Vignettes
Stories from schoolmates who attended Morgan Academy, Dundee, Scotland between 1948 and 1955 – from schooldays, and from life-after-school.
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One of life's pleasures is getting together with old school friends over a meal to reminisce about the old days, and to catch up on our lives-after-school. Since we're spread all over the world now, it's not so easy to get together – this is an attempt to create a poor substitute by publishing some of the stories we might tell.

Notes for New Readers:
1. New contributions are always at the top – you should begin reading from the bottom of the page since a few of the more recent tales refer to earlier ones.
2. A reminder that when your cursor changes to a hand over words or photographs it's inviting you to click for further information.

We now have 244 anecdotes from 31 different contributors.
Sailing...
Hugh McGrory
In the early '80s, Sheila and I decided to take a week's vacation in order to take a beginner's sailing course. We did this by signing up at The Harbourfront Sailing School. This is on the Toronto, Lake Ontario Waterfront, so we would drive downtown in the morning and back home in the evening for the week-long course.

The format was classroom study in the morning, and hands-on in the afternoon. There were 12 students in the course, and the school had four 26ft. Bluenose sloops, with main and foresails. a cabin and smallish cockpit, so three students plus instructor to each boat (a bit crowded, but it worked.) (They put spouses into different crews).


The Friday morning was the final exam, and a promised opportunity to sail in the afternoon across the harbour to the Toronto Islands (mentioned in a previous story).


The marina was just west of the ferry Termnial – our course would be similar to the westmost route.

In the course we covered such things as:
  • Basic terms used in boats and sailing
  • How to tie basic knots – like figures of eight and bowlines
  • How to sail with, against and across the wind
  • How to steer a boat under sail and under power, and how to dock safely
  • 'Rules of the road'
  • Importance of weather forecasts
  • Man overboard recovery
  • Lifejackets, safety harnesses, and personal buoyancy aids
  • How to avoid, if possible, and also how to deal with emergency situations
At the end of the course we were awarded our first-level, internationally-recognised, sailing certificate. (We never did pursue sailing any further, but it was a most enjoyable week.)

One of the exercises we practised was how to pick up a mooring buoy. This involved sailing with the wind, passing the bouy, then releasing the sheets (de-powering the sails), turning 180 degrees into the wind and bringing the boat gently up to the mooring, close enough for one of us to touch it.

(That, of course, was the theory, but our efforts left much to be desired... But clumsy as we were, it was an empowering feeling to see how a boat under sail, could be manoeuvred so accurately when you know how...)

On the Friday, we had the end-of-course exam, had it marked, and were presented with our certificates (I think they were in the form of a little book with a stamp applied.)

The weather was quite blustery, and we were all thinking they might, hoping they wouldn't, say that we couldn't go out after all. However, after we finshed our sandwich lunch, they said put on your life jackets and let's head out.

As we got on board at the marina dock, the boats were moving around against their moorings. We moved out under power, and when we passed out of the marina and into the lake, the wind seemed quite a bit stronger and there was a fair swell.

All four boats headed over to the Islands under power, ploughing through the waves. While the other three boats ahead of us 'powered on', our (youngish) instructor asked how we'd feel about trying to raise the sails instead of crossing under power. We all said let's go for it, whereupon he asked for a volunteer to release the sheet and unfurl the foresail.

So I clambered over the cabin onto the foredeck, where I realised there was nothing to hang onto (see the photo above). The boat was pitching and rolling quite a bit, and I ended up spreadeagled with my feet and left hand gripping the gunwale, while I released the sail. It was an enjoyable, exhillerating experience with the wind blowing spray into my face. I wasn't in danger, and I'm sure if I'd fallen overboard the young instructor would simply have said "Oh, good, now we can practise our man overboard drill again."

To this day, I've remembered the different feel the boat had as soon as the engine was cut and we were under sail. Before we seemed to be fighting the waves, under sail we seemd to be somehow working with them. Perhaps it was beacuse of my delicate stomach that I particularly noticed this, but my slight feelings of sea sicknes immediately disappeared.

We entered the Island channel and switched back to power to navigate around some of the small islands - very pleasant and relaxing. On the way back, the wind was as strong or stronger than before, and as our little fleet headed for the calm of the marina, I noticed a launch coming out from shore. It made a big arc which brought it behind us and it seeemd to manoeuvre back and forward behind us. I didn't pay much attention, but thought that it looked a wee bit like a sheepdog with a herd of sheep.

