At Dr Guthrie's Boys' School there was no tap for drinking water upstairs, so if you were thirsty you had to drink hot water.
It was a grim place
"When I first arrived at the Boys' School at the end of March 1970, there was no matron on duty; there was no matron until February 1972. The staff always measured the weight and height of the boys.
The German woman who became matron only started work at the Boys' School in February 1972".
It is important to remember that I did not commit any of the crimes of which I was accused. On the day of my trial I was simply accused and found guilty. I was not allowed to plead not guilty. I was so small. I could barely see the judge from the dock.
I should also mention that when I was at the Boys' School there were three boys from my tiny village at Dr Guthrie's Boys' School at the same time, I was one of them and I was the first. We were kept in separate dormitories.
The internal windows of the dormitories were so high that we couldn't look out without standing on a bed, and we were too scared to do that. From the outside, the windows look normal
At eleven years old, I arrived at Dr. Guthrie's Boys' School
We were given a single pillow. Each bed had a red rubber mat that was badly worn, dirty and stained. Next to each bed was a very small, worn-out bedside cabinet.
When the staff came to wake us up in the morning, they would shout 'Get up, you bastard' into the ears of the children who were still asleep.
If you were unlucky enough to receive this treatment, as you lay there in a state of shock, your sheets would be torn off and thrown into the dormitory.
When all the boys got out of bed we had to take off all our bed sheets and fold them, including our pillowcase, into a square block at the foot of our beds and then stand at attention at the foot of our beds while our sheets were inspected. Sometimes the staff would throw our folded sheets on the floor of the dormitory if they weren't perfectly folded and make us fold them again.
After our sheets were inspected, we were all marched downstairs to the washroom where we brushed our teeth and washed our faces. Then we were all marched back upstairs to get dressed.
After getting dressed, we were all marched down to the dining hall for breakfast, where we were given a very small cup of milk. Sometimes the milk was sour and had a terrible taste. This milk was used for our cornflakes or porridge, and we had to leave some milk in the cup for our tea. Occasionally, instead of porridge or cereal, we were given a slice of toast or bread with a very small, hard-boiled egg. We were given a small packet of Anchor butter to spread on our bread or toast. There was never any sugar, butter, or jam on the table. Only a small, individual portion of butter was given to each boy.
The staff dining room was very different from the big workhouse-style dining hall used by the boys. The staff dining room had a long, dark mahogany table with a white tablecloth. They had silver cake stands and a cheese stand with a variety of cheeses and biscuits. They used different fancy plates.
I don't know if they ate the same food as the boys, but I remember that their dining room looked lavish compared to the boys', like something out of Oliver Twist.
After breakfast, all the boys were marched down the corridor to a door that opened onto the large concrete square. But before we could enter the square, we had to go through a small room where each boy was given a box with our number on it.
That's where we kept our boots. Then we had to take off our slippers and put on our boots.
"my boots did not fit properly. My toes always hurt, I don't think my boots had changed for two years because my feet had grown and the boots were too small, causing constant pain".
Every morning after breakfast, we had roll call in the square. We lined up in our four dormitories and shouted out our numbers. Then we were marched up and down the concrete square, as if we were in the army.
This routine continued in all weather conditions, including rain, hail, sunshine, and even during a blizzard with six inches of snow on the ground.
I have this memory that it must have been the year the clocks didn't go back, because it was still dark at 9 o'clock in the morning, maybe the winter of 1970-1971, that day all the boys were covered in centimeters of snow, marching up and down the square.
In winter, we wore a blue canvas shirt, a brown corduroy jacket and brown corduroy shorts.
They sewed up our pockets.
The staff took great pleasure in seeing us all shivering in the bitter cold... All of us were practically freezing to death. We had to walk around in these clothes even when it was below freezing, even when it was -10°C.
To keep warm, if you put your hands down your shorts, you were dragged into the headmaster's office, held over his desk and whipped on the bare bottom with a thick, yellow Scottish tawse.
