Category: Personal

Week 6

So this week has been a nightmare of a week.  I have had two pieces of written work to submit (one of which contributes towards my grade directly and the other indirectly) and a group presentation to prepare for.

Now, those of you who have been following my tweets will be aware of what’s happened regarding the presentation, but for those of you who have not here is the low down on the disaster.

Last week I received communication from my group presentation partners that they were beginning to get worried as we had not yet met regarding the presentation.  I wasn’t overly worried as it’s not the most complex pieces of work in the world:  three people to prepare and deliver as 5-7 minute presentation on a given case.  We arranged to meet on Wednesday this week, and that’s where the nightmare started.

We had arranged to meet at 11:30 on the Tuesday morning.  As I was making my way into University I received a text saying they’d over-slept and it would now be 12:30 before they got in.  Fair enough, we all run late from time to time so I altered my plans and arrived at the University at 12:30 – they eventually turned up at 1pm.  We located a room to do some work in and it was then they announced they hadn’t even read the case (in fact they hadn’t even pulled it from Westlaw).  So I gave them a quick rundown of the case and we agreed who would do what.  They left saying they would read the case that evening and we would meet up the next day after the lecture we have in common.

We’re now on Wednesday and I fail to see them in the lecture.  I take my seat in the middle and the lecture begins.  The two hours pass and as I’m packing up I still don’t see them there.  As I leave the lecture theatre my phone goes off with a text saying they wouldn’t be coming in at all that day.  Great!  So, some texts go back and forward and we agree to meet at 1pm on Thursday afternoon for a couple of hours before my class at 3.

Along comes Thursday and at about 12:15 I get a text saying they now wouldn’t be in until 2:30.  I send them a text back reminding them that I have a class at 3, so 2:30 isn’t really a suitable time.  More texts go back and forth and we agree to meet at 9am on Friday (3 hours BEFORE the presentation) – by this point I am somewhat glad that I spent Wednesday evening preparing material as a last resort for the entire group so that we would at least have something to present!  I make it clear in my texts that I’m not impressed and that they had better not be late in the morning as to get to the University for 9 it means getting up at 6 and leaving just before 7.

I type this on Thursday afternoon so, whether they turn up or not (on time) is still to be discovered.

My essay has also been a bit of a nightmare.  I finished it in plenty of time and had edited it and such like.  I left the house in time to get onto campus with a hard copy of my essay.  I get to the train station and onto the train and bring out some work I still had to complete for the same module.  It is then as I’m flicking through the booklet and suddenly I remember:  my new University requires both electronic and hard copies to be submitted by the deadline (my last University required you to make available, upon request, an electronic copy of the essay – usually only requested if they suspected you of some kind of academic misconduct).  I then remember that my electronic copy is on a USB stick at home.  Panic sets in – I simply don’t have time to get off the train at the next stop to get home to collect it and get back to the University by the deadline of 12 noon.

My (computer illiterate) mother is at home and I decide the only option I have is to phone my mum and see if she’d be willing to attach the file to an E-mail and send it to me.  When I phone her she freaks out as she has no idea what I’m on about.  So I spend the next 30 minutes taking her step-by-step through the process of retrieving the file from my USB stick and attaching it to a blank E-mail…thankfully it works!

The next problem is that the building in which the bulk of the Law School is situated has no student IT access, for that (and most classes) we need to head to one of the main buildings on campus – they are a good 10 minutes away from each other).  So, I arrived on campus 35 minutes prior to the deadline and begin the inevitable hunt for a computer that’s not being used!  I was lucky; as I entered the library FIVE became available all at once.  This saved me a huge amount of time (and never normally happens).  In the end I managed to submit both the electronic and hard copies with 15 minutes to spare.  Not the closest to the deadline I’ve ever submitted an essay (once submitted one with literally a matter of seconds to spare!)

It’s the “Mid semester break” next week, which means no classes (and for most students, except Law and Nursing students, a full week of relaxation).  However, I have two essays due in during the first half of the following week and an abundance of reading left to do, so I’ll be kept pretty busy.

