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This page recounts some of the recollections of former pupils life at Scotus. please fell free to mail your memories for inclusion.

David Wright
Mike Robinson
Randy Schlichting
John Timms
Andrew Wong (Yeun Hung)
Sam Coward Part2
Sam Coward Part1
Frank A.Vernolini
Maurice Dougan
Lindsay Wilson
James Hunt
Iain Brown
Stephen Z Koral
Sam Coward
Mike McEwan
Jonathan Ovington
Colin Lees
James Michael Balchun
Jack Reagan (this link will take you to the history page)

David Wright wrote -

Trying to see what had happened to one of the 'usual suspects' from my years at Scotus, I came across the class photos. Purely by chance (if there be such a thing!) my cursor rested on the top left figure - and up popped my name. The thumbnail was too small to see clearly, but even so, I thought I recognized most of the boys. Clicking the image, and as a test, I cropped it and looked purely at the boys - without the names. It wasn't that 'it all came rushing back' - it had never left. Having checked my memory, on viewing the names listed, I saw some were missing or uncertain. Just as a check, I got none of the others wrong, so here goes:

Class 'About 1955' (no earlier than 54; not as late as 56. So ...!)

Back Row: # 7 Steve MacDonald
Middle Row: #3 Michael McNamara; #4 Malcolm Tunmore; #10 John McKenna

Front Row: #1 Steve McQueenie; #2 James Murdoch.

Other people may since have resolved some of these; by all means cross check if possible. But I'm as sure of their names as I am of mine.

Who was I looking for? Victor Zaccardelli, who I found to my shock had recently died. In fact, I found that out simply by googling the name, and finding an obit for 'Fr. Victor Zacardelli' and reference to the Scotus site. Why 'shock?' Because as I last saw and remembered him, he and I were no older than 11 - 12; to jump from that to me 71, and he, a priest, lately dead, was not expected. Sic transit gloria mundi. Et memento mori. The Church may have given up on Latin, but not me! 'Decuit, Potuit,ergo Fecit' - or so rumor has it.

At Scotus, I had almost no problems, in my 6 years there (1953 -59) with any of the boys. I know I puzzled many of them, but rarely felt hostility; more a bemused friendliness. But many, and grim, were the problems with the 'Christian' 'Brothers'. Loathsome and detestable for the most part; O'Connell and Duignan in particular. Blake was ok, if a bit aloof; Miller, excellent and friendly. As were the lay staff; tho some a little ... eccentric. Small and Hyde come to mind. Even at that age, I could distinguish between the Church and its employees; so they didn't drive me from it. They did poison my boyhood, tho (ages 10 - 16). If that experience had been mine only, I'd have shrugged and felt that it must have been me.But over the decades,I've talked to a sufficient number of alumni to know my experience was far from unique. I mean, how easy is it to reduce a strapping 12 yr old rugby player (Robert Donnelly) to tears of humiliation in front of an entire class? For O'connell, simplest thing in the world, doubtless from years of practice. I know he was a sick and bitter old man, having not been given the Rectorship, after having been Provincial in Australia; to Bro Russell, fell that 'honor.' But to take it out on the kids, over the entire 6 years it was our misfortune to be under his guns, is despicable. (I just noticed I used the present tense! Some experiences cause scarring without healing. )

I wish eternal damnation on nobody, not even such as Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot, far less O'Connell. But an aeons-long opportunity to contemplate his actions and their results for defenseless others in his charge - yes. Have I worked on 'forgiveness?' Of course. Still a work in progress after some 55 years. I expect no early resolution.

In 1996, i visited a friend in the hospital that Beechwood had become. I felt a sick dread as I forced myself, step by step, up the drive. 'Bleak House', indeed. And it had nothing to do with my friend's (very serious) condition, which he survived.

Walking up that drive was like forcing myself to walk barefoot on glass shards.

So why am I even bothering with this email? Because I hate missing data, and incomplete historical records (which are one example of that). It offends my mathematical/statistical soul! Plus, institutional memories should be as complete as possible before the relevant generation dies off. It grows late; the skies darken, the leaves are almost fallen. Gray clouds scud over the soon-bare Corstorphine Hill trees. I smell the incense from Requiems.

Anyhow, I can (with great imaginative effort!) see that others may have had happier times. I hope to God it be so. If anything is worth praying for, that is.

What did I do with my life? Spent most of it in California, working for NASA (Hubble Space Telescope software, and various solar wind experiments on several generations of spacecraft; and with some universities or science-oriented companies. Helped raise a step-son, Kevin, by far the greatest delight and accomplishment of my life. There was after all much joy after Scotus!

To have appropriated Duns Scotus' name for that place was a damn insult to a fine Medieval theologian.

One thing I feel saddened to have to add, but must in all fairness less I be misunderstood in my dislike. At no point at all, with me or anyone else I know, was there the slightest hint of sexual misbehavior between brothers and boys. And as the place was a very small, close community, I'm pretty sure at least rumors would have surfaced. None in my 6 years, or hinted at since.

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Mike Robinson -

My father was Jack Robinson - the Janitor/Caretaker/Groundsman and general do anything and everything as I recall. I spent many weekends and summer holidays until dad passed away while I was in Primary 7 at Fox Covert RC.

If there are any stories or other relating to my Dad that would be interesting for myself and for my children.

I also have I'm sure different memories of Scotus - as It was my playground as a child, with the German Shepards (Whiskey and Judy) as my dogs I thought...and Brandy the big Collie as well.

My memory of the playing files - trying to get the drainage working etc was more of sitting on an open topped tractor with gang mowers in the summer cutting the Grass.

Anyway anything on stories of my Dad Jack would be great


Mike Robinson

(If you have any recolections of Jack or want to contact Mike, please email contact@scotusacademy.net)

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Randy Schlichting

I wrote this piece for my new book, “Quote Worthy- Some words are worth repeating” due out Christmas 2011. In the book we take quotes and write essays about them. This one is about an episode at Scotus. Thought you might pass it along and enjoy reading it.


“That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.”
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

There may be several “one day” experiences in your life. The day you were married or the day she broke off the engagement. The day she left home or the day he went off to war. The day he died or the day the baby was born. The day you chose the university or the day you dropped out. For me it was the day I started in an all boy’s catholic school run by the Congregation of Christian Brothers in Edinburgh Scotland. A long chain stretches from that day to this day, more than forty years later; a chain that has been forged of duty, honor, discipline, passion and fearful respect for authority. The chain includes good and bad, hard and sweet. The chain has bound me and at the same time set me free.

You might be asking, “Who are the Congregation of Christian Brothers?” I’ll tell you. They were an order of catholic brothers who moved from Ireland to Scotland bringing with them the desire to impact young boys for Christ. Hard as nails and firm in conviction, they made the Jesuits look like daylilies. The brothers were men well trained in classical education and corporal punishment. They knew how to wield the pen and the sword. They were focused on their mission. A rigorous curriculum of the classics, history, mathematics, English composition, art and science combined with sports to provide a well-rounded and deep education.

The order had purchased a large old mansion called Beechwood House circa 1710 that was set on the top of a hill overlooking the city and was surrounded by 20 acres of land. This was our schoolhouse and it also served as home for the brothers. The main floor consisted of two sitting rooms and two rooms that were converted to classrooms for the boys. A small private chapel completed the footprint. Downstairs in the basement a dining room had been set up alongside the kitchen. Upstairs were the brothers’ rooms; absolutely forbidden territory.

I can still see the room we learned in day after day: large windows overlooking the meadow, wooden desks in neat rows with inkwells, boys dressed in dark blue and gray uniforms with ties to match, a brother in a black frock sprinkled with chalk dust standing at the front of the room reading to us from Chaucer or Dickens as if he knew them.

In the winter we kept warm by heat piped in through furnaces. In the Spring and Summer we opened windows and smelled the fresh Scottish air. It was 1968 but it could have been 1768.

Rules were many and varied: wear your cap outside the house, but not inside, tie straight, socks pulled up, homework in on time, walk in a line. Respect for authority was an imperative. We all knew to be on our feet straight away if we saw the first part of the black robe of Brother Ambrose coming through the opening door at the front of our classroom. “Good morning Brother Ambrose!” We would recite in unison as we stood smartly. And woe to the boy who was noted as disrespectful to one of the brothers. They each had a belt an inch thick and a foot and a half long that they carried with them at all times. Somehow it was hooked to their robes, hanging down vertically and so blending in with the frock, barely visible to the naked eye, but easily accessible when an infraction was noted and needed to be dealt with.

Correction was frequent and to the point. No bending over was needed. A boy’s hand would be held out and the belt would crack across the palm once, twice, three times or more depending upon the severity of the infraction and the mood of the brother. Sometimes the infraction was severe enough that both hands would get the belt. I can still feel the sting. It left an indelible reminder to respect those who have power.

The school was regular. By that I mean that each day, we knew what we would be doing, where we would be doing it and for how long. We had studies each day, all in the same room with rotating teachers, Tuesday we would be exploring the world through geography. Wednesday we would be plumbing the depths of English, Scottish and Irish prose. Thursday afternoons we were off to Murrayfield for rugby. Variation was not a strong suit for the brothers.

Lunch was regular too; Monday it was bangers and mash. Wednesday it was mince meat pie. Friday it was fish, of course. Whatever it was, you better eat it all, but don’t bother asking for more. We had read Oliver Twist and suspected the same could happen to us. Brother Hastings was the lunch monitor and from the look on his face it was plain to see that more would not be given.

I played rugby for the school and it was my joy. Although I was not the fastest, I had a determination that enabled me to lead well. My peers respected me and together we battled against larger schools on the fields next to the legendary Murrayfield where the Scottish National team played. During the season, games were held each week; usually on a Saturday but sometimes mid week.

One particular Saturday a surreal event occurred. It rained. That was not the surreal event, because it rained most days in Scotland. We had a game set against another school and I was to ride the city bus to the field to meet the team. I didn’t go. For some reason, I thought the game would be cancelled. It was raining hard. You can imagine the rest of the story. The game was not canceled. When I got to school on Monday, I learned, to my shock and horror, that they had played the game. What was I thinking? I can’t tell you because I don’t know. That thought by the way has helped me to parent children better. Sometimes children, adolescents and even adults don’t know what they were thinking.

After school, I began to head to get ready for rugby practice. Brother O’Brien intercepted me. Four words were all he needed, ”You’re off the team.” No excuse given, no discussion. I was off the team. I had failed in my duty. I did not know what to say or do. So I went home.

Home was not an encouraging place for lots of reasons that are not germane to the story. It wasn’t an angry place. It was a dis-interested place. I spent the next month reading books, kicking a soccer ball around and otherwise occupying my time. No discussion about the event. No explanation. We just went on. Each day I would watch as my teammates headed off to practice and I headed home.

One Monday as I began to head down the hill after school, I saw Brother O’Brien’s black robes out of the corner of my eye. He was coming toward me. He was still about twenty yards away when he said one word, “Schlichting!” He motioned with his hand for me to head in his direction and then his arm and hand kept moving in a sweeping gesture, pointing to the practice rugby field on which the boys were playing. I was back on the team. The curse had been lifted. Relationship had been restored. I played my best game ever the next week. Brother O’Brien never mentioned it again.

I would have preferred the belt. A hundred times over. But separation was better for me and made an indelible imprint on my soul. To this day, I strive for connection and I attempt to make no mistakes. That is good and bad. It is part of my brokenness and oddly, part of my healing. You see, because of that event, I better understood separation and I never wanted to be separated again. The punishment of separation is excruciating.

The word excruciating has the same root as the word crucifixion. It is the punishment of separation from all that you desire. With few words, and full separation, great pain can be inflicted. On that day I learned that separation works, without words, to both inflict pain and to draw the heart to what it loves.

