Your memories: ‘The kids that did get nits got teased terribly’

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WHILE children might often think they have a tough life today, the memories of John Gardener and the ritual of school hair inspections might give them some perspective.

Mr Gardener, 73, grew up in Niddrie, and one of his most vivid memories was the monthly routine of inspecting hair for lice and nits.

“I can remember the foul smell of the soap my mother used to use on may hair, horrible stuff it was but I suppose it was necessary.

“They used to run a steel comb through the hair as well and it was generally quite rough.

“And, of course, every month there was a visit to the school from the nurse whose job was to keep the lice population at bay. She would take ages examining the hair, never saying a word, and she was a very stony-faced woman.

“The worst thing was if you got an envelope to take home, as that meant you had some beasties in your hair. I was lucky never to get them, but the kids that did got teased terribly about it.”

It wasn’t all bad, of course, as his area in Niddrie would be visited regularly by a “bread and cake man”.

“That was great, a really good memory – he used to have this van with double doors at the back and all the kids would gather round when he opened them because inside it was just a delight. There was a huge array of fresh warm bread, properly baked and black on top, and trays of cakes and buns which is, of course, what all the kids were after.

“My favourite were walnut buns, round, with thick icing on the top. They were fabulous, and you can’t really get anything to match them now, sadly.”