the will to live. But they can also be damaging if a patient puts all of his or her faith in them and ignores conventional therapy.

The Power of the Mind

The mind's role in causing and curing disease has been endlessly debated. No studies have proven in a scientifically valid way that a person can control the course of his or her cancer with the mind, although many individuals attest to the power of positive attitudes and emotions. One patient with high-risk cancer had a mastectomy at age 29. At 31, she had advanced stage IV cancer with widespread massive liver and bone involvement and, subsequently, extensive lung metastases. She also had an amazingly strong will to live.

"I get out of bed every morning as if nothing was wrong,'' she once said. "I may have known I was going to have to face things and could feel sick during the day, but I never got out of bed that way. There was a lot I was fighting for. I had a three-year-old child, a wonderful life and a magical love affair with my husband.'' Twenty-six years later, she was still alive, still on chemotherapy and still living an active life.

We often ask our patients to explain how they are able to transcend their problems. We have found that however diverse they are in ethnic or cultural background, age, educational level or type of illness, they have all gone through a similar process of psychological recovery. They all consciously made a decision to live. After an initial period of feeling devastated, they simply decided to assess their new reality and make the most of each day.

Their will to live means that they really want to live, whether or not they're afraid to die. They want to enjoy life, they want to get more out of life, they believe that their life is not over and they're willing to do whatever they can to squeeze more out of it.

The threat of death often renews our appreciation of the importance of life, love, friendship and all there is to enjoy. We open up to new possibilities and begin taking risks we didn't have the courage to take before. Many patients say that facing the uncertainties of living with an illness makes life more meaningful. The smallest pleasures are intensified and much of the hypocrisy in life is eliminated. When bitterness and anger begin to dissipate, there is still a capacity for joy.

One patient wrote, "I love living, I love nature. Being outdoors, feeling the sun on my skin or the wind blowing against my body, hearing birds sing, breathing in the spray of the ocean. I never lose hope that I may somehow stumble upon or be graced with a victory against this disease."

Strengthening your Will to Live

Unfortunately, and quite understandably, many patients react to the diagnosis of cancer in the same way that people in primitive cultures react to the imposition of a curse or spell: as a sentence to a ghastly death.

This phenomenon, known as bone pointing, results in a paralytic fear that causes the victim to simply withdraw from the world and await the inevitable end. In modern medical practice a similar phenomenon may occur when, out of ignorance or superstition, a patient believes the diagnosis of cancer to be a death sentence. However, the phenomenon of self-willed death is only effective if the person believes in the power of the curse.

In the treatment of cancer, we've seen patients fail on their first course of chemotherapy, fail again on the second and third treatments, then--with more advanced disease--a fourth treatment is highly successful.

In all things, you have to take a risk if you want to win, to get a remission or recover with the best quality of life. Just the willingness to take a risk seems to generate hope and a positive atmosphere in which the components of the will to live are enhanced. There are many other ways of strengthening the will to live.

Getting Involved

As physicians, the best thing we can do to strengthen the will to live is to involve a patient as an active participant in combating their disease. When patients approach their disease in an aggressive fighting posture, they are no longer helpless victims. Instead, they become active partners with their medical support team in the fight for improvement, remission or cure.

This partnership must be based on honesty, open communication, shared responsibility, and education about the nature of the disease, therapy options and rehabilitation. The result of this partnership is an increased ability to cope that, in turn, nurtures the will to live.

Helping and Sharing with Others

A way to strengthen this partnership is to extend the relationship to others. The emotional experience of sharing and enjoying your family and partnerships supports your love for life and your will to survive.

As you make the transition from helpless victim to activist, one of the most important realizations is that you have everything to do with how others perceive you and treat you. If you can accept your condition and hold self-pity at bay, others won't feel sorry for you. If you can discuss your disease and medical therapy in a matter-of-fact manner, they'll respond in kind without fear or awkwardness. You are in charge.

You can subtly and gently put your family, friends and co-workers at ease by being frank about what you want to talk about or not talk about and by being explicit about whether and when you want their help.

Sharing your life with others and receiving aid or support from friends and family will improve your ability to cope and help you fight for your life. A person who is lonely or alone often feels like a helpless victim. There is a need to share your own problems, but helping others find solutions or cope better with the problems of daily living gives strength to both the giver and the receiver. There are few more satisfying experiences in life than helping a person in need.

Patients can also take part in psychological support programs, either through private counseling or group therapy. Sharing frustrations with others in similar circumstances often relieves the sense of isolation, terror and despair cancer patients often feel.