Despite all the stress, drama and long days I’m still enjoying every minute of my Law degree and being back at University!


So, if one were to begin recording videos for YouTube what hardware and software would come recommended?

I ask this question for 2 reasons:

1)      I am considering putting my YouTube channel to use

2)      The only devise I had for recording videos was destroyed by my dog who decided to chew through the USB cable!

Bear in mind when suggesting hardware and software that I’m a student and ideally the hardware would be cheap and the software free!

Recommendations in the comment section below most welcome!


Well it has been a couple of weeks since I last blogged and I’m now at the end of the fourth week of the semester.

If you follow me on Twitter you will be aware that I’m being kept rather busy with University work just now.  I’m more or less up-to-date with the reading that is designated as “essential” and I’ve also managed to do some of the reading marked as “recommended”.   I continue to spend the majority of my time locked away in the library and I am easily doing (including timetabled classes) 38 or 39 hours work per week for my degree.  This, of course, should mean great results in the forthcoming essays and the end of semester exams in December.  However, I never have bene that great at exams, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

I’m enjoying most of my modules this semester.  There is one in particular that I am not enjoying and that is down to a combination of having no interest in the subject area at all coupled with a lecturer who is constantly making mistakes in the lectures (whcih doesn’t give one much confidence).

I’m finding Delict probably the most enjoyable of my modules this semester.  Depsite this it is an area I doubt I’ll ever enter into in practice.  My reasons for entering into the Law were really to stand up for the small man against the giant state (which is why I am drawn towards Human Rights, Criminal defence, Immigration).  Although in saying that, I do have a keen interest in Family Law.  This interest in Family Law stems from the voluntary work I did for a national chldren’s charity where.  My interest really lies in the child in such situations and ensuring that proceedings cause the least disruption possible to the life and development of he child.  Parent’s don’t always get on and sometimes they decide to divorse, but in these situations (my experience has taught me) the child freqeuently gets “forgotten” about by the warring parties (or even becomes a tool used by the parties to cause pain and distress to the other).  Sometimes, I suspect, adults don’t really realise just how much these situations affect the child, and certainly, I’ve spoken to young children (as young as 7) who have a good understanding of just what is going on and are being affected in ways that the adults may not even realise!

Anyway, I digress.

I’ve not been busy enough to forget about blogging.  In fact, I’ve spent some time over the last few weeks working on some well considered blog posts on particular areas of Law.  They are all still in draft form and still quite a bit away from being finished pieces of work that I would want to publish on my blog.  However, these will come over the weeks and months to follow.

I continue to watch the news with interest.  There continues to be a lot of interesting things happening in the world of Scots Law at the moment.  The Decision of their Lordships in Cadder v HMA is due in the coming days and the trial of Tommy and Gail Sheridan for perjury is underway.  Of course, the decision to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohamed Al Megrahi continues to be a story dominating news at the moment as do the issues surroudning his trial and conviction.  The recent decision by the Lord Advocate to resign at the next election of the Scottish Parliament is also of interest, not least because this will mean the appointment of a new Lord Advocate, but there is also the consideration of Judicial Review over the Information Commissioners refusal to look at who paid for the threats of legal action issued on behalf of the Lord Advocate relating to the Hollie Greig case.

The Lord Advocate’s announcement of her inetntion to step down at the next election has also led to an examination of her time in the post.  Elish Angiolini QC was the first woman and the first solicitor to be appointed to the post.  I’m sure plenty of people will be willing to support her time in post or to condemn it.  I don’t really have much of an opinion on the matter, other than that I harbour no bad feelings towards her.

There is also the legislation being brough forward by the Scottish Government to modernise the rules on double jeopardy in Scotland.  This will, of coure, have a profound effect on the criminal justice system in Scotland and we must make sure that the legislation is framed in such a way that it is not open to abuse.

All of these are things I have blogged about in the past and will continue to blog about as they continue to develop and unfold over the coming months.

I’m also on the look out for new and exciting opportunities to fill the time I’m not spending on University work, socialising or sleeping.  So, if you know of any then let me know!

