White & Windy


It is white and windy out there tonight, much like all the television and newspaper reporters who insist on reporting on arctic armageddon at every turn, mostly when there are kids in the background of shot, laughing and having fun while the reporters drone on about the end of civilisation as we know it. They need to get out more. 

While cold conditions present an obvious threat to the old or infirm most of the old have been around long enough to laugh 'a bit of weather,' off and to treat the squealing dramatists with sneering contempt. They deserve it. 


My mother for one thinks people have gone soft. She would know. She's the one who turfed my sister and I out, once we got the big door open, and into a wall of snowdrift and said 'right, hurry up, you'll be late for school.' It was the morning of the 11th February 1969. Sorry, it was a bloody cold morning of the 11th February 1969. We didn't so much walk as tunnel our way to the lane and then down the long hill to the village primary school a mile away. Now Mrs Ross at Culrain Village Primary School was a kindly lady and as much as she cared for her charges in the one classroom in the school there was a limit to how long she was prepared to let me hug the radiator at the end of the school day. Reluctantly, we began the long trek home. The snow though had not eased any and we quickly became disorientated. Some might say lost. Not surprising really given the drifts were taller than we were and the landscape was just a white blur. 

Help came with the arrival of a snow-plough which was unusual in our remote corner of Easter Ross. More unusual was the fact that it was heading straight up the hill to home. That made for an easier return journey. It was a day of unusual events in my young life. The plough was clearing the way for a mid-wife to tend to my mother who much to my surprise I subsequently discovered was 9 months pregnant. By the time I spilled through the front door my youngest brother had arrived. Wasn't expecting that. 'But what's for tea Mum?'

As a postscript to this, many years later I presented myself to the Regular Commissions Board at Westbury for officer selection. On the last day of four I was called forward for a President's interview. We knew that typically, a Presidents interview meant you were a 50/50 candidate so seeing the President of the Board was not a welcome call. I strode in, firm handshake and sat down. 'Now Crumble,' he said, 'I see you went to Culrain Primary school. I sent my boy there.' That knocked me sideways. Who would have expected that? So I chatted about Culrain with the General for 10 minutes and off I went. Two days later the little brown envelope arrived. I was in. Perhaps I won them over with my erudite involvement in the discussion groups, my Olympian performance on the individual assault course or even perhaps my Churchillian grasp of world affairs. Perhaps though, it was the Old School Tie from Culrain Primary School. Who knew that was a thing?