Sir David Durie KCMG

House and Years at Fettes:
Moredun 1958-1963

Qualifications and career:
BA/MA Natural Sciences (ie Physics) University of Oxford 1966/1970

I joined the Minstry of Technology as an Assistant Principal (ie as an administrator not a scientist - I was never very good at Physics!) in 1966 and worked in the Civil Service both at home and abroad for the rest of my career doing a great variety of different jobs.

At home, this included - promoting project exports (airports, bridges, railways etc) in what had become the Department of Trade and Industry the early 1980s, followed by a spell in the European Secretariat of the Cabinet Office and, back in the DTI responsibility for the British Shipbuilders, then a nationalised industry, in the late 1980s. I then ran the DTI's Investigations Division which looked into and prosecuted commercial malpractice. My final job in the DTI was as Director General for Regions and Enterprise from 1995 - 2000.

Although the Foreign Office and I had decided back in 1966 that we were not suited to each other, I spent almost a third of my career abroad on secondment to the FCO, first as a First Secretary in the UK Delegation to OECD in Paris in the mid 70s, then as Deputy UK Ambassador to the European Union in Brussels in the early 90s, an absolutely fascinating job involving almost non-stop negotiation to get the best deal for Britain in Europe on a huge variety of subjects, and finally, as Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Gibraltar from 2000-2003 a marvellous way to end my full-time career in the public service!

Since then I have done a variety of part-time charity and public sector advisory jobs which, together with my grandchildren, keep me pretty busy.

What is your most cherished memory from your time at Fettes?
So many. Mainly non-academic. From co-directing with Angus Fraser, a rather modern House Play (the Queen and the Rebels by Ugo Betti which we could only squeeze into the allotted 90 minutes by running the acts together!). To the Maths Sixth five-a-side hockey team, mascot Sid Brewer the senior maths master, and theme tune Dick Barton Special Agent blasting out from the touch-line. And lazy summer afternoons not watching cricket

And your least?
Chemistry, which simply did not interest me.

If relevant, what did being a scholar at Fettes mean to you?
I was very lucky because, in my year, all but one of the cleverer boys were not eligible for a Foundation Scholarship without which my parents could not have sent me to Fettes

What event or personality left a lasting impression on you?
Jack Naiff, the Physics master, a mild man who had suffered in the Second World War as a POW under the Japanese, somehow managed to convey to me the beauty and wonder of Physics - a beauty and wonder which has never left me even though I was an incompetent Physicist

Were you a conscientious student?
Up to a point, but only in subjects I liked

Outside the classroom, how did you spend your free time at Fettes?
Idly, except when trying, with Gordon Cameron and others, to prove Fermat's last theorem.