Yesterday's Technology . . . Today!

The Gutenberg Boys

Ian Boyter recently contacted me to tell me about a book he had written about his days as an apprentice at a book printers in Edinburgh in the 1960s. The publication is only available as an ebook.

An excerpt is reproduced below, it is written in a Scottish dialect (try to imagine Billy Connolly or Sean Connery after a few beers!).

There are links to the book on Amazon after the excerpt.

The Black Girl

“I cannae stand it. That stupid Yankee bastard's playin' games wi' our lives. I shouldnae have come in the day at all,” whined wee George Barrie as he locked up a forme of type, hammering furiously at the quoins with his wooden mallet and shooting stick. “Mary's in an awfy state. She wanted me to take the day off an' bide at hame wi' her.” George was about four foot nine and he needed a box to stand on to reach across the stone.

“Aye it's a gamble right enough George,” said Davy Collins. “A day's wages or the chance of your very last ride from bonnie wee Mary. It's a tough one.” He laid a sheet of paper into the hand feeder and pressed the button on his machine. Growl, clank, grind, and a proof came off the delivery. He checked it over with a practised eye. “It's high time I put a new blanket on this cylinder, the impression's all to cock.”

“Aw Davy, I don't know how ye can even think a thing like that the day, wi' all this Cuban palaver goin' on,” said Barrie.

“Well, I look at it this way, it'll save me bother in the long run, no' havin' to fart about all day tryin' to get the impression right.”

“Ach, ye ken fine that's no' what I meant. An' there's no' gonnae be a long run at all if Kennedy goes through wi' this carry on. It's a bloody serious business. Have ye seen the paper this mornin'? It's goin' to be a bloody war if that Khrushchev doesnae back doon.” George gave a mighty wallop with his mallet, and a wooden quoin flew out of the forme, rocketed across the caseroom and whacked off the wall, inches from Jock Cadell's head.

“Keeeerist! Never mind Khrushchev. Ye nearly had my eye oot, George. Ca' cannae wi' the guided missiles if ye don't mind.”

“See that, I cannae concentrate at all,” said George, stepping down off his little wooden box and retrieving the quoin. “An' you lot can just carry on as if nothin's happenin'.” Look at the lot o' you, you've all got your heids stuck in the sand.” He waved his mallet around indicating the whole caseroom. Blackie, walking past pushing a trolley with a forme of pages on his way to Davy Collins's press had to swerve suddenly to avoid Barrie's swinging mallet. Elsewhere the appearance of normality reigned. Compositors were getting on with their various jobs as if they believed there was going to be a tomorrow, but there was a tense mood in the air. The date was Wednesday the twenty-fourth of October, nineteen sixty-two …

More extracts from this book are available on the author's website:

Links to the ebook on Amazon UK and US are below.

Copyright © Dave Hughes 2000-2015. All rights reserved.