SCOTS
CMSW

Document 350

Interview 04: Dundee woman on her first job

Author(s): N/A

Copyright holder(s): Mrs Cerwyss O'Hare, SCOTS Project

Audio transcription

F631 So, what about your first job, mum? Tell me about //that.//
F634 //First// job. Okay, eh, well I left school at fifteen, with a very unimpressive leaving certificate. So, the ehm [tut] the field of commerce and industry wasn't really jumpin up and down to get me. erm, so, I started work in a shipping office. My first job was in a shipping office. And my job entailed making cups of tea for the shipping clerks, [inhale] and, answering the phone, [inhale] and generally just doing the kind of odd jobs around the office. I was taken on as a junior clerkess, but I can't really remember getting too much clerkess work to do. But, ehm, I quite enjoyed it, but my main job, and the most important job eh, of the whole place, seemed to be me cleaning out and lighting the fires in the various offices. [inhale] There was three offices; there was the big main office and ehm, where everybody really congregated; the shipping clerks and the administrative staff. There was the office for Mr. eh Kinness, who was the [tut] owner of the company and his son, Barry, who would take over the company. And they were a very, very nice pair, these people, very nice people. And the third office was the office for the secretary. She had an office of her own. And each of them, believe it or not, had a fire-place, with a fire in it. [tut][inhale] And each of these fires, every day, had to be cleaned out, re-set and lit for the people coming in. So I had to be in my work at half-past eight. And eh, I would then start to clean out the fire, because at night we would just let the fire burn out. Wasn't allowed to keep it on over night, because of, well they wanted to save the fuel. [inhale] ehm, so, I would let the fire burn out, and, in the morning, I would clean out the three fires, set them and light them. But, and that was okay. But one of the big- the biggest problems was that we were two flights up, [inhale] ehm, in this very, very old-fashioned tenement, down at the docks, [inhale] eh with huge stairs, huge banisters. It was a really big, kind of a big bulky sort of place; that is the only way I could describe it. [inhale] And the coal was kept in the cellar, which was in the basement, and the basement had no lights. [inhale] And, you know, the, it didn't catch any of the daylight. So, I had to really go down there in the dark of the morning. It didn't matter when you went down, it was still dark, eh down in the basement, and fill the coal-scuttles; there was a coal-scuttle for each office. [inhale] And, it was not sensible, but what I used to do was fill the scoal-cuttle, coal coal-scuttle [laugh] scoal-cuttle! Coal-scuttle.
F631 [laugh]
F634 And I'd fill this up, and then I would bump it, virtually, with my knee from step to step to step, because I couldn't actually lift it. It never ever occurred to me to only half-fill the scuttle, and it would be so much easier, no no. The coal-scuttle was filled to overflowing, because my idea was it would save me coming back down again durin that day. [inhale] ehm, and I would do that, and, of course, s- the coal scuttles were very heavy. So, one day Mr Kinness, the o-o- we used to call him old Mr Kinness, as opposed to young Mr Kinness. Old Mr Kinness was comin up the stairs this morning and he said erm eh, he could hear the bump, bump, bump, you know, the the thud of the the scuttle being bumped up, and he said to me "Audrey, what on earth are you doing?" And I said, "Well, [click], I'm bringing up the coal for the fires." And he said, "Why?" And I said, "Well, you know, the fires run on coal." [laugh] He said, "No, no, why are you bringing up the coal?" And I said, "Well, that's part of my job, to bring up the coal." And he said, "Nonsense. What a lot of nonsense!" He said, "We have four eh big, strong shipping clerks that work here, and one of them could be delegated each day to bring up the coal. You will no longer be bringing up the coal." [inhale] And I was so happy really. They weren't! The the shipping clerks //weren't happy. [inhale]//
F631 //[laugh]//
F634 And another, well that that that was the end of me bringin up the coal. [inhale] But one of the big problems I had was I could never get the fires to light. I wasn't good at lighting fires, because, at home, erm Olive, you know, would always light the fire; I was never allowed to light the fire, bein the younger one. [inhale] erm, so I had the most awful job, and then my mum bought me, the p- big saviour of all time was a packet of fire lighters. She bought me a packet of fire lighters. And I would stick a couple on the the sticks - I think the ski- sticks were sometimes damp for lighting the fire - put them in, light it and 'Woomf!' away it would go. Because the shipping clerks were down on the docks early in the morning, sometimes at seven o'clock. for the ships coming in to take, you know, the, there was a thing called a 'bill of laden'. [inhale] And the shipping clerks used to take a note of what was coming in off the ships. So they were down in the cold mornings, down on, standin on the docks. And the one thing that, all they asked was that the kettle was on, the cups were out, the coffee was there, the sugar was there, the milk was there, a few rich-tea biscuits, but the most important thing of all was the big blazing fire. [laugh] [inhale] And, to be more than honest, they very, very seldom had a big blazing fire when they came in, because [laugh] I could never get the fire to light [laugh], but, practice makes perfect, and about six months down the road, they got the blazing fire. And, certainly, after they were bringing up their coal, they had a blazing fire on. So, that was, eh that was my first erm, my first job. I stayed there till I was //s-s-s-//
