1) The Back Row
On the far left next to me is DAVID STEPHEN, whom we dubbed with stunning originality ‘ Steve’. We were later to become part of the same circle and so we saw something of each other throughout the 1970s before losing touch. The last address I had for him was in Bradford but one of his two sisters, the lovely Sheana, married Victor Ashton, a member of the English Department and sometime Careers Master whom some of you will remember.
To my right is the genial ERIC WILSON, last heard of by me as a farmer in Fife. Can anybody confirm this last report?
Next to ERIC is one of the two boys whose name escapes me but on the other side of Mr. X is LLOYD PAUL, who, I believe, is still connected to the Edinburgh Club. next to LLOYD is MARTIN HILL, a broad-shouldered Glaswegian who, no doubt, dismissed we Easterners as a bunch of namby- pamby cissies. Next to MARTIN is the familiar figure of DOUGLAS ‘ Biscuits ‘ MACFARLANE whom I ran into one night in a pub in Highgate in North London sometime in the early 1980s.He was instantly recognisable and as droll as ever. At the far end of the back row is ALAN NISBET, complete with the pudding-basin haircut that we favoured in the days we had enough of the stuff to fill a pudding-basin. Now there’s scarcely enough to satisfy a thimble!
B) The Middle Row
Again reading from left to right, we first come to MIKE NICHOL, a leading light, I hear, of the Edinburgh Club. On his right sits MAGNUS MERRIMAN, the only Magnus, apart from Mr. Magnusson, that I’ve ever come across and, as his name suggests, of Orcadian roots of which he was justly proud. Next to him is ALLAN SHARP, a mischievous sprite, invariably ready with a quip. On his right, proudly holding the rugby ball is KENNETH SAMSON who was presumably serving as Captain, an office that I thought had been held by his neighbour GRAHAM EDMONDSON whom I remember leading us to several crushing defeats. On his right is HENRY COCKBURN, who eschewed the pudding-basin in favour of the centre parting, then much in vogue as a hairstyle thanks to groups such as The Small Faces. HENRY lived in Meadowhouse Road, close to my own home in Carrick Knowe Avenue. At the end of the middle row, looking especially grave is JOHN SMELLIE, whose musician sister Elspeth I interviewed for a special Arts Programme on the Borders which I wrote for BBC Radio 2 in 1996.
c) The Front Row
On the right is the second unknown, let’s call him Mr Y but on the left is the unmistakeable CHRISTOPHER ERSKINE who atoned for his lack of height by his wiry aggression as a scrum-half, if my memory serves. I later had the pleasure of meeting his actress sister Sharon when we both appeared in a version of Alice in Wonderland written by another High School alumnus George Robertson. This was presented for the 1971 Edinburgh Festival by Fort Knox, the company formed by the glorious David Campbell. Once an English master at the Royal High, David is now a professional storyteller and I ran into him at last year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival as we both prepared to face our publics.
So I look forward to hearing from you all- Stephen, Wilson, Paul, Hill, MacFarlane, Nisbet, Nichol, Merriman, Sharp, Samson, Edmondson, Cockburn,Smellie, Erskine and Messrs X and Y. More than thirty-six years have passed since the day that photograph was taken and so we have a lot of catching up to do.
All the very best
Al Senter (click to send mail)
School Captain 1970 / 71