I have to admit that I’ve been fortunate to have experienced so much of what life has to offer. I’ve known many lands and met many people. I’ve experienced the triumph of accomplishment and the joy of love. I have seen the beauty of Nature's paintings and stood in awe of her power. I have been blessed by family and friends. How can I then not have the soul of the poet, the strength of the warrior and the confidence of one at peace with the soul. I was born in England with Scottish blood on both sides of my parentage. And it was in Scotland that I was raised and where I grew to love the land of my ancestors. As an adult, I’ve lived in Canada and the USA. I have spent long periods in Norway, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. I have visited Mexico, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the Middle East. So, although something of an international, at heart I remain Scottish. It comes from the spirit of the Highlands that I imbibed as mother's milk. It colours how I see myself and provides the bench-mark of my values. It is the well-spring of my pride and the source of all that inspires me. Perhaps it is the confidence in my heritage that allows me to see others with acceptance In all my travels I have always been able to find something that has enriched my life. Of course there will always be things that others do, say or think that cause discomfort. But, the more we meet others, the more open we become to the rights of all people to their own values and beliefs. There is no place yet that I have left that my heart could find nothing to miss and not regret the leaving. Every country, every culture, every people can bring us riches to savour. Education is something we all should value; just don't expect the male of the species to always understand that! Fortunately it comes not only from formal schooling but also from our life experiences. This means that some of us are destined to learn the hard way. As far as schooling was concerned, that certainly applied to me. I was lucky in that I was educated before the present day's unrealistic belief that children should not be held accountable for their actions and discipline is evil. I have to admit that I needed discipline to keep my attention on the subject since it was all-too-prone to wander; girls being the worst of my diversions, first as irresistible victims before age 13 and then as the cause of those uncontrollable hormone reactions that come with adolescence. I have to admit that I deserved most of the beltings I received. I certainly suffered no lasting ill effects and, on the positive side, I wasn't allowed to disrupt my classes. I did indeed learn despite my best efforts to avoid that fate. I still recall, on my first day of school, my mother insisted she go with me. At five I felt a keen embarrassment that I should be seen to be such a baby and slipped away to the upper deck of the bus. When my mother followed,I fled mortified to the lower deck. Ah well, I suppose I caused my mother more heartbreak than that. Getting to school, in those days, wasn’t by laid-on transport or parent’s car but either a matter of taking public transport or else using your own feet, pedalling or walking. That was in all weathers! I can still call to mind the steam rising from the raincoats hanging in the hall at school. Yes we could be soaked or frozen but we still had to go. I do remember riding right up onto the rear of a parked car on my way to school in a snow storm. I picked myself up and pushed the bike the rest of the way. No excuses, no snow days; school was a must! And schooling was important and, in those days, competitive! Academic achievement was encouraged by the desire to do well (or the fear of failing to do so). Classes for each age group were organized by levels of ability, failure in one level meant dropping down, success rising up in level. The advantage of this approach seems self-evident to me; students in each class were of a similar ability and the teacher could fit the lesson to the class with no need to dilute the content. It also allowed the gifted to proceed at their own pace and avoid leaving behind those with a need for more help. At school, sports were all-important to me and I played football (or soccer to my American friends), rugby and even field hockey. I was a useful member of the track and field team and in fact had excellent times as a sprinter. In fact I was the under 17 Moray champion and did once run in a schoolboy international.  It's a pity I can't be as proud of my academic achievements but I do recall once coming first in the class in Latin, only to come dead last the next term. I think that was because that first term was reading of Caesar's campaigns which were much more interesting than a debate on philosophy. Don’t get me wrong, I did pretty well academically just not quite my best. I did manage, after I went to Rugby to finish my education, to gain an unprecedented nine GCE “O” levels. But I went on to screw up my “A” levels when I only got two of the three I sat. What can I say, by that summer I already had a job to go into as a management trainee in British Rail (so why bother)?                                                                            