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Document 26

Conversation 09: Two brothers on early memories

Author(s): N/A

Copyright holder(s): Prof John B Corbett, SCOTS Project

Audio transcription

M608 Okay, I mean you both hit your seventieth birthdays this year, er so you were born, what? Nineteen thirty-three?
M636 //Thirty-two.//
M635 //[?]Have you[/?].// Two.
M608 Thirty-two? Of course, this is now two thousand and two - I can't count. Erm, and you both born in Auchinleck, obviously, and you were twins in a family of, what, five?
M636 That's right.
M608 Hm and [?]dad[/?], [hm], I mean, what what is the earliest thing that you can remember? //[inaudible]//
M635 //Well, the earliest// thing I can remember, or one of the earliest things I can remember, is the fact that we flitted er to 15 Hillside Crescent on the day that war was declared in 1939.
M608 Oh right!
M635 Third of December. //And the day//
M608 //Oh right.//
M635 after, the train brought eh evacuees from Glasgow,
M608 uh-huh
M635 to live in Ayr during the, eh, to live //rather in Auchinleck,//
M636 //Auch- Auchinleck.//
M635 during the time of the war.
M608 mmhm
M635 And eh and so we had i- oh everybody had, some, in in their class, some evacuees,
M608 mmhm
M635 who in fact, on some occasions, remained in Auchinleck long after the war was finished.
M608 mmhm Yeah.
M635 So that's one of my early recollections.
M608 Aye but you'd be, what, eight at that time?
M635 No, //eh//
M636 //Thirty-nine.//
M635 in nineteen //thirty-//
M636 //Seven.//
M635 two to nineteen thirty-nine is seven, //[sniff].//
M608 //Yeah.//
M635 Seven at the time, so to to to some extent, ehm we we were, we lost a lot of our schooling, because eh all the male teachers were away to war.
M608 mmhm
M635 And eh, and retired female teachers were drafted in to take their place.
M608 Right.
M635 And eh, so we can blame Hitler for a lot of our
M608 [laugh]
M635 of our problems. But erm, because, eh I can remember having female teachers all through our schooling, //aged//
M608 //mmhm//
M635 up until, aged about twelve anyway. //And then the//
M608 //mmhm//
M635 teachers began to drift back from the war //once the war was//
M608 //mmhm//
M635 finished and they'd been erm eh demobbed,
M608 mm
M635 er, we we we started getting real teachers for the first //time.//
M608 //mm//
M635 But by that time we were at at at the Academy level.
M608 Okay. You went to primary school in Auchinleck?
M636 Right. Aye, but you you mentioned about the the earliest recollection.
M608 Aye.
M636 Eh, I can remember w-w- eh, the war was declared on the third of September and we flitted, and it was a cousin of my father's, eh, who had a dairy. 'Member?
M635 //mm//
M608 //oh right.//
M636 He had a dairy, and he had this mm eh, horse and cart.
M608 mmhm
M636 And it and it was he who did the flitting.
M608 uh-huh
M636 And I think it was, was was war declared on the Sunday and and we flitted on //the Monday?//
M635 //[inaudible]// on the Monday.
M636 On the Monday. And I can remember quite clearly, coming back from the school, the two of us, and we, instead of going to Hillside Crescent, we came back to 129 Dalsalloch.
M608 You went to the wrong house? //[laugh]//
M636 //Oh wait, remember that?//
M635 //[laugh]// //mm mm//
M608 //Is that because, is that cause you'd heard that war was declared?//
M636 //No, because we had forgotten we had//
M635 //[inaudible]//
M636 //flitted!//
M608 //[laugh]// //[laugh]//
M635 //[laugh]//
M636 //And eh,//
M608 //[laugh]//
M636 //but,//
M635 //That's true!//
M636 that that I can remember that and and neighbours reminding us that w- we were in a new house. And we'd to make wir way along the row.
M608 Was it far away?
M636 No.
M635 Not very.
M636 In in today's time, it probably about five or six minutes away.
M608 mmhm
M636 Eh but eh, aye, that's and and and is, ye- your dad mentions the fact that that the evacuees coming in to Auchinleck station, quite early on, from Glasgow, and
M608 uh-huh
M636 and eh other places, and being eh billeted, //for the [inaudible].//
M608 //Were the evacuees in your class?//
M636 There were, there there was quite a few. I can remember one girl, eh and I can remember her name - Betty Langden.
M635 //mm//
M608 //mm//
M636 'Member that? She was tall. And she she stayed with a family called the eh Breckenridge.
M635 mmhm
M636 And and eh, and she stayed on for quite a while, whether it was because of circumstances, I don't know, but eh, aye there were quite a few, eh
M608 mm //Were they treated any//
M636 //evacuees.//
M608 differently, I mean, in relation [inaudible]
M636 //[tut], no.//
M635 //[inaudible] I don't think so.// //No, I've no recollection, I mean we were young enough just to accept them//