On that day a chain was forged that was helpful for me, years later, to understand the day that Jesus was separated from God the Father for us, so that we would never be separated from Him. Never. The link that was forged on that day is one that inflicted pain and drew His heart to what He loves. It brought all that is beautiful to the world. From the pain and affliction of that day the Kingdom has sprung forth. He took the lashes and the separation so that I might have neither. He reconciled me into a relationship from which I cannot be separated.

Perhaps you have experienced separation from something you enjoy or from a loved one. He can relate. Even more so, He was there. He knows the pain and He entered into it on that memorable day so that we will always have unbroken relationship with Him. One day there will be no more pain or sorrow; no more separation. He will make His dwelling among us. Hopefully we will not have fish on Fridays.

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John Timms

My school days
When I was at school all those years ago, we used to go to rugby practise every Tuesday (I believe) at Murrayfield Stadium. Those that did not play rugby (including me) ran around the practise grounds 3 times then were allowed home. We used to walk from the school to the grounds with our kits. Occasionally Brother Duignan would load them into the mini bus and take them there and dump them out side the entrance to the stadium

Other sports
The other sports that I remember playing are hockey cricket and rounders and even swimming on a Friday. I think we went swimming in primary six(6),if anyone remembers, let me know. With the swimming one class member was given the task of keeping a register of who went, I have a feeling I know who it was.

The choir
I found my self in the choir one year, how? I don’t know. Every time we had a singing class the choir from the class would sit in one end and the others in another. Arthur Oldham was the music teacher he was also instrumental in making the operetta “land of Green Ginger”. He also arranged the Pirates of Penzance and the Mikado. I appeared in both the Mikado and the Land of Green Ginger as a chorus girl. Weeks before the operettas we would lots of time practising at the hall.

School journey
I had a choice of transport to get from home (Morningside) to Corstorphine; they are by bus changing at the bottom of Caledonian road, by train from Morningside to the Waverley then to Corstorphine, the third way by car. I remember a bad winter and there was thick snow everywhere. To save me the trouble, my dad brought me to school, but unfortunately the access road up the hill was sloppy so the car tyres could not grip the road, so it was decided that I go up the hill.

Brother Hastings
 Although, he has been mentioned in another article, I always found him to be friendly, and he never used the strap on me. I always remember the walled garden where he grew his vegetables. Next to his garden was a tarmacked area for playing etc at the back of the play area was a climbing frame, which im sure was unsafe and also a long jump track.
On” crossing patrol” I did notice that some drivers would either slow down or actually stop to let us cross the road. There were times when I would arrive early at the school, and Brother Hastings would mention to me the saying about the early bird catching the worm. And another saying he had was “common quick”.

Chicken pox
Does anyone remember the “chicken pox” well I got it and I was off for 3 weeks, when I arrived back, I was informed that lots of fp’s also contracted it so roughly 75% of the school was ill.

The languages that I remember being taught were French and Spanish, I understand not everyone learned it. Also taught was Latin, this time by brother Baylor.(I think).As for Latin, it was only used at church for the services. On the subject of churches, we used to get a visit from Father Mclellan every so often. He would come and chat to use and ask questions and occasionally join in prayer at the end of a day. I found him to be a happy priest, very jovial

Last day of school
I wonder if anyone remembers the last day of term, when pupils would bring in toys to share with the others. Fun would start at 9am (as usual) and but would finish at about 12pm


Andrew Wong (Yeun Hung) 

What a wonderful website you have managed to put together.  I have spent quite a few hours just browsing and seeing if I know anyone, any faces... names 
My brother and I attended Scotus from 80 - ,  you will find my brother in the class of 80, I can be found in the class 81.
I recall we were one of the first Chinese faces, however, being born in Glasgow and raised in Edinburgh, I may look different but I couldn't be any more Scots.  My brother being born in Newcastle, well ENOUGH SAID....
My brother is still living near Edinburgh, whereas as you can see from my address, I ended up tracing my fathers roots and have been in Hong Kong for over 20 years.  My parents, as still living in Corstorphine.
I recall the days we would walk to school and I recall a lady from the kitchen taking us to school every day.  Being kids we thought we were being chaperoned and didn't like the idea but not being much more mature, on hindsight Kids are so cruel at times.
The memories I have of scotus is running in the forest for gym class looking for short cuts, and at the end drinking from the fountain just outside the toilets, near the gravelled car park.  I recently visited the forest on my trip last home and apart form the clearing just past the golf course, nothing much has changed, just no more blackberry or raspberries.
The fondest memories included playing football on the lawns during lunch and always getting 'SMACKed" for being late for class, and being able to play at murrayfield.  I even remembered being applauded by a parent for making a tackle.  We were playing so bad that a decent tackle was regarded as 'GOOD'. 
I also had my fair share of accidents.  Remember the tuck shop?  Basically, a hole in the wall.  I recall after buying my sweets, time to close and the boy serving the sweets pulled the plug too quickly and slammed the window down onto my thumb.  Ended up going to the hospital to get  to get the pressure released form the wound.
The other accident happened when we were playing BRITISH BULL DOGS, that was always a fun game.  well, I ended up running towards the gravel path and was drag for a few feet but those BULLDOGS.  Ended in hospital again leaving with about 8 stitches I think.  Felt more like a hundred.
At that time, there was an American kid who joined the school and he carried me up the stairs as my leg was in a pretty bad shape, I told him don't be silly.  I didn't see the wound but no wonder everyone was white with shock
The names, I do remember are Marc Capaldi, albeit I do not recall who he is and other, Stephen D'agostino, I do recall this kid, Stephen's smile hasn't changed very much.  Let me try to get my dad to drag out some of the old photos from scotus and I will forward to them to you whenever I can.
Look forward to returning to the website shortly.  Keep up the GREAT WORK!
It would be good if you keep an account where we all are too!!!  location wise, so we can see, how far that person has travelled since their days at Scotus.  Or perhaps know who to call for a free beer perhaps

Sam Coward Part 2

Aidan Bremner.. welcome aboard, a man who’s sideburns would have given Noddy Holder a good run for his money in his hey day.  Gotta say to those that never met him, that this man introduced a new method of teaching, that it could be said, encouraged otherwise delinquent pupils to listen and learn.
Be friendly and kind and present your subject in a novel and interesting way.
Totally alien to Scotus culture. Maybe the place would have survived had staff taken heed of him.
Did you ever get that two stroke engine working Sir?  The time I spent drawing pictures of it, I could have built a frame around it and ridden it home.  Never could get the carburettor right though, always looked as if it had been badly cast.
And before Charlie Ross rips me up by saying he thought I only looked at this site when it is raining.  For the past couple of weeks it has been pissing here. You guys had all the good weather.  40cm in one night! Lucky bastards!  What I would have given over Christmas for 40cm of snow in one night, you lucky, lucky, bastards. 
Mind you there are a few vids on you tube that make me snigger. M+S on the tire wall doesn’t mean it comes from a department store.  I would be petrified driving in the UK with those slick Michelins.  50K worth of BMW and you might as well have no brakes, cos if you hit ‘em you aren’t going nowhere but straight on. 
I watched this guy, ‘driving instructor’ explaining how to control a vehicle in the snow. “Don’t use 1st  gear, pick away in 2nd , with low revs”, and as I imagined all these vehicles Kangerooing along congested icy roads at 40mph with little or no control I am screaming at the screen buy some Fuc...n snow tyres. 
When the subject was eventually broached, we were entertained by some jerk from a Motoring Association explaining that a couple of weeks of bad weather a year didn’t justify the expense!!!  So for a couple of weeks a year you are not in control of your car? Makes the Christmas drink drive brigade pale in comparison if you ask me.

Next stage is a rant, so I will take a deep breath as the doctor advised and ….

For this years short story I will recite, ‘The Trip to Lindisfarne’. I see that a young lad has his ‘lone’ picture as a memory of this outing.  The reason he is ‘alone’ is that he looked too young to be served in the local bar, which is where the rest of us were when the photo was taken. Enjoying some ‘local hospitality’, until some twat told a teacher and we were ejected.  The attached letter to my parents, ( that I forgot to mention, but you have to read to understand the story) goes on to say that, later I was feeling sick.
True, I don’t deny it, but it had nothing to do with the Belhaven, but all to do with some monk that gave me a shot of the local hooch that tasted like alcoholic honey!  Believe me on top of 3 pints of 80/- and two crab sandwiches the last thing you need is alcoholic honey!! Of course I felt sick, but at least I didn’t throw up all over the coach seats, eh A.T.

My old man kept every bit of paper he was ever given, I have his original exam papers from engineering college, his receipt for his 1932 ‘Rudge Ulster’ ( and just to make maybe a couple of FP’s wince, yes I also have the ‘Rudge Ulster’), then among other stuff I found the attached little gem.  I always thought I had successfully intercepted that letter.

If Aidan Bremner goes to the next school reunion I will book an easy jet flight myself.  Of course I would prefer to book a ‘Globespan’ flight, but that has been trashed by another group of thieving would be bankers, talking of which does Edinburgh have a, ‘Go Throw Things at Goodwins House Day,’ yet?  Because I would definitely be up for that.

I have attached one other picture that may interest readers.  This image constantly pops up in the corner of my screen and infuriates me no end.  I asked my daughter what she thought it was, she replied that as the bagpipes are synonymous with Scotland, and syringes with hard drugs, she assumed that it was something highlighting the drug problem in Scotland. 

My daughter is French, the very people that this advert from, ‘Scottish Development International’ is appealing to, and her first impression of this advert, which is in fact an effort to encourage French businesses to relocate to Scotland, (the syringes supposedly represent our link with  penicillin!!!!) she thinks it is an anti heroin ad… 
Where do these people dream them up? First thing that came into my head was the name I put on the picture, ‘Bagpipes on Smack’.  And these people get paid for this……

Sorry, that turned into a rant, I am trying.

Happy New Year folks, I am often in Scotland for Linlithgow Marches, 1st Tuesday after 2nd Thursday in June, (yep I know, but that’s how they do it and you don’t forget it).  Good day out, goes back some 600 years, real history.

All the best Sam

Just a short P.S.
If anyone reading the above is under the impression that I am having a sneak brag about owning a 50K BMW,  as my long suffering wife will confirm, I drive the type of car that you always park at the top of a hill.

Sam Coward Part 1

We'll see what a wet day google search turned up.’ Scotus Academy’ I guess I’ll never forget that place, and I see that one of the former pupils remembers me. 

I have very clear memories of my attempted education by the Christian brothers.
Maybe to understand a child you have to be a parent, however I do have lots of funny stories about Scotus/Circus, but I’ll wait until the site fills up a bit before I send them all in.  For now you can have,

‘The day we joined the Navy’


A recruitment officer from her majesties armed forces tried all morning to interest some of the pupils into joining the navy, but to no avail. It wasn’t until I pointed out during break that a trip down the Firth of Forth on a minesweeper might be an interesting alternative to maths that he got his contingent of willing applicants. 

We arrived at Granton Harbour with ‘Harry Ingles’ accompanying us, who to my delight fell seasick walking up the boarding ramp.  He was stretched out on a bed before we even cast off. 

For several hours we had the run of the ship, then Christmas arrived as we were ushered a ‘stern and one after the other handed an M16 to fire a few rounds at a barrel that had been tossed over the side.

The sailor in charge was enjoying winding up the pupils by saying,’ to rounds’.  The pupils mistaking ‘to rounds’ for ‘two rounds’ would put a finger on the trigger whereupon the sailor would yell at them that, ‘ to rounds’ meant ‘take off the safety catch’ and ‘not to touch the trigger’! 

