A Brief History of Ed

I was born in 1938 in the small town of Tillicoultry near Stirling in Central Scotland and was educated locally and at the University of Edinburgh. On first leaving school I worked for three years with the National Coal Board as an apprentice mining surveyor during which time I was stationed at various collieries in the area. Despite enjoying my spell in the coal industry in the company of the fine lads in the survey department and the miners underground, it became clear that a surveyor's life was not for me due to my inability to grasp the intricacies of the theodolite and its attendant maths. So it was with a sigh of relief on the part of all concerned that I left an honest job and set off on the path to becoming a teacher.
 
On completing a first degree at Edinburgh in 1963 I went off to America for four months. I toured around on a go-anywhere bus ticket covering most of the ground east of the Mississippi including quite a while in the South which certainly opened my eyes to some basic human truths. Returning to Scotland I took a teaching qualification and after three years teaching English and History in a local secondary school I went back to the University of Edinburgh full-time to study for a postgraduate degree in North American Studies, an almost inevitable choice given the influence of of my stateside peregrinations. As part of this qualification a 40,000 word dissertation was required and so 'The American Negro in 19th Century Scotland' was duly delivered and approved in 1969. Strange how this title would now be seen as not quite PC!  
 
After graduation I was employed for three years in adult education at Falkirk Technical College near my home and then returned to school teaching where I remained until retiral in 1999 at the age of 61. During my employment in the classroom I was successively head of history in three local schools, culminating in a 21 year tenure at Grangemouth High School. Although teaching can have its stressful moments I have never regretted spending the majority of my life in the classroom. The number of genuinely nice people I met during this time, both pupils and staff, and the number of laughs I had, far outweighed the down times that occurred, as they do in any job. On a personal level, the most important results of my time in education were meeting my wife, Janie, a PE teacher, and visiting the battlefields of both World Wars with the pupils.
 
 
Beginning in 1981 at the behest of my colleague and great friend, Malcolm Maciver, these battlefield excursions became an annual event which have continued to this day even though the pupils no longer feature. To paraphrase the words of Bobby Jones, the great American golfer, on being made a Freeman of St Andrews, "I could take out of my life everything except my experiences with the students of Grangemouth High School on the battlefields of Europe and I'd still have a rich full life." I know this sounds pretentious when I use it but nonetheless it contains a great deal of truth. Since embarking on my personal trips in 1999 accompanied occasionally by Janie or a friend, I've had some wonderful times, not the least of which were the nights in the bar of the late-lamented Shell Hole, the watering hole of choice for visitors to the Western Front and locals alike in Ieper (Ypres) in Belgium. Run by John and Christine (below) this was truly a magical place.
 
 
Just to close this fascinating (for me at any rate) ego-trip, I'd like to say how much I've enjoyed it so far, due to the many fascinating characters I've met and people I've loved, the main ones being, naturally, Janie and our daughter Lynn.