Great sayings I never said

26th May 2000 at 01:00
DO YOU ever find yourself listening to a radio programme like Desert Island Discs and wondering which eight records you would choose if you were famous enough to be on the show? I do, but maybe I've just got major ego problems.

"Well, Sue, I'd have to pick School's Out by Alice Cooper. It was the first pop record I really liked. Cruelly released just before the English summer holidays, and hence at the end of the Scottish ones, it played me into my first year at Lanark Grammar School."

I do the same with Room 101, the television show that has somewhat misappropriated Orwell's concept of a chamber where one is psychologically broken by one's worst horror. Room 101, BBC-style, is the destination for celebs' pet hates, provided they can argue their case.

"My first, choice, Paul, is my voice - as was when I started teaching."

"Your voice?"

"Yes, you see it wasn't really used to being raised and sometimes, when I tried to shout at a kid, it went squeaky."

"Give us an example."

"I'd try to yell, 'Don't talk to me like that!' and it'd come out as 'Don't talk to me like theek!'"

"Do that last bit again."

"Theek!" (Laughter).

I was at it again during Quote

. . . Unquote, which I find a rather tepid sustitute for Just a Minute or I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. Panellists were asked for a motto by which they might live their lives. I'm sure their replies were suitably witty in a "We all live near the M25" sort of way but I didn't notice. I was too busy thinking up my own answer.

My late granny, in her last years, often feared that she had been conned by bogus door-to-door collectors. "Aye well, the sin's no' mine," she would say, meaning that there was no fault in naively thinking the best in people.

I have had her words come back to me when filling in a positive guidance referral for a child who has shown a consistent improvement. If I hesitate because I fear that I will look foolish should the wean have a relapse, I recall that the sin will not have been mine.

Less idealistic, but easier to live with if you can bring yourself to, is the maxim of the newspaper columnist husband of one of my mother's friends. When you've slogged it out with a class, given your all and then some, only to be rewarded by a lack of success or enthusiasm, try to remember this: "If at first you don't succeed, sit on your erse and never heed."

Gregor Steele expects to be on TV as soon as the Bald Reliant Driver channel begins broadcasting.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today