Oral history project: interview. Sample containing about 11735 words speech recorded in leisure context

4 speakers recorded by respondent number C263

PS2A0 Ag5 m (Laurie, age 76, retired) unspecified
PS2A1 Ag2 m (No name, age 30+) unspecified
GYUPSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
GYUPSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 098001 recorded on unknown date. LocationLothian: Edinburgh () Activity: interview

Undivided text

(PS2A1) [1] [...] can I start by asking your name?
Laurie (PS2A0) [2] [...] Well my name is er Mr Laurence er o of the Treasurer of the in Edinburgh area.
(PS2A1) [3] And erm what was your date of birth?
Laurie (PS2A0) [4] My date of birth was the thirty first of the, of the seventh, O nine.
[5] Which makes me now approximately seventy six years of age.
(PS2A1) [6] What can you remember from when you were young about sort of housing conditions and
Laurie (PS2A0) [7] What I remember of the housing conditions when I was then residing in Motherwell, a mining er community.
[8] And known that particular time as the steel town of Scotland.
(PS2A1) [9] Was erm the whole town taken up with these sort of two occupations?
Laurie (PS2A0) [10] Yes, it was all mining and steelworks.
[11] Was all [...] .
[12] In fact the Ravenscraig, present Ravenscraig was built up on the first place from a steelworks known then as Corral Steelworks.
(PS2A1) [13] Mhm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [14] And D L Steelworks and Lanarkshire Steelworks, these er steelworks, all amalgamated which is now known as the Ravenscraig Steelworks.
(PS2A1) [15] Mhm.
[16] What erm what kind of education did you go to when you [...] ?
Laurie (PS2A0) [17] Well I, my education was in a small er the local school, School in Motherwell.
(PS2A1) [18] Mm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [19] And they were only a s s a sort of infants and secondary school er there, and you [...] .
[20] There was no, all these highfalutin er certificates to gain en all you had to, had to gain to be fit for employment then was a qualifying certificate, that was the only certificate issued in those days.
[21] A qualifying certificate. [laugh]
(PS2A1) [22] Er how old were you when you left the school?
Laurie (PS2A0) [23] I was er four I left the school at fourteen years of age and I was down the pit the following day.
(PS2A1) [24] The following day?
[25] Mm.
[26] What do you remember about working in the pit?
Laurie (PS2A0) [27] Well the working in the pit and the first and the first time I went down the pit er the pit was er John Watson's number four colliery in Motherwell.
[28] And er I went with my dad and got into the cage which takes you down to the pit bottom and er er er immediately the cage left the surface it just dropped like a stone and I myself was frightened that the bottom of the cage collapsed completely.
[29] Because my stomach come up and met my heart
(PS2A1) [laugh]
Laurie (PS2A0) [30] and everything went [...] .
[31] When I reached the pit bottom, there was approximately three feet of water at the pit bottom and I had my first experience of water in the mines. [laugh]
(PS2A1) [32] Were the conditions in the mines quite dangerous in those days?
Laurie (PS2A0) [33] Well in those days er there wasn't much me much er coal cutting machine, this was all hewn by hand.
[34] And we had the pit ponies and where we didn't have the pit ponies drawing the hutches, which we termed the small wagons carrying the coal from the coal face to the pit bottom, then er we had to do it by hand.
[35] And if there were h a wagon or a hutch went off the road there you were with not enough height to lift it all back off the rail again and believe me that was experience in itself. [laugh]
(PS2A1) [36] So it was quite a difficult job then?
Laurie (PS2A0) [37] It was a difficult job, yes.
(PS2A1) [38] Mm.
[39] What were the erm the wages and the hours like? [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [40] Ooh, the wages.
[41] I started the wages and er I didn't have much more, I started I had six and eight pence per shift.
(PS2A1) [42] Mm.
[43] And er what were the hours like?
Laurie (PS2A0) [44] The hours, well sometimes I would do a double shift which was sixteen hours.
[45] Or eight hours for a full shift, sixteen hours for a double shift.
(PS2A1) [46] Mm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [47] And in those days we required the money and er often, very often we had to do it to strengthen our wages a bit.
[48] Do a double shift.
[49] Which meant you come home from your double er shift, went to your bed, had about four hours sleep and were back out for your normal shift again. [laugh]
(PS2A1) [50] [laugh] Was you erm in a union or anything at all at this time?
Laurie (PS2A0) [51] Yes, the miners' union then was just [...] wasn't that that [...] was started was [...] .
[52] In fact there's, very near the start of the unions in and o [...] er that, that the miners' union was one of the first to start up.
(PS2A1) [53] Do you think it gave you erm any advantages being in a union?
Laurie (PS2A0) [54] Y oh yes it gave us advantage to the extent that we'd someone b behind us to fight for any, any er grievances that we had.
[55] That was the idea of the union starting out in the first place.
(PS2A1) [56] Mhm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [57] We had to pay into a union.
[58] We can, on every Friday there was a union official down there in a small hut.
[59] We had straight from our wages straight to the union, it's payed at union right away.
[60] So that there was nobody skipped.
(PS2A1) [61] What were the erm the erm relations between the w the workers and the bosses like?
Laurie (PS2A0) [62] Ah well more or less much the same as it is today.
[63] That's what we got the union for.
[64] That's what we got the union for.
[65] That's what we got the union for, to make sure that these things did not happen.
(PS2A1) [66] Mhm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [67] That we wouldn't be stepped upon.
(PS2A1) [68] Were you involved in er any strikes or anything?
Laurie (PS2A0) [69] Yes, I was involved in the nineteen twenty six strike.
[70] And in nineteen twenty er strike [...] going at the present day there was what we called the soup kitchens.
[71] And every local village where there was a mine had these soup kitchens.
[72] I do not forget [...] the other unions which were going at that present time helped us out quite a bit.
[73] Though we los we actually lost the strike through no fault of our own.
[74] There was just because there wasn't enough money within all unions, not forget that there wasn't such a thing as a T U C then, this was in at the infancy when the unions first started, there wasn't such as a T U C, Trades Unions Congress.
[75] These were er in, in its infancy then and er we had a soup kitchen and er we, we got soup once a day, when we got issued with it.
[76] Each family took over a, a ration card.
[77] And you got so many slices of bread, so many pots of soup.
[78] And this was all done in old wash houses, where they used to have the boilers.
[79] Where we used to b boil the water.
[80] And the soup was made in these boilers, and they were issued with their soup then.
[81] And that was all we got.
(PS2A1) [82] What was it erm started the strike in the first place?
Laurie (PS2A0) [83] Well they started the strike as muddled as [...] as some [...] greens come up and the men as union thought that was not right.
[84] Not forgetting in that most of the mines then, at that particular time, were nearly all privately owned.
(PS2A1) [85] Mhm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [86] Were nearly all privately owned.
[87] Were nearly all privately owned.
[88] Most, right across the length and breadth of Great Britain, were all privately owned.
[89] Which the present administration of central government are doing their best to, under the same hammer as [laughing] it was in those days, so [] it's just, this is just a repeat performance of the those days and the government today. [laugh]
(PS2A1) [90] Was what it erm finally brought about the end of the strike in twenty six?
Laurie (PS2A0) [91] Pardon?
(PS2A1) [92] What was it finally brought about the end of the strike in nineteen twenty six?
Laurie (PS2A0) [93] Well it were just like I [...] like I [...] the unions weren't as, as er financially well off as they were er at the present day.
[94] There was not the money, we were forced to.
[95] As I say the present day er premier just now is actually trying to do the same thing as a repeat performance [...] [laugh]
(PS2A1) [96] So sort of erm what was, was there erm any victimizations or anything like that, from the bosses when you went back to work?
