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 Margaret Taylor Mitchell Born: 1925 Else Inglis Edinburgh

A picture of Margaret at her weddingWe lived in Milton Street, Abbeyhill. Up the road was the PalaceHolyrood Palace (Queen Elizabeth windsor Mountbatten the 1st Of Scotland residence in Ediburgh). It was a second floor flat with a room and kitchen. There were nine of us, plus mum and dad. It was quite cramped. There was one bedroom and a weeSmall box room. The boys had the box room. We had a double bed and we slept head to toe. I was born after my four brothers Bob, Billy, Tommy and James, then there was me and then Isa, Nellie, Aggie and Chrissie. My dad was a tin smith. He worked in Milne's Foundry in Milton Street where we lived. We had an inside toilet but no bath. We lived in the kitchen. We had a black range which my poor mother cleaned. I went to Abbeyhill School and Mr Duncan and Mr Millar were the teachers. They were very good. Then I went to Bellvue Secondary school. Mum used to take us to the second hand shops for clothes. My daughter Eleanor goes to the charity shops to this day for clothes, we didn’t feel bad about it in those days either. I thought I was getting something new. We just didnae did not have the money.

We played in the street, rounders, skipping, peevers and that. There were plenty pubs, I know ‘cause my dad liked going to them. My dad would always sing coming up the stair cause he was ayeregularly drunk. My mother was the best woman in the world. She had everything to do. She ayealways had the food on the table and father sat there in his chair. He didnae did not move. Nobody spoke up though, you didnae did not in they days. Mum ran the house and if you got into trouble you got put into the bedroom. Bob liked the football and Billie worked beside mamy dad, then he joined the RAF.

There was an air raid shelter down in the back greenCommunal garden at rear of a block of flats. There was nothing in it but it was very confined. Everybody in the stair used it. There was one for each stair. The raids usually happened through the night and I felt tired, hungry and shaky whenever it happened and it was cold.

I left school at fifteen to work in Nairn's the Baker in Abbeyhill. I served behind the counter for ten years. A boy called Bill used to come in for the rolls. He was a postman. One day he asked me out. Six weeks later I went out with him and six weeks after that, we got married. I had plenty boyfriends before Bill though. I went to the dancin’ at Piercehill and toStewarts dance place wiwith Nan Robertson mamy pal. I went out with a lad called Jimmy Stewart, no the actor. I enjoyed the Tango.

Bill stayed in his own house in Stanley Place, so we had our own house right from the start. It was a flat, just a room and kitchen. We married in Abbey Church. My parents were delighted. Bill was ten years older than me but that was quite common then. We went to Ayr on our Honeymoon and stayed in a hotel.

A girls night and a presentationBill was brilliant. I used to stand at the window in Stanley Place and watch him coming down the street. I was a housewife. I didn't want to work. Bill wasn't much for going out so we used to listen to the wireless. Eleanor was the first born, then Dorothy, then Christine who was born in Gilmerton. Gilmerton Dykes Place was our house then. It’s knocked down now because it was sinking. It was brand new when we moved into it. It was a first floor flat with three bedrooms, a big change but it made life good. I used to go to the washhouseA communal building where people went to do laundry and meeting place before washing machines in Abbeyhill near the Regent picture house. I would pull the big drum out and put the washing in the machine, and you had dryers as well. We had a neighbour up the stair, Mrs Motherwell. She used to take her washing all the way to Portobello in the tram. I still don't know why she did that because it was more bother.

We used to go to North Berwick and Port Seton for day trips. We went by bus. We started going abroad when I went to Australia. It was too much to travel though. I went to see my brother Tommy. He emigrated when he was young to get work. Any kind of work.

I went bowling at the King's Park with my bowling buddies. I was awfyvery smart then. I have a medal sitting in my livingroom to this day. Bill was 65 when he died. He had been retired from the post office just a weeSmall while. He had cancer and had suffered from it for a long time. He was the best man in the world.

When I was in Gilmerton I used to take a big case round the houses and sell things. I was coming home one night, I got off the bus, crossed the road and got knocked over. It was a lawyer who knocked me over and he came in to see me in the hospital but I didn't want to see him. I had a broken pelvis, smashed hip and smashed knee. It was his fault. I was in hospital for months. I must like the hospital. I stayed in the house in Gilmerton for 12 years but it had stairs and I couldn't manage the stairs anymore. My daughter tells me I fell and that’s when I ended up in Liberton hospital. Told you I liked hospitals. It was after that I came to live here at Glenesk House. I have been here five years. I quite enjoy it. I have a nice flat and I have to put up with Joanne every morning, but she is very good and we have a laugh and a carry on. When I moved here, me and my family sold all my furniture, but that did not bother me one bit. I got brand new furniture for my lovely weesmall flat. I am surrounded with my grandchildren and great grand childrens’ photos.

Very happy after having a good lifeThe last time I was in Germany in 2007 I had only been there for one day when we went for a coffee. I was getting wheeled into the toilet and my leg was bumped against the wall. A lump developed straight away and it grew and grew. I was in hospital for four weeks. Told you I liked hospitals. They gave me a skin graph from my lower leg onto the top of my thigh. I thought the German hospital was absolutely beautiful. It was spotless. I couldnae could not talk German and the nurses couldnae could not talk Scotch and when I asked where my goonieFemale nightdress looks like a gown was I had to show them the one I had on so they would understand. The nurses were laughing at the word goonieFemale nightdress looks like a gown. When I got out they put me up in a hotel with a nurse. Then they flew me home and the nurse came with me. The care I got was brilliant.

I have had a good life. My family are wonderful to me. I love you Bill (dinnae tell John).

Margaret

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Adapted by Iain Tait