Snake superstitions

It is quite unusual to find a snake with its head chopped off in Scotland, but in South Africa there are certain tribes that believe that if you kill a snake, you must cut off its head and bury the head separately. This is because they believe the snake’s friends will find it and come back for revenge.

South Africans have numerous superstitions about snakes and some people make a special ‘muti’ or mixture which they spray or spread around their houses to prevent snakes from entering.

Another superstition is that if a snake’s head is severed it will not die until sunset.

Scotland rugby star Max Evans breaks down recalling brother’s injury>kt%20max%20evans

2nd March

The Scotland rugby international broke down in Edinburgh Sheriff Court today after recalling the 2009 Six Nations tournament in which he and his brother Tom played.

Defence counsel Kevin McCallum asked about his brother’s injury. “Tom broke his neck in a rugby game, an international game for Scotland”, replied Evans.

“Am I right in thinking this was a life-threatening injury?” Mr. Evans was asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

“Am I right in saying it is no longer possible for him to play rugby?” asked Mr McCallum.

“Yes,” replied Mr Evans.

“I was shocked,” Max Evans told the court today, regarding the alleged assault at Lulu on Edinburgh’s George Street.

“I realised I wasn’t in a very good position … on the night I was very upset. Even now I am upset.” He added: “I didn’t mean to cause Mr McCaig any harm.”

Scotland rugby player Evans denies attacking Mr McCaig, 29, and claims he was acting in self defence.

He also claimed that he put his hand out to push Mr McCaig away but did not realise he had a glass in his hand.

1st March

The court heard yesterday that before he allegedly hit a man in the face with a glass, Max Evans was “pushed into” and “probed” in Lulu’s nightclub.

Sarah Jane Bell told the court yesterday that on the night of August 1st 2010 she and Evans made their way to the VIP bar where they ordered drinks and were kissing and “chit-chatting”.

The 28-year-old nanny said that Mr McCaig and a female came up to the bar next to Ms Bell and were “pushing into” and nudging her, she told the court.

“Max and I swapped places at the bar. Ally (Mr McCaig) seemed to be acting aggressively. He seemed to be trying to irritate Max. He was probing him and pushing into us.”

Ms Bell said she led Evans away on to the dance floor and did not see what happened next until she noticed two bouncers taking Evans away. She said she saw Mr McCaig with blood on his face.

The court heard that Evans told police: “I didn’t intentionally use the glass.”

Mr McCaig sustained a laceration to his eyebrow, which a doctor described as being “entirely superficial”, the court was told. He was treated at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

28th February

Earlier this week, Mr McCaig told the jury he had been drinking at the bar with his sister and a friend when a man appeared on his right hand side and struck him in the face with a glass.

29-year-old McCaig, who works in property development, was called as the first witness when the trial started on Tuesday 28th of February.

He told the court he was drinking champagne with his sister and an old school friend at the bar of the club’s VIP area when he was struck in the face.

He said: “We were basically catching up with each other, as you do, then the next thing someone comes from my right-hand side and strikes me on the face and hastily exits the membership area.”

“I was slightly flabbergasted at what happened and put my hand up to my right eye and it was bleeding.” He then pointed at Evans as the person who allegedly hit him.

Fiscal depute Dev Kapadia asked the witness if he knew who the man was at the time of the incident.

“No”, he replied, and said he found out afterwards from police.

Mr McCaig said later that he had been told by friends that he met Evans “four or five years ago” at a party during a rugby sevens tournament. He said: “I remember the evening but don’t recall meeting Max Evans.”

A photograph was then shown of both men standing apart from each other at the rugby event.

“I would suggest to you that your suggestion you didn’t know Max Evans prior to the evening of August 1 2010 is just nonsense, isn’t it?” Mr McCallum said to the witness, who replied “no”.

The defence lawyer suggested to him that he said to Evans in the VIP room of Lulu: “What are you doing in Edinburgh? F*** off back to Glasgow.”

Mr McCaig replied: “No, because I didn’t know who he was until after the incident.”


The trial continues.

Caffeine addiction takes over Morningside

With 57 coffee shops within a one mile radius in the Morningside area, the local community are angered by the news of Costa trying to open a branch making it the 58th coffee shop in the area.

Costa Coffee wishes to move into the current bathroom store at 14 Morningside Road – only a 10 minute walk away from the nearby branch in Bruntsfield.

‘The Caffeine Mile’, running from the bottom of Comiston Road to the Bruntsfield Hotel, has the Morningside Traders Association fighting the plan. But some have managed to remain light-hearted and have even suggested to rename Holy Corner as ‘Coffee Corner’.

The Morningside Traders Association is against the type of business rather than the chain itself. Anne Williamson, who runs Houseproud of Morningside and is chair of the traders’ group, argues: “It’s all about balance. Imagine if we had 57 banks or building societies within a one-mile range on our high street.”