Anyway, I think it’s about time I stopped procrastinating and got back to some hard work looking at the wonders of mental harm in the context of delictual liability!

Week 2

Well the second week of the new semester is almost over.  My timetable looks very light, but it should not be underestimated.  I have spent a large number of these supposed “free” hours in the library pouring over case law and statutory provisions in order to really get a sense of what is being said in lectures.  Not only that, but the first of my weekly seminars takes place this week, resulting in even more reading to allow me to fully and effectively prepare for that.  What little time I had left was mostly spent on eating and sleeping.  I have found the odd spare hour here and there to hang out and as they say “chill”, but these have been few and far between and normally I’ve found myself being far too tired to really do anything!

It’s been four years since I last had a normal semester that has been unaffected by personal troubles and this resulted in me forgetting how much work is involved in the studying of Law (either that or I’m simply more studious than I’ve been previously).  I remember there being endless reading and analysing statutes and cases, but not this much.  It really has taken me by surprise.  Contract and Delict have been slow to get started as they’re first year modules, but the pace is beginning to pick up.  In Commercial we hit the ground running with several hours of reading after the first lecture.

Following the death earlier this year of the Law School’s normal Delict tutor, they were left without a lecturer for their Delict module.  The solution to this has left a novel teaching approach, which to date I have found quite useful.  Instead of lectures taking place in the traditional lecture theatre setting, they are being delivered by a lecturer from an entirely different University elsewhere in Scotland by way of downloadable podcast.

I can see many advantages (and some disadvantages) to such a method, but will be reserving my final judgement until the end of the semester once the course is complete and the exam results are out.  One of the more immediate benefits I have found is that my lecture notes are far more detailed.  Being able to pause, rewind and skip through parts of the lecture has meant that I have not found myself mid flow in taking notes down about something only to forget what I’m writing as I try to, at the same time, focus on what the lecturer continues to say.  Instead, I have been able to pause and rewind the lecture to ensure that my notes are full and accurate.  How much benefit this will have come exam time is yet to be seen.  Will it improve my grades?  Will it assist my study?  Will I simply end up with too many notes and waste time cutting them down to allow me to study?  Only time will tell the answers to these questions.

It hasn’t all gone smoothly with these podcast lectures.  We were advised at our one and only traditional style lecture for Delict that the podcasts were available on the University’s online learning environment.  However, not one person could find them:  they had gone missing.  They were eventually found and were available by the following day, which meant there was not too much of an issue.  There are the odd downsides to the use of technology.

With the Delict lectures being by podcast it has created a real need to be organised.  All the lectures for the entire module are complete and can be listened to at our leisure.  It has resulted in placing the emphasis on students to ensure their own leisure is at a pace that ensures they are keeping up and are ready for the written assignment, seminars and ultimately the exam.  With there being no physical timetabled lectures ensuring that you keep the correct pace for the module it will be particularly easy to fall behind.  However, I only really see this being a problem for those who are disorganised (in which case it probably won’t only be the Delict lectures that they fall behind with) and those that wouldn’t normally turn up to lectures anyway.

In saying all of the above I do not want to come across as if I am bored or simply whinging!  I’m really enjoying being back at it.  In fact, I’m enjoying it so much that I nearly missed my stop on the train due to being so engrossed in the ruling of Sheriff Principal Risk QC in the case of Alexandra v Murphy.

I’ve decided that I’m going to really focus over the next three years.  I’ve done the whole “student experience” and now it’s time to settle down and focus on why I’m here:  to get a degree in Law and begin the path towards a legal career.  Don’t get me wrong, I will take time away from the books to enjoy myself – I need it after a few pretty rough years.  It has really hit home though that had I not had the run of bad luck with my health that I would have probably been starting my Diploma this time next year!  However, I just have to remind myself that it was out of my control and that there is not one thing that I could have done about that!

I am looking forward to many more weeks of fun, tears and stress!

