ONE MAN’S STORY

A guest post from Walter Hamilton. PART ONE This is what Walter sent me originally. I then went back asking for more info on Walter and Part two outlines that part of his story. Now I put my poor education down to the bad design of new school buildings in late 1950. You may notContinue reading "ONE MAN’S STORY"

ONE MAN’S STORY

A guest post from Walter Hamilton. PART ONE This is what Walter sent me originally. I then went back asking for more info on Walter and Part two outlines that part of his story.

Now I put my poor education down to the bad design of new school buildings in late 1950. You may not believe it, but those silly architects designed my classroom with floor to ceiling and wall to wall windows, I spent much of my time there staring out of those vast windows and paid little attention to the teachers. Suffice to say I did not make it into high school and left at 15 years of age with a leaving certificate. I can not remember what was written on the certificate but nothing singing my praises as an academic, of that I am sure. 

It was 1980 before I next saw the inside of a classroom. I was in my 50s and Maggie Thatcher had decimated the Scottish industrial base, coal mines closed, steelworks closed and all the accompanying industries that were servicing such industries, the opening up of the oil industry was still a way off.

With the dole queues stretching around the blocks of every Job Shop – sadly the only jobs to be had there was for the extra staff taken on to cope with the growing numbers of unemployed. 

When you are 50 years old,
And looking for some work,
No one wants to know your name, 
No one gives you a start.  

The only thing on offer at the Job Shop was the opportunity to return part-time to college. So I took up their offer. The old fears I remembered from my early school days returned to haunt me, you see although I was not stupid it seemed I had never really learned how to learn and had drifted through my school years, leaving me with only a very basic education.

After a year in college, NS in Secretarial Studies, I enrolled in an HND course in Communications and Media Study. I think the only reason they allowed me to finish any of these courses was, bums on seats, I was still learning how to learn, and have been playing catch up ever since. I may not have been a great academic but Fife College did teach me how to learn. 

To keep my supply of beans and toast topped up and a roof over my head, I worked two evenings a week, as a telephone canvasser for a local double glazing company. During the long summer recess, I applied for a job as a self-employed salesman with the Combined Insurance Company of America. I was very enthusiastic during the interview, however, omitted to tell them that I would be packing it in as soon as the new term started at college.  
Something amazing happened – I was a natural salesman, it was so natural to me that I only had to work a couple of days a week – make my seven sales, (that was kind of expected) and back to the library and my studies. (Maybes I should have stuck with the Combined Insurance Company of America) ho-hum. 

So back to the beginning of my story, selling, whatever the product has rules, and some come naturally to you and some have to be learned. We have a very important election ahead of us and if we are to make a difference, and win our freedom, we need to train the people that will be going out door to door selling “A Better Scotland” otherwise they are just wearing out shoe leather and hoping for, what salesmen terms “A kick In” the person wants the product before you even introduce yourself. 

So all you branches of ALBA, you have your manager to manage their budget, your organizer to give the troops their marching orders (what doors they should be knocking on) but do you a training instructor in salesmanship? For only by selling will you be energised to sell more, one begets the other. To be a good salesman/woman you have to be motivated to chap the next door otherwise despondency will set in and that filters through to the potential customer and you walk away from the door empty-handed and head hanging low.

PART TWO

Potted history 

Born – East Wemyss, 1943 so a war baby

Dad left the sea having spent the First World War in the RN then half a lifetime in the MN. It was in early 1950 (I think mum said enough is enough, if you go on another trip don’t come back) for dad joined a new crop of miners from all over the UK and the world, for the war years had seen a big influx or migrants welcomed into Scotland. A new pit had been sunk at Corrie in West Fife, anyone taking up a position there would be given one of the new council houses, that were being built in Oakley to cater for the influx of workers, we were one of the first families to move into, what for mum would be her own permanent home – number 48 Wardlaw Way, (the numbers have been changed since the demolished the prefabs, and the street was re-numbered) was where I grow up. I loved Oakley and my carefree youth. My father had a motorcycle and he and I would travel far and wide, to place, with exotic names, like Kingskettle, Dundee, Aberdeen and of course my aunts in Granton near Edinburgh, each trip was a great adventure for a 7-year-old boy, a boy with a big imagination.  

Travelling on the ferry from Burntisland or over the Queensferry Passage was a real joy. In later life, I mentioned, to an older sibling sister, the excitement I felt travelling on dad’s motorcycle and how fortunate I was to have spent so much quality time with my father. 

“Quality time” she laughs, “mum would not let him out of the house without you along; he would have signed on the first boat that would take him.”  

I have always had itchy feet, and at 17 I joined the RAF, serving in Germany, Cyprus, and detachments all over Scotland and Northern Ireland. When in Germany, I spent every spare minute travelling in my old Ford estate van, with my camping gear and bike; I cycled extensively at that time in Holland, France and Germany. In Cyprus I learned to sail Mirror dinghies, Sailing has always been my second passion, and I re-fitted out an old folk boat and sailed out of Grimsby, with the Grimsby Sailing Club for several years, up as far as Scarborough down as far as Great Yarmouth.

On my retirement I had intended to sail over to France and buy a plot of land by a canal in the south of the country, live on my boat and use the land as an allotment, selling the vegetables to the passing boats, sadly it never happened, life got in my way. 

Leaving the RAF I found work in a quarry, when they found out I could weld I was promoted to the black gang, Maintenance, and over time became a maintenance man. Work was plentiful and the wages were good, so I was able to indulge my passion for sailing and motorcycling. 

As my pension grow closer I, by default, became my mother’s carer, it was a double-edged sword, I was happy to do it and spent a lot of good time with my mother, but it was very tying so I rented an allotment, someplace to escape to and unwind. When mum went into rest care on a Wednesday, my blind friend and I would disappear into the Yorkshire Dales, on our tandem tricycle. Cycling the Dales was an unforgettable experience and someplace it is easy for me to grow homesick over.

Mum lived well into her 99th year and on her death, I returned to Scotland – the carer now required my care. 

I live in City Park in St Andrews, which is great for me, shops on my doorstep and a bus station next door, my free chauffeur-driven transport, with a regular service to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, and from there to Aberdeen and all the way to Inverness, the bus will carry me and my folding bike. I still cycle most days, and now know the roads of East Neuk and North East Fife like the back of my hand. This past two years, coronavirus, has curtailed a lot of visiting National Trust and Scottish Heritage properties. And killed off my plans to cycle the Danube from the Black Forest to Vienna – returning via Salzburg and Zurich, sadly that is a fast-fading dream, as coronavirus has stubbornly held fast and my 80th birthday fast approaching, I am simply running out of time.  

Life is much the same for man and chimpanzees – a one-way ticket and no guarantee.   

MY COMMENT

Walter has led an interesting and eventful life. At nearing 80 years of age his support for Independence remains undimmed. He offers good advice training canvassers on how to approach the electorate and putting across a friendly, enthusiastic message is important. We have a positive message that offers vision and ambition. It is our duty to promote that message as skilfully as we can.

I am, as always

YOURS FOR SCOTLAND.

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