Summer 1997

I think it is now nine summers since I last worked in a school; I left my post as assistant head in Glenwood High School in Glenrothes on 1 June 1999 to join Dundee City Council as ICT adviser and from there on to LTS. After all these years my body still tells me that the first week in July is a special one, certainly not one for working. In fact I have been on leave this week but because of poor planning on my part (signing-off leave this week for our two programme directors Ian Graham and Marie Dougan) means that I have been ‘on call’ while working from home.

In between phone calls and hundreds of emails (zero in my inbox for the first time in months) I have managed to read a couple of novels. I love reading and usually have 20 or more books in my ‘must read but no time’ pile at home.

I have just finished ‘Birdsong’ by Sebastian Faulks and ‘The Sailor in the Wardrobe’ by Hugo Hamilton and am about to start the Annie Proulx (I am told this is pronounced like Pru rather than ProwlX) book of short stories that includes ‘Brokeback Mountain’.

‘Birdsong’ is not a classic but it is a good old page-turner nevertheless. The love story plays homage to Flaubert but just doesn’t get close. It is amazing to think that the First World War was less than a century ago. The brutality, the pointlessness and the insanity of it all is just mind-boggling. I think Faulkes does a wonderful job of keeping this important part of the shorter 20th century alive and accessible.

‘The Sailor in the Wardrobe’ is the sequel to the wonderful memoir ‘The Speckled People’ and continues the story of an Irish-German family in Ireland during the period after the Second World War. The tale is told in the words of a young boy and provides a fabulous insight into how the world looks from his perspective. It’s a funny, uplifting story and a great reminder to any parent (or teacher) that the messages they think they are sending are very often not the ones that are received by the child (learner). Hamilton does a brilliant job of explaining how we come to be grounded in our childhood but still able to make our own way in the world. I loved the quote at the beginning of the book ‘disconnectedness is our identity’ [Hans Magnus Enzenberger] I couldn’t agree more. Wouldn’t that make a great essay question. .. just need to add ‘Discuss’.


  1. It’s not just me then. This is my fourth summer without school holidays and I still resent it! This has not been a week on leave for me, however. Roll on the 13th.

  2. Gordon, just had a look at your great blog and added it to my not very well developed blogroll. Hope the 13th comes around quick for you and that you have a great holiday. See you soon.

  3. Thanks Laurie. Back from holiday and starting back to work on Monday. Thanks for your comments about my blog. I am not totally convinced about your evaluation, it is just a way of reflecting on what I have been up to.