A memorable enounter to remind a teacher/DJ what the job's all about.
A Friday evening in December and I’m stopped at traffic lights in Edinburgh's West End.
In a gusting wind, the sleet is charging down Lothian Rd like a man chasing after his hat, and next to the car is a line of youngsters queuing for the under sixteens' disco.
Nearly all of them are dressed not for pre-Christmas Edinburgh but for July Ayia Napa. But, hey, isn't being inappropriately dressed a mission statement for teenagers? A vision of my late 60s Roger Daltrey fringed jacket hovers, but I don't pursue it. (Please don't! Ed)
I do, however, think back to the early days of my career when I was Principal Teacher Discos. In those unsophisticated days, pupils were more than happy to emulate Travolta at school dances, and in the run up to Christmas we would run five discos, a Christmas Concert and two nights of the staff Panto - oh yes we did!
One year, taking a short breather from my exertions as South Edinburgh's answer to Jimmy Savile, I was standing at the school's front entrance when a figure made its way unsteadily up the steps.
Mike had got the right night - he was fourth year and it was their disco, but he shouldn't really have been there.
His Mum had long left and his dad struggled to maintain a business and look after his two sons. His elder brother had all the social graces and Mike had none. Frustrated and probably lonely, he was given to rages that bore no malice towards anyone else, but were turned in on himself. For that reason he was now placed in a secure facility, but allowed home at weekends.
He stood next to me at the door, clearly a can or two the worse for wear, but didn't attempt to enter. It dawned on me that he knew he couldn't go in, but he just wanted to be near the action.
After a comically formal handshake he made some polite chitchat and moved his head to the music. I asked him how things were and he gave a smile that came a bit too quickly: "Fine," he said. There was an awkward silence, almost inevitably executed to a background of Slade singing: "Merry Xmas Everybody" - and he turned to go.
At the bottom of the steps he stopped, looked up at me, and said: "It's got plastic glass in the windows," and then with another smile, he left.
I have neither seen nor heard of him since, but that phrase has haunted me for quarter of a century, and I still don't know whether the plastic glass was for security or protection.
Actually, I can date the incident as 1986, because it was the year that the report More than Feelings of Concern was issued.
Published nearly two decades after guidance systems were established in Scottish schools, this was the report that formalized the importance of pastoral care in our education system, and underlined its centrality to the welfare and academic success of our pupils. Despite differing times and varying priorities, it has never been more relevant.
The blare of a taxi horn brought me back to the present, and to the realization that the lights had changed.
But some things never change, and one thing's for sure, teachers still have to do more than simply teach.
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