Laurie (PS2A0) [97] Oh immediately there was a victimization in the pit,o the pit was out.
(PS2A1) [98] Mm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [99] It was er taken there [...] .
[100] The grievance was taken to the union, the union just say er told the steward who belonged to that particular pit there, right, just call the men out, that's it. [laugh]
(PS2A1) [101] S so erm did [...] presumably are quite strong like that then?
Laurie (PS2A0) [102] Oh oh yes oh yes it was one of the be [...] it still is one of the best unions.
[103] Still is one of the best [...] for sticking
(PS2A1) [104] mm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [...]
(PS2A1) [105] Was there erm I've forgotten what I was going ask you.
Laurie (PS2A0) [...]
(PS2A1) [106] Er mm were there erm many strikes at the time?
Laurie (PS2A0) [107] Oh no, oh no, oh there were all v very few and far be there may have been local strikes but, such as one day er a grievance been put in and the men struck work just for it.
[108] But immediately the [...] get a result.
[109] So all our lads are more or less, that was lightning strikes and finish off.
(PS2A1) [110] Mm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [111] One day and it was finished you know?
[112] Because that would [...] union, you see?
(PS2A1) [113] Did you work in the pits for a long time?
Laurie (PS2A0) [114] I was five years in the pits.
(PS2A1) [115] Mhm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [116] Er eh in er in Lanarkshire and Motherwell, and er at that time, being a young lad [...] no more between er f er fourteen and twenty, I realized then [...] that wasn't going to be a life for me.
[117] So I then decided that I would join the army.
[118] Now I joined the army.
[119] I served my time in both India, Palestine, Gibraltar, Egypt and these sort of places abroad and when I, I [...] nine months of my colour service to finish, which were a twelve year service, [cough] when war broke out in nineteen thirty nine.
[120] I then went er across to France with the B E F. Was in France about nine months approximately when the big invasion started in Poland and through France.
[121] I was taken prisoner of war at Saint Valerie [...] for a few of my friends in from Edinburgh who were taken prisoner of war.
[122] I was taken to a main camp called Lamstor camp in er Polish er German border.
[123] And er you, you know what happened then?
[124] I was back down hole again.
[125] [laugh] For another five years work, so I served five years in Germany too as a, as a miner.
(PS2A1) [126] The prisoners of war were used as miners in the
Laurie (PS2A0) [127] Oh yes
(PS2A1) [128] camps?
Laurie (PS2A0) [129] yes.
[130] Oh yes.
[131] We were used as miners, yes.
(PS2A1) [132] How did the pay and the conditions and such like in the army compare with erm being in the mines?
Laurie (PS2A0) [133] Er the, the money, the money that I [...] money difference wasn't great but the fact was er who you were thinking about er when you did come out.
[134] You had a lot of, a lot of qualifications which you could get in the army in those days that you didn't have when you were in civil life.
[135] For instance you could learn to be a, a motor driver, you could learned to be an electrician, you could learn to be an engineer, you could learn to be anything.
[136] And you [...] through these courses and you got a certificate when you come out which er some of the [...] said to us, a fully qualified member of a, so these advantages were open to us then you see?
(PS2A1) [137] Mm.
[138] So this was the, the main incentive for joining the army then? [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [139] Pardon?
(PS2A1) [140] Was that the main incentive for joining the army?
[141] Knowing that you gain qualifications?
Laurie (PS2A0) [142] Well my that was my [...] incentive [...] the mines.
(PS2A1) [143] Yeah.
Laurie (PS2A0) [144] But as I've already told you [laughing] just, it was very ironical that I should l go back down the hole in er Germany again [] . [laugh]
(PS2A1) [145] Were the conditions worse in the, in the German mines?
[146] In the [...] ?
Laurie (PS2A0) [147] Oh no, I [...] the mine, the mines in Germany at that time were far advanced of what er Britain's mines were.
[148] Cos they had different methods of doing the, digging the coal out, than they h than they had in Britain.
[149] And I believe [...] .
[150] Although I've not been down a mine since then, er the German mines to my er estimation were far more advanced than what the British mines were.
(PS2A1) [151] Were you made to work hard harder being a prisoner of war?
Laurie (PS2A0) [152] No harder than we did in Britain.
[153] You could not, no, a miner once he's been a miner, cannot go down er a pit and say to anyone down a pit, and say to anyone down a pit, that he's not a miner.
[154] Because he gives his [...] right away.
[155] The experience he has gained in the mines at [...] immediately a man g a man who has been in the mines goes down there again his er n er he gives himself away, because, just because of the experiences.
[156] I saw an incidence er down in the, the mine a, a miner himself can tell, by the creak of a tree just where the heavy, heavy weight's coming on the, on the, the roof.
[157] And where there's likely to be a fall.
[158] And the miner can only pick up a, a pick and knock the rook and he can tell exactly where er where it's weakest in the rook.
[159] [cough] So, so these thi these things did do, show up when you're d when you're down the mines.
[160] A ma a magic phase, you can't give it away.
[161] And they didn't ne we didn't need the [...] if we were a miner.
[162] A mine w a miner could tell another miner by his accent.
[163] Not just by him telling he's a miner he can say er that's a miner. [laugh]
(PS2A1) [164] What, what did you do erm after the war?
[165] When you came back to Britain.
Laurie (PS2A0) [166] Well I, well er I came back to Britain er I, I was er liberated by General Patton in a, a small place called Erfurt I was flown from Erfurt into Cherbourg, and from Cherbourg into a small place called Amersham which was a reception station for prisoners of war, where we were treated er on entering the camp we were handed a telegram.
[167] All we had to do was sign our name to it.
[168] And these telegrams were for, to our nearest and next of kin, telling us we were now safely home. [laugh]
(PS2A1) [169] Did erm did you notice any great differences when you came back from the war?
Laurie (PS2A0) [170] Oh vast vast differences
(PS2A1) [171] To the, to the
Laurie (PS2A0) [172] er yes.
[173] Oh vast differences.
[174] My first experience in going into tramcars er in, in Edinburgh anyway and I suppose that the same thing would have happened er in any country, [...] just gone through the ravages of war, with blackouts and so forth.
[175] The people from the highest paid to the lowest paid were all just one unit.
[176] And I wish to God that would just come back again, now there people would just treat one of our [...] as they did it one of [...] during the war's years.
[177] And I can't see any reason why they can't.
[178] Why they should, people with a higher [...] look down their nose at the people who are lower than themselves, I can not figure out.
[179] I think we need another war to get [laughing] rid of the er get rid of some of the thing [] that's happening at the present day.
(PS2A1) [180] So you think the war erm unified the people?
[181] Behind the [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [182] Er it definitely it had proved it itself.
[183] It proved it, the war years proved it to the people.
[184] Er that they were, they were all just one.
[185] But nowadays we're not, nowadays we, there's a higher, a middle class and a lower class and a lower lower class. [laugh]
(PS2A1) [186] What erm what kind of employment did you find when you came back from the war?
Laurie (PS2A0) [187] Well I, I erm my first employment was in the, was in the building trade with er an old firm in Edinburgh called and believe me I was not a very fit person then after seven, five years and I was like a rake, I was like a skeleton.
[188] And I got there and by good luck I got a very good er site agent and after asking me what I'd done, he says it's alright son we'll build you up.
[189] And he actually treated me like a, more or less a son, the site agent, and he made sure er I gradually [...] developed my muscles.
[190] He never put me on a heavy job until at such times he thinks I was fit [...] .
[191] Well that's the way I was treated when I came home.
[192] By the the [...] I served five year then and I left that and I went into corporation transport which was tramcars then.
[193] And I went then from a, a timber mill and they [...] there's various different jobs I've been in since then, you know?
