Friday, February 24, 2017
So another short brief period of reflection and introspection is over thanks to an unplanned drive by the green fields of my old primary school. Park Road School Rosyth no less. I attended this cheerless place from around 1960 until 1966. It was all Beatles versus Stones arguments and Dunfermline Athletic playing to win in their heyday. I wish I'd known about the Yardbirds and John Mayall just to up the ante a bit. But my school memories have worn pretty thin to be honest and apart from a few dramatic moments (being hit in the face by a football, various corporal punishment incidents, visits from the frightening Codona kids and somebody falling through the ice) it's all faded into some dim, monochrome version of the past I can hardly recognize or recall. There are faces and names but the edges now blur way too much.
Walking past the building and the altered and no doubt safer surrounding area I struggled to find a bearing or a truly happy memory. It was just some once visited place, cold as the freezing milk crates and heartless as the rule of the grim and very proper teachers. No class reunions, no school photographs, no awards or trophies won; just a study in mediocrity, a breeding ground for apprentices and labourers for the nearby Naval Base as we were sorted out for life and cut in two by the "Qualie". That was the 11 Plus, the life changing Presbyterian style exam that set you on the road to either academic success or more likely academic oblivion ending of course as manpower fodder for the local Naval Base/Dockyard, when we had a credible navy. Like some form of ethnic cleansing it removed swathes of childhood commonality and friendships, it created division and complications and no adult ever really explained what was going on. We just sucked it up, compliant and bewildered without a word of protest and got the bus to the new High School.
I came out of as a strange hybrid, passing the Qualie and then after a number of years in my self imposed wilderness ending up in the Dockyard meeting up again with a few of my old classmates. Most wondered why I was back, where had it all gone wrong, why wasn't I a doctor, a minister or a double glazing salesman in a Cortina? I still don't know, I learned to read, write and count there but little else, nobody taught vision, ambition or self belief. Now it's still churning out the workforce, young mums and junkies of the future, all sports clothes, bad hair and ruby nail polish. I just hope they can find something in their short, sunny spell of Scottish education that will capture their enthusiasm and fire up their ambitions enough to make this world and their's a bit better.