August 6, 2020



“Let me see your timetable.”

I said no. That’s when things went downhill. It had started the day before.

If you recall your own High School days, you’ll remember that the first week or two of any new academic year are a little bit abnormal. Timetables are being confirmed. The feasibility of certain courses to run is reviewed. The net result is that there are a lot of ‘free periods’ while everything gets sorted. Those free periods are usually supervised. On this occasion, Mr. Foot, a teacher who’d never taught me, was essentially babysitting us. He did a tour of the room, asking to see our timetables as he went.

When he came to me, I handed him my timetable. He looked at it, then at me, then back again at the timetable.

“Is this it?”

I explained to him that I was waiting to see if I could do a couple of additional modules. If I recall, one of them was Russian. He then asked how I did with my 5th year results. I told him I got two C’s. Without hesitation he loudly stated that…

“You’d be better off stacking shelves in Tesco.”

Not much shocked me back then. But this did. I couldn’t believe it. I felt my face redden. Yes, I was embarrassed, but I was also furious. He didn’t overstep the mark, he pole-vaulted it. That was offensive to me and it was offensive to every person who has ever stacked shelves. This was my final year of school. It wasn’t exactly the start I’d hoped for.

Me in 5th Year. Yes, I was that handsome. And, no, I have no idea what happened to me either. 

I told my Mum and Dad what happened. They offered to come into the school to make a complaint. They were as angry as I was. But, I told them that I wanted to handle this on my own. I reasoned that I’d lick my wounds and just get on with things. And, anyway, it’s not like I’m ever going to have to go through that again.

The next day, I had one more free-period. To my absolute horror, Mr. Foot was once again overseeing us. There were maybe only four of us in this class that had witnessed my humiliation the previous day. Then he repeated the process of touring the class. When he arrived at me, he asked to see my timetable.


“No, you saw it yesterday, you had your say then.”

“Give me your timetable?”


“I demand that you give me your timetable.”

“You made your views perfectly clear yesterday, you embarrassed me, I am not letting you do that again. “

“I am your superior, give it to me now!”

“You sound like Hitler.”

The ‘emoji’ and its popcorn variant had yet to be invented. If it had, it surely would have been used here.

He asked me to stay behind.

When the rest of the class had left, it was just the two of us. He talked to me about respect. He talked to me about obeying orders from teachers. Then he started emphasising each point by prodding the centre of my chest. I caught his index finger at the commencement of prod number four.

“Please don’t prod me.”

His eyes widened. His other hand grabbed the lapel of my blazer. At that moment another teacher emerged from the back of the class. This particular classroom adjoined another and could be accessed from a door at the rear of the room. Her arrival was very ‘Rent-A-Ghost’. If that reference has leapfrogged over your head, do yourself a favour and once you’ve finished reading this masterpiece, head to YouTube and search for it. A work of genius. You can thank me later. I digress.

The teacher looked horrified but not quite as horrified as Mr. Foot. He released my blazer. I gave him back his finger. A fair exchange. He told me that he’d be reporting me to the Rector, I told him that I’d probably beat him to that.

The fallout is not worthy of over analysis. I remained at school despite one teacher saying to me that, maybe I should consider leaving. This came from a teacher I really admired and hearing it from him was disappointing. I hung on for 6th year, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have. For the first month I had a Mr. Foot shaped shadow.

I’d go on to get straight A’s in 6th year, and, as I type this, am counting down the days until my next visit to the International Space Station. For I, as you all know, am a much revered and respected astronaut. So, needless to say, I had the last laugh.

OK, I actually finished with two more C’s at Higher and a B for a 6th Years Study. I failed to get the grades to study politics at the University of Dundee. Eventually I’d go to Dundee College to study marketing. My journey has been like most people’s -

  • Messy.
  • Unplanned.
  • Chaotic.

There really is no ‘wrong path’ because, well, there’s no bloody path.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I love my destination.

A destination only made possible by the weird-ass journey I’ve taken.