age of 11.5 yrs I started a milk run with the Henderson Street 'Leith
Provy'. Rules at the time said you had to be 13 yrs old and have a
form signed off by Parents / Guardians and handed into school.
was to make sure that you did not fall asleep in class. So for about a
year we kept it quiet that I was doing this milk run before getting the
form signed off."
"One Saturday while getting paid John the
butcher came into grocers looking for the grocer message boy. He needed
a message delivered to a customer up near the Capital Picture House.
The Grocery Manager and John started arguing
over the use of the delivery guy. Being in the middle I said I would do
the errand. After picking up my comics from Joe the newsagent and
telling my mum where I was going, I did the errand.
Over the next few weeks I built the job into
working Saturdays then working in the afternoons, after school, as a
"I learnt to ride a message bike with large
wicker basket on the front. It had rubbish brakes, so it was just
as well I wore ex- army boots to act as manual brakes.
The main use for the bike was to go down to
the Chill Rooms, the main warehouse/factory (where sausages, black
puddings etc were made).
trip, I carried 140lbs of lamb/sausages etc. 140lbs = 10 stone when I
came in at around 5 stone. Over the years, while at school I
basically did an apprenticeship.
So I left school on the Friday, and on the
following Tuesday I was manager in Lorne Street. The butcher's shop was
inside a grocer's shop.
Even when I moved into Brain Research, every
Saturday and during holidays, I would be found behind a counter as a
of work on a Saturday tended to be 6.30am till 5pm. Friday nights on the
Christmas run-up would till we finished normally around 9pm.
My first thoughts were
'No way am I going back to school'."
"One of my brothers-in-law was climbing his
way up the ladder as a printer, so I thought I would become a printer.
Burt I was told 'No way!' and I was advised to do the course to
become a meat inspector.
Christmas that year, I got a job in the Unit for
Research into Brain Metabolism working with Celia Yates and Hans
Gulberg. I helped them get their PhDs.
Celia spent her career in Edinburgh Uni.
While Hans became Prof in Trondiem. Head of Dept was Dr George
Ashcroft. Who became Prof in Aberdeen.
I spent some time in Aberdeen with Prof
Kozterlitz. His idea was that the brain has its own Morphine. He
discovered what are called Endorphins.
A year or so later 'Big Frank Cochrane'
found me, and I ended up working with Prof Sir Michael Woodruff.
(He did the first Kidney Transplant in UK.) We were trying to stimulate
the immune system to counteract Cancer."
Working as a Rep
"When we had our son we could not afford to
live on my wages so I managed to become ICI Animal Health Vet Rep for
When that job died I joined Astra
Pharmaceuticals and we launched the first SSRI (a type of Prozac).
So, for the next 35 years I was one of the top medical reps in UK."
From the Slums of Leith
is a bit of a ramble, but it shows what can happen to someone who grew
up in the slums of Leith, just as the 'Banana Flats' were built."