Allistair James Burt is born in Glasgow on the 25th of the month of March. It snowed all day. God was displeased.
Got a bit bigger. While practising crawling I try to climb downstairs. I miss-judge my ability and crash to the bottom of the stairs. Unconscious for some time.
I stare at light bulbs and then run around trying to catch the little ball of light that appears just in front of me. The ball of light continuously eludes me. This is why I need to wear glasses now.
Have a baby sister. Despite my protests my parents choose the name Lindsay over Super Cool the Cucumber from the Munch Bunch.
In high winds I am walking home. In an attempt to protect my face from the harsh North wind I decide to wear my balaclava backwards. This plan proves flawed when I fall down some marble steps that suddenly appear before me and split my head open. Unconscious for some time.
My life of crime begins. While talking to a woman outside Safeway, my mother does not notice me releasing myself from my pram and heading into the shop. With the assistance of a senior citizen accomplice, I lift a large pack of butter and make my getaway as fast as my little midget legs will carry me. My plan- to bake a batch of fairy cakes which, at the time, were my favourite food. My mother stops me and makes me return the butter.
Attend Bridge of Allan primary school. After my first week I declare that "I do not like those play time things and if they have them again the next week then I will just come home."
I am exceptionally ill with a mysterious disease which has never yet been diagnosed. My stomach does not like it one little bit.
On the way home from school I discover a large cardboard box from a new computer. I fill it with bricks and take it home telling my parents I won it in an art competition. When my ruse is discovered I am banned from fairy cakes for three weeks.
We are given a spelling exam to determine our spelling ability. It is out of one hundred. If you get five wrong in a row then they stop marking. I get the first five wrong and receive the worst marks in the history of the test. I have to move seats and sit beside the idiots section at the bottom of the class, with the guy who puts pencils up his nose and the girl who can't remember her name. (She thinks its Ian.) It is a long year.
The year of the great entrepreneur. During
a very long, hot summer I procure a large Ice box. Together with a friend
we fill it with ice and cheap ice-lollies from the supermarket. We then
sit at the Tennis courts and sell them. We raise enough money to go and
see Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade twice.
I attend a football match at Ibrox with my father. As he goes through the turnstile I try to follow him. One of the bars of the turnstile catches my coat pocket drawing me into the mechanism. The turnstile becomes jammed and a large group of angry fans gather outside while they wait for maintenance to come and release me. Once inside I discover I have forgotten my glasses and can't see the game anyway.
Me and a friend are playing with a bottle of water in the playground. He throws it too me but throws it to high and it explodes against the wall just as the headmaster comes round the corner. As punishment we are banned from taking part in the school sports day. This is a great joy to us both as no one in the school actually wanted to be involved anyway. We spend a pleasent afternoon lazing in the sunshine as our friends run back and forth with beanbags, ceramic eggs and their legs bound together. Last laugh is on us however as we have to carry all the chairs for the entire school back insidel by ourselves.
Begin High school at Wallace High in Causewayhead. I acquire the nickname of Mr. Spiller from Mrs. Morgan the short angry German home economics teacher. This is due to the fact that during the first lesson, when we were making hot chocolate I spilled my cup over the desk and managed to stain the white surface for the rest of the year. Things go from bad to worse and every week I break something bigger and more expensive. It is my belief that the class before ours would stack the things in the cupboard so that whenever I opened the door everything would fall out and smash. Things come to a head when I forget about a sponge cake I was making and it sets fire to the oven. Mrs. Morgan is not impressed and makes me return at lunchtime everyday for a week and bake sponge cakes for her. It is my belief that she was selling these at the end of the day behind the P.E block. This is unconfirmed. I also believe that despite the yelling, shouting, finger wagging and name calling Mrs. Morgan did actually like me and thought of me as a son.
I sit on a bee during business studies and get stung in the rear. I have to go to the matron's. She volunteers to rub cream on the wound. I decline her offer and retire to a separate adjoining room to apply the ointment myself. For the rest of the day I have to stand. It is most humiliating.
While outside at lunch I kneel down on some chewing gum. The hot sun has made it soft and later when I try to stand I am pinned to the ground. My friends help to remove me and I go to the matron to see if she has anything to help remove the gum. She volunteers to take my trousers and put them in the freezer to harden the gum so it can be picked off. I retire to a separate adjoining room and remove my trousers. The freezer is not a great help and I have to spend the rest of the day with things sticking to my knees.