M636 //[throat]//
M635 for what they were. //Er,//
M608 //mmhm//
M635 I mean //th- they//
M636 //mm//
M635 just integrated //and//
M608 //mm//
M636 //Aye.//
M635 //became part// and parcel //of the school classroom//
M636 //I was, aye,// //mm.//
M635 //[inaudible].//
M608 //Were you wi-, were you aware of them// speaking differently, did they have accent [inaudible]?
M636 No, I think they were actually, there were no toughies among them, //that I can recollect.//
M635 //Mm, no.//
M636 Eh, they just
M635 Aye.
M636 the- they made the class sizes bigger.
M608 mmhm //How big were the classes?//
M636 //ah eh// //They were big classes.//
M635 //There would probably// be between thirty and forty I would think, in those //days.//
M636 //Oh// easily, and i- and the the thing was that yo- it was all, I I never had a male teacher,
M635 mmhm
M636 till I went to A- the Academy: it was all female. And and when you move from one class to another, you usually move from say Miss A's class to Miss B's. //But//
M608 //mmhm//
M636 because of the war, sometimes Miss A moved on to the higher class, remember that? //So you had//
M635 //mm//
M636 Miss A for maybe one year, two year, even three years. And if you and Miss A were not the best of friends, which could happen, too bad!
M608 mm
M636 You know, y-y-y- you weren't actually the flavour of the month for three years. Eh, but eh and and some of them were retired teachers.
M608 mmhm
M636 Eh, or teachers that had left the profession and had come back because of the war years. That's what I can remember about //Auchinleck.//
M608 //Aye.// Were there any other twins, or were you?
M636 //[tut] We were the only twins.//
M635 //Morag.// Aye. //Morag [?]Letchenby[/?].//
M636 //And// and it was a bit of an embarrassment, because eh, [exhale] how d- how how how can you put this?
M608 Were you in the same class?
M636 We were in the same class. You were called Billy, weren't you?
M635 Hmm well.
M636 And I was called Nelson, and I hated it, because it seemed to be such a kind of queer name.
M608 mmhm Why are you called Nelson?
M636 Nelson? Well, I'll tell you why I'm called Nelson. I'll try and make it as brief. My mother had an uncle, from about Liverpool area. //And his name was.//
M635 //[inaudible] Newcastle area?//
M636 Newcastle area, was it? And he was he was called Gavin Nelson.
M608 Okay.
M636 And my mother as a young woman used to go there - they had no family.
M608 mmhm
M636 And eh she always enjoyed, when she was there, and because they had no family she always thought in the back of her mind, if she had a wee boy she would eh give him a name that would remember her uncle, Gavin Nelson.
M608 mmhm
M636 Course, when we arrived as twins, eh //and in tho-//
M608 //They were going spare?//
M636 in those days, I mean you didn't know you were having twins till they arrived. //Eh, eh there was no//
M635 //[laugh]. Half an hour.//
M636 there were no eh [tut] //[cough]//
M608 //[inaudible]// the tests?
M636 tests on- in any sense and and there was no eh scanning, eh eh away back in 1932, and when I arrived eh half an hour earlier than yer dad, they thought that was it, finished, and then he arrived. And //eh//
M635 //The// doctor I think put a torch on and and said "Oh Annie, there's somebody else, an- there's another biddie", //[inaudible] [laugh]//
M636 //That's so- something like that.// //Aye, and eh,//
M635 //[inaudible] [?]Auntie Peg[/?].//
M608 //[laugh] [laugh]//
M636 And we were born in, we were born in the house at at 129 Dalsalloch Row.
M608 uh-huh
M636 And eh in that, at that time, eh there was my my mu-, my my mother of course, naturally, my dad and my granny Young, my mother's mother.
M608 She was staying?
M636 She was staying with us. //And th- there was//
M635 //[inaudible]// //There was my sister, Anne.//
M636 //Eh yeah, there was my sister, Anne.// //Your Aunt Anne, your Uncle Bert,//
M608 //[?]Yeah.[/?] uh-huh//
M636 and John.
M608 uh-huh
M636 He had been born in 1926.
M608 mm
M636 And that was all in, in what? Two rooms and a a kitchen?
M635 Yes, that's //right.//
M636 //You know?//
M635 mmhm
M636 My gran, my granny had come to stay with us I think when she was about //seventy.//
M635 //[?]I still[/?]// remember Hillside Crescent, it was the back room. Every every room had a fire.
M608 mmhm
M636 //Aye.//
M635 //[inaudible]// coal fire, cause, because we were in a mining area. And eh, but it was the four boys, sleeping in that room, eh during the //[inaudible]//
M636 //[sniff]//
M635 ah the early days there, //until//
M608 //mmhm//
M635 until they were old enough to be called up for the, for the, to the army. And eh and then they went off to war, and and we were, it was just, we had one roo-, we'd a bed each, //after//
