1971 Boroughmuir class.

1971 Boroughmuir class.

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'








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