Tag Archives: Bearsden academy

In Praise Of Lunch

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, January 2022

It came to my mind recently that lunch tends to get overlooked these days.
Brunches & Suppers are regularly championed by Nigella and Jamie, we’re constantly bombarded with dinner ideas on MasterChef and up until intermittent fasting came along we were hoodwinked into thinking that ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day’.

By the way, do you know who’s credited with that oft-repeated and very famous quote?
None other than John Harvey Kellogg…. yeah THAT Kellogg!

Subsequently, lunch has dropped down the ‘square meal’ league table into the relegation zone which is a bit of a comedown.
Once upon a time it used to run away with the title but that was before Gordon Gekko’s “lunch is for wimps” claim in the movie Wall Street.

In its glory years lunch was called dinner, it was the main meal of the day and was eaten any time between late morning and mid afternoon. Then the industrial revolution came along at which point sustenance was required between morning and afternoon shifts to enable workers to sustain maximum effort throughout the day, hence the regimented one hour lunch break, we know now.

Cut forward to today and lunch for many consists of a quick sandwich in front of a computer screen, checking out social media and looking at Nigella’s recipes for supper, or if you’re male, and of a certain age, just checking out Nigella!

Back in the 70s however, when we were at school or newbies in the workplace, lunch WAS the most important meal of the day… by a long chalk.

Maybe it was by default… after all breakfast was relatively basic, a plate of cereal or a slice of toast before you ran out the door to catch the school bus.
Dinner, on the other hand, was a bit more formal in most households, the table would be set but you had to wait till your faither got home.

To be honest dinner was a bit hit or miss in our house.

You see, my dad was an offal man for his offal – kidney, Tongue, liver, tripe, all the stuff that was popular in its day and made fancy window dressing at the butchers…. but offers good reason to turn vegetarian now.

It got worse though, if the raw materials my mum had to work with weren’t great, then her cooking skills only compounded things.

I love my Mum to bits, but she was no Fanny Craddock and trying to mask the stench of charred liver from my favourite Fred Perry polo shirt, (by splashing on copious amounts of Brut) before heading out to impress, was not a pleasant experience.

So, whilst breakfast was on the hoof and dinner could easily have consisted of hoof…. lunch was always to be savoured for a few reasons…..

Firstly, although we may not have been enduring the same hardships as our distant relatives from the 1800’s, lunch still broke up the day perfectly – and if like me you were stuck in a dull lesson pre-lunch, then you could start counting down to the lunchtime bell before meeting up with your pals to eat, blether, and release some of that pent up energy.

Secondly, free-will, which was in scant supply back then, came to the fore as we were able to take ownership of our daily lunching choices.


You could go to the canteen for school dinners if you were seduced by the day’s menu offering, (beef olives was always a favourite), or if you fancied a wee donner (the walk not the kebab) then you could take your lunch money and saunter down to Bearsden Cross to the bakers for a sausage roll or a sandwich…. always accompanied by a carton of ski yoghurt for pudding.
It was probably the best hour of most school days!

Bearsden Cross pre lunchtime

School holidays meant lunch at home, and after a bit of trial and error, home lunches became a slick operation, i.e. straight out of a can – Campbell’s chicken soup and cold Ambrosia Devon Custard…. tasty, low-maintenance stuff that even I could prepare without the need to splash any Brut on afterwards.

It’s strange but I can’t remember much about school lunches at primary school, I lived about 15-20 min’s walk from school so I doubt that I lunched at home every day. I do remember a few kids having packed lunches though and thinking that themed lunchboxes were cool, but I don’t think soup and custard would have travelled that well.

Another weekly treat during school holidays was going to Drumchapel swimming baths, not so much for the eye-stinging chlorine or the daredevil belly flops off the dale, but rather for the delicious pie & beans in the adjoining canteen afterwards.

As we moved into the workplace, lunchtimes were a saviour, it broke the day up and gave you time to regroup and recharge your batteries.