It’s good to be back

Well after what has effectively been a two year break from full-time education I have returned to University this week.  My first classes were timetabled for today and it meant an early start (which I’m not used to).  I was up and out of the house by 7:30 (my normal time for getting up when I was working for the energy supply company was 9:15!).  It’s going to take a bit of time I think to get back into a “normal” day rather than the life of a permanent backshift worker!

From my experience today I think I will be leaving earlier as I only just made it to the lecture on time this morning.  The train was 5 minutes late then I forgot to factor in the fact that the bus route to Campus passes a rather large secondary school, so in the run-up to 9am the road is very congested with the “school run” folk dropping people off at school.

It is possible to walk to the University from the train station, but it takes about 40 minutes and when you arrive in Stirling 30 minutes before your lecture you simply don’t have time to walk it.  Leaving for the earlier train (07:35 rather than 08:05) will mean I won’t have the traffic problems and risk missing the last bus that will get me onto campus on time in the event that the train is a bit later than it was today.  It will also mean that I can save myself some money and walk it to Campus (with the added bonus of some free exercise).

The two lectures I had today were okay, the usual “housekeeping” stuff relating to the module and then some time spent on formation of a contract and inthe second lecture the law of agency was the topic of discussion (both topics I know inside out – it’s the latter stuff in Contract law that gets me frustrated – ironically including frustration of a contract).

There was some confusion which provided a bit of entertainment during my second lecture today.  A group of about 7 or 8 first years clearly had not read everything properly and turned up for a second year module.  The Law School had helpfully sent out an information leaflet to all undergraduate law students with the details of each module running this semester (basic information such as who the module co-ordinator is, the date of the first lecture and seminar and such like).  This group of first year students clearly hadn’t read the leaflet properly and thought they had to attend all the lectures on the list (how they thought they were going to successfully study and pass 12 modules in one semester I doubt I’ll ever know).

I had forgotten the amount of work involved!  I remember there being a lot of reading and research required, but not this much.  Nonetheless I absolutely love being back and can’t wait to get stuck in to all this reading I have to do!


So, today was a very eventful day.

I was walking back along to Church after a fun afternoon with my mates when we saw someone lying in the road.  It looked as though he had been knocked down.  People were running about, but didn’t seem to have a clue what they were doing.  Nobody had called an ambulance and everyone seemed to be ignoring the guy on the ground with blood pouring out of his head.  Having had some basic first aid training (albeit some years ago now) and no sign of anyone else doing anything I decided to see if the guy was ok.

I had a look and it was pretty clear that he wasn’t.  Blood was coming out of his head and he appeared to be drifting in and out of consciousness.   He reeked of alcohol and had wounds to both the front and back of his head.  My mate called an ambulance while I tried to keep him talking and (in consultation with ambulance control) applied pressure to the wound with a towel that someone from a pub had brought out.  My hands got covered in blood, not nice, but I didn’t worry too much about it as all I wanted to do was keep this guy alert and try and stem the bleeding while the ambulance arrived.  The guy wasn’t breathing all that well and earlier when I’d tried to find a pulse in his wrist I didn’t.

Anyway, the ambulance arrived and this is where the nightmare began.  The guy admitted to them that he had injected heroin and responded to the naloxone that they had given him.  Then I began to feel sick as my hands had quite a few, relatively fresh and still open cuts on them.  So, yeah, that’s fun.  I decided against going to A+E and instead later phoned NHS 24 who advised going and having a chat with my GP about it tomorrow.

That’s not where the drama stops though.  I later discover, while waiting for the train home, a drunken guy being sick in the toilet and sounding as if he is chocking, so that resulted in a very quick dash back out of the toilet asking someone to grab the station staff.  Yet another ambulance is called, but I refrain from touching this guy after my encounter earlier in the day.

I feel very sick!  I know there is almost no chance that I’ve caught anything from him (assuming he is HIV+ to begin with) and that the general risk is very small.  However, that does not stop me from feeling totally and utterly sick!

Who am I?

Well, after a lot of careful thought and ultimately a few mistakes that identified who I actually am, I have decided to take the plunge from anonymous blogging to blogging under my real identity.

This post is intended to give a background as to why I blogged anonymously and hopefully answer any other questions you have.

