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Document 1681

Interview with Harry Ferguson for Scottish Readers Remember Project

Author(s): N/A

Copyright holder(s): SAPPHIRE, SCOTS Project

Audio transcription

F1189 It's the seventeenth of June, two thousand and nine, and I'm in the company of Harry Stewart Ferguson in the National Yacht Club in Toronto. And it's a pleasure to be here today, Harry. Thanks very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with me about your reading experiences across your lifetime. Now could I begin by asking you, erm first of all, when you were born, if you've no scruples about that, and when you were born?
M1202 The second of September, nineteen thirty-three, in Glasgow, which is my native city.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And er I grew up there and was educated there, except for a period during the war when I was shipped to a school in the Highlands.
F1189 Right, so you were evacuated?
M1202 Yes.
F1189 Oh well, we shall hear a bit about that. Now, whereabouts in Glasgow were you born?
M1202 Govan. Yep.
F1189 That's a famous place.
M1202 It is, it's er I think, er, a place where a lot, I don't mean to be sounding grandiose, but a lot of very clever and talented people came from Govan. And of course I think that had a lot to do with the technology of the Clyde.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And erm that was an area that I was active in.
F1189 It it sounds like it, and here we are in a maritime place, yet again, so that seems to be a constant thread throughout your life. Now, can you tell me a wee bit about your family then, erm when you were growing up in Govan?
M1202 Er my mother's people were from er the East coast.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And er they came from Kirk of Shotts.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Er. Basically er she met my father after he came out of the Army. My father was born on the West coast and he er for many years er was in India. He was an officer with a Scottish regiment, the Cameronians. And they spent er nearly fifteen years in India.
F1189 Mm. But you were act- you were born in Scotland? //Right, I see, uh-huh.//
M1202 //No, I was born after he came out of the Army, and erm he had retired,//
F1189 Mm.
M1202 and he joined the Civil Service by then.
F1189 Right. And did you have any brothers and sisters?
M1202 I did, I had one sister, //Violet,//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 and she died during the Second World War.
F1189 Oh right, so, was that a younger sister then? //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 //Yes, she was six when she died, and I was seven.//
F1189 Mmhm mmhm. That must have been a bit of a blow then, to //your family, mm.//
M1202 //It was a terrible blow to the family and of course er my father never was the same again.//
F1189 Mm.
M1202 It er was a dreadful thing as you can well imagine.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And erm we had to carry on with our life after that. But it wasn't, er it wasn't a good experience at all.
F1189 Now erm your home in Govan, what was that like?
M1202 You mean socially?
F1189 Physically, what was it like? Now Govan is mixed types of housing, tenement housing...
M1202 Well we we lived in a a very nice street that was called South Croft Street,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 and er they were red sandstone tenements.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Er it was quite a nice house, fairly well appointed, but it was along the lines of Glasgow tenement living. Erm that type of living was er somewhat er relaxed for us, because my grandmother, who was a very successful businesswoman in the city of Glasgow, she bought a large house on the coast for both families, my mother and father's side that is, to come down for summer, summer holidays and long weekends.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 So er that er took us away from the big city, and got us down to the fresh air of the sea coast.
F1189 Mmhm. And that was, I think you told me, in Saltcoats? //Is that right, uh-huh.//
M1202 //Saltcoats, yeah, yeah.// //A very old house when she bought it, in fact it had a romance about it, because it had been used by smugglers who were running contraband from er Ireland, I believe it was rum they were shipping in.//
F1189 //Uh-huh mmhm mmhm.// //[laugh] It would be.//
M1202 //And// it was quite a story in the family, //a lot of us didn't believe it until//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 my uncle, William, my mother's brother, er took me into the kitchen er on the first floor, and er that had a flagstone floor, and one of the flagstones had a ring in it, and he took me down there with an old oil-lamp and we lifted er this slab of stone and there was a stairway going down,
F1189 Uh-huh?
M1202 and er there was a tunnel going down to the sea.
F1189 Mm?
M1202 And he took me right down to the end of it, that had been bricked up long ago, but you could hear the sea crashing on the rocks, if you put your ear close to the bricks. So this was him telling me, "look, this is an authentic story".
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And this was apparently where they brought the goods in, and the house was used for that purpose. The laugh was that it was only about three hundred yards to the harbour mouth and that's where the Customs and //Excise office was, [laugh]//
F1189 //[laugh]//
M1202 so they must have been bringing it in under the noses of the officials.
F1189 Well they do say that's the best way to to hide //criminality, do it in the obvious place. [laugh]//
M1202 //Yes, to be as close to the dragon's mouth as possible, yes. [laugh]//
F1189 That's a lovely story. Now you must have memories of both the tenement house in Govan and that large house in Saltcoats.
M1202 Well that large house in Saltcoats was er the domain, if I can call it that, of my uncle Willie,
F1189 Mm. //Mm.//
M1202 //and he was my mother's brother, as I said.// And er he had, he was a devotee historian of er the Boer War.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And he had a favourite chair in in the living room, and I always remember that as a boy, there was a large equestrian portrait hanging over the chair.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 and it was of er General Roberts who was one of the heroes of er of the Boer War.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And er, he sat under that, and ruled the household. //[laugh]//
F1189 //[laugh]//
M1202 It was filled with er delightful sort of little //nooks and crannies.//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 It erm it was also a a very well built house.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And there was a great rambling attic upstairs, filled with brass bedsteads which I would give my eye-teeth for today.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And er we had a lot of fun there as kids playing games and what-not.
F1189 Certainly sounds like it, mm. Now, can you tell me then, in amongst all of that rather romantic er background of the house in Saltcoats, if there were books in there? //Mm.//
M1202 //Yes there were, there were many on history.// Er, Willie wasn't a professional historian - he was er w- self-taught,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 but had prodigious knowledge about the campaigns in the Sudan and in er in in er the Transvaal during the Boer War. And he would fill my, and rainy days in Scotland, which were quite common as you know, he would er find me a captive audience and he would fill my head with these stories. Now often at breakfast or dinner er the cutlery would become divisions of armies, and er the teapot was the the target, //and er//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 he would re-enact all of these movements. I didn't know for instance that there was a Dundee brigade that fought in the Boer War, but there was.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And he would erm, in meticulous detail, go over all these campaigns, so it was a very good er er opening for a boy,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 er growing up. //Aye.//
F1189 //It sounds like it. It sounds like the stuff of novels, actually, Harry.// //Uh-huh. [laugh] Mm.//
M1202 //Yes, in in a way, er er and of course er// //that lore was added to by my father's experience in India.//
F1189 //Mm.// Mmhm.
M1202 Er he was a a very well-read man, and had er, he was a bit of a linguist actually - he mastered Hindi,
F1189 Mmhm. //Mm mm.//
M1202 //and erm he could read, write and speak Urdu and Pushtu, which are dialects of Hindustani.//
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And er of course he was very, very helpful to me in my reading, //because er he influenced me in that regard.//
F1189 //Mm.// Do you think he was the chief influence then on your reading?
M1202 I think he and my uncles were. //Er//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 I can go back to the beginning, and er it begins probably with er, well all the traditional books of a young boy in Britain growing up.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And even peculiar to a Scottish boy, er, there were no restrictions on the literature. My father advised me to read fairly heavy texts when I was a young man. //But this was later on, initially I was reading things like er Charles Kingsley's "Water Babies".//
F1189 //Mm.// //Mmhm.//
M1202 //er, Kipling, a lot of Kipling, again because of the influence of my father, for after all, he really saw the last of the British Raj in India.// Tut, and I would be reading "Kim", you know, playing the great game, you know, about er spying in that area of the world. And of course "Rewards and Fairies", I remember that, lovely stuff written by Kipling.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And his poetry, about the Romans in Britain. My head was filled with a whole lot of mystical nonsense at this stage, //you know, romantic reading.//
F1189 //[laugh]//
M1202 And er Rider Haggard, er, my father er did an unusual thing when I was er in my teens, er He, to set the scene I guess, he had been posted to many lonely areas, er he was on the Khyber Pass for four years without a leave, //during the Afghan rising of nineteen twenty-two.//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 And er he would often be as they called it, "up the line",
F1189 Mm.
M1202 and er he said you would read aloud to yourself to hear the sound of your own voice.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And more than that to hear the sound of your native Scottish accent, //because he was surrounded by troops//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 that were not [laugh] born in Britain at all. He was in command of Sikhs and Gurkhas.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Tut. Er, he once told a funny story about a relief column coming up the road, with the pipes blazing, //and they came into the compound,//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 and my father was lying back in his bunk reading and he was delighted to hear the commands being er shouted out in a strong Glaswegian //accent.//
F1189 //[laugh]//
M1202 So he got his Sam Browne on, jumped up, and went down and got spruced up, out into the compound,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 and he found that the officer was a turbaned Sikh who had been taught English by a //Glasgow chap. [laugh]//
F1189 //[laugh]//
M1202 So during these sojourns, up the line, as it is, to continue, he he would read er heavily //er Scottish literature especially.//
F1189 //Mm mm mm.//
M1202 Scott, Stevenson, although he said to me once that his favourite author was Hardy.
F1189 Mm. //Mm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //He loved er "The Return of the Native" as a beautiful descriptive book of that type of life in England at that time.// But erm
F1189 Did your father take these books overseas with him then, or did he //bring them back, uh-huh?//
M1202 //He he, yes, he had a trunk// //that that was filled with stuff, and it came back rather tattered,//
F1189 //Mm.// //Mm.//
M1202 //But he also er// you must remember the British influence in India was extremely strong and when he was in the hill stations on leave, which were very pleasant places to go to, it was above the hot humid plains, //which were south of that,//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 there would be well-stocked libraries
F1189 Mm.
M1202 for er English and Scottish regiments and officers of those regiments. //So he would he would borrow from that.//
F1189 //That's very interesting. Mm.//
M1202 Erm, but of course he also wrote his mother in Glasgow and told told her to send him out certain books.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And she would send these intellectual relief packages, [laugh] and he would get stuck right into them.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 But he did a most unusual thing for me, and when you spoke to me originally about this idea, which I think is a wonderful idea, er recording what scots have read, that is, erm he approached me one day and he said er "I want you to read all of the Waverley novels of Sir Walter Scott". And he said "for every novel that you read, I will pay you a pound". //Now, this was a long time ago,//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 and I was on a few shillings a week pocket money, so the idea of reading a book and getting a pound for reading that book, I jumped at the chance. So he said the first book had to be "Old Mortality", and the reason for that is that it's about the Covenanters, //and of course//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 that's about the founding of my father's regiment.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 John Cameron, you know, the preaching in the heather, hiding their swords under the heather, the King's troops coming after them, and all that sort of stuff, so very romantic stuff, and very true to the history of Scotland. Er, so I galloped through "Old Mortality", //and I//
F1189 //Well done!//
M1202 put my hand out for the pound, and he said "No, no, no, there's a test first." I had forgotten at this stage that my father had read every one of the Waverleys. And er, I failed the test. Er, and the reason I failed the test was I scliffed through it. For a boy in his teens it was fairly heavy reading at the time. He said "Go back and read the book properly and then come and get your money." So I did this time, I went and I read it carefully, making notes as I read it, he got me into that habit.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Cause I wanted to make these notes to make sure that I'd memorised what I'd been reading. So I passed the test, I got the money, and it was a stipulation of course it had to be put into the bank, and the other stipulation was I couldn't withdraw any money. So long story short, by the age of nineteen, I had read all of the Waverleys, I had a good bit of money in the bank, and he had opened the doors of my country's [inaudible]. So, er I think it was a remarkable thing for a father to do.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And it got me going, erm, it's no accident that today I'm er the president of the Sir Walter Scott society at the University of Toronto. And er the joy of reading these books, and re-reading them, that's what happens, you know, when you start to get really involved, is just a lifelong comfort.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 So that's one section of Scottish reading that I'm rather proud of, you know?
F1189 Did you always enjoy them, Harry, you know, when you first encountered them as a as a young man, because as you say, they're pretty heavy-going.
M1202 Oh I think he was er clever in introducing the first one as being, the first one to be read as being er "Old Mortality", because he'd already told me an awful lot about the lore and legends of his regiment.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And I lived on this stuff as a boy, you know, my head was full of Kipling and of course this fitted in. Er, therefore er that er made me er well sort of acceptable mental //territory to to to//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 to paste this onto. Er. That I looked for in the other novels. I didn't always find it. Some of them were hard-going. I can remember that. Er, I think the toughest one for me was er "Peveril of the Peak". And erm that being said, the others were more related to the essence of Scottish history, //to Rob Roy,//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 to Montrose, to the Rebellions. //Er, the first one of course is a grand novel, and takes its name er from the English officer,//
F1189 //Mmhm.// Mm.
M1202 who experiences er meeting the Highlanders //for the first time,//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 and the Rising of forty-five, his name was Waverley, and that gave the name to the whole series. Er, I can I can answer your question honestly by saying I I did enjoy them.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 I had done quite a bit of heavy reading on my own by this time, er not that Kipling's heavy-going but he's highly detailed.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 so my mind was sort of trained to erto pick its way through complex plots and get the most out of them, you know? //I hope that answers your question.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.// So the the financial incentive became secondary, would you say, //to your actual enjoyment of them? [laugh]//
M1202 //Oh it'd be di-, it'd be dishonest [laugh]// //It would be dishonest to say that the financial incentive er played a a minor role.//
F1189 //[laugh] [cough]//
M1202 It, it, because of my typical, shall we say youthful, er bent for the acquisition of money, and being a Scots, I guess I'd a thousand years of that bred into me, [laugh] er no, making money out of reading Scott was a joy. //you know, because it was a two-fold joy.//
F1189 //Mm.// Mmhm.
