I’VE been thinking a lot about my time at secondary school recently, how lawless things could be and the myriad of schemes we would employ to get things done. 

The chaos of the changing rooms before and after PE was really something. 

Before we started playing fitbaw or basketball or whatever, it’d be buzzing with energy and carry on. Twenty-odd wee guys all full of sugar and nonsense after lunchtime, let loose in an enclosed space. 

Five minutes to get changed, five minutes to create as much disorder as humanly possible. Before PE, it’d mostly be a wee bit of fighting, hiding other people’s stuff, things being launched through the air, but it was when we went to get changed back into our uniforms that the real madness would unfold. 

Cans of deodorant would be produced and passed around, all seemed well for a few brief moments before you heard the click of a lighter. 

The thick aerosol fog would feel thicker and more choking with the added tension. 
“Gies that,” the guy with the lighter would say, snatching the can of off-brand Lynx from the hands of someone more timid.

“Watch this,” he’d say, sparking the lighter while everyone waited with bated breath, too scared to move. He’d spray the deodorant into the flame creating an impromptu flamethrower. Then he’d get to his feet. Wee guys would be screaming in two different pitches of either fear or excitement. 

The teacher would hear the commotion and come in with a face like thunder only to see the flames and think to himself, “Nah, don’t get paid enough to deal wi this. Let them fight it oot”. I remember at the time thinking things like that happening were hilarious, but now I realise it’s no wonder I’m so highly-strung. 

There were other things we’d get up to which were less dangerous but just as funny. When we were about 15 and at the peak of our obsession with fitbaw and also wanting to do things that weren’t strictly legal at our age, we became obsessed with gaining access to the bookies. 

We stood outside Ladbrokes and pooled a pound each from our lunch money to put on a coupon. We weren’t just going to waltz in all together, no that would be daft. We instead had a vote on who was the oldest looking. This was the year our school introduced black blazers that didn’t have any logos or anything on them meaning we just looked like we wore black suits to school. 

This gave us the idea that if one of us went in without the school tie on, they’d look like they were just back from a funeral. 

“Right, man,” I said to my pal James, standing in front of me in his ill-fitting suit and patchy beard, looking very much like a wee guy trying his best to look older. “You’ve got the money, just go in, get the coupon, mark it up and go to the counter. Say something like ‘funerals are horrible’ if you can.” 

He went in and, miraculously, the plan worked. Looking back, the staff no doubt saw us all standing outside for about 20 minutes as we went over the plan like we were in a heist film and took pity on us. 

I’d love to end this particular vignette on a happy note and say that we won a fortune but, of course, we didn’t. This tactic also worked for bevvy, somehow. 

My favourite day at school however was when almost every pupil went on strike. 

I missed the organising of this “strike” as I was at the orthodontist and went in after lunchtime to an empty classroom, so it was just me and my chemistry teacher. 

“Where is everybody?” I asked her. 

“They’re on strike apparently,” she said. “Because pupils aren’t allowed in the front doors anymore, only staff.”

We watched from the window as almost the entirety of my year was out on the pitch instead of being in school. I felt like a scab. 

Soon, a few of the more intimidating teachers made their way out and began shouting. 
This only caused everyone to run away. 

Another teacher came running into the classroom saying the headteacher had just “commandeered the van” and was going to go and round everyone up. Sure enough, we watched him speed along the road as hundreds of children scattered and jumped into various gardens around Shettleston. 

It really was amazing to watch, and I wish to this day I’d have been involved. What a rush it must have been. 

I barely remember anything I learned in school, but I do remember learning to always steer clear of the guy with the deodorant can and lighter, you can achieve anything if you just act confident enough and to never be a scab.