1971 Boroughmuir class.

1971 Boroughmuir class.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Friday, Hogmanay, 1971

It wiz a boring last day o' 1971. The only wee excitement wiz going along to the chemist's shop to collect ma photies-there's always that wee bit o' frisson and excitement to see how they've turned out.

It's been interesting keeping a diary a' year-it's one o' the better things that I've done and I haven't missed a single day. I've enjoyed daein' it so much that I bought a new 1972 Letts Diary at Bairds Newsagents and already I cannae wait to put pen to paper.

It's been a very mixed and varied year. Oan the positive side it wiz good that Maw got a divorce and Dad's essentially out o' our lives-life at 6/2 is much much happier and it's been great having lots o' oor pals round-Maw always makes them feel very welcome and she's popular wie the likes o' Boo-Boo, Ali and Paul. 

Although I've not attended Meadowbank much recently, I've enjoyed going along wie Paul and I've made up ma mind to start attending regularly and training hard wie Mr Walker's sessions. 

It's also been great becoming such guid friends wie Paul. Although I've known him for years, we've paired up well, becoming best pals-it's almost as if where we might be a wee bit doubtful o' ourselves when we're on our oan, but when we get together we're quite a positive combination and generally I think we're pretty good for each other.

The only blot oan ma copybook is the schooling or should I say the lack of it. I've missed half the year through skiving and as I've recorded that's no an exaggeration. It's been a complete feckin' disaster and I ken I'm likely to have to leave Boroughmuir next summer wie oot an 'O' Level to ma name and thereafter sink into oblivion. Ironically, I feel more sorry for ma relatives and their disappointment rather than worrying maself. If I think aboot it too much I just switch aff and generally just park the subject. Next!

Hogmanay wiz transformed come the evening because we all went down to Andy 'n Maggie Ross's annual party at Henderson Row-we all had a ball  of a time and I wiz drunk for the first time! After the midnight bells rang out we walked along the Dickensian streets o' Stockie to 14 Dean Park Street where we were staying the night at Nana Hoffmann's-strange isn't it, we don't see her a' year apart from oan Christmas and Hogmanay.

Happy New Year everyone-on to a new diary!

Friday, 30 December 2016

A Message from Retep

Well, that’s almost it!

The 1971 journal is shortly to bite the dust.

Because 2016 is a leap year (in comparison to 1971) and therefore to bring it into synche, there's remains only one final entry to come from Retep's 1971 diary which will be posted tomorrow, the last day of the year, I thought I would post this message to cover today's gap. 

I’ve decided not to do a similar blog for 1972 and to leave 'Retep's Journal' as a stand-alone project. 

I began the project on a whim. It hadn't been pre-planned and instead I stumbled into it. I had been seeking out a follow up to 'The Stair' and a year ago tonight the idea came to me in the early hours of the morning and within 24 hours I launched the blog on New Year's Day, 2016-it seems both a long time ago, but a short time ago too.

So, whether you were reading it in sunny California; close to the High Plains and the Rocky Mountains in Denver; amongst the Charentais-Maritimes, France; in the warm and gentle climes of Faro, Portugal; or in an aeroplane traversing Australia; or indeed an architect's practice in the Highlands; a penthouse flat in Edinburgh; or simply a butcher's shop in Currie or on an Lothian Region Edinburgh bus on the way into work in the morning, I hope it brightened up your day . 

I suspect it has at least been a slightly different sort of a post on Facebook and Twitter and at times it perhaps bemused; entertained; and even educated you or just dredged up forgotten memories from the Edinburgh culture of the day. 

I'm not wholly sure why I've written about the past. But tonight I found it revealing watching the excellent Channel 4 programme 'Springsteen: In His Own Words' where Bruce spoke of having visited a psychiatrist and asking why he continued to keep revisiting his old home, sometimes three or four times a week-'What the hell am I doing?' The doctor said 'Because something bad happened. And you're going back to make it right-to try to fix it.........well, you can't!' Perhaps in this and other blogs there is some truth in that.

I have remained honest to what was written in the diary-even when it was embarrassing to me; however to have edited it out would have meant not being true to the project as a whole which would somehow have rendered it to be worthless. 

On balance I’m glad I stayed the course and it has resulted in the publication of the second volume of the projected 'Edinburgh Trilogy'. 

The book came out slightly earlier than anticipated after I buggered up my fibula at footie-the old maxim of 'How do we make this good?'

Could I say a big thank you for the very welcome ongoing feedback, especially when I had doubts about publishing it each day. Comments coming through the ether were greatly welcomed and provided a real fillip.