M1202 At first it was only a case of getting that pound.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Yes, I admit that. But the magic of my father's wisdom was that half-way through, I realised the glory of this stuff, //you know?//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 And what it did, er, in the long run, and that's where the money becomes completely unimportant, it er it gave me a richness in my life that otherwise I would not have had. And that's the whole thing about reading, it's the richness that it imparts to you, it forces you to think. It also lifts the barriers of ignorance, Because we all have preconceived ideas about the certain situation or religion and attitude of //another country.//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 Reading opens that door.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And when it opens it, it can't close again, because you're a better informed person.
F1189 You've just answered actually usually what is the last question I ask people, but thank you for that, and you did it extremely articulately. Now before I go on, just as a matter of interest for myself, you mentioned your grandmother, and that she was a businesswoman, can I ask what kind of business it was she was in? //Mm mm.//
M1202 //She had a line of clothing stores, in Glasgow.// She started out in second-hand clothing and then moved upscale, basically ladies' //shops, lingerie.//
F1189 //Mm Mm.//
M1202 She started out in the old ancient trading area in Glasgow called the Candleriggs.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And she was a Victorian to her fingertips,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 in demeanour and attitude,
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 in her sense of moral rightness, you know? And she of course infected her sons by this.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Willie was one of them, //who//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 ruled the house at Saltcoats.
F1189 Mmhm?
M1202 Er, she was a delightful person.
F1189 Can I ask what her name was?
M1202 Her name was Mary Kempton.
F1189 Mm. I'll need to see if I can find out a bit about her. She sounds remarkable, actually. [laugh]
M1202 I I think she was a pretty clever woman, she er, [exhale], my back- my background was physics, //that I was involved in,//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 fairly sophisticated engineering stuff, in, well in Scotland as well as as here. But erm one of the divisions //of the company//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 er is in retail. And I think the reason I moved the company over into that activity was because of the influence from my genes from that one woman, //you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 She was a strong Scottish woman,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 with fixed ideas, and er quite successful, you know?
F1189 She's left a legacy, certainly.
M1202 Yes, mm.
F1189 Now, if we go back to the house in Saltcoats, to these books, the military books, the history books, that your uncle had, where were they kept?
M1202 We had a a shelving, //along the walls in one of the rooms, and we turned it into a library,//
F1189 //Mmhm mm.// Mmhm.
M1202 Er, my books were all over the place.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 in the tenement in Glasgow, //in drawers and what-not, and [inaudible].//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 Er, there wasn't the room to have a proper library, which I have now. //Er//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 er there was in the big house on the coast, we would buy books and consult with Willie what he he wanted in the way of reading material. //Of course,//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 he was always er he was always looking at er what we were as a nation, //you know?//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 And there was an expansiveness to him too, although he was a a typical Scot. He reminded me of Keir Hardie, in that er he was always immaculately dressed, black shoes, navy blue three-piece suits, the waistcoat had a gold albert, he had a continually burning cigarette hanging out from his mouth, and he wore, on top of all this fairly nice attire, a cloth cap. Never wore a bowler. But he was, like his mother, er a Victorian, or at least maybe should I say Edwardian, //because he'd//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 modernised his thinking a bit from her. But they were Empirists,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 you know, they were part of the British Empire, //they were part of the story of the//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 British Empire, my own father's history, and when you stand back and look at them, erm they were a sort of admirable crowd, you know? Not from the point of view of the- their attractiveness as characters, cause they had all the varieties of ups and downs in that one area, but from what they represented -
F1189 Mm.
M1202 they were a Scottish family.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Er.
F1189 And would you say they'd been upwardly mobile then?
M1202 Yes, I would say so, er, I visit my family regularly //in Scotland, and er//
F1189 //Mm.// //Mm.//
M1202 //they're in the professions:// doctors, two of them, one architect.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Er, a man who, unrelated to me through marriage, who was er my cousin Ann's husband, he became president of the er Royal Society //of Scottish Surveyors in Scotland.//
F1189 //Mm mm mm.//
M1202 He is a surveyor by profession.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Er, yes they are, they're good people who've achieved success in life, //yeah.//
F1189 //Mm.// Now can you recall taking books down to Saltcoats //from the flat in Govan?//
M1202 //Oh yes.// //Yes, yes, I used to take them...//
F1189 //And can you remember anything in particular?//
M1202 tut, well being that my uncles and er my father influenced me in military history, Er, I became addicted to er the poems of er, of Owens, and er Sassoon.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Er Siegfried Sassoon of course wrote very eloquently about the First World War,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 and er Owen of course er in his "Dulce et Decorum Est" shocked me as a boy.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Er, we've seen black and white representations, crude as they were, er of gassing in the First World War, we've read good descriptions of it, good in the sense of detail, I mean, er but they can never convey what he wrote in that poem,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 describing a soldier suffering from the attack of a a a gas attack, suffering from that attack. It's absolutely dreadful. And he lampoons the old Roman observation, it is a great and glorious thing to die for your country.
F1189 Now who was it that introduced you to the poetry of Owen?
M1202 My father.
F1189 Right.
M1202 My father also introduced me to Cicero,
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 and Seneca.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 He loved the ancients. And erm he loved Shakespeare of course, and Dryden.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Milton, he loved Milton. So erm he was a very liberally educated man.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And his influence on me has been very strong.
F1189 What about your mother then? Was she a reader at all?
M1202 My mother was a reader er but nowhere into the areas of the influence of my father or of the stuff I was reading then in my formative years.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 I remember one author that she she loved, and she did read a lot, it's unfair to say that she didn't. Annie S. Swann was her name. And she devoured the novels of this woman. And she loved that er that milieu, you know, all of that literature, where it came from, you know, she would read soppy stuff that I used to curl my nose up at, The People's Friend and stuff like this. [laugh] //But she was a romantic person in that sense, in her reading.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 She never plumbed the depths of intellectualism my father did.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 But er no, she was a reader. She was a busy little Scottish housewife, and she liked sitting down by the fire and and reading a good book, as she called it, you know?
F1189 Now where would those books have come from, do you know?
M1202 Well we were regular buyers //of books.//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 I mean, I was reading "Das Kapital" er when I was young, my father encouraged me to do this. Er, Marx and Engels, you know, he said "If you read these, you'll understand what's happening in the world." And I was ploughing my way through that, not realising that this force that was emerging on the other side of the world was something that we'd have to be //attending with one day.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 And he of course was filled with all sorts of prophetic books on that. Er, so listening to him making these observations, er he was a great detailer, I mean the average person during the Second World War, er there probably were many who did this, but I didn't know of anyone but my father. He had a map of Europe with flags on it.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And as he listened to the news about advances and retreats, the flags would move back and forth over the map.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And that was stuck up on the kitchen wall, you know? [laugh] //[laugh]//
F1189 //[laugh]// //Mmhm.//
M1202 //I mean, you can't get any more military than that, you know?// And of course he wasn't involved with er anything to do with the military by then.
F1189 Mmhm. Now reading Marx and Engels then, was your father's interest in who were then an ally of of of the U- United Kingdom, Russia that is? Or was he interested in the politics of it?
M1202 Well he was influenced in the politics of it, because it fitted in with Keir Hardie, it fitted in with socialism, and of course you must remember that Glasgow gr- gave a great deal of itself,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 and erm as they say over here, she's never had a fair //shake, as far as the industrial cities are concerned.//
F1189 //Mm mm mm.//
M1202 Certainly er, it caused the breeding of a certain type of socialism, which Winston Churchill called the Red Clydesiders.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 You know about this of course, and er there was a good reason for it. Erm...
F1189 I just wondered if your father was sympathetic to leftist politics at that time.
M1202 He was at one time,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 er and then he became discouraged by it, //as events moved on.//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 Er this happens many times in history. Er it even happened to Burns, because he was influenced by the er //French Revolution.//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 Er, it's a case of idealism coming to the fore. And then reality setting in,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 and time of course, the other amalgam. These two things suddenly make you see things in a different light. The initial concept of the French Revolution fitted exactly to Robert Burns.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité". I mean they're... Fraternité especially, 'brotherhood of man', that's Burns. That's Marx and Engels. So all of this is lovely, in theory. But, you know, when he shipped those cannons, Burns that is, over to er to France, and there is, by the way, one of the best er biographies I've re- ever read on Burns, is by a German, who was killed during the air-raids, ironically, in in Berlin. Hans Hecht was his name.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 H.E.C.H.T. He wrote a lovely biography of Bu- lovely in the sense that it was fully encompassing, did away with a lot of the dross that you hear, and he questions closely this legend as it's, as it has become of of the shipping of the the cannons. But at any rate, be that as it may, er the general er story is that he was called up to report on that before a committee because he was a Customs and Excise officer at that time. Er the thing that Hecht says, and it's very important, Customs and Excise kept absolutely immaculate records in London.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 They were highly detailed, as you can well imagine. They were dealing with the flow of goods; they would have to be. There's no mention of those cannons. And yet many biographers allude to it in the story of Burns. I- I'm losing you, //I'm digressing.//
F1189 //Since you mention Burns though, can I ask who introduced you to Burns?// //At what age that would be?//
M1202 //Oh my father, my father and// //my uncle.//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 My uncle Willie er was a member of a Burns club //in Ayr,//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 and he would take me to the Burns suppers. And my father would take me to the ones in St Andrews Halls in Glasgow.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Oh the house was surrounded by Burns lore. My father loved Burns' poetry. //He was soaked in it, you know,//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 and of course I was the inheritor of that.
F1189 Now what were those Burns Club meetings like for a a young boy?
M1202 Oh they were confusing, you know, because I was wondering what the order of of er coming and going was, and by going to many of them I soon found out what that //was all about.//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 Er he was a great lover of er er of er, or there were many great lovers of Masonry //in Scotland,//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 and of course that was related to Burns because he was he was in, I think it was Tarbolton Lodge. So there was that mystique with it as well, and I had to sort through that to get to the literature, you know? I-, to me, with reading and thinking about it, he's, he has become one of the most magnificent figures in English literature.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Er, he is a giant. Many would say no, because they say they don't understand his language. And they say that all he wrote in was in the Doric. He did not. He wrote many poems in English and many songs //in English.//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 But people think that, especially Scots, they think that he he he s-, he writes I should say, in the Doric, and therefore, you know, the foreigner will not appreciate him. //It's not true.//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 Many foreigners, if if you want to use that word, do appreciate him. Er, Nelson Mandela was comforted by reading Burns
F1189 Mm.
M1202 when he was in prison.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Er, tut Germaine Greer, //feminist,//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 she was comforted by Burns. //Oh yes, yes, she was.//
F1189 //Really? Now I didn't know that, Harry. [laugh] Uh-huh.//
M1202 Er particularly one poem er where er he er, it was a benefit concert, and he wrote this for this concert. And er one of the lines is "Amid the mighty fuss, just let me mention, the rights of women merit some attention." //Those are Burns' lines, yeah?//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 So she was influenced, not by the body of his work, but by that. //Plus the fact that he was a fair-minded man.//
F1189 //Mm.// Mmhm.
M1202 She reviled him for what he did to women, she didn't like that. So, you know, there's a dichotomy here, but nevertheless, she acknowledged it. That was a remarkable piece of writing, for the eighteenth century, for someone to say that then, you know?
F1189 Now I was about to to mention that, because it is surprising, and I didn't know Germaine Greer had made any comment on Burns, that a feminist would have much sympathy for him, and what you thought about this, //his personal life then,//
M1202 //tut.// //Well she was highly intelligent woman, she couldn't have done what she did do without being so,//
F1189 //[inaudible] Mmhm mm.// //Mm mm mmhm.//
M1202 //so she could look at something and perceive the strengths and the weaknesses, as as all good gifted people can.// //And it's in that light that she looked at Burns.//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 Oh I'm not saying she was enamoured of him, no I don't mean that at all. //But.//
F1189 //Would you share that view then,// with regard to the the failings of his personal life, in comparison with his his literary stature then?
M1202 His failings were basically er harked upon more as time went on, er there was a certain period where we became very prudish, er he was scoffed at for what he did, with women, I mean.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And then of course we enter this age, where we let everything hang out. Anything goes.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 I mean, we no longer believe in, I should say, we no longer believe in marriage, er, er couples live together now, cohabit, and then decide whether or not they should get married.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Er, so his, attitudes towards women will have softened in that regard, to a certain extent. I'm, I'm surmising here, //you know?//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 Er, but er he really er was a very humane person. Er, he was a mixture of course of strengths and weaknesses, and er the strengths in my opinion far outweigh the weaknesses. He er he idolised women, he he wrote some of the loveliest lines //ever written to women.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 Er I think the song "My love is like a red, red rose" and everybody says this and it's true, everybody says it because it is true, it's beautiful, you know?
F1189 Well I would agree with you. //Absolutely. Mm mmhm.//