I was fascinated by guns as a kid, (hate ‘em now), and when I took my turn didn’t touch the trigger, on the command ‘to rounds’ I flipped the safety up to auto and emptied the full clip into the seagulls that were wheeling and squawking in the wake. 

I never hit any, but the sailor went berserk and dragged me down into the bowels of the ship, where Ingles was stretched out on a bunk like a corpse.
I don’t know if it was the pitch of the ship, or the sight of me, but he promptly rolled over and filled the bucket that had been placed beside his bed.

The sailor then turned me around, tried in vain to suppress a laugh, kicked me up the arse and set me free.

I can’t believe that Ovington doesn’t remember that it was myself and Alan Tansey that threw him down the banking that day.  I remember the exact moment that we released him as he sailed up into the air before tumbling into a crumpled heap half way down.  I remember saying to Alan that next time if he took the legs and I took the arms we might be able to get him all the way to the bottom!

As for the broken wrist, well sorry and all that, but it was you that put your hands out to break your fall.  Anyway after reading your memories, if you were under the impression that Harry Ingles taught Maths, you obviously had more problems than were apparent at the time and while I doubt that your injury would have made much difference to your education, I will concede that life for a schoolboy with a broken wrist must certainly be frustrating and for that you have my sincere apologies.

Me I’m wrinkled and bald like the rest of you and I’ll start to worry when I look down and can’t see my feet. I haven’t got a recent picture of myself so I’ll send you one of my misspent youth and one of a view that I like.
Miss Spent Youth

Marooned for months on a Greek island, I didn’t only have Friday for company, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were there as well.

As I now spend more time behind a lens than in front of one, the other is of my boots, but I’m sure you will find the backdrop interesting.
Sam's Feet

I hope that you all achieved your ambitions in life and are healthy and happy.

The teacher that would have rapped you with a ruler James was called Dwan (spelling?)

As for the photo of ‘the old beech tree’, it is actually a Horse Chestnut. Its similarity to all other varieties of tree to be found in the school grounds is that somewhere high in the branches you will find two knar led initials SC

à bientôt


Frank A.Vernolini

Scotus Academy Remembered by Frank A.Vernolini (known as “Verny”). 1957 – 1960.

My friends were Mike Gallo, Malcolm Wylie, Francis O’Rourke, Eddie Cunningham, Hugh Pettigrew, Dominic Scott, and various others.

Mike, Dominic and I used to go ice-skating.  Hugh & I sat together in class.  I remember Relio Poletti’s Mum inviting some of us to tea on one occasion.

My favourite subjects were maths and geometry.

It was quite a trip to get to school, I lived in Dunfermline (still do) and had to walk about a mile to the station then get the train to Haymarket and either another train to Balgreen Halt or the bus each morning and the reverse at night to get home again. To be honest I never thought anything of it at the time.

Br Russell I found strict but fair. I remember once the milk for the school had been left at the main road and he said to our class that he would give mars bars to the first two to come back with a crate.  We all rushed down but I was not fussy about winning so picked up a crate that was less than half full and of course due to this I was first back.  He gave me a mars and the rest of the class complained saying that was not fair I had only carried a part filled crate.  Br. Russell said I was using my brain and that crate had to be brought up same as the rest.

I remember another time he stormed into our class and said hands up the boys who smoke (someone had reported seeing pupils smoking). Only two of us put our hands up, me and I think it was Mike Gallo.  We were called out in front of the class and thought we were for it but instead he punished the rest of the class and said we were honest.  Some of the others did not smoke of course but he went lightly on them, he knew the culprits.

Ricky Demarco was a good teacher; he was almost like one of the boys. 

The music teacher, used to call me Mantavani.

Br Blake was teaching the class and used to sit on the edge of his desk and one time he missed and I heard a thud on the floor, when I looked up all I saw were his legs in the air.  I could not help it, I burst out laughing, luckily he saw the funny side too and joined in the laughter.

Mr Small was one of the worst.  One day the class was having a carry-on and I knew when he arrived he would have a fit so I decided to sit quietly reading but I had my feet up on the bar of the desk in front.  He stormed into the room, spotted my feet and belted me.  I thought that was an injustice.

Br Hastings used to see us all across the main road in the mornings. He grew vegetables which we had for lunch and he was not pleased if we said we did not like them.  What young boys like vegetables?

I captained one of the rugby teams which beat Trinity Academy and remember scoring most of the tries on that occasion.

Eddie Holleran and I had an argument which went on a bit; we were always getting at each other. We found some old boxing gloves in the cellar in the changing rooms and we asked Br Daignan if we could box and he said yes.  Boxing was not on the school curriculum but it took off after that.

All in all I enjoyed my time at Scotus.

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Maurice Dougan

My School Days and Beyond

Maurice Dougan

I started my education as a Montessorian child attending the Craiglockhart Convent School for the first two years of schooling. Unfortunately during these years I succumbed to just about every childhood illness including mumps, measles and whooping cough. This resulted in me missing a substantial period of learning. Because of these absences I missed out on being taught phonics, this coupled with dyslexia, my academic progress was greatly hindered and resulted in my ability to read and spell being severely hampered. Back in those days nobody thought to look for a cause of children being slow on the uptake and just labelled them as a bit dim or just not very clever.

When I first attended Scotus Academy (educational institute for young gentlemen) in 1959, at the tender age of 7, I joined the other fresh, naïve, raw recruits in a small classroom in the basement of the school allocated to primary 3. Fortunately my big brother Francis, better knows as Frank, was already installed as an old timer and was by then in Primary 5. The journey to school involved taking two buses, the number 4 from Colinton Mains to Haymarket and then a 12, 26 or 31 from Haymarket to the school. Upon alighting at Corstorphine Road at Pinkhill, Br Hastings was there to guide us across the road and we then progressed though the small gate and ascended the hill to the school.

Even for the youngest pupils, the school uniform was sacrosanct with the cap being worn at all time when outwith the school. The caps were an obvious target for kids from other schools, often having them snatched off your head and seeing them being used as a forerunner to the Frisbee. It was therefore not long into one’s academic life that as soon as it was safe to do so, the cap was doffed and concealed in one’s school bag.
At the start of the school year nearly everyone looked very smart in their new uniforms, Aitken and Niven, the only supplier of the Scotus blazer, must have made a killing. The uniform was well defined even down to the colour of the trousers, ‘Mid-Gray’, I can recall in later years, Br Baylor (Noddy), having the whole class stand on their desks so that he could go around with a small swatch of material checking that the trousers were of the exact colour. If they were not, those offenders were sent home with a letter demanding that this gross misdemeanour be rectified forthwith. There was also a strict rule on when you were allowed to wear ‘long’ trousers, only when reaching the prescribed height was it permissible that one was allowed to dispense with ‘short’ trousers. These short trousers gave other kids, especially those attending ‘Corpy’ schools, more ammunition to ridicule the ‘toffs’ attending Scotus.  
Because my mother was frugal and a very good seamstress, she made Frank and myself kilts which were an acceptable alternative to trousers. The frugality came in when she did not have to keep replacing the trousers every time we would fall and go through the knees, wearing the kilt did result in the knees taking all the punishment. Surprisingly one of the curiosities of wearing the kilt was that we did not get as much ribbing as those in shorts, whether this was because of bemusement or because we were deemed to be a bit harder, I don’t know. 
I can remember that Frank got a new trendy shorty blue raincoat in the early 60’s, this was a far cry form the double-breasted, grey affair with the tight belt that you were expected to wear over your blazer in inclement weather. As soon as he was spotted wearing this coat, he was ordered to take it off and was sent home with a letter advising our parents that such digressions were not acceptable at Scotus. My dad replied advised them in no uncertain terms that he was of a different opinion; he was never questioned over wearing it again.  

Discipline at Scotus was what made us all men. Well so they said. Almost all the teachers and brothers had belts. Each brother even had a special pocket incorporated into their cassocks where his belt could be stored, located and withdrawn for instant punishment. The belts used by the brothers were especially manufactured for one purpose and one purpose only, the infliction of pain and suffering on those unfortunates who needed to be taught discipline. The belts themselves were black in colour, approx 12 inches long, about half to three quarters of an inch thick and two inches wide. Each was composed of multiple layers of leather stitched together. There was very little flex in this instalment of torture and as such was a very effective in its aim of hurting young hands. How you were supposed to concentrate for the next half hour plus, while your hands and often wrists were stinging, I don’t know.
The lay teachers were not ‘privileged’ to have such a weapon and had to survive with ‘only’ a taws. They were manufactured in Lochgelly by John J. Dick, with prices ranging from 15 Shillings for a 21” lightweight version to £1/2/0 for a 24” extra heavy weight. There was even an option of two or three tails.
As you will see from my detailed descriptions, I had an intimate knowledge of both these tools of education!

Another example of the discipline that springs to mind was when Noddy was addressing the whole school in the playground. Each class would be standing in lines facing the front, with Noddy standing on top of benches (essential due to his diminutive stature). Half way through his address, he noticed someone talking in the lines. He made an example of him by calling him out to the front and then to everyone’s shock, expelled him from the school. I am pretty sure that the boy did come back to school but this swift and punitive action certainly got everyone’s attention.     

The school was lucky in the quality of teachers, teachers with reputations beyond the confines of the school; Arthur Oldham – Choir, Ricky Demarco - Art, and the Edinburgh Quartet – Music. I enjoyed art at school and still have a keen interest in it; I can maybe put that down to the influence of Mr Demarco. I wasn’t much of a singer and never made it into the school choir. I did try my hand at the violin which was taught by Miles Baster, Mr Baster gave up teaching at New York’s Juilliard School of Music to return to Edinburgh, I am sure that he may have considered it as a bit of a step down when experiencing my attempts at impersonating the sound of a strangled cat on his favoured instrument.  
Games, as it was know then, latterly called P.E, was certainly high on the agenda at Scotus, the selection of sports and activities was wide ranging and more extensive than most schools at that time. Rugby was the most obvious pursuit but other than track and field disciplines, the school offered golf, fencing, hockey, squash and curling. Some boys even played cricket rather than rounders.
I can remember a time when Gregory Dickson brought to school some hurling sticks, this prompted a series of games which were played with a combination of rules taken from hurling, shinty, lacrosse and hockey, basically anything was allowed - not for the faint hearted.
Fencing was introduced to the school by Mr Mathew whose personal enthusiasm for the sport was more than evident and resulted in the school having a number of Scottish Champions in the sport.

The ‘cross-country’ runs which we were sent on seemed to me to be an easy option of getting rid of the boys for an hour or so. The 5 miles route we were supposed to follow was; out of the school’s main gate, left along Corstorphine Road, up Ellersly Road, onto Murrayfield Road, along Ravelston Dykes Road, onto Craigcrook Road, along Queensferry Road, up Clermiston Road, along Cairnmuir Road, down Kaimes Road and back along Corstorphine Road and back to the school. A gruelling run even to an enthusiastic, seasoned runner, (which I was neither), I believe that some actually completed the whole course and enjoyed it.  In my case, along with a few other chancers, we opted to follow the course until Ellersley Road where we would take a short diversion around the back of the school grounds and into the zoo. Once there it was a case of practising our maths in calculating the speed of a boy running X mph, times the distance Y, minus the speed, times distance, of boys walking though the zoo, Z. The answer had to equate to somewhere between boy A1 and boy A30 so that you re-entered the run via the side gate of the zoo half way down Kaimes Road in some position nowhere near the first boy back* but well before the tail-enders.  (* coming back first may result in you being put forward for other serious running events). These afternoons in the zoo also allowed us to practice drama and environmental studies where half a dozen boys dressed in games kits would attempt to blend in with the surroundings and not look out of place with the zoo visitors or keepers.   

