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30 April 2005 at 10:21

the happiest days



Every Monday was Cadet Force day at my school. It's easy to spot me in the photo - my mother wrote a note for me every week: "Dear Major Carruthers, please excuse my son from wearing his military uniform, as it irritates his acne."

Lex Dowie, seen here immediately to the right of the teacher, was once called upon in his capacity as class captain, to officially witness me receiving the beating of a lifetime. Mr Stuart the history teacher wielded the belt with an enthusiastic two-handed, over-the-head woodchopper's swing, his feet lifting off the ground with each stroke. The rest of the class were sent out of the room first, perhaps to add to the sense of drama. After the first couple of strokes, Lex had to help the teacher by holding my unwilling hands out for more. I don't know who was more traumatised, Lex or me.

Blogger hotboy said...

Hi!
I'm going to have to read it all!! HotboyMadyamikaS.O.B.  

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Blogger robmcj said...

Hotboy, thanks for the comment. I called it the beating of a lifetime, but I've remembered I have actually had several beatings of a lifetime, somebody else's life must be missing their share. Maybe there's scope for a spin-off blog. Anyone have any suggestions for a name?  

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Blogger hotboy said...

The photie of the schoolboys is interesting as you don't look anything like that at all. However, the photie of wonder woman was much more interesting and I think you should post more pictures of good looking women. Hotboy  

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Blogger Cathy said...

I'm pretty cute... wanna post a picture of me in your blog? Maybe you can superimpose my head on the teacher in the middle. What do you say? The end. Love, Cathy xxx/ooo  

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Blogger robmcj said...

Cathy, how sporting of you! I can photoshop you in, I never liked th eteacher anyway. Where can I find a picture of you?
robmcj  

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Blogger hotboy said...

Got to this using Google!(Mon 2nd May) Great!
Also, I've learned that you're supposed to reply to comments as you have. Didn't realise that. Of course, fung idiot me. Hotboy  

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Blogger hotboy said...

Do you live in Antartica? Where are the Heard and McDonald Islands. After ten minutes, I'm still in nowhere land. Hotboy  

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Anonymous Lex said...

Hello Robert,

I've got over my surprise and realise who you are now. Also, something's tweaking at the back of my memory about the tawse, but "Stuart" ??? Why the Heard and McDonald Islands - another new discovery for today?  

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Blogger robmcj said...

Lex! Great to hear from you. Amazing you found your way to this page. Maybe you were Googling for your own name. Do you like the photo? There's another one here.

I recall you as a good rugby player, and a fair-minded class captain, prefect etc., unaffected by the pettiness and personal vendettas that some prefects liked to pursue.

I came to The UnHeard Of Islands to escape the rat race and various hangers on.

Yes, Mr Stuart (spelling may have been Stewart, or I may even have his name wrong, understandable since he did after knock the stuffin out of me) was a new history teacher, taking our class in Jimmy Jope's room. He was anxious to make his mark, and after enduring days of idoicy by myself and Murray Magowan, he just snapped and decided to make an example of me.

I'm glad to see the experience hasn't scarred you, or maybe it's just safely repressed? The therapists say I'll be over it in another 10 years or so.

Let me know how you are going etc.?

Regards, robmcj.

PS I never normally use people's real names here, but I realise that I did use your real name in the story. Apologies. Let me know if you'd like me to change it.

PPS "Bill Howie", referred to elsewhere in this blog, was also at school with us.  

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Anonymous Lex said...

Yes, I don't make a habit of it, but I was showing my 80 year old father the internet, and googled my name as I knew some stuff would come up and he'd know what it was about. I didn't recognise the hit so checked it out - and was pretty amazed. What on earth is the random picture of the fat football player about?
Using the name is ok. I guess the reference to "Mary Hopkin" must be an alias though. Good story.
Thanks for the character reference. I remember you as a bright cheerful guy, friendly with Colin Miller, whom I also liked, good at maths and science, and sometime class captain (as well), which is why you're sitting on Thornton's right in the fifth form cadets picture, and on Lachie's right as well in the earlier one.
According to the CIA the Unheard Of Islands are uninhabited. Is this a new colony, or what? Does everyone there take old class photos with them?
The Howies were Iain and Robert, cousins from Ayrshire, and George, unrelated, who served his time in the boarding house, poor sod. Don't recall Bill Howie. Do recall Bill Patrick who seems to have vanished into the ether somewhere almost immediately after school, like several others. I don't exactly distance myself, but don't actually strive to keep in touch either, so am not what you'd call a reliable source. Looks like you're probably the stone that rolled the furthest, and has picked up some interesting moss.
Try email if you like. lexdowie@lycos.co.uk  

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Anonymous Lex said...

PS Correction Lachie's left! Must have been vice captain. Would that everything in life were so orderly.  

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Blogger robmcj said...

Lex! Great to hear from you again.