M1202 //But he also got down to the nuts and bolts of men and women living together.// You know and his poems are sprinkled with it, you know, "Ah gentle dames! It gars me greet, to think how mony counsels sweet, how mony lengthen'd, sage advices, the husband frae the wife despises." And that's from Tam O'Shanter, and it's beautiful. And it's life today, never mind then.
F1189 Mm mm. //[laugh]//
M1202 //They're out there despising the wife all the time! [laugh]//
F1189 So, it's eternal then? //[laugh]//
M1202 //It's eternal.// //And that's what he wrote about.//
F1189 //Uh-huh mmhm.//
M1202 And erm, well he er he was a remarkable individual. Er, the other thing that they do with Burns, and we do this constantly, people in history, erm we had we had an old professor called McNab in Glasgow, and he said "Gentlemen, you must never make this mistake, take someone out of context in history, and judge them by the standards of //today."//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 And that's what we do with Burns. He, when he sinned, it was like sinning in the spotlight. I mean he wasn't a common man, //he wasn't an ordinary fellow.//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 He was unusual - even Scots recognis- recognised this.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And that's a hard thing to do, Scots don't like recognising genius in anyone else, [laugh] even a fellow Scot. I shouldn't say anyone else, that's not fair to my to my nation. //But you know what I mean, there's a//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 a taciturn attitude, aye, I always remember one fellow saying if you invented an anti-gravity machine, er, and your name was blasted around the world as a genius, the highest praise you could receive in the city of Glasgow would be "Aye, it's no bad." [laugh] [laugh] There's an element in the character of us that, you know, that actually is like that.
F1189 Mmhm, or "I kent, I kent his //faither". [laugh]//
M1202 //"I kent his faither". Oh, you know who writes// extensively about that? James Leslie Mitchell. //Er,//
F1189 //Mmhm.// //Mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //oh he he er, they actually said that about him, because he was a genius too.// And erm the the the er the people in Mearns never forgave him for exposing them as they thought //to the world.//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 What he did was he enshrined them forever.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 He made them immortal. You know, I'm probably using high-falutin phrases here, but you know what I mean. //He he he//
F1189 //No, I do know what you mean, mmhm.//
M1202 he he put them on the map.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And it's a wonderful collection of stories about a wonderful set of people. //That whole//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 area of Scotland, the East coast, the Mearns, it's lovely, it's delightful, and those stories are gorgeous. But they didn't like him for doing that.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And of course he, you know, he moved off to London and became another person. In fact he wrote with two names.
F1189 Yes, mmhm. //Mmhm [inaudible].//
M1202 //Erm, no, not this, getting back to Burns just before we leave it, er,// When said, as I said, he was sinning in the spotlight, and also in that century, they were all sinners. They were all bedding women all over the place. Glencairn was, you know. And he was one of his benefactors. All the aristocracy were.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 But, you never said that about the laird, //you know?//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 He could be doing like er all over the country and er no-one would ever say anything.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 But let Burns do it? Mm, how dare you! You know? So. Sorry, I went on a bit about //Burns.//
F1189 //No, no, no, that was// it was good for me to hear actually, Harry, erm,
M1202 Thank you.
F1189 Could I go back and ask you where you went to school then? //Mm.//
M1202 //I went to school er in Glasgow,// er and er during that period of of er high school
F1189 Mm.
M1202 er I was sent away.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Oh it wasn't even high school, it was just before going to high school.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And I was sent to er a small school er outside Tighnabruaich.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And I was raised there for for three years. That erm there's a wisdom in that. You know, one of the, I think it's G.K. Chesterton said that the English are a strange race, They keep their dogs at home and they send their children away to be educated. But, you know, laugh as we may at //that,//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 there's a strength in it. In fact er, the strength helped to build the British Empire, I mean was it Wellington that said that er Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton?
F1189 Mm.
M1202 That element is in there.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And erm sending your your child away is not such a bad thing.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 You have to eventually cut the umbilical cord.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And that happens. Boys and girls leave home, some never return, you know? But you do eventually leave your mother. And it's as true in the animal kingdom as it is with humans.
F1189 Well you were living in Govan and that would have been a dangerous place really to be, on the Clydeside during the war. //Mm.//
M1202 //Yes, it was, in fact the most poignant moment of my life was leaving my mother and father,//
F1189 Mm.
M1202 because they er they were saying, you know, "this is for your education, we want you to go to a better school", stuff like this, and er, that was the pretence //really.//
F1189 //Mm.// Mm.
M1202 Er the real reason was they wanted me to be away from the possible destruction //of what would happen.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.// //Mm. Mm.//
M1202 //I was bombed four times, you know?// And erm
F1189 In your home? //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //Well I w- I was at home when the raids took place, yes, and er in fact er// one of the buildings across the street got struck.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Erm, the funny thing about the Germans, being a scientific and engineering race, and superb in those areas, they were very bad bombingers. I mean we had a thing called the Norden bombsight during the war. I think it was developed in the US.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 But it was a very accurate method of dropping bombs, you could pinpoint targets. Germans er were dreadful, they they they made raids on Clydebank //especially, as you know.//
F1189 //Mm mm mm.//
M1202 And er it was terrible, I mean there was people struck on streetcars, tramcars as they called them, and er tenements got it, you know, sticks of bombs [inaudible]. They they they saw the scintillating of the cobbles in the moonlight one night, and they thought that was the River Clyde. And they just let their loads go, you know? Er...
F1189 Fear might have had had something to do with that, I suppose, affecting people's judgement.
M1202 I think the, yeah, the f-, there would also be another fear - they were running out of fuel.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Er their range of operations was restricted.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Er these were elemental scientific mistakes made by the Luftwaffe, principally because of a man called Hermann Göring. He was so boastful about what they could do that he didn't pay as much attention to air [inaudible] as he should have.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Er, thank God he did, you know? //Yes, yes, yes.//
F1189 //Yes indeed, you're still here! [laugh]// Now what was your school in Glasgow?
M1202 My school was er St Gerard's.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And er that er, I I may offend you here if I say this, and I don't mean to, but er that that gave me er an exposure to er Catholicism.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And you know, it was a funny thing as a young man, growing up. That didn't fit in with my thinking at all. Well I was criticised for reading "Das Kapital", for obvious reasons. I didn't like that, I didn't like anyone telling me that I could and could not read.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 My father had opened the doors, things, you know, and I was running against the tide, and stuff like that, but er It also exposed me too to the beauty of the reli- the religion.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And it is a very beautiful religion. It has drama and er colour,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 and er the strange thing is, I read later in life, a lot of intellectuals converted to Catholicism.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 But er I became a Protestant.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 I always boasted that I became a Protestant in my own lifetime, I didn't inherit it.
F1189 Right, so so you converted then,
M1202 Yes, I did.
F1189 if you like? But your family were Roman Catholic?
M1202 No they weren't. No, my mother was er Episcopalian,
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 and my father was Catholic.
F1189 Right, uh-huh.
M1202 And of course he er, he, I guess really what I'm describing here is, I went through a catharsis, //and he also did.//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 He came back to Scotland after many years in India.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And, he saw terrible sectarianism //in India.//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 Dreadful bloodshed coupled to it, as you know, reading history, //And he was shocked when he came out the Army and saw this in his own city of Glasgow.//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 And it was terrible. I mean we couldn't - I, and this is a funny this for a Scot to say, but I developed an aversion to football. And the reason was it was so sectarian.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 I mean you had these fellows going through the streets wearing either a green and white scarf, or a blue an- //blue scarf.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.// //Mmhm.//
M1202 //One was Rangers and the other was Celtic.// And you had to go to certain segregated ends of the park. //Now this disgusted me.//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 I even remember one day seeing something similar to nineteen seventeen, in Russia, when the Cossacks, ran into, mounted //Cossacks,//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 ran into the crowds. I saw the same thing at Ibrox Park.
F1189 Mm mmhm.
M1202 Mounted policemen clubbing crowds of people around the horses.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And when I saw this it just put me right off football.
F1189 Mmhm mmhm.
M1202 He saw this when he came back. He'd seen sectarianism in India, saw it in Scotland, And he became, what's the term, he became a lukewarm Catholic, //you know?//
F1189 //Mm.// //Yes, [laugh] mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //So there's a fair [inaudible] ground ground for a for a divided mind, [laugh] and I suppose that's what I grew up with.// A divided mind. But it it gave me a strength too, because I always try to see the the fair side of things. That coupled with the literature that he was steering me towards //had a lot to do with it.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 Erm...
F1189 But you went to a Catholic school, nonetheless. And that would have been the done thing, I imagine? //Right. Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //Yes it was, yeah, yeah.//
F1189 Now during the Second World War, whilst you were still in Glasgow, do you remember going to any air-raid places during the bombing or...?
M1202 Oh yes, I remember er we all went to school with a silly little square cardboard //box,//
F1189 //Mmhm.// //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //and a string round our shoulders to hold it.// //And in in that box was a rubber gas-mask.//
F1189 //Mmhm mm.//
M1202 It was a horrible thing.
F1189 Mm. //[laugh]//
M1202 //And er you looked like Darth Vader when you put it on.// Er, I remember taking that gas-mask to Copeland Road, there was a school there, Copeland Road School, And in the parking-lot at the Copeland Road School, not parking-lot, I should say the school //yard, they had built air-raid shelters.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 They used these as, one of them they used as a //gas chamber.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 And they filled it with er, I guess it was a mild form of gas, really just to see //if if the mask worked.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 It wasn't deadly. But I remember it stinging our eyes and making us cry. We had to go into this thing with the gas-mask on.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Really what they were doing was a very sensible thing. They wanted to find out if the mask leaked.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And er you were alright if it didn't, //you could use that mask.//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 So the others who had, you know, something wrong with the rubber or //was cracked, they had those repaired instantly.//
F1189 //Mm mm mm.//
M1202 But I remember that. I remember er er the baffle walls outside the entrance to the [inaudible]. They were made of corrugated steel, er they were filled with sand. And er I remember the raids.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 I remember in the morning going to school and we'd pick up pieces of shrapnel which had come from the shells fired at the aircraft //the night before,//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 Or from shatters of bombs I guess, or shattering I should say, of bombs. Also the strange sight of all the store windows lying on the sidewalk,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 because with the explosions er they created er negative atmosphere inside the building, and the windows would not er explode, they would implode, //you know?//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 Erm...
F1189 Now one of the images that's been perpetuated about people spending time in air-raid shelters is that they read. Can you recall ever doing that?
M1202 No, I was a very foolish boy. My father was, you know, upset by it. I would er I would not go down to the shelter at night. I would lie in bed and let them bomb.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 I did that a few times, and then I saw some serious accidents, of course that changed my mind. But the experience of going into any sort of bomb-shelter was a hurried er sojourn in the darkness,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 uncomfortable, cold, draughty, not conducive to reading. //Er,//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 lighting was either non-existent, or very poor. So no, I don't remember ever huddled up with a book reading //during an air-raid.//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 I was too busy thinking about what was going on overhead and what might happen down below. [laugh] It was a, it was a time er which er provided a very good laxative. [laugh] //[laugh]//
F1189 //That's a good way of putting it. [laugh]// //Now, some people, yes, now. [laugh]//
M1202 //Easy, easy to laugh at it now, but it wasn't funny then.//
F1189 Also easy to say is that so-, well some people say it was quite a good time to be a boy, erm and that was reflected in the literature of the time. Er, the sorts of things boys could read about, Biggles for example.
M1202 Well that's another, that's another area of literature I I I meant to touch on and I forgot. //Erm,//
F1189 //Mmhm.// //Mmhm.//
M1202 //I read the Beano and the Dandy and the Hotspur.// And one of my favourite comic books was the Wizard.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And there was a character there that I was highly enamoured of, whose name was Wilson, and he was a sort of super-athlete. There were also intimations in the very clever writing, er clever from the point of view of a boys' story, er that he er was a subject of reincarnation, er that he had lived before or something. Er it was never really definitely er indicated, //but er//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 vaguely alluded to. And er you believed in this because he was super-human, you know? Not in the Superman sense of er what we have in the United States,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 and there are reasons for those too, you know, we we shouldn't scoff at them, you know, we need heroes. Er I mean I used to be enamoured of er Morte d'Arthur, Tennyson and the Knights of the Round Table.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And of course, what's the modern equivalent? Harry Potter. //You know?//
F1189 //How deep?//
M1202 It's something for the kids to be er amazed about, er have their imaginations fired by.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And that's what these things do. So this Wilson character, oh yes, he impressed me, you know, he could climb cliffs with amazing agility. He could run the hundred yards in no time flat, you know, he was er er a marvellous character. And er it came out... I think it was a weekly er...
F1189 Where did you get your comics from? //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //Oh from the local newsagents around the corner.// //Er, little sweetie shop, as they called it, you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 And these er products would arrive dead on time, and you would go down and buy your copy and then race away to some cubbyhole and devour this. //[laugh]//
F1189 //[laugh]// Now did you keep your comics? //Or did you exchange them? Mm mm.//