There is also a fear that the independent stores that are well known in Morningside and Bruntsfield are at risk of being squeezed out by the volume of coffee stores.

Costa has been criticised in the past for being commercially aggressive; the popular chain has increased the number of shops in the UK from 158 to 1,375 over the past year. And while the rest of the UK is suffering from the recession, Costa sales have gone up 24.4 per cent – a rise that the chain attributes to the opening of new shops.

Whitbred, the global owner of several popular hotels and coffee shops, says that the additional 20 coffee shops in Scotland are creating an estimated 200 jobs.

Listen here:

Listen to what Brenna from Starbucks thinks:

Listen to what Rachel from Luca’s Cafe thinks:

Disney/Pixar pair up with VisitScotland for unprecedented marketing campaign

Brave: The trailer for Disney’s new animation film. Video:  DisneyPixar / YouTube

Brave, a new animated film from Disney/Pixar, is hoped to push Scottish tourist revenue past £1 billion this year, says VisitScotland.

Due to be released in August, the film is set in the Scottish Highlands and features the vocal talents of Scottish actors Billy Connolly, Kelly Macdonald, and Robbie Coltrane.

VisitScotland announced today a global marketing campaign based on the film, designed to promote Scottish tourism. At £7m, the campaign is the organisation’s biggest yet, and marks the first collaboration between Disney and the country’s tourism board.

VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay is hopeful the film will boost Scottish tourism during difficult economic times.

“This is an incredible opportunity to extend the reach of VisitScotland’s marketing activity across the world. This film will be shown in more than 70 countries across the world and will give us the opportunity to convert cinema goers into visitors in the biggest campaign VisitScotland has ever launched,” Cantlay said.

Previously entitled the Bear and the Bow, the film depicts the travails of a plucky young red-haired Merida, who seeks to overcome ancient traditions and causes chaos as a result.

PODCAST: Katrina Conaglen and Maxim Lewerenz discuss the merits and disadvantages of VisitScotland’s new campaign. Hosted by Pamela Paterson.

UK refuses to sign EU treaty

David Cameron has refused to sign a new fiscal treaty, despite the agreement of 25 of the EU’s 27 member states.

The treaty, which enforces budget discipline, aims to restore confidence in the future of the Eurozone in a bid to restore economic growth and jobs.

The prime minister said: “There were insufficient safeguards for the future working of the EU single market as well as regulations would affect the City of London.”

Herman Van Rompuy, the newly reappointed President of the European Council, said: “The targets on deficits and debts are intermediate targets, no aim in itself.” He gave special importance to the coordination between all the EU members, adding: “The treaty contains a commitment to deepen economic coordination and it provides the tools to do so.”

The UK and the Czech Republic are the only EU countries not to have signed the treaty, known as “the fiscal content”.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas said questions over some of the treaty’s text and uncertainty over its ratification at home had prevented him from committing to it.

Red Cross convoy arrives in Homs

The Red Cross have finally arrived in the besieged Syrian city of Homs and say they are determined to go into the Baba Amr district.

Syrian Red Cross spokesperson, Salah Dabakeh, said: “They are set to deliver supplies to Baba Amr in order to provide urgent help and make it easier the eviction of injured people”.

The Syrian government announced yesterday that they have recovered total control of the Baba Amr area, clearing the area of violent opposition groups.

Both David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkoky have condemned the Syrian government and have closed their respective embassies in Damascus.

Mother and son plead guilty to ‘paedophile’ killing

A mother and her son have pleaded guilty to culpable homicide following the death of a 57-year-old man from head injuries. He died nine months later in a nursing home.

Paul Noble, who was 15 at the time, and his mother Williamina Stewart, 37, attacked Gordon Morrice at playing fields in Aberdeen’s Golf Road in June 2010.  The previous day, Morrice had asked if he could play on a child’s trampoline at the park. After this, rumours began to spread around the Seaton area of Aberdeen suggesting that Morrice was a paedophile.

Two others admitted reduced charges of assault – Stewart’s partner Paul Yates, 38, and her brother Hector Stewart, 30.

Police found no evidence that Morrice had any paedophile tendencies.

Sentences were deferred until towards the end of March.

Opinion: Mob justice is no justice

Mob justice is no justice

The killing of Gordon Morrice is an extreme example of a wider attitude in society: paedophiles are fair game for mob justice. Not all paedophiles will experience violence leading to brain damage and death – as Morrice suffered – but without doubt they are treated as the modern-day lepers of society. Like the lepers of old, they are typically banished from the community, ostracised, and treated with fearful suspicion. And as with the lepers, many people would prefer that they wore bells announcing their arrival, and shouted ahead of themselves, “Unclean, unclean!”

