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Heralds of a brave new year

January faces both ways. I'd barely got over the future shock of the city centre notice "e-mail Santa from here" when the George Square helter-skelter and ice-rink hove into view. Central Park it ain't (that's Cowdenbeath, not New York) but I suppose it disguises the previous mess made of the square by the city fathers, and provides a modern alternative to the time-worn memories of the Kelvin Hall Carnival.

Years ago one of my rougher fourth-year pupils was reminiscing over the delights of the carnival. Eschewing the attractions of the air rifles or the sticky wa' waltzers or dodgems, he maintained that his favourite sideshow was the ghost train.

As this was a trifle tame for a boy whose other out-of-school activities involved gang fights and strong drink, I pressed the point.

"Well," he said,"it's good to get off halfway round. Then you wait for the next people to come through and jump out and give them a hell of a fright."

The other memory of yesteryear was prompted by the arrival of my old school's news of present and former pupils. I've never figured in any list of alumni - in fact, people tend to be surprised when they hear where I went to school - but this recent journal mentioned in its pages the Hutchie Herald.

Running the paper gave a sense of direction to a sixth year (gap years hadn't yet been invented) and every month my pal would give me a lift on his Vespa scooter to the Gestetner factory in Maryhill, where the proofs were prepared.

No desktop publishing then, even if it was a slight advance on three-colour Banda.

The copy contained sports reports, a deep satire on the staff that was so obscure that a degree in artificial intelligence would be needed to interpret it, pop news and much, much more. Come to think of it, the only thing missing was news.

Being the swinging sixties, my music correspondent was at the cutting edge of black American singers and bands, but his handwriting was poor, so one month a whole column was devoted to the soul singer Otis Reddrig.

Thirty-five years on I wonder whether this first taste of hot metal led to the countless class magazines produced with English classes, all of an equally high literary standard. However sophisticated the present means of production - if I can use such a political phrase of Hutchie - good luck to the student journalists of 2001 and beyond.

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