When we got back and were putting the boats to rights in preparation for heading home, I chatted to the senior instructor and mentioned the motor boat.

He said, "This morning we instructors met to decide whether to cancel our sail. We didn't want to disappoint you all, and we decided it was doable. That boat was the harbour Police Launch – they decided to come out and escort us in."

Then he pointed to a flag flying at the entrance to the harbour and said "That red pennant is a small craft warning. Tha was the strogest blow we've ever taken students out in!"

It was a great week. We thoroughly enjoyed it – I wouldn't mind doing it again...

The Class System...
Gordon Findlay
In a previous story, I mentioned in passing that Dundee High School pupils tended to look down their noses a little at us Morganites, since our school had a long tradition of admitting a number of non-fee-paying students based on their outstanding academic achievements within the public school system. I never really thought much about the concept, if I thought about it at all.

Having said that, I can vividly recall when the first batch of those non-fee-paying students came into Morgan. I was startled by their ordinary Dundee accent. It was harsh and coarse, it grated on the ear. It immediately identified the person talking as someone from a lower level of society – the so-called 'working class', and certainly did to me and I suppose, to most of my friends at school.

This new influx of youngsters from less-privileged parts of Dundee was, I suppose, in keeping with the founders of Morgan, who wanted to establish a sound, solid bulwark of Scottish education.

However, the founders had also wanted to extend that privilege to at least some of those children whose parents were unable to afford the obvious advantages of a private school education. It was commendable, and unusual, for the times since the class system was a fact of life in Scotland as well as England.

One of the rather brain-dead decisions made around this issue at the time was this: non fee-paying pupils who came into Morgan did not have to instantly conform to wearing the school uniform. (I suppose they were trying to ease the financial burden on those families). But of course, it only made them stand out even more.

However, as World War II ground on, it became harder and harder to get proper Morgan Academy blazers, caps and grey pants (blue skirts, tunics and white shirts for the girls) so it became voluntary. Morgan pupils could wear the school uniform – or they could not.

I wore holes in the elbows of my school blazer, and I was shocked and appalled when my mother patched the holes with leatherette... but after much moaning and complaining on my part – that's how I went to school. Wartime forced some changes, and everyone had to adapt.

I became friends with one of the 'new boys' from the working class, and I can recall being startled and dumbfounded when he told me that – when he was going to his elementary school in Dundee, he and his fellows regularly used to throw stones at Morgan pupils they saw walking home in their school blazers.

"We all hated them. We felt they wis a' stuck-up, wi' pan-loafy accents an' a'." By "pan-loafy" he meant an upper-class accent, which did not drop the 'g' at the end of a word, and spoke in the way I always had in Maryfield, where I grew up.

I suppose, in retrospect, it was my first indoctrination into class distinction, and, though I hadn't really given it much thought I was certainly aware that there was a 'common' accent in Dundee.

Set it Free...
Hugh McGrory
Superannuated as we are, my wife Sheila and I reached the point where we decided to give up on the Christmas/Birthday/Anniverary/Valentine's Day/ hassle of exchanging gifts. We took, instead, to giving each other an appropriate helium-filled balloon (very reasonably priced at the local dollar store.) We found that they lasted quite a long time floating at the end of their six foot ribbons, anchored by little plastic hearts. On occasion we've had as many as three in various stages of senescence.

Usually, when they lost so much bouyancy that they'd touch the floor, we'd give them a swift demise (I'd usually stamp on them to enjoy the loud bang).

One day, when a balloon had dropped about halfway to the floor, I suggested, as an experiment, that we cut the string off and set it free – in the house, that is... Sheila was game, so we did – we've followed this practice ever since...

When a balloon is first set free it heads for the ceiling where the upward pressure of the helium together with the friction between the balloon and the ceiling tends to keep it there for a time. As the helium continues its slow, inexorable escape, the balloon begins to move around against the ceiling, then it begins to slowly head for the floor over a matter of days or weeks. That's when the fun begins... (The photo shows our current, Valentine's Day, balloon which has lasted very well, so far.)

People usually aren't very aware of the air currents in their homes. These come from several sources, of course – the heating/cooling systems, draughts from opening and closing doors and windows, and from simply walking through a room, pushing air before you and causing it to flow after you to fill the space. Of course if you have free flying balloons in the house you quickly become aware...