F631 //How old were you?//
F634 I was fifteen when I went there. I stayed there till I was oh sixteen, sixteen and a half. [inhale] And then I I I began to get a wee bit ambitious. I thought, I thought, "I mean really, I I could be doing more than lightin fires and makin cups of tea." And eh [tut] I saw an advert in the Courier office, the newspaper office, for a junior typist. Now that was a wee step up from a junior clerkess, because you would get to do some typing. So I went for the interview, and I was quite shocked to get the job really, erm, because I wasn't a great typist, you know, I hadn't had a lot of experience, erm, just really school experience, but I had short-hand, and in these days short-hand was used all the time. They didn't use dictaphones, anything like that. [inhale] If you had short-hand, you could you could get a job fair- fairly easily. So, I started to work in the Courier, and I worked in a department called the 'editorial typists'. And that was where, eh, there was thirteen of us, unlucky for some, but there was thirteen of us in the pool, [inhale] and we all worked for the editors, the various editors of the children's and adult magazines. erm the children's comics; I worked for the editor of the "Bunty" and the editor of the "Beano". [inhale] And eh, we would just type up all the, all the script that went into the, into the comics, before it went up for printing up the stairs. erm, came in from the authors who wrote it, then we typed it up, and eh then it was taken onto another process. erm, and I stayed in the Courier office for, well, till I left to have Gillian, so that would have been when I was twenty-one, twenty-two. erm
F631 mmhm
F634 And that was really the end of my working career. [laugh] [laugh] //[laugh] It was short. It was sweet. [laugh]//
F631 //[laugh]//
F634 And it was eh definitely interesting. //[laugh]//
F631 //[laugh]//
F634 And it was varied. erm And it was it was mostly, it was mostly, good fun. erm, and that was re- apart from all the sort of wee side jobs //I did,//
F631 //mmhm//
F634 that was my main, my main employment when I was, when I left the school.
F631 mmhm
F634 I always remember too that erm, I went to work in, my first job, I went to work, in the beginning, with socks. I wasn't allowed to have stockings, until I got a wage. So my first week, I went to the, to the office in socks, which caused quite a bit of //laughter among//
F631 //[laugh]//
F634 the shipping clerks. erm, and it was it was hard, because everybody else, of course, wore stockings.
F631 mmhm
F634 But my mum said, "No, once you're earning a wage, you'll get a pair of stockings." So when I took in my, I think my first wage was something like two pounds and elevenpence, erm, and when I took in, no, two pounds, eleven shillings. erm, and when I took in my first pay-packet, I was allowed to go to the draper shop and buy a pair of stockings. But, of course, to buy a pair of stockings, you had to also buy a suspender belt.
F631 mmhm
F634 So, it wasn't just the stockings, you needed the belt to keep them up.
F631 mmhm
F634 erm, so that was another wee bit of expense, but anyway, that was that, and I was only allowed one pair of stockings a week. So, if you laddered your stockings, [laugh] //[laugh]//
F631 //[laugh]//
F634 you were either back to the socks, or you were eh, you just wore laddered stockings. So I never ever went back to the socks. I was always in laddered stockings //till the next week.//
F631 //[laugh] [inaudible]//
F634 And held my breath till the next Frid- Friday, until we got another pair of stockings.
F631 mmhm
F634 So it's a hundred light-years away from
F631 mmhm
F634 [inhale] from eh, I think some of the first experiences of employment that some people have, //but,//
F631 //mmhm//
F634 but that was my experience. It never did me any harm, and it em, it taught me a lot about, there's a, there was a lady there called Stella, who, she was the sort of senior clerkess. And eh, Stella, I think from day one, did not like me. I think the girl before me had been there for years and years and years, and she'd she'd left to go onto another job, and they were quite comfortable with the staff, you know, they knew everybody, everybody knew everybody else. And when I went in I just f-, there was a thi- this girl particularly, this Stella erm you know, she she didn't, like, make life easy for me, at all. And eh, you know, she would, she would be angry about the fires and, you know, if if you didn't have the kettle on. And I used to sit beside the switchboard - it was a very old-fashioned switchboard, and my desk was just beside the switchboard. And, I was scared of it, you know, every time it clicked [inhale] you know, I was terrified, and she'd say to me, "For God's sake, answer the phone!" And I, and I'd say, "Well," you know, she'd say, "Look, if there's a if there's a lever comes down, and the lever says number one, press the button that says number one and pick up the phone." So, you know, I would think "okay, that that seems okay, //that's okay," you know? [laugh]//
F631 //mm//
F634 [inhale], and I can remember once doin it, and it wasn't number one, but it was say number three, so I just pressed the button of number three erm and said erm, you know, "Good morning, Robert Kinness and Sons, can I help you?" you know, thinking "as if I could help anybody. I don't know what to do." But I said, "Good morning, Robert Kinness and Sons, can I help you?" And this voice said, "Good morning Audrey, this is Mr. Kinness here." [laugh] //[laugh] He was just in the office next door.//