Like most boys I played rugby, Brian Potter was the only one I can remember from my class that was allowed to opt-out due to him having a hole in his heart (lame excuse if you ask me). Because of my height, (I wasn’t as tall then as I am now, 6ft 6ins (that’s now not then)), myself and Charlie Ross were positioned in the second row, it always seemed to me to be the worst position, getting pushed and pulled from all directions. I only ever scored one try and that was against the Royal High at their ground at Northfield. That was the highlight of my rugby career. I have two other lasting memories associated with playing rugby; the first was a home game on the back-fields at Murrayfield, I can’t remember the opposition but it was played on a Saturday morning in January. The game was to say the least one-sided, surprisingly in our favour, so one-sided that it was only near the end of the game that we noticed that the boy playing full-back was frozen and had to be carried back to the changing rooms to have him thawed out; I think he may even have suffered hypothermia.
The second incident was an away game at Fettes College (I don’t recall any Mick Jagger look-alikes called Tony Blair in the opposing team, but he may however have been in the year below me). After getting changed I was keen to get on with the game and sprinted out of their pavilion totally oblivious to the huge stage scenery canvases that were lying out to dry, it was only after about four strides into it that I realised what had happened. Quickly retreating I hoped that they would not notice the large ripped footprints across a beautifully painted hillside. Slim chance!

One of the benefits of attending Scotus was that we had longer holidays that most other schools, non-private schools always started back a good week or so before we did. Religion also helped, it was only years later I discovered that it was ‘holydays of obligation’ rather than ‘holidays of obligation’. Back then there seemed to be a lot more than the current 4 Holydays in Scotland and each one resulted in a day off school. Happy days.
I left Scotus at the age of 15 prior to sitting any formal exams. In those early months of my employed life I had a number of jobs including, a gents outfitter in Binns, (taking inside leg measurements and that sort of thing), a dental technician making false teeth, (I did that in a number of places, one even burnt down to the ground the day before I was due to start), a clerk counting packets of bulk dried food and a job making plastic Santa Clauses in the middle of a baking hot August. My first real job was as an apprentice architectural technician with Boland the Builders. This was one occasion when I am sure that the school I went to did influence their decision to employ me. That job lasted over two years before I was made redundant. On the lookout for a new career, my aunt suggested that I apply for a job beside her in the Post Office Data Processing Service. This was the then unknown world of computers. When I got the job they asked me which department I wanted to work in, not knowing anything about what when on in that business, I asked for advice. The choice was the punch-card data entry department where there were over 300 teenage girls and only one other bloke or a department where they checked the computer output which consisted of 10 ladies, 3 blokes and 10 girls. Have been at Scotus and surrounded by boys all my life until that point, (other than school pals sisters, but they didn’t count), I opted for the latter. One of the 10 girls later became my wife and still is. I have been there ever since; obviously the business of computing has changed a bit since then. The mainframe when I started (a LEO326) was situated in a room the size of three tennis court and had less computing power that my mobile phone.

Having left school without any qualifications, I later did rectify that situation. I had gone to night school during my apprenticeship at Boland and got some relevant certificates. Later I decided to do an ‘O’ level English, someone suggested that I just do the Higher and if I did not get it I might get a Comp’ O anyway.  I did get the Higher.
Later again I did so more O’s, Highers and A levels. I also got a HNC and did an Open University course.
I just wonder if my life would have unfolded differently if I had not missed out on early key stages of my education or if someone had identified my academic deficiencies while still at school. But still I have no regrets and have had a very happy life with a great wife and four wonderful sons.           

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Lindsay Wilson

16 September 1953
Lindsay 1953 Start of school life at Beechwood House. We were assembled in rows in front of the main steps and our names were called out. It was like the lists of United Nations ambassadors. We were then marched off to our various classes in the main building    (the blocks at the rear were not built then).

The science room was up in the attic to the north west of the building. A fire hazard if ever there was. What would health and safety make of those matters in today’s climate of political correctness?  Instant closure. When the huts arrived, the attic room became the art room.

The large rooms on either wing of the buildings became the classrooms for the big boys. I was in a classroom on the west side, half submerged from ground floor level. There was a small chapel up a half flight of stairs, a staff room, brother’s staff room, small kitchen on the first floor, and the telephone box; a wooden three sided cupboard with a seat to be comfortable when making calls.

Downstairs were the book room, kitchen, dining room, cloakroom (we changed there for P.E.), and the toilets, entered from an outside door at the north west of the building.  In later years, the toilets were housed in an outhouse attached to the rear of the school, and the first toilet was converted to a classroom. All other rooms upstairs were the preserve of the brothers, and I only entered them many years after I had left school, and the bedrooms only five years ago to see a doctor at the Murrayfield BUPA hospital (as the school had now become) for a check up.

The huts were added later in stages. They were eventually gave us 6 classrooms and a science lab. The last classroom was eventually split to form a 5th year and a sixth year room.


These were extensive covering 22 acres. They gave us playing fields at the front and rear of the building, eventually a tarmac area for play, tennis and field sports, and the holy of holies, Bro. Hastings’ walled vegetable garden. It was almost certain death if anyone who dared put their foot over the threshold to retrieve a ball or similar object.

The grounds were also used for cross country running, but more later.


We had a real mixed bag.


My love of the subject, and therefore my interest in my chosen profession of accountancy, was shaped by three teachers.
Firstly, Bro. Russell, our first headmaster. Rusty was a very genuine man, who was also a good teacher, and made the subject of Mathematics interesting for me. He also had a love affair with a cricket stump. He met his death, unfortunately, due to our faulty dump truck.
 Secondly, Fergus Byrne. He was a lay teacher, who was highly thought of in his own town. So much so that he became the most popular Provost of Linlithgow, a fact borne out by the huge turn out for his funeral. Fergie has a magnificent way of presenting mathematical problems, but an unusual way of keeping the attention of the class. If he thought he was losing attention, he would place a dot with a piece of chalk on the blackboard, then, ask individuals where the dot was. The board was always covered in dots, and, as he usually placed the dot on the rear or the board, unless you paid attention, you were found out, and a regular queue was formed at the front of class for the belt. Made you pay attention though.
 Finally, Bro. Highland. He arrived in time to teach me 6th form Maths  (equivalent to A level Maths). The Christian Brothers, in their wisdom, moved him on before I completed the course, so I did not pass.


One person took us for most of my school life, and instilled a love of Shakespeare. Bro. O’Connell. Coco  was a very tall, upright, man, with an air of breeding. He had, in a former life, been Provincial of the entire Christian Brothers, so coming to Scotus was a reward for past service. He must have wondered what he did wrong.


Although both took lessons, I include Bros Forde and Duignan in this heading. Both were responsible for the physical well being of the pupils, and introduced us to cross country running, rugby, boxing, and how to build stalls for sales of work.

Kitchen and Garden

Bro Hastings ruled these domains. 1066 was the first brother to meet you at the back gate, as you alighted from the Tram, Train or Bus. In 1953 this was a comparatively easy task as the traffic was light. In the 1960’s it was like playing Russian roulette. He was also there to see you off the premises at the end of the day. He also grew all the vegetables for the kitchen. In the few years after the Second World War, rationing was still in place, and certain foodstuffs were still not in common supply. He also ran the dining hall with a rod of iron, insisting everyone ate up the meals served to the captive audience. I remember distinctly the smell of cabbage cooking, or stewing, or grilling, or boiling, and from an early date until now, I have never been able to eat the stuff.


Our first teacher, Mr John Curran, was a quiet man of Irish descent. He found out early that teaching was not for him, and was replaced by Johnny Hyde, a West Lothian man, whose love of having a fly drag in the chemical store cupboard, should have been reported to health and safety, when you consider the chemicals stored in the cupboard. Eventually, after Johnny Hyde, we got respectability in David Batty. He was able to get the jokes out early, by saying, as his introduction, “By the way, I’m Batty.” He still remains a good supporter of the FPs.


Coco started this subject, but, we then had as our teacher, Ian  McCafferty. Chips was an excellent teacher, who helped a lot of pupils enjoy the French language. He, indirectly, led to my love of French holidays. During my later days, we had as a teacher, a young, French, mademoiselle. Many of my schoolmates lost their hearts to that young lady, and there was an epidemic of dropped pencils and erasers in class.


The art master was a young Ricky Demarco. He arrived, fresh faced, with new ideas of teaching, and an enthusiasm for the job, and his beloved City. He was also keen on cricket, and started many at the school to a great love of that game.


Arthur Oldham introduction to the school was a stroke of genius. He gave so many of us a love of a wide variety of music, and allowed many of us to participate in singing at various levels. He put on operettas, which brought an already close school closer still, and helped us to appreciate Britain’s Requiem, and West Side Story, before many had heard them. At a recent reunion, some FPs who had not seen each other since the days of the operettas broke into song, and it was as if they had never been parted.


In the early days we had Bros. Blake, Kelly and Miller. Sounds like an Australian gang, but these brothers were in their early days in the order, and were studying at Edinburgh University, and teaching us part time. They received a good grounding in watching out for duckers and divers, and every trick in the book. All three went on to make their mark in religious life. Later we had Bro “Tom” Dooley and Bro. Highland.

We had the most amazing odd job man/caretaker one could imagine. Jack Robinson. He did anything and everything, and, in a religious environment, swore like a trooper. I still see today his widow and children, and we laugh at times gone by. He is in heaven, but St Peter must have no hair by now.

There were two Irish dinner ladies who lived in the small room adjoining the dining room at the south east corner. They were sisters, and I think one was called Bridget.

I have missed out many of my later teachers to conserve space. I owe all mentioned, and those others, a huge vote of thanks for helping me to the life I have enjoyed.


The first day at school—16 September 1953. All 78 of us were formed into lines, the register was called, and then we were marched to our various classes. If memory serves me well, there were five classes— Junior school classes A, B, and C, and senior 1 and 2. The big boys were in senior 2. They wore long trousers

The first sale of work. This took place in 1954, on the old grass tennis court in front of the line of poplar trees to the east of the school. It rained continuously for three days before, and during the event. Many parents turned out for the fete. There was a small carousel/ roundabout, which did good business despite the weather. The stalls were made of scaffolding with tarpaulins slung over the top to give a slight shelter from the rain. There were aunt sallies, hoop-la, bottle stall, darts, among the items on offer. Money was made despite the poor day, and Bro. Russell had the good sense to insure the event in case of rain. The school benefited to the tune of £600, a large sum in those days.

Other Sales of Work

Many P.E. classes were spent building up the stalls for the annual sale of work. After the first year, stalls were made from large wooden beams, which the brothers must have got very cheaply, and the stall were built up, first on the lawn and wall in front of the Hastings garden, and latterly, on the tarmac tennis courts I remember one year, J.C.Hunter and Stuart Taylor having to jump for their lives as they were atop the structure which had no supports at either end. It improved their jumping from heights.
I must, at this time, give great praise to the many parents, and FPs, who worked extremely hard to make these sales of work the great successes they were. Thanks should go to all who served on Parents association committees for their work in raising vast amounts of money to keep the school going.

All the stalls’ name boards, and other items like wheel of fortune board, roll a penny board, were kept in the attic of the house adjacent to the bike sheds (for those younger readers the pavilion ) . Talking of bike sheds, they were a health hazard. Many pupils had their first smoke there and the old byre, for that was what it was needed knocked down. The Pavilion was used as classrooms, and a music room for a time. You will see the pavilion on the Penguin advert on the web page. 