One of the first things we noticed was that you could walk through a room past a balloon and it would slowly follow you. A couple of times times I've had a fright, seeing one out of the corner of my eye and thinking it was an animal.

Sheila wakened up one day with her hand hanging over the side of the bed and something touching her... Another time she wakened to find that a yellow balloon with a smiley face had been watching her sleep from the ceiling above the bed.

I was sitting reading once, and found one had made its way to join me - I figured that it was reminding me that the golf had begun, so I turned the TV on and the balloon settled down to watch it with me.

On this occasion one appeared, and seemingly feeling that I watched too much television, decided to block my view...



It's said, "If you love something, let it go..." We discovered one had made its way into our garage (we usually use the side door through the garage to enter the house). The balloon stayed around for several days, then when the garage door went up one day it made a break for it, disappeared into the sky – and never did come back...

The star to date was a Smiley Face that discovered that it could ride the air currents from one of our heating/cooling vents. The air moving upward from the vent caused an inward draft that gently pulled the balloon into the updraft. It then took the balloon up some six feet whereupon it drifted sideways and down to the floor and again got sucked towards the vent.

I spent ages watching the balloon going round and round and round and... It figured that out by itself, I didn't teach it - made me quite proud of the little thing.
And people ask me "What do you do all day now that you're retired..."

"Huh? All kinds of stuff!"
NB - All of the photos above were serendipitous – none were staged, and no balloons were harmed for this story...
Gie's a Buzz on Yer Bike
Bill Kidd
Anyone who has visited Amsterdam or Copenhagen will have experienced the cult of the bicycle. Old fashioned upright bikes prevail, whole families get around without effort on streets where motor vehicles

Amsterdam Summer Copenhagen Winter

have to bow to the needs of the cyclist. Why is this? The terrain is flat, so nearly everyone uses a bicycle with the result that most drivers are actually aware of the dangers of carelessly opening a door or cutting in. The provision of tracks for the exclusive use of cyclists also helps, any readers with influence please note!

In contrast, by any stretch of the imagination, Dundee cannot be described as flat, nor could the granite setts and tramlines of my youth be described as cyclist friendly. In the late 1940s and early '50s cycling in Dundee
Dundee High Street – beware non-expert cyclists – skint knees and elbows be here!

was like being on a Commando course. In my case, coping with my heavy upright bike was like a sojourn behind enemy lines.

As I drive around Dundee and its surrounding area, I sometimes wonder how I survived. I certainly would not encourage anyone to cycle the routes that my pals and I covered on our bikes unless they had the benefit of a safety car.

I have ridden a bicycle on and off (sometimes only too literally) for most of my life. It was only during my late primary and secondary schooldays that having and using my first bike was of any importance to me. This was a formidable machine, a brand-new Phillips upright that must have weighed about half a hundredweight, well it certainly seemed so when going up a hill or climbing three flights of stairs with it over my shoulder. This was a basic bike costing £11.00, no gears, no panniers, no lights and only a tiny saddlebag to carry a puncture repair kit. It did have a bell and it also had a bicycle pump. I loved it! I learned to ride it by persuading my father to run behind me holding on to the saddle. At first it was to keep me upright but after the first ten runs he only remained upright by holding on. After a couple of such sessions I dispensed with his services and carried on by learning not to fall off!

I worshipped that bike, I cleaned it, I polished it and if it was raining, I took it apart and reassembled it. When the sun shone, I rode it all over the place. I learnt that if I let someone have a 'shottie' then the quid pro quo would be being picked for his football team, a rare event before I got my bike. Of course, there were those people who despised upright bikes, they had racing bikes fitted with five gear Derailleurs and drop handlebars, they also had a habit of showing off how light their bikes were by lifting them one handed above their swollen heads. Then there were those cyclists that were universally despised by both the upright and racing bike fraternity. I refer, of course, to those who had a touring kind of bike, usually a Raleigh with Sturmey Archer three speed hub gears, a hub dynamo, cycle stand, security lock and capacious saddlebag. They were regarded as boys on a girl's bike, if you gave one of them a 'shottie' it was only too likely to be a cricket team on which you would be offered a place!

