Long live Lanark Grammar's science block: the place that really sparked my interest

17th June 2011 at 01:00
The mixed bag of nutty teachers at my secondary shaped my entire future

They have demolished the main building of the old Lanark Grammar School and I feel slightly sad. I was there as both a pupil and a teacher. I joined the establishment barely out of short trousers and lacking in confidence, emerging much better placed to face the world. That describes the teacher phase. I quite liked it as a pupil too.

Had the science block been demolished, I would have been far sadder. That should not happen as that building is listed, though the word on the street is that it is rotting from the inside out. Meanwhile, today's pupils enjoy life in a new-build that only someone who had overdosed on Hovis would suggest was anything other than superior.

I remember only one science lesson at primary school. I presented it, having been allowed to bring in some litmus paper from my chemistry set. Going to secondary meant entering a wonderland of batteries, bulbs, electric motors, test tubes, chemicals, Bunsen burners, incandescent tripod stands and people who knew more about science than a 10-year-old. Oddly, when I look back at the solitary primary science lesson, my point of view is that of a spectator. I'm rather ashamed to say that a spectator is what I would like to have been when they demolished my primary school. Happiest days of your life, my bahookie. I would have pushed the plunger on the cartoon dynamite myself.

Are there any people born in the Sixties or before, who can seriously say that their early school days were joyful? Of course there are, but we'll ignore them and concentrate on a tiny sample that supports my argument.

A few months ago, I met a girl I hadn't seen since primary school. At one point, I asked her whether it was just me who thought that some of our teachers had been nutjobs. I was taken aback by the speed and vehemence of her agreement. Being semi-objective, I don't think my primary teachers were any nuttier than my secondary ones. It is more likely that I preferred the secondary variant of nuttiness. The structure of the timetable meant you had a mixed bag of nuts and were never stuck with the ones who sent you into metaphorical anaphylactic shock for more than an hour or so at a time. I eventually liked it so much that I joined their company.

I hope they do save the Lanark science building. It would make a lovely suite of flats and the numerous ghosts would be largely benign. If it is reduced to rubble, doubtless someone somewhere will be applauding, perhaps never louder than when that nutjob Steele's room collapses in on itself and turns to dust.

Gregor Steele, Scottish Schools Equipment Research Centre

Gregor Steele was once described by a former pupil on a website as "doolally and into classic cars".

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