  • Those who must live with cancer can live to the maximum of their capacity by: living in the present, not the past
  • setting realistic goals and being willing to compromise
  • regaining control of their lives and maintaining a sense of independence and self-esteem
  • trying to resolve negative emotions and depression by actively doing things to help themselves and others
  • following an improved diet and exercising regularly

Nurturing Hope

Of all the ingredients in the will to live, hope is the most vital. Hope is the emotional and mental state that motivates you to keep on living, to accomplish things and succeed. A person who lacks hope can give up on life and lose the will to live. Without hope, there is little to live for. But with hope, a positive attitude can be maintained, determination strengthened, coping skills sharpened, and love and support more freely given and received.

Even if a diagnosis is such that the future seems limited, hope must be maintained. Hope is what people have to live on. Take away hope and you take away a chance for the future, which leads to depression. When people fall to that low emotional state, their bodies simply turn off.

Hope can be maintained as long as there is even a remote chance for survival. It is kindled and nurtured by even minor improvements or a remission and maintained when crises or reversals occur.

There may be times when you will feel exhausted and drained by never-ending problems and feel ready to give up the struggle to survive. All too often it seems easier to give up than to keep on fighting. Frustrations and despair can sometimes feel overwhelming. Determination or dogged persistence is needed to accomplish the difficult task of fighting for your health.

The experience of cancer is not only destructive in a physical way but can be a major deterrent to your fighting attitude and will to live. But even during the roughest times, there are often untapped reserves of physical and emotional strength to call upon to help you survive one more day. This reserve can add meaning to your life as well as serve as a lighthouse that leads you to a safe haven during a turbulent storm. Hope has different meanings for each person. It is a component of a positive attitude and acceptance of our fate in life. We use our strengths to gain success to live life to the fullest. Circumstances often limit our hopes of happiness, cure, remission or increased longevity. We also live with fears of poverty, pain, a bad death or other unhappy experiences.

You may worry so much that you lose sight of the possibility of recovery and lose your sense of optimism. On the other hand, you may become so hopeful and confident that you lose sight of reality. Your main challenge is balancing your worry and your hope.

Hope is nourished by the way we live our lives. To achieve the best quality of life requires settling old problems, quarrels and family strife as well as completing current tasks. Problems that have not been resolved need to have completion. New tasks should be undertaken. If the future seems limited, you can achieve the satisfaction of knowing that you have taken care of your affairs and not left the burden to your family or others. By doing so you can achieve peace of mind, which will also help strengthen your will to live. With each passing day, try to complete what you can and have that satisfaction that you have done your best.

Be bold, be venturesome and be willing to experience life to the fullest to enhance your enjoyment of life. As long as fear, suffering and pain can be controlled, life can be lived fully until the last breath.

Each of us has the capacity to live each day a little better, but we need to focus on both purpose and goals and set into action a realistic daily plan--often altered many times--to help us achieve them. These resources are the foundation of the will to live.

Only by using the power of the will to live--nourished by hope--can we achieve the sublime feelings of knowing and experiencing the wonders of life and appreciate its meanings though vital living.


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19 April 2006
AMAZING COURAGE OF THE BOY WHO HAS THE SAME DISEASE THAT KILLED HIS BROTHER
Gary died at Rachel House, aged just 13 - but Gregor, 15, won't let the muscle-wasting illness ruin his life
By Lisa Adams

BRAVE Gregor Anderson is studying hard for his |exams but has already learnt the most important lesson of all - hope.

The 15-year-old has an incurable disease which has killed his brother, Gary. While he is determined to be just a normal teenager, his courage is extraordinary.

That's why Gregor is helping to mark the 10th anniversary of, Rachel House, Scotland's first children's hospice which was built thanks to the generosity of Daily Record readers.

"The hospice is a fantastic place," says Gregor.

"Our family would do anything for it as the staff there have done so much for us. Mum says losing Gary was like losing part of our family's jigsaw but the hospice supported us through it all."

Gregor faces a fierce race against time to help conquer the cruel muscle-wasting disease, Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy. It has already left him in a wheelchair, now it is quietly destroying his dreams. Gregor still deeply misses his big brother Gary, k who died at just 13 from this devastating disease. But staff at Rachel House in Kinross, Perthshire. help Gregor through many of his darkest moments when he visits several times a year for respite care.

 

The Record was the driving force behind this magical place on the ' banks of Loch Leven. We reached our ' £10million target in 30 months in the country's most successful newspaper appeal. Since it first opened its doors in July 1996 it has been a beacon of hope for more than 300 terminally ill youngsters.

