I WAS born in Motherwell and lived for the first five years of my life in a flat overlooking the main road. There were three exciting things you might see from your window: a fire engine, a Salvation Army band or the bin lorry tipping up to compact its rubbish. And that was about it.
Imagine the new found freedom of semi-rural Carluke where we moved two months before, as I saw it, my freedom was taken away from me for several years.
Yes, I hated going to school, greetin' a fair bit at first. As time went on I grudgingly accepted my fate, walking there slowly as if attached to my house by a bungee rope and returning home also as if again attached to home by the bungee rope. Though my daughter has attended school contentedly for a few years now, it was when my son started primary 1 last month that the lumpy-throat poignancy feelings hit.
Perhaps it was the sight of him in his uniform. Maybe it was his sincere face beneath an even more sincere haircut. "Don't let him be as miserable as I was," I implored silently, probably meaning: "Don't let me be as miserable as my parents were when I went."
But Andrew had been to nursery, in the room next to his P1 class. He once expressed the view that nursery had taught him all he needed to know, save for "that reading stuff", and as such school would be superfluous, but he had few qualms about going.
After a week I asked if anyone in his class was upset in school. Yes, one boy was crying, but he had a cut head. The teacher let him hold Sooty and he felt better.
Meanwhile, back at my own place of work, I have a new S1 registration class sitting before me each morning. Doubtless a few of these kids could do with a hold at Sooty too. Perhaps we could suggest that the sixth-year legions who offer peer support could dress up as bright yellow bears.
Something of a precedent was set in June by a principal teacher of guidance who persuaded three colleagues to join her in the staff inter-house relay at the school sports, all wearing white rabbit costumes. Funny how pupils would say that such garb made their teachers "more human".
Human teachers, pre-school visits, peer support, holding glove puppets: only the first mentioned had been vaguely thought of when I was a lad. The bungee rope lost its elasticity eventually (in about S4), regaining it in my first year or so in the job.
What's that, Sooty? Mr Steele needs you in his fourth-year science class?
Gregor Steele is reminded of the joke about a robbery involving Sooty. Apparently Harry Corbett had a hand in it.