One other thing I did get out of school was my love for the                                                                            mountains. At 13 I went on a school trip to the Cairngorms and                                                                            my soul was captured. The picture is from that first time at the                                                                            summit of Cairngorm. That was at Elgin Academy. I can still recall                                                                            that first trip to the Cairngorms; the smell of the wooden lodge                                                                            we were quartered in, the heavy presence of the Highlands with                                                                            the grandeur of the mountains all around. After that my soul was                                                                            captured. Every holiday I, and friends, would take our tents and                                                                            explore the Cairngorms every holiday we had from school. If we                                                                            couldn’t get Dad to take us direct, we’d take the train to                                                                            Aviemore and hike with our packs to Glenmore. From there we’d                                                                            set out on trips of exploration. One time, at fifteen, I recall                                                                           joining a ranger scout to attempt the five peaks (climbing Cairn                                                                            Gorm, Braeriach, Cairn Toul, Ben Macdhui and Bienn a Bhuird in                                                                            one day). That was once when, as a youth, I pushed myself to the                                                                            limit but I succeeded! Another time I remember hiking through the Lairig Ghru and putting up a tent at the summit of the pass as night fell. Now there are many legends in Scotland, especially in the Highlands, and one held that there was a ghost known as the Old Grey Man of the Lairig Ghru. The story tells of unlucky travellers who encountered him in the mists of the pass. The old grey man would appear as an indistinct figure beckoning the unwary traveller to follow him into the mists that haunt the pass. That unfortunate would then join the many who had disappeared in the mountains, never to be seen again. As it happened a typical mist came down that evening and, in the hazy gloaming, the rocks that littered the pass lost their shape and I would, to this day, swear they moved! I did not sleep well that night! I attended Elgin Academy until I was sixteen when I got into trouble for instigating a drunken orgy in the girls dormitory at Glenmore lodge. Now that really wasn’t quite fair since it was only sharing a couple of bottles of VP wine with a few friends and enjoying a little of the slap and tickle that comes with the age. I finished my schooling at the Lawrence Sheriff in Rugby where I was expected to attend classes five and a half days a week. Now if you think that would have been a pain for me, you would be surprised to be told I actually welcomed it. That was because the whole school devoted Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to sport. Some sacrifices are easy to make! That’s my rugby team; I’m second from the right in the back row. I went to university later; after I had taken my gap six years. Single years are for wimps. First I tried my patience as a management trainee with British Rail and, having determined that I wasn’t yet ready to work for a living, I switched careers to the army. In the end I decided I needed to complete my education and went back to Scotland to attend Queens College, St Andrews University which became the University of Dundee. There I managed to graduate with honours despite the need to provide room and board for myself and my new family. As I said though, education may start with school and be reinforced by university, but it must be supplemented by the knowledge we acquire through our lives. I seem to have spent a lifetime doing just that! And our experiences in Tayport provided more of Life’s learning. I mentioned providing room and board for my family whilst at university and there is a story there. I had left the army with the grand total of twelve hundred pounds, say about $2,000 in those days. I also left with an inordinate faith in myself based on the confidence of youth and a blissful ignorance about what I was getting myself into. So I bought a house. Unfortunately the only house I could afford had half a roof missing, no windows, one broken door and two other doorways boarded up. To provide yet more challenge, there was no electricity, water or heat and we had no furniture or appliances. I can only say it must have been love that allowed my wife to agree to it! It took me four years; years where I spent half my time when I wasn’t at classes working on the house; the other half was spent trying to earn the money for the materials. But we did it, with the help of the income my wife brought in that kept food on the table. After four years I sold it for a handsome profit! By then it was a pretty house with a magnificent view of Tayport harbour and out over the Firth of Tay. Of course I was almost divorced three times a year and who can blame a lass when she had to take her toilet roll to the closest public toilets half a mile away at two in the morning. I was lucky in finding good-paying work as easily as I did. Apart from one school-break working with an Irish road crew which incidentally was probably the hardest physical labour I ever undertook, I was able to use my driving skills as a delivery driver. Britain had just introduced the heavy goods vehicle licence which I had from the army and there was a shortage of qualified drivers. I was also able to pick up extra time in the Territorial Army with a volunteer RCT regiment and also with the university ROTC. I did have one great idea at university. I was into home brewing (how else could I ever have afforded life's little luxuries?) and my wife was a fair cook so we’d invite friends from university over to help out on the house. They came willingly enough since we’d feed them a great pasta meal but we had one rule; we never tapped the keg until three in the afternoon. After that I didn’t want help despite any professions of willingness. Heck I don’t think there was any time someone didn’t end up in the harbour. It was at Tayport that Linda’s mother came to join us to help with our first child, Charles. And