M636 //mmhm [sniff]//
M635 that, er, which was much more civilised.
M608 mmhm
M635 But ehm, eh, I can recollect, another recollection is of, I think it was my brother, John, who was eh, be- he was he was called up for the army.
M608 mmhm
M635 And J- Bert was already away. //We used to call him Bert at home.//
M636 //[sniff] [exhale]//
M635 Er, other people call him Bob. But eh, the the night that he was going south for the first time, there was the train-load leaving Glasgow, [cough], and coming down through Auchinleck eh station, //and//
M608 //mmhm//
M635 carrying on down to London. And, [cough] and I can recollect that my, I think my parents went down to the station, [cough] [?]emotiveness[/?], and waved to to this train that was thundering through.
M608 Oh right.
M635 And ehm [cough] they didn't know wh-, oh pardon me, whether they'd ever see him again.
M608 oh right.
M635 And eh [cough]
M636 [cough]
M635 course they did, but [inaudible] one of my memories. Yeah. You'd be quite young at that time. mmhm
M636 Eh, well, //eh well, naw, eh John John John John was called up,//
M635 //[inaudible]// fourteen, something like that.
M636 A- eh he was he was he was a grocer,
M608 mmhm
M636 in in in in the local Cooperative.
M608 Who was?
M636 My brother John. Your Uncle John.
M608 Was he?
M636 Aye, and he was, he got his licence, his driving licence, when he was sixteen.
M608 uh-huh
M636 Because of the number of young men that had been called up.
M608 Right.
M636 And and eh some of the older men, who were drivers, were only eh horse and cart drivers.
M608 mmhm
M636 You know, they still had the horses. And eh he got his, this special dispensation, at sixteen, and he was driving a van.
M635 Aye.
M636 'Member that? //And eh//
M635 //Usually// potatoes, he he he drove away int- into the country.
M636 That's right, he'd a //country run.//
M635 //[inaudible] farmers// and we sometimes got, we got going with him.
M608 mmhm
M636 And of course, eh, eh th- eh this dispensation lasted till he was eighteen. //So,//
M608 //Right.//
M636 so when he was eighteen, he we-, he was called up. 'Member that? And that that's when he he, and he joined the Royal Scots Fusiliers.
M608 mmhm
M636 Eh, and then, he he landed in eh, eh he landed in India, just about near the end of the war. And and eh, his brother Bert and he met in in eh Delhi.
M635 In Delhi.
M636 Eh, you know, they'd arranged to meet, and they met, and eh, th- that eh, and I think, my brother Bert who had been in eh, stationed in Kuala Lumpur,
M608 mmhm
M636 eh at that time, guarding Japanese prisoners, who were the officer class,
M608 mm
M636 cause I remember he got a a sword.
M635 A kukri.
M636 Eh, ah but that was because he was attached to the three-six Gurka Rifles.
M635 //uh-huh//
M608 //mmhm//
M636 But the the sword that he actually managed to persuade a Japanese officer to part with it, now whether it was a gentle persuasion or whether it was because th- the chap was a prisoner and he he was able to put some pressure on him, I don't know, but he had that sword, that Japanese sword, and eh I suppose his his widow still has it. But eh, th- they met there, and also I think he was down, because I'll tell you who was being installed; eh it was before eh Mountbatten was the last viceroy of India,
M608 mmhm
M636 before eh India became independent. And it was a chap called Lord [?]Vavell[/?], Wavell, wasn't it?
M635 mmhm
M636 And th- they had had a sort of big end-of-ehwar banquet,
M608 mmhm
M636 at this, the viceroy lodge. And that's when he came, and and John met him in Delhi.
M635 mmhm
M636 Eh //just for a, just for a brief//
M635 //[inaudible]// think they both met [inaudible] Mountbatten, yeah.
M636 Mountbatten wisnae there then. //Mount-//
M635 //He was there at// some stage //though, they met him//
M636 //Aye.//
M635 at some stage; I can't remember exactly how.
M636 Mountbatten didn't; Mo- Mountbatten would be, would follow Lord Wavell.
M608 mm
M636 Eh, but eh whether they met Mountbatten or not I don- I don't remember.
M635 Oh maybe ma- Mount- met him before he //became//
M636 //Aye.//
M635 eh vice-
M636 Cause he was supreme commander in Burma, wasn't he?
M635 And English [?]Hindu[/?] [inaudible].
M636 [sniff]
M608 Du- during the war obviously, my my grandfather Corbett would be working in the mines and //[inaudible]//
M636 //Full-time, seven days a week.//
M635 //Oh aye.//
M608 Aye. But there was no question that
M636 Spewin the coal out.
M608 boys would go into the, down the pits?
M636 Well, when your Uncle Bert, when your Uncle Bert left school, eh he wanted to be a surveyor, a mining surveyor. And he left school when he was sixteen,
M608 mmhm