F631 //[laugh]// //[laugh]//
F634 //[laugh]// So she didn't, she hadn't told me about the internal phone.
F631 mmhm
F634 She's told me about the outside phone. And things like that, you know, so she she didn't make it easy, but on the other hand, I think it was a great learning experience. //I think,//
F631 //mmhm//
F634 you know, it kind of prepared me in some way for the big bad world of of industry, if you like. //eh//
F631 //mmhm//
F634 eh where you could come across people that that weren't entirely helpful, or ehm didn't entirely like you, you know, you weren't going to fit into every single situation. And eh, it was an early, a tender age to learn these things, but I think it was [throat] a good learning curve.
F631 mmhm Can you talk about em, when you lost your memory? When you had //[inaudible]//
F634 //[tut] [inhale]// Yes, //yeah, that was, yeah,//
F631 //[inaudible]//
F634 that was a eh a wee bit scary. I think it was more scary for people round about.
F631 mm
F634 erm, because I had taken ill. erm, and just just thought I was a bit tired. And erm, made an appointment for the doctor, eh, went to the doctor. And, from there on in, I've no memory. Now what I'm gonna tell you is is what I've been told, because from the point of going to the doctor, I'd evidently gone into the doctor, got into the the consulting room, was asked a few questions and collapsed on the floor. Just like a faint, you know, just I'd I'd I'd I'd to all intents and purposes, fainted. [inhale] So he got me up and got me over onto the bench and eh pulled in the receptionist, cause there were no nurses worked in practices in these days. Now this would be, I was born in nineteen forty-four, and I think I was probably twenty-four by that time.
F631 mmhm
F634 So that was in nineteen sixty-eight. So there's no nurses in practices. Anyway the receptionist came in, and he definitely said to her, "Did Mrs Ower come with anybody? Is there anybody in the waiting room?" And she said "No". And he says, "Well, look outside and see if there's a a car or, you know, somebody with her." [inhale] So she looked outside and she says, "Well, there's a little van sitting there", but, she says, I mean, "I don't know." He says, "Well, run out and ask if if they came up with Mrs Ower." And eh, so he says, "You know, just a long shot, but just to see if s-sh-, you know, because she, this woman is quite unwell and it's unlikely that she's come here by herself." So the woman went out and papa was sitting in the in the van, cause he had taken me up. eh, "Did you bring Mrs Ower?" "Yes." "oh well, you know, erm c-c- cause she's not very well, I wonder if you would come in and speak to the doctor." So papa got a bit of a fright, of course, cause he was just sitting waiting for me to come out. So he went in, and the doctor said, you know, "Now Mrs Ower's quite unwell. We're not quite sure what's going on, but I've I've taken some blood, we'll have it tested, if you take her home, erm she'll have to be, you know, put into bed, and er I'll come in in the evening, once I've got the the lab results." So I was taken back home; Gran was there, lookin after Gillian. I was in my bed and eh the doctor came in at night, and he said that the the lab tests were not showing anything, but I was making no improvement. I'd, I, evidently, had no idea, really, where I was, or or what was going on round about me, so they put me into King's Cross, which is ehm in these days was the ehm infectious diseases place. You know, if you've picked up something, say you've been abroad, whatever, you went in there if you had something that they couldn't figure out what it was. [inhale] So I was put in there and I was given all manner of tests in there for a few days, and they decided that it was nothing, sort of, as infectious as such, but something was going on eh neur-neur-, can I say this word, neurologically. Neurologically, there was something going on, so they put me over to to the neurosurgery ward in erm [tut] eh the Royal Infirmary, and there I stayed for several weeks. ehm and I was given some s-s- some tests that were evidently not very pleasant, but the nicest thing is I I cannot [laugh] remember them, but some of the tests were evidently quite unpleasant, and they discovered after a, certainly a number of days, that I had a thing called enviral cephalitis, encephalitis, which is inflammation of the the brain. And the part that the the inflammation had affected was my memory. [inhale] And, I'd a bad enough memory to begin with, to tell you the truth, so that, [laugh] that was really, that was really bad news. [inhale] And so, however, the er the only way to treat this was with with strong antibiotics, ehm, but when I, I can remember, I think, and, you see, it's difficult for me to remember, to to me to know what I remember and what I've been told, [inhale] but I think eh I can remember coming round in the ward, you know, being for the first time quite compos mentis, cause I was sedated a lot. [inhale] erm and there was this little girl in the bed next to me, and she had a kind of, sort of, cage-lookin thing on her head. She'd obviously been in a road accident I would think. [inhale] And she had some sort of metal-work around her head, and I can remember her saying, "Mrs Ower's awake now, nurse." And she'd maybe been asked to to let them know when I wakened up. So, within no time, the the two neurosurgeons were at the desk; a