Yes, I still see Colin whenever I'm back in the green city. And "Bill Howie" is rhyming slang for the chap who lived on the island on Loch Lomond. He was in the navy section too. I'll email you the correct story.

I've just had a flash of a memory - you and I, and I think Charlie Brown, spent an evening in a pub in Campbelltown, when we were living on a puffer in the Clyde for a week one summer. We must have been aged 15 or 16. You, being tallest, kindly agreed to order the drinks.

For a week we lived on bread and lemon curd in the hold of that old fishing trawler. Drunk every night, then lulled to sleep by the rocking of the boat. Those were the days.

My secret's out - I actually live on the biggest UnHeard Island, the natives call it Australia.
Yes, I fear moss isn't the only thing I've picked up. I'm on my second New Zealand woman (and this had better be the last one). I also have an over-developed imagination at times. But I wasn't imagining the cancer I picked up 20 years ago, touch wood. I've been badgered to tell the whole gory story here, with photos, but so far I'm resisting.

If you think keeping the old class photos is sad, I have a 1986 class reunion photo too. And what about this: you remember the annual general knowlege quiz at school? My mother kept every one of my quiz papers, and for years whenever we met she would bring out the papers and run through the questions (and my original answers) again. I think she was hoping that one day I'd finally get all the questions right.

Yes, come to think of it I was indeed good at physics, my favourite subject. So much promise - you'd think I'd at least be able to do the quiz right.

I'll email this to you in case you don't see it here.  

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Anonymous Smith said...

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Blogger Gordon W said...

Saw this blog when googling for "Jimmy Jope" as I received an email from the school to inform me that he died on Wednesday and his funeral is tomorrow ( Saturday 9th Feb 2007). I was in his class for Maths and, of course, Detention - can still recall the man's amazing banter such as when asking for jotters to be handed in..."BR to SBR...SBR to SFR...SFR to FR" ie. Back Row to Second Back row - I take it you can work out the rest despite your formative education!

I noted the photograph ( Happiest Days ) - I did not join the school until 1969 in Miss Johnstones Prep5 although my eldest brother John Wallace and my cousins Robin, Bruce and Graeme Mitchell may have been around your vintage.
Happy days
Kindest regards
Gordon Wallace
Glasgow Academy 1969 - 76  

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Blogger robmcj said...

Gordon - thanks for the news, sad though it is. He must have lived to quite a ripe old age?

PS - Is Saturday really the 9th with you? Here it's the 10th. Did Jimmy Jope teach maths? ;-)  

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Post a Comment

16 April 2005 at 18:35

about online diaries


Today I stumbled across a long web discussion (If a blog is a person's DIARY, do you really CARE?) where the opinions seemed to cluster around 3 main reactions to blog diaries.
Type 1 readers enjoy admiring writing that's clever or literate, "otherwise what's the point of reading?"

Type 2 readers love the reality element, seeing how other people live, and reading between the lines.

Type 3 readers are uncomfortable reading someone's diary - they feel embarrassed or see only narcissism.
Which group are you in? If you're not sure, read the following brief diary entry, then decide.
"Drove to the bay with Cass and the dog, met up with Panda and Stu and their dog, and joined the throng of weekend joggers and dogwalkers for a circuit of the bay.

Now that the business with the Pope is over, Stu is available for regular conversation again, and we enjoy a man-to-man about relationships we should never have got into, and the years we wasted before we got out again.

Our talk was prompted partly by some 1960s anti-promiscuity advice that one of my teenage friends received from his father: "never sleep with a girl you wouldn't be proud to call your wife." Dated and quaint, at the time it seemed like just one more prohibition to be broken. But looking back now I see it contained simple wisdom, and he was actually saying: be careful what you end up holding when the music stops. (Reference - Pass the Parcel rules)

As we pass a club, I spy a bin filled with empty bottles from last-night's business, and I take away half a dozen classy beer bottles in my pack.

In the afternoon I spend some quality time with Cass, get on the PC, stumble across a long web discussion .... "
Okay, now let's see how you feel about what you have just read:
Type 1 - you enjoyed the fine writing. OK, maybe there wasn't any, so if all you experienced was boredom, you may be Type 1. Otherwise, that leaves:

Type 2 - the reality element, seeing how other people live, and reading between the lines. Did you get any idea of how I spent today? What kind of personality I have? Age, gender, nationality? Narcissism factor? What's with the empty bottles? If you have no idea, or don't care, you're probably not a Type 2 reader. That leaves:

Type 3 - uncomfortable reading someone's diary, feeling embarrassed or seeing only narcissism. Did you feel uncomfortable? Is the writer a self-indulgent self-publicist?

Most of the time I'm a
Type 2 reader. Most personal blogs interest me, some just for a few seconds, but others are worth reading the whole site. To me it's a kind of transient social experience, a healthy voyeurism. Just as in real life, I feel drawn to people who can share a bit of themselves and make the world a slightly richer place. And if they write especially well, for me that's a bonus but not the main game. YMMV. (jargon definition)

There is no shortage of blog diaries of the "got up, had a coffee .... watched TV, went to bed" type. But I like to think that even these can in theory tell you something about the writer.