she was a great help. Not only did she provide support with our son and allow Linda to return to work but she helped out with the expenses. There was one time though where she did prove a bit of an embarrassment. To understand how you need to know that in Britain, the term Fanny means something quite different to the American expression. The root purportedly comes from the Cockney rhyming slang Fanny Hunt which applied to that female part that matched the rhyme. Anyway there was an occasion where we all took the bus from Tayport to Dundee and, experiencing the relief of sitting down, Mom decided to loudly inform the bus that ”my Lord does my fanny ache!” It beggars the imagination to consider where our fellow travellers thoughts went at those words. Needless to say we both pretended not to know her! Another person who visited us was Linda’s sister Rose with her three children. Her husband Lynn was posted to Germany with the US Army and, since it would take several months for him to secure family quarters, they decided to come to Scotland for a year. One tie when Lynn, her husband came to visit, we were able to take them to the Edinburgh tattoo which was certainly a lifetime memory for us all ... the pipes and drums, the spectacle of it all and especially the lone piper on the castle wall. That New Year we introduced them to Hogmanay. On the right, the house I rebuilt in Tayport while at university taken in 2004.The colour is different but it looks like the old Broad Street sign is still there after 40years. And we didn't have satelite dishes in those days. Centre, Rose and her kids with Linda and I. The left hand picture shows the view from the picture window in the upstairs addition; it offered a spectacular view of the harbour and the Firth of Tay with the shoreline of Broughty Ferry on the far side. Tayport was a wonderful time for us. Linda and I had enjoyed our time in Salisbury but we’d been apart too much of the time. So Tayport, both literally and figuratively was the start of our family life. Charles our oldest was born there. And it was from there that we embarked on the journey of our lives together; a journey that was to take us to Canada and the USA. It was there that I finalized my education that would provide us with the means to support our family.                                                                                                                            quintessential English market town with a cathedral built in the middle-ages and a lively outdoor market. It was also close to Stonehenge and we had Old Sarum, a hill fort dating back to the Stone Age just up the street from our home. Of course it was our first home together and so that tends to colour the memories. Although we didn’t have much; the British army in those days considered that commissioned officers under 25 should not be married and, in the parlance, we were “living in sin” and so did not get marriage allowance or housing. But even with limited means, we were able to make do. We’d eke out our money to visit the local pub on the weekend and visit the cinema each week, taking turns to choose the show. Of course we didn’t have a TV but we were young and didn’t need spoon-fed entertainment. I can recall our first Christmas alone when we managed to find a tree a little too big for most peoples’ choice and got it cheap after some hard bargaining on my part, much to Linda’s embarrassment and the amusement of other shoppers. The chocolate Santa we mounted on top melted and slowly but surely folded downwards. Funny how one remembers the little things! Of course, Linda had a lot of adjustments to make. England was far different to America in many ways. One thing she learned was that an open fire in a hearth will go out if the ashes are allowed to accumulate. Even such things as buying meat was a challenge, the British cut meat differently to Americans. As I said, duty caused separation but one time I did manage to wangle a chance to bring Linda along, if only for a few days. That time, it was in Britain and the occasion was the Investiture of the Prince of Wales at Caernarvon castle. That duty required that I report to Lt.Col.Green. His wife felt that young love should not be so long separated and invited us both to stay for a few days in Chester with them. That gave Linda a chance to see Chester and the castles of North Wales.                                                                                                                                                                            Living in Salisbury did give us the opportunity to see some                                                                                    of the other places of interests in Southwest England. On                                                                                    one occasion we were able to visit Plymouth and wander                                                                                    along the waterfront where we saw the Mayflower replica.                                                                                                                                                                      