Carfin Pilgrimage  The school always got holidays of obligations as school holidays. In those days there were many more holidays than now, maybe 7 or 8. On the 8th December 1954, the school arranged to visit Carfin Grotto, near Motherwell. I was going, but I was not altogether happy, as the BBC was showing a live football match that day. Very few football matches were televised in those far off days, and this one was to show Scotland, at Hampden Park playing the mighty Magyars, the Hungarian National team, including the great Puskas, and Hidiguti. The Hungarians has the previous year beaten England at Wembley, 6 goals to 3, the first foreign team to beat England on home soil.

My mother and I started walking from my house in Old Kirk Road, just off Kaimes Road (our Cross country run), and headed to school. Snow started falling, and, by the time we reached the school, we were like snowmen, and the roads were covered with a few inches, and what little traffic there was at that time was at a standstill. The trams had been taken off a few weeks before, so no one could get to school except on foot, or by train.  The event was postponed to a later date, and I got to see the football. The snow had not fallen in Glasgow and the match was played. It was a very good game, and Scotland only lost 4 goals to 2.


I remember many times taking a packed tea to school and eating this prior to our being marched down to the ground beside Murrayfield Ice Rink, where the Big Top for the circus was always situated. We saw Bertram Mills, Chipperfields, and Roberts Brothers Circuses on a regular basis. Events like these do not happen today in schools.


Most of the school was well versed with the lay out of the Zoo as we visited it nearly every day during lunch break. The walls of the school were adjoining the Zoo grounds and, after the war, were in a state of disrepair. You could easily climb over undetected, and spend a pleasant lunchtime in the grounds. At the back of the school, in a field, which the Zoo rented, were kept some ponies and zebras. I remember one of my classmates, who shall remain nameless, in case the Zoo, or the Cruelty to Animals sue him, riding the zebras bareback, and living to tell the tale.

Opening of St. John the Baptist Church Corstorphine

When the new church was opened, the whole school was marched from the school, up Belgrave Road, along Forrester Road, then St Ninians Drive to the new church for the opening. We made a huge colourful scene, due to all of us wearing our Royal Blue Blazers with Gold Braid, and obligatory matching caps. We were also involved in a number of church events where we made the long walk.


The school was dedicated to Our Lady, so, on her feast days, there was usually a procession in the grounds, and large numbers of pupils and parents took part. Pictures of some of them are on the web page. This custom stopped at the end of the 1950’s, I know not why. A School mass was held in 1958 on the tarmac tennis courts to the west of Bro Hastings garden in 1958 to mark the centenary of the birth of the founder of the Christian Brothers, Edmond Ignatius Rice. Again, photos of this event are on the web page.

The Removal of the Iron Railings

Bro. Duignan , among others, decided that the iron railings surrounding the front field were surplus to requirement, and could fetch money at Dalton’s scrap yard. So, part of our P.E. lessons were to remove these rotting old iron rods, and load them into the Bedford van. The van had more rust on it than the railings, but it would serve the purpose. These were the days before M.O.T. tests, so a van with dodgy steering, poor brakes and no suspension was roadworthy. The vehicle, when loaded, had string tied to the rear doors to stop items falling out, and the floor of the van was scraping the ground. I was chosen to accompany Bro Duignan, and Jack, possibly because I was the lightest, and after a hair-raising journey, we arrived at Yeaman Place to receive a paltry sum for all the work carried out, but it was money to keep the school going.

The Bomb Crater

This part of the front field was off limits to all the school. I still don’t know why. Perhaps there was still shrapnel in it. Apparently a German Bomber, trying to bomb the railway lines, or the Forth Bridge, dropped his bombs at the school and in other parts of Corstorphine. I played in one near Kaimes Road, and I came to no harm. The front field became another moneymaking scheme, when it was used as an infill site. The level of the field was raised by several feet and the crater was filled in.

Sports Events Memories

P.E. This covered a multitude of sins. From digging ditches, to clearing stones, picking up dead trees, and getting rid of rubbish, the early pupils helped smooth the fields of the grounds for future use.

Earliest memories—the school playing a rugby match on the field in front of the school at the south east corner—sawdust for lines, home made posts, and tufts of grass everywhere.  Ricky Demarco teaching us how to play cricket on a mud wicket on the same front field. Bro Forde continuing our cricket knowledge in the field beyond the normal grounds. Of course, we had to get rid of the donkeys which had grazing rights there.

The cross country run — 2 different courses. The first. Out the back gate, along the main road towards Corstorphine, up Kaimes Road, through the Corstorphine Woods, down Ravelston, down Murrayfield Avenue, along Corstorphine Road, up the main drive, and into the classroom. How we all hoped Willie Morrison would be off school, so we might have a chance of winning; and second. Down the back drive, through the trees inside the bottom wall, up the main drive, up the path through the trees on the drive, along the back field, past the wall to the north of Hastings garden, down the path to the back path, then to the classroom, often repeated.

Sports Day

Always took place on the back pitches at Murrayfield, and, as I recall, always on a dry sunny June day. Many very good friendships were formed on that day, as families arrived to support the athletes. Many sisters of school pupils were there, girls who were at Craiglockhart and St. Margarets, and were discouraged to mix with Scotus boys. Many future marriages were hatched on the Murrayfield playing fields. I first met my wife on the fields in 1963, but I have my pet poodle to thank for the introduction. I still have my shields for being placed in some of the events.


This formed a big part of school life. The trips to Murrayfield by tram, then bus, one penny fare, and training on the back pitches, using the international changing rooms, and seeing close up the main pitch. Playing many matches against various schools and forming friendships with players of other schools that have lasted a lifetime. My longest trip to play rugby was to St Aiden’s, Sunderland, by two trains, and a full day. And we won, also.

I remember playing a practice match on the side lawn at the west of the school. It had been snowing, and, instead of playing touch rugby, Bro Duignan suggested we play tackling. Bro Duignan took off his national health specs and laid them on the ground. Bad mistake. Peter Cassidy saw them and accidentally trod on them.

One Saturday in 1963, we were to play Kirkcaldy away, and we got permission, reluctantly, from Bro Forde for 5 of us to travel by car, as Peter Cassidy could get his father’s car, and we had all passed our tests that year. What harm could we cause, as our company consisted of the Head Boy, Deputy Head Boy, and 3 prefects? So, at 8.00am on the Saturday, Peter Cassidy drove from Portobello, collected Adrian McDonald, John Perrins and myself in Corstorphine, and collected Roddy Zentil in Uphall before driving over the Kincardine Bridge to the match. The Road Bridge had not been finished, and we avoided the ferries at Queensferry. Everything went well until halfway towards Kirkcaldy on the Fife side of the Firth. The car conked out, started again, conked out again, then stopped. We pushed it halfway to Kirkcaldy, arriving in the town 15 minutes after the match was supposed to start. We changed in the car, hailed a taxi, and arrived at the ground just as then half time whistle sounded. Bro Forde, red faced, chased us up the driveway. We were exhausted. Needless to say, we lost, and we got hell on the Monday. All future travel to matches was to be by public transport as a group, and we put motoring at school back by at least five years. The journey back was even worse. We all left Peter to make his own way home at 7.30pm from Corstorphine, and our social Saturday night was ruined.

Social Life and my memories

Classroom events

Sixth form games in the classroom.

Juggling the small empty milk bottles in a group of at least five pupils. Many successful days of keeping twelve bottles in the air, until the day when a bottle sailed through a plate glass window, and our future live as circus artistes was cut short in an instant.

There was the regular skill, and bravery, shown by pupils in killing wasps, with rulers, in the classroom, and lining them up on the windowsills to show our prowess as hunter/gatherers. Judging by the numbers killed, we must have been above a wasps’ nest.

Competitions held to see who was the best at playing headers with a tennis ball in the close confines of the top classroom. I had a rather hard head for the event, and was able to generate a turn of speed, and force, into the ball. On one occasion, my opponent did not save the ball, and it hit the Sacred Heart statue in the room, knocking off its right hand. I thought I was for it, but, by careful placement of the statue on its plinth, Brother O’Connell, on entering the room, hit the statue with the door, causing it to fall. Nothing further was mentioned of the event.

Other events

The day someone caught a wild baby rabbit. Some pupils wanted to take it home, so, rather than say no, and disappoint some, Bro. O’Connell decided that the fairest way was for the whole school to form a circle on the east lawn at the school, everyone facing out with their feet touching, and the one whose legs it goes through would take it home. Innocent children. We suspected no evil intent. The poor, frightened rabbit was released, shot through a pair of legs for freedom, and only one boy was slightly sad, quickly pacified as he got some sweets, something not allowed today.

School caps had always to be worn. People reported you to the school if you were seen without your cap, and then you were for it. Anything was reported to the school. I remember drawing a picture on a pillar of the old Corstorphine Hospital, and it was reported. I had to own up to it the other week, as Brian Hunter related the story, and the fact he got the punishment for it.

In my final year at school, on a Friday, we used to go into town, and meet friends of both sexes at the New Yorker café, in Shandwick Place. The place no longer exists, no wonder, as 400 kids used to frequent it for 4 hours, each buying 1 coke. We were officially not allowed to go into these places, especially in school uniform. How could we? The uniform could be spotted four miles away on a foggy day. We used to bring sports jackets to school in our school bags, and change as we got to the café. Many liaisons and Saturdays parties were planned in that café, and with over 400 bags on the ground, it helped with the new dance steps being invented each week. I was thinking only recently. Why did we not just take off our blazers and go inside in our shirts? That was not the done thing, in those days.

I hope this jogs memories of the early days, and gives an insight to life in the first few years to our younger FPs

Lindsay David Wilson C.A
16 October 2007

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James Hunt

Recollections of Scotus Academy



I am very much the Luddite but have recently succumbed to the undoubted attractions of the Internet. I am a Scotus Academy FP and very proud of the fact! My brother Peter – another FP- informed me the other day of your web site and I have decided to take the plunge and respond to your appeal for information on the old alma mater.

Where do you start? When I look back I can only recall happy memories of Scotus. My father was an Executive Officer in the Civil Service and he had a strong belief in good education. He would sacrifice anything in order to obtain a sound education for his boys. We lived on the Broomhouse estate and lived quite frugally. My father considered education the best investment anyone could make and in his mind the Christian Brothers offered just that! My two brothers – Peter and Brian – also attended Scotus. We were required to wear those bright blue iniforms, which includied the hats, as we made our way to and from school. This was like a red flag to the bull! Obviously this made us easy targets for the local lads. We took some ribbing – no, it was abuse! Still there was no harm done.

I had missed two years schooling through illness as a youngster. I had failed my 11+ and was attending St. Anthony's Scondary. At that time I was so backward that I had difficulty spelling my name! Consequently when I was moved to Scotus with its emphasis on learning I found the experience very daunting at first – I was out of my depth! I found, however, the teaching staff and my fellow students very kind and helpful. My mate Brendan McCann took me under his wing and helped me get settled; he did all my latin homework and frequently saved my bacon in class by whispering the answer to some bewildering questions, which were fired at me like a machine gun. It is so unfair that the Christian Brothers receive such bad press these days. There are some people, mainly whingers, who would say that the teaching was tough. Well I won't deny it. However, it had a purpose – it focused the mind. There is no way you can teach without discipline! What the whingers forget is this was the accepted method of teaching in schools at the time. I contend that the control in any other Edinburgh school in the 50s and 60s was no less firm! The proof of the pudding is in the eating - it worked for me! So is everything in the garden lovely as far as education today is concerned ? I think not! Seems to me that the kids are ruling the roost. I won't comment on the standard of education or the calabre of student you find in school in these liberal times. Suffice to say I just found another GCE O Level certificate (grade A +, would you believe) in my packet of Coco Pops this morning; one more and I've got the set! Also, in my time at school, no one was expelled and I can't even remember anyone being suspended; there was no disrespect for authority, no bullying, no vandalism, no bad manners, no graffiti, no ASBOs etc, etc and so forth. I never doubted for a moment that the Brothers had my best interests at heart – God bless 'em. Their aim was to help me achieve my full potential and what on earth is wrong with that! I started at Scotus as an illiterate numbskull and left primed , by no means the finished article,for the rough,cruel and competitive world outside. I for one am grateful for all their efforts I will now slowly dismount from my hobbyhorse!