Firstly let me introduce myself. My name is Alistair Sloan. I’m 21 years old and I am returning to University in September 2010 to complete my undergraduate legal education.

Everything you have ever read on this blog is true and has happened in my life. Nothing has been exagerated or was false. I’ve removed some posts purly because they are no longer appropriate now that my real identity is known.

I began blogging in January 2008 as a cheap form of therapy to try and help me regain interest in the things I loved prior to suffering from clinical depression. Due to the nature of what I potentially was going to be blogging about and the fact that my poor health was a secret (even from my parents’) I decided to blog anonymously so as to prevent people from stumbling accross me by accident – I really didn’t want people knowing.

As time went on I built up a following and still due to what was going on in my life Oliver Smith was born. Why Oliver Smith? In truth I have no idea!

There will of course now be changes, but I have still to decide how to impliment these. I am keen to continue blogging as I enjoy it and I have met some very interesting people through the blog and Twitter.

Anyway, that’s all for now folks!

New Academic Year

I now know what my entire degree programme is going to consist of when I return to University in September.  Next year I have the fun of Contract Law (my arch nemesis), Delict (Tort for you English lot) and Commercial Law I in the first Semester.  The second semester brings with it the joys of Family Law, Criminal Law and Trusts and Successions.

I’ve discovered I’ll also be studying an entire module on Competition Law (oh how I’m looking forward to that; not) and I have the option to study a module on Forensic Psychology (that could be very interesting indeed).

I am quite looking forward to getting back into full time study in September.  However, I am also anxious as I’ll have been out of full time study for two years (and haven’t really done any study at all for one year) by the time I return.

Exciting News

I’ve been rather quiet of late, but I have been really busy with work.  However, I have been busy hatching a plan with regards to my degree.

A friend of mine suggested applying to a University closer to home to see if they would accept me directly into second year in order to finish my degree closer to home given all the health problems I’ve suffered over the last few years.  This friend happened to work in the Undergraduate Admissions department of a University which would fit those criteria nicely.  So, he went about finding out how possible that would be and gave me the names and numbers of the people in the know to contact.

I contacted these people in the know who said it would be possible and the fact that the UCAS deadline had already passed wouldn’t be too much of an issue as my application was for second year entry.  So, I sought references for the University, got a reference from work and got a UCAS application in within a few days of having that conversation.

Today, I received a phone call from this University who advised me that they want to make me an offer, but can’t until their “Deviant Timetable Committee” has met to agree to my proposed timetable.  Although I’ll be second year, due to differences in teaching schedules between this University and Anytown University my first year at the new University (i.e. Second Year) will be made up of modules from First and Second Year.

Having spoken to my friend, who no longer works for the Undergraduate Admissions Office (temp job) I have been informed that 99% of the time this is just a pointless exercise (and because they’ve actually phoned to tell me this) and that I should receive a formal offer in the post and through UCAS shortly after the “Deviant Timetable Committee” has met (who are due to meet on 22 March 2010).

There are many advantages to this.  Firstly, I’ll be living at home meaning my debt will be far smaller than had I continued to study away from home.  Secondly, I’ll avoid having to do a part-time year via Distance Learning and finally I’ll graduate 2 years ahead of when I would have had I continued studying at Anytown University.  I suppose one could add to that having family close by means that if things do start to suffer health wise I have a much better support network available.

I know that SAAS do fund the same year twice if it is a full year and is on medical grounds.  I’m hoping that because my application to study at another University was based on medical grounds will mean that they’ll fund the full three years that I’m studying there.  If not, I am in a position to get the money to pay fees for the 2010/2011 academic year.

So, yes, all very exciting (for me at least)


Just a quick one to apologise for my lack of activity on the blog and in twitter.  Lots happening here, including some things (again) to do with Uni (more on that to follow in the next few months).  My life has suddenly become so busy (weekdays are full of work and weekends packed with various activities).

I’m hoping that my life will gett a little quieter over the next few weeks and I’ll be able to blog a bit more.  There has been so much that I’ve wante dto blog about, but just simply have not had the time!