Its work is so essential that a second CHAS hospice, Robin House, was opened near Loch Lomond in Balloch last year.

But it costs £5.2million a year to keep up this good work.

That's why we've pledged to donate all the cash raised at the Record's Our Heroes awards on Friday to CHAS.

Gregor and Gary's parents - sales manager Graeme, 42, and actress Caroline - feel the hospice has been a lifeline for all their family.

"It's been 10 years of love and support," says Caroline, 40. "Gary chose to die there because he so enjoyed the feeling of love and comfort that surrounds you. We all still feel the same."

Today their beautiful home at Bannockburn, near Stirling, is a hectic, happy place frequently filled with laughter. Their daughters Nicola, seven, and Natalie, five, are clear of the disease but they too have been affected by losing their big brother. Nicola didn't speak for a year after Gary's death but slowly recovered thanks to counselling at the hospice.

Caroline's relentlessly positive spirit has kept their family together through some heartbreaking days.

She explains that Gary was four and Gregor just 13 months when they were diagnosed in 1991. Back then they were ordinary, energetic boys who shared the same sort of tussles that most brothers do. But Caroline couldn't put out of her mind worries she may be carrying a faulty gene which she could pass on to her kids.

"When my sister was expecting she was being tested as there was a trace of Duchenne's, although not in my immediate family," says Caroline.

"At that time our two boys were perfectly healthy. Despite being told that I was an over-anxious mother I wanted the boys checked and the hospital put them through an obstacle course of blood tests."

A few weeks later a letter arrived asking them to return to hospital. Caroline phoned for the results and was told that both boys had Duchenne's. It was just two weeks before Christmas.

"We looked at their Christmas presents, bicycles and the like, things they were destined not to be able to use and our initial reaction was deep shock," says Caroline.

"It was as if the boys had died there and then. Their hopes and our ambitions for them had died. Our life was turned upside down and all our dreams for our boys were buried that day."

Gradually, over the next few weeks, they set out to read all they could about this hereditary condition.

"I have never cried in front of the boys," she says. "But I have always been truthful with them. Gary was our golden boy. He had a lovely nature and was great with his sisters. We all miss him so much."

Three weeks before Gary died he watched Caroline collect the Beecham Hedex Mum of the Year award for Scotland after he had secretly nominated her.

He didn't live long enough to see her go on to win the British title two months later. It would have been hard not to fall apart when Caroline read what he'd written about her.

Gary wrote: "She tries to make our life as happy as possible and I think she is the best mum in the world."

BY Christmas 2000 it looked unlikely that Gary would live much longer. He was finding it difficult to keep down any food at all but had some final requests.

He wanted to meet rally driver Colin McRae, get a PlayStation 2 and have a white Christmas. All three wishes came true and a helicopter landed next to the Anderson's back garden for the rally ace to make a visit. A week before he died Gary went to Knockhill in Fife to meet another racing hero, Niall Mackenzie, but deteriorated soon afterwards.

"Gary said 'Mum it's time'," says Caroline. "He had a choice. He could go into hospital, stay at home or go to the hospice. He chose the hospice.

"It's an amazing place. Gary was very ill by this time but within an hour of reaching the hospice he was sitting up in bed playing his PlayStation."

Gary died days later on August 17, 2001, at 6.55pm. He'd even predicted the time he would die.

"I don't know how he knew but he was exactly correct," says Caroline.

"He died at the same time of day as he'd been born. He just said 'I have to go now' and that was it. He said he knew he wasn't going to a waiting room but was going straight to heaven."

The warmth and support of hospice staff carried the family through the next few days.

Soon after Gary's death, film star Ewan McGregor visited to chat to the Andersons and bring the flicker of a smile back to Gregor's face.

Caroline adds: "Gregor went through a tough time when he turned 13 as he was convinced that he was going to die too.

"But he's got through that now and is nearly 16. Gregor was very close to Gary but he's also very different. He's sturdier than Gary and healthier too."

Today Gregor admits with a smile he'd rather switch on his PlayStation than squeeze in some last minute revision for the five Standard Grade exams which are now looming.

He's talented at art but is reluctant to say what he'd actually like to do when he leaves school. Perhaps because he faces an uncertain future without that youthful confidence his school pals take for granted, knowing there are plenty of years ahead to find their way in the world.

But Gregor's already discovered an essential secret to success - a determination to get everything he can out of life today.

