WW1 Film Project

Check out @angus_story’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/angus_story/status/1053245672156286976?s=09

Have a look at this! The wee film project is coming to you soon!😃


Zombie! Inside a Wrecked Mind

I have been using “The Enemy” by Christopher Higson for the first time with one of my lower school classes. We had a good dialogue about how the infestation that had wiped out the adult population or turned them into shambling Zombie may have left some residual human capacity in those affected by the disease.
I wrote the following short story to explore the background of the character “Small Sam” and to give the students a stimulus for their own creative writing.

A Zombie’s Story- Inside a Wrecked Mind

Ann felt so angry and sick and rotten. It had started with a sniff and a sore head, a bit like the flu, but she knew it was worse than that. It was the rage disease- the thing that was destroying the world and turning parents into monsters who wanted to devour their children. It wouldn’t touch her, Ann knew that her huge love for her babies would save her.

She was wrong.

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This is somewhere between poetry and prose.

Privet is a an evergreen bush, often used for hedging between houses in Britain


Intricate and supple twigs

Thin and pliant with green


Leaf and leaf and leaf

In fresh lime

In yellow gold

In dark olive

Like green fractals

Extending one idea forever

Tendrils shoot out,

They are clipped, cut, swept-

But the hedge persists

It wants to sprawl and prosper,

Send out its scent,

A note of high, green sweetness

That is the clean heart of summer.

But it is kept as a cool barrier between the houses

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The Queen’s Pyjama’s


If you would like a look at the script for the Wishaw Area Schools Film Project here it is.

It is rather long and it has lots of dialogue in Scots, but it will give you an idea of what we hope to produce when shooting starts in August.

The Queen’s Pyjama’s 

A dramatized account of Willie Angus V.C.


Wishaw Schools World War One Heritage Project


Gerry O’Brien, June 2018


This screenplay is the product of collaboration between students, teachers and Community Learning staff from the Wishaw and Shotts area.

After a series of development meetings and discussions the life of Willie Angus was settled upon as the focus for the project and this script was written.

It should be noted that whilst the script does its best to use the known facts about Willie Angus and the events leading to is award of the Victoria Cross, that it is a dramatization of his life. As such, dialogue, characters and places are intended to catch the spirit of the times. 



Page Break




Scene 1: The Football Field

Scene 2: Post-match analysis

Scene 3: The Changing Room

Scene 4: Hearth and Heart

Scene 5: The Fitba Strip

Scene 6: The Parade: the HLI leave Carluke

Scene 6.1: On the Tram

Scene 7: In the trenches- the raid goes wrong

Scene 8: The Aftermath

Scene 9: Have a drink of this Tommy!

Scene 10: “Ah cannae listen tae this”

Scene 11: Generals and Corporals

Scene 12: Going Over the top

Scene 13: The Rescue

Scene 14: In the Hospital- The Queen’s Pyjamas

Scene 15: At the Palace

Scene 16: Homecoming



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Are Ye Bound for France my Dear?


Are you Bound for France?  Margaret’s Song

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

Will you stand sae tall and proud

Hear the pipes blow sae loud

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!


Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

Will ye put your toys away?

Nae boys’ games left tae play.

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

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Willie Angus- WW1 Film Project


Young people in the four high schools around Wishaw have been collaborating on a major film project that will be launched to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1.

Students from Saint Aidan’s, Coltness High, Clyde Valley High and Calderhead High have been working hard for the past year and the fruits of their labour will be on display in November this year.

The film will tell the story of Willie Angus, a Lanarkshire man who won a Victoria Cross in 1915. Willie saved the life of his officer, who wounded and stranded in no man’s land just yards from the German trenches. Willie brought the wounded man back to his own lines but suffered multiple injuries doing so.

The students been rehearsing a script that they will film in August. The recreation of Willie’s life is an exciting project and has been made possible by the award of a substantial lottery grant of £10000.

The trailer will give you an idea of the creativity and commitment that the young people of Wishaw. Click below to view the trailer…

World War 1 Film Project Trailer

The art work that a small team of students produced to help create the trailer is worth a look in its own rightP1040511P1040513P1040516P1040517P1040518P1040520P1040521




Running Remembered

I haven’t been running much lately and I haven’t been to Kintyre for nearly two years now. Then I stumbled across this old blog post from my days on the running site Fetcheveryone and thought I would share it with you.


