You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old. (George Burns)
At forty I lost my illusions,
At fifty I lost my hair,
At sixty my hope and teeth were gone,
And my feet were beyond repair,
At eighty life has clipped my claws,
I’m bent, and bowed, and cracked,
But I can’t give up the ghost because
My follies are intact. (E Y.Harburg)
I REMEMBER that, at primary school, if there was torrential rain in the morning, the school would close at lunchtime and we got a half-holiday. In such weather the boys would cram into the playground shelter at the morning interval, stand up on the long wooden bench and stamp their feet in time to their repeated cry of “We want a hauf!” (a half-day)
I REMEMBER that sometimes a pupil would have an epileptic fit in the classroom. The child was usually writhing on the floor, while the rest of us sat in awed silence. I don’t recall the teacher attending to the victim - the fit passed quite quickly and the lesson was resumed.
I REMEMBER that a good number of my class-mates came from much poorer homes than ours. The boys were all dressed alike, in trousers and jackets of a coarse brown material, these having been provided by the School Board.
I REMEMBER that in primary school all the pupils went home at lunch time. I was lucky living near the school, but some pupils’ homes were a good 15 minutes walk away.
I REMEMBER that “the basket class” met in the church hall across the road from the school. This was for children who were considered to be uneducable and included a whole range of cases from just a bit simple to mentally defective. They passed their time doing handwork and, although part of our school, there was no contact between them and us.
I REMEMBER that there were only two men on the staff, the Headmaster and Mr Maclennan who took the Qualifying Class (Primary 7). The latter had a soft Highland accent which I liked to hear when he read poetry to us. His strap, which he used frequently, was never out of his hands, and he would be continually playing with it, rolling and unrolling it.
This colourful painting by James Tissot (1836-1902) is simply entitled “Quiet.”
Many years ago children’s comics used to contain conundrums which posed the question “Who am I?”
Can you find the answer to this?
The first person makes me and sells me.
The second person buys me but doesn’t use me.
The third person uses me but doesn’t see me.
What am I?
Answer next week.
This poem was written by John Allan a Kirkintilloch man who was born in 1863.
My wife has been readin’ in some books o’ fame
That fish as brain food has some sort o’ claim,
So she thinks that my intellect’s growin’ ower tame
And feeds me on nothin’ but haddies.
At breakfast when bacon would just be the thing
My wife o’ the strain on the brain’s sure to sing,
And soon from the fireside, all fizzin’, she’ll bring
The usual plateful of haddies.
At dinner I’m thinkin’ of broth and of beef,
Aye hopin’ for once I’ll get a relief
From the phosphorus diet o’ modern belief,
But in comes the platter o’ haddies.
So, wife, don’t try any more my good nature,
Or you’ll soon have your hubby a poor lookin’ creature,
A steak or a chop will make my brain greater
Than if I’d an ocean o’ haddies!
*Haddies - the popular fish food haddock
Earlier this year I came across a magazine called “Scottish Memories.” I found it well written and most informative, and the subject matter going back to the old days was right up my street. Needless to say I now look forward to it every month.
In the June issue there was a short piece about what was Top of the Pops in May 1963. I was surprised to find that I didn’t know 6 of the artistes or groups named, and out of the top 20 titles I hadn’t heard of 11 of them!!!
Of course for me the golden age of popular music was the 1930s. During those years songs didn’t just appear and then disappear a few months later. No, the most of them were popular for years, songs like -The Isle of Capri, Red Sails in the Sunset, When I Grow too Old to Dream, Falling in Love Again, It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie and Night and Day.
That’s a photo of Al Bowlly who is the singer on this clip of Night and Day. One of the top UK dance band singers in the 30s, he lost his life in the London blitz in April 1941.