You say ‘Potato’,  we say ‘Tattie’ (Holiday)

JONATHON M LEWIS, Head teacher at Garioch Academy

Whilst I prefer to avoid the media spotlight, recent comments levelled at myself and my colleagues necessitate a public retort.  On behalf of all members of Garioch Academy’s extended family, the current October break is not, as some unenlightened parents have suggested, “yet another blimmin’ holiday”. No, it is a much-needed, hard-earned respite for all of us, staff and pupils alike, after 8 frenetic weeks of ceaseless toil (weekends, 2 in-service days and the local holiday notwithstanding). Two teachers were literally on their knees when the bell rang for end of term, and I can assure concerned parents that this was due to the fatigue engendered by imparting knowledge – not, as was alleged, because they spent the lunch break downing celebratory Jagerbombs in the staffroom. Some of the dedicated educators on our team push themselves so hard during term-time that they fall ill during the holidays.  Sadly, Mr Bridge in Modern Studies has suffered another relapse of his spondylitis whilst visiting his niece, Consuela, in Torrevieja. Needless to say, he was devastated to have to let us know that he has to convalesce on the picturesque Costa Blanca for the first 2 weeks of the coming term.  He is in our prayers, and I solemnly vow to root out the individual who daubed his classroom door with “Donde esta, Señor Bridge?” When I discover his or her identity, I will not hesitate to award them the school prize in Modern Languages.But no matter how exhausted the staff, it always fills me with delight to see the pupils at the end of term.  Drained from their hectic day of watching ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘High School Musical’, somehow they overcome this lassitude with a boisterous exuberance, reaching never-before-seen levels of energy, noise, and good-natured damage to school property, reaching a crescendo as they pour out of the school gates – something I’m sure our parents will thank us for throughout the October break.

‘CAVA’ KENNY CORDINER, the football pundit who kicks back

Scotland Supremo Craig Levein has come in for a fair bit of stick since the national team crashed out of conception for the World Cup in Reno. In football, it’s never fair to lay the whole blame at the footsteps of one individual, but I will say this: his tic-tacs was mince.I never played against Craig Levein in the whole of my extinguished career.  Some of my old mates at Tynecastle says he was a gentle, quiet bloke – apart from that time when he punched one of his teammates in the face during a friendly and broke his nose.  We’ve all done it.  I’ve done it three times. After last week’s Scotland results, Craig must have felt like he was the one getting a doing.  I couldn’t believe what my eyes was telling me when Wales got that penalty. Everyone who seen it seen it was a dive. Apart from the Ref. And both the Linesmen. Then on Tuesday the Tartan Army was in Brussels to see Levein’s squad play the Belgiums.  Unfortunately for the supporters, that game didn’t go no better, and our World Cup dream came to the end of the road with a bump.  They look to be a good side, though, and Scotland was outclassed. The last Belgium I seen carving open a defence like that was Hercules Parrot in Murder on the Orient Express.

View from the midden – JOCK ALEXANDER on the unique challenges of Tattie Fortnight in Meikle Wartle:

Weel, it’s been a solanum tuberosumy wik here in the village, for it’s that time of year fan traditionally a great load of scruffy kids descend upon us to earn a few bob howking tatties. Of course, the Tattie Holiday is nae fit it wis. For some reason, the youngsters today is jist nae interested. Nae doot they’re sae busy with their X-wiis and their i-twitters that they hinna time for twa wiks of back-breaking manual labour fae dawn til dusk. It’s a peety, cause fit better wye for young folk to learn aboot the meaning of ‘hard work’ and, indeed,  ‘the exploitation of labour’. Here in Meikle Wartle, however, the Tattie Holiday is still a very special time. As weel as howking  and roguing tatties, we also select the biggest een to run the village for a fortnicht. This year we have a verra impressive 5 pound Kerrs Pink, fit is currently sitting on a big reed cushion in the village hall.  And I must say it’s doing a grand job. We hid a pucklie tourists fae the far flung Metropolis of Aiberdeen visit the village last wik, and fan we telt them a great big tattie wiz in charge, they said it fairly reminded them of hame. Sadly, that was jist aboot the only tattie that’s been picked this year. A combination of hard soil, high acidity, and clement Spring weather, followed by biblical flooding, has resulted in the poorest crop in mony a day.  Fit tatties we’ve managed to harvest had to be howked fae a very difficult location indeed. Aisle four of the Tescos at Huntly. Cheerio!