Our favourite evening excursion was to cycle through Invergowrie to Longforgan then up the Knapp road through Littleton, joining the Coupar Angus Road for the return to Dundee. A journey of about eighteen miles covered in a couple of hours. Weather permitting, two or three of us would take this tour nearly every week, occasionally reversing the route for a bit of variety. Once in secondary school, my bike was the transport of choice. This required the purchase of a padlock and chain, not as an anti-theft precaution but to stop any unauthorised use while I was in class. Once, I suffered the indignity of losing my padlock key. This meant that I had to push the bike on its front wheel all the way home, much to the amusement of everyone I passed.

The Easter and summer holidays were an opportunity for more adventurous outings. I bought an ex-US Army bivouac tent from Millets so that we could have overnight stays. Our first such expedition was to Forfar where a relative had a farm and would allow us to pitch our tent in one of his fields. We loaded up our bikes with camping gear and set off. The first obstacle was the, then, formidable Powrie Brae. Pedalling up it without getting off and pushing was usually seen as a challenge but this time we accepted defeat and pushed our laden (or should it be leaden?) bikes from bottom to top. The rest of the ride to Forfar passed without incident and we duly set up camp as planned. I won't pretend that three of us in a two-man war surplus bivouac was comfortable or that we had great success at fire-lighting and cooking even 'though two of us had Scout badges that said we could do this! All in all, that trip was enough to encourage us to repeat the experience over next couple of years. One thing that I did learn on the way up Powrie Brae was that I needed to save up for Sturmey Archer gears.

Over the next few years we ranged around Angus, Perthshire and the East Neuk of Fife. With the aid of my new four speed gears, tackled Tullybaccart on the Coupar Angus Road, the Electric Brae on the road to Glamis and once the Devil's Elbow at the top of Glenshee. All of these barriers have now been modified to the extent that they can be driven over without noticing the gradient or even giving enough space to the cyclist nonchalantly pedalling uphill on a modern superbike.

By the time that I left school I had lost the taste for such excursions and my bike was barely used and the bivouac lent to someone who never returned it. Occasionally I would borrow my son's racer and for my 50th birthday I was given a modern ten gear lightweight bike that I used around my home area for over twenty years until lorries, buses and cars frightened me too much. Perhaps we should all relocate to Amsterdam!

Captain and Tennille
Hugh McGrory
So my wife, Sheila, and I, and the Captain and Tennille, were... Oh, wait a minute. I'm jumping into this story without any background...

I'm sure you all remember the Captain and Tennille – if not, or if you just want a little walk down memory lane, click here.

In 1974 when 'Love Will Keep Us Together' was a huge hit for them, their fans thought that they were married. In fact, while they were living together, they hadn't legally tied the knot. Urged by her mother, their publicist and their accountant, who told them that it would be more tax efficient, they decided to go for it.

They were in Nevada and wanted a small ceremony with no muss or fuss. They drove into the mountains of Western Nevada to the small old-time silver mining town of Virginia City (famous for the Comstock Lode). Directed to the Silver Queen Saloon, they found a local judge who could, and did, perform the ceremony. Afterwards Tony apparently asked if it was really legal – she was assured that it was and that their certificate would be mailed to them – it was.

Afterwards, walking through the town they decided they should have a photograph to commemorate the occasion, came across an establishment (it might have been Silver Sadie's Old Time Photographs) that could do the job, and had their wedding photograph taken.

When Sheila and I got married in 1979 (second time for each of us), we didn't want any muss or fuss either and had a simple civil ceremony in Old City Hall in Toronto. Afterwards, walking through the streets of Yorkville, we decided we should have a photograph to commemorate the occasion, and so we had our wedding photograph taken.

So was this a case of 'think alike' or 'seldom differ'...?
Tapping
Gordon Findlay
On Saturday mornings, Ballingall's would deliver the week's supply of draft beer – in barrels, of course – to my Dad's pub. A metal trapdoor in the sidewalk in front of Caw's would be opened up, and the brewer's delivery men would each slip a rope around their necks. The other end of this rope was slung around the
barrel, whch was then eased off the truck, through the opening and down the ramp into the cellar where it would be lined up on the rack, ready to be tapped.

I can remember that once all the barrels were successfully rolled down into our cellar, each of the delivery men would come into the bar and Dad would serve them a large tankard of beer. A small perk for a job well done.