If you think blogs are a waste of time, you've done well to read this far. You could even leave a comment.

Blogger Alec McClochendichter said...

I wouldn't be too thrilled if I were the ex on your site - not that she's ever likely to read it.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there are many other reasons for reading blogs, see for example "Why read blogs?" at http://soundprinciples.com/ad-verse/2005/03/primer-on-bloggingfor-40-somethings.html  

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Blogger robmcj said...

anonymous, I agree, for example if you have ever wondered if your life is just as crazy (or sane) as someone else's, cruise a few blogs and you'll soon be reassured.  

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Post a Comment

15 April 2005 at 12:11

sizes in everything


When I first moved to the UnHeard and McDonald Islands, I noticed that some things here are manufactured too big to fit. At least too big for the average emaciated immigrant who grew up on the Scottish diet, whisky and cigs.

Why is this? Well, it's true that the average UnHeardian male body size is one of the largest in the world: the diet of children here was high in protein, at least in the years pre-McFood. And children who played a lot of sport tended to grow up big. But it’s also partly about the mainstream male self-image. For example, the average man likes to believe he’s blessed with a gigantic penis, so UnHeardian-made condoms are tailored to a larger physique, and are hard to keep on for the rest of us. And who's going to complain publicly?

Similarly for UnHeardian socks: unless you enjoy the sensation of walking on several folds of sock crumpled inside your shoe, you need to buy kids’ socks; but in this case the reason can't be anything sexual, and is more likely due to one-size-fits-all manufacturing.

Mercifully, in recent years a flood of imports from China and South East Asia has brought smaller sizes into the shops. Recently I bought adults' socks that actually fit. And in a pharmacy you can now choose between "Asian" and "UnHeardian" condom brands and sizes. "Asian" sounds more dignified than asking for the small size.


Post a Comment

at 09:00

deadly decades


Kev nearly killed me, and himself, 10 years ago when we went to sea on his yacht in bad weather. He and his girlfriend got so seasick they could only lie vomiting in their cabin, at least that's what they said they were doing. I spent several hours teaching myself how to drive the thing and get us back to land. That may have been the last time I felt real sustained fear, the sort that drives even aetheists to bargain with God. The occasion before that was when I had cancer, 20 years ago this month, I should plan a celebration. Especially as the next angstfest must be due any day, according to the calendar.

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at 08:58

some others, I do have them


As well as my 2.5 friends, I have inherited Cassandra's social circle, which fortunately incudes some good people, but to call them my friends would be cheating.

Old friends from overseas blow into town occasionally, and that's pretty special. My dear old school mate Bill Howie was here in January, reconstituting himself after the break-up of a long association with a Spanish woman. For 10 years she was a true soul mate but now she's unmasked as a gold-digging narcissist. Great to see him, I did a video interview with him, which he was then able to compare with the video we shot last year in happier times.

I find video interviews an enjoyable way of commemorating important 1-to-1 meetings with people you don't see very often. The interview can be 2-way, e.g. you split a one-hour tape between you, focussing on each person for about 30 minutes. I have done interviews in parks, at a beach, in people's kitchens and in the middle of nowhere.

Bill is pretty upfront about this, and Bill isn't his real name anyway, so I don't think he'd mind me saying that in Spain he sometimes rides his motorbike dressed as a woman, and men buy him drinks in bars, thinking he's female. If you're reading this Bill, send us a photo and I'll stick it here. Funny how people's lives unfold. We spoke about going to an "old boys" school reunion dinner next year, at the rugby pavilion, he in drag as my partner, neither of our lives a conventional success story.

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05 April 2005 at 08:56

2.5


I have a friend who goes regularly to a laughter club, a kind of Indian group therapy laughing session. It works well for him.

Actually I only have two and a half friends in total here in the UnHeard of McDonald Islands, and one of them's the dog. I usually let folk assume that I have a normal-sized social circle, but let's be honest here.

The laughter club friend is the half friend, a very nice guy but we meet so seldom that it would be cheating to count him as a full friend.

Apart from the dog, there's my main friend Kev, a recycling-obsessed Crocodile Dundee type who hates and loves women, and lives on a boat in the harbour with his part-time Japanese girlfriend. He's the most principled person I've met, and one of the best listeners, great to talk with, and we meet for coffee every week or two, and try to see the wacky side of world events. Not always easy.

Blogger Alec McClochendichter said...

nice dog  

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Anonymous John McDoe said...

You’re lucking to have two and a half friends! I’ve only got a couple of friends as well and I’ve never left Scotland. I once described my friends to my nephew as either f***ed up, disturbed, or bizarre. Probably says it all.  

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