There was no slacking at Scotus Academy - the Brothers kept us on our toes! From the word go the questions reigned in from all quarters. “Conjugate the latin verb ......”, “ 13 pomegranates at 1 ¾ d each? ”, “ Identify all the clauses and their characteristics...” “What did you learn from that scientific experiment? ” “Who was the main villan in the tragedy of Macbeth? ” etc, etc ......... All very challenging and designed to kick the brain into gear. As well as challenging, for the first time in my life, I found the teaching stimulating and all embracing, The Brothers had the uncanny knack of choosing the most interesting lay teachers. There was Mr. Small the History teacher, who had a very comical Northern Irish accent! A threat from him in class would have you in tears – tears of laughter! “You miserable little c..r..i..t...t...u... rs ” was his war cry . He was an easy teacher to distract ; he loved to reminisce and he had a catalogue of obervations on life which he was more than willing to divulge, He jumped at the bait we dangled every time. “Tell us about such and such Mr Small.” We could then sit back and relax for the next hour while our teacher did all the work. I suppose we did learn something about the state of the nation and a bit about Ireland at the turn of the century. None of it on the syllabus of course but it was a definite improvement on the dry old Tudors and Stuarts! Now that I think of it, I suppose he was a very good argument for discipline in the classroom. Notwithstanding, I found that Mr. Small povided a bright interlude in what was a hectic life and got me interested in current affairs, which led to a working lifetime's preoccupation with trade unionism.

Unfortunately I don't remember the name of my French Master. This is inexcusable as I gained a lot from his teaching. Not an appreciation for French, for I was a poor language student, but in good taste! We were privilaged to have him as our “cultural” guide to Paris. He was steeped in the culture of Paris and we had the benefit of his vast knowledge as we toured the museums, the galleries and the churches. I particularly remember our visit to L' Opera where “Rigoletto” was being performed. This was my first experience of live opera and I found the whole event awe inspiring. The venue and performance, especially Verdi's music, lifted my senses to a new high. I am not ashamed to say that I had tears in my eyes that night. My love of opera stems from this visit, which he took the trouble to arrange for us. Teaching at its best!

While I'm on the subject of music, I fondly recall our Music Master Mr. Oldham. He had the daunting task of teaching us to appreciate music! Here was a very talented man who gave you the impression that he was destined to achieve great things in the musical world. I distinctly remember Mr. Oldham splitting our class into five groups, each with a particular voice range - tenor, base and whatever in between. This brave man tackled with great gusto the nigh on impossible job of teaching us the choral version of “ Ave Verum Corpus.” I was in the base group and our part sounded flat. We were told not to worry as it would all work out eventually. Only one group seemed to sing what I recognised as the melody; the others, like our group, had various subordinate descant roles. After about six weeks of separate drilling he brought the groups together, fitted them as you would a jigsaw puzzle added the music and produced a sound that was for me an absolute delight to the ear! What he had achieved was simply astounding. He had taken a bunch of scallywags, whose appreciation of music was limited to Buddy Holly's latest hits, and to everyone's amazement produced a choir! Henceforth I had less need for catechism in my life! I could find God in music – more accurately in Mozart's “ Ave Verum Corpus,” a truly inspirational masterpiece . “Beauty is truth, truth is beauty” - it's as simple as that in my book. Thanks Mr. Oldham.

Ricky Demarco was our Art Master and he was someone I took to immediately. He was warm just like Italian sunshine. As a teacher he was second to none and I consider myself very fortunate to have been one of his pupils. He was a young man; full of energy and boundless enthusiasm for his subject and preferred to teach out in the real world away from the cramped little attic that was our art room. I found this enthusiasm infectious. Ricky spoke with passion and from the heart. Here's an example: One day he took our class to Edinburgh Castle and from the rampart he pointed out to us what he called the desecration of Princess Street. He wasn't content to discuss this important matter in the classroom; he had to take us on site and show us exactly what he meant. He felt that without the plethora of shop facades - the bland frontages you could find on most High Streets in Britain – this unique street would have been, particularly because of its marvellous setting , the grandest in Europe. I noticed that he held this view passionately for I could hear the emotion in his voice! He felt that whoever gave planning permission for the change should have been hung, drawn and quartered. Not bad for what was a very mild man! Ever the optimist, he felt that all was not lost for the mistakes of the past could, with the right vision, still be rectified. Ricky marched us through the streets of Edinburgh in all weathers and taught us to be proud of the rich variety of architecture in our city. Ricky was in love with Edinburgh! He would point out the high buildings of the medieval Old Town and contrast with the absolute absolute grace of the Georgian New Town. I can still hear him say, I think it was as he herded us around Charlotte's Square, “Look boys, look at the effect of the sunlight on that building! The effect on the stones and the design it creates!” He was positively elated by the effect of light on objects and was forever singing the praises of the Impressionists; we made numerous visits to the Art Galleries so that he could point out examples and elaborate on the subject. Many times other visitors to the gallery would join our group around an exhibit and listen quite spellbound to his obervations on symbolism, the arrangement of form, the different textures, tones and colours that were to be found in the painting. This artist opened my eyes and taught me to observe and appreciate the beauty around me. It is something that has stayed with me all my life It was a precious gift and I will always be grateful to this fine man for all his valuable time and effort. Here was a someone who knew his subject thoroughly and was desperate to impart that knowledge. Surely a teacher of the highest order! He was the first person to attribute me with some ability; he felt that I was artistic especially in the area of design. He was prepared to help me produce a portfolio for submission to the Art College. With praise from such a man, how could I fail in the outside world that beckoned.

“But deep this truth impressed my mind,

Tho' all his works abroad;

The heart benevolent and kind,

Most resembles God.”

The Brothers had a less flamboyant style of teaching. Generally they used the old “drum it in” approach. “Persevere boy, persevere.” It worked for me as I was slow on the uptake. Brother Russell taught us Maths and he did this in a hard but fair fashion; quite often he would have to resort to the strap, By the way , it did not take most of the lads long to suss out how best to take the belt. I would hold out my hand at head level where the velocity of the swing was at its lowest . The less conifident / brave invariably came of worse as they would close their eyes and offer their hand reluctantly at about waist height, sometimes less, where they would feel the full impact. Not a bad lesson for life though –“ use your wits and tackle your problems head on.” But I digress. I owe Brother Russell, who was our Headmaster and carried a very heavy load, a great deal Thanks to him I left Scotus with an aptitude and love for figure work. Later it guaranteed me a well paid job, which paid the mortgage and put food on the table; in fact it left me financially secure for the rest of my life. Worth a few slaps on the hand wouldn't you say! Brother O' Connell was our English Master and he was the man who taught me to express myself both in writing and verbally. I saw him as very learned and sophisticated; he had a stately air about him. He would not give up on me although he had every right to do so! He tried every approach to get this juggernaut going. He even tried sarcasm – “Hunt, I suggest you try crochet for a living.” Now that hurts more than six of the best! In the last term at school and with confidence that was growing by the minute, I had the nerve to write a critique on the first fifty pages, the preamble, of Sir Walter Scott's “ Guy Mannering.” In short I argued that it was unnessarily long - just like this saga I'm writing. For the first time, Brother O.Connell was very pleased with my efforts and encouraged me to keep up the good work. However, he reserved the right to side with one of the world's greatest authors on the grounds that he had a much better track record and just a smidgen more talent! Brother O'Connell would always have the last word, and rightly so! Brother Millar was also refined. He struck me as a quiet, kind but sanguine individual. You could always rely on him for practical help and encouragement I seem to remember that he managed the second XV but as I recall he was more studious than sporty. Although he may have considered rugby barbaric, he knuckled down to the task and gave the lads his full enthusiastic support. Brother Hastings did not teach; I think he was what you might call a Lay Brother. He tended, single handed, the large walled garden at the back of the school. He was also our lollipop man! Jacky Broadley was a very likeable and clever mate of mine. He was well into the rock scene and to signal this to the world he supported a very obvious and very elaborate Elvis type hairstyle – witness the rugby team photoghaph (1959/60) on your web site. I remember to this day Brother Hastings ceremoniously removing Jacky's hat after he had alighted from the bus and thoroughly ruffling his pride and joy! Brother Hastings said very little during his lifetime but that day I heard him quietly utter “Vanity.”

Ricky Demarco and Brother Duignan thoroughly enjoyed getting involved in our rugby practice. I can see them clearly in my mind scurrying about like demented ferrets on the field (cowpac alley) in front of the school. No quarter was asked and none given! They would take the hard tackles from the lads and would hand out the same! Brother Duignan, who was tough as old boots, would teach us every trick in the book and I'm not sure all of them were legitimate. The school eventually secured for us the very best facilities at Murrayfield – nothing was too good for their boys! As if to recriprocate Brother Duignan produced an exceptional rugby team (1959/60) that went through the season undefeated. We were proud of our school and, on the field, considered ourselves invincible. In Ricky Macari and Eric Archibald we had a lethal combination. Ricky was stand off and as slippery an as eel and had a body swerve that was mesmerizing. Eric was first center and he had the speed and power to complement that talent. Jack Regan was full back and always provided a safe pair of hands. I was elated when on Friday afternoon my name appeared – right prop- on the team sheet; although our pupil numbers were small when compared to other schools, there was always competition for places in the first XV. The interest was so great amongst the boys we fielded a second XV. We played most of the top schools in Edinburgh and on the road we travelled as far down as the Borders, as far up as Kirkcaldy and as far across as Perthshire. One game will always stick in my mind. We were away to a boarding school – Strathallen or maybe it was Glenavon. It was a open day at the school and a good number of the visiting parents packed the touchline to watch their boys play. I contend that no harder battle was fought on Scottish soil than on that day! Our scrum half Clark slipped the ball out to Macari who nonchalantly swerved past two lunging tackles and passed the ball out to Archibald who had built up a head of steam. Eric broke the defence line with sheer speed and ran straight through the full back. We missed the conversion but we had three points on the board. 3 - 0 up and only five minutes played. Well I do not exaggerate when I say that the rest of the game was played in our 25. They were determined to please the home crowd and we were just as resolved to spoil their little party! We spent what seemed like an eternity hauling our opponents down just short of our line. Despite all the screaming from the touchline – “Come on school !” and the like - there was no way anyone was going to cross that line. This was a battle of wills! 3 -0 was the final score; we did not succumb! All Brother Duignan had taught us had come to fruition that day. “Job well done lads“ he said with a contented smile. A great day soon to be lost in the mists of time!