M1202 //I did. I I exchanged them and er...// Oh I kept them and I exchanged them. Erm, the the surprising thing was that later on in life, I became very fond of George Orwell,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 especially his essays, //"Shooting an Elephant" and stuff like that.//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 "Down and Out in Paris and London", er that was another essay. //Er, "Keep the Aspidistra Flying",//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 er "Nineteen Eighty-Four", but there was a delightful one in his essays, called "Boys' Weeklies". And I devoured this, and I've read it and re-read it many times. It describes Billy Bunter,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 er in his study, er tucking into a large hamper of tuck, of course. Er meanwhile, on the frontiers, away from the warmth of the study that Bunter was in, er monocled Englishmen er were holding the natives at bay with swaggersticks. //[laugh]//
F1189 //[laugh]//
M1202 I don't think I've got that quote quite right, but it's close. [laugh] //[laugh] And er,//
F1189 //But nearly, yes. [laugh]//
M1202 he he he wrote another one, very funny one, you remember, well you don't because you're not as old as I am, but At Saltcoats, at Ardrossan, at Largs, //these lovely holiday resorts//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 that the Glaswegians would flock to in the summer. Erm, there was a thing, it was almost a religion, postcards.
F1189 Mm. //Mm mm.//
M1202 //They were all done by the same artist: his name was McGill.// And he had these outrageous postcards of the big fat Govan woman and the wee skinny Glasgow man. [laugh] It was, it was like "Oor Wullie" er in a way. And erm he, Orwell, wrote a very good essay on this,
F1189 Mm. //Mm.//
M1202 //about these postc- - he analysed it.// Why they're written, er the way they are, why they're drawn the way they are. And er I recommend it to you, if you've never read it.
F1189 Mmhm. I'll look out for that. //Mmhm.//
M1202 //Oh it it it's funny, you know?// //And especially the one on Boys' Weeklies.//
F1189 //Mmhm.// Orwell was quite critical really of the influence that Boys' weeklies had //on the young generation.//
M1202 //Yes, that's right, he was.// Yeah, well he was doing that from the point of view of looking at the Empire, //and what the Empire had done to people.//
F1189 //Mm mm mm.// //Mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //Er, yes, you're right, he does make a comment about that, er...//
F1189 Did that impinge on you at the time, that kind of critique?
M1202 Well we were brought up, er, with a strong sense of Scottish history, //I mean my//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 my uncle Willie would take me to areas where Wallace had been,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 and he would speak about it as if it happened last Tuesday.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And er he would show me the woods that he hid in when he was fleeing from the English and stuff like this. Same with Bruce, erm, so we were brought up with this er big chip on our shoulders about the English,
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 and er you know, lampooning them er and jibing at them in any way we could. Which, to my mind, in maturity, was wrong. I think, er, I I went through my own catharsis in the sense that I was rabid about Scottish nationalism //at one time in my life.//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 But then I saw that there was a tremendous strength in the United Kingdom. //And I stood back, it was like looking at a painting, you know, in a gallery,//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 go close to it and it's obscure. You step back and suddenly it all falls into //focus.//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 Erm I saw that the impact we'd made on the world stage was something to be to be reckoned //with, you know?//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 You know, and then yo-, reading, er er you mentioned earlier about opening a door that never closes, I've read many biographies about famous p-, I love biographies.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Er I've just finished Lincoln, Roosevelt and two on, two on Churchill. The last one by Roy Jenkins //on Churchill, magnificent.//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 Er, even with our er slant against the English, we all, in Scotland had to admit that Churchill was a magnificent creature.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 No, he was. I mean, er he was everything in many ways that the hero is composed of.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Stoic, brave, resourceful, intelligent, er. You can't take that away from him, you know?
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And you say, oh my God he's an Englishman! [laugh]
F1189 And a wee bit roguish as well. //Which works well. [laugh] Mmhm.//
M1202 //Yes, he was, oh yes, yes, that's...// He always had an answer for everything, //you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 Montgomery used to criticise him and he used to criticise Montgomery. But he also said that Montgomery was the best general he had in his field forces, you know? Montgomery boasted to Churchill, he said "I don't drink, I don't smoke, I'm a hundred percent fit", and Churchill scowled back, "I drink, I smoke and I'm two hundred percent fit." //[laugh]//
F1189 //[laugh]// //Should have been a Scot.//
M1202 //And he was.// //[laugh] Almost, yes, yes.//
F1189 //[laugh]// //Oh a good old age, yes, yes, mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //He lived to be er well into his nineties, I think he was ninety-one when he died.// Well you read, you read about the whole impact that we've had on the world, And then of course you become, you become isolationist too, because what do I do, later in life I follow the well-worn path across the Atlantic, //and I come to Canada.//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 And I'm proud to see what part we played here.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 I mean the average Scot home in Scotland, who has never left its shores, in many cases they do not know what we did here.
F1189 Mm. //Mmhm.//
M1202 //We came here to this wilderness. We tamed it.// //Marvellous names, Mackenzie, you know,//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 going along that river coast, across the prairies, and eventually getting to to the Pacific, not that the river flowed all the way to the Pacific, they had to do portaging and what-not, //but his story alone is marvellous, you know?//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 And then the first Prime Minister, Glasgow-born man, you know, his statue's down on the
F1189 Mmhm. //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 //lawn here at Queen's Park, you know?// And so you you stand back again from the painting and you see what a small nation has done. Not just here, but New Zealand and Australia.
F1189 Mmhm. B-, before I go on, I'm going to ask you about coming to Canada. Could I just ask you if y-, if you've read anything recently along those lines about the impact of Scots on both Empire and in more recent times on places of settlement like Canada, New Zealand and Australia?
M1202 Well er, yes, I have, er by dint of cooperation with other groups,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 I don't mean by that that I was forced to read it, I mean I I enjoyed it, er, Because of my activities, I am a businessman //basically, I'm not an academic,//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 but I've been er close to academe er all my life, //er both at the University of Guelph and the University of Toronto.//
F1189 //Mm.// Mm.
M1202 Erm, I er was the first chair of the Scottish Studies Foundation at the University of //Guelph.//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 And I gave papers there, //er,//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 on Scottish history and also on U.T. on Sir Walter Scott.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Er, I became active in fund-raising, and our target was to raise two million for a Scottish chair //at Guelph.//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 And we've pretty well done that now, er, I had very good people came on board, and er men and women who are hard-workers, //who//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 were mainly Scots.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 But because of that er yes, I've read about the Scot //coming to Canada, yes I've read about the contribution, yeah.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 And er there's er colloquiums er in the Spring and in the Fall at Guelph.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And er because of that er there there's a great deal of literature comes out of //these colloquiums and er,//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 they were guided towards it, the library of course seeds purposely //that type of literature.//
F1189 //mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 And er if you have time while you're here, you should go to Guelph. It is the most marvellous collection of Scottish documents outside of Scotland.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 We had a professor, who's dead now, Professor Stanford Reid. He would go to the sale rooms in Edinburgh and Glasgow and when no-one was interested he was picking up stuff for very little money, //and bringing it back to Canada.//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 Now they don't do that. Suddenly Scotland's aware of this aspect in legalities known as intellectual property, //and we should be hanging on to that stuff.//
F1189 //Indeed, mmhm [laugh] yes.//
M1202 I tried er, I was a friend of Tom Howarth, er, knew Tom for about twenty-five years. Tom was the disciple of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 I have sat in Tom's apartment, in a Mackintosh chair, not not er, what did they call it, they had a name for it, er copies were made.
F1189 Facsimile //type of thing?//
M1202 //Yes, yes, but they had a name, they called it, er like// //faux, faux Mackintosh or something. That wasn't the name, but anyway.//
F1189 //Reproduction, yeah, mmhm.//
M1202 I've sat in an original chair made by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and had tea with Tom and //all this, and//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 drank a Scotch and what-not, er he had a marvellous collection of drawings, paintings and artefacts
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And of course er I wanted to house Tom at Guelph University with that collection, //and I worked towards that.//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 But the problem was we were going through a bad time with universities in Canada at that time. And there was no money. It's a common complaint, any seats of learning, it's the same all around the world, not here, not only here, I mean. But at any rate erm, that didn't happen. Tom ended up er having it sold off //at Sotheby's.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.// //Mmhm.//
M1202 //And that collection went all over the world.// Great chunks of it went to Japan. Tom, I think he got, I think he got four million pounds for the collection, you know? //And tha-,//
F1189 //That's not a small sum.// //Mm, impressive, mmhm.//
M1202 //That was a long time ago too, which makes it even more of an amount than would be today.// Er, he was a marvellous man, Howarth, he had the chair of architecture at Glasgow,
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And he had the chair of architecture at U.T. when he came here.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Very creative man, er, here again you have this strange dichotomy. This is an Englishman.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And he champions Mackintosh. He wrote one of the best bibles on Mackintosh. He saw Mackintosh as a Scottish Frank Lloyd Wright.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And he had faith in him when nobody else had. He would go to offices where they were throwing out drawings,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 and he would go to the trashcans afterwards, and rescue these original drawings by Mackintosh. This is the sort of stuff he had in his //collection.//
F1189 //Well thank goodness for that, uh-huh.//
M1202 It was marvellous, you know, and er to be exposed to this and experience this, you know, was wonderful.
F1189 Now what age were you when you left school, Harry?
M1202 Er, well I left school when I was er sixteen. And then I went to er the er Royal College of Science and Technology, and I took electrical engineering, //and physics.//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 And er I then became involved in a very esoteric period //in my life.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.// //Now that that college, was that in in Scotland?//
M1202 //Erm...// Well yes, it was the University of Strathclyde.
F1189 Ah. Of course, yeah. //Forgive me. [laugh]//
M1202 //Yeah, oh yes, it// it was always a very famous school er because er when erm the proprietors of the shipyards //mainly//
F1189 //Mm.// //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 //family concerns that built these yards,// they were conscious that they needed a constant flow of technically //proficient people.//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 So they gave a lot of money, these men, it was an investment, let's face it, and it paid off. And they founded er the Royal College of Science and //Technology.//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 And of course er in engineering training it was one of the finest //schools in the world.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 There's not enough, to my mind, has been written about the Clyde
F1189 Mm.
M1202 and what it did.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 You know, it was an amazing record, I mean about a quarter of the world's engine power //came from there.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 Er the tonnages that were produced, millions of tons of shipping, in every harbour in the world, all over the planet. The miracles that went down that river.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 The product of pure genius
F1189 Mm.
M1202 in physics and engineering, and beauty. Stuff that left a mark on the soul.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 These great Cunarders. These lovely vessels that I worked on for Canadian Pacific.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 The Empress of Scotland, the Empress of Britain, the Empress of France.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Lovely graceful hulls. I'm talking fairly large ships for that time. Lovely white hulls of of coloured funnels sailing down the Clyde.
F1189 Oh you've captured the romance of it, Harry. //[laugh] Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //I tell you! These hardened riveters and platers,// who were in the pubs on Friday night, every Friday night, these hard, tough men would stand and watch these things leave, that they had created, with tears running down their cheeks.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 You know? Where's Hollywood? //[laugh]//
F1189 //Yes, indeed. [laugh]// //[laugh] It is a heroic story, yes, it is.//
M1202 //I mean there's a story, it's an amazing story, you know?// And to have come from this, and be... you know, I always said er to my cousins in Scotland, er the Clyde was my cradle.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 It it really was.
F1189 Is that what influenced your decision to study at the Royal College then?
M1202 Yes, oh yes, er, I was born by the water, I mean I
F1189 Mm.
M1202 I learned to sail on the Clyde, //I er//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 I'm still a sailor to this day. I er I enjoy the sea, I enjoy the lore of ships, //the history of ships,//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 and erm yes, of course, I saw these lovely things being created, you know. I was born with the sound of hammers //in my ears, you know?//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 That whole area of Govan, you could hear the hammers clanking as these things took shape. You'd walk by buildings and as you came to a building there was a gap in one building er to the other,
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 and er through that gap you would see these forms rising, bows and sterns, //and funnels.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 And of course it attracted me and I wanted to know more about it, so er I went er and took er the exams for that purpose, er. I joined a a shipyard by the name of the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company.
F1189 Was that when you'd come out of studying then?
M1202 No, no, it was at the same time, //er,//
F1189 //Right, I see.//
M1202 I was going to night-school, //and there was day-release as well, er,//
F1189 //I see.// //So it was like an apprenticeship?//
M1202 //but er, it// yes, yes it really was, that's what it was.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And it was a, it was a dual exposure, you know, you were doing the technical stuff during the day and you were doing the technical stuff at night.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 But the stuff at night was related to what you were doing during the day, //you know, er.//
F1189 //Mm.// And what was the qualification //you got?//
M1202 //You became an engineer.// Erm, //I be- I be-//
F1189 //Are you t-//
M1202 became more involved in physics than anything else, er and that was because of, when I came here, er, I had been doing er complex, really complex electrical systems on ships and warships,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 I was in the naval design office at Fairfields. We worked on destroyers and frigates.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Er, at this time, it was the beginning of the Cold War, and er we were all afraid of Russia. //you remember those days or at least you know of//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm mmhm.// //I know about them, yes, uh-huh.//