In the past year he's done everything from snorkelling in the Red Sea in Egypt to canoeing.

And that sort of energy will surely take him a long way.

ABOUT THE DISEASE

DUCHENNE'S Muscular Dystrophy is caused when something goes wrong in the dystrophin gene.

This contains the information for making the protein dystrophin, which is essential for muscle function. Without it, all the muscles of the body, usually starting with those in the legs, gradually wither and die, to be replaced by fat. Vital muscles, such as those powering the heart and lungs, are also eventually affected.

The gene is found on the X chromosome, so almost exclusively affects boys - one in every 3500 births.

Girls with two X chromosomes usually have a functioning version that they can use, so although they may carry the disease, they don't actually suffer symptoms. Pioneering research is under way to discover a way to patch over the faulty gene and eventually find a cure.

HOW TO HELP

You can send donations to the Children's Hospice Association Scotland, Canal Court, 42 Craiglockhart Avenue, Edinburgh EH14 1LT or log on to:

 

 http://www.chas.org.uk

 

 
 

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20 April 2006
'AMAZING' SCHOOLGIRL WAS A FIRST, SAYS DOCTOR

CLAIRE'S consultant at Yorkhill had never seen her type of cancer before.

Dr Milind Ronghe said: "It is incredibly rare. Claire was certainly the first known case in Scotland, possibly the UK.

"Some adults do get it and usually they are in their 50s and 60s. Typically, they have three months of life left after diagnosis.

"But it is virtually unheard of for young people to have it."

Dr Ronghe could not have hoped Claire would survive for so long. He said: "We had given Claire two months at best.

"But she responded well to treatments before the cancer spread further.

 

"She was an amazing girl with an amazing family."


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THE Duchess of York today spoke of her father's 'fighting spirit' in his battle against prostate cancer.

Major Ronald Ferguson was diagnosed with the disease in 1996 but after successful treatment was given the all-clear two years ago.

He today helped to launch the UK's first prostate cancer awareness week, as nine charities dedicated to fighting the disease announced they were joining forces to create the Coalition For Prostate Cancer.

The Duchess sent a message of support to the launch which was read by her father.

She said: 'As the daughter of someone who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, I have first-hand experience of the feelings of fear and distress felt by family members of someone who receives a positive diagnosis.

Fortunate

'In my father's case he was fortunate enough to be diagnosed early as a result of a private health screening and, we hope and trust, treated successfully.'

She added: 'My father has been involved in many battles and done some great things in his lifetime.

'I am proud to say that he has used his fighting spirit and courage in dealing with his own prostate cancer so openly and publicly; I am sure this has been an inspiration to others.'

Around 20,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year and 10,000 die from the disease.

Last week the Government announced a twenty-fold increase in funding for research and treatment for the cancer, and pledged that all men suspected of having the disease would be able to see a specialist within 14 days of referral.

The newly-formed coalition welcomed the announcement but said more money and resources were needed.

Major Ferguson, aged 69, presented a petition to 10 Downing Street today calling for increased spending on research, early detection and treatment of prostate cancer.

He said: 'For too long, prostate cancer has been an under-recognised disease, because so little money and attention has been given to it by successive Governments.

'Something must be done urgently and I believe that it is right that it should be placed on top of the Government's agenda.

'Indeed, most of the men in the Government today are at the prime age for this disease to strike.


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Let me fight or I quit, says Harry.

 

Sunday April 23, 07:59 AM

Prince Harry has threatened to quit the Army unless he is sent to the front line, it was reported.

 

The Prince and his older brother, Prince William, have previously made it clear they are determined to see active service with their units. Harry, 21, was commissioned earlier this month as a second lieutenant in the Household Cavalry's Blues and Royals, the Army's oldest and most senior regiment. The Blues and Royals have been deployed in almost every major Army operation of the past two decades, including the Falklands, both Gulf wars, Bosnia and Kosovo.

 

Harry told senior officers at Sandhurst before passing out on April 12: "If I am not allowed to join my unit in a war zone, I will hand in my uniform."

 

This poses serious problems for the advisers tasked with protecting William and Harry, the second and third in line to the throne, and those fighting alongside them. A spokeswoman for Clarence House said: "Prince Harry is very clear that he is joining the Army, and the Household Cavalry in particular, to serve his country as an operational soldier.

 

" But she added: "On occasion there may be some circumstances in which his presence could attract additional attention, which could lead to additional risk to those he commands or himself. "In these instances it is a judgment call which would principally be made by his commanding officer." Earlier this month a senior Army figure said it was "eminently possible" Harry could be in a danger zone within 12 months.


