Liz and her family moved to New Zealand in the mid 70s. As she gradually relinquishes her working life, she is relishing the opportunities to immerse herself in writing and her love of words.
A whole new enchanting world is opening up!
At the age of twelve years, having anxiously navigated the perils of the Scottish Qualifying Examination (the ‘Qualy’), I started at the Ardrossan Academy in my new royal blue blazer with the school’s ambitious motto of ‘Ad Astra’ emblazoned on the breast pocket. Big changes lay ahead for me. I had been the dux of my primary school and now suddenly competition had arrived in the form of an influx of pupils who had also passed the examination and who lived elsewhere in the area. I was fiercely competitive. Newcomers Daniel Sturgeon and Ellen Love both seemed astonishingly clever and soon occupied the top spots in the class and I was knocked down the pecking order.
About this time I realised that I didn’t want to be seen as a swot and a ‘goody goody.’ I consciously embarked on a strategy to fit in. This was a several pronged approach involving sport, music and boys. In hockey, I started from a lowly position in the Year One ‘D’ team in which I demonstrated little aptitude and less speed. I opted for left half, a position that nobody wanted, and gradually ascended to the Year One ‘A’ team. My diversification into singing was less successful. The nadir for me was when I was asked to mime in the choir at the Ayrshire Schools Music Festival.
My main issue though, was finding a strategy for dealing with the looming boy problem at secondary school. Nothing in my upbringing as an only child had prepared me for entering into the flirtatious fray fraught with unforeseen pitfalls, and loss of control. My solution was to acquire a boyfriend. Rae proved to be kind, popular and great fun. My parents were less enamoured. The low point came when it was reported to my mother, that I had spent an entire school cruise to the Iberian Peninsula sitting on Rae Mathieson’s lap.
Our friendship survived the ensuing fallout. When it was time to apply for tertiary education, I was encouraged to choose a university away from home. Our relationship continued fitfully at first but finally the distance between Edinburgh and Glasgow proved too far. Our last meeting was in my little room in the Pollock Halls in Edinburgh. A ball dress was hanging on the wardrobe door. We had little to say to one another. Our friendship had kept me safe while I grew up. I hope I was kind.
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