“Like the snow falls on the river,

A moment white then gone forever”

The Brothers continually introduced us to different sports. As well as the academic and cultural side there had to be sport; after all a lad had to let of steam! They would try one sport and if it didn't work move on to another. For instance there was boxing. Now that was a disaster; certainly as far as I was concerned! One year Brother Duignan arranged a boxing competition. Out of the bottom of the sports cupboard came two pairs of very saggy and well worne boxing gloves; they may well have belonged to the great John L O' Sullivan at one time in the distant past. Anyway they had seen better days! I fancied myself as a boxer. My Uncle Eddie was a professional boxing trainer and he had taught me some ringcraft. He thought that I had what it takes but my mother would have none of it. I waltzed into the final without breaking sweat and thought the last lap would be a formality. I was showboating, Dick McTaggert like, trying to impress my classmates when my opponent sturdy Paul Martin hit me plump on the chin with a haymaker! You know you really do see stars and they are all sizes and all colours! When I came round I was lying flat out on of all things the laboratory bench in the science classroom. So ended a promising boxing career! Then there was cricket. I put the kibosh on that too! You've probably heard some teams complain the poor state of the wicket. Well they obviously hadn't experience the hand mown, never rollered strip at Scotus- “ The dreaded front field!” I was a fearless cricketer and would field right up to the bat. None of that Nancy stuff like padding for me. Well one day my luck ran out . I took a full blooded drive on the unmentionables. I squirm at the thought of it even to this day. Never again! My dream of playing at The Grange had been shattered. Who remembers the cross country? Around the perimeter of the school! Not only were we required to navigate through thick undergrowth, contend with very rough and often swampy terrain, and in all weathers but we had to do it twice! I ask you! Running down the steep “Zoo” side was considered acceptable even to the laggards. However, it could have its hairy moments; in fact in the winter it became as dodgy as a toboggan run. I'll swear that if they had left the bottom gate open many runners would have just shot through at amazing speed! The bottom straight was sheer jungle! If you came out of it alive you had then to contend with, dare I say it, the steep and torturous DRIVE. I was fed up always trudging up that godforsaken, uncompromising,steep hill ten minutes behind the leader so one day experimenting with stimulants, as boys do, I despatched a miniture bottle of whisky secretly before the run. Would you believe it, all my usual aches and pains disappeared and I was ready to take on Brendan Foster. I flew up that drive in top gear on the very heels of the front man Mike Ashley and to the astonishment of Brother Duignan whose job was to”count us out and count us back again.” - yes it was it was a war out there! I never could convince Brother Duignan that I had indeed completed two laps that day.

I remember clearly a golf match Brother Duignan had arranged for us at Carrick Knowe against Heriots. Another disaster! It's ridiculous but I still get upset when I recall the tiddler I missed on the 16th to lose my match. Phil Smith a schoolboy internationalist and our captain that day soon made amends. The Brothers even organised an athletics competition in which I become, by some flook, the school champion. It was a two day affair where the throwing events, for safety reasons,were held on the first day at the school and the running events the following Open Day at the back of Murrayfield Stadium. There was quite a “big gate” that day - parents and the like - and although it started sunny the weather soon deteriorated – not unusual for Edinburgh really. Points were awarded for the first three in each event. Now, although I say it myself, I had a good throwing arm and consequently I won the javelin and came second to my Nemesis Paul Martin in the shot. So I had a tidy lead at the end of the first day. I only needed to be placed in one of the running events to be overall winner. Well to be honest I have always been a bit of a plodder – 4 .47 for the mile and that was at my peak. The three mile race was run in a thunderstorm and everyone except the competitors scarpered to the stadium for shelter. In racing parlance the going changed from Good to Very Heavy. The conditions now suited yours truly, a plodder par exellence .Many of the runners got stuck in the mud but I managed to plod on to an astonishing third place. I was presented with a wooden spoon, sorry wooden tennis racket, which gave me many hours of enjoyment on the courts in Corstorphine Park. The tortoise had beaten the hare!

Now a potted history : James Hunt is the name; married with three grown children and six grandchildren.Live in Burgess Hill underneath the glorious South Downs. 64 years old and been retired for 12 years – leukaemia chief reason. With BT all my working life and enjoyed every minute of it! Finance Manager covering every aspect – contracts, budgets, billing etc. Trade Union Representative at local and regional level for about 25 years; heavily involved in trying to improve workers' pay and conditions; health and safety, pensions, flexitime, unfair dismissal, industrial democracy etc. Workers' Rep. on Area Board. Main preoccupation now is golf; play 3 times a week and will never ever tire of it. Remember, always make time to stop and smell the roses. Relax doc. I promise to keep taking the tablets!

“But stooks are coupit wi' the blast,
An' now the sinn keeks in the west,
Then I maun rin amang the rest,
An' quit ma chanter;
Sae I subscribe myself in haste,
Jimmy the Ranter.”

My thanks for the quotes go to my old friend and constant companion right through life Robert Burns. Good luck with the reunion and thank you for all your good work!

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Iain Brown

What can I say but my memory is fading fast and I really only have bits of memory about my 4 years at the school 68-72

Of the Pupils            

The only people I remember are

Paul Somerville (birth mark of face)

Charles Vickers lived in Falkirk and to whose house I have been to as a child

David Bain (who broke my nose in a play fight) family had a butchers in Corstorphine

Andy Murray captain of the rugby team

Others I can see but have forgotten their names

Of the Staff

Brother O’Brian- used to be involved with the ruby

Brother McDermott (hand the size of spades, again he was involved with the rugby)

Father Ambrose, seemed like a pleasant man

There was the plump French teacher, sweated a lot, or maybe that was the effect I had on him during my private tuition in the spoken language. He did say that I had little chance of passing the written paper and my only hope was the oral paper. Needless to say I failed in that as well

I can remember my ‘form class’ being in the first block of sheds behind the main house. End room on the east end.

The long walk, from the bus stop to the school up that hill through the trees. One brother in particular was on guard duty most mornings and evenings, I can visualize him to a point but the name escapes me. If I am right he died shortly after I left in 72

The school had extensive grounds and I can remember roaming about the whole of the hill side at breaks.

The gravel playing field up behind the walled garden.

The fact that at lunch I used to climb into the Zoo over one of the walls and have a free look. I was interested in wildlife generally and loved to get in to see the animals.

Saturday morning going to play rugby at Murrayfield

I never made the first XV as I left early, but I do remember enjoying the game

I am not sure that any other school could have achieved more with me; it seems I really had no interest in any of the subjects. My reports always said I had the potential to do far better.

I left after my O’levels and went to Telford Collage of Further Education. I lied about my age on the form so I got in at 17. There things improved. Had a adolescent crush on the biology teacher and after two attempts at my Highers got an ‘A’  in biology and ‘b’s’ in English, Chemistry and Physics

Went to Stirling University, read biology and have worked for pharmaceutical companies ever since

I do however blame Scotus for my appalling writing and spelling, we had an English teacher who used to set us the projects that we had to do over the term and it had to be all done in block letters rather than writing. I think he was trying to make life easier for himself as he thought he could read our drivel more easily

I remember the ‘belting sessions’. They were a complete waste of time really. I was one of the quieter boys, liked my rugby and football at breaks and did little in class to cause a beating. However I soon realized that you needed to get the belt sometimes, just so others would not pick on you for being teachers pet. I can clearly remember talking back and receiving 6 of the best. After that I melted into the background again

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Stephen Z Koral

Thank you for contacting me re Scotus; it certainly came as a welcome surprise.

I do recognise you from your web photo but no doubt you have 'changed' a little since then. I was at Scotus from 1958 'til 1963 before I was expelled for failing my exams.

Frankly I hated the bloody place. I had a stutter and got 'belted' at least once a day. The record was 16 on 1 day: 6 from Mr Small, 6 from McCafferty and 4 from Byrne!!

Br Hastings:  -      
"Stephen, come here to me now; stand still, straighten your cap and get a haircut!

Br O'connell: -       
''Kissing is disgusting; masturbation - you will all go to hell!
‘’The Sunday Post is a disgusting newspaper full of bad things”

Br Duignan: -        
With the Gestapo specs. A vicious brute who instilled fear and enjoyed his power 

Mr Byrne: -             
A good man but still belted me

Br Baylor: -             
He was the only one that did not belt me!

Mr Hyde: -              
The heavy smoker. Another vicious brute who chased a pupil (prisoner) around the lab for the belt. Mind you he deserved it for shooting cats at the w/e. He was also ok with me however.

Br Ford: -                
Latin...f**king hated it and has had no benefit in my life todate!!!! – and I got belted for that also

Mr Small: -              
‘’You are all critturs, spoilt brats from rich parents (as he rolled his eyes and exposed his false teeth! He belted me at every opportunity. Smally sent Henry Mclaughlin to get Hyde’s belt so he could really hurt me. However as one of the most experienced ‘belt receivers’ in the history of Scotus I had some fun. As Smalley had completed the ‘pain for Koral ritual’ (the famous dance of the belts,) was 1ft in the air to ensure maximum download momentum damage (and at his point of no return) I moved my cross hands ever so slightly to the left (he anticipated the right) and it contacted alright….but not me. Smally got in the leg…..oh the pain on his face…oh joy! Eventually he managed the six belts (actually originally it was only 4) but he was nearly crippled, lost his teeth twice and certainly stressed out.
Br O’Leary: -           
We stole his little short belt..........''you are all puppies - give me back my belt''

R Demarco: -        
I never thought he could even draw!

Lunches: -             
Absolute and utter s**t............Br Hastings in charge............'Stephen, eat up now, quickly now'

Others:  -                
The Pied Piper at the west end was out of bounds
I never once got to ring the bloody break/lunch bell
The wee bottles of milk were the best thing about Scotus
Sex Education: Ha Ha Ha!
General Education: The f**king belt!
Collective noun for the Scotus Teachers/Brothers ‘ a w**k of teachers and brothers’
They should have kept the Stalag huts as a memento to modern catholic teaching!
It didn’t take me long after I left to establish women were not evil but……….

God: there is so much more.

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Sam Coward

Well see what a wet day google search turned up.’ Scotus Academy’ I guess I’ll never forget that place, and I see that one of the former pupils remembers me. 

I have very clear memories of my attempted education by the Christian brothers.
Maybe to understand a child you have to be a parent, however I do have lots of funny stories about Scotus/Circus, but I’ll wait until the site fills up a bit before I send them all in.  For now you can have,

‘The day we joined the Navy’


A recruitment officer from her majesties armed forces tried all morning to interest some of the pupils into joining the navy, but to no avail. It wasn’t until I pointed out during break that a trip down the Firth of Forth on a minesweeper might be an interesting alternative to maths that he got his contingent of willing applicants. 

We arrived at Granton Harbour with ‘Harry Ingles’ accompanying us, who to my delight fell seasick walking up the boarding ramp.  He was stretched out on a bed before we even cast off. 

For several hours we had the run of the ship, then Christmas arrived as we were ushered a ‘stern and one after the other handed an M16 to fire a few rounds at a barrel that had been tossed over the side.

The sailor in charge was enjoying winding up the pupils by saying,’ to rounds’.  The pupils mistaking ‘to rounds’ for ‘two rounds’ would put a finger on the trigger whereupon the sailor would yell at them that, ‘ to rounds’ meant ‘take off the safety catch’ and ‘not to touch the trigger’! 

I was fascinated by guns as a kid, (hate ‘em now), and when I took my turn didn’t touch the trigger, on the command ‘to rounds’ I flipped the safety up to auto and emptied the full clip into the seagulls that were wheeling and squawking in the wake. 

I never hit any, but the sailor went berserk and dragged me down into the bowels of the ship, where Ingles was stretched out on a bunk like a corpse.
I don’t know if it was the pitch of the ship, or the sight of me, but he promptly rolled over and filled the bucket that had been placed beside his bed.

The sailor then turned me around, tried in vain to suppress a laugh, kicked me up the arse and set me free.

I can’t believe that Ovington doesn’t remember that it was myself and Alan Tansey that threw him down the banking that day.  I remember the exact moment that we released him as he sailed up into the air before tumbling into a crumpled heap half way down.  I remember saying to Alan that next time if he took the legs and I took the arms we might be able to get him all the way to the bottom!

