Marion Mackay
Primary: 1942-49
Secondary: 1949-55
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Memories of first day at school - bawling outside the ‘Tinny', and Mr. Hanson taking twin Isobel and me under his wing. Isobel offered him one of her sweeties and this put us in the Jannie's good books for our school life. It was very useful at times.

I did not enjoy primary much but secondary gave ample scope and encouragement for playing games both in and out of class. Coming from an academic family I was accepted as having brains in my feet.

DRI followed, then midwifery at Robroyston hospital where my favourite ward was the nursery. It was then a move to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London to find out more about babies and children and how to look after them when sick.

After getting more experience in different hospitals, I settled back in at DRI as a Sister in paediatrics I was there until I met David ex-navy and a Geography Graduate.

We married in 1970 moved to Helmsdale on the east coast of Sutherland, and then to Wick on the east coast of Caithness. Eight years later we moved down to the Glasgow area, to Lenzie with Andrew, 4 years and Catriona 3 years. David was by now a lecturer at The Nautical College in Glasgow.

The children had all their schooling here and both left Lenzie Academy to go to university, Andrew to do Law and Economics and Catriona Medicine at Aberdeen. Andrew is now in Singapore with Elsevier, the Internet publishing company – he deals mostly with medical education. Catriona is based in May, but works mostly in Inverness as a GP locum.

After being a housewife for 10 years I went back to nursing part-time – Marie Curie and latterly Macmillan Nursing based at Strathcarron Hospice. I was there until I retired.

The most exciting spell in our life was when David was asked to go on an Exchange visit to Dalian in China in 1998. That was the start of nearly three very interesting years. In Dalian, David taught Navigation in English and I was ordered to take classes in Oral English – because I could speak English!

We both enjoyed the three months stay so we went back again but to a different university, this time in Xi’an (The Terra Cotta Warriors). We lived on the campus in a small teacher’s flat, learned enough Mandarin to get around and order favourite food in the market and restaurants. We learned a lot about life in town and the countryside where many of the students came from. Some were from villages where the peasants had banded together to send a bright pupil for further education and hoped-for prosperity. Chinese people are very kind and looked after us very well.

The general hospital nearby had a Children's Unit and I was asked to help with medical English. It was an eye-opener. Patients sent home on drugs less effective but affordable for peasant parents. Parents curled up in cots with their sick child. Caring medics. Nurses hungry for improvement in knowledge of medicine and English. Dismal Russian built wards. Intravenous infusions for many ailments – head colds, sore throats and small infections. Patients transferred to other hospitals on their beds, or carried piggy-back by a relative.

We still have a lot of contact with Xi’an students and see some of them who have made it over here. We go to an International Student Church in Strathclyde University and that’s another point of contact.

We would like to go back, but health issues have made that unwise so we are quite settled back in Lenzie. Lots to do, classes to go to and church affairs keep us well occupied.

Lenzie, November, 2010

Note: To see some more photos from Marion and David's China days, click here.