Every so often I take the crooked road to Kintyre, driving North and West from Glasgow to skirt the edges of Loch Fyne, before putting the same distance into descending southward into the drooping peninsula. Over the last years I have come to love the long curve of beach from Westport into Macrahannish. An unprepossessing car park, oddly municipal in this wild place, sits next to an anonymous hunch of sand dune- it could be a mere hillock of bleached grass- but walk through the gate and the world, at its last margin between land and sea, opens up for you.

The beach, secret and tacit behind the sheltering line of dunes, curves away with a suction that seems to insist upon your presence. A sandy and grassy path meets your step with a springing, tuned thud. The first sand is dry and golden, fine and giving- too giving to hold a runner’s step. On your shoulder the dunes reveal a hollow amphitheatre: there could be children playing there, perched in the high dress circle but the bowl of sand traps their voices in its stillness.
Distances stretch, the beach is far wider than your first perceptions of it. The dry golden sand gives way to a tide-washed darker edge. Here the Atlantic waves imperturbably steamroller a hard and flat way for you on the edge of the land. This is where you can dance between waves and shingle and sand. This is where the sand gives just enough. This is where you can run.

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Higher Writing Folio Model

This was put together as a model of the monologue form with inflections towards Scots dialect for Higher English students. The title was borrowed- stolen to be honest-  from a popular piece of young adult fiction by Anthony McGowan that was very popular with students in the school I teach in.


The Knife That Killed Me

The knife? It was right there on the table but it wasn’t my fault. I took years to make the cut.

It was my mum you see. She wanted us to be that wee bit better than everybody else. We had the end block in the terrace, nice garden, dad always in work. Decent hard-working family in a nice wee council scheme in the country: idyllic you’d think- nestled below the Campsie hills, the cattle from the farmer’s fields would sometimes find their way into the streets and gardens. I remember my dad digging freshly deposited cow dung into the roses a few times.

You just need to be that wee bit different- a wee bit too posh, a wee bit too clever, a wee bit too Catholic a wee bit too… Take your pick mate, any excuse’ll do in these parts. Not much to do in the country you see, so recreational violence becomes the primary occupation of the weans. Fine if you’re in the right gang with plenty of mates. I spoke correctly, stuck in at school. No doubt about it, I was in the “rang gang”. Christ! When I was seven or eight I got hammered in the face by an older kid by telling him that the earth moved round the sun! I know, Galileo becomes famous for that argument, I just get a burst lip and mental trauma.

I liked the kid that did that to me; I was scared of him but I liked him. He took three of us on a patrol through the reed-beds near the old mill. I was scared of the scratchy needles that the reeds rasped on my bare arms, by the way that the ground would loop down into sudden black puddles. My hands would fly up to reassure themselves by touching the back of this boy. Half to balance myself and half for comfort. He whirled on me, told me to keep my hands to myself. He was furious with my fear, contemptuous of the softness, the weakness in the gesture.

He spoke of his plans about killing the boy with red hair: one of the kids who was that bit different. He would get the wee weirdo and hold him under one these deep puddles until he had blown his last bubble. He was like some kind of scent-hound who tracked and savaged the weak, the unfit and the broken.

No, don’t worry, the three of us came back- the red haired kid wasn’t there. As far as I know the big lad never lived out his murderous fantasy.  I was amazed at his power though. I repeated his words to my parents later: “Blow his last bubble!”. I was beguiled by their blunt force. Their faces white and hanging- transfixed by the words from their son: seven years old in shorts and hair still blonde. They told me I was wrong. Where had I heard this? Don’t play with people who say things like that. Where did that boy learn to speak like that?

So there’s me in the “rang gang”. A gang of two by now. I was friends with the posh kid from the new houses that they built on the farmer’s fields. Very posh wee guy indeed, his dad was an art teacher and his mum was a social worker. Total victim material for the local young team. I remember coming off the school bus in the mist of a December evening. Everything black and grey and jaggy shadows. The line of them waiting at the top of the hill. A sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, like standing at the top of a cliff and feeling gravity trying to suck me over the edge. I saw them- the young team- split from my mate and dodged the confrontation. But they got him. I could hear the punches and cries through the grey mist. Thank God they were doing it to him and not me.

