AS Boroughmuir High prepares to move to a new building, old girl Christine Grahame MSP returns to the classroom after 50 years.
Learning that my old alma mater Boroughmuir was shortly to close and be transformed into posh flats I made up my mind to chance a visit after a 50 years plus absence and my goodness the smell of the place was just the same though like many places revisited it seems so much smaller.
The headmaster David Dempster did me proud showing me round. First port of call as the heidie’s office and apart from his desk, nothing much had changed.
Where today head teachers mingle, RLS Carswell (1946-67) only spoke to me twice: once when I was late due to a bus not turning up.
I commuted from Clermiston, so two buses involved, and in my fifth year when I decided to quit school straight after my Highers, aged 16, to make some money, frankly for fashionable clothes. Other than that my school life went unnoticed.
Of course memories flooded back, as they would for you, mostly good because I was a bit of a swot in those days, aided by living in fear of teachers such as Miss McGuffey who made us sit up with backs straight as a rod, windows open wide to let the wind blow through proclaiming that we didn’t know how lucky we were not to have been a Japanese POW as she had been.
This should have mattered to me, but with the selfishness and ignorance of youth all I could think about was going unnoticed as she went one by one through our ranks checking we could recite that week’s nominated Shakespeare soliloquy, some of which I can recall to this day.
Then there was ‘Tar’ Mac Adam pacing up and down teaching us to make a fold in our jotters with two columns headed ‘good thing’ and ‘bad thing’ as a means to assess and analyse an historical event prior to writing an essay. I have since quoted him in Parly speeches!
Best of all was Mr Anderson, maths teacher and enthusiast who made us all into excited mathematicians albeit briefly.
The gym teacher and cookery teacher were my enemies, we mutually resented each other. Yet I came top in cookery by placing myself next to Sheena Jordan – how the names come back – who knew what she was doing.
As we placed our fish pies, the test meal, before us, predating MasterChef, I confessed to her that I had in fact cheated.
Unfazed she simply pointed out that the key was the filleting of the fish. Crumbs, where had I been looking when she did that?
It was a toss-up whether to confess about the bones before the fork was plunged into my pie and into the teacher’s mouth, but on balance I didn’t really care and to the surprise of myself and the disbelief of the cookery teacher, my pie, or should I say the Sheena Jordan recipe, came out tastiest.
That just goes to show those bones made all the difference to flavour.
After that I managed to dodge out of gym and cookery by a bit of creative jiggery-pokery on time-tabling allocating fictional slots to additional physics and chemistry.
A couple of us would sit in the old science rooms squirting water idly at each other to pass the time until the next real lesson.
You see there are advantages when no-one in the school actually knows who you are and what you are up to.