Long ride in the dark

3rd October 2003 at 01:00
(Photograph) - Graeme Obree knows all about bullying and its devastating effects that last into adulthood. The former world cycling champion is a depressive who has tried several times to take his own life.

Last time he was found hanging in a stable and survived by a whisker.

Cycling - an individualistic sport - was his escape in his native Ayrshire.

Obree, in his recently published autobiography, or "therapy", as he puts it, spells out the pain of bullying. As the son of a policeman, he and his older brother were ruthlessly harassed in and out of school in the Kilmarnock area in the early 1970s.

"The enmity towards us manifested itself in three ways - name calling, ostracism and violence. It seemed that rarely a week would go by without my being strapped for fights I never asked to be in . . . When I think back on my school days I can only remember feeling sadness and loneliness.

"These are truly the saddest days of my life by a long way and I lived in my self-imposed protective prison for more or less most of my school life.

Beyond that my childhood left me with an isolationist and insular personality as well as a real and subconscious fear of social situations," Obree writes.

He recalls one primary teacher "who gave me a lifeline". Myrtle McKay ran an after-school recorder class and "took time to speak to me like a person".

The Flying Scotsman by Graeme Obree is published by Birlinn.


Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now