(PS2A1) [194] What was the conditions like in the building trade after the war?
Laurie (PS2A0) [195] Well er you know at that time there [...] in the building trade there was er what they term a, an essential work order.
[196] Which you had, the government, the government or building firms had to guarantee you forty four hours' payment f of wages, forty four hours guaranteed and you had to get that whether you were working or not.
[197] So that was an essential work order was [...] by the government in power then.
[198] That m er the firms must guarantee forty four hours wages for the man, doesn't matter what [...] [laugh]
(PS2A1) [199] Was, was this erm [...] to protect the men or to make sure that erm
Laurie (PS2A0) [200] It's er it's more or less a
(PS2A1) [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [201] retainer for the men.
(PS2A1) [202] Aha.
Laurie (PS2A0) [203] A retainer so that they could have, that man couldn't go in another job [...] [...]
(PS2A1) [204] [...] .
[205] Aye.
[206] Presumably this was cos there was a big erm a big surge on to rebuild the
Laurie (PS2A0) [207] Oh yes, yes there was
(PS2A1) [208] country [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [209] yes, yeah.
(PS2A1) [210] Mhm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [211] The, the present, the present day er in Edinburgh, the present day buildings that I helped to build up are now in Pilton and in fact er out in Saint [...] I built, that was a er built a [...] fact I did all the rough [...] .
[212] Both in Pilton and in present day er Pilton Circus which is er er there's a lot of er controversy going over er m making them, privatizing them and so forth but I l I was er the building of these things and did all the er the [...] work for them. [laugh]
(PS2A1) [213] Is that erm quite a dangerous job working on the, on the building sites?
Laurie (PS2A0) [214] Well it depending what, what sort of job you're doing.
[215] All depending what sort of job your job, it could be dangerous if you didn't know what you were doing.
[216] I mean you couldn't put a stranger on [...] a job that you, you yourself [...] .
[217] But once you were qualified for the job you couldn't put a stranger on you had to ta teach that stranger a job.
[218] Before what he was to [laugh] [cough]
(PS2A1) [219] Erm where did you go after the, after the building, the building work?
Laurie (PS2A0) [220] After the building I left er the building work and became a tram conductor where I went through a course in the, down at Shrub Hall went through a conductor's course.
[221] After going through the conductor's course I then went to Leith depot, old Leith depot er of the, with the tramcars.
[222] Eventually was put on the tramcars as a, a conductor.
[223] Served with them as a conductor er for about approximately four years er and the experiences I had er as a conductor were many and varied er er if you do er recall er the old tramcars er the fares weren't in comparison today.
[224] I can remember quite vividly the old tramcars running there er day and night, with the last service leaving the outskirts of Edinburgh around about er twelve er eleven thirty and you g have about ten minutes or so to reach the depots which there were many and varied [...] at this particular time.
[225] There was depots in Tower Cross, Portobello, Leith, and many other places like that.
[226] But while I [...] tramcar leaving any suburban area there was always what was known then as a worker's return.
[227] And that worker's return was three pence.
[228] Three pence for a worker's return.
[229] And it was always on that er tramcar, whichever er suburban district they were leaving, was always a packed car.
[230] Always fully laden.
[231] Because the conductor always had to wait until such time as the queue was diminished quite a bit and hi his tramcar was full so that the next tramcar come along er coming along, whatever number, was [...] to be d the same thing happening again.
[232] So the suburban districts then were very well served with the old tramcars.
[233] And I believe myself today, at present day, [...] the tramcars were coming back again, there would be, could be a way of resolving this matter of going onto different buses.
[234] I take, for instance, the present day just now where we have, what we term, the old aged pensioner's railcard.
[235] Now what is to stop, instead of an old age pensioner getting on, with their [...] ticket, or a thirty pound annual ticket or their quarter quarterly ticket.
[236] What on earth's to stop, to have a transfer ticket, which could be used on any bus at all.
[237] So there would b take away this anomaly of old people having to use three buses to get from one end of the town to the other, which means, in actual fact, that each bus they went on to, they paid this ten pence, which if there's three, if they do not turn it twice a week, twice a day, that's sixty pence.
[238] Now why can't they issue a ticket, transferable ticket ... So I don't have to use three buses, all I have to do is I've got one ticket, now that ticket reserved for [...] [laughing] particular [...] [] . [laugh]
(PS2A1) [239] Do you think then that the er trams provided a better service for the people than the buses?
Laurie (PS2A0) [240] Well we were a better er service, they were a better ser I'm not saying that I think so, I know [laughing] they were a better service [] don doesn't does n they're not quite [...] proof, there were [...] in an tramcar Edinburgh Corporation tramcars were running, they were running at a, a, every year a profit.
[241] Whereas at the present time, with the buses, it's all deficits.
[242] If that is not proof I [...] .
[243] The one speech for the other surely. [laugh]
(PS2A1) [244] Was you erm in a union at this time, when you were in the
Laurie (PS2A0) [245] Yes, Transport and General Workers' Union was, yes.
(PS2A1) [246] Did you find that erm there was more advantages in being in the union, when you working on the trams?
Laurie (PS2A0) [247] Oh there always is advantages.
[248] If you're a staunch union member there is advantages.
[249] With the proviso that you keep your payments up to date.
[250] And attend your branch meetings. [laugh]
(PS2A1) [251] Was there any erm disputes or anything at that time on the, on the trams?
Laurie (PS2A0) [252] Oh very few and far between.
[253] Very few and far between.
[254] Maybe just locally, at local garages but as far as, far as being the all national or anything like that, there was never [...] anything I [...] with the tramcars.
(PS2A1) [255] Were the erm the relations with the bosses and the workers quite good, on the [...] ?
Laurie (PS2A0) [256] Very good, very good.
[257] Oh.
[258] Even with the inspectors too, there was always a good er [...] going with the, the people in those days.
(PS2A1) [259] Mhm.
[260] And was this quite a well paid job?
Laurie (PS2A0) [261] Well it erm it was average, it was average.
[262] Yes.
(PS2A1) [263] And er did you have to work like erm shifts and things like that? [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [264] Oh yes.
[265] Ex exactly the same as [...] going to the present day.
[266] You had the split shifts and the down shifts and maybe we were called for er a [...]
(PS2A1) [267] What did you do after you left, you left the trams?
Laurie (PS2A0) [268] After I left the trams then er I went er I went away to East Kilbride.
[269] I used to work for a certain er c er creamery there.
[270] Er
(PS2A1) [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [271] getting milk, separating milk er pasteurizing milk and [...] like that.
(PS2A1) [272] Was East Kilbride one of the erm one of the new towns?
Laurie (PS2A0) [273] [...] it was er now it was, now at the start of the new town er present East Kilbride a new town, it was known as a new town and it was just starting to build up.
[274] And I had better chances of getting a proper house for myself and my family which was then two daughters and my wife and I.
[275] So we actually went there to better ourselves and try and get a h a reasonable house to sort of live in and [...]
(PS2A1) [276] Was there a lot of encouragement given to people to move out [...] premises?
Laurie (PS2A0) [277] Oh yes, at that time there was, yes.
[278] Oh yes.
[279] If they accepted it of course. [laugh]
(PS2A1) [280] Was it er easy finding a job at that time as well, in the, in the new towns?
Laurie (PS2A0) [281] Oh yes.
[282] It was being that the, the Rolls Royce [...] Saturday, came in to East Kilbride and, and American firms like that were coming along.
[283] [...] Singer sewing machines and sort of things like that.
[284] They were all coming into East Kilbride, there was b cos after all there was starting off a new town and they was building up then from it.
(PS2A1) [285] What were the erm conditions like in the creamery where you worked?
Laurie (PS2A0) [286] Very good.