Mr Block and a Mr Jamieson, were both at the bed. And the f- the funny thing was, they were treating me like a little girl. They were sayin things like, "And what's your name?" And "Where do you live?" And and then it, the conversation got on, "and how old are you?" And ehm, "You have a little girl, don't you? And what's her name?" Now some of the questions I couldn't answer at all, but what they noticed was there was something wrong with my speech. My speech was very slurred. And very hesitant, you know, almost, yeah just just hesitant and very slurred. So that had to be put right. ehm, I was, within the next day or two I was got out of the bed, I was taken out of the bed eh for walking and ehm my my balance was was not good as well. So it turned out I was to have speech therapy and physiotherapy eh to put these two things right. So, I had that done over a series of of, I think it, I don't know quite how long I was in the hospital, but, in all, I was probably in about a month; between going into King's Cross and then, and so, between the physiotherapy, the speech therapy, strong antibiotics, I was erm I was allowed home, after about a month. But I had all manner of restrictions put on me. I wasn't allowed to drive. I wasn't ehm, I wasn't allowed to to look after Gillian on my own, because I think what was happening in the hospital, was I was having fits. I was taking fits. So they weren't quite sure if the fits would would happen again. So, therefore, you know, I wasn't, it wasn't a good idea to be just in charge of Gillian by myself. So, I stayed at gran's for a couple of weeks and then I started to get really quite well erm and, of course, wanted home. And that was when I started to go on the homeopathic medication. erm because papa wasn't happy about the strong drugs I was takin. I was havin to take these strong drugs. and I went on the homeopathic medication. And when I went back to s- for my outpatient appointment at ehm the hospital, saw one [burp] excuse me, one of the surgeons, Mr. Jamieson. He was amazed. He was totally amazed [cough] that I had made such a good recovery, because evidently this encephalitis can, it A, it can i- it's not likely to end your life, but it can e- end your active life, you know, it could it could interfere with your quality of life. ehm and it didn't interfere with my quality of life after a while, but that was havin got the strong drugs out of my system, only to replace them with homeopathic medication. And now, I I didn't own up to the fact that I was erm not taking the drugs. Cause they just said, "Are you still taking your medication?" And I just said, "Yes." "Well, you're doing remarkably well," says the and I reme-, this is one thing I do remember. [inhale] eh the room was full of students, you know, obviously medical students, when when he was interviewing me. and he said to one, to the d- to the students, "Anybody got any questions to ask Mrs Ower?" And this young student said to me ehm, "Do you manage to read Mrs Ower?" And I said ehm, "Yes." He said, "What do you read?" And I said, "Well, I read the papers." And he said, "Do you?" And I said "Aye". He says, "Tell me what's in the papers just now? What's happening, you know, what's, sort of, in the headlines just now?" And I said ehm, "Martin Luther King's been assassinated." So that kind of puts a a date on it, doesn't it?
F631 mmhm
F634 And he he just looked at me and he said, "hmm". So I think they were testing //me,//
F631 //mm//
F634 you see, to see if I, in fact, did read the papers.
F631 mmhm
F634 And I did, because I was so sad about that, you know, that was a tragedy,
F631 mmhm
F634 ehm a a complete tragedy. ehm, so I remember that. So I think that gave me a lot of brownie points. And I said to him, "could I get my t- do, get to drive now? Can I get my licence back?" Cause they they took my my licence, wasn't allowed to drive, and Mr Block, eh Mr Jamieson it was, and he said, "No, no." He said, "I think we'll give you another six months before we're comfortable with the driving." So I went back in six months and I I was almost fu- fully restored. I think I was fully restored to to, you know, normal health again, erm, and then I got my licence back and he said to me, "Well, there's nothing we can do Mrs Ower. We just need to discharge you." He said, "Normally people like you are coming back here for years, and years." erm, and he said, "But, you know, you seem to have made such a good recovery." He said, "I think you've had youth on your side. You know, you're young,
F631 mm
F634 and you're normally healthy. So you've picked up this infection and, okay it's it's, you know, it's laid you low, but your actual recovery period has been very good." But, I still never mentioned the homeopathic medicine. I just kept //takin it,//
F631 //[laugh]// mm
F634 and I I still never mentioned that. So that that was quite a, but there's a period in my life that I actually simply can't remember, and some of it is before the incident with the doctor. You know, because your dad used to say to me, "oh remember we went", or "Remember" and, but if it's if it was round about that period, it was a complete blank to me.
F631 mm
F634 And it's the funniest thing for somebody to say that you were there and you took part in a particular occasion, or an incident, and it's a complete black-out for you. //You//
F631 //mm//
F634 just don't remember it. So they said that there's parts of the memory-bank that were damaged and would never come back, but that doesn't //matter.//
F631 //mmhm//
F634 That's okay. ehm, I just felt ehm, lucky to be restored to good health, you know. ehm