As for the broken wrist, well sorry and all that, but it was you that put your hands out to break your fall.  Anyway after reading your memories, if you were under the impression that Harry Ingles taught Maths, you obviously had more problems than were apparent at the time and while I doubt that your injury would have made much difference to your education, I will concede that life for a schoolboy with a broken wrist must certainly be frustrating and for that you have my sincere apologies.

Me I’m wrinkled and bald like the rest of you and I’ll start to worry when I look down and can’t see my feet. I haven’t got a recent picture of myself so I’ll send you one of my misspent youth and one of a view that I like.

Marooned for months on a Greek island, I didn’t only have Friday for company, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were there as well.

As I now spend more time behind a lens than in front of one, the other is of my boots, but I’m sure you will find the backdrop interesting.

I hope that you all achieved your ambitions in life and are healthy and happy.

p.s. The teacher that would have rapped you with a ruler James was called Dwan (spelling?)

As for the photo of ‘the old beech tree’, it is actually a Horse Chestnut. Its similarity to all other varieties of tree to be found in the school grounds is that somewhere high in the branches you will find two gnarled initials SC

à bientôt

Sam Coward

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Mike McEwan

As you may have noticed on the photos on the Scotus website, my brother Tom has been singing and playing guitar for nigh on 40 years (my parents have a photo of him at about 7 playing a ukelele in preparation for his true vocation).  Having got himself a degree at St Andrews about 25 years ago, he then promptly dived into the singer/songwriter circuit around the UK for the next 5 years or so, and only when family responsibilities were pressing did he deign to join us lesser mortals in doing a 9-5 job for a living.  He managed to escape from that drudgery by becoming a Senior Lecturer (a role which I am assured by all known incumbents is really hard work, although none have been surveyed during summer recess).  As a result, he retired from said circuit. However - as he notes wirh some enthusiasm below - as a lifelong fan of Bruce Springsteen, he is coming out of retirement for a Springsteen tribute night, where he has been invited to be the headlining act.  It's short notice I know, but if you can find your way to The Tron in Hunter Square, you will find a night of energy & enthusiasm that will amaze those who thought that we were one step away from the wrinklies in The Broons or Oor Wullie (you know - bathtub chair, horn in the ear, etc).

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Jonathan Ovington

Thanks for the mail following the registration at friends reunited, thought I would acknowledge that first of all, I noticed Bennet Crolla was in contact as well you'll no doubt have seen,  I remember him well. It's strange seeing so many names that in honesty had slipped my mind, but once read a familiarity light came on inside the depths of the brain which was, if I recall often assaulted by Brother Inglis who would knuckle thick pupils on the head with a sharp rap, never was good at math. Brother Ambrose was Rector when I was there, he was a mild mannered man, not like some who were, let's say enthusiastic for excellence, which I apparently fell short of, Brother O'Brien for instance, he was as I recall rather doubtful of any qualities that Imight have had.

Brother Gordon was a different kettle of fish, smiling and joking usually, he caught me once in Edinburgh skiving, I hadn't done the Latin homework and I was loathe to be hauled over the coals so to speak, but he was actually very understanding, I think he was rather humbled that  I was to try and evade him in case of a belting, again. To be honest, and I expect there may be more who share my view, these days with so much disrespect and sheer contempt in some schools, the belt would have in my mind been a stern reminder not too push it too far, although I recall one in my class who always pushed it, was Sam Coward from Blackness, he was a terror, not bad, just exasperating.

The gate on your pictures of Brother Hastings brought back mixed memories, he died when I was at the school, which was indeed an end of an era, but boy did he have a temper in that dinner hall, the thing was I don't really think he could often distinguish between the boys, and shouted at everybody! I could go on and on, but finally the picture of your class mates I am afraid I don't know the names or faces, they would have been above me, however with the exception of Norrie Stone. His younger brother Gordon was in my class, and  one summer I traveled with their family to North Berwick for a short holiday, it was great fun, and now I live in North Berwick strangely enough. Anyway that puts him in perhaps two or three classes above me and one of more unfortunate experiences may be down to one of your associates! Not that I mind now of course!! But one summer day sitting by the side of that steep drop of some 50 degrees down to the flat on the left side of the House as if facing it, I was to be interrogated by two seniors, if I recall their interest lay with a description of my sister who at the time attended St. Margaret's at Bruntsfield! You would have thought they would have been grateful, but when the bell rang they unceremoniously swung me down the hill! I landed in a heap, and arrived late at class stifling a rather undignified sob, albeit as quiet as I could but my arm hurt really bad. It was Chris Kelly who informed the teacher, I thought this was me going to get into trouble again for disrupting the class, however it was obviously apparent something was amiss, in fact on being sent off to hospital the delightful two had managed to break my wrist! Thanks very much, whoever you were!, lol yes it was a long time ago now, it seems sort of funny now, it was the kind of thing that seemed to happen to me. But I never did find out who had thrown me down that hill, but it's possible you knew them as it was that age group. Oh well memories all, as I said nice of you to contact me and point me in the direction of the web site as well.
Bye for now
Jonathan Ovington

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Colin Lees

It was so good to receive your fax today at school. You made my day as I did not expect to get a message from an old boy who attended Scotus Academy. I will take this opportunity to bring you 'up to date' with my life after Scotus.

I attended boarding school in England & after completing form 6 went back to Edinburgh for approximately three years. In 1969 my family decided to emigrate to Australia where I live in a smallish town named Innisfail. I attended university where I completed my teaching degree and went on to teach at all three levels - secondary, special & primary.

I completed a post graduate degree in counselling & am currently employed by Education Queensland as a Guidance Officer at Tully State High School.

I am married to Lynda and have four children, Terri (33yrs), Scott (30yrs), Joel (25yrs) and Joshua (23yrs). My wife is currently self employed as a business consultant.

I had a look at the Scotus Academy website & was thrilled to find names of boys who had attended the same class as myself. The photographs are a nostalgic memory of very happy years - thank you for drawing my attention to the website.

I look forward to hearing from any former pupil or teacher who remembers me.
Thank you again for taking the time to get in touch with me.

Yours sincerely
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James Michael Balchun

I apologize for not responding to this email primarily as I missed it while browsing through all of my other mail.  I didn't realize you and I were at Scotus during the same time.  I'm sure I would remember you if I could see you in one of our class pictures.  As I mentioned in my previous email I have a lot of memories stored away from my short time at Scotus and your email has touched on a few.  Let me explain....

One of my memories directly relates to your comments about the Rector Hastings.  I'll never forget his face.  I believe I was in P6 then (not sure) but I remember 2 of the classrooms I used to sit in.  One was a laboratory on the east side of the school behind the main building.  The other was in the main building on the west side.  I distinctly remember it having a rather large window that when slid open gave way to two small doors at the bottom of it.  We used it to enter and exit the classroom.
From this window/door we would walk to choir practice just down the west road that led to the bottom of the hill the school was on.

I remember I was sent to the rector's office in order to receive an unjust punishment. I believe one of my classmates was shooting small bits of moistened tissue through the cylinder of a dismantled writing pen and he sat behind me.  Consequently I was singled out as it came from my direction.  When I refused to identify the source of the projectiles I was directed to Rector Baylor.  This is where my fun began.  As you mentioned he was a cruel, bitter man and I felt as though he sought pleasure in bringing pain to young boys.  Being strong willed and a person with
principle I decided that this would be a wonderful challenge to test who of us could withstand the longest while Baylor inflicted what he thought was his mighty belt.  After our verbal confrontation and my refusal to turn over the guilty classmate Baylor directed me to "assume the
position'" while he proceeded to execute his pain (or should I say pleasure) on the back side of my pants.  I will not forget the words he uttered and the mental response I replied within my mind as he said "just tell me when you've had enough".   That was his downfall.  I was determined to outlast his pint sized frame with every once of my will.  As he began to swing away with his belt I just placed my hands under my chin as if I was relaxing enjoying a day in the park.  After digesting a number of full forced stinging claps of his split leather whip he stopped while I could see sweat beginning to form on his forehead.  He asked me "Have you had enough" and I responded with "no please continue, I'll let you know when I get bored".   With that he continued to swing harder and uncontrolably. Eventually, he stopped and I was sent back to class.  I don't think I've ever enjoyed a flogging so much!

Although this was a rather extreme memory I do have some good ones that were quite character building to say the least.

I'll try not to drag on, but as I mentioned before I could write a book on my experiences at Scotus.

In closing I'd like to relate one more story that should bring to mind who I am.  I'm not sure if you remember me or the day I left Scotus, but this may help you remember.

During mathematics class one morning, each student was being asked to approach the blackboard at the front of the classroom (again in the west room with the window/door).  I'll have to try and recall the name of the bother who was teaching at the time, but I'll never forget the incident. Each student came forward and was directed to solve a math problem in
front of the class on the blackboard.  Everyone was rather nervous awaiting their opportunity to succeed or fail.  The reason for this was most likely more related to fear than just a healthy case of butterflies in the stomach because to fail meant having the teacher make one expose
the back of ones hand supporting it with the other while being struck full force across the knuckles with a ruler.  As I watched in horror as one after another student took their licks by the ruler I could see that it was only a matter of time before I was called upon.  Only as a matter of
comment I feel that there is a broad line between discipline and abuse. If one were to be caught executing this type of punishment in school today it would result in arrest by the authorities, a lengthy prison term, a permanent criminal record, and a 6 figure monetary reward for compensation damages.  Child abuse causing injury is quite frowned upon here.  I might also mention that my parents had always told me that if anyone had ever threatened me by any form that I was to exercise my best judgment and elude them or fight to the finish and then seek their refuge.

Eventually my name was called and I approached the blackboard.  I was given a math problem to solve and I well knew the answer.  Unfortunately as I began to draw out and solve the problem I made one of those simple errors one makes when nervous which I tried to correct and was stopped by the teacher.  I full well knew the answer and spoke aloud the correction
to my error hoping to avoid a knuckle busting whack - to no avail.  I had made up my mind in an instant that this was the final straw and justified my decision based on my parent's earlier instruction to make a stand.  The brother asked me to expose the back of my hand and in an instant I refused and darted down the classroom towards the back.  Being one of (if not the
fastest) runner in Scotus Academy I ran to the window/door, through open the double doors and started down the road to the main street at the entrance to the school.  The part you may remember is they sent for one of my best friends and fellow track competitor knowing full well that unless they employed the fasted they would not catch and return me.  I remember seeing a group of lads struggling to catch up with me.  I had quite a head start and I knew they would not catch me.  As I approached the entrance of the school as luck would have it a double-decker red bus was approaching and I signaled for it to stop.  I jumped on board and reached up and
pressed the conductors button with two quick pushes to signal the driver to continue on.  As the bus pulled away from the curbside several students finally reached the street and I gave a wave as the bus disappeared on its way to Princess Street.  I took a train home and my parents let their fury reign down on Baylor as they withdrew me from Scotus.

I ended up at a school in West Calder where I finished my studies and retuned to the United States.

I remember with great detail all of the other times I learned so much and enjoyed so many good days that outweigh the not so fond memories.  Nature walks, singing, playing in the snow during physical training (king of the castle), playing rugby on cold days, running up the hill behind school and the return trip back as we ran past the Zoo next to the campus.  I remember playing marbles in the courtyard playground behind school while Brother Hastings leaned on his cane as he watched over us.

In answer to your question, my father was stationed at RAF Kirknewton prior to the closing of the military base.  I lived in Currie and then moved onto the military base housing facility.  Prior to Scotus I attended a year at St. Cuthbert's in Edinburgh.  I don't have any pictures from
Scotus, but I'll see if I can get some pictures to send of myself from that time period and some current ones too.

Until later,


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