[287] We got our free milk, of course, we got our free milk.
[288] That was one [laugh] we got our free milk [...] as many pints of milk as we required for to keep our fam but no more, no more than that, just [...] much your family had they'd allow you a pint per [...] per person. [laugh]
(PS2A1) [289] Was it erm was it hard work in the in the creamery?
Laurie (PS2A0) [290] Oh no.
[291] No not in comparison to the jobs I'd already been in.
[292] Oh no this was much easier for me.
[293] Because [...] [laughing] at that time [] . [laugh]
(PS2A1) [294] And er after this did you move back to Edinburgh?
Laurie (PS2A0) [295] I moved back to Edinburgh too because er my er my family had taken a yearning for Edinburgh, they didn't like East Kilbride so I says [...] left.
[296] And also it's true today, you go where your family wants to go and that was, this was er they had a yearning for that and they were not settling down so
(PS2A1) [297] What did you do when you when you moved back to Edinburgh?
Laurie (PS2A0) [298] Well I went into a timber yard er known as er, what was the timber yard again now?
Unknown speaker (GYUPSUNK)
Laurie (PS2A0) [299] .
[300] And they [...] .
[301] Where as I said [...] er working with timber.
(PS2A1) [302] Was that erm like sawmill or something?
Laurie (PS2A0) [303] Sawmills, sawmills and [...] .
[304] Cabinet makers [...]
(PS2A1) [305] Was that a dangerous job?
Laurie (PS2A0) [306] Well it could be dangerous, if you didn't watch what you were doing.
[307] Like every other, other job you've got to er gain experience as you go along, you've got to experience.
[308] And you've always got to, you've always g advice and on how to handle it before you, you put [...] actually handling them.
(PS2A1) [309] Were there erm any accidents or anything? [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [310] Er but if there was any accidents through negligence, if there were accidents, it was negligence er and the people by themselves.
[311] Which is er worker often, often [...] often most of our accidents is caused by negligence.
(PS2A1) [312] So what were the conditions in the er in the mill like?
Laurie (PS2A0) [313] Very good, very good conditions.
[314] Very good conditions indeed, aye.
(PS2A1) [315] Was there a union there as well?
Laurie (PS2A0) [316] Er there w wasn't a union then.
(PS2A1) [317] Mm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [318] I believe there is so now, but there wasn't then.
[319] So it, it didn't really matter to me.
[320] I've always still held my card.
[321] Although I still held my card of the Transport and General Workers.
(PS2A1) [322] Mhm.
[323] So you continue to be a member of the Transport and General [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [324] Oh aye, yes, oh [...] .
[325] Oh yes.
[326] God I [...] you could never tell if you're, you're going to be there long enough in job, if the, the boss didn't like you then he would just say well you're, you're paid off and that's it, so that's sort of benefit of keeping your union membership up you could go to anywhere where there was a trade union, a union membership and get a job. [laugh]
(PS2A1) [327] So er the, was being unemployed at that time quite precarious?
[328] If there was [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [329] It was, it was.
[330] At that time, yes.
[331] It was er at that time because of the, they were very few and far between.
[332] Employment was very few and far between.
[333] Because there wasn't the same amount of work, [...] this is just after the war I'm talking about, and there wasn't so many [...] going then.
[334] There were only starting making themselves then.
[335] Er
(PS2A1) [336] So were erm were jobs quite hard to come by in those days, after the war?
Laurie (PS2A0) [337] Well er well it all depended on the individual themselves.
[338] If there's a miner who's [...] in getting work.
[339] Although you had to be very careful in er in d knowing what to go after.
[340] Depending on the rate of wages.
[341] [laugh] Depending on the rate of wages.
[342] So you're actually, if you're going for a job, you want er for the highest place where you get the highest wages, which was a [laughing] [...] for any working, you're going to [...] []
(PS2A1) [343] What did you do after you left the erm after you left the timber mill?
Laurie (PS2A0) [344] After the timber mill, er [...] .
[345] Now can I remember about after the timber mill?
[346] Let's see now.
[347] My mind's a blank [...] I've been in that many different jobs now.
(PS2A1) [348] I thought you said you were in a, a warehouse after that wasn't [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [349] Oh that's right.
[350] You [...] I was in a warehouse at [...] served thirteen year there.
[351] And I was working in a large warehouse, a three floor warehouse, a grocers, [...] grocers.
[352] [cough] I served there for thirteen year, became a chargehand eventually and eventually the f the firm folded up.
(PS2A1) [353] What were they
Laurie (PS2A0) [354] Very old established firm, it was established in er eighteen fifty six.
[355] So it was a, a, a firm of about a hundred years standing at that time.
[356] But the both brothers who owned it er Charles er John and Tom were becoming very very aged and were not capable of carrying on the job.
[357] And they approached the son who wasn't interested so they just folded up.
(PS2A1) [359] What were the conditions like where you worked in the warehouse?
Laurie (PS2A0) [360] Ah well we, we actually made our own condition and this is one time, I'm telling you again, where my union membership came in very handy.
[361] I actually made it a [laughing] union firm [] . [laugh]
(PS2A1) [362] [laugh] So you unionized the whole firm then?
Laurie (PS2A0) [363] Organ organized it.
[364] Organized the people inside it.
[365] And I explained to them [...] what benefits they were getting.
(PS2A1) [366] Mm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [367] Although the employer was pretty reasonable to us he p always payed us sixpence above the rate.
[368] Above the normal rate.
(PS2A1) [369] What was the erm the employer's attitude to you unionizing and organizing and
Laurie (PS2A0) [370] Oh oh he didn't say, he says oh just a, it'll not worry me he says, whether you er start one or not he says.
[371] I pay my men sixpence over the, the rate.
[372] So I says well thank you very much, but still for mu l people benefit themselves.
(PS2A1) [373] Mm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [374] They're better being in a union, he says I agree with you, quite agree with you.
[375] The union fights for [...] he says, and the union's a [...] but I'm one of these employers who paying them, my men a plus rate, so I'm paying men sixpence plus over the normal rate so there was no difficulty there.
(PS2A1) [376] Mhm.
[377] So he obviously wouldn't have thought the union would have been much of a threat to him seeing as he [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [378] No, no it didn't [...] because he was prepared to pay over er above the rate [...] .
[379] The union already fought for that rate and they got it.
[380] But he was paying them sixpence above the rate so there was no problem to him.
(PS2A1) [381] Did you notice much differences in the work once you got promoted to a chargehand?
Laurie (PS2A0) [382] Well er there was [...] I didn't do so much of the normal grafting naturally, but I was always, if there was a new man came on the job they would always [...] learns.
[383] And I was to show him what to do and I made sure that all [...] .
[384] On the first day I made sur I stayed with that man all day.
[385] As I said I stayed with that man all day.
[386] Although I wouldn't t in interfere with [...] show him how to do the job and [...] er I would make sure he understood the job.
[387] If he asked me such and such I'd say now this is how you do it.
[388] If he said to me, after I'd shown him, that he understood it, I would say alright, show me how you do it.
[389] And then that way the man learnt.
(PS2A1) [390] Mm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [391] The man himself learnt.
[392] And usually the man telling me he understood if eventually when he starts the job, he hasn't understood at all, he's just saying so, but I wanted to prove to the man himself that he could do it and prove to myself that he could do it.
[393] So I was in a safe [...] and so was the man.
[394] But
(PS2A1) [395] So you were given the responsibility then to train people up?
Laurie (PS2A0) [396] [...] given the first in this [...] .
[397] Now then that were left on the [...]
(PS2A1) [398] Did erm do you still keep up your union er membership right away when you were
Laurie (PS2A0) [399] Oh yes, oh yes.
[400] Aye, yes [...] .