If you are not already doing so, you can follow 'Retep's' later adventures in ‘A Postcard from Meadowbank’. 

Yes, the fulcrum is athletics, but it is still set within the Edinburgh culture of 40 years ago; and although it's a more mature and serious Retep, there are the usual snakes and ladders of life as we follow 'The Hero's Journey' on a quest from the world of common day into a land of adventures, tests and magical rewards. 

And whilst it is about Retep reinventing himself as Achilles, it is more about recording his responses and reactions to the events that befall him on the quest.

'Achilles Heel' is the projected name of the proposed book’ which I feel at this stage to be appropriate as I see it as a successful failure if that makes sense-but who knows how I might feel come next autumn-I'm already picking up interesting things which are only beginning to reveal themselves through this telescope into the past and the mists of time. At times I'm feeling like an astronomer looking back toward the 'Big Bang'!

This blog will give me the basis of the third and final volume of the trilogy which health permitting, I hope to publish at the end of summer, 2017. 

For some time I’ve been keen to put something back into the sport of athletics and this newish project has also given me a wee idea which I hope to progress in tandem with the Meadowbank blog. 

In essence, Retep's 1971 diary captured the end of an era and thus I feel there’s a certain artistic sensibility in leaving it as a single volume. It was also my final year living in Oxgangs. 1972 was more of a transitional year.

In 'The Stair' I wrote a long piece about a wonderful 1972 holiday with Paul; Iain; Alison and Fiona Blades spent camping on a gloriously hot summer's week down at Stobo, Peebleshire; at the end of that vignette I said: 'When that summer of 1972 came to an end it marked a point in time-a line in the sand-the bell was ringing for the last lap and the end of my boyhood. It wasn't long afterwards, indeed only a few weeks later that I decided to leave school. A few months later, at the start of winter, I left The Stair, only to return for occasional visits.’

'Summer Has Gone'

I have tidings for you,
The stag bells; 
Winter pours;
Summer has gone

Wind is high and cold;
The sun is low;
Its course is short;
The sea runs strongly...

Cold has seized
The wings of birds;
Season of ice,
These are my tidings

Come late November, 1972, I left Oxgangs to live at my grandparents’ home in Portobello.

It does mean that some of the themes or threads which were beginning to emerge in 1971 will leave readers somewhat high and dry e.g. my relationship with my father; my developing friendship with Paul, where we become a bit of a double act-no one thinking Peter without Paul, or as one person said on Facebook this month ‘...a pair of mavericks’. And of course just how did Retep get oan in the dreaded ‘O’ Levels! 

And this is not to even mention Retep’s misadventures when he leaves school and enters the world of work in September, 1972, after essentially being expelled from Boroughmuir School and taking up a post at Thomas Graham & Sons, Morningside-what I refer to as his ‘Dickens blacking factory period’!

The odd reference to this period appears in ‘A Postcard from Meadowbank’ although it’s mainly taken from a year’s hence, 1973, through to 1978. 

Thus, 1972 will sit on the shelf, but who knows for how many years and to quote from one of Edinburgh's finest, 'Never, say never!'.

Could I wish you all the best in 2017 in your adventures and as mentioned above, there remains one extract from Retep's diary still to come tomorrow on Hogmanay. Until then and in Tennyson's words:

The old St John's Church bell; the bell is now sited at Bonaly Scout Camp nestling at the foot of the Pentland Hills

'Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
The year is dying in the night

Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow;
The year is going, let him go:'

'Retep Nnamffoh'

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Thursday, 30th December, 1971

After a' the guid write-ups the past few days and me saying how great the holidays have been, well today wiz a boring day. As I've written before it's funny the way that one day everyone comes out to play and then for no apparent reason everyone just stays in!

There's no really any decent daytime telly oan wie us being past Christmas and the evening's fayre wiz nothing to write about. There wiz a Brigitte Bardot film oan but it wiz shite!

I'm having something to eat now.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Wednesday, 29th December, 1971

Another lovely winter's day which allowed us a' to get oot for another game o' fitba first thing. 

Just before lunchtime a group o' us including Boo-Boo and Ali decided to go for a long cycle ride. We cycled a' the way down to Portobello for a whistle stop visit to Nana's. I've never been out so far oan the bike at this time o' the year-just shows you. 

Apart from the Dynamo oan Dougie's bike the rest don't have any lights so we were keen to cycle back before dusk fell.

Another day packed full o' exercise, so it wiz no wonder I went to Rissi's for some chips-this must be ma longest gap oan the chips front of 1971. Oan the way back down Oxgangs Street I bumped in to Mr Ramage...oh no!

