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New school stirs up old memories

TODAY'S meanderings come direct from the house at 1 Memory Lane.

You can't miss it, being the only dwelling of note in the area, the consequence of more than half a lifetime's pursuit of enlightenment at the Church of Make Mine A Double. In truth, Memory Lane is erroneously titled. Amnesia Avenue would be more apt.

The spur for my foray into the misty backwoods of my mind is the news that my old secondary school, where the pursuit of enlightenment was of a more solemn variety, is seemingly for the chop, having been deemed unfit for purpose. North Ayrshire Council is seeking to shell out £30 million - the equivalent of a decent Premier League midfielder - on a new Largs Academy sited next to Inverclyde Sports Centre, even further up the back of the town than the current school. In fact, it's so far from the town centre it might as well be over the moor in Kilbirnie; a horrid thought, I'm sure you'll agree.

Optimists will be of the view that the increased inaccessibility is knocked flat on its bahoochie by the potential for giving pupils greater exposure to a range of sports, a perspective I share. During my time at the school, with Britain buckling under the Thatcher government, a string of teachers' strikes and associated curtailing of extra-curricular activities - the principles of which, then as now, I supported - rendered parents the sole guardians of the sporting development of their offspring. Physical prowess and academic ability are seldom bedfellows, and too often I saw boys with exceptional football skills wind up in a scholastic cul-de-sac.

Fortunately my sporting abilities lay on the golf course, which meant school, for me at least, was a banquet at which I gorged myself with varying degrees of zeal, depending on whether (a) the girl I had a crush on at any given time was in my class and (b) I'd been seated at a desk sufficiently far from any fellow mischief-makers to allow me to focus not on shivering with mirth but on following the teacher's instructions.

It's 26 years since I left Largs Academy yet I am still slightly saddened not to recognise the name of a single teacher on the school website. Whatever happened to Slink, the subject of many a defamatory graffito? The moustachioed Mr Kater, the English teacher who insisted the word "overtly", which I'd used in an essay, didn't exist?

Ultimately, I suppose, your experience of school is coloured most by your teachers. If you can remember them.

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Education

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