[401] In fact I were shop steward in the, in the building trade, I was a shop steward in the building trade.
(PS2A1) [402] Mm what did you go on to do after that?
[403] After the business folded?
[404] Was there anything like erm redundancy money or anything like that payed at that time when the place
Laurie (PS2A0) [405] Er
(PS2A1) [406] folded?
[407] And can you remember what year it was?
Laurie (PS2A0) [408] Oh it's about
(PS2A1) [409] Just roughly.
Laurie (PS2A0) [410] fifty, fifty seven I think.
[411] It was somewhere thereabout.
(PS2A1) [412] Mhm.
[413] And they didn't have all this er legislation about redundancy money or anything then? [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [414] No no.
[415] [...] in its infancy then.
[416] And, and then er at that particular time you know and er then unemployment you, I [...] you had to see each firm was issued with the and the firms had to agree that you had to sign a contract of employment so that er if you were leaving or he was paying you off, you had to be given two weeks' notice either way before they pay you off.
[417] And that was the contract of employment.
(PS2A1) [418] Mhm.
[419] Yeah.
[420] What did you go on to do after the business folded?
Laurie (PS2A0) [421] Ah well I was, I was a y [...] on er thing we had back in the building trade.
[422] Back in the building trade once again which I had experience before so I had no problem [...] .
[423] And the reason in the first place I did leave the building trade was my hands was breaking out with in industrial disease, see?
[424] Dermatitis and I felt I couldn't go near cement and all of that.
[425] But then I, eventually I tried the building trade again and I joined a firm called er [...] forget, or something like that and I was working up in George Street in, in, in Edinburgh.
[426] You always go [...] building, we gutted right from ground floor, left the existing walls in.
[427] And then inside building we completely demolished inside, just sort of left the retaining walls and built it up from fourteen feet below the ground to five storeys, high, [...] itself.
[428] And we had to go down through fourteen feet of solid rock.
(PS2A1) [429] So this was obviously quite a difficult job?
Laurie (PS2A0) [430] Aye it was a difficult job but as I say to have an experience mines
(PS2A1) [431] Mhm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [432] and er building trade work, both of these things had left me with the qualifications for be abl be able to do it.
(PS2A1) [433] Did you notice much difference in the sort of er erm the techniques or the machinery or whatever that was being used between [...] ?
Laurie (PS2A0) [434] Ooh vast va er er in the building trade?
[435] Oh yes, yes.
[436] For instance you see all these big [...] they'd actually built up from the ground up, they'd no taking now just the odd [...] .
[437] They built up from a working [...] [cough]
(PS2A1) [438] Was there still the erm the, the thing you talked about with the guaranteed work at that time?
Laurie (PS2A0) [439] Yes.
[440] Oh aye aye.
[441] Yes
(PS2A1) [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [442] but er the essential work contract then that I had spoken about in the first place [...] the building trade, that was a government order.
[443] Essential, essential work which was operated during the war years and er what [...] year a couple, several years after that.
[444] That was an essential b eventually that was taken away, but the building trade still believed if a building firm wanted men, they had to have at least a thirty two hour guarantee, which is at present still in operation.
[445] A thirty t they had to guarantee an employee thirty two hour guarantee, [...]
(PS2A1) [446] Was that to get rid of the sort of ee erm the way them building firms used to take people on every day? [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [447] [...] exac [...] stop this casual labour business you see?
[448] Whe whereas the building trade would say oh I'll take you, you're a friend of mine, I'll take you you're a friend of [...] I can take you, you're a friend [...] .
[449] It was [...] It was [...] a great lot down in Leith here, and I've often seen it down in Leith docks.
[450] When I've been down there trying to get casual work, you know in Leith docks?
[451] And he just down, they're all in a big crowd [...] .
[452] And a chap come out the offices and say right, you you you [...] .
[453] So in actual fact it was always a favour cos I got the jobs.
[454] So to stop all that, this is with the b building trade, they had to guarantee them.
(PS2A1) [455] So presumably that was quite a popular piece of er legislation?
Laurie (PS2A0) [456] Legislation, oh definitely.
(PS2A1) [457] Mhm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [458] I've had s still operating now to present day, I don't know.
(PS2A1) [459] Mm.
[460] What did you do erm after that? [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [461] Well as a [...] reach up up [...] .
[462] In fact that's what I left from, I left from the job at job street in George street with the building trade.
[463] That's when I [...] .
[464] And I [...] work after that.
[465] But the site [...] prepared to let me work, to carry on then as s they ma and I wouldn't claim my pension until I'd finished.
[466] And behind that, their reasoning for that is, for every year that I worked over my retir retireable age, there's a [...] that is added to my pension.
[467] [laughing] He says I [...] haven't got you working long [...] longer I worked the bigger the pension I have when I go out [] . [laugh]
(PS2A1) [468] So were you allowed to work er after your retireable age?
Laurie (PS2A0) [469] Not, not at that particu [...] when they got to hear about it.
(PS2A1) [470] Mm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [471] Of course they, they had questions of [...] and he says oh well I've sat with him, the man's prepared [...] working at Lambert, but no you can't allow the man to work after he's sixty and that was it.
[472] So that was me on.
[473] [laugh] [laughing] But the OAPs []
(PS2A1) [474] Were you involved in any erm political parties or anything er [...] ?
Laurie (PS2A0) [475] No no not necessary though, though I have done quite a wee bit just now er in support of my Labour Party, you know?
[476] Done quite a wee bit and I've been there at a few of their, quite a few of their meetings and erm a good friend of quite a few of the councils.
[477] And Lothian [...] District Council.
[478] Quite a good friend of them you know and I'm a close contact with them.
(PS2A1) [479] Is it just been recently that you've started to get involved [...] ?
Laurie (PS2A0) [480] Within the last ten years, I've been ten years activ actively concerned with the old aged pensioners' association and er the Labour movement.
(PS2A1) [481] Mhm.
[482] D do y do you think there's a great difference between the Labour Party now and the Labour Party when you were working [...] ?
(PS2A1) [483] Ah well, more or less the same.
[484] They're more or less as a, I don't think there's a great lot of difference onl I d I, they're not pushing, they haven't the same, the, I would like to say, I would say they haven't the same interest in their union, they've not the same interests in the union as they had in the earlier days when there was a union.
(PS2A1) [485] Mm.
[486] Did your involvement in the trade unions when you were young got [...] lead to your, any involvement in the Labour Party or anything like that?
Laurie (PS2A0) [487] Oh no, not necessarily through the union, no no.
[488] I've just had so solely an interest to defend myself.
[489] Ah but I believed if I'm going to discuss or argue about anything as regarding that I had to be interested in it.
[490] And to be interested you've got to attend your branch meetings and know what's going on.
[491] Whether it be a union branch meeting or any other branch meeting you had to be there and you had to know what you're talking about.
[492] [laughing] Don't just go into these meetings and sat there [] like a dumbbell.
[493] You liked it, if you've been active at all you'd want to know what's going on.
[494] And the only way you can do that is b attending your branch meetings.
[495] I mean there's no, no use a man being employed and he's got a shop steward ... if he don't [...] and depend on the shop steward coming down to tell him what happens in the meeting.
[496] My reply to these people, if they asked me what happened at the branch meeting I say, do you want to know what happened in the branch meeting?
[497] Yes, I said well attend them.
[498] [laugh] So that was er that was my answer [...]
(PS2A1) [499] When you were er in the unions and you were a shop steward, did you find that you got a lot of people working in branch meetings?
Laurie (PS2A0) [500] Well it wasn't too bad, it were not too bad from the, the firm that I oper I worked from.
[501] The firm that I worked from weren't too bad.
