Talking Point with Gazette chief reporter Ron Harris

Return of the van...oor Ron wants the shops to come to him with the reintroduction of vans to help save the planet!
Return of the van...oor Ron wants the shops to come to him with the reintroduction of vans to help save the planet!

Find out what Lanark Grammar’s former rector thought of oor Ron!

EVEN as a wean ah was good at picking up subtle hints and the vibes ah was getting frae the Rector o’ Lanark Grammar was that he thoucht ah was a dangerous malcontent.

Ah think what gave it awa’ was the way he said tae me: “Harris, you’re a dangerous malcontent.”

Onyway, although this happened way back in the days when hair was long and time was short, the incident sticks in mah mind as an example o’ whit happens when folk “welcome your opinion” and then turn a’ crabbit oan you when you dinnae say whit they want tae hear.

In this case, it was during wan o’ the first stabs the auld Lanarkshire Coonty Cooncil were having at ‘pupil democracy’ - we wernae called ‘students’ back then - a weel-meaning notion which quickly backfired oan them.

Doon at the Grammar the Rector and his immediate henchmen gritted their teeth and asked the then-mutinous shower o’ hippie scruff that represented the student body what changes WE thoucht might improve oor school.

Weel, they were soon sorry they asked, especially when the Boy Genius here piped up that the whole classroom system was, in mah humble opinion, all a..e-fur-elbow.

The way things are, says I, is that every hour or so the whole school is thrown intae utter chaos as hunners o’ weans troop oot o’ wan classroom at the end o’ a period tae stampede tae another classroom at the ither end of the school.

As the Grammar was split ower three sites - the Auld Building, Main Building and New Building - this entailed a huge, hourly mass-movement o’ a generally good-natured but unruly mob which wid have taken a General Eisenhower or Napoleon tae properly marshal.

In fact, it was left tae poor auld Sam The Jannie tae conduct this exercise in near-riot control eight times a day.

Why not, says I, have the weans confined tae wan classroom all day and have the relevant TEACHERS go to them for each period rather than vice-versa?

This logical, democratic and practical solution wisnae weel received tae say the least, provoking the aforementioned “malcontent” accusation.

Ah cannae remember if he even attempted tae make a reasonable counter-argument but ah gained the general impression that, if he’d had the powers tae do so, he’d have had me taken oot intae the playgroond and shot for making such an impertinent suggestion.

Y’see, although coming frae a teaching family, ah didnae realise whit a raw nerve this wid touch wae the school staff; ah suppose spending your every working day in charge o’ people who are ALL smaller than you breeds a certain attitude o’, if no’ superiority, then authority and ah’d unwittingly challenged this strict pecking order.

Ah suppose ah should have minded the words o’ mah grandfaither, the Carnwath Headie, who, after anither fraught day in the staffroom, slumped intae his armchair in the Schoolhoose and wearily telt his adoring grandson: “Ronnie; the biggest weans in any classroom are the ones standing at the front of it.”

Nae wunner he had his first heart attack at 42-years-auld...

Onyway, the point o’ all this is that a similar notion tae avoid the mass-movement o’ the population struck me this week.

Y’see, in the various hoosing schemes and estates ah was dragged up in during the Sixties and Seventies, there was an almost constant rota o’ mobile shops turning up in oor street; the bakers van in the morning, grocery and butchers vans in the afternoon, the ice-cream van in the early evening and, joy o’ joys, the chippie van at night.

Surely, in these environmentally-aware days, instead o’ thoosands o’ us all driving cars tae shopping centres, we have the shops come tae US. Yes, bring back the vans! ESPECIALLY the chippie wan!