School Days Are The Best

A Memory of South Uist.

I was born in 1952, and went to Bragar School. The headmaster was Mr McIver and teachers I remember were Mrs MacDonald (Carloway) and Mrs Mitchell (Shawbost). I used to cross the road to the shop up the hill, and also the one further down the road. I don't come back often enough, and when I do, I wish I had never left. The days of the Fillums (movies) with the Highland and Islands Film Guild were great, held in the school in the evenings, mostly Laurel and Hardy and a War Film, but the walk home in the dark was sometimes more scarey - unless you were the lucky owner of a slim silver pocket torch with a lens like a bulls eye, which we also tortured ourselves with in summer trying to burn our skin (I know, I don't understand it either). Laxays shop was great, with the paraffin, the sliced bacon, rope, Camp Coffee, and he hated threepenny bits, they always got stuck in the nooks and crannys of his drawer. The machair was an adventure, usually with a pail, collecting winkles which were promptly cooked and deft manouveres with a safety pin gave you a meal fit for a King. I am not sure I could do it now though. We always seemed to have deep snow in the winter. How did we ever get to school on time, playing in and out of ditches? And the same applies to hot summers, there were so many tar blisters to burst with sand-shoed feet? On  a severely wet day, we were sometimes lucky and got a lift to school on the back of a Tweed lorry, bouncing along amongst the bales - almost as exciting as riding along on the wheel arch of the tractor going to the peats. Health and Safety?? Who?!!
Since I made the topic School Days, mention should be made of dinners. Were they not just the best? Especially prunes and custard, when you sooked/tried to break the stone during lunch break in the playground...preferably with your teeth...
6 old pennies could buy you an ice lolly for 3d, a sherbet dip for 2d and a McCowans toffee for 1d, which seemed huge at the time, and we broke it in half over a conveniently placed stone. And Wagon Wheels -  they needed two hands to hold them, or is it just a myth?
Halloween was just great, robbing all the neighbours of vegetables (ie, carrots, and mostly turnips) peeling them and eating on the way home, after all, one of the boys was bound to have a penknife....leaving a trail all along the road. We wouldn't ever eat them cooked, but it was OK to steal them and eat them raw. (I know, don't ask). Another weird thing was the walking home would be at a friend's house, playing, or sometimes being shy and singing Gaelic songs behind a closed door because you didn't want anyone to see you, and the mother of the house said "It's time to go home", so your pal would walk you down the road a wee bit, and then you would walk her up the road a wee bit...????
I would love to see other people's memories on here, so just do it. My maiden name was Jean Morrison, anyone who knows me, please leave a memory.

Added 02 September 2009


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