Bin there, done that, no sentimentality

15th June 2007 at 01:00
Gregor Steele recently turned down the chance to trash another hotel room in Perth

Long-time friend and occasional column reader CP has emailed me to suggest, gently, that I have recently veered towards sentimentality. I could counter by showing him the article about physicists driving cars into swimming pools and throwing TV sets out of hotel rooms (in the original piece it was never revealed that we only do these things to work out buoyancy force and gravitational acceleration). Better, though, to check to see if he has a point.

Certainly, I could be accused of being backward-looking, but I have always done that. It is much easier to write about a classroom disaster that happened way back in the days when I had hair, the sort of disaster that I will never, like my hair, see again, than it is to describe something that still hurts a bit.

CP presented me with a dilemma. I had planned to write about a trip my son and I were going to make to the summit of Meikle Bin, second highest peak in the Campsie Fells (surely the least rugged-sounding name of any range of hills). Meikle Bin is significant - it is visible most days from my kitchen window and, since we moved to our house, I have wanted to climb it.

I intended to write about sitting on the summit looking towards Carluke, unable to pick out my house but aware of where it was. I'd contemplate the fact that my daughter hadn't started primary school when we moved there.

Now she has completed her sixth year of secondary. My son, currently in S1, was not born then and I was an unpromoted physics teacher in the school where I had once been a pupil.

On the day of the expedition, introspection and sentimentality were never an issue. After walking four miles or so along a forest track, we came to a muddy path through a firebreak. On emerging from the trees, we were assailed by a most unsentimental wind that intensified as we reached the trig point at the top. I didn't hang around long enough for introspection.

Indeed I didn't even hang around long enough to examine the wreckage of the plane that crashed on the summit in the 1950s. (It was a Fairey Firefly, surely the least rugged-sounding name for a carrier-based fighter).

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