M636 and took up an apprenticeship at the local s- eh coal-mining survey. The f- the firm that it was then - it was before the national coal board - Baird and Dalmellington was a private company.
M608 mmhm
M636 Eh, but he never liked it.
M608 mm
M636 He didn't want to be a a surveyor down the mines. And he was eh, able to get back to the school.
M635 Back to school! //[inaudible] went to University.//
M636 //Took his Highers, and eh did did very well, went to University, and well, the rest's history.//
M635 But eh,
M608 None of the rest of you, er?
M636 No. John was a grocer in a store and was as happy as Larry, //and I//
M608 //[laugh]//
M636 I hated the school, from the beginning to the end, so there was no way I was gonna be, that, I would say, and your dad may agree or disagree, that the cleverest one in our family was my sister.
M635 [tut] possibly.
M636 But, because she was the e- eldest, she had to leave school when she was fourteen. And eh she was, she stood in a a local draper's, MacMillan's the draper's?
M608 mmhm
M636 As an assistant in there. //And.//
M635 //Until// she was old enough to go oot and //go to nursing.//
M636 //To go to nursing.//
M635 She always wanted //to be a nurse.//
M636 //To be a nurse.//
M608 mm
M636 But sh-, in today's world, she would have been a a a university graduate.
M635 Yeah. //[inaudible]//
M636 //Oh undoubtedly.// Aye, [sniff] And she always regretted that, but then that was the circumstances, eh, [cough] money was short, John. Money was short in
M608 Aye.
M636 in those days, and I mean there was, is, there was one, there was one wage keeping eh my granny and the rest of the family.
M608 mmhm
M636 And eh, it it it was it was necessary, in fact, and my mother used to say quite often, she never really felt it easy till John started working in the in the grocer's.
M635 //mm//
M608 //mm//
M636 Is that right?
M608 [?]Children[/?]
M636 Plus the fact, when you were in a van, eh it was, ah rationing period.
M608 mmhm
M636 And eh certain, alphabet was drawn up, that A to C would get cakes a certain day,
M608 mmhm
M636 D to so-and-so would get cakes a certain day, but the Corbetts got cakes every //day,//
M608 //[laugh]// //[laugh]//
M636 //because [laugh]//
M635 //[laugh]//
M636 because eh you know eh, the van was there.
M608 Aye.
M636 And eh it was what you might call a wee a wee eh
M635 A wee erm, //E-e- extra perk. Aye.//
M636 //Perk! A a wee a wee perk during the the the grim years.// But eh,
M635 We also used to cycle for half a dozen eggs.
M636 Aye. [laugh]
M635 Used to cycle to a farm about, oh, how many miles?
M636 Oh about two to three miles away.
M635 Three miles there and back. At eh Duncan's farm, for half a dozen eggs.
M608 mm
M635 Did that once a week, yeah.
M636 Every Friday. Hail, rain or shine.
M608 mmhm
M636 eh
M635 One of us.
M636 But we- well we'd go for eggs, fresh eggs.
M608 Aye.
M636 Cause, I mean it was the dried and powdered eggs you were gettin durin the war. And eh I would get I would get eh sour milk, because my mother baked,
M635 //mm//
M608 //mmhm//
M636 quite a bit. And eh I would have the eggs in one bit of the bike, and
M608 mmhm
M636 and the sour milk over the handlebars. I never, I can never recollect whether it was half-full or half-empty when I got //back, but it was,//
M608 //[laugh]//
M636 it was eh it was a lonely road, too.
M635 //Oh aye!//
M608 //mm//
M636 Mind you were away in the country.
M608 mmhm
M636 And and in the wintertime, you come back from the school, it was dark. And my father had eh gone back, he had eh I had his bike for cycling to work. But i- it was the the lights on the bike were by, lit by carbide.
M608 mmhm
M636 And eh he would light yer, and they were //terrific lights.//
M635 //[inaudible]// carbide lamps.
M636 And he would get these carbide lights ready for you, and he would put it onto your bracket at the front, and your tail-light at the back. And you really i-, you thought you were the king, and he could, that right?
M635 And it- aye, there was very very little traffic.
M636 Oh aye. [sniff]
M608 mm
M636 Different ball-, I mean you had r- you had, there were room for the bikes on the roads then.
M635 Oh aye.
M636 But eh, that's eh,
M608 And what did you do for leisure, I mean, did you play football and stuff like //that?//
M636 //Played// football. I'd a paper-run.
M608 mmhm
M636 Yer dad was never keen on paper-runs.
M635 I w- [laugh] //[laugh]//
M636 //Eh//
M635 I had one for a shop //[inaudible] but,//
M636 //Aye.// //That was to the to the eh aye, eh.//
M635 //[inaudible] I opted out of paper-runs [inaudible] me.//
M636 Eh, a- yer Uncle John had a paper-run. //And//
M635 //Aye.//
M636 I inherited it, when he was older, when he started to get fed up.

