Primary 7 High Blantyre Primary School c1949
The teacher on the left is Mr Ferrier (Big Tam). He had an artificial arm which he used to push us into line or give us a judicious clout on the back of the head if we misbehaved. I am the tallest boy near the middle of the back row.
River Calder where we often played. There are some deep pools where we bathed in hot weather.
River Calder and Milheugh Bridge. Over the bridge and up to the left of the photo is Millheugh Farm which was owned by Young Jimmy Rockhead. We went there to help at harvest time.
Life-sized imitation horse and tippin' cairt at Rosebank Garden Centre in the Clyde Valley. It was from a cart like this that I fell off backwards landing on my head. I was carried home unconscious.
My Childhood Games
High Blantyre was my place of birth,
At Broompark Road near Rochead's farm.
We played there neath the railway bridge
Where we felt safe and free from harrn.
We played beside the railway line,
In farmer's fields and on the road,
Our own back court in weather fine,
Or where the River Calder flowed.
Most girls played skipping with great skill,
Football for boys and headers too.
We all played chestnuts holding still,
And flew our kites when strong winds blew.
Cans were kicked if we had no ball.
We learned the skill of playing marbles,
Played hide and seek, boys and girls all,
Rode a bike or sat on the handles.
'Cops and robbers' was fun for boys.
With bow and arrow or toy gun,
Cowboys and Indians made much noise,
And fought it out to see who won.
With skipping ropes or girds and cleeks
We ran for miles, or so it seemed.
Knock doors, run fast gave rosy cheeks.
We hid and watched; our faces beamed.
We played at tig or free the den,
Climbed walls or trees; how high to go?
Roller skating no matter when,
Sledge and slides in the ice and snow.
Larkfield bing was a place to slide,
Much better than the Public Park.
On board or shovel we did glide,
And often played till it was dark.
Lamplighter came to tend street lights,
Gas mantle flickered with a flame,
'Twas teatime then on those dark nights,
'Come home at once.' Mum called my name.
A puddock sat by the lochan's brim,
An’ he thocht there was never a puddock like him.
He sat on his hurdies, he waggled his legs,
An’ cockit his heid as he glowered throu’ the seggs.
The bigsy wee cratur’ was feelin’ that prood,
He gapit his moo’ an’ he croakit oot lood:
“Gin ye’d a’ like tae see a richt puddock,” quo’ he,
“Ye'll never, I'll sweer, get a better nor me.
I've fem’lies an’ wives an’ a weel plenished hame,
Wi’ drink for my thrapple an’ meat for my wame.
The lassies aye thocht me a fine strappin’ chiel,
An’ I ken I’m a rael bonny singer as weel.
I’m nae gon tae blaw, but th’ truth I maun tell
I believe I’m the verra MacPuddock himsel’.”
A heron was hungry an’ needin’ tae sup,
Sae he nabbit th’ puddock and gollup’t him up;
Syne runkled his feathers: “A peer thing,” quo’ he,
“But puddocks is nae fat they eesed tae be.”
John M Caie
There was a Burns night competition for primary schools in our area when I was in Primary 7, and I was entered to represent our school, High Blantyre Primary School. I recited a poem, not by Robert Burns but by another Scottish poet, John M Caie. I won second prize and this had been my favourite poem since then.
The old Scots language can be difficult to understand for modern readers, including Scots, so I have given the original on the left and an Anglicized version on the right. My translation doesn't have the rhyme or rhythm of the original but it does give the meaning.
A frog sat by the edge of the pond,
And he thought there was never a frog like him.
He sat on his buttocks, he shook his legs,
And tilted his head as he stared through the irises.
The arrogant little creature was feeling so proud,
He opened his mouth and he croaked out loud:
“If you’d all like to see a real frog,” said he,
“You’ll never, I’ll swear, get better than me.
I’ve families and wives and a well furnished home,
With drink for my throat and food for my stomach.
The girls always thought me a fine strapping lad,
And I know I’m a really nice singer as well.
I’m not going to boast, but the truth I must tell
I believe I’m the Frog Clan chieftain himself.”
A heron was hungry and needing to eat,
So he grabbed the frog and swallowed him quickly.
Then wrinkled his feathers: “A poor thing,” said he,
“But frogs are not what they used to be.”
Gird and cleek
Beds - Peever - Hopscotch
Puddock - Frog
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Primary School Days