Newton Stewart is a town of two thousand people in the beautiful centre of Galloway, in the southwest of Scotland. My father came there in 1934, newly married, to be a teller in one of the six banks. In 1936 I was born, in a cottage across the river in the neighbouring village of Minnigaff. Three years later we moved to Newton Stewart proper, my brother was born, and, coincidentally, my conscious life began. Though later, about 1950, we moved to the coastal village of Port William, eighteen miles south, I went to school in Newton Stewart, travelling latterly by the school bus. While at primary school I was apparently quite quick at mental arithmetic, and also acquired glasses. If you need glasses it is hard to enjoy football (association football is the main sport in the area). Without them, I was not good at guessing where the ball was. That, and various childhood illnesses, gave me time to read, which suited me fine. To tell the truth, I would not have been very good at football anyway. I once took a catch in the annual cricket match.
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