Matt Gemmell

TOLL is available now!

An action-thriller novel — book 2 in the KESTREL series.

★★★★★ — Amazon


personal & university 5 min read

The lab is silent this afternoon (I had to turn the lights on when I got back here at around 2 pm). Derek has the afternoon off, and so I’m here myself. I just went downstairs to the vending machines to get some coffee, and upon getting back up here the sheer emptiness of the place struck me.

As is unwise at such times, and thus irresistibly tempting, I browsed through some old photos on my PowerBook, taken during the course of the past two years here at the university. The end of third year, one year ago, seems very recent to me at the moment. Take a moment to remember the various characters who went their separate ways 12 months ago:

  • Koi "The Danger" Chan
  • Doug "Boom!" McMillan
  • Emma "Websteel" Webster

And many more. Now here we are once again at the end of June, and this time the rest of us are parting, all at once. Difficult to believe that this lab won’t be ours anymore in just a few short months. The banter between Derek and I certainly hasn’t been lacking over the past few days, but nonetheless whenever I take a moment to look around the lab, all the empty seats (neatly pushed in underneath the desks) and all the unused machines (screens dark, rather than showing the screen-savers which identified their current users as surely as a fingerprint all during the past year) are vaguely oppressive. An air of melancholy hangs around the place.

There are certain movies which are loosely based on real-life events, and typically before rolling the closing credits, we’re informed of what happened to the primary characters afterwards. In that vein, here’s a quick roundup of where a few of us are at the moment.

Jill Hamilton (or Jilly-pops to her many, many friends) is currently in Australia. Upon returning from down under she’ll be going to New York for a few months with Morgan Stanley before moving to London to work permanently.

Matthew Lewis Davies (the inimitable Spoonie we all so dearly love) is currently on holiday in Athens. He informs us that he has a “massive wang”. Spoonie plans to embark on an unofficial tour of duty in Vietnam beginning in mid-August.

Julie Chalmers (wee julie, jx, or simply Chalmers) is working in the Hunterian Museum here at the university. We join her for lunch most days of the week. She has a pretty umbrella with butterflies on it, and is usually referred to by the few who don’t know her as “the one with the legs”.

Derek Murray (Deke, Del G, and once upon a time even Mary) is working here in the lab on a summer studentship for Peter Dickman. After his 10-week placement finishes, he’s off to Edinburgh for a Masters year. He’ll be living with none other than our very own Neil Inglis.

Neil Inglis (never really Eltrain, but very often Pringlis) is sleeping away most of his days. Eventually, he’ll move to Edinburgh with Derek to start work somewhere or other. Neil will continue to be mentioned on this blog with alarming frequency.

Mark McInnes (The Boy) has cut down his Irn Bru intake drastically, ending an entire sub-genre of jokes. Mark will be starting work for JP Morgan on July 18 th, and continues in his quest for a day which he’d rate a perfect 10.

Gary Fleming (usually just Gary, and certainly never Chad) continues to explore how to best disturb young children everywhere with combinations of alarming hairstyles and demonic facial hair. He’ll be working at JP Morgan before long.

Julie Appleby (Jules) is getting married to Craig on July 14th. Huge congrats to the happy couple. For sordid details of her Hen Night, contact wee julie, or drop by for lunch with us one weekday here in the department.

Colleen McDermid (C, and previously Rugby Top Girl) will be starting at JP Morgan pretty soon too. Currently she can be found doing the occasional stint in her local newsagent’s, and getting sunburned in the Botanic Gardens. For a time, Colleen was called Wendy.

Chris Miller (Big Chris, and The Man) starts work here in the department on Friday, cataloguing images using smells (no kidding). Commuting insanely from Dumfries every day, he’s currently tempted by a new iPod. Expect more summer banter in the coming weeks involving the man himself.

Stuart Macdonald (Stuwee, or perhaps Disco Stu) was all set for a promising career with the big financials, until an unfortunate charge of indecent exposure. His presence at Ladies’ Nights in city centre pubs is available for a competitive hourly rate, and do remember to provide a dressing room booked for at least two hours before the event, with a linux laptop and broadband net connection.

John Ewing (E-wing) can’t actually begin his career until he finishes teaching Femi why PHP is the greatest scripting language ever created. That conversation is scheduled to finish sometime in Q4 2009.

Stephen Hailey (um.. just Stephen or Hailey, really) is poised to become Young Software Engineer of the Year. After a successful beginning to his career over the next few years, he will be arrested and incarcerated for alcohol-related offences. He will appeal with nostril-quivering quantities of righteous indignation, and will be released back into society to start afresh as the “Miss Manners” columnist for the Evening Times.

There are many more people to list, but the “working” day is drawing to a close, so let me just say a few words in closing. I’ve had a really, really great few years here, and that’s been entirely due to the people around me (I hesitate to invite age-related jokes by using the word “peers”). You guys have filled the last couple of years with constant banter and loads of good times. I really hope that at least a fair few of us will keep in touch (sign up to Stuwee’s post-DCS mailing list if you haven’t done so already).

I have to add a special note regarding the (extended) Bearded Monkeys: Derek, Gary, Neil, Mark, Chris, Jill and Colleen. You guys are unquestionably the best group of friends I’ve yet had the pleasure of knowing, and all the best memories I have from the past couple of years involve you lot. Thank you; it’s been truly ace. Who’d have thought that such a legendary gathering could have began (for me at least) with such an uncharacteristically polite email from Gary, of all people?

Hello there,

Out of curiosity, are you doing SE or single honours computing in 3rd year? If the latter, would you be interested in forming a team for the projects with myself and Derek Murray ( We're looking for someone who is a competent coder and good with UI, you seem to fit the bill nicely.

If you'd rather not, that's cool. Thanks for your time,


“Thanks for your time”, indeed. The only possible response to that at this late stage is practically written in the stars: Yeah, that’s what your mother said.

Everyone thinks that their year is especially cohesive and banterrific, but this truly was a special gathering of people. All the very best to everyone in their future endeavours, and my network of agents all around the world will follow your careers with great interest. Hopefully, at some point down the line, we can all be reunited to fight crime and save the world one more time. Wherever you might find yourselves, always remember: only print ASCII or postscript.

I love you guys, and I will miss you all a hell of a lot.

I guess that’ll do for now. It’s nearly 5 pm, the weather is cloudy at best, the lab is empty, and I’ve got some dinner to make. So it’s once again farewell for now, and do of course continue to keep it Sheercore, DCS-style. I know I’ll be doing my very best to.

Oh, and one other little thing, in closing. Just incase there’s anyone at all who didn’t know, then let me just say this very clearly, just this one time: Derek was Bob.