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A Potted Historyphoto


Once upon a time living in Stanley, Scotland

I was born in hospital (St. Johns Nursing Home) Perth, the location was not out of choice but because I was 6 weeks premature and weighed in at 4.5 pounds, 40 years later this was to return to haunt me in a way as both my children were in a similar hurry to get into the world. By the way, some say it was the only time I have been really early.

At the time we, Mum Dad and I lived in a two room and a toilet place at Murthly and did so until I was 3½. My only memories of that time are the seemingly enormous red wooden seat on the toilet and my Dad shooting at rats running across the nearby farmyard, oh yes and a black & white collie dog.

We moved then to Stanley and I remember being delighted that we were in such a huge house, well it seemed that way to a small boy. The brain doesn't retain much after that until I started at Stanley school. This was not a good experience at the time, I clearly remember clinging to the police house fence as my mother dragged me to school and that was just the first week! My brother John was born when I was 5 in our front room, I had to wait outside somewhat puzzled as to what was going on. John moved with us to England, later married and is now in New Zealand.

School - year 1. Miss. MacIntosh who I have never forgotten was one to be feared although I guess she was probably a fine teacher but I am not sure that the memory of being hit on the knuckles with her wooden ruler will ever fade. Can anyone else remember the dot patterns on the wall we used to learn our numbers? The school pens were the type with a steel knib that were used with an inkwell and yes you could get an interesting effect by standing a Daisy in the inkwell and leaving it there for a while.

Teachers who's names remain with me are Miss. (or Mrs.?) McIntosh, Mr. (Ruddy) Monroe, Mr. Beaton (Head Master), Mr. Donald (Duck) and his school garden, now who was it pinched the only apple from the school apple tree, Wee Sarah or Sarah Bash the science teacher. Oh dear some boys went spear-fishing with the school pens in her fish-tank and if I'm correct some of the fish didn't survive. Must'nt forget Mr Jeffries the janitor who used to get ashes and sprinkle them on the slides made in a frosty icy playground in winter.

Good bits from the school years are I guess every boys favourites, like roaming down the back of the mill, hunting frogs (anyone remember the drinking straws?) and sticklebacks at the pond (was it the curly?) and later on cycling, motorbikes and all the things we didn't think our parents knew about or had ever done. Going to Birnham for the dancing and hitching to Perth to go to the City Hall. Hands up how many could ever imagine parents having fun, getting drunk, or even s-e-x!.

After school I worked in Perth in Humes the Ironmongers and Watsons China Merchants before going off to investigate RAF Boy Entrant. Not a good idea I was really far too young and on arrival in a foreign land (Wales) realised I had to go home. Back home and it was down the mill into the machine shop when my parents announced - we are going to live in England! The management at the mill said that if my parents were going then I would too and so my job was finished, they could do that then.

I was 17 and so went off to see the world, or at least a small muddy wet town called King's Lynn. It's not really a bad place and I have enjoyed myself here, I have married an Essex lass and we have two fine children, my son sometimes looks far too much like I did once.

Now with the advent of satellite broadcasting and the internet I can listen to "Take The Floor" on a Saturday and watch Grampian and Scottish TV whenever I want, magic isn't it. My CD collection boasts about 14 Runrig albums and I never tire of watching the Stirling Castle Runrig DVD, I wish I could've been there to see them.

Round-the-world cyclist Heinz Stcke

Did he ever imagine when he set out, 44 years ago, that he would be on the road all this time? "Nobody knows that far ahead. Ten years into the journey, it was 'I don't want to go back to the factory'. But then it just becomes such a part of you.That dream is for everybody all the time, but unfortunately it can't be easily realised. You really have to cut all your relations, family, and be free. You have some saved-up money for a year or two, and then you have to find new money. Eventually, people wind up again where they started from. Or they get a good job somewhere else. And then the woman comes, you know. And then they buy a house and then, maybe, children come. "And then only the dream stays."

A few random thoughts and memories.

  • Going on the youth club trip to the city hall in Perth to see the Searchers the night Kennedy was shot.
  • When the 'light show' at the record hop was when the lights were switched on full.
  • Singing "Jock Baileys got a big fat belly" Jock Bailey (hope that's right) was a bus driver
  • Shouting "Cant can't write right" when we thought the policeman Mr. Cant wasn't looking.
  • How the biggest apples were on the tree at the rear of the police house.
  • Calling the teacher Mr. Donald, 'DUCK' when he was just out of earshot.
  • Wulle Baxters farm on the Perth road and the cottage nearby where a family lived for a while. I remember the kids didn't wash too often. Hope they came on better times.
  • Sharpening pencils by the coal stove in the classroom, all boys could carry a penknive then without getting arrested. Boy Scouts even had sheath knives!
  • Listening to Radio Luxembourg 208 fade in and out on the tranny
  • The girls at the dances in Birnham all back-combing like there lives depended on it.
You can take the boy out of Stanley...

Slow turns the tide
Where dark runs the sea
And our memories fade
Like the shadows on the shore
But my heart feels the surge
Of the deep running river
That carries me back
To the fields of the young.
(Donnie Munro 'Fields of the Young')

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