I worked in a small office in central Glasgow when I left school. There was just 5 of us and I was the youngest by some 20 years, so come lunchtime I was a lone-wolf – until my good mate Billy Smith started working in Frasers in Buchanan St a few months later.
This was a tremendous turn of events as I used to go with Smiddy to their excellent staff canteen where we’d fill our faces and gawk at all the elegant cosmetic girls, before meandering about town to wile-away the rest of the golden-hour.

The iconic gallery at Frasers Glasgow

It was a splendid arrangement and when Smiddy told me he was thinking of quitting his job for a more lucrative one, I did what every good mate would do in the same situation….. and tried my darnedest to convince him to stay.

what about the great staff discounts”
“what about all the pretty girls in the cosmetics dept”
“what about the opportunities for promotion”

“what about the fact you’re working in an iconic building”
“what about – the subsidised staff canteen for Christ’s sake!!

Of course, Billy very selfishly took up the life changing opportunity, leaving me to lope around as a lone-wolf once more, although I used to regularly meet my mate Joe Hunter on a Friday and we’d head to Paddy’s Market to get our outfits for the weekend.
If ever clothes required a splash of aftershave, it was those ones!

As enjoyable as all those lunch times were back then, you knew the pleasure was temporary, you always had an enemy – the clock!

As you get older and escape the constraints of the clock, lunch offers a great social opportunity to catch up with friends and family and the lunches I look forward to the most now are the leisurely ones you have on holiday. Looking out at a sun-splattered, turquoise ocean, with a cold beer or a chilled glass of wine accompanied with never-ending portions of seafood or salty tapas… living in the moment with nothing to rush back for.

All hail lunch….


Teenage kicks – Alan Fairley

They call him the Midnight Rambler

Where were you brought up: Westerton

Secondary school: Bearsden Academy

Best mates at school: Gordon Brownlie, Bobby Williamson

Funniest memory from school: Watching an older pupil (who shall remain nameless) dousing a teacher’s car with paint stripper

First holiday with your mates in UK:  Blackpool 1975 with Colin Maxwell (Courthill), Kenny Groves (Killermont) and Rab Ballingall (Milngavie).

Holiday Memory: Rab punching a guy in the gents toilet at Papa Jenks then watching the towel dispenser fall from the wall onto the guys head as he lay on the deck….when you’re down you’re down

First holiday with your mates abroad: school trip to Rome in 1970.

Who With: The aforementioned Bobby Williamson, Hal Rollason, the late Nicky Mawbey, the delectable Maureen Gibson and many others.
Memory: Drinking Martini in the girls’ bedroom one night along with the aforementioned Bobby Williamson, Maureen Gibson and others then cramming into the shower cubicle with two of the guys when one of the teachers (Miss Fisher) burst in.

It was in one piece when we left it!!

First job:  Shipping Clerk with J S Nowery in Hope Street, Glasgow( the nearest I got to a life at sea). Spent 3 months there then worked at Bank of Scotland, Bearsden Cross. Gave 37 years of my life to that company… but don’t get me started.

Musical hero in 70s: Eric Clapton… loved the street cred you got when walking around the playground with a Cream album wedged under your arm

Favourite single: Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who.
Classic songs like that and In My Own Time by Family offset the Thursday night banality of Top of the Pops

Favourite album:  Get Yer Ya Yas Out by the Rolling Stones.
Stunning guitar virtuosity by debutant Mick Taylor who took over from the late Brian Jones and helped the band quash the cries of ‘No Stones Without Jones’.

First gig: Mungo Jerry, Kilmardinny, Bearsden 1970
Memory- sitting behind a heavily inebriated Norman Clement who was repeatedly shouting ‘you’re shite’ at vocalist Ray Dorset throughout the gig

Favourite movie in 70s: That’ll Be The Day starring Ringo Starr and David Essex. Think it was the La Scala in Sauchiehall Street. 
This was my first (and last) date with Eleanor Soutar,  classy chick from Iain Road who went to one of the posh schools – Laurelbank maybe?

