Outlander Jamie Fraser actor Sam Heughan recalls what moving to Edinburgh as teenager was like
It was a big change, but also hugely exciting says the world-famous Scottish actor
In his new memoir Waypoints, which currently tops the New York Times bestseller list, he talks about what it was like to be uprooted from a quiet community to a bustling city.
In a chapter titled ‘The Wake-Up Call’, Heughan reveals that his family moved to Edinburgh so his mother could enrol at Edinburgh College of Art.
He writes: “After years of living in a quiet community, my mother, my brother and I packed our belongings for what felt like a whole new world.
“Swapping the stable and the castle ruins for a suburban street in Edinburgh, we set about settling in for this new chapter in our lives.
“It was a big change, but also hugely exciting for two young lads like Cirdan and me. I had just finished at my little primary school, so I started high school at the same time as all my new classmates.
“It was a little overwhelming to begin with, but since I could now see without the dreaded glasses, I soon started to make friends and feel comfortable in a crowd.”
The 12-year-old Heughan attended James Gillespie's High School, which he recalls as having “very strong on rules and discipline”.
He also remembers a run-in with the school’s head teacher, after an incident involving a carton of milk.
Heughan writes: “On one occasion, I came very close to getting into trouble from the top.
“At the time, I had just been made a school prefect... The incident began with a milk carton. I had been tasked with helping to dish them out at break time to pupils who were part of a milk-in-schools scheme.
“On finding one left over, I decided to join the scheme for one break only... A moment later, like a gunslinger in some two-bit town, the headmistress stepped out.
“My eyes went wide with horror... I seized an escape route in the form of the door to the toilet block... I took one look at the open window and lobbed it out.”
Musing that it was the perhaps first time he ever got into character, Heughan goes on to describe raiding a bin once his headmistress questioned him about the missing milk carton – and how he bluffed her after luckily finding one at the bottom.
He writes: “The headmistress considered the carton in my hand... Once again she seemed to be searching my expression for cracks. The face-off only lasted for a couple of seconds, but it felt like a lifetime.
“It was perhaps the first occasion that I'd got into character, and it wouldn't be the last. Ultimately it showed me what was possible if I delivered it with conviction.”
It’s not the first time the acclaimed actor has spoken fondly about his time living in Edinburgh.
In an interview last year with Square Mile, a men’s luxury lifestyle magazine for London, the Balmaclellan-born star was asked if he could think of a moment or experience that influenced who he is as a person today.
He replied: “I guess when I moved to Edinburgh.
“I was living in the countryside as a young child, there were four people in my class at school. And then I moved to Edinburgh, which to me felt like a metropolis. I started going to the theatre.
“Just being in the city was really inspiring. It opened up the world to me, as a teenager. There’s a whole world out there that I want to explore.”