[502] But as I say as paying the er r [...] I, I've seen them when I'm going round the site er I got an option from the firm, I'd be allowed time off my work, my actual work on the, on the, on the site, to go round and collect their unions dues.
[503] I'd got an option from the firm and they were very good that way.
[504] [...] And I've seen them, whenever they see me come along, going away and trying to hide.
[505] But I say there's been a [...] [laugh]
(PS2A1) [506] You mentioned the erm the National Association of
Laurie (PS2A0) [507] Scottish Old Age Pensioners' Associations
(PS2A1) [508] Scottish Old Age Pensioners' Association.
[509] What do they erm, that, what does that association do?
Laurie (PS2A0) [510] Oh well wait a [...] I'm just going to read [...] first to you.
[511] [...] [reading] the name of the association shall be the Scottish Old Age Pensioners' Association.
[512] The, the association shall be non party and non sectarian [] , you understand my meaning by that?
[513] [reading] That we advocate the immediate implementation of the Scottish Old People's Chapter, to strive to maintain and improve the standard of living of pensioners by ensuring that the pension will rise according to the cost of living or er or livings or earnings,which er whichever is the most advantageous [] .
[514] And number, and two, [reading] to press for the provision of suitable houses for old people at rents they can afford.
[515] And social services as may be required to ensure the welfare of the aged, as set out in our declaration of intent.
[516] In cooper in cooperation with bodies on all questions affecting the welfare of pensioners [] .
[517] That's er br [...]
(PS2A1) [518] Is it er was it a very large organization?
Laurie (PS2A0) [519] Well we er it's a, it's a national organization in fact, it's, it's all over the country, all over er Scotland.
[520] From as far up as er In er Inverness down to the er borders.
[521] Er [...] branches [...] approximately thirty one branches in Edinburgh which I myself er er attend to.
[522] As far as the financial side of things goes.
[523] And er a g a good er and er, can be er the mi the name itself, the Scottish Old Age Pensions Association is not to be mistaken from er, sometimes it's misread as the Scottish Old Age Pensioners' Association.
[524] Now if you use that, that g gives the people the wrong impression that you must be a pensioner before you can join it, but this is not so.
[525] It's, it's known as the Scottish Old Age Pensions Association.
[526] Not the Scottish Old Age Pensioners' Association.
[527] You can join this association any time after the age of eighteen.
(PS2A1) [528] Do you have a lot of er younger members?
Laurie (PS2A0) [529] That's what we er we want, that's what we require, because don't forget old people er, in fact our present national treasurer, a Mrs Mary , is now serving as the national treasurer and has done for the last thirty five years.
[530] Still national treasurer and she's o well over eighty, she's still the national treasurer.
[531] Board of conference, every year for two, two days conference, and we go to different parts of the country, Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Stirling, you name it, we have conference in.
[532] It changes every year so we go to these conference and we fight on our declaration of intent, on pensions, pensions reviews, that's er reviewing a pension what we're trying to get [...] for the government of the day to review the pensions every six months instead of at the present every year.
[533] [...] are as an instance do that, the present government er last year, in fact since it some over, it was the seventy nine, er nineteen seventy nine.
[534] We were getting paid our pensions on the first week of Nove November.
[535] Now if anyone like to look at the present day and er pension book, they'll discover that since then, for the last three years, they've done the people of this country out of one week's pension every year.
[536] They've now, this government has actually made a, a fifty three year or a fifty four week year. [laugh]
(PS2A1) [537] Is it a very er lobby, [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [538] Ooh yes yes yes.
[539] We're, I am up at least, anything from ten to twelve times a year up at Lothian regional council or the district council in deputations concerning, anything concerning the Old Age Pensions Associations.
[540] And [...] has been imposed on old people of er Edinburgh and er [...] .
[541] So the, they're, the old people have been [...] been done o out of a lot of money.
[542] This year in itself, the single person has been done out of two pound ninety pence and er after [...] the er older ones that's four pound odd.
[543] This year alone.
[544] So if you total it up, [...] ... [tape change] Be er again and first of all [...] council [...] being a, being a council, and they succeeded very well.
[545] And [...] at the Leith, South Leith very very well and they just er [...] district council.
(PS2A1) [546] Was there a lot of that sort of feeling around, that sort of protestant action [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [547] No no this one man this one, one man in the whole of Edinburgh district council was [...] protestant tax.
[548] What er caused them to put that for the [...] er group forward I could not tell you, but that's what he stood for, this protestant action.
[549] He was neither Liberal, Labour, Conservative, none of them, he was just, he [...] [laugh]
(PS2A1) [550] Mm.
[551] What had been a er election representative until [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [552] Er er an election agent, [...] election agent when you're er a er d doing the work of an election agent, you've got to be responsible for all the data going out concerning the running of the election.
[553] Making sure that your candidate attends every meeting, for er s you know during er an election campaign they've got to attend all the meetings.
[554] Well the election agent was the man responsible for getting that data through to the, the candidate to say that you're speaking at a meeting, such and such a night, and another meeting at such and such [...] so keeping the, keeps that candidate on his toes, all the time, during an election campaign until election's over and then of course er you know what [laughing] transpires after that I su [] it's either [...] [laugh]
(PS2A1) [555] [laugh] Was you involved in the Labour Party for a long time before erm before you were the election agent?
Laurie (PS2A0) [556] No.
[557] No no no no.
[558] No n never.
[559] Of course I had this spell er er don't forget I was five years as a prisoner of war, and [...] a lot of interest because I was a union member pra b previous to that you see?
(PS2A1) [560] Was this what erm led you to join the Labour Party?
[561] Your initials at a trade union [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [562] Yeah yes, that was er actually yes er
(PS2A1) [563] Mhm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [564] I wanted to see how it o o operated politically.
[565] I'd heard a lot about er af er I've been in the Transport and General Workers' Union as a shop steward and so forth like that.
[566] That this was interesting me.
[567] I want to know, find out the workings of it, politically.
(PS2A1) [568] What did erm how did you find the Labour Party at that time compares with the Labour Party now?
Laurie (PS2A0) [569] Oh much better.
[570] W er united.
[571] It's not united at the present day, there are far too many lefts and rights and centres.
[572] If there's e if there any [...] party's operating at all, there's only one p one thing and that's centre.
[573] No lefts, no rights, centre.
[574] United.
[575] And the same in most of our organizations in this country at the present day, and that's what's wrong.
[576] It's holding them back.
[577] When you've got a left, a right and a centre, you've got three different parties within a party. [laugh]
(PS2A1) [578] So the Labour Party got united then at that time?
Laurie (PS2A0) [579] Oh definitely, very well united, yes.
[580] Then.
[581] But don't forget that was just after the war and er the Labour were beginning to build up, getting things better, run better country than they were [...] previous p people.
(PS2A1) [582] Did the Labour Party gain a lot of support after the war?
Laurie (PS2A0) [583] Oh yes, aye they did oh.
[584] Oh aye proved it, they got in.
[585] E eventually they got into parliament.
(PS2A1) [586] Erm now did your er Labour Party membership lapse after, after that time?
Laurie (PS2A0) [587] Er yes it did lapse.
[588] Because I had seen my young brother-in-law and I says I'm gonna be like that then, didn't fe er feel any of this er at that time.
[589] Me, [...] as the district council.
[590] I couldn't see myself doing it so as I said I wasn't going to make a fool of myself by putting my name as being nominated forward er as a candidate etcetera [...] lose interest [...] that's the first thing that happened because they knew I was an outspoken bloke.
[591] I knew [...] spoke too much [...] next nominee, next candidate for [...] .
[592] [laugh] And I felt it wasn't up to them, I didn't have enough experience I wanted to gain some more experience but it just fell away, lapse.
