Monday, 12 December 2016


"Looking back to those days of old ere the gate shut to behind me..."
 From 'The Golden Age' by Kenneth Grahame.


The above photo was taken in September 1967 by departing teacher
Mrs. TIGHE (not sure about the spelling, to be honest), in front of the
annexed huts in the grounds of my primary school.  I can actually recall
the photo being taken, and can only assume that Mrs. Tighe wanted a
memento of her 'angelic' pupils to look back on in later years.  Maybe
she was just trying out for a career as a photographer though, as she
made copies available (at a price) to those of us who wanted one.

The image is off-centre, as you can see, but I decided to leave it un-
cropped in order to make an ego-feeding speculation.  The exact middle
of the photo lies between myself (I'm wearing my blue jumper, but that
wasn't the day I was at the zoo with DOUGAL and FATHER TED) and
DAVID DRUMMOND (on my left), and I can't help but think that Mrs.
Tighe naturally gravitated towards me as the most obvious centre of
attention.  (I know what you're thinking, but I prefer my version.)

The boy on crutches further along in the same row is GAVIN REID,
alas now sadly deceased.  He had his right leg strapped up behind him
all through primary school (due to some medical condition), and it came
as a surprise when I later saw him in secondary school walking normally
without the crutches.  He started secondary the year after me, so he may
have discarded the crutches in his last year at primary, or in the school
holidays between changing schools.  He was killed in a motorbike
accident, aged only about 18 or 19, I think, in the late '70s.

Not long before he died, my parents told me that someone had asked
them if they were "Gordon Robson's mum and dad" as they waited at a
bus stop, and when they confirmed that they were, asked them to pass on
his regards.  "Gavin Reid was his name" they said, recounting the incident
to me when they got home that night.  Poor Gavin.  To endure a childhood
infirmity for so long, and then be cut short in his prime.  He used to play
football in the playground, using his crutches for support as he kicked the
ball around, or sometimes using one of them to blooter the ball between
the 'goalpost jumpers'.  I can still see him in my mind's eye to this
day, hopping around as fast as any jackrabbit ever could.

Returning to David Drummond, he used to trot along to my house on
November 5th for two (maybe three) years in a row, in order to partake
in our 'Bonfire Night' celebrations.  Lest you think we indulged on a grand
scale, let me disabuse you of any such notion by revealing that it consisted
mainly of waving sparklers around and setting off a couple or so bangers,
with a handful of rockets from the smallest box of fireworks available.
Nothing grand by any means, but David's parents didn't observe the
'Fawkes festivities', so he shared in our meagre show held within
the perimeters of our back garden.

Three along from me on my right is RAYMOND BENNY (or Bennie,
not quite sure), who emigrated to Australia around '68 or '69.  I haven't
seen him since and sometimes wonder what happened to him and whether
he's ever been back to visit.  On the only occasion I was ever in his house,
he gave me a stuffed Santa (which may have been a cat's toy) and I have
fond memories of me and my brother playing 'dodge it' as we tried to
 hit each other with poor ol' Mr. Claus from opposite sides of our
bedroom on Saturday or Sunday mornings. 

 At least two other people in the photo (LOUISE HAMILTON and
GORDON FAIRBAIRN) also emigrated Down Under in later years,
Louise around 1983, and Gordon in '88 or '89.  I know Australia's a big
place, but I'd like to think that they run into each other on occasion and
reminisce about happy days gone by.  Just imagine that, in the fullness
of time, everyone in the photo (apart from myself) were to emigrate
over there - I wonder if they'd even remember me?

Ah, so many familiar faces, so many meandering memories.
Funny how events from nearly 50 years ago can sometimes seem
as fresh and as close as what happened only yesterday.


30 years ago, I returned to the playground with a framed copy of
the class photo from 19 years before, and snapped myself beside it on
the same spot.  The annexed huts had been gone for some years by then.
The school will follow them into oblivion in a few months from now.
(Update:  The building was demolished nearly three years ago.)


paul Mcscotty said...

