Monday, 20 February 2017


Jenny Auld - I think - enlarged from a group photo

Just learned that a retired teacher from my old secondary school passed away last week.  JENNY AULD was her name, and she was a well-known figure around the town as she seemed to have lived for centuries.  I can't remember if I was ever actually in her class, but I have an impression that she filled in for absent teachers on a couple of occasions, so she was in 'mine'.

Thinking of a particular 'encounter' I had with her makes me smile to this very day, as it reminds me of my teenage youth around 1973 or '74.  A new indoor shopping complex had not long been completed in my town, and there was some low scaffolding attached to a wall at the side of the opening to the underpass which led into the new retail centre known as The Plaza.

Me and a friend by the name of 'Adam Cowie' (who regular readers will know as 'Billy Liar') were swinging like a couple of monkeys on one of the scaffolding bars one Saturday afternoon, when who should turn the corner but Mrs. Jenny Auld herself.  She looked at us quizzically and then said "Must you?" in a mildly-reproving (but not totally unfriendly) tone.

That very piece of wall, sans scaffolding, in 2017

My friend and I looked at one another for a split-second, then returned our gaze to her.  "Yes - we must!" we said in mock-falsetto voices in unison - then burst out laughing.  She raised her eyebrows as she passed, but I thought I could detect the hint of an amused smile about her lips.  We did wonder if we might get 'pulled up' at school on Monday, but we weren't.

Even to this day, if ever I hear an exasperated parent enquire of their unruly offspring "Must you?", I can't suppress the small voice in my head that automatically responds "Yes - we must!"  Then I smile to myself, and for a moment I'm back in the early 1970s, when my town was much younger, smaller, and better than it is now.  (Just like me, come to think of it.)

Here's to Jenny - may she rest in peace.


moonmando said...

Wee Jenny barred me from entering the school gate one day back in about 1974,I insisting that I go straight home and change into something more appropriate for an educational establishment such as Duncanrig. I thought my attire was just dandy for the times,torn T Shirt,faded jeans and a pair of old trainers. Sartorial elegance for any self respecting hobo indeed!
Anyway,I never did go back that day,nor the rest of the week either. This was a pattern that was to repeat itself throughout my school days,one of constantly dogging off. Anytime I did appear at the aforementioned 'Prison',I spent in the 'Nut Hut',..but that's a different story altogether...

Kid said...

I remember the two of us playing truant on my 16th birthday and going for a jaunt around the Town Centre and the Village. Happy days. I passed the time in O'Neil's 'nut hut' as well, but only during free periods when I had no other classes to go to. Sometimes I just dogged it. (It meant something different back in our day.)

Peter Pedant said...

She must have been some age. But her mother lived to her nineties.

I remember once helping Tony Benn up the steps at the plinth in Trafalgar Square on May Day about a decade ago. While sitting beside him while he was puffing on his pipe waiting to make his speech we had a conversation which went something like this...

TB: "I've seen you around, But don't know your name".
Me: "I'm Secretary of Camden Trades Council and work at the British Library etc.".
TB: "Are you from Glasgow?"
Me: "Not exactly. I'm from EK, just south of Glasgow"
TB: After a short pause: "EK? Do you know Jenny Auld?"
Me: "Yes."

Note that it was not "do you know Judith Hart or Maurice Miller?", the MPs he was acquainted with, but Jenny Auld, who was well known in the highest Labour Party circles as she ran an annual summer school for the Fabian Society, which was then the main think tank.

Kid said...

My pal Moony's comment reminded me that she used to stand at the school gates, waiting to catch anyone who wasn't wearing a school tie. I can't remember if she ever pulled me up or not, even 'though I'd stopped wearing my tie by 3rd year at the very latest. Another part of the past gone forever - except in memory.

Dunsade Dave said...

There was a cookery teacher at my school who was genuinely lovely : hard but fair, approachable and kind. I bumped into her in a local supermarket during the summer holidays once and ended up helping her carry her shopping to her car, chatting pleasantly while doing so.

She then stood in an absolutely huge dogs dropping which went all over her shoe and even onto the hem of the fluffy pink tracksuit she was wearing. Things then became very uncomfortable as she first burst into tears -real huge sobs - then flew into a rage, vengefully ranting about what atrocities she planned to perpetuate on the donor dog and its awful owner.

I handed her the bags, made my excuses and left. A very awkward situation to find yourself in as a youth!

Kid said...

Oh, you big sook, DD - carrying teacher's shopping. I'd probably have done the same right enough, if it was a teacher I liked. Shame about her standing in that doggie-poo - she might have driven you home otherwise and offered to bake you an apple tart.

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