ten things I learned at secondary school.

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson, of Glasgow – February 2021)

During my six years at Bearsden Academy (1970 -1976) I learned the following:

· that gym shoes can be any colour (red, green, blue, pink, whatever ) so long as they’re black:
this declaration was the very first utterance of our 1st Year PE teacher. Nicknamed Boot, he gave the impression of an ex-army drill sergeant and was a real stickler for ‘standards.’ Physical Education classes were considered character building, and not for poseurs prancing round in fancy footwear.

To be honest, I’m pretty sure D.M. Hoey, the go-to shop at the time for school uniforms, didn’t stock anything other than regulation wear. Old Mr Graham however must have been panicked by the sight of Everton’s Alan Ball turning out in the Charity Shield match a few weeks earlier, sporting a pair of dandy looking white boots.

Not shy of liberally dishing out two strokes of the belt for any minor discretions, the poor old bloke would suffer permanent tennis elbow were he still in teaching today.

· that I could write 100 lines on paper only marginally larger than a stamp:
it was intended to be funny at the time, but I now realise I was being a little smart-ass. Given a ‘punny’ (punishment exercise) by my favourite teacher, Miss Hunter (English) I was to write the line, ‘I must not write so small,’ or something like that, one hundred times for nine o’clock the following morning.

So that evening, I sharpened my pencil to the finest of points and painstakingly wrote the lines on a tiny piece of paper. What a jolly good wheeze I thought.

Of course, it took about four times longer than writing them normally would have – a fact that Miss Hunter was only too quick to remind me as she immediately scrunched the little bit of paper and dropped it into the bin without anything more than a weary sigh and a cursory glance.

· that I couldn’t write 500 lines in a third of the time by securely binding three biros together with elastic bands:
actually, I was a bit of a failure when it came to cunning plans. In principle, it should have worked (see video.) But as anyone who attempted to build a Tracy Island from the instructions presented on Blue Peter will attest, things ain’t always as simple as they look. So like the previous point, this exercise in smart ass-ity failed miserably.

What’s the deal with that music….??!!

· that pink custard is the spew of the Devil:
who on earth decided this was a good idea? Initially I though it must have been devised by some sicko from the Science department. But then surely the head of the Biology department would have stepped in to remind them that in Nature, generally anything bright coloured is poisonous, and its colouration is a warning to those with designs on eating it?

· that you should plough your own furrow. Stay true to yourself even through the incessant micky- taking. Someday, people will respect you for being a declared Sweet fan:
oh, the stick I used to get! But now Sweet are cool. Seems everyone was a Sweet fan back in the day, in the same way as about half the population of London was at the very first Sex Pistols gig.

· that I can cope with loneliness. I think I’m over it now, but you quickly learn to adapt when everyone else who applied, leaves you in double Latin while they cruise the Mediterranean on board SS Uganda:
being the only pupil whose name was left in the hat when the draw was made for those to go on the cruise, I had to attend class as normal while my pals were swanning all over the Med. I think this may be a picture of the ship. I don’t really know – I didn’t even get a poxy postcard.

Aye – you’re right. I’m not over it.

· that if you fancy someone (other than your English teacher) then tell them. Don’t be a putz and ‘play it cool’:
me? Playing cool? Ha! That’s a laugh. I was no Fonzie Fonzarelli that’s for sure. But I still cringe with embarrassment at the memories of missed opportunity. (Telling your English teacher you fancy them is neither cool nor recommended, by the way.)

· that a Prial of Threes beats a Running Flush in 3 Card Brag:
giving seventeen year old, Sixth Year kids their own common room, in the belief that they will prepare for University discipline by taking it upon themselves to study in free periods, was a very naïve decision taken by somebody who really should have know better.

· that Clapton was NOT The Messiah. He wasn’t even a very naughty boy:
 Rory Gallagher was God. Still is. End of.

· that hockey is a game for sadists, masochists and mentalists:
I only played two games, both against the girls’ teams and I’d rather take a Mitre Mouldmaster to the gonads than be rapped on the ankle / shin by a wayward hockey stick / ball.

· that it’s true – schooldays, if not THE best, are certainly amongst the best days of my life:
as the Covid Lockdown has shown all around the country / world, friendships formed at school remain tight even if you haven’t spoken for forty-five years.

. that I wasn’t very good at arithmetic.

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