On occasion it would be time to tap a fresh barrel of ale or beer to supply the draft taps at the bar itself. This needed a practiced hand and a sure aim. Dad would pull the plastic tubes from the old barrel, then pick up a special mallet with a sharp pointed head. He'd aim this mallet at the bung of the new barrel and in one swift hard swing, drive the bung into the barrel. At the same instant he'd jam the pointed end of the plastic line into the bunghole of the barrel before the beer came spurting out.
The trapdoor still in use today.

Another line was linked to this one – carrying pressurized carbon dioxide – to force the beer up the line to the bar taps above. Dad would draw off a couple of pints of foamy beer until it settled down, pour away this frothy mixture, and a fresh barrel was all set to go for Monday.

A Social Experiment
Hugh McGrory
In his story last week, Bill noted that Sir James Caird was the benefactor who provided the City with the wonderful resource that is the Caird Hall and City Square. The Hall has served the city well to this day. Over the years, many well known artists have appeared there including Nellie Melba, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Willie Nelson, U2, The Rolling Stones, Billy Connolly, Elton John, David Bowie, Bryan Adams, Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Who, Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac and the Everly Brothers...

The Cairds were a local Dundee family who 'made good' in the jute business – at one time they employed 2,000 people in two factories. They had a reputation as good employers who ran an efficient business and treated their workers well. They were also philanthropists, contributing to various scientific activities, such as cancer research.

I was interested to learn that James Caird helped to fund Sir Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic expedition on the


Endurance. When the ship was trapped in ice (and later sank) Shackleton and five of his crew made their epic (and successful) small-boat voyage of 800 nautical miles from Elephant Island to South Georgia, in search of help. The name of the small 23 ft. ship's boat they used was – the James Caird.

The Caird Hall was designed by the City Architect to be a strong, solid presence in the central square. Indeed, in 1982 it was used in the film An Englishman Abroad to represent a theatre in Moscow – as you can see from the photograph, it played its part rather well...


The hall has hosted all kinds of events, and amongst these, and of particular interest to this story, an evening lecture series on a variety of subjects. When I was a young teenager, there was such a series running. I realised, in writing this, that these were part of the Armitstead Lecture Series from a bequest aimed at educating and entertaining Dundonians. (I was surprised to learn that these continue to this day, though they are now hosted at Dundee University.)

Often speakers told of their travels to exotic parts of the world and accompanied their talks with numerous photographs. A couple of pals and I decided to attend one or two of these (don't know now whether they were school friends or kids from the neighbourhood – since never the twain did meet...)

We liked to sit in the balcony on the left side near the back of the hall – the photo shows almost the exact
spot... We learned that it was the practice for the audience to applaud when a particularly fine photo was displayed. I found this interesting, since sometimes I didn't think the photo was particularly good.

I decided we should try a social experiment and my buddies agreed to help me. Indeed, if truth be told, we didn't actually know that's what we were doing – pretty sure we'd never heard the term before. I just wanted to see if we could influence the audience...

We waited until a particularly mediocre photo was thrown
up on the large screen then clapped enthusiastically. As predicted, many of the audience joined in. As we laughed at them, I suspected that those who didn't clap were saying to themselves, "Why the hell are they clapping?", while those who were clapping, were saying to themselves, "Why the hell am I clapping".

It was an interesting insight into human group behaviour – I can think of two or three reasons why this happens – I'm sure you can too. (Some of you may have been in the audience that night – did you clap or not, I wonder...?)

Maybe I should have gone into social science instead of engineering...

A Present for Dundee
Bill Kidd
One of my earliest memories is going "down the town" with my mother. I clearly recall that both she and I had to be specially dressed for the occasion. To my four-year-old mind the only redeeming feature of the expedition was that it began and ended with a journey in the tram. The only other activity that I enjoyed that
day was chasing the pigeons in the City Square. It was only some years later that I realised the importance of the Square and the large building that cast its shadow over it, I refer of course to the Caird Hall complex.

During WWII the City Square was the venue for a series of fund-raising activities. I recall as a small boy getting the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of the Spitfire that was displayed there as part of the Dundee- wide fundraising effort to buy one of the aircraft. I am not sure, but I think that it cost my parents sixpence

Another youngster enjoying the same Spitfire experience as I - but about 70 years later...

for me to be lifted into the seat and have the controls explained to me by the rather harassed airman in charge. I had no idea what he was talking about, but I was allowed to press the button that fired the gun, a sixpence well spent! This was only one of a series of military vehicles and displays that graced the Square during the course of the war.