I arrive late at the 3rd year awards ceremony and have to get changed when I arrive. Mr Cameron says I can use his office to change in. As I am about to get changed Ms. Curwin comes in and says she needs to use the room so I have to retire to a separate adjoining room. (The same room I have had my trousers off in twice before.) I change and then knock on the door to re-enter the room. There is no answer so I open the door. There is no one there and the lights are off. I go to leave the room only to discover that the door is now locked. I end up having to go through all the adjoining rooms to the end of the corridor then out the window into the cycle yard then back in through the front door. I make it to the ceremony just in time.
I acquire a skeleton key to the School. (No questions asked. No answers given.) This allows me access to any room. The school magazine (BAH HUM BUG) which I had the dubious honour of being editor of is banned. Mrs. Horseburgh has been given a rollicking from Mr. Brodie and cries when telling us how disappointed she is in us for printing some of the shocking stuff we printed. It turns out that the main reason that we are banned is because of an article a Russian exchange student wrote which we rather shamelessly ripped to pieces. Apparently his father did not see the funny side. We feel rather guilty. . . . . . for some time. After school one day Angus and I use the skeleton key and the admin photocopying code to print off 50 copies of a special (the end) issue of the magazine. (We do this despite the fact we feel very, very guilty.) It proves hugely popular and we sell out after only a few hours. We use the profits to go see Star Wars. Of course we still felt very guilty and we did not enjoy that third box of pop corn one little bit and I didn't even finish my third box of fruit gums.
Angus Photo-copies a photograph of me several hundred times and pins it up all over the school. I get sent to look after a first year geography class while the teacher is off somewhere. I'm sitting chatting to the class when one of them goes. "Thatís the photo guy." Many of the kids in the class start pulling photos of me from their bags. Apparently it had become the latest craze to collect as many photos of me as possible. They all become very excitable and the situation becomes very surreal. It is the schools Silver Jubilee. As part of the celebrations there is a massive staff party. As School Captain I have to go along and give a talk in front of all the staff. They are all very drunk and I get heckled a lot.
Begin University at Strathclyde. Studying Architecture for what reason is yet to become apparent. It was the first subject in the UCAS book is the only reason I can think of. There was quite a drop out rate in our first year. Apparently Architecture has one of the highest drop out rates of any course. This meant that a lot of faces disappeared over the months. One face missed more than others was of a bright faced young lad by the name of Robbie. Now Nobbie Robbie, as he was known, was a bit of a mysterious lad and was always very worried about the security of his locker. In fact one would almost say he was secretive about its contents. After he left it remained locked and we all became very eager to discover what precious gems it might contain. It was agreed that on the last day of term we would pop the lock and take a look. Two weeks before the end of term. Me and a friend decided to pop the lock a bit earlier. We removed the contents, which were sadly not bizarre in the slightest and then we filled the inside walls of the locker with photographs and poems about of Scott. We then re-popped the lock so it looked completely untouched. Two weeks of agonising wait passed and the day of the great unveiling approached. We all stood round. A large screwdriver was produced and the lock reopened. We all peered inside. . . . The look on the Scotts face when he saw his photographs was priceless.
Not much happened. Well not strictly true. There was the Crete adventure and the Australian tramp fiasco but they are long in the telling. I may return another day.
