Don't wish your life away

2nd March 2001 at 00:00
* Grown Up, by Gregor Steele, primary 5:

I live in a bungalow with my wife Elsie, three children Jeanie, Andy and Jimmy and Frisk our dog. Jeanie and Andy are twins and are eight and Jimmy is six.

I am a science teacher at Dalkeith High and Elsie is a teacher too. I travel one mile to my work each day but my children travel one quarter of a mile to school.

We live in Mayfield. Every year we go to Land's End for our summer holidays.

We have a Mercedes-Benz and a caravan too. My hobby is photography. Our children go to bed at eight o'clock.

I often watch Paul Temple on a Sunday night. I am writing a book about spies.

Our family is a happy one and I hope that if my children get married they will be happy too.

that's how I saw my life shaping up three decades ago. I based a lot of it on my father, who watched Paul Temple on a Sunday night and was writing a book about spies. We'd just bought a caravan in Dalkeith or Mayfield, so these places seemed suitably exotic locations for a future career.

I'm sure I picked Elsie as a name for my wife-to-be solely because there was no one in my primary class of that name whm I could be accused of fancying.

The reality is a wife not called Elsie, two children and nae dug. I got the science teacher bit right, though I'm sure that I saw myself as heading up a department, not that I knew what an APT was in those days.

I travel 17 miles to work each day and we live in Carluke. We have a Skoda and a Reliant instead of a Merc and have yet to go on holiday to Land's End.

Am I disappointed in the way it all turned out? Merc-less, mutless and only able to fertilise one egg at a time? Not a bit.

It was brought home to me in the school car park a week or so ago. There had been a fall of snow, much of which had been conscientiously cleared away by the jannies. The faithful Favorit made light work of what was left, but a colleague was in wheel-spinning trouble.

The car pool guys helped her out, pausing to admire the German engineering and the three-pointed badge of her motor.

Yes, the tractionless Teuton was a Mercedes-Benz. If I had one now, I'd sell it and buy another Skoda.

Sometimes, what you get is better than what you wish for.

Gregor Steele asks: Paul Temple . . . who he?


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