World Book Day is every English teacher's favourite day of the year. Because our boys tend to have multiple outfit changes on a normal day, we don't tend to go in for costumes here at Merchiston. Instead, we make an extra special effort - at school, at home, and, this year, on Zoom - to talk about books, and to share stories.
Excitement about sharing stories is not limited to the English Department, though.
Here's Head of PE, Mr Harrison, reading to his young sons from Tails of the Young Gardener and her friend Jack Frost, by Ken Houston, who was a Physics teacher here at Merchiston for many years.
The book is based on the stories that Ken, who still lives locally, told to his daughter, Diedre, as a child, when they visited their allotment. During the first lockdown, and after the stories had been positively reviewed by grandson, Luca, 5, who heard them over Zoom, Deirdre, convinced her dad to turn the stories into a book, which, as you can see: he did!
As well as raising hundreds of pounds for the local branch of the Samaritans, this story from the Merchiston community is a perfect example of what sharing stories means to us here. Books are simply the most wonderful way of sharing experiences, across time zones, across borders and across generations.
That is how we will be celebrating World Book Day.
We have more members of the community sharing stories that matter to us. And we have the opportunity for you to enter a competition - with a prize awarded from our community partners The Edinburgh Bookshop. To enter, all you have to do is try and correctly identify which book we are each reading from. There are some great reading recommendations there too.
Finally, one more reading recommendation from me. Margaret Oliphant was a reasonably significant writer of the 19th century. Not quite Dickens or Bronte, she nonetheless made a comfortable living for herself as a writer, and was published alongside those literary greats in the magazines and quarterlies of the period. Born in Musselburgh, Mrs Oliphant (as she was publicly known), lived in Edinburgh for a number of years and it must have been while here that she wrote ‘The Open Door’, a short and spooky story with a setting that many of the boys will find eerily familiar... I will say no more, but do, please, have a look at the story, which you can read online here.