There's me and a fellow called John who was in my class at primary school. In those days the local secondary was a four-year one and I was selected to go to a six-year school in another town. John wasn't, but almost three decades on we're at the same school again. He's one of the new generation of technical teachers who knows what a computer is and who doesn't hit kids with planks of wood.
Drew also came via industry. A chemist who scares the living S-H-one-T out of the school by detonating mixtures of hydrogen and oxygen in the playground, he can appear very serious. When his tremendous dry humour does surface it can be devastating. We're talking swerving-around-the-road stuff here, though I'm banned from telling his best one about a potentially serious accident involving loose-fitting overalls and a piece of hot slag. Oh and he's a Motherwell supporter.
Similarly afflicted, though to a greater degree, is the other John. (Would you believe a claret and amber garage door?) He is also a fan of Larson cartoons, the Simpsons and Father Ted, to whom he admits a passing resemblance. His subject is math but he has been a salesman and a partner in a company producing multimedia computer titles.
As we dodge potholes on the thoroughfares of South Lanarkshire, the conversation ranges widely in topic and depth. Football, religion, bigotry, Father Ted, David Bowie's lyrics ("Pour me out another phone . . ." what was he on about?), books, the Simpsons, cycling, potholes and education, education and education all feature regularly.
Maths John came up with an interesting one the other day (actually about five months ago if I'm honest). He is the only one of us who has been in a hiring-and-
firing situation and he says employers are looking at Highers when recruiting.
Why? Because they know that an A-pass Higher English from one school means the same as an A-pass Higher English from another. Degrees awarded by universities are perceived to be of varying standards.
Maybe you think this is unfair. If so, we'll arrange to pick you up one morning and you can argue your case from the centre of the back seat. Two notes of caution: it's only a lap seat belt and if you support Rangers or Celtic you can prepare for a rough ride.
Gregor Steele has taken screen savers and hand-turned pens in lieu of petrol money.