Month by Month Memories of Portsoy by Michael Scott
I spent the first fifteen years of my life in Portsoy. I now think I took it very much for granted at the time. My late father, Dr Robert Scott, served the area for a considerable period of time before his untimely death in 1978.
I have many a story to tell about Portsoy, too many for one article. I was the last of 5 children and came into the world at Chalmers Hospital, Banff on 7th February 1963. My dad missed the birth, with my mother’s abiding memory being the clunk, clunk of his snow boots as he came up the corridor. As some of you will know: it was a bad winter!!!
So, what do I remember about Portsoy?
We lived in ‘Doson’, in Seafield Terrace, and much of my playing was done around there.
As said, I have too many memories of Portsoy, so let’s take reflections on a month-by-month basis:
We never did anything extravagant on Hogmanay, as my dad would invariably be on call. We would usually end up at Wakefield, over the road, in the company of Isobel and Bert Masson – great hosts, and eats were always good.
Wakefield is linked to one of the last memories I have of my dad. One winter’s day in January 1978, outside Wakefield on Durn Road, I slipped on ice and sliced my hand open. My dad examined what was a long cut and ‘steri stripped’ it. He did a nice job, though you can still see a scar as a reminder. In a strange way, I am glad that he did not do too good a job.
February brought my birthday and the obligatory party. Much less was ready-made in those days and my mother worked miracles in the kitchen – I can still taste her sausage rolls. Most parties ended with bumps and bruises and tears, but they were great days, which induced sleep – particularly in my mother.
Spring saw me never far from the garden or the park. The garden was my haven, with a fortress just outside the front door, and two grassy hills where we rolled our eggs at Easter. I also played football under the (street) lights at the park, which was close enough for my mother to summon me by shouting.
In the Easter holidays I had the opportunity to accompany my dad on his rounds. While he consulted, I stayed in the car. I found it particularly entertaining if we were at a farm with a dog running around the car as I bobbed up and down. Such fun, compared to an X-Box. There was a good farm not far from the T-junction where you turned down into Fordyce from the Glassaugh road, except you had to go uphill and bear left. (Name, please, anyone?)
So much for being environmentally friendly: I remember one summer evening my dad dumping my wrecked blue and red trike over the cliffs at Marine Terrace. I think he bought me a Masson’s ice cream to console me – and a new trike, of course.
There were yearly visits to what was then the Fleet Air Army base at Lossiemouth for the air show. One year I ended up lost after my dad said he would put a white hankie on the car aerial: about 50 other motorists did the same! The lost children’s tent was cool, to use today’s terminology.
I still remember Portsoy Primary School with some of the most effective teachers I have ever encountered. I remember their various ‘overalls’, Mrs Reid’s abacus (people still do not believe me), and the sand pit in the classroom. One of my strongest PPS memories is running away in tears, only to be returned swiftly by my mother. The papier mâché Loch Ness monster in Mrs. Smith’s class (P6) is a good memory.
I blew hot and cold about schools, and I still remember being disgruntled when my mum told me that 3rd year was to be repeated in Aberdeen – to use royal terminology, one was not amused . . . To be honest, it is one of the best things I have done in my life and I achieved a considerable turn around, of which, most importantly, my mum was most proud.
One thing about Aberdeen was that you could not go to the tatties so easily. That was a big earner for us young ‘loons and quines’, courtesy of Charlie Gray. I still use that as an example of daily rates when teaching. Boy, we were worked hard, and I’m convinced my back has never been the same since.
November 5th has good memories. We had good community entertainment with a big fireworks display, where my dad enjoyed letting off the fireworks, though heaven knows what today’s health and safety gurus would have made of his firework lighter – his cigar!
Christmas was special, with an enormous feast laid on by my mum – even in later years, when she was disabled. Hilda Hepburn joined us. Hilda had actually worked for my grandparents in London and was one of the first to welcome Dr Bob into the world in 1925. By a twist of fate, she turned up in Portsoy. We would sometimes have other guests at Christmas time. I still remember lying in bed in fear listening to Santa as he delivered the pressies and devoured the biscuit and sherry.
I have MANY more, but thanks for the memories, Portsoy. I was a bit of a cheeky child and I apologise to all of my ‘victims’ – I think they call it growing up. If my numbers ever come up I will buy a ‘wee hoose’ up there, though my sun-loving other half has other ideas . . .