M1202 //them, I should say, you know about them.// Sorry, forgetting my age there. //[laugh]//
F1189 //[laugh]//
M1202 And erm looking at what was happening in the world and being afraid of Russia, er the main element er in a lot of the work was the development of anti-submarine warfare. And er been working on a device which had been developed at the end of the Second World War, but by the time things had come to a head there was no longer any need //for it, cause, you know?//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 What the one phrase, that one funny comedian said? "Suddenly peace broke out." //[laugh]//
F1189 //[laugh]//
M1202 So so we took this thing, it was called the squid, //and er//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 there was a development whereby it was related to a hydraulic sword, and the bows of the destroyers, and these er things were no longer the cans of depth-charge thrown over the stern which you see in the Hollywood movies. er these were projectiles in a three-barrelled cun-, er, gun, I should say, which fired ahead of the vessel. That sort of stuff, er when I came to Canada I was like a fish out of water, cause I'd been, you know, working on stuff like this. //Erm...//
F1189 //What age// were you when you came to Canada?
M1202 I was twenty-five.
F1189 Mmhm. //And did you come here as a a single man, Harry?//
M1202 //And er,// yes, oh yes, I met my wife in Toronto, she's a Canadian girl,
F1189 Uh-huh.
M1202 born of British parents.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Er, but no er she always jokes that she was waiting at the bottom of //the gangplank. [laugh]//
F1189 //[laugh]// Now what influenced that decision to to come here?
M1202 I came here with a friend, a close friend, his name was Jimmy Kirkwood.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And Jimmy was a bit of a genius, he was a he was a specialist in er ship design.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And he was pretty well a a mathematical genius, //in my opinion.//
F1189 //Mm.// Was this someone you worked with //in Scotland?//
M1202 //Yes, I worked closely with him, yeah, and he was// //we were friends, we both had motorcycles and we'd go camping in the Highlands and stuff like that, at weekends.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 We came here together, and erm we were actually sitting with our elbows resting on the drawing boards at Fairfields, looking out into the yard, and it was raining.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And you know, silly things in life, Jimmy suddenly turned to me and said, "this is terrible, this weather", I said, "yes, it is, I wonder when it's gonna get some sun", you know, the usual things //you say.//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 He said "Let's go to Canada", I said "That's a good idea." And that was it. It started from that. So we flew from Prestwick, and the boys in the drawing office all came down to Prestwick, and they took us on their shoulders out to the aircraft.
F1189 Mmhm mmhm.
M1202 And it it was in those days, before terrorism, er you could walk out to the aircraft, //not allowed today.//
F1189 //Mmhm.// //Mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //And also canvas-covered er tunnels to the aircraft, that wasn't er part of the system then.// //It was a boarding ladder leading up leading up to the door at the front of the aircraft.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 And at the bottom of that they had placed a piper and he was playing //"Will ye no come back again". [laugh]//
F1189 //[laugh]// //So was it usual//
M1202 //So...//
F1189 for people to fly, cause that'd be, what, nineteen fifty-seven, fifty-eight, sometime round about then? //[inaudible] Mmhm.//
M1202 //No it wasn't. Most people crossed er by by liner, by ship.// Yes, we were er a bit unusual in that regard. //Er,//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 I guess we wanted to get here quickly. //[laugh]//
F1189 //Mmhm.// //And how long did it take then?//
M1202 //[inaudible]// Oh there again, it was er a different day. It was a a four-engined Scandinavian airline system aircraft, props,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 not jet. And er we had headwinds across the Atlantic.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 So we had to land at er Gander, //that was my first touchdown in the New World, so to speak.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 Er and er we refuelled there, and then we flew to New York,
F1189 Mm. //Mmhm.//
M1202 //landed there,// and changed planes in New York, to American Airlines, and that flew up to Malton, //or what, it was called Malton then.//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 And that's Pearson International, in Canada. And Pearson International which it was to become, a large complex airport - //you've seen it -//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 that was two Nissan huts.
F1189 [laugh] //Uh-huh uh-huh.//
M1202 //That's all they were, when we landed.// //That was the airport.//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 And I remember we came to er the Royal York Hotel, in Toronto, we stayed there, and then erm that was a Fr-, a Friday night, we both had positions, technical positions, in drawing //offices//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 the following Wednesday, and we've never stopped working since.
F1189 So you arranged that in advance?
M1202 No, we came over cold-turkey.
F1189 Ah right. //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 //We flew from Prestwick, without knowing a soul, without knowing anyone, and er our landlady was from Newfoundland,// //and erm they were having a hard time with their two children, a boy and a girl.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 Er they were going, they were er just entering grade thirteen, which was one of the high standards of high school. //That was the senior O Levels.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm mm.//
M1202 And they were having a terrible time with trigonometry and algebra, and er and also English, er so Jimmy and I had nothing to do, we didn't know anybody, so we took them under our wing and...
F1189 Serendipity! //[laugh]//
M1202 //we schooled them at night.// //and they got good marks, they passed.//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 So we were quite chuffed about that, and so our landlady was really appreciative.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And she arranged a blind date for us, //with two Canadian girls,//
F1189 //[laugh]//
M1202 and one of them was to become my wife. //[laugh] So.//
F1189 //Ah!// You you had it all sewn up then, it sounds //[inaudible] [laugh]//
M1202 //Oh just by accident, you know? It sounds as if it was// by design, but it wasn't, you know? But erm...
F1189 Now was it always Toronto you had set your sights on?
M1202 Yes, and from here I have travelled all over the world.
F1189 Mmhm. And what were you allowed to bring with you on that journey? //[laugh]//
M1202 //Och then you could go on board with an anvil if you wanted, you know, I mean it was [laugh]// [inhale] It was a very easy type of er journey //then.//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 Air travel was pleasant then. //It was adventurous, it was filled with joy, you know?//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 The meals were fantastic, //you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 Well I shouldn't say fantastic, but I'm comparing them to today. Today you have a brown-bag special //on an airline,//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 and lots of airlines you get no meal //at all, you know?//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 But no, you had a very good meal, and that was usually a two-course meal. You had er oh two entrees I should say, and you would have er three courses, dessert, coffee and free bar, and stuff like this, you know?
F1189 It was glamorous? //Mmhm.//
M1202 //It was glamorous, and the girls were// beautifully dressed, stewardesses, you know? //Aw, they still are well-dressed today, I don't mean that, but there's a sort of glamour to them now that is now gone, you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.// How much did that cost you, do you remember?
M1202 Oh my gosh. We didn't get any assistance. We just went down and paid our //money, you know, this assisted passage and stuff like that, we didn't do that.//
F1189 //Mm mm mmhm.//
M1202 Erm...
F1189 And did you need a visa then //or did you just...? Mmhm mm.//
M1202 //No, no no, just a British passport, because you must remember, this was a British dominion.//
F1189 Mmhm. //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 //It was er, we didn't have a flag, there was no national flag.// I mean //we we didn't feel we changed countries at all because//
F1189 //Was the Union Jack, [inaudible], mm mm.//
M1202 there was so many Scots here already, and there was also a strong British tradition, //you know?//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 So I slowly saw this country er change, //you know?//
F1189 //Mm.// I just wondered whether or not, because books matter to you, quite clearly, if you brought any with you from home //in your luggage? Mm.//
M1202 //Yes, I I brought well-loved copies// of Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat, which had been given to me on one of my birthdays //by my uncle,//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 er a lovely copy of Burns, //again it was awarded to me,//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 er a couple of Scott's, I couldn't bring them all.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Erm there was a large collection of Stevenson we had and I had to leave it - that broke my heart. Beautiful leather-bound copies.
F1189 Were they your own copies? //Mm, right.//
M1202 //Yes, they were, yeah.//
F1189 And where did you get them from?
M1202 They were er bought by my uncle or my father, //you know, and er//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.// Was Stevenson a particular favourite? //Mmhm mmhmm.//
M1202 //Oh yes, yeah, "Treasure Island", ah,// I read that so many times.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Gorgeous. Used to [?]floor[/?] away //on those, with flashlights under the pillow,//
F1189 //Mmhm.// //[laugh]//
M1202 //you know?// "Are you asleep yet?", [laugh] //the cry would come. "Oh yes I am!" //
F1189 //Yes. [laugh]//
M1202 Oh not so long. I had another chapter of Stevenson to read before I slept, //you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.// //And and the Burns, you said that was awarded to you?//
M1202 //Beautiful.//
F1189 What was that awarded //for?//
M1202 //Oh I gave er I gave my first Immortal Memory when I was a young man.// //And it was a//
F1189 //Uh-huh.//
M1202 sort of contest. //I can't remember the details now.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.// //Mm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //And it wasn't a very expensive copy, but it was beloved by me, because of having received it that way.//
F1189 And did you read at all on that that momentous journey over here? //Or was there too much excitement?//
M1202 //[inhale] Oh yes, I was reading about American politics,// //trying to come to grips with it and understand it.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 Er, I was... came involved very closely with the whole play-scene over here,
F1189 Mmhm. //Mmhm.//
M1202 //American plays, you know,// Faulkner. //Walt Whitman, "Leaves of Grass", you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm mmhm.// Were these things you were familiar with before //you came, or before you decided to come?//
M1202 //No, I, no.// I hadn't done much //American reading, I was//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 totally immersed in my country's literature.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And when I say my country, I mean Britain.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 I mean er, my father would not allow me to become //isolationist, in my thinking, or reading.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 And of course the house was filled with works by er by other writers, //by English writers, good British writers, Dickens of course, Thackeray, Milton, Byron.//
F1189 //Mm mm mmhm mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 We were a very literate family.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And er //it was a strength, really, you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 Reading was a very important thing for us,
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 and our love of reading was inherited, //you know?//
F1189 //Mm.// Now, what about the straightforward emigrant literature? I mean there was a good deal of that in terms of pamphlets and advice books. Do you recall any of that?
M1202 It was very simple. //It wasn't complex.//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 I mean as I s- said already, I saw this country change, and it changed to a bureaucracy, which is frightening.
F1189 Mm. //Mmhm mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //I loved it when I first came here, because I thought what a marvellous country, it's free of all sorts of these dos and don'ts, and then slowly they became accumulated.// Er, no, the the literature on what the immigrant should do when he //arrives was practically non-existent.//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 It was catchers catch can, //you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 And er
F1189 Was it difficult then, to to acclimatise to here?
M1202 Well, [exhale], I would say no, //erm,//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 for the same reason as I already said, that it was like changing //Britains,//
F1189 //Mm.// //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 //you know, I was going from one Britain to another Britain, erm,// that sounds silly to say that, but you know what I mean.
F1189 Mmhm. //Mm. Mm mmhm.//
M1202 //There was a strong British influence here. It's now gone completely.// Totally eradicated. I mean people like Pierre Elliot Trudeau saw to that.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 He made it harder to get a Scotsman to Canada than a Pakistani, //you know, that literally did happen.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 I'm not saying that in a derisive way, or a racist way, I just mean that that's how things offered.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And it was specifically done by Trudeau, I think, because he had a different vision of Canada.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Er it was a it was a vision along francophone lines,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 whereas before, the visions of er the previous prime ministers had been along anglophone lines.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 That [?]definitely[/?], it was a watershed. //He was a brilliant man, you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm mm.//
M1202 And erm I think he was a necessary prime minister //for Canada at that time.//
F1189 //Mmhm mm.//
M1202 Er and you can, you know, what's that phrase, [?]Paddy Dolan[/?] used it in an Immortal Memory in Glasgow in nineteen thirty-six. He said about Burns, er, "We crucify them when they're alive, and we place a laurel leaf upon their head when they're dead."
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 That sums up what we do to great men, //you know, and Trudeau was one of them.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 At any rate er, it did change, it changed dramatically, er, er Lester Pearson was the one who pioneered our flag, //you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 And er
F1189 Now did you ever consider the United States?
M1202 No, you see, the thing is er I ended up working for the National Research //Council,//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 and we were involved with er the time of the missile crisis //in Cuba.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 And I was doing work er between Toronto or Ottawa, and er Dayton, Ohio. //and that, the reason for that was Dayton, Ohio was the centre for er USAF, the United States Airforce.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm mm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 Er,
F1189 So you stayed in engineering then? //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //Yes, oh it was all engineering. It was pure physics.// //I was working on er microwave applications of er er gradations in linear effects in film and coatings.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm mm mmhm.//
M1202 Er, basically er they came to us er in Ottawa
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And they said er, these were er aerial reconnaissance film
F1189 Mmhm. //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //in the bellies of, of bombers.// Er that type of film er commercially people will not use to to, sizes. They're massive, they're thirty-six to forty-eight inches //in width.//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 And they're being er run through the system at high speed. //The bomber makes a pass and they photograph things on the ground.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 They are [inaudible], they're looking down on it and they can see that,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 from that elevation only. They cannot see it from that, they can see it from plan elevation, not from the second or first elevation //on the ground.//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 And so they came to us and they wanted to er the problem was that in the film, er, the stratification of the film they had across the the the width of it they had a percentage of moisture which was varying.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 It was going up and down. This er variance in the moisture content