Every Saturday the Square was quite busy but on one Saturday in April it was always crowded for the Students' Charity day. Citizens mingled with tin rattling Angels and Demons, Roman Soldiers and Nuns with Beards, Carmen Miranda and Mickey Mouse all of these and many more made their appearance that day and this was in addition to the tableaux displayed upon the line of lorries that paraded through the centre of town. It was all much more fun than our current Red Nose Day on TV!

As the years went by my interest in the City Square gradually waned in favour of events taking place in the Caird Hall. Although the building's exterior suggests that it had been transported in Victorian times from Ancient Greece it is actually of fairly recent construction. The building and its surrounding area were the gift of Sir James Key Caird, he stipulated that the construction must include a considerable retail presence. This was intended to provide sufficient revenue from rents to cover the cost of running and maintaining the complex without it being a burden on the (then) Dundee Burgh Council. The Council accepted the gift and the foundation stone was laid on 10th July 1914 by King George V accompanied by Queen Mary. The intervention of WWI, which started less than a month later, delayed the project. The official opening, performed by Edward Prince of Wales, did not take place until 26th October 1923.

Since then it has been in constant use, hosting everything from Orchestral Concerts through Cinema and Exhibitions to Professional Wrestling, not necessarily in that order of popularity! The auditorium can seat 2,300 and boasts a pipe organ and choir stalls. Proudly adjoining the Caird Hall is the more modest Marryat Hall, the gift of Caird's sister Mrs Emma Grace Marryat, can seat up to 300 and is used for Concerts, Balls, Post-Graduation Receptions, Political Meetings, Civic Events and anything else that comes to mind!

I am unsure whether the revenue from the retail activities worked as intended but there certainly was a significant retail and commercial presence in the complex. The Cafe Val d'Or at the north-east corner
Cafe Val D'Or in it's prime location on the corner opposite Keiller's and Timson's.

of the City Square was a popular venue for local businessmen to have their morning coffee and, no doubt, catch up with the latest gossip and scandal. I understand that it was also popular with their ladies, possibly for very similar reasons! The bank on the west top corner of Castle Street and all the retail premises on the west side of Castle Street were part of the complex. The shops were a varied lot with a tobacconist, photographic dealer, ironmonger and public house among their number. The Ministry of Food also had a ration-book office close to the passageway that gave access to and from the public toilets, City Arcade and City Square.

The south side of the complex on Shore Terrace housed an Electrical Wholesaler, the City Arcade, a wholesale fruit and vegetable merchant and latterly the Transport Department offices. Other than the main Post Office, which was located on the south-east corner of Crichton Street, I cannot recall any significant commercial activity on that side of the complex. Unusually for the time, Crichton Street gave access to a sizeable underground car park that had pedestrian access from the City Square. I believe that the east and west sides of the City Square housed various City Council Offices including the one that collected money for vehicle taxation.

The City Arcade was a joy, it had its own distinctive odour and was always bustling. This constant activity was the result of its use as a thoroughfare between Shore Terrace and the High Street as people arrived and left on their buses. The closure of the Shore Terrace transport hub in the 1980s sounded the death knell for the Arcade.
Almost every kid in Dundee had a ride on Champion the Wonder Horse in The City Arcade.

Returning to the Arcade's unique odour, I think that it was a combination emanating from the goods being offered. There was the poultry and game shop, the linoleum emporium, the herbalist and druggist, places to buy toys and paper scraps, the amusement section – and probably a hint of people and wet clothes! It was a magic place, where else you could watch Charlie Chaplin, test your strength and get your name punched out on a metal strip for only a penny a time!

My first venture into the Caird Hall was around 1947 when I visited the "Dundee's Own Exhibition". This was a major post-war event and featured the commerce and industry to be found in Dundee. It also had demonstrations of various kitchen gadgets and extolled the benefits of electricity in the home. My mother bought a lidded beaker that could be used to make butter simply by pouring some milk from the DPM bottle into the beaker, fitting the lid and shaking the device. The demonstration at the exhibition produced a usable pat of butter after about three minutes. Regrettably, an hour of my more or less vigorous shaking failed to produce anything more than a greasy smear. Perhaps the demonstrator didn't get her milk from the DPM!

