Pictorial blethers

By blethers

Going back a bit ...

I've been lured - by a chilly, showery day outside and the loft treasures indoors - to visit the past again. I'll try to get out more, but this blip is linked to yesterday's by the presence in it of my father, twenty years before yesterday's photo was taken. This is the Quali class (the Primary 7, or "qualifying" class, performance in which qualified the pupil for either Senior Secondary or Junior Secondary school) in Scotland Street School in 1920. I don't think I'd really clocked the fact that my father went to the school I've visited in its current form as a museum of education; I don't think I ever truly appreciated that the building is a Charles Rennie Mackintosh masterpiece - I find that there are things you think you know about and then realise you've sailed along in supreme ignorance for the best part of 70 years ... Anyway, if you're interested and/or bored, you can read about the school here and the organisation of Scottish education in the first half of the twentieth century here . And suddenly it hits me: this photo would be taken 100 years and 6 months ago ...

I'm fascinated by the boys' faces in this photo (did you notice they're all boys?) and by the variations on school dress. Was there a uniform? As a child, I went to a selective school where uniform was strictly enforced, but having worked all my life in less prescriptive schools I am well aware of the variations that occur, regardless of policy. But there are a couple of boys here wearing not shirts but woollen jumpers with collars - and with a tie on. There are various blazers, but there are also what look like three piece suits, complete with waistcoat. I think my father is wearing one of those ...They are all wearing short trousers; even in my day boys didn't go into long trousers till they were 13. Some of them look quite old - were they older boys who were destined to leave school at 14, who were staying on in the upper elementary school to work on basics?

The very tall boy at the back is the only one wearing spectacles; I wonder if in fact he was a pupil-teacher, which was something my maternal grandmother did while still a secondary school pupil. The teacher is wearing a wing collar; I know nothing about him as my father never told us much about his school days other than that he wasn't made a prefect in Sixth Year because he refused to wear the school cap with a tassel on it, preferring to wear a bowler hat instead. 

I've deliberately left identifying my father in case anyone was at all interested in spotting yesterday's debonair chap, but he's three boys in from the teacher, wearing a slightly bleak look. I suspect he never really liked having his photo taken.

He'd be exasperated at me now ...

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