F1189 Mm. //Mmhm.//
M1202 //was causing distortion in the film when it was developed.// So they wanted to be able to reduce the moisture content er in a straight line instead of in a graph of er hyperboles going across the film. So they wanted us to er er develop a chamber, a high-frequency chamber which would reduce that moisture level to er one half percent across the entire width. Well we took the problem, went back and worked our slide rules, this was the days before computers, and we did some experimentations, which took us about //oh a month or so.//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 And I went back down to Dayton and I told them that we had reduced it to one tenth of one percent, instead of a half. That is a massive difference.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And they were delighted because it meant that the thing to all intents and purposes was almost //moisture-free//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 when it came through the guide, the wave guide. We built the wave guide, we supplied the technology. This technology was developed by Canadian Patents and //Developments Limited, in Ottawa.//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 The US couldn't copy it. It was under patent protection. So we didn't know what we were working on. It was a hush-hush project. And er it was seven years later I found out that we had helped to spot the missiles in Cuba.
F1189 Mm mmhm.
M1202 That was that day that er the American envoy went to the desk of Molotov,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 in the United Nations and he said "You're a damned liar, these are not er er grain silos, these are missiles."
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Because that's what the Russians were saying, they were grain silos, you know? The Cubans were saying this too.
F1189 So that's a Canadian part in that whole //story, really, uh-huh yes.//
M1202 //Oh yes, Canada played a, well she// //The Candarm, the space arm, that was developed here.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.// //Mmhm.//
M1202 //They always downplay what we do.// The reason I'm happy here is it's, I've changed sides //in the Atlantic.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 But the plot is still the same.
F1189 Mmhm. //And do you feel-. [laugh]//
M1202 //It's it's, Canada versus the US is similar to Scotland versus England.// //A very same scenario in many-. I'm not being tongue in cheek here.//
F1189 //It does seem that way. Mmhm.//
M1202 I'm trying to be literal.
F1189 Mm. //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 //And there are many examples where you can find this, you know?// //Er...//
F1189 //And do you feel Canadian then?// Or h-, how do you feel your identity, how would you //describe it now?//
M1202 //Oh that- that's a hard question to answer.// For so many years I've felt I was a Scot.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Er knew I was a Scot, let's put it that way. But no I can honestly say now that after all thes-, I've been here longer than you have lived. Erm, no I am a Canadian.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 I'm a Scots Canadian, really. //That's...//
F1189 //Right.// So that, that's a very multicultural label then.
M1202 Most people do have a //multicultural label here.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 And that is, they're allowed //that label.//
F1189 //Mmhm mm.//
M1202 You're not allowed that in the States.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 You put your hand over your heart and you salute Old Glory as she's being //taken down at night,//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 er when Taps are playing. Er you are an American.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 You're not a Scottish American,
F1189 Mmhm. //Mmhm.//
M1202 //an Armenian American,// you are an American. Here you're a Scots Canadian, or an Armenian Canadian. That's the difference. //And Canada is a more liberal society in that regard, you know?//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 They don't deman- demand this of you. But, you know, there's always a good side and bad side to everything. And there is a bad side to this multiculturalism here.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 It's now so dense and so so prolific that er we have run into problems.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 We have run al-, almost run into clashes, but not quite.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Er considering what we've done here, i.e. copied the States and that we've become a a a sort of bubbling stew //of nations around the world,//
F1189 //Mm mm.//
M1202 they have done a remarkable job here.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 All in all it's a wonderful country to live in. Really.
F1189 Now, you've been obviously in a job that must have taken up an awful lot of your time, as you've described it to me.
M1202 You mean today?
F1189 No. //When you were a young man.//
M1202 //No, previous, mmhm yes, yes.//
F1189 And you got married too.
M1202 Yes.
F1189 And did you have children? //[laugh]//
M1202 //I had three daughters, yeah.// //Yeah, yes it is, yeah.//
F1189 //Oh that's a handful for a start. [laugh]// Did you have much time then for for leisure reading, aside from the reading you must have had to do to keep abreast of of your work?
M1202 Oh yes, yes, especially er especially poetry.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 Poetry is er it's such a wonderful way //of encapsulating experience.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.// //Mm mmhm mmhm mm.//
M1202 //You have very good prose, very lucid prose, very free-flowing, and some of the best historical writers that I've read do have that.// Er, Jenkins is one of them //that I mentioned.//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 Erm, but when it comes to poetry,
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 the thing that takes your breath away is that in a few words
F1189 Mm. //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //so much is said.// It takes a page to say the same thing //in prose.//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 In poetry, three lines does it. //you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm.// Now when you came here to Canada, then, you brought that legacy with you of of //the classics of Scottish literature, mm?//
M1202 //I already had it, I already had it in my head, I mean// //you know, again Burns, you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 "But pleasures are like poppies spread
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 you seize the flow'r, it's bloom is shed.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Or like the snow fall on the river, a moment white then gone forever." //I mean you know?//
F1189 //Nicely put, yeah. Uh-huh.//
M1202 It would take you two pages to describe that, you know?
F1189 What about Canadian authors then?
M1202 Oh yes. //Yes, I embraced them when I came here, yeah.//
F1189 //Did you encounter them when you first came? Did you?// //Uh-huh mm mm.//
M1202 //Yeah, because I was interested in their literature. I was interested in their literature because it was the literature of a nation that was in formation.//
F1189 Mmhm mmhm.
M1202 And that sparked ideas in me.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Erm, the one man I best remember is Marshall McLuhan, no not Marshall McLuhan, he was later, er McLellan.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Er the thing that entranced me and I I went to see it for myself just about a year later, I read a book of his collected //essays, Canadian//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 writer, and he er describes the coming of fall to the mouth of the St Lawrence.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Absolutely beautiful prose. Er he became a professor of English at er McGill, //in Montreal and and taught, I I've met many who had been in his classes.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm mm.//
M1202 Said he was a wonderful person. And I can well imagine he would be, //cause er, or would have been,//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 because er of the way he wrote. //Er,//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 That, the description of the fall in Canada
F1189 Mm.
M1202 crystallised Canada //for me.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 And I went to see this marvellous display of colour later on //with my wife,//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 And er it was spot-on, //you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 Er, and you know I-I- I've, you know, delved into the history of the Hudson's Bay Company, you know? The largest mercantile empire on the planet. //Nothing has ever equalled it.//
F1189 //Mm.// //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //Run by Scots.// And the way we got around it was marvellous.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Newman is one of the historians here. //Peter Newman.//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 He's written several books, er on history and on er politics. And er he says er in in "Gentleman Company of Adventurers", that's the title //of his work//
F1189 //Mmhm.// //Mmhm.//
M1202 //on the Hudson's Bay Company.// "Gentleman Company of Adventurers" Those words that I've just said are the first words in the Charter of Rights given by Charles //the Second to//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 the men who wanted to start this. At any rate, this thing becomes a vast empire, It's running for a hundred years. It's a pure cash cow.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And suddenly one of these dim-bulbs in London, a director of the company, gets the idea, "We should go over and inspect //this.//
F1189 //Mm.//
M1202 We've never been." This is after a hundred //years.//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 So they send this fellow off. He's really not very bright. And erm he's at Moose Factory, I've been there, it's right up, very far north.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 It's not far from the Arctic Circle. And erm he's in this vast trading hall, oh it's like a a church inside, //it's so large.//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 And he's standing talking to this Scottish factor, these are the fellows that run //the posts.//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 And he says to them "What's that crowd of men down there, at the end of the building, all huddled together?"
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And the Scot said, "Why sir, these are Indians." "Indians?" "Yes." "Real live Indians?" "Yes of course." "I've never met one. Call them over." So he selects the tallest, big hunched shouldered fellow, all bangles and beads and buckskin and a feather in his hair, the hair so black it's blue, the colour of a raven's wing, big hooked nose, dark skin, and he shouts out to him "Hey Macdonald, come on over here!" //[laugh]//
F1189 //[laugh]// //Now that's [laugh]//
M1202 //Oh we- we're very friendly people the Scots.// //[laugh]//
F1189 //that's a, it's a great story, and it alludes to a sensibility I think that might exist among Scots here, that that they have a stake, a particular stake in the foundation of// //Canada. Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //Oh very much so. We're very proud of it, and rightly so.// //Yes, we're, well let's put it, I would say that we're quietly aware of it. We don't do a lot of shouting.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 There's so many others that have come from other countries here who have done a lot, but they haven't done a lot for Canada.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 I mean they've done a lot in their own countries.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And rightly so, they've been recognised for that.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 But erm no, there's no nation here, I can say honestly, that played the part that we played.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And the marvellous thing about it is that we're such a small country.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 I mean our high-water mark in population, what? Five point six million?
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 It's never been any higher.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 It's less now.
F1189 Mmhm. Yes it is less.
M1202 One thing that might interest you,
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 talking, you you mentioned what was it like when I left Glasgow. In the emigration office that day, that week
F1189 Mm.
M1202 when I left, forty thousand Scots left from that office.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Now I'm not saying they were all from Glasgow, but they came to //Glasgow to er//
F1189 //Mm.// //Mmhm.//
M1202 //visit the Canadian High Commission in Glasgow.// //And that was when their paperwork was cleared.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 And you had to get, you were talking about how complex it //was, yes there was, I said there wasn't much, but there was a degree//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 of of attention paid. You had to have a medical, //then you had//
F1189 //Mmhm.// //Mmhm.//
M1202 //to have a passport and you had to have your form filled in.// And you had to do that at the er er Canada House in Glasgow. But forty thousand. //Now they left, they left, they went to Australia, they went to New Zealand, but there was a large, a very large contingent came to Canada.//
F1189 //[inaudible] Mm mm.// Mmhm.
M1202 And I was one of them.
F1189 Did you ever want to go home?
M1202 Oh yes, yeah, many times.
F1189 Were you homesick, to begin with? //Mm.//
M1202 //Terribly.// //Yeah.//
F1189 //Mmhm.// But you resisted that?
M1202 Well I did, for force er of requirements, er, I was married, I //had a Canadian wife,//
F1189 //Mmhm mm.//
M1202 and then our first daughter came along, you know, and you know, you're like you're like a boxwood plant, you put down roots, //you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm.// Now, do you feel that the reading that you could do about home, or of Scottish authors, for example Burns, helped you in any way //to do that?//
M1202 //Oh yes, yeah.// Many texts did.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Erm, you hit a sore point there, //er,//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 as I think you can see, erm, the thing I missed was the high land.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 I came here to, this is rela- relatively flat. I learned later, //going out to the//
F1189 //Mm.// //Mmhm mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //Prairies that this is not flat at all, it's rolling countryside, the province of Ontario I mean.// Er, the Prairies are so flat that there's a joke //about them, they said that er//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 it's so flat that if your dog leaves home, you can see him leaving for three days. //[laugh]//
F1189 //[laugh]// //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //Then you run into the Rockies.// Amazing. Marvellous scenery. //Much higher than Scotland.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 But, that being said, I still missed my ain folk, //I missed the hills, I missed the glens,//
F1189 //Mm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 I missed the mountains, oh yeah, terribly, terribly.
F1189 What about sort of landmarks, like, for example, Burns Night? Now you'd obviously always been a part of that.
M1202 Mmhm.
F1189 We you able to replicate that? //Yeah, mm mmhm.//
M1202 //Yes, fully, completely.// Oh more Burns dinners here than you can shake a stick at, you know? [laugh] And all over the the country. //Oh yeah.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.// Did you join a Burns society //when you came here?//
M1202 //Yes, I did, yeah, yeah.// And I've given all the speeches.
F1189 Mmhm mmhm.
M1202 I'm a member of the Officers' Mess of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
F1189 Mmhm mm.
M1202 And er, we run a Burns dinner there, //which is excellent, you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.// Now that's one Scottish society. How early on did you join that?
M1202 The Argylls?
F1189 Yes, uh-huh.
M1202 Oh recently, eight years ago.
F1189 Right, so tha- that's more recently? What about in the early, first decade //you came here? Mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //Well I would go along to Burns suppers, you know, and eventually get to know people there.// Erm, and er, that led to //other things, you know,//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 going going to er //to sessions and erm,//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.// //Mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //My involvement with the University of Guelph and the Scottish Studies group, that caused a lot of interactivity like that, you know?//
F1189 So did yo- you seek out Scottish organisation then? //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //Yes I did, yes, initially yes, yeah.// And er I enjoy being //with them, you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 Er, going up to, I go to the spring colloquium and also the fall colloquium at Guelph, and
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 listen to Scottish papers, //you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 Er, you become... Churchill put it very well, because he had an American mother, as you know,
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 and Scots become this, you become a child of the Atlantic.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 You know? You find yourself in the strange dichotomy of being in Scotland,
