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It takes bottom to wear trews

THE director of education for West Falglaslan was very proud of his authority's Junior July Jamboree. Now in its third year, it involved each secondary offering a week of educational and sporting activities to local primary 7 pupils, and had been nationally recognised for its success in easing the transition from primary to secondary.

In spite of an early scare during the post-McCrone negotiations when the secondary teachers threatened a boycott if the authority did not agree to all subject departmental meetings being held in pupil time, this year's programme was going ahead.

The downside was that the week culminated in a mini-Highland Games at which everyone, including himself, had to come in appropriate dress and take part in at least one event. For a man who never bared his legs even on the hottest days when on holiday, the idea of wearing a kilt was anathema.

Encouraged by his ever-optimistic secretary Anna Pauli to "look on the bright side: it will help your school cred with the teachers", he had worn the national dress on each of the two previous occasions, both times with disastrous effect. The first year he was subjected to cries of "haw, sparra legs" from the kids when his borrowed kilt proved to be too short and when he went to the other extreme the following year the abuse changed to: "Haw mister, where's your handbag?"

This year he was taking no chances and had had a pair of Black Watch tartan trews specially made to measure. He had wanted to wear his long mohair double-breasted jacket to complete the ensemble but when Anna told him that he might be mistaken for the provost's chauffeur he was persuaded to wear a white shirt and short waistcoat.

The problem was that the director was distinctly sans derri re, as his wife put it. He had worn five pairs of underpants with the kilts to fill out a bit but this was not possible with the fitted trousers. Anna was aware of his concern but, close as their relationship was, this was too delicate a subject to broach. Watching the director prepare on the day of the games, her hope was that it would rain and he could get away with wearing a raincoat.

The director was also worried about the provost. The first time the games had been held, he had emerged from his official Mondeo wearing a kilt, Scotland football jersey and a red-haired, tartan-topped "Jimmy" wig. When it was suggested that this was not totally suitable for the occasion he retorted: "If it's good enough fur Hampden, it's good enough fur West Falglaslan."

The criticism must have made an impact because next year he appeared in a sober grey lounge suit, his provost's chain of office and a sprig of heather in his lapel. The effect was spoilt more than somewhat as he was presenting the prizes at the end of the games and a boy told him: "Hey mister, ma da's goat a necklace jist like yours."

"Sorry, son," the provost replied haughtily, pointing to the emblem on his chain. "There's only one of these and I'm wearing it."

"But he has, I'm telling you. It's the exact same."

The provost pointed to the bottom of the chain intending to explain to the young man the symbolism behind the council's badge, froze, then turned to his wife sitting behind him: "I've told you before, the cooncil stuff is in the top drawer of the cabinet and my Masonic regalia's in the second top. You've mixed them up again."

As the director pondered on what disasters could occur this time, the phone rang. "It's the inspector," said Anna, handing him the phone.

"HMI?"

"No, Inspector McLaughlin from the police Community Involvement Branch."

"Yes, inspector, what can I do for you?"

"I just want to make sure that the provost is wearing the correct chain of office this year. That boob of his did not go down very well at our next lodge meeting you know."

"Don't worry, inspector, I've already phoned to get him to double-check before he leaves the house. Bye."

The director handed the phone back to Anna: "You know, for all that the July Jamboree is successful for the kids I often wonder if it's worth the hassle."

"Look on the bright side," said Anna, reaching towards the coatstand. "It's raining. Here, take this."

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