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30 April 2006
 
BBC RAPPED OVER CULLODEN ANTHEM

THE BBC is under fire for plans to use Handel's See The Conquering Hero Comes - a song celebrating 'Butcher' Cumberland's slaughter at Culloden - during the World Cup. SNP MSP Rob Gibson said: "How can this encourage Scots to support England?"

 

*********************************************************

 

IN 1746, the cause of the Stewart monarchy deposed only a few decades before already seemed lost. The "Old Pretender" James II was sent packing back to France after a failed revolt in 1715. So, when Prince Charles Edward Stewart (Bonnie Prince Charlie or the "Young Pretender", to you and me) famously hoisted his standard at Glenfinnan in August 1745, he arrived with only seven men and a few French arms. Neither his father nor Louis XV of France supported the uprising.

In truth, rising prosperity in Scotland since 1707 meant there was little support for the Stewarts outside the Highlands and even less in England where a return to both an absolutist and Catholic monarchy was unthinkable.

The Jacobite uprising was initially, therefore, a great achievement. Bonnie Prince Charlie nearly succeeded in his invasion of England, reaching as far south as Derby, 125 miles from London. But in the face of victory, caution got the better of Charles as French support failed to materialise and he retreated back to Scotland when government soldiers mobilised against him.

After an initial success at Falkirk, Charles retreated further north, relentlessly pursued by English troops led by the Duke of Cumberland. Charles's army had dwindled to around 6,000 soldiers, mostly Highlanders. This was the last feudal army in Britain. The soldiers summoned by their clan chiefs could not refuse the obligation to bear arms. On the other side, Cumberland is reputed to have told his soldiers to leave if any did not wish to fight. Scots regiments fought for the government alongside English soldiers - in at least one case, brother faced off against brother.

On 15 April 1746, the Jacobite Highlanders attempted a surprise attack on the government forces who were celebrating Cumberland's birthday in Nairn along the Moray Firth coast. However, the Highlanders could not reach their enemy before dawn broke and retreated, exhausted and hungry. The two forces met at Drumossie Moor near Inverness. Prince Charles, an inexperienced soldier, took personal command and positioned his soldiers on boggy ground, unsuited to the quick Highland charge that was his only hope against superior forces.

 

The armies faced each other and the battle began on 16 April with an exchange of gunfire. Charles, compounding his tactical failure, waited for the enemy to attack before announcing a charge, but the government forces were better armed and trained and their artillery decimated the Jacobites.

After several minutes and heavy casualties, Clan Chattan charged from the centre and the other Highlanders followed suit. But the charge was uncoordinated and government fire forced Chattan members to veer right into the men of Atholl, themselves pushed left by a stone wall where Campbell soldiers fired at their exposed flank.

Although the Jacobites reached their enemy, the damage was already done with 18 of the 21 officers of Clan Chattan dead. The MacDonalds attempted a suicidal series of feints to draw the government soldiers out, but were gunned down. The battle lasted a little less than an hour and between 1,000 and 2,000 Highlanders were slain. Only 50 government soldiers died.

The infamous aftermath of the battle lent Cumberland the nickname of "the Butcher" in the Highlands. Cumberland told his soldiers to give no quarter to the wounded, who were killed on the field of battle. Cumberland's soldiers rode into Inverness pursuing those who escaped, indiscriminately slaying any men, women or children they encountered. In two days, around 140 men were captured and killed, and it is said 30 were burned alive.

Fourteen rebel colours were captured by the government forces and brought to the hangman's cross in Edinburgh. Charles' own standard was carried by the hangman and the rest by chimney sweepers. Each colour was ordered burnt by the hands of the common hangman, starting with the prince's own standard.

After Culloden many clan chiefs fled to Europe, their kinsmen to America. In the following years the Highland people were suppressed. Bagpipes and tartan were outlawed and the jurisdiction of clan chiefs terminated, a forerunner of the clearances that ended the Highland way of life.

 

The battlefield today is owned by the National Trust for Scotland. Picture: David Moir


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What's with the lyrics to the song "Mack the Knife"? I heard a radio report a couple of years ago describing it as a song about the real life Detroit organized-crime scene. Is it really about the Detroit mob?

There were no mobs in Detroit in 1728, when the character we know as Mack the Knife first made his appearance. In those days, there were only about 30 families living in Fort Ponchartrain near Detroit du Herie (strait of Erie), and none of them belonged to the Purple Gang. In fact, the reference is to London, not Detroit, and to politicians more than street gangs.