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 defending the US or //Canada,//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 and being in Canada and defending Scotland, //if anyone criticises it.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.// //[laugh]//
M1202 //you know?// //Because you're a...//
F1189 //Yeah.// //Mm. You have divided loyalty.//
M1202 //you're caught between both worlds, you know. It's i-// Yes, it's exactly the lot of the emigrant, you know?
F1189 Now, you did mention that you were once inclined to nationalism, Scottish nationalism, //[inaudible], uh-huh.//
M1202 //Yes, initially, yes I was, yeah.//
F1189 When did you give up on that? I take it you came over with those politics?
M1202 Yes, I did, I did, because my father was a nationalist. //He was a,//
F1189 //Mm.// //Mmhm mm mm mm mm.//
M1202 //you know, an officer of the Crown, you know, and fought under the Union Jack, but he was, he wasn't a rabid nationalist, my father wasn't for, you know, beating drums on that basis,// but he was er he was definitely er keen to see Scotland prosper //along the lines of other nation states.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm mm.//
M1202 I feel because of our history, and because of what has happened, living north of a very acquisitive neighbour, and a neighbour that tried to give us quite a hard time,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 we took rather a long time to learn that er they wouldn't succeed any more than the Romans did.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And we were about one of the only ones that taught the Romans a lesson, //you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 Er, you don't want to become too jingoistic //about that, I mean that becomes cocky and that's not attractive.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 I see Scotland as a modern nation state, //standing on its own.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 I'd like to see Scotland similar to Norway or Denmark.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 I believe she's walking down that road. I thought, in my lifetime //I would see it.//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 but I don't think so. I think I'll be dead.
F1189 Now do you read the Scottish press? //Mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //Yes, from time to time. Not on a continuing basis, no.//
F1189 How do you get access to that?
M1202 Oh this- there's a very good chain here in fact, //you know, it's sold here.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 Newspapers are, you know, er quite international, //you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.// And what about when you first came here, Harry, do you recall seeing things like the Sunday Post, //or the Scotsman? [laugh] Uh-huh.//
M1202 //Oh no, no, no no no no, I'm talking now.// No, then you were completely isolated.
F1189 Uh-huh.
M1202 Then you didn't cross the Atlantic with the same regularity.
F1189 Mmhm mmhm.
M1202 Er, my father died and of course I went over right //away, erm.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 That sort of thing is an emergency for all families. But no, you didn't have access to the British press.
F1189 Mmhm. //Mmhm. So no-one sent it to you?//
M1202 //There was no internet, you know?// //Oh yes, my mother, oh my mother would send me copies of the People's Friend, with little articles that she wanted me to see and stuff, and I loved that.//
F1189 //No-one [inaudible]? Mmhm mmhm uh-huh uh-huh mmhm.//
M1202 And er she er had my father send me the odd copy, //like//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 the Scottish Field magazine, I'd get that //fairly regularly.//
F1189 //Uh-huh uh-huh.//
M1202 And er, that sort of thing //went on and off, you know? We had cousins and what, they would send over things, you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm mmhm mmhm.// Remittances from home. //[laugh]//
M1202 //Mm? Sorry?// //Messages from home, yeah, yeah, yeah.//
F1189 //Messages from home. Mm mmhm.// And when did you first go back to Scotland? Cause I know you've been back many times.
M1202 Oh yes, yes, nineteen seventy-five was the most active year. //I was er with the Canadian government then.//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 I was a commercial officer with er the er International Marketing Department.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And I took trade missions out all over the //world.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 And many to to Scotland.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 So in nineteen seventy-five, I I crossed over fifty times in the one year.
F1189 Oh mmhm.
M1202 Fifty times. I was practically not at home //at all.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 It quite a strain on my marriage actually. Er, my wife is made of good, good stock, //you know?//
F1189 //[laugh]// Now on your journeying, and you clearly do travel a good deal,
M1202 Yes.
F1189 is is taking a book along with you part of that //that aspect of your life?//
M1202 //Oh yes, oh,// //it's like a walking-stick for me, yeah.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.// //Mmhm.//
M1202 //Yes, er,// I'm sorry if I've forgotten to pack it, so //to speak, and I've//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.// //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //feel that at the other end, you know?//
F1189 And do you mostly read fiction or non-fiction? You've mentioned lots of biographies.
M1202 I mainly read history.
F1189 Right, uh-huh.
M1202 And politics. //I'm fascinated by politics.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.// And what about er non-fiction?
M1202 Not much.
F1189 Right, uh-huh.
M1202 I read the odd... My wife loves //er//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 non-fiction. She's an avid reader.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Er, she's a prodigious reader, //is the is the term.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 And er it's mainly all fiction.
F1189 Mmhm mmhm.
M1202 But she taught me - er, I was sort of pooh-poohing that for a period - but she taught me that a good steady diet of fiction, if it's well written,
F1189 Mm.
M1202 is expanding your knowledge as well as, say, //a book on history or politics,//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 because it's expanding your knowledge of the human heart, and er it's expanding your knowledge of [inaudible], you know, er //mores, miscalculations of humanity, you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.// Now you mentioned your great love of Stevenson and great storytellers like that, what is it do you think that's made you move away from from fiction //in your adult life?//
M1202 //[inhale]// I think I'm guilty of adhering to fiction er because it was Scottish fiction.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 I shouldn't say that, it wasn't Scottish fiction, "Treasure Island" isn't Scottish fiction, //neither is "Travels with a Donkey", which was one of my favourites of Stevenson.//
F1189 //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 It's because it was written by a Scottish writer.
F1189 Mmhm mmhm.
M1202 It's because I championed that writer. //I think he's great.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 I mean, his most compelling and revolutionary work was "Jekyll and Hyde".
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 I mean there's been volumes written about that one book //that he wrote.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 I mean it's pure Freudian psychology. We're filled with it as human beings. We're all Jekyll and Hydes, every one of us.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And for him to explore that and reveal that to us at that time, you know, //I just loved that stuff, you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 So I did, I I I must correct myself, I did, past tense, read a lot of //fiction.//
F1189 //Mmhm.// //Mm. [laugh]//
M1202 //And you pointed that out, thank you.// But er...
F1189 But not now?
M1202 Not now, I don't-. Yo- you must remember too that the publishing world has undergone a tremendous change.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 There's now a steady volume of works, I mean it's a Niagara of books. And they're constantly coming out.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And you tend to latch on to the one favourite subject, because er then it becomes sequential, you know? I am reading right now about the tremendous amount of development took place in the US during the Kennedy years, of er of the RAND Corporation.
F1189 Mm.
M1202 And the RAND Corporation, if you successively read books about it, you realise that they govern our lives.
F1189 Mm. //Mm mmhm.//
M1202 //And that sounds dramatic, but it's true.// There's many things we do that we're unconscious of,
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 and RAND is responsible for that.
F1189 Mmhm mmhm.
M1202 And there is a wonderful book, that's just been recently written, by a US author, on the RAND Corporation. It's called "Gentlemen of Reason",
F1189 Mm.
M1202 and I recommend it to you.
F1189 Mmhm. //[laugh]//
M1202 //It'll shock you. Knock your socks off! [laugh]//
F1189 Now, because I know you're pressed for time today,
M1202 Yes, //unfortunately.//
F1189 //although I could// speak to you for an awful lot longer, Harry, I think I'm probably going to to wind up now, so I've only got a couple more questions. And one is that you live in a country, now you've mentioned the the anglophone aspect of it and the francophone aspect, where there are two official languages, erm do you speak French, for example?
M1202 I speak it very slightly. //Er, more by a process of er osmosis than anything else.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 We're surrounded by it //here as you know.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.// //Mmhm mmhm mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //And er I can get my way through the pronunciations quite easily, because of, you know, the familiarity with it, by by outside impression.// //Er, but no, I do not speak the language. Nor can I write it at all, no.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.// And you wouldn't read it then? //Mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //Er no, my great er, you've touched on another vein, er one of my favourites is "Remembrance of Things Past" by Proust.//
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 I'd love to read that in the original, because it's so good in translation. Have you read it?
F1189 [inhale] I must, shame-faced here, no I haven't. [laugh] //I'm saving it for my retirement. [laugh] Mmhm.//
M1202 //Get it! It's marvellous. It's the reflections of an individual// //th-.//
F1189 //What age were you, can I ask, when, when you read Proust?//
M1202 Oh I just finished it er last winter. //It's three volumes.//
F1189 //Right, uh-huh uh-huh.//
M1202 Er...
F1189 So it sounds like you're challenging yourself //with with your reading?//
M1202 //I try to, I try to.// //And I love er Guy de Maupassant,//
F1189 //Mm.// //Mmhm.//
M1202 //er er,// //Molière, oh I'd love to read them in the original French.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 I've I've s-, you know how you have these silly dreams //which don't fit in with//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 the time factor, cause I don't know how much time I've got left now. I'm seventy-five. Erm, I'd love to retire and study French,
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 to the point where I could become conversational, or at least adept at reading, //you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm.// Well that's that's another challenge you could er er rise //to. [laugh] Uh-huh uh-huh.//
M1202 //No, I've read many Fren- many French authors, and I love some of the Quebec authors too.// //And that, some of that is fiction, you know?//
F1189 //Uh-huh uh-huh.// Now that is my last question, you know, current Canadian authors, I mean, some of them are quite big on the world literary stage, //erm people like Margaret Atwood.//
M1202 //Mmhm.// Read her. Yeah. //Mmhm yeah yeah.//
F1189 //You have? Uh-huh uh-huh.// Would that be something you would read, say, on holiday?
M1202 Yes, and also because of my wife.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Again it's fiction, //er,//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 and I've read it because it's Margaret Atwood. //I mean,//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 suddenly this name gets repeated throughout the years, //and she becomes noteworthy,//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 and she becomes aw-, rewarded, //I should say, by the Canadian literary public,//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 and you say "well, my gosh, I'd better read this woman", //you know, by virtue of the fact that//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 she's obviously of some worth. //And it's in that regard that I've read a couple of her books.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 Erm, yes a very very good and sensible author. I lo-, I love the Canadian humour too, Stephen Leacock, have you read any of his stuff?
F1189 No, but strangely enough he's come up in the reading biographies of a couple of Scots, //in Scotland, as a...//
M1202 //Mm mmhm yeah, yeah.//
F1189 he he appealed to Scots at som-, //in some way. [laugh] Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //Oh yes, yes, and the funny thing is that Scots go away// //and stay overseas and get influenced by other cultures and then come back and produce these tremendous Scottish works.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm mmhm.// //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //I mean Lewis Grassic Gibbon did that, he was in the RAF and he served in Persia and er he came back and produced these marvellous things.// He wrote a book on the Inca
F1189 Mmhm. //Mmhm mmhm mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //which he lectured on all across the US and people thought he was an archaeologist, it was so beautifully written and so detailed,// //You should get it, it's ma-, if you haven't, If you have read it, I'm sorry. Have you?//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.// N-, er no. //No. Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 //Er, I didn't think so from the expression on your face when I was speaking about it.// Er, just incredible his grasp of this complex civilisation.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 And he writes so well about it that people swore that he, as a lecturer in the States, had visited those lands,
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 had inspected the archaeology. He had never been there.
F1189 Mmhm mmhm. Imagination, great.
M1202 Exactly, yeah.
F1189 Now what about contemporary Scottish authors, who've also done well in sort of literary terms?
M1202 I read one or two of them. And again it was fiction. Erm, friends mainly, I mean er Professor Ted Cowan at Glasgow University, a close friend for many years.
F1189 Mmhm?
M1202 In fact it was he that got me going on the idea of the Scottish Studies Foundation.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 It wasn't me that just sat down and had this bright bulb turn on in my head. Er, it was erm it was Ted Cowan. He said "You know, we can't do much inside academe, because budgets are //restrained". He says "We need someone outside, like yourself,//
F1189 //Mmhm.// //He's a very persuasive man.//
M1202 //to do something."// //Oh yes he is, yes he is, he's a very charming man.//
F1189 //[laugh] Uh-huh.//
M1202 I call him the Viking. //Yeah.//
F1189 //[laugh]//
M1202 When I first met him he looked like a Viking, with //the//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 big red beard and red hair. //A nice fellow, I like Ted.//
F1189 //Mmhm.// Mmhm.
M1202 And er, no we got the //Studies Foundation going together.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.// So what about in terms of Scottish fiction just now. Are yo- you engaged with that at all? //Mm.//
M1202 //Don't get a lot of it over here.// Er, it's it's probably on the shelves but you'd have to look //for it, you know?//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 And we don't wave the flag for other authors; we're too busy waving the flags for our own. You must remember, again I mentioned this earlier on. We're a nation in formation.
F1189 Mm. //Mmhm.//
M1202 //We're not really finished yet. We're like// the the potter's er clay. //We're still being moulded.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 And I I don't mean that in an insulting way to Canada. It's true. She's a young nation.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 I mean, look at where we've come from.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Our first king goes back, what, Fergus the First, before the time of written //records.//
F1189 //Mmhm mmhm.//
M1202 This was before the Picts even, you know?
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 Before Saint Columba, you know?
F1189 So have you read any of the recent great national histories, say, the one by Professor Devine //"The Scottish Nation"?//
M1202 //Yes, yes, I read it.// And Smout's. I don't agree with Smout's, but I've read it.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 I've read Cowan's book on Scotland.
F1189 Mmhm.
M1202 I've read Barbour on Bruce. //Oh I'm//
F1189 //Mmhm.//
M1202 I- I'm pretty comfortable with my reading, about the histories. Er, there's always some bright fellows turning out more, you, er you have to try and keep up, you know. It's like swimming, you know, you can't stop. //[laugh]//
F1189 //[laugh]// Oh I think we'll we'll close it there because that was a l-, a nice closing comment. Can I thank you very very much, Harry, for the time that you've given me this morning. //And I've enjoyed it very...//
M1202 //You're welcome, you're welcome. I've enjoyed it too. Thank you.//