(PS2A1) [593] And erm you're, you're not a member of the Labour Party again?
Laurie (PS2A0) [594] No I'm not a member of the Labour Party yet.
(PS2A1) [595] Oh.
Laurie (PS2A0) [596] You see the pre the present system we've got [...] Scottish Old Age Pensioners is non sectarian, non political.
[597] You understand? [laugh]
(PS2A1) [598] Is this er does that actually debar from belonging to er [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [599] Oh I could have er er well it doesn't debar me but I feel it, it would it wouldn't be right, for me being a Labour Party member sitting on a, a non-segregated and non-political gr er ah association,
(PS2A1) [600] Mhm.
Laurie (PS2A0) [...]
(PS2A1) [601] Now er you, you mentioned your, your pensions association.
[602] Now you're area treasurer, aren't you, for the
Laurie (PS2A0) [603] Area treasurer, er Edinburgh area [...]
(PS2A1) [604] Can you tell me a bit about the organization and what its aims [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [605] Well the aims [...] I'll just read this [...] and this says, this gives you most [...] .
[606] This [...] [reading] the name of the association shall be the Scottish Old Age Pensions Association.
[607] The association will be non party and non sectarian.
[608] One.
[609] That we advocate the immediate implementation of the Scottish Old People's Chapter to strive to maintain and improve the standard of living of pensioners by ensuring that the pension will rise according to the cost of living or earnings, whichever is er is the most ad advantageous.
[610] Two.
[611] To press for the provision of suitable houses for old people at rents they can afford.
[612] And social services as may be required to ensure the welfare of the aged as set out in the declaration of intent.
[613] To this end we employ all constitutional means in cooperation with similar bodies on all questions affecting the welfare of pensioners [] .
[614] That's, that's our aim.
[615] Aim and object of it.
[616] Where the,le let's say association was first formed on the thirteenth of February nineteen seven, nineteen thirty seven, so you can see by that date [...] fifty years an established national organization for the whole of Scotland.
[617] What does the er the organization do?
[618] The organiz er organization doing is er fighting in every place where we think that there are o old aged pensioners being in er imposed upon in any way.
[619] Whether it be welfare, gas bills, housing, you name it and we're in there fighting to, to keep them above the water, their heads above the water.
(PS2A1) [620] You go on about erm some of the experience you've had, some of the [...] you've met.
Laurie (PS2A0) [621] Well I [...] er er er I've occasionally [...] thing that was about last ye er year or the year before a as being a member of one of the, one of the lunch clubs.
[622] Er and er the Lothian region took over the lunch clubs when they took over er this two tier government in Scotland, you know?
[623] They took over the lunch clubs.
[624] And immediately they started raising the prices of the lunch clubs.
[625] Well we were up there one time er at the Lothian region and we [...] to be up and tell that this was imposing higher things on, higher prices on both the bus buses, because they were raising the bus fares at the same time, and they were increasing the lunch club.
[626] Now the, the pensions when they raised at the same time, because we only [...] pension raised every year, and we're up there at that particular time at the Lothian region, a full council meeting.
[627] And er we had told them that the q the quality of the food was reasonable.
[628] But the quantity the quantity of the food being issued in lunch clubs was very very u even disgraceful.
[629] I er er I [...] serve our people with quantity of food that's supposed to be meant to be a dinner for an old [...] old age person.
[630] And er they listened very carefully to us, in fact council of Kivanagh actually brought up a sample of the dinner they issued to old people and I, I did notice as soon as they put this sample on the table the opposition [...] the c Conservatives and they still are, their heads bowed.
[631] They refused to look at it.
[632] And I would have thought that that was a disgraceful thing to do in a public, in the council [...] to a, a sample being brought up [...] and they were afraid to look at it.
[633] Their heads were actually downcast, they themselves were ashamed of it and yet they would not commit themselves to vote for it. [...] [laugh]
(PS2A1) [634] Will you tell me a little about the erm the campaigns you've [...] the erm the free erm travel on the buses [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [635] Oh well the, the campaigns er I'm, I'm o I'm only speaking actually about the, down here in Leith [...] I started my campaign for er the er let's see, [...] campaign for er introd reintroduction of free travel for the elderly.
[636] The campaign was supposed to start with,a away back in the beginning of September.
[637] Well I by good luck have had some copies of the petition sent down to me, so I started it, it immediately and I had in the first [...] they made over one thousand one hundred and twenty five signatures.
[638] In the first day.
[639] And I had er had given myself a target of five thousand for Leith so I turned up the next [...] and made my five thousand in fact I made five thousand and fifty signatures for the h and I believe myself if, if every branch were doing the same as I had been doing then we would have no problem at all in getting a hundred thousand signatures which is our aim.
[640] And they said so at the er at the district council, went up to district and I asked for the support of the district council and er [...] probably John immediately said, you have the full support of the district council for it he says and I'll ensure that you get support with the result I also received four posters direct from the Edinburgh District Council with [...] John photograph on it and with the caption st stating every old age pensioner should be signing here.
[641] So that in itself was a great boost for me and it er it helped a lot.
[642] I also got support from er Labour [...] Labour Party in Leith who sent down two volunteers to help me.
(PS2A1) [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [643] So it's made a lot, a big difference too.
[644] I also had support from Lance house and from er Leith community centre.
[645] So I wasn't, I wasn't doing it all on my own, you understand my meaning?
[646] I weren't doing it all [...] although I sort of organized it.
[647] And when I took, I had to report back to area control I was immediate I got immediate applause.
[648] But I just said I don't want any applause for this at all, I feel that every pensioner, every pensioner should sign it whether they belong to the association or not.
[649] Whether they have a senior citizens' club [...] with the association.
[650] If they want the free bus passes they've got to [...] something done about themselves and [...] .
[651] One of my [...] in fact was I can remember, I went up when I was first er [...] paying for [...] paying for an annual ticket with their bus passes and eight pound for a single ticket for us er for our quarterly ticket.
[652] I was up there three days campaigning, objecting to this that I'm being charged [...] and believe me for those three days I stood right in Queen Street, just outside the offices there, and at no, any time during, at any particular time of day, you could have come along to me, and there were still one thousand five hundred people standing there, rain, hail, sleet or blow.
[653] For their tickets, and I said at the area council if they had turned up like they turned up to pay them thirty pound and eight pound, if they'd turned up at the same time with a petition form what a difference it would [...]
(PS2A1) [654] What kind of erm reaction do you get from the different political parties to your campaign?
Laurie (PS2A0) [655] Oh well, well er most of us are b even, even the Tories themselves know, they know that we're fighting for the old people, but do they [...] we get the same old reply from them, where is the money coming?
[656] That's the s o o reply, and that is all cos because of the central go government [...] support grant who are naturally [...] younger.
[657] They're responsible for the, for the present [...] that they keep, they keep sending us this and that minister, [...] and that.
[658] But they're, they're the gov they're going to end up in the government.
[659] They're going to govern the country, they cut the money off from [cough] they cut the [...] support grant from the, the [...] from the district council, and still are, still are, and there's going to be even bigger cuts the next year.
[660] Going to be even bigger cuts the ne and it's en there no used to [...] Lothian Regional Council Hall and district council.
[661] If the Lothian Regional C Council can't get their money from a from, a central government, where are they going to get it from?
(PS2A1) [662] So erm do you get a lot of support from the Labour Party for your campaign?
Laurie (PS2A0) [663] Oh every time, without fear [...] wherever you are er [...] Labour's Scottish Commons gives full support to the Scottish Old Age Pensions Association's pensions policy.
[664] That's from our own, we also have the Trades Union Congress [...] with the same.
[665] And that's when I say we have a, a campaign which is going to, it's a demonstration and er and rally in the end of March, of next year.