In one sense this is understandable. Paedophile crimes are particularly repugnant, not just because we recoil from the thought, but because of their seriousness. Not only are paedophile acts an abuse of power, but they are also a violation of the body, our most intimate space; and, still worse, they are perpetrated against children, who are least able to defend themselves, and who may not have developed the resources to cope with such an ordeal. Let’s be clear: paedophile crimes do not deserve excuses.

But that said, we also need to examine another ugly fact: there are people in our society who think that suspected paedophiles deserve mob justice. Somehow the figure of the ‘peedo’ has become the acceptable whipping boy of the masses. 

This is short-sighted, for two reasons. For one, it means that people with paedophile tendencies are driven underground, into secrecy and shame – making their condition hard to address, and encouraging a secretive life. While it has become almost fashionable to admit to struggling with a sex-addiction, no equivalent social space exists for working through such deviant feelings. Paedophiles who act on their desires and commit crimes may be only the tip of an iceberg; conservative estimates suggest that around three percent of the population have paedophile desires. Where do the submerged majority go for help?

Secondly, mob-justice says more about the mob than it does about justice. In previous eras we drowned witches, expelled Jews, imprisoned homosexuals. Our generation’s particular nervousness towards the paedophile may be more a product of a media-saturated culture than any real increased risk of abuse. In ancient Greece, the education of upper-class boys was based upon allowing a homoerotic relationship to flourish between the boy and his teacher; the love and loyalty produced was what inspired the boy to learn. So it was, that the transmission of culture depended upon this ‘pederastic’ relationship – which from our point of view, looks very much like paedophilia. In the perspective of history, it emerges that we are as culturally-conditioned as they were. 

No one is arguing for a return to those days, except perhaps for some Danish extremists. And which parent would not feel a little jumpy knowing that a suspected paedophile lived next door? Nevertheless, today’s mob attitudes towards paedophiles need to be seen as part of the problem, and certainly not as a solution to it. Justice must hang on the evidence heard in court, not on the hunches of a paranoid neighbourhood. 

This is particularly important in the case of Gordon Morrice – he was simply a man with four children of his own, who asked to join in with a child’s game: police found no evidence of paedophilia. 

French President takes refuge in bar

Attack: The French President is booed this morning. Video: TFI News/ YouTube


French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been attacked by protesters while out on the campaign trail, forcing him to hide in a bar.

Mr Sarkozy was in Bayonne in the Basque region of France, continuing his tour of the country prior to the upcoming presidential elections in April. As he walked through the city centre, a mob of protesters booed and chanted insults at him.

The protesters are believed to be Basque separatists and supporters of his socialist presidential rival Francois Hollande.

Mr Sarkozy stayed in the bar for around an hour and described the protesters as “hooligans”. Several protesters threw eggs at the bar while the president was inside and shouted, “Nicolas, get out!”


Riot police were deployed around the bar to hold off the protesters while the President spoke to local voters inside.

Mr Sarkozy later condemned the attacks, stating, “I am saddened to see Hollande’s Socialist militants associating with (Basque) separatists in violent protests to terrorise ordinary people who want just one thing: to meet and talk with me.”

A spokesperson from Francois Hollande’s campaign team has released a statement to say that they condemn any violence and no Socialists were involved in the incident.

The Basque region covers southwestern France and northern Spain. Terrorist group ETA has led a violent campaign for independence in the region through shootings and bombings, mostly in Spain. Its political party Batasuna has been banned in Spain, however it still operates in France and has a strong following in the region.

The attack comes after Mr Hollande had a bag of flour thrown at him during a campaign speech last month. A 45-year-old woman ran to the podium where the Socialist leader was speaking and assaulted him with the bag of flour before being restrained by bodyguards.

The most recent presidential opinion polls show Mr Sarkozy has 27% of the vote, while Mr Hollande has 28.5%.

Giant snake found beheaded in Edinburgh

Photo from Scottish RSPCA

The SPCA is appealing to the public to find the killer of a snake that was found decapitated earlier this week.

The body of the boa constrictor was found in a field in Mayfield, Edinburgh, on Monday.

The reptile was in a large plastic storage box including its severed head and it is believed the box was thrown out of a moving car.

The necropsy (animal autopsy) shows the heavy-bodied snake was decapitated alive. The operating vet excludes the possibility of the snake having to suffer, saying that it was one clean cut and other wounds found on the body were sustained post-mortem.

Due to its otherwise healthy bodily condition it is believed the animal was someone’s pet.

A boa constrictor can reach up to 13 feet in length, with a maximum weight of 60 pounds. They are the breed most commonly killed for snake skin fashion products, such as bags or shoes.

Anyone with information should contact the Scottish SPCA Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999.

Extra: Snake superstitions