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Information about Document 26

Conversation 09: Two brothers on early memories

Audio

Audio audience

Adults (18+)
For gender Males
Audience size 3-5

Audio awareness & spontaneity

Speaker awareness Aware
Degree of spontaneity Spontaneous

Audio footage information

Year of recording 2002
Recording person id 608
Size (min) 18
Size (mb) 71

Audio setting

Private/personal
Recording venue Private house
Geographic location of speech Ayr

Audio relationship between recorder/interviewer and speakers

Family members or other close relationship
Speakers knew each other Yes

Audio speaker relationships

Family members or other close relationship

Audio transcription information

Transcriber id 718
Year of transcription 2004
Year material recorded 2002
Word count 3071

Audio type

Conversation

Participant

Participant details

Participant id 608
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1950
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation University Professor
Place of birth Ayr
Region of birth S Ayr
Birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Bridge of Weir
Region of residence Renfrew
Residence CSD dialect area Renfr
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Insurance Broker
Father's place of birth Auchinleck
Father's region of birth S Ayr
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Dental Receptionist
Mother's place of birth Ayr
Mother's region of birth S Ayr
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Mother's country of birth Scotland

Languages

Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes In most everyday situations
Portuguese Yes No No Yes When trying to communicate with my in-laws
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes In domestic/activist circles; reading literature

Participant

Participant details

Participant id 635
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1930
Educational attainment GCSEs/O-Grades
Age left school 15
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Insurance Broker, now Retired
Place of birth Auchinleck
Region of birth S Ayr
Birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Ayr
Region of residence S Ayr
Residence CSD dialect area Ayr
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Winding engineman, colliery
Father's place of birth Skares, by Cumnock
Father's region of birth S Ayr
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Housewife
Mother's place of birth Skares, by Cumnock
Mother's region of birth S Ayr
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Mother's country of birth Scotland

Participant

Participant details

Participant id 636
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1930
Educational attainment None
Age left school 15
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Local Government Officer, now Retired
Place of birth Auchinleck
Region of birth S Ayr
Birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Cumnock
Region of residence S Ayr
Residence CSD dialect area Ayr
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Winding Engineman, colliery
Father's place of birth Skares, by Cumnock
Father's region of birth S Ayr
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Housewife
Mother's place of birth Skares, by Cumnock
Mother's region of birth S Ayr
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Mother's country of birth Scotland

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