[666] When we will be marching off probably from Regents Street, proceeding along Queens er Princes Street [...] .
[667] And then we've got us a [...] we're going to the [...] cinema.
[668] And that's a, and that's them all over the country, not only Edinburgh, all over the country, in north south east and west and you name it.
[669] And we have branches, but we could have a lot more because the amount of branches we have, although we have a lot of branches of Scottish Old Age Pensions [...] we are not [...] old age pensioners are not united, they're not united, the only way they can be united, if it's a national organization, join your national organization and fight the government.
[670] You can't do so locally, if you're all working separately.
[671] You've got to unite and get in the one [...] gives us strength to fight them. [laugh]
(PS2A1) [672] Is er how large is your organization?
[673] Nationally.
Laurie (PS2A0) [674] [...] Well I er th well I couldn't, I'm not in a position to give the, the total [...] because the national, the national treasurer would be able to [...] you see?
[675] And as I said, Mrs Mary she's the national treasurer and has been for over thirty years.
[676] That woman's now approaching eighty three, eighty four years of age and she's still national treasurer, so it gives you a sort of sample of the, the kind of people they have at the top, who are really [...] their heart and soul in it.
[677] [...] pensioner themselves who would sit down and think, now take for instance assuming that I wouldn't be a member of that just so surely a, a senior citizens' club.
[678] Now you go into a seniors [...] citizens' club, you enter your name and you get registered in the register, you get your cup of tea and then you get social activity.
[679] I remember thinking si sit down and say and where do we get this money pay for this tea, and this money pay for the registration.
[680] Where do you get it from?
[681] A voice says it's solely from my pension, [...] quite able and get enough to give to join the association at less than a penny a week.
(PS2A1) [682] Do you find you get a lot of erm resonance from old age pensioners when you ask them to join.
[683] Are a lot of them er quite prepared to fight to get their erm
Laurie (PS2A0) [684] Oh the the members
(PS2A1) [...]
Laurie (PS2A0) [685] the members who are members of the branches are prepared to fight, but it's not them I'm er I'm [...] the other people who are er they're gaining from our fight, they're gaining from our fight.
[686] [...] where we've tried, we've tried to keep a reasonable pension for them.
[687] But they're not fighting because they've nobody no, national officials to fight for them.
[688] We, we have the only national organization to f er that goes on to fight for [...] goes, goes to parliament and fights for them. [laugh]
(PS2A1) [689] Have you had any erm any sort of successes in your campaigns that you've run?
Laurie (PS2A0) [690] Oh yes oh [...] well er er [...] is just across in fact is across the border.
[691] Everyone got free passes over there.
(PS2A1) [692] Has that just been in re-instituted lately?
Laurie (PS2A0) [693] Yeah, oh aye.
[694] By just [...] .
[695] It's only within the last couple of year, and then oh no you cannae do a certain of the er it was actually our vice president at the [...] started the campaign over in Fife, and they won through.
[696] And there again the [...] supported the, both the region and their district council.
[697] And here we have the [...] calling under er an administration you know who they are and they're hanging their heads every time you speak, you speak to them.
[698] They're ashamed of themselves but they're afraid to admit it.
[699] They're afraid of, ashamed of themselves and they do [...] to the old people.
[700] And they're afraid to admit it.
[701] They've all got somet an, an evasion or a counter argument with you.
[702] And it's general [...] to fail.
[703] I've bought, I've, I've, as I say, when I pay my [...] have you got a mother and father?
[704] [...] . And they ne er never [...] never answers it direct, never answers it direct.
[705] What's that got to do with it?
[706] Never comes out with anything like that just, [...] [laughing] [...] got another one [] , [...] answer you.
(PS2A1) [707] Can you tell me about the er incident that happened when you went to meet erm Brian at the council offices?
Laurie (PS2A0) [708] Oh yes, at that particular time, I will tell you that once again er, that was er I was supposed to go for an interview and this was er for the er declaration of intent of,wh which was er supposed to er supposed to be given every year to both the Lothian Regional Council and the District [...] .
[709] And this is happened all over the country, each area are doing the same thing and all of this [...] this er produce this declaration of intent and ask the, the head of the [...] er council to put it to their members and get the support of their members.
[710] Now the r the reason for us doing that is that if they do accept it, they are duty bound as a council to write to Prime Minister, Prime Minister, direct, saying they support the declaration of intent.
[711] Cos every, cos really the [...] should go direct to her, and it as [...] she's [...] taken notice of you yet.
[712] All, all it does it comes round and er er Regional Council, say no we support [...] she's got to think, [...] .
[713] Well that's the idea of, anyway we're going back to Brian and er accepted that he would accept the d the deputation, [...] showing there was three of us, there was the m the president of the area council, myself and the secretary.
[714] Well we er [...] duly arrived down at quarter to ten as [...] twenty six of September this year.
[715] And we went up there and we had just [...] we'd, we took the labour rooms and er of course we had got a cup of tea with them you know?
[716] And in comes Councillor the leader of the Labour group, you see?
[717] Well lads, he says, I'm sorry you'll have to wait another hour.
[718] Course naturally we, we asked why?
[719] What was the matter?
[720] He says er I've just had a phone call from Brian , he can't meet you until eleven o'clock.
[721] An an [...] of course and naturally I says well why, why is he getting [...] ?
[722] Is he in the building?
[723] No, he says, his car's broken down.
[724] I says what a bloody excuse, I says and his car broke down, shh bloody corporation buses here, why doesn't he use a corporation bus to get in?
[725] Why doesn't he ph ring for his bloody chauffeur?
[726] Or his k [laughing] [...] [] .
[727] Why doesn't he get that?
[728] No.
[729] No he says er that, that's er that's all I can tell you er that's, he wouldn't [...] until eleven o'clock, [...] come.
[730] And er immediately he went there was, somewhere around about eleven o'clock he [...] .
[731] Right, [...] that deputation of er old age pensioners.
[732] So we immediately walk through and [...] he's all, all [...] .
[733] Very pleased to meet you, no no [...] .
[734] Now he says er, what is this now, and of course immediately the president says, well you know happens er Mr , can we [...] says you've read it before, you see?
[735] And so the [...] our declaration of intent, you've read of before, you know what we're up here.
[736] And of course er once he read it and er put it down and scribbled in his notes.
[737] Agrees with so and so and agrees with this and agrees with that.
[738] First of all, [...] Mr can I ask you a question?
[739] I says how come you [...] deputation, you gave us a time of which to be here, now we said, we turned up a quarter hour beforehand and I says we get a phone call er a an intermission from Councillor that you couldn't make it because that your car broke down.
[740] He says that's right.
[741] Er [...] , that's alright, let's behave ourselves, I says what about us, we've been here since quarter to ten waiting for you to come.
[742] You [...] .
[743] You're not the one who's got to [...] .
[744] I says what was wrong with you not on a corporation t er a corporation bus?
[745] And he didn't know where to look.
[746] But eventually he, he, he [...] again when [...] time we started and then he moved on to it, back on to declaration of intent, and they pulled him up and took [...] .
[747] He didn't agree with er h no, he read a part of one of the d declaration of in one of resolutions, that a substantial concessionary fare would be alright.
[748] And that's what you're getting here so as far as I'm concerned [...] .
[749] I says you're picking holes, you're picking holes and I says I'll tell you what, that declaration of intent is last year's declaration of intent.
[750] I says a new declaration of intent has not yet been printed.
[751] I says but you'll find next year when we approach you with this declaration you'll find it's been changed to free passage and where will your argument be then?
[752] [laugh] [...] . Proper gent mi mind, don't get me wrong.
[753] Er he'll, he's a good fighter and a good, a good, a good [...] but there's certain points you can pick holes [...] .