One of the things I really wanted to do in the early days                                                                                    of our marriage was to introduce Linda to the hills of my childhood. One advantage of the army was the availability of camping equipment so in the summer of 1969 I took my new wife to Scotland. Linda who had been used to driving everywhere had actually agreed to holiday in the Cairngorms with me as our very first holiday as a married couple. Leaving Salisbury behind, we took the train to London then the sleeper, north to Scotland. Next morning we awoke as we crossed the border and ate a breakfast watching Scotland unfold with the dawn from the train windows. Edinburgh was Linda's introduction to Scotland and she did us proud; a glorious blue skyed day to show off all her grand beauty. We couldn't stay long though, we had a date with the mountains of my youth. So then the train north again to Blair Atholl and the start of our trek. as backdrop in                                                                  Not far the first day, Linda had to get her boots worn-in the hard way (vanity thy name is woman, who'd wear hiking boots in town?) So maybe 10 miles up Glen Tilt we had to ease the pain of the blisters in the cool waters of a mountain burn. The following day though, off to the Linn of Dee and every step taking us through breath- stealing beauty. Of course there was the one place Linda chose to pass with eyes tightly closed; the swaying bridge you can see in the picture. Camping overnight in the shadow of the Cairngorms, Linda was finding she was actually beginning to enjoy the experience Next day, no sooner had we started then down came the mist. We couldn't see more than a couple of feet in front of us. That's the joy of the Cairngorms, the weather changes with a frequency unknown elsewhere and, even in summer, it can be deadly. So with Linda literally hanging onto the belt of my coat we wound our way upwards to Choire Etchachan. There looming out of the mist, was the bothy. I'd always said I could find my way about the Cairngorms blindfolded and I'd just proved that to my new wife. Another hardy soul was sheltering in the bothy. He told us he was waiting out the weather and glad to see us since he was tired of his own cooking and so, "if ye'll dae the cookin' lassie, I'll supply the food." I did the cooking though. That night was spent in companionable swapping of yarns, warm and cosy inside out of the mist and rain.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A new day and it was up to see the view from Ben Macdui while the capricious weather relented. We skirted the west side to see Braeriach and Cairn Toul across the Lairig Ghru and on to Cairngorm itself. On the way down we met the reindeer and Linda was able to talk to the old Lapp who looked after them in Finnish. Then it was down to Loch Morlich and the campsite to relax after four days with Linda having toted forty pounds over some of the roughest country in Britain; I carried 70.                                                                                                           I suppose I should talk a little more about my army service; it was certainly more interesting than the Railway. After Officer Cadet School, I was commissioned into the Royal Corps of Transport in 1967. My intake had included Nick Soames, Churchill’s grandson. I mention that to explain why it was that Field Marshal Montgomery (his Godfather) took the salute. My father, having served in the Desert with him, felt it made the occasion that much more poignant. Not that he didn’t feel pride in my accomplishments, but it gave him the chance to swap yarns with his old commander. One of those yarns was probably the one about when he was sent with a Colonel Ramsey on a forward artillery observation post inspection. Apparently as they were driving in the jeep, they saw a rabbit run from a covert. Colonel Ramsey said “Sam, reckon you can hit it?” as he braked to a halt. Dad swung his sten gun around and fired off a few rounds, missing the poor beast completely. But then, from out of the covert came four Germans with their hands up shouting “Kamerade, Kamerade!” I won’t try to compare my army career to any who served in the Second World War. But I did have my own times of excitement. I gained quite a bit from the army, including the chance to see something of the world, albeit parts that most would have done their best to avoid. I learned to drive and repair just about any vehicle in almost any conditions and circumstances. I did love the Volvo Sno-cats which could literally go anywhere in any conditions. I was, as far as I know, the last British officer to be trained on mule transport; something then thought essential in some of those parts of the world where I might find myself. Of course I learned the hard way that mules, unlike horses, have an uncanny ability to kick sideways as well as to the front and rear. Most of all I learned how to make myself comfortable in even the worst conditions. Oh and I did once eat a sheep’s eyeball and didn’t let the nation down by vomiting it back up in front of those who’d so honoured me.                                                                I expect by now that I've already painted myself as, although a team player, possessed of some independence of spirit. I had joined the army because I wasn’t ready to settle and liked the idea of experiencing more of the world. I ended up working with an elite unit which has become the world’s epitome of special military formations. That I was invited, I often attribute to one escapade during my officer cadet training. I am not sure why, maybe as a punishment for some earlier failure, but I drew the latrine digging duty. We were to have a joint exercise with a warrant officer’s course and expected to set up both camps. During the exercise, the cadets were to provide the enemy for the senior NCO’s. For some reason, my fertile imagination saw the possibilities. Thus it was that I added my own slight variance to the basic design of a field latrine. Where the Hessian covering, used to provide some degree of modesty, passed behind the rear of the thunder box set on the hole I’d dug, I cut a notch that led to the outside. Since I’d decently chosen to seclude the latrine in a clump of gorse bushes, this addition wasn’t easily spotted. Now, for those who do not know, it was common practice to issue thunder flashes (big firecrackers with the explosive power to thrust a “tin hat” 200 feet into the air). These were for use to simulate grenade and shell explosions during an exercise. The design of these thunder flashes allowed for them to be joined together to increase the effect. So it was, five days into the exercise with the latrine expected to be well used that some nameless cadet crept stealthily through the gathering dusk to that particular group of