I spend much of this year on an exchange to an Architecture school in Zurich, Switzerland. Despite being there 6 months I pick up very little German. I do however open a Swiss bank account and go to the second greatest place on the Earth. The Lucerne maze of mirrors. Sounds crap, I know but this is the hall of mirrors as you always dreamed it could be. A truly amazing place, at one point I was standing face to face with my friend talking and he taps me on the shoulder. He was standing behind me all along. There are rooms the size of football pitches filled with gold elephants and flowers which turn out to be only the size of broom cupboards. Most bizarrely that day was the little girl wandering around with two white rats running about her body. The story I was going to tell was about my hair cut. I went for a hair cut one morning at ten oíclock. Big Dave was flying over to visit and I had to pick him up at the airport at 13:35 so I had to hurry. I wander around Dietikon (the part of town where I stayed) looking for a cheap hair cut. A cheap hair cut is not an easy thing to find in this country I can tell you. The cheapest place I could find was for 23CHF thatís about £9 already £4 more than back home. I try it anyway but its by appointment only and is already fully booked. After some more wandering I eventually find another place for a hair cut. I go in. Unfortunately no one speaks English and as I donít speak German I have to mime getting a hair cut. They nod politely and put me in a seat. Then they give me a pile of photos of different guyís hair cuts and leave me to go through them. Now I donít now what its like for girls but guys donít go through photos when they get a hair cut. We walk in say "cut it short" and 5 minutes later itís done. I flick through and chose one at random and wait an absolute age for the girl to come back. I show her the photo and she puts me in all the robe things to catch the hair and then starts brushing white stuff on my hair and leaves me with my head in the big hair dryer thing. (I have never had my head in one of those big metal ball things before.) I look about. Iím the only guy in the place and some of the girls are looking at me. I donít know what Iíve asked for and I donít know what the white crap she put in my hair is. About 20 MINUTES later another girl takes me to a sink and washes my hair about 5 times. Then Iím back in the chair with the hair dryer thing again. Iíve not got my glasses; they are on a table over beside the window so I canít see what sheís done. About 15 MINTUES later when my head feels like itís about to burn the first girl comes back and starts cutting. Itís now nearly 12:00 and I had been planning on getting the train at 12:15. 15 minutes later the hair cut is over she gets my glasses and I view the damage. My hair looks pretty good but - - - - Sheís given me mad high lights!! Which actually look alright, but are a bit of a surprise when I look in the mirror. I then go to pay, mindful that time is ticking. Sheís rings it up on the till. ďThatís 95.40CHF please.Ē She says in German. Iím like what?? Thatís about £45. I have only got 40CHF with me. (Which made me think? What happens if someone doesnít have any money after youíve given them a hair cut? You canít put it back.) I try to explain that I have no money and she shows me the bank card slot. So I give over my bank card which I think I get charged more for if I use over here. She shows me to type in the cards number on the display. Its been three months since I used my card and I canít remember what the number is. I have to try 4 times before I get it and all the girls are watching me now. It was damn embarrassing. Especially because I kept laughing.
I graduate from the first part of my course. Bsc(hons)in Architectural studies. Four years down, three to go. I start working in an architects office in Glasgow for my first year out. I also go to the number one greatest place on Earth. While down in York, visiting my girlfriend at the time, I get taken to The Forbidden Corner!! (This is not a sexual term.) The Forbidden Corner is an adventure park in the middle of the Yorkshire countryside designed around an incredible maze filled with tunnels, castles, bridges, temples, woods and ruins. There are creatures that seem to watch you, animals that talk to you and hidden traps that wait for you to pass then fire water at you. There are underground chambers, Secret passage ways, Roaring Stone heads, Pyramids of glass, Talking horses, Giants, Wolves, Hedge gardens, Roman temples. At one point a winding, pitch black stair leads to a confrontation with The Devil, deep underground. My favourite part, involved a revolving room, with twelve identical doors, only one of which led to safety from a ruined castle.
Back to Uni. Its been a funny old year. In March 2002 I won a competition which resulted in me receiving emails from around the world. In fact the emails come from some very bizarre sources. While on a trip in the Czech Republic I go to check my emails to discover an email from Uri Geller. In total, I received messages from Uri Geller, the Richard and Judy show, the John Peel show, the Johnnie Walker show, Countdown, Stephen Fry, Lorraine Kelly and Dave Gorman.
The year starts off in truly weird style
when I spend two weeks of January travelling around Scotland with an old
air hostess trolley full of wine. As the project says Ė ďTwo Scottish
Boys travelling around Scotland with an air hostess trolley. Meeting people,
gathering stories and having adventures. Very bizarre, very cold and in
hindsight very good fun.
An attempted romantic gesture, of taking my girlfriend away for a surprise trip away to Paris ends, in disaster with a missing passport and poor navigation resulting in me being lost, alone and propositined by a prostitute in Glasgow's business district. (I do have to say, in my defence, that alburt should really know a girl needs more time than a day to get organised! - Ann)
I have moved into a flat in Glasgow's South Side, not a stone's throw away from where I lived as a child. The flat also has a fantastic flat roof which will provide mucho bbq-ing fun in the summer.
I die according to www.thedeathclock.com A mere month before my 99th birthday. A good innings though.
NAME: ALLISTAIR JAMES BURT
OCCUPATION: RELUCTANT ARCHITECT
FAVOURITE COLOUR: BLUE
|© holeinmypocket, 2004|