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Monday, 27th December, 1971

We're getting a guid crack o' the whip wie the fine weather this Christmas Holiday from school-it's not always been this good. Once again we got a bunch o' us out for a game o' football down at Colinton Mains Park.

The postie arrived for the first time since Christmas Eve-and it wiz a good one for us a' as there wiz Christmas money from Dad. I got a fiver so went into town wie Iain, Boo-Boo and Paul and bought maself a new parka-just whit I need for the cauld winter mornings oan ma paper runs. We had a braw fun time in town ending up at Woolies cafe once again and then getting some fun photies in the booth!

In the evening I watched 'Carry On Cowboy'-I thought it wiz crap-is that the case or am I just getting aulder and more critical!

I'm aff to bed now-I'm fair enjoying ma holidays.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Sunday, Boxing Day, 1971

The good weather continues-crisp and cold but sunny allowing a bunch o' us to enjoy a very guid game o' fitba. Brilliant fun and it wiz just great to be able to get outside oan Boxing Day and run around. 

I had another game o' footie later on, but across in the playground toward dusk under the street-lights. 

Unfortunately, Stephen Westbrook kept spoiling for a fight during the game and picked a fight wie me and I ended up kicking him in. I hated the whole thing and it's not like me to get involved in that way-probably the only fight I've had a' year-I would rather run a mile than get involved. Anyway it a' started off in front of everyone and I just had tae feign some chutzpah and get oan with it. No doubt everything will return to normality. Afterwards and to make things worse, I ended up having a bad fall on to the concrete late oan in the game-feckin' OUCH!, I'm being hit from a' sides!

I came back to 6/2 and settled down to watch 'High Society' oan the new telly-it wiz brilliant-a great film with some lovely tracks. Just thinking of auld 'Louie Armstrong' singing the soundtrack brings a smile to my face.

I'm planning to go out for a wee run with Paul later oan at 7.00 pm. tonight. 

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Saturday, Christmas Day, 1971

Merry Christmas everyone!

We still got oor Christmas stockings from Maw, but now that we're a' getting slightly older, they weren't at the foot o' oor beds this year-but were still great as usual wie lots o' dinky wee pressies.

Being Christmas Day we had a fancier brekkie than normal including fried bacon. The new telly wiz on in the background wie some cartoons oan 'Aspel's Christmas Crackers' followed by the 'Family Service'. 

We a' then ventured oot tae Corstorphine to the Harp Hotel. The morning wiz set fair-dry and crisp, but Oxgangs wiz as quiet as the proverbial church moose as a' the other families were either at home or away to relatives, however Corstorphine itself wiz a wee bit busier. 

I'm not quite sure why we've chosen the Harp as it's a bit awkward tae get to from Oxgangs-I guess it's because it's got a good reputation and within oor budget. It's no quite the same as the traditional Christmases we've all enjoyed at Nana's since I wiz born; however it wiz pretty good, but I think we a' may return tae normality next year as long as we a' give Nana a hand.

Although the waitresses are lovely, going out tae dinner is a bit more formal and not so relaxed-and it's kind of odd to be celebrating wie strangers in the room-still it gave Nana a wee break.

We a' then headed down to Porty to Nana 'n Gaga's for the afternoon. The first part o' 'Top o' the Pops 71" wiz oan-oot o' all the hits featured 'T Rex' 'Hot Love' wiz ma favourite-'She's faster than most, And she lives oan the coast'! 

A' the usual comforting fayre wiz oan-'The Queen'; 'Billy Smart's Circus' and then 'The Black 'n White Minstrel Show'-a' relaxing stuff by way o' background as we tucked in to a 'John West' salmon tea and Nana's delicious home-made shortbread along wie the usual buns. I didn't need any supper after three good feeds today.

Gaga gave us a lift home from Porty to Oxgangs. As usual there wiz hardly any cars oan the road as we sailed through an empty Arthurs Seat. Anne, Iain 'n I had a wee competition tae count the number o' lit Christmas trees we could see in the windows-aye auld habits die hard.

Back home I wiz outside for a wee while talking away wie Liz Fraser. Again, another wee difference to the past when we always stayed within the bosom o' the family homes-aye we're a' getting aulder. 

Back inside we a' watched the 'Morecambe 'n Wise Show' which wiz enjoyable enough-Glenda Jackson wiz oan doing a wee song 'n dance number wie them. 

Funny enough the programme I enjoyed the most wiz the programme that concluded the day called 'The Countyman At Christmas'-a charming wee programme perfectly pitched tae end the day.

A' 'n a' a lovely day-and although different from previous years, still a special one-we a' enjoyed ourselves.

Illustration by Nicola Robinson.