The character of Macheath, later to become Mack the Knife, first appeared in The Beggar's Opera by John Gay (1685-1732). Gay was a popular English playwright and poet, a friend and collaborator of Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope.

The Beggar's Opera is a comic ballad opera, the first of its kind, and took London theatre by storm. Gay uses lower-class criminals to satirize government and upper-class society, an idea that has been used often ever since. A century and a half later, the title characters in Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance note that they are more honest than "many a king on a first-class throne." And in our time, wasn't it Bob Dylan who wrote, "Steal a little and they throw you in jail; steal a lot and they make you a king?"

The main character of The Beggar's Opera is a swashbuckling thief called Macheath. He's a dashing romantic, a gentleman pickpocket, a Robin Hood type. He is polite to the people he robs, avoids violence, and shows impeccable good manners while cheating on his wife. The character is usually understood as partly a satire of Sir Robert Walpole, a leading British politician of the time.

The Beggar's Opera was a success from its first production in 1728, and continued to be performed for many years. It was the first musical play produced in colonial New York; George Washington enjoyed it.

We now skip about 200 years to post-WWI Europe and Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), a distant cousin of this SDSTAFFer. World War I had a revolutionary impact on the arts. The avant-garde movement, in despair after the war, embraced the concept of the anti-hero. Gay's play was revived in England in 1920, and Brecht thought it could be adapted to suit the new era who's more of an anti-hero than Macheath? So in 1927 he got a German translation and started writing Die Dreigroschenoper, "The Three Penny Opera."

Brecht worked with Kurt Weill (1900-1950) on the adaptation. He did far more than just translate Gay's play, he reworked it to reflect the decadence of the period and of the Weimar republic. Mostly, Brecht wrote or adapted the lyrics, and Weill wrote or adapted the music. Gay's eighteenth-century ballads were replaced with foxtrots and tangos. Only one of Gay's melodies remained in the new work. The play parodies operatic conventions, romantic lyricism and happy endings.

The main character is still Macheath, but Macheath transformed. He's now called Mackie Messer, AKA Mack the Knife. ("Messer" is German for knife.) Where Gay's Macheath was a gentleman thief, Brecht's Mackie is an out-and-out gangster. He's no longer the Robin Hood type, he's an underworld cutthroat, the head of a band of street robbers and muggers. He describes his activities as "business" and himself as a "businessman." Still, the character does manage to arouse some sympathy from the audience.

So, we finally get to your song, the "Ballad of Mack the Knife" (Die Moritat von Mackie Messer) from The Three Penny Opera. The song was a last-minute addition to appease the vanity of tenor Harald Paulson, who played Macheath. However, it was performed by the ballad singer, to introduce the character. The essence of the song is: "Oh, look who's coming onstage, it's Mack the Knife a thief and murderer."

The Brecht-Weill version premiered in Germany in 1928 and was an instant hit. Within a year, it was being performed throughout Europe, from France to Russia. Between 1928 and 1933 it was translated into 18 languages and had over 10,000 performances.

In 1933, The Three Penny Opera was first translated into English and brought to New York by Gifford Cochran and Jerrold Krimsky. There have been at least eight English translations over the years. In the 1950s, Marc Blitzstein wrote an adaptation, cleaning up "Mack the Knife" and dropping the last two stanzas about arson and rape. At the revival in New York using the Blitzstein translation, Lotte Lenya, Kurt Weill's widow, made her comeback she had a role in the original 1928 Berlin production.


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For mactheknife:

When the shark bites with his teeth, babe
Scarlet billows start to spread
Fancy gloves though has old MacHeath, babe
So there's not ever a trace of red

These are the full lyrics:

Oh the shark has pretty teeth, dear
And he shows them pearly white
Just a jack knife has MacHeath, dear
And he keeps it out of sight

When the shark bites with his teeth, dear
Scarlet billows start to spread
Fancy gloves though wears MacHeath, dear
So there's not a trace of red

On the sidewalk, Sunday morning
Lies a body oozing life
Someone's sneaking round the corner
Is the someone Mack the knife?

From a tug boat by the river
A cement bag's dropping down
The cement's just for the weight, dear
Bet you Mack is back in town

Louie Miller disappeared, dear
After drawing out his cash
And MacHeath spends like a sailor
Did our boy do something rash?

Sukey Tawdry, Jenny Diver
Polly Peachum, Lucy Brown
Oh the line forms on the right, dear
Now that Mack is back in town

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