What to do when you leave school?

I remember as a young 15-16 year old boy having the dreaded “what to do when you leave school,” chat with my old man. I’m sure many can relate to this conversation with their parents – it’s a chat all good parents should endeavor to have. “When I was your age, you could leave school at 9am on Friday and by 9am on the following Monday, you had a trade in the yards,” said my old man. Well for those of you who read this and come from Inverclyde, you will be as familiar as I am with the fabled employment opportunities afford to one through the shipyards – before Maggie Thatcher had her wicked way with nationalized industries. Yet at the time of this conversation with my old man, I wasn’t aware of how truly remarkable Inverclyde was. I had never witnessed the end of the shipyard day when thousands of men downed tools, left the yards and brought traffic to a standstill. I was never aware of an age where apprenticeships were at the mercy of your choosing and your convenience. I grew up in post-industrial Inverclyde, the huge numbers of men employed in the yards no longer existed, nor did the huge number of women employed in the textile industries. The truly sad fact wasn’t that the shipyards were closed down, it was that nothing ever came to Inverclyde to replace all those lost jobs. Nothing has ever filled the vacuum of a lost generation.

One of my earliest memories of primary school, was drawing a stick figure onto one hand, a scribbled mess on my other and along with my group of friends singling loudly, as if all our Christmas’ had come at once:

“Wee Maggie Thatcher, throw her up and catch her,
Maggie Thatcher squash her now she’s dead,”

Looking back that is a vile song for a bunch of 9 and 10 year old children to be singing in a playground. Yet it was song that was obviously passed down to us through our external environment. It is, sadly, a song fitting the children of post-Maggie Thatcher Inverclyde.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, back to 15-16 year old me getting life/career advice from my dad. My old man was simply trying to install in me some critical thinking towards my career path once I left school. Unintentionally however, he lit a political activist fuse, which will burn with me to the grave. Naturally, I pressed my father for his accounts of why the shipyards were shut down. I enquired into how Inverclyde was then as to how it is now; I enquired into the loss of jobs; of friendships, of family security; of all the things imaginable going through my impressionable 16 year old mind. The conclusion drawn is what drives me still. There was no political appetite, no political capability, no political need to save the shipyards. The conclusion I drew still holds true to this day. That realization is that Scotland needs her own independent parliament – a parliament responsible and accountable to the people of Scotland.

Over the coming months, I am going to attempt to free my Facebook from my political rants, much to the pleasure of my political aphetic friends. So in advance, can I say bear with me as I struggle to get to grasps with the oxford grammar requirements of a good blog – I never paid enough attention in English at school. And if I am being honest, since the end of the referendum campaign I have badly needed an outlet for my thoughts. As such, I shall over the coming months try to give my thoughts and analysis of the politics of the day, mainly Inverclyde, almost always Scotland.

In truth, I am generally very nervous about starting a blog, it is something that I have always wanted to do, yet never had the confidence in my grammar or attention to detail to do so. As such, I imagine it will take me a while to get to the standard of the many other blogs who I admire, and whom I will undoubtedly compare myself with.

And finally you’re asking, “what did I do when I left School”? Well, I went to Glasgow Caledonian University to study history and politics of-course – and I’m very proud to say I graduated with a 2:1 BA Hons.



  1. alharron · December 16, 2014

    Ahoy! *waves*


    • thetartanturtle · December 16, 2014

      Al you are my benchmark. Not that I ever think I can emulate you, its so that I always have something great to aim towards.


  2. richie · December 17, 2014

    Excellent Gary


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