Happy to be a sad old git

31st March 2000 at 01:00
TO SOME, it is the City of Discovery, to others the city of jam, jute and journalism. To me, Dundee is the City of Cholesterol.

This is probably unfair. I have been there only twice in the past five years. The first occasion was to visit my teacher pal Colin. He bought me a marvellously greasy chip steak supper, the sort whose fat content turns the newspaper wrapping transparent.

More recently, I stayed overnight in a motel on the outskirts of DC Thomsonworld and treated myself to the first fried breakfast I'd had in a decade. Once again, I had been to see Colin. It was his 40th birthday and my wife and I were invited to the celebrations.

Yes, my pals and I are heading for our fifth decade, though I've got about another six weeks to go. It doesn't bother me, perhaps because of my profession.

When I started teaching, I was soon able to identify, mainly at in-service meetings, a number of moaning old gits. I realise now that some of them were all of 38 at that time, but I would have put them at 50 even then.

In the intervening years, I have never felt like an old git, chiefly because there have been few people around to make me feel like one.

True, I did get chatting to a supply teacher the other day who had bee in one of my registration classes at another school, but she was an exception.

Teachers in their late 30s and early 40s are still the young ones. At my age I should be sitting over a cup of tea in the staffroom, marvelling at how shiny-new and fresh-faced supply teachers seem to be getting.

Instead, they seem to be becoming older. The majority appear to be reanimated (usually) retirees and even those just out of college have invariably spent a couple of decades doing something else.

Amazingly, nobody outwith teaching is taking the lack of young blood seriously. What are they going to do in a few years' time? Clone us? Replace us with robots?

Meantime, perhaps all the saturates are beginning to have an effect on my own circulatory fluids. The other day my S2 class were investigating the effect of bile on fat digestion. Two of them began a minor squabble about who got to add the bile. (Washing up liquid makes an acceptable substitute).

"There are few things in life worth arguing about, boys," I caught myself saying, "and bile certainly isn't one of them."

And for a while I must have sounded like a sad old git.

Gregor Steele has made a wish list of interesting power tools for his 40th birthday.


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