Tag Archives: Probationer assistant

Early Days

The Meenister’s Log

I was a probationer assistant (like an apprentice or curate) in the then new housing estate of Wester Hailes in the west of Edinburgh.

Helen and I had got married in 1973, soon after I got this position, and after a few months in furlough houses belonging to the (then) Overseas Council of the C of S (for whom I was to work for later), we ended up in an empty manse in Juniper Green in Edinburgh …. with next to no money, apart from the small stipend I got from the Church (do you know what the Church of Scotland’s tartan is? …. small cheques).

We moved in with two deckchairs, an old dining room suite given to us by a friend of my parents, loads of books and a large collection of LPs and a record player.

I bought a “Baby Belling” cooker, which probably cost £20/£30 and was so skint that I had to pay for it on H.P.

We got a bed from my dear mentor, the Rev Bob Whyte, and he and his sons and I pushed it up Lanark Road from his manse to our humble abode. It must have given passing motorists and pedestrians a bit of a laugh.

There was no heating as such, and Helen and I sort of squatted in one room. The rest of this big and beautiful Manse remained empty (apart from the somewhat creepy creaking noises in one of the empty bedrooms upstairs and on the staircase!)

She went back to University in the October and I seem to recall that every lunchtime I went down to the local wee shop and bought Birds Eye battered sausages for lunch (I wonder if they still make them).

It was so cold that sometimes in the morning I’d put my trousers on over my pj pants!

And this especially when I had to walk to the local Primary School in Wester Hailes.  Just as well, as the first time I went to take Morning Assembly, my zipper on my trousers was undone!

I remember one particular occasion  that I was there.  The address was something about competition, I think.  And I unbuttoned my shirt to reveal a Hearts tee-shirt, by way of illustration.

Apparently, there was a riot in the playground thereafter between Hibs and Hearts supporters… and these were only young kids.

The headmaster complained to my boss and I didn’t visit that school much thereafter!

The folks in the congregation were a delight, but some of the natives were less than impressed with the clergy.

I had intended to stay for two years, but one evening while waiting at a bus stop some yobs started throwing bricks at me.  That decided me to seek my own Charge after a year.

I ended up in a lovely village as minister in 1974.  And guess what?  I was beaten up on the steps of my kirk on Christmas Eve!

(but for that tale, you’ll have to dig back in this Blog to the very first entry……..)

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