Who was your inspiration in 70s: Arthur Blessitt (American Evangelist)- I’ve always admired people who stand up for their beliefs and this guy was totally dedicated to his cause. Met him once in Balfron, he put his hand on my shoulder and it felt like an electric bolt was going through me.
Whatever he had, it was powerful.

Posters on your wall:  I bought  the Jenny Fabian Groupie poster in an outpouring of testosterone with my first wage from Nowery’s but she soon gave way to Clapton and Hendrix..and of course Mott The Hoople

Honky Tonk Woman

What do you miss most from the 70s:  Walking up to a turnstile at a football ground and paying cash at the gate. Nowadays it’s a logistical nightmare buying tickets in advance

What advice would you give your 14yr old self: I’ve always regretted not going to University straight from school. I was too keen to get out and earn a wage in order to buy records. Take your chance with further education. You can study with real purpose when you get to that level. (I finally got my degree when I was 27 so it’s never too late)

70s pub session, you’re allowed to invite 4 people from 70s:

Bob Dylan

Jimi Hendrix

Jimmy Bone

Pamela Fairley (my late wife)

Venue – Captains Bar, Edinburgh

Alan & Pamela

School Bands and Laughing in the Face of Danger

Ray Norris: Helensburgh, April 2021

Silas Wood – Original Line-up

Ah yes…. perhaps it was the unbridled enthusiasm of youth, or merely the relentless pursuit of musical mediocrity that kept us going in those school band days.

None of yer fancy guitar tuners or modelling amps back then … no sir, it was cheap transistor amps, Jedson guitars (£19.99 from Cuthbertsons) and home-made speaker cabinets sporting unconvincing “Marshall” logos.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll limit my insight into life on the road (mainly Milngavie Road) to two anecdotes united by the thin and fraying thread of danger and scant regard for life and limb when transporting musical equipment.

Probably the stupidest example was when Ronnie Taylor and I borrowed a speaker cabinet from David Gillespie (Ges), who lived at the top of Boclair Hill.

“Do you have transport?” says Ges.  “Mm…hm” was our reply. 
This speaker cabinet was a monster, made from a solid door, lined with carpet, it weighed a ton.
Our task was to get it back to Ronnie’s house in the Switchback. 

Fortunately, it had been snowing heavily, and Ronnie had a sledge. Sorted!

I have no idea how we got it down that hill without speeding towards the busy Milngavie Road at a rate of knots.

who needs strings??

The band that I played in was called Silas Wood, with Ian “T” Thomson, on keyboards, Hubert Kelly, on drums, Russ Stewart (of this parish) on bass, and myself on guitar…

In case you’re wondering about the band’s name – my brother came up with it on a bus journey along the Great Western Rd one day whilst passing “St Silas Church” and “Woodland Drive”…. it could have been worse I suppose!

Our set-list was a mix of covers, from Humble Pie’s (Stone Cold Fever) to Bowie’s (Moonage Daydream), as well as some original material – “Free Fall” by Russ, and the inspirationally titled “The Wah-Wah” (a song written by me after I had just bought a wah-wah pedal …. hmmm).

You can check out some of the songs we covered on the Spotify playlist below…

Selection of Silas Wood covers…

The band’s regular rehearsal venue was the “Tenants Hall” in Castlehill – very handy as we kept our equipment in Hubert’s flat a short walk away. 

It may have been that we were double booked or that the hall was finally condemned (I once fell into a hole in the floor, mid-solo, didn’t miss a note!) but I digress…. on this day we were due to rehearse at a different venue – Kessington Hall. 

Kessington Hall – Bearsden

There was nae transport in them days, it was too far to walk with amps, drum kit, etc and there was no convenient sledge (or snowfall)…. so the obvious solution was to take the good old bus. 

This seemed like a logical solution until we worked out that it would take several bus journeys to schlep our entire kit from one side of Bearsden to the other. 

Gearing up for our multiple journeys, we packed ourselves and as much kit as we could into the limited space at the open entrance to the old style blue bus… generously leaving a small gap for people to get on and off.

Grasping to bass drums and high-hats for dear life, we were entirely at the mercy of the driver’s brake foot.
What could possibly go wrong?