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APA Style:

Interview with Harry Ferguson for Scottish Readers Remember Project. 2020. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved May 2020, from http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=1681.

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"Interview with Harry Ferguson for Scottish Readers Remember Project." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2020. Web. May 2020. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=1681.

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Information about Document 1681

Interview with Harry Ferguson for Scottish Readers Remember Project

Audio

Audio audience

For gender Mixed
Audience size N/A

Audio awareness & spontaneity

Speaker awareness N/A
Degree of spontaneity N/A

Audio footage information

Year of recording 2009
Recording person id 1189
Size (min) 117
Size (mb) 568

Audio setting

Recording venue Interviewee's home
Geographic location of speech Toronto

Audio relationship between recorder/interviewer and speakers

Speakers knew each other N/A

Audio transcription information

Transcriber id 718
Year of transcription 2010
Year material recorded 2009
Word count 19200

Audio type

Interview

Participant

Participant details

Participant id 1189
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1950
Educational attainment University
Age left school 16
Occupation Research Assistant
Place of birth Ayr
Region of birth S Ayr
Birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Glasgow
Region of residence Glasgow
Residence CSD dialect area Gsw
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Journeyman joiner
Father's place of birth Ayr
Father's region of birth S Ayr
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Domestic
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

Participant

Participant details

Participant id 1202
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1930
Educational attainment College
Age left school 16
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation CEO
Place of birth Glasgow
Region of birth Glasgow
Birthplace CSD dialect area Gsw
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Oakville
Region of residence Ontario
Country of residence Canada
Father's occupation Army officer, civil servant
Father's place of birth Glasgow
Father's region of birth Glasgow
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Gsw
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Housewife
Mother's place of birth Kirk of Shotts
Mother's region of birth Lanark
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Lnk
Mother's country of birth Scotland

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English Yes Yes Yes Yes
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes

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