~Scottish Literature ~
4 "It Wasnae
and available at www.Lulu.com
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1) FROM THE
"Three years ago in 2007, I began to record my childhood memories of growing up in Bannockburn and Stirling
throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
I was inspired to write my story by three things.
The first was a book I had read giving an account of life as a child in Sheffield; where I had lived for most of
the 40 years since leaving Scotland; throughout the 1940s and 1950s. Towards the back of the book was a quote by
the author Fred Pass which read, “There’s a story in all of us”, and so I took up pen and paper (well computer and
mouse actually) and began writing “It Wasnae Me”.
Fred’s story was very moving, funny, and descriptive of life for a child in an Industrial City in England. It
seemed to me however, that ‘Celebrity Biographies’ of a Scottish childhood, left the impression that life for
children in Scotland only took place in large cities, usually within run-down areas in large Tenement
Therefore, I began my recollections by describing the beautiful, tranquil, and idyllic setting of Bannockburn,
where my own childhood took place.
The second was my love of History, and the belief that chronicling events at or around the time they take place,
by the people present at that time arguably, leaves an accurate record for future generations.
Miss MacNamee had been my History teacher at St. Modans and I loved both the teacher and subject in equal
The History lecturers at Sheffield Hallam University, continued to feed my thirst for Historical knowledge, and
when I was instructed to do a critique of a chapter from a book of my own choice, I chose the chapter on The Battle
of Stirling Bridge, in James MacKay’s William Wallace, Brave Heart, Mainstream Publishing, 1995. I found that
according to James MacKay et al, much of what we know about our enigmatic hero was either written by English
chroniclers at the time, or passed on verbally by story tellers nearly 100 years after his death.
I want my story of childhood in Bannockburn in the 1950s, to be recorded by me because I was there at the time. Of
course, Miss MacNamee and my History lecturers would point out “It Wasnae Me!” is only my opinion.
The third was my children. Now grown up, they had often asked me about my home town of Bannockburn, the schools
I attended, where I played, family members whom they had never met, and much more.
Whenever I recalled an incident, event, or person, they always responded with, “Oh mum, you should write that down”
So I set about doing just that in “It Wasnae Me!”
A couple of months into writing, I found half brothers and sisters I didn’t even know existed. They had remembered
me as their baby sister, and had often wondered what had become of me. Consequently, my story became more personal
than originally intended as I set about writing down what had happened to me after our involuntary separation. The
title was borne out of a wrongful accusation directed at me when I was around 13 years old which has left a
life-long scar. I have focused equally on my unhappy home life and my extremely happy away-from-home life. However,
I have also focused on the social and cultural attitudes, events, characters, and the daily lives of a thriving and
on the whole, happy community throughout that period when it was said “We never had it so good”!
“It Wasnae Me!” is self published and currently available via www.Lulu.com until that wonderful day when a mainstream publishing house takes it on!
Finally, may I say I hope “It Wasnae Me!” encourages and inspires others to record an account of their own
childhood and adolescence, not only in the big cities, but also the towns and villages of ‘Bonnie Scotland’
throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
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2) PASSAGES FROM THE BOOK...
* The Saturday
afternoon matinees were very popular when Flash Gordon, Tarzan, Roy Rodgers
and Trigger, transported us into a magical world of adventure, danger and
excitement. Of course, that was when the older Teddy Boys and girls upstairs
gave us some respite from throwing their unfinished ice-creams and cigarette
ends over the balcony on to us below.
It was a wonder we could see the screen at all due to the thick haze
of cigarette smoke that floated across the length and breadth of the
The sweet kiosk was situated in the right hand corner of the foyer,
and there we could buy our ‘ammunition’. This usually consisted of
aniseed balls or similar, that we could throw at the ‘enemy’!
* Before we set off and whilst everyone was finding their seat on the coach,
it became apparent that these seats would not be wide enough to
accommodate Mrs. T. Besides being elderly, she was also rather big and
everyone was determined that, under no circumstances were we leaving
her behind. After some scratching of heads, someone piped up “Go and
fetch my wooden stool from the kitchen, she can sit on that”…………..thankfully there was no such thing as Health and Safety then,
nor rules about seat belts, not that one would have fitted around her
*I cried out “What, every month?” and she replied “Aye hen, every month”.
If that was not bad enough, worst was to come when she said, “Now you
are like this you must not let boys touch you”, and there ended my
lesson on the facts of life, or the birds and the bees as we used to
call it. For a long time after, if a boy should as much as brush against
me during my period, I was terrified without even knowing why! I was
around eleven years old. What I did know however was my days of tree
climbing and other tomboy pursuits were now in the past.
*In order to get him safely to his front door, we had to pass mine. Therefore all the way home, I was praying fervently to God that my aunt would have closed the curtains, so that she would not see me with a young, very drunk man draped over my shoulder, especially one who was wearing an Orange Order sash.
*People were passing and asking if I was
alright, at the same time wishing me a Happy New Year! When I walked into the
Newsagents, the owner took one look at me and exclaimed “Oh, ye cannae go in
tae the chapel lookin’ like that, yer aunty Betty’ll kill
ye”!...............because her husband was a retired police officer and I had
been drinking whilst under age! ……………..I replied that I must have had too much
shortbread and cake the previous night! Father Mac was not going to like this
*Women had been the dominant elders in my family life for as long as I can
remember and male family members only consisted of brother, cousin, or
uncle. Curiosity over a missing father figure, protector, and provider
was sure to get the better of me one day, and that day had arrived.
However, I was unprepared for the answer when I did summon up the
courage to ask the dreaded question, “Where’s ma Dad?”
The words had no sooner poured forth from my mouth when I thought,
“Aw naw, noo I’m goin’ tae get a belt”. Both Betty and Isobel could not
have looked more shocked if I had said a nuclear bomb has just dropped
on Stirling! There was so much shouting coming from them that the only
response embedded in my memory is “Have you got a dirty mind or
somethin’?” “Whit dae ye want tae ken that fur?”
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[photos courtesy of the John Dreczkowski collection and the residents of