My second time in the Caird Hall was when I attended a joint religious service for all the local uniformed youth organisations. This was the first time that I fully realised the sheer size of the building. All I can really remember of the day was that it rained heavily, and our Scout Leader bought us lemonade and chips afterwards. My next and most memorable visit was to the afternoon children's concert given by the Scottish Orchestra. Again, it was a full house and I was fascinated by the sight and sound of the orchestra tuning up. Then the conductor, quite a small man, came on to the applause that we had been told to give. He faced the orchestra, raised his baton and my life changed for ever when the first blast of Bizet's Overture to Carmen came from the orchestra. It was wonderful and I have loved live classical music ever since.

I subsequently attended many more orchestral concerts in the venue, different orchestras and many different conductors but Karl Rankl, who hit me with the Carmen overture, remains top of my list. I have been in the
Handel's Messiah.
Caird and Marryat Halls on many other occasions, the Christmas performance of the Messiah, our son's graduation ceremony, an STUC Conference and dare I admit it, to numerous wrestling shows.

As gifts go, I believe that Sir James Key Caird and his sister got their choice just about right!

Cycling to School
Hugh McGrory
In my early teens, my parents took me down to Halford's in the High St. and bought me a bicycle – a Hercules. I remember I wanted drop handlebars, but my mother insisted they were dangerous and so I had to settle for an upright. Arguably the single, best, most life-changing present I ever got in my life – from then on that bike was with me almost every time I left the house, and vastly expanded my world.

For my last few years at Morgan we lived in Clement Park, Lochee (the reason my wee brother went to Harris, the little traitor that he was...) and I cycled back and forward to school every day. I figured it was about 5 miles, but I just measured it and 3 miles is closer – and I cycled along the height of land, Clepington Rd., most of the way, so it was quite flat. So not much effort really, but it helped keep me fit for hockey.

I used to like it if the bus that went along Clepington Road and down Mains Loan (was it a number 2?) appeared at the right time, especially if it was windy, since I could draught along behind it.

Usually the timing didn't work out but on occasion I would see it in the distance approaching Mains Loan, and I'd speed up and try to time it so that I could tuck in, very close behind, just as it made its turn into Mains Loan and so get through without having to stop for the considerable morning traffic coming the other way along the 'Cleppie'.

I was always inordinately pleased with myself if I could get the timing right – except for the morning that the bus driver began his turn then changed his mind and stopped. I clattered into the back of the bus and fell on my backside in the middle of the road. The driver didn't even notice, but the Morgan pupils in the back of the bus had a great laugh at my expense...

I cycled all year round unless the weather was really bad when I would take the school bus. One winter's day it had snowed overnight, but I thought I could make it all right, so I headed out. It was a bit icy and a bit slushy but all went well until I reached The Clep Bar and the bus stop across the road.

There was a queue of about a dozen people waiting for the bus, and just as I reached them my wheels slipped out from under me. I landed on my butt and the bike and I slid along past the queue – they were all highly amused as I passed by.

I picked myself up, red-faced, determined to get on my way as quickly as possible. With a touch of insouciant bravado – just to show them – I decide to do a classic mount (instead of putting my leg over the bar first and pushing off from a straddle position). I thought they would think it quite dramatic, given the ice and slush – as it turned out, they did...

I put my left foot on the upraised left peddle, pushed off gracefully and just as my right leg reached its highest position over the bike, my bent right pedal hit the frame and then, I swear everything, including time, stopped dead. I balanced in mid-air for what felt like several minutes, then crashed into the slush again.

As you can imagine, for the people standing in the cold waiting for the bus, I was the highlight of their day, and probably featured later in a lot of workplace stories.

This time of course, I couldn't make a quick getaway – did I mention the bent pedal – so I had to spend an agonizing few minutes providing more entertainment for them while kicking my pedal stem until it cleared the frame – managing to miss with one of my kicks and gouging my ankle in the process.

I finally got it clear, did a quick (straddle) mount, my face burning, and left that mortifying experience behind me – for ever – it would never be spoken of again...

The next day, after school and needing a haircut, I headed for 'my' barber, Winston Turnbull in Ogilvie St. The shop was busy, and as I entered he caught sight of me, said "Hi Hugh", and then to the assembled throng, including a couple of Morgan students, "So I was waiting for a bus yesterday morning on Clepington Road, and..."