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McVittie takes the biscuit

With the imminent retirement of James McVittie, heidie of St Ninian's High in Giffnock, after more than 40 years in education, the stories of his exploits are beginning to circulate thick and fast.

One anecdote - perhaps, but not definitely, apocryphal - relates to his appointment as an adviser on comprehensive education to Martin McGuinness when McGuinness was Northern Ireland's education minister and hatching plans to abolish the province's 11-plus.

McGuinness, it is reported, said to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams: "You wouldn't want to mess with that wee man."

And one can seen how "the biscuit" - as he is fondly referred to - gained that fiercesome reputation. He himself recounts exhorting his second-year assembly to get dressed up for a Hallowe'en party in the school.

One brave soul asked McVittie if he would be dressing up. He replied:

"You'll have to wait and see. What do you think I should dress up as?"

An even braver, not to say foolhardy, soul piped up: "A garden gnome."

McVittie reported: "We gave the boy a Christian burial - it's just a shame he was still alive at the time."

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