There was a toilet in the corner of the concrete square. I started smoking at the age of eleven because it helped to mask the terrible stench of that filthy toilet. The cubicles had no doors, so you had to defecate in front of everyone. It took me a few days after arriving at Dr Guthrie's Boys' School to realise that I was better off using the upstairs toilet because it was so embarrassing to defecate in front of everyone. I only used the outside toilets when I was desperate. The toilet paper felt and looked like shiny tracing paper and was the cheapest I'd ever seen or used.
Occasionally we would go to the woodwork class. The man who ran the woodwork class was a decent man. He was never abusive, but sometimes he could lose his temper over the smallest of mistakes. He liked to smoke a pipe.
Most days we just walked around the concrete yard, we very rarely went to the gym or the swimming pool, and when we did go to the swimming pool we were usually sexually abused.
When it was time for dinner, we all went back to the small room. We put on our slippers again and lined up in the corridor, then we were all marched up the corridor to the dining hall.
We got our dinner around 1pm. and it consisted of soup, lunch, custard, and cake. The food was OK, but that was all we got until we got a piece and jam and a cup of tea around 7.30pm.
After dinner we were all marched down the corridor to the small room to change back into our boots. We just walked around the concrete yard until about 4.30pm, then we changed our boots for slippers and we all went into the TV room.
I don't think I spent more than four or five days in a classroom in the 29 months I spent at Dr Guthrie's Boys' School. As I walked around the square I often wondered why they didn't educate me; they had me trapped, I had nowhere else to go and yet they gave me virtually no education. In the 1980s this failure to give me an education really bothered me: I had to lie about having O-levels on my job application forms.
At the age of eleven, I was sent to Dr Guthrie's Boys' School, although I had not committed the offences of which I was accused.
In 1988, I went to a solicitor to report that I had been abused. The solicitor told me that there was nothing he could do about the abuse if there were no witnesses. In response to my attempts to bring a case against them for failing to provide an education, the solicitor said that under Scottish law, my right to an education had been lost because of my status as a criminal.
Now, in 2024, I have many witnesses, but the law now says, 'If the abusers are dead, I have no case'.
I remember there was a small hut near the wall that divided the area where we had our sports day, and sometimes I was starving. Carrots and potatoes were kept in this hut, and sometimes I was so hungry that I ate the raw potatoes.
One night I sneaked downstairs to the kitchen because I was starving. I found everything locked up with huge padlocks, and the only thing edible was the hard fat on top of the next day's soup, and I could hardly eat it.
We got our piece and jam and a cup of tea around 7.30pm then we all marched up to our dormitories, got a shower then bed. Lights were normally put out around 8.30pm
One night I was crying in bed and the night watchman found me there. When he asked me why I was crying, I explained that I had been hit with a medicine ball and that was why my hand and arm hurt. After taking me downstairs to the headmaster's door, the night watchman and the headmaster got into an argument. I was taken to a hospital in Edinburgh and had an x-ray.
My hand was broken. My hand was black, my arm was black up to the elbow.
The night watchman left his job after that night and I never saw him again. The night watchman was a decent and ordinary man compared to most of the other staff.
At the bottom of the dormitory there was a cupboard with a curtain. This was where we kept our Sunday clothes. You basically tried to find a jacket and trousers that would fit. Some Sundays you would be marched to church and either your jacket was too big or too small, or your trousers were too long or too short.
We weren't allowed to wear our own clothes to church, we had to wear what was provided. It was embarrassing to walk the streets of Edinburgh in 1970 dressed like that, we were really ragged.
The cloth the suits were made of was the worst material I've ever had the misfortune to wear. Even the cheapest curtains you can buy today are made of better material than the Sunday suits they gave us.
One day in winter, all the boys in my dormitory were marched down to the shower block and a black disinfectant was poured into the bottom of the shower. The shower tray was plugged.
The boys' feet had to be sterilised because someone in the school had a verruca.
Twenty boys were packed naked into the shower block, which had five shower heads. We were made to stand in three inches of disinfectant for up to an hour.
We were all naked and shivering in the bitter cold, and I didn't feel human at all.
The dormitories were gloomy, dismal, dreary places. The atmosphere was Dickensian. There were no curtains on the windows and no decoration on the walls. There was just a mirror screwed to the wall - that was it. A Victorian workhouse in 1970
After months and years of being tortured and abused by loving, compassionate Christians, we should really thank this man