Getting a buzz out of reading

24th July 1998 at 01:00
It was a sunny Friday afternoon. I arrived home in the Herald to find my wife waiting for me on the pavement outside our house. Before I had a chance to propose that the family went out for tea, she informed me that we had a problem. Apparently our upstairs rooms were full of wild bees. Being uneasy in the company of stinging insects, she took off with the children to her mother's place, leaving me to contact environmental services.

It being Friday, I was armed with my copy of The TES Scotland. The usually discarded Appointments section was folded up and pressed into service as an organic dispatcher of unwelcome guests.

This is by no means the first time I have found a use for this newspaper beyond its intended purpose as a source of information and entertainment.

Many are the dollops of emulsion paint that have landed on the works of Messrs Mitchell and McPartlin (after I've read your stuff, guys) when old copies serve as carpet protection during summer decorating. My own columns never suffer this fate as they are collected together in photo albums known affectionately in this family as "big heid books".

A rather more noble fate awaited two editions when our school ran a Great Egg race as part of an activities block. Teams were invited to construct towers that would support an egg at as great a height as possible. The raw materials consisted solely of a small roll of sticky tape, some string and the aforementioned TES Scotlands. It was all jolly good fun.

I am reminded of a test we were given at teacher training college. In order to measure our creativity or ability to think laterally or something like that, we had to list as many uses of a telephone pole as we could.

My memory of this exercise is that, along with a fellow whose nickname was Jesus, I raced ahead, jotting down things like "battering ram", "caber", "log for Canadian log-rolling contest", and so on, while many of my pals were stuck on "support for telecommunications wires".

Sadly, this talent was, in my case, of little use at that time. All the offbeat ideas in the world were of little use if you lacked the stage presence to pull them off.

So if you are one of the many ladies and gentlemen who have at some time in the past 16 years of teaching helped me to "get there" (or who will do so in the future), let me thank you now. That's as good a use as I'm ever likely to make of The TES Scotland.

Gregor Steele has learnt that wet newspaper is a highly effective cleaner for car windows

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