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John Allan Born:  1930 Broadhurst Road, Easthouses

What a laughMaMy dad had a bad accident in the pit in 1935, and decided to call it a day. He gripped a hawser rope and pulled his finger right off, and broke a leg at the same time. When he left the pit we got the house taken away, it was the coalboard's house, so we moved to Dalkeith. Dad worked in Douglas Flour Mill at Grannies Park. Mother tagged along. There was no boss in the house. My dad just did what he was told. We were in a house belonging to Gray & Taylor in Croft Street. The house was very compact. It had an inside toilet, the bed was in the living room, and a kitchen. In the fullness of time we were allocated a house in Woodburn by Dalkeith Council. They hummed and hawed about going because it was 5 shillings extra. A miner got £2.50 a week for taking coal from the coal face up to Newbattle. If you didn't produce the coal you didnae did not get paid. Woodburn was just a development that was starting. If you go into Woodburn now, and opposite the post office, you will see the pillars which was the entrance to Dalkeith house. The house is now gone and replaced by council houses. The pillars are just ornamental.

Dalkeith High school was opposite the house in Croft Street and I was always late. The thing that sticks in my mind about the school was the rugby. Willie Watson was the art teacher who undertook to teach boys about the rugby at Kirk Bank, adjacent to the church next to the graveyard at Newbattle. They dinnae day that nowadays. Dalkeith did not have a rugby club, but when the war finished a rugby club was established. We were given a piece of land opposite King's Park to build on. We got somemoney from the SRU, and the rest was raised. I was an original member. In the not too distant future though the rugby club will be demolished after all those years. I was a winger, a fast boy. The rugby strips were given to the team by Mr.Syme the post master at Newtongrange. That day I dislocated my shoulder and I was taken up to Dr. Mackenzie and he was gonnaegoing too cut my new shirt off. In my own words I said don’t do that please. He put my shoulder in and it was very sore. It cost 5 shillings to have a doctor visit the house. The wage was £2.50. You would have to be dying to get him in. He was a crabbit auld buggercontemptible, unpleasant, difficult, ill-tempered elderly person. He spoke broad scotch. The doctor stayed where the old Catholic school was.

Look ma am dancing and I've won peggyI left school at the age of 14 on condition I continued my education at the School of Building, in New Street Edinburgh. Pirrie the heedie advised this. I travelled by bus. Four shillings a day and a five day week return journey. I was there for one year. I learned basic brick laying, plastering etc. I got a job as an apprentice joiner at Heggie & Aitchison in Downfield Place Edinburgh. When I worked with Heggie I went up to the Orkney's to build Boot's the chemist shop, during which time I did not shave and looked like Santa Claus. In the fullness of time the job was finished so I came home to pick up where I left off. I was met with my wife saying you are not coming to sle ep wiwith me! At two o'clock in the morning I thought to hell wiwith this, and started shaving. That’s as far as I am gonnaegoing too go with this story. You were six years before you were qualified as a tradesman.

Then I got called up. I was 21 then. The government extended the time of being in the forces from 2 to 3 years. In the third year you got a wage increase. I was in the RAF. The only place I went was in Founton Bleu France. In the fullness of time Peggy and I went back to France. We visited the cathedral of Notre dame, came out the door and there was a lady of the night standing. She shouted hello Johnny. Peggy thought I knew her. I was in for an FFI. If you went away for a weekend you got checked when you came back. It was done by female medical officer and she would lift your wee bobbySmall penis with a ruler and if anybody had any ideas she would smack you down with that ruler.

I met Peggy playing tennis. The water tower in Dalkeith had a tennis club. Peggy did not like me at first. She thought I was an arrogant so and so. I won her over by dancing. We were the Fred and Ginger on the floor. We used to go to the PalliePalace dance hall on a Saturday afternoon. Her mum and dad went ootout then as well. I used to go fishing with her dad, but I didn't know he was her dad until she took me along to meet her parents. We got married at the Old Kirk at the bottom of Dalkeith. We went to Paris on our honeymoon. I had a motorbike and Peggy sat on the back. We had a smash at the Champs De Lyses. Now that's a trootI was unaware of the rules, but anything travelling from the right got the right of way. A car came ootout and I smashed into the middle of the car. The policeman came off his box and said right pal you’re in trouble now (in French). He took us back to the police station and I was bursting for a pee. I couldn’t explain that to the officer. I tried to say Pee but got nowhere until the word Pish came out, that worked! We had bought a weeSmall tent so we went to a camping place. We followed a line of trees into a field, and pitched the tent. I walked away a short distance for a pee, only to be stopped by Peggy in distress. The distress was a weeSmall spider coming doon, you would have thought a tiger had broken in! In the morning we woke up with the sound of hooves. We had pitched the tent on the race course in Chantilly. We got out as quick as we could. We had arranged to meet a chap in Belgium, who had arranged to meet the ex provost of Brussels, who put us up for as long as we wanted to stay. He had a big châteaux. His hobby was archery. He had a big straw target at opposite ends. I had a go, but was hopeless. He took us into a club house in Bruge one day, where there was vertical pole standing with branches off it. On the branches were artificial birds that you tried to shoot down. I had a go, hopeless. My air force days were over but prior to being demobbed I had the opportunity to shoot against the army at Bisley. Rifle shooting. When you start away at 200 yards the target looks the size of a post card but once you get down to the targets they are the size of a double decker bus.

I was coming home from leave one time at Caledonian station Edinburgh. I had on all the gear and two rifles. Here was Peggy standing waiting for me behind a weeSmall fence. I tried to jump the weeSmall fence and clattered down at her feet. Peggy said come up ootout of there. These were all happy days for me.

Peggy and I lived at 26 Woodburn Road. Our 3 children were born there Gordon, Susan and Annette. I went back to the place I served my time. I then left and got a job with AM Carmichael, who built the damn at Whittaker near Gifford. They made all the damns round about Pitlochry.

When we were in Woodburn I came home from work and the story was, Gordon is not at home. At the end of the day we thought something's happened. Peggy finished speaking to the police officer in Dalkeith, who eventually asked how old is your little boy. Peggy said twenty three. Peggy was quite annoyed saying that the police officer was very rude.

The down side of my life was when I had a heart attack, a stroke and losing Peggy. Although there have since been other obstacles in my life Peggy was the biggest. We were married for 50 years and it was far too short. We had a good relationship, when I finally understood to do what I was told.

having a good time at ma club

I am very proud of my children. Gordon being a surveyor, Annette a midwife living in Australia, and Susan living in the Middle East. Gordon phones me every day, and the girls very regularly. Annette has two boys, Susan one girl and Gordon, well I wouldn’t even hazard a guess.

And to the interrogators who are conducting this interrogation, off you go now and have a nice day.



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Adapted by Iain Tait