I have a similar picture taken either in 1969 or in my last year at primary (1970) it was also a lovely day with a clear blue sky and I have a vivid memory of the event (if not the year it was taken). I remember getting the dates of the photos being taken mixed up and was wearing a bottle green jumper that had a small rip in it on the sleeve (from playing football) and my mum wasn’t too pleased as she would have wanted me all tidied up in my school uniform, thankfully most kids wore similar to what’s in your picture so I didn’t look out of place. I remember a few names from my “photo” but most I have now forgotten , but I do have a vague memory of some of them (others are totally lost of the mists of time to me) . Where I stayed my Primary school catered for 3 secondary schools (if I recall correctly that was Rutherglen, Cathkin and Burnside ) and I think only a handful in my class went to Rutherglen with me, so I lost all contact with most of my classmates (plus I also moved house to a new town just before I started secondary but I continued to attend the secondary in my original area). I do remember seeing a few of the old faces from that time in the mid/late 1980s at bus stops or railway stations and we both gave one of those awkward half knowing “ I do know you…. don’t I” looks at each other. I did run into a guy I was friends with in the first year of my secondary school about 10 years ago and he looked ancient (he lost all his hair and put on a lot of weight, and just looked haggard) I only knew it was him as he introduced himself to me. I do know (from the early days of “Friends Reunited”) that 3 people from “my class photo” emigrated, and at least 2 sadly passed away (in their 30s). My old primary (well the one in that my photo is from) was rebuilt and is now my old Secondary (my secondary school having been converted to luxury flats) - my other primary burnt down in the 1990s (but a new one was built in its place) so basically there no record left other than my photo.

Kid said...

That's the only class photo that I'm in from my nearly 5 years at the school, PM, although I later acquired three more from George, the 'half-a-cup' guy I mentioned in a post once. Two of them were from before my time, but had just about everyone I remember from the school, and the third must've been taken when I was off school one day. David Doig, the boy on the left (our right) of Gavin Reid, I later found out had emigrated in the early '80s, and the 3rd girl along from the left in the 2nd row died a good number of years back. One look at the photo 'though, and they're still here and we're all still kids who saw one another just a couple of days or so ago (or so it sometimes seems). Moonmando's brother, Tam, is the boy on the end behind David Doig, and he now lives in Greece. The boy next to him (Alan Colhoun, or Colquhoun) I last remember seeing on a train into Glasgow in December of 1978, when I was heading down to Portsmouth to be best man at the wedding of the boy on the far left of the 2nd row of boys (behind the 2nd row of girls) - the very one who said he'd caught an infection off a toilet seat and was operated on through his 'back passage'. (I assume you remember commenting on that particular post.)

Life, eh? It's a funny old game.

TC said...

I don't actually remember where I was or what I was doing at that time. Since it was September, I must have been starting back to school after summer vacation. And I had turned nine that summer, so I would have been starting fourth grade.

The only class picture I had was taken at graduation from elementary school. The photographer just snapped the photo, without warning, so we didn't have a chance to prepare. I thought I looked ridiculous, because I appeared to be twiddling my thumbs. But at least that wasn't as bad as the kid on the far left, who was picking his nose.

John Pitt said...

In September, '67 I would have just gone back to school after we had just done a family "do-it-yourself" move of my Grandparents from their terrace house, which was due to be demolished into a new bungalow. Lots of friends and families all chipped in to help out and we moved the whole lot with only a car and a small van!
The song "Up, Up and Away" reminds me of this day!

Colin Jones said...

In September 1967 I was only 19 months old and also living in Scotland (somewhere in the Highlands). I was born in Islington but in May '67 we moved to Scotland (not that I remember obviously) - only for about nine months though.

Kid said...

And just what type of nose did the kid on the far left eventually settle on, TC? You'd think he'd have brought one in with him, eh?


Funny how 1967 seems so very long ago and only a couple of years ago at the same time, eh, JP?


Just think, CJ - if you'd stayed in the Highlands, you'd have had a completely different accent. I wonder how that would have affected (if at all) your perception of yourself?

Colin Jones said...

Not only that, Kid - you've said that the Planet Of The Apes TV show was never shown in Scotland but it was the POTA TV show that led directly to me discovering Marvel's POTA weekly and so Marvel comics in general. If we'd stayed in Scotland I might never have discovered Marvel comics which doesn't bear thinking about !!

Kid said...

Ah, but if you'd stayed in Scotland, CJ, who knows - you may have discovered Marvel from MWOM #1. Who can tell?

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