gorse bushes. It took almost no time before he heard the growling tone of Staff Sergeant Lees (I will never forget that name) call out “Anyone in there?” Taking the resultant silence as permission to enter, the said NCO settled himself upon the thunder box. After allowing sufficient time for Staff Lees to become comfortable, that singularly irresponsible cadet lit the lead thunder flash of the group of five he’d joined together and dropped them into the hole. For some very good reasons, the said cadet didn’t stay around to witness the result but everyone certainly heard of it. Apparently Staff Lees made it to the entrance to the Hessian with his pants round his ankles before the whole thing went up. The thunder box became matchsticks and poor Staff Lees was cover from head to foot in sweet violets. Now whether it was the cold calculating way that it carried out or the fact that the perpetrator was one of the few that somehow managed to avoid capture that drew attention, I have never been told. But later I found myself invited to try for something a little more demanding than the normal and I cannot help but believe that “who dares wins” was designed for the way I was back then. Maybe it was the Border Reiver blood that surfaced! There was one other escapade that involved a thunder flash. While still a cadet, I was in London celebrating New Year. I had retained one of the thunder flashes and, as my contribution to the festivities; I set it off in the fountain in Trafalgar Square. These days, I would hate to think of the reaction that would precipitate but, in those more “innocent” times, it was just another way to mark the occasion. One of my most enduring memories of my army days was the climax of that selection course. It seemed that I’d been pushed to the limit of endurance and mental fortitude when, wet, cold, hungry and tired from days of physical and mental challenge, we were working our way through the freezing rain of the Brecon Beacons. We’d finally been given the map references of our individual final objectives and the relief seemed to lighten my load and rejuvenate my body. Several hours later, with the last of my strength, I saw the 5 ton lorry in army green waiting there, at the objective I was aiming for in the valley below. Somehow my legs found the energy to quicken my pace as I hurried downhill to the track below. Just as I was approaching it, the lorry took off up the track as it rose to the far side of the valley. The corporal who’d been standing alongside of it just gave me a slip of paper with the instructions to follow the track to a new map reference five miles away. There comes a time when, as  the American marines say, the going gets tough, the tough get going. So it was that I actually found it in me to start over and force my legs up the side of that hill. By then it was just sheer will-power since I don’t think I had the strength. But, as I crested the valley side, I came upon that lorry and this time it stayed put. I needed help to get up into the back where I promptly passed out. My subsequent course, though, was interrupted by a national emergency. Terrible flooding had taken place in the English West Country and my expertise as a heavy vehicle troop officer pulled me back to take charge of moving bridging for the Royal Engineers. We were short of qualified drivers and I had to take a lorry myself. The heavy goods lorry used at that time was an AEC 10 tonner with six wheel drive. These vehicles were bitches to drive although they were reliable and tough and would go anywhere. They had no power steering and used a crash-box without synchromesh; you hauled like hell to take any turn and had to know just when to change gear otherwise all you get was a screeching of metal. Driving them required the strength and stamina of a mule and the skill of an artisan. So, there I had been, halfway through what is probably the most demanding selection course in the army and then from Thursday night through the following Tuesday afternoon, I was constantly picking up, driving 200 miles and delivering load after load of heavy bridging equipment. Oh what it is to be young and fit! It was after that when I found out that even the army had arseholes. My troop and I hadn’t slept for five days. We’d pushed ourselves to the limit! So, with the final deliveries, we were stood down and sent to a camp to sleep and recover. Just as soon as I had finished ensuring the men had everything they needed, I was called before the camp commander and given a reaming out for the scruffy appearance of myself and my men. To go to Part II To Return to my Home Page
An Autobiography  with some Personal Views
Keith Scott by Keith Scott Keith Scott
school picture at age 11
My first time at the summit of Cairngorm
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in the photos, from left to right and down: The Poultry Cross and Market in Salisbury. Stonehenge, just a few miles up the road (Castle Street) from where we lived Old Sarum, whose history spans 5,000 years serving the Celts as a hill and the Normans as a castle. The Cathedral, one of the finest examples of Medieval architecture. I said Tayport was wonderful but if I was to ask Linda she’d say she would have chosen Salisbury. She’s often stated that if we’d stayed there,  nothing would have dragged her away. Salisbury was the
 left: Edinburgh,  Linda  at the Scott monument and with castle as a backdrop  right: Glen Tilt, Linda crossing a rope bridge with eyes tightly closed
Down from the mountains for a well- earned rest
left: the bothy, Choire Etchachan right: view from Ben MacDui
AEC Militant MKI
Volvo Sno Cat
It was the Army that brought Linda and I together. In January 1967, I was sent to the Norwegian Army Arctic Training Centre in Voss where learning to ski meant being towed behind Sno-cats. And don’t ask me about using the bathroom,  Living in a Snow hole, it is no wonder I was keen to get to know the very pretty American girl who had a comfy, warm hotel room!
Commandant’s Platoon, Commisioning Parade - 1967