“That’s your mate they’re hittin’.” The voice of an older boy said.

The young team didn’t let up. They never got a hold of me but they broke limbs of kids from “bought hooses”, took the streets for themselves. Checkpoints and choke points on every walk to the shops. I mean boys fight, but this… to take one wee guy because he had a bit of a mouth on him and set about him in the park: a closed circle of fists and feet. To actually put him in hospital. The thought of it made me shudder.

Their interests matured into drink, glue, drugs. And then it happened- my brother started to run with them- he was young team. Run isn’t the right word because they didn’t do much of that. A distinct presence on the streets was more their thing, a kind of slouching arrogant little militia.

We shared a room and loathed breathing the same air as each other.

So, it’s the night of my graduation. My mum does this big production at the dinner table. You know fine linen table cloth, crystal wine glasses, candelabra, the best china dinner service. She’s put this together over years. The knife? Yeah, that was a wedding present you know. It must be twenty five years old, couple of years older than me. Only out the mahogany box at big events.

Anyway, the brother turns up, in slurred and smiley mood. He sees the graduation picture on top of the telly, the black gown deflated on the couch. He makes a joke about batman, but the mood soon sours. There’s a bad taste in the air. He talks, rants is more like it- he’s fluent with the crazy eloquence of the chemically enhanced. When will he get his picture on the telly? When will we bow to him like a Buddha? He passed his driving test and nobody even shook his hand. I mutter that he is tripping.  He kicks the table and the clatter of china and crystal roars in my mind. All I can hear is things breaking. The knife is in my hand and its swinging…

I’m watching things now but I’m miles away. I’ve stepped off that cliff and I’m falling but I’m standing still.

Then I’m running.



Free and flowing through the night.

Away from the scatter of blood drops that sprayed the textured wallpaper. Away from the white faces and the dark circles of open mouths. I don’t remember stopping…

The brother? He’s okay, he recovered. It was just a scratch really. Defensive wound on the arm I heard.

But the knife killed me. Killed my hope, ended my dreams left me here…

I’ve never minded the smell of disinfectant, it’s sort of comforting: like the way my mum used to put a drop of it with water into a basin next to the bed if you were going to throw up. Being sick can be safe and warm sometimes.

I Would Be…

I Would Be…

  1. Sleeping Lion

I would be your lion,

With a forehead broad and blunt and strong,

Eyes wide and wise and fierce.

You would sleep safe

Held in my heavy bones and soft padded paw

The rumble of my easy growl your lullaby.

Your hands clenched

In the deep softness of my mane

Uncoil in easy sleep.

But I am a man.

Not iron in fang and paw-

Eyes veiled darting and tight.

Your racing heart flees sleep

The lumpen shadow of my sleeping ridge

Is a quilted horizon on the edge of things.

Your hands clenched

Around themselves

Try to grip the spate of thought

In the dark river of your mind.

2. Northern Whale

I would be your whale

A strong back, black and supple

Cutting through grey northern water

Circling the frail boat

Rocking the deck,

Rolling to hold you in my still, dark eye.

Indifferent and proud in your gaze-

Your amazed gaze- the heavy pleats of my throat

My garland of bubbled breath

Making the dark water clear

For a moment

And then gone.

But I am a man

A summer swimmer

In the shallows of warmer seas

A pallid ribbon of flesh

Curving through the blue Cypriot bay

In a forgotten photograph.

A smile hauled back from Aphrodite’s sea,

That glitters, twitches and lies still.

A poor fish, drowning in air.

3. Plough Horse

I would be your plough horse

Fit and willing and true.

Ready- standing at your gate.

“The willing horse gets the work”

And waits for the old embrace,

The apple slice, soft white and red

Taken in lips delicate and strong

From nervous fingers

Is crushed to sweet froth

Filling my mouth

My whole head, with taste

That shudders through the slabs of my flanks.

But I am a man.

I kneel and cut and hammer.

I lay a floor in the old cottage.

A hunched creature

Who thinks and frets and

Swallows thoughts not sweet.

Who walks the Western beach,

Tide and step softly grinding

the murmuring shingle.

To find some rest-

To find some rest he never reaches.

Except in you