Rock and Roll! 

Led Zeppelin had an aeroplane
Kiss had a customised truck
Silas Wood had an Alexanders bus
Or a sledge….!!

A bit about Silas Wood ….

As you can see from the material we covered, we loved a 3-4 minute rocker but we also had a melodic side as well.

We played a few gigs at Kilmardinny House with other bands from the area as well as gigging locally (nae transport, you see!). 

One such gig was at our school – Bearsden Academy, where I happened to hear some loud banging in the afternoon when we were setting up. 

The source of this was Hubert nailing a piece of wood to the stage floor to prevent his drums from sliding forward….Drummers!!

Cue assistant Headmaster and perpetually angry man…. Deuchars!

In the words of David Crosby, “it’s all coming back to me now”

Paul Fitzpatrick (Ed)
Ray is too modest to blow his own trumpet but he is still playing and composing 48 years on (as is Russ), and he’s still sounding pretty good to these old ears.
For anyone interested in hearing the 2021 version, here’s a link to Ray’s Spotify page that he’s kindly given us permission to share.

teenage kicks – Alistair Fleming

Name: Alistair Fleming (Flum)

Where did you live: Bearsden/Courthill

Secondary school:  Bearsden Academy

Best mates at school: Whole load of friends during my time there but for first 2/3 years it was Andy Nall, Iain Cochrane, Stevie Smith. Ian Russell & Dav Sharp

Funniest memory from school: Apart from my Deuchars episode probably Granny Smith. She gave me lines and I didn’t do them. She told me if I didn’t hand them in the next day I would get one of the belt and it would increase every day until I did them. When she gave you the belt she took you into the corridor and put the lights out because she didn’t like to see you in pain. After four days she gave up as it was hurting her more than me.

First holiday with your mates: First holiday was in 1975 when me, George McKechnie and Geoff Kaczmarek went camping to Arran. It rained constantly and after 3 days and with a river running though our tent we went home.
First proper holiday was 1976 when me, Ian Martin (Teeny), Davie Boyle, Geoff Kaczmarek (Skinny), Ian Fleming (Lugsy) and Gordon McKechnie went to Morecambe.
Outstanding memory was going into first English pub ordering 6 pints of Tetleys bitter and Elton John & Kiki Dee were playing on the jukebox.
Other than that getting questioned for attempted murder!

What was your first job: Worked as a trainee quantity surveyor in Wellington Street for 30 quid a month. Left after 3 years and went to see the world with my brother.

Who was your musical hero in 70s: Bryan Ferry

Favourite Single: Pyjamarama by Roxy Music

Favourite Album: Roxy Music debut album

First gig: Think it was Roxy music at the Apollo with big Geoff Kaczmarek (Skinny), who was a mega Roxy music fan.

Favourite movie in 70s: Blazing Saddles at the Rio with Ian Martin, Neil Mackay, Alan Campbell (Sammy), David Goudal (Bug) & Johnny Reay.
This was the the same night we got pulled up by a team of Drum boys who pulled out there steel combs and walked up the line threatening to slash us. They got as far as Johnny who stuck the nut on one, I booted another one and it was just kicking off when the Polis arrived.


Who was your inspiration in 70s: Pat Stanton (Hibs legend) was my inspiration as regards to football. I didn’t have any posters on my wall.
I shared a bedroom with my oldest brother Brian who was a bit of an artist. He had painted portraits of Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa and Leonard Cohen on the walls.

What do you miss most from the 70s: Everything (especially the art of tackling!)

What advice would you give your 14yr old self: Wouldn’t change a thing – I lived it, experienced it and wouldn’t change it.

I was a one woman man in the 70s
Okay maybe I was a two woman man!
Awright I admit it, I was a man-slut!

70s pub session, you’re allowed to invite 4 people dead or alive from 70s: Bill Shankly, Matt Busby, Jock Stein & Eddie Turnbull….. wonder what we’d talk about?

May be an image of Alistair Fleming and smiling
FLUM NOW – A PILLAR OF SOCIETY AND A PICTURE OF CONTENTMENT