I can hear it still, and, heartfelt as it may have been, it didn’t take the sting out of the situation.
“This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you.”
I’ve never doubted dominie Dave Dinnie genuinely meant it because in the years that followed from Letham primary school I came to know him as a great man, continuing the close family friendship which probably prompted his declaration of disappointment that day as I stood there waiting to take my metaphoric medicine in the shape of the two-tailed brown belt.
We said farewell to the one-time Lancaster bomber co-pilot almost two years ago, but memories of happy schooldays at Letham are never far from resurfacing – triggered by the likes of a radio mention last week for school puddings such as memorable crispy cake and custard, or the equally forgettable tapioca ‘frog’s eggs’.
In our final years at Letham we were schooled in decrepit HORSA huts and following a week which has seen the launch of the biggest Angus school estate review for a generation, I doubt there would be a rating low enough on the scale to define the condition of those buildings.
Letham serves the biggest village in Angus so it’s a safe bet the primary there has a strong future, but the council is being appropriately blunt in its assessment of the situation relating to the 53 primaries dotted around the district.
Put simply, Angus has too many schools for the number of children in the county.
Tarfside and Lethnot in the glens lie empty, and there are a handful – Carmyllie, Newbigging, Eassie, Inverarity, Aberlemno and Tannadice – barely a third full, or less.
At this stage there is nothing firm on the table for parents, pupils and communities to shout out against, but that seems to me all the more reason for locals to go along to the pre-consultation events now under way and learn more about the challenges which may influence the train of thought a little further down the line.
Better that than leaving it too late.