Watching me watching them watching you

Featured in

  • Published 20040302
  • ISBN: 9780733313868
  • Extent: 268 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

I SPENT THE first of my teenage years living in the grounds of an approved school, a place that faced onto a ruined castle said to have given a night’s shelter to Mary Queen of Scots. The fleeing queen was never there at all but people preferred to think she had never left: every castle in Scotland seeks to have its part in Mary’s story and her eyes were felt to burn through the night from a high window. Looking at the ruins, I always hoped that Mary would just speak some of her great last words from the darkness; I believed she was there and that something of us all was there in those eyes of hers that seemed to make a ritual of watching.

The school was full of delinquent boys from Glasgow and what I remember most about them is the sheer depth of their wish to be remembered, not to fade into the shadows of a system they couldn’t properly see or understand. Sometimes I would meet them when I parked my bike at the edge of the playing fields; the boys were pale, nervous, often tearful, and they looked into the orange blur of the housing estate behind the castle as if contemplating one of the world’s grand promises. “They can’t forget me,” one of them said, the red-ash pitch blazing under our sandshoes.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at griffithreview@griffith.edu.au

Share article

About the author

Andrew O’Hagan

The ebullient Scottish writer Andrew O'Hagan is best known for his fiction. He has written three novels: Our Fathers, Personality and Be Near Me which have all won...

More from this edition

Discovering the mother tongue

MemoirPHILOSOPHERS SAY INNER contradictions are a natural thing; they lie within the core of the human condition. I'd add that from the imbroglio of...

Media rules in the court of Carr

ReportageIT WAS A typical political fix. More designed to fit ministers' personalities, their power preferences and media agendas than coherence in governance, policy formulation...

Fragile spoils of victory

ReportageAUSTRALIA HAS ALWAYS prided itself on its political stability, but after World War II the country quickly settled into an equilibrium that sometimes seemed...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.