Jotter - Taking the p***

23rd January 2009 at 00:00

The award of the MBE in the New Year Honours to Douglas MacNeilage, jannie at Tobermory High, brings to mind the inimitable Hugh Patience, who did the equivalent job at Fortrose Academy until 1996 - and got the equivalent gong.

Douglas Simpson, who was the heidie at Fortrose, recalled last week that, just after returning from London where he had been presented with his award at the palace, Patience commented: "That hand shook the hand of the Queen and today it's been down the boys' cludgie."

The Simpsons

Our readers with more formidable powers of recall will know that Simpson has a passion for unicycling. He has now taken this with him to Nairn Academy into which he has been parachuted (not by unicycle) to turn the school around.

Already, he says, 30 pupils have taken up unicycling. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to store the unicycles other than in his office. Seemingly at 8.30 every morning, kids come knocking on his door to borrow the unicycles. According to Simpson, it is a pastime which attracts the "isolates", or those "on the edge" - presumably he was referring to pupils rather than headteachers.

This common interest, Simpson believes, means the pupils don't want to fall foul of the heidie or disappoint him. Unicycling improves behaviour? And we thought only "trick cyclists" could do that.

And it's goodbye from him

Friends and colleagues of Brian Boyd have been invited to fork out Pounds 28 to attend a celebratory dinner on February 27 at The Barony, Strathclyde yoonie's super school dining room, to mark his retirement from the old Jordanhill.

A letter from lecturer John Lawson recalls the life of Brian and his heady career as teacher, heidie, education officer and academic. But what would Brian's sense of equality and inclusion make of the invite's last sexist sentence on the dinner: "Dress code is lounge suits for men (and would merit a new dress for women)."

Help ma Bob

Listeners to BBC Radio Scotland last week would have heard Bob McKay, education officer of the Humanist Society of Scotland, waxing eloquent on the atheist buses which are taking to the road to advertise that there might not be a God.

Surely this is not the same Bob who, before he rose to the giddy heights of director of education, once graced the staffroom at St Augustine's Secondary in Glasgow where, presumably, his message was very different?

But there might be hope, for St Augustine was a leading proponent of reconversion to the word of the Lord.

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