This work is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

The SCOTS Project and the University of Glasgow do not necessarily endorse, support or recommend the views expressed in this document.

Close

Cite this Document

APA Style:

Interview 04: Dundee woman on her first job. 2021. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved February 2021, from http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=350.

MLA Style:

"Interview 04: Dundee woman on her first job." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2021. Web. February 2021. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=350.

Chicago Style

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Interview 04: Dundee woman on her first job," accessed February 2021, http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=350.

If your style guide prefers a single bibliography entry for this resource, we recommend:

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2021. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk.

Close

Information about Document 350

Interview 04: Dundee woman on her first job

Audio

Audio audience

Adults (18+)
For gender Mixed
Audience size 2

Audio awareness & spontaneity

Speaker awareness Aware
Degree of spontaneity Spontaneous

Audio footage information

Year of recording 2003
Recording person id 631
Size (min) 23
Size (mb) 89

Audio medium

Other Private conversation.

Audio setting

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

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 632
Year of transcription 2003
Year material recorded 2003
Word count 4292

Audio type

Interview

Participant

Participant details

Participant id 631
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1970
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Research Assistant
Place of birth Dundee
Region of birth W Angus
Birthplace CSD dialect area Ags
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Glasgow
Region of residence Glasgow
Residence CSD dialect area Gsw
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Car Salesman
Father's place of birth Dundee
Father's region of birth W Angus
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Ags
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Doctor's Receptionist
Mother's place of birth Dundee
Mother's region of birth W Angus
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Ags
Mother's country of birth Scotland

Languages

Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes All circumstances
Scots No Yes No Yes

Participant

Participant details

Participant id 634
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1940
Educational attainment Highers/A-levels
Age left school 15
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Retired Medical Computer Operator
Place of birth Dundee
Region of birth W Angus
Birthplace CSD dialect area Ags
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Dundee
Region of residence W Angus
Residence CSD dialect area Ags
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Milkman
Father's place of birth Dundee
Father's region of birth W Angus
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Ags
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Weaver in a Jute Mill
Mother's place of birth Dundee
Mother's region of birth W Angus
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Ags
Mother's country of birth Scotland

Languages

Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes All circumstances
Scots No No No Yes

Close