Saturday, 7 April 2012

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Saturday job

Great excitement when I reached the magical age of 15 and was old enough to have a Saturday job! My auntie worked in a department store called Patrick Thompsons - known to everyone as PT's - and she managed to get me a job in the Accounts Department. I only worked one Saturday there and then I was transferred to the Cash Desk.

PT's was built on the North Bridge of Edinburgh and was an enormous building, with 4 basement floors below the bridge and 5 above it. The shop had one of those wonderful pneumatic tube systems. Every sale had a hand-written triplicate receipt, 2 parts of which were put in a small cylinder (see picture above) with the cash and sent through the tubes to the Cash Desk in basement 2.

The cylinders arrived on a small conveyor belt in front of us - similar to the one above - and we would keep one copy of the receipt, stamp the other as paid and put it with the change back in the cylinder, which then went into a tube in front of us. It whizzed across the room to the return tubes station - like the one below - and someone would put it into the appropriate tube to be returned whence it came.

Cheque payments in those days were rare and all cheques had to be dealt with by the Chief Cashier, we lesser mortals weren't allowed to have anything to do with them. Occasionally a request for a cash refund came through. Refunds were never sent through the tubes for some reason, but had to be taken in person to the appropriate department. This was usually my job and it was a great excuse to be released from the dark, windowless basement!  When it was quiet, one of my jobs was polishing all the brass tubes - a mammoth task akin to painting the Forth Bridge!

Most of my friends had Saturday jobs and there was one girl who worked in her Dad's shop, although she was always very coy about the nature of the business - we eventually found out her Dad was an undertaker. You can imagine the reaction of a bunch of 15 year olds to that one!

I earned the princely sum of 17/6 less 3d for NI. I used to buy most of my clothes with my Saturday money - it helped that we had a staff discount in the store. I stayed there until I left school and got a proper job.

Sunday, 8 January 2012


I was 8 years old the first time I was taken out for a drive in a Jaguar. I still remember today the power of the acceleration pushing me back into my seat - what a wonderful sensation! I was in love! 

My next encounter with a Jag was about 2 years later when the police came to our school to talk about road safety. As well as a normal police car, there in the playground was a gleaming dark green Jag. The policeman demonstrated the siren and the hidden blue lights and told us this was the car he used to catch speeding motorists, because they didn't realise it was a police car. "Don't tell your dads", he said - so naturally we all rushed home to tell our fathers to look out for the "plainclothes" police car.

When I was around 18 or 19, a young man my Father knew had an E-type and he would occasionally give me a lift somewhere. There I was, typical dolly bird with long blonde hair, short, short skirt and white PVC boots getting into an E-type, was I the bees knees or what? At that time, I knew a lot of young men with sports cars but there was just nothing to compare with the E-type - and there still isn't today!

Jaguars (although not my love of them) then disappeared from my life for many years until Gerry gave me a Jaguar driving day for my birthday one year. Off we went to Mallory Park race track and I drove a Mark II Jag, then an E-type (bliss!), then an Aston Martin DB5 (didn't like that very much and, interestingly, neither did any of the men doing the same driving day). Next up was a gorgeous XK8 - soft top, dark metallic blue with cream leather interior - and the grand finale was 3 laps as a passenger in a D-type, driven by a professional racing driver. What a wonderful day!

As my 50th birthday approached, I dropped many to hints to Gerry about a statue for the garden, so when he came home from work one evening and said I'd better come and see my birthday present as he couldn't keep it hidden, I stepped out of the front door looking for a statue. There was nothing at all in the front garden so I looked at him in puzzlement and he pointed a little way up the road and there was a beautiful XJ-S (see top photo - all photos are Jags we have owned at different times) parked there. I asked if he'd hired it as a treat for a couple of days but no, he'd bought it as a birthday present - what a present, what a man!

I drove with a permanent grin on my face, I just couldn't get into the car without smiling. Gerry had also enrolled me as a member of the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club and we started going to our local meetings and to Jaguar rallies. We also started buying up Jags as though they were going out of fashion. At the height of this mad phase we had 11 Jaguars! Some were old wrecks bought for parts and some were restoration projects, but we had at least 3 on the road at any one time. I eventually became chairperson of our local JEC Club, which was interesting to say the least!

We had a superb weekend at Thoresby Hall in Leicestershire (or is it Nottinghamshire?) on the occasion of the 21st birthday of the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club. We had a suite with a four poster bed in this fabulous hotel and stayed there for 3 nights. Superb food, entertainment every night, Jaguars all day, an afternoon in the Spa and an audience with Stirling Moss one evening - one of the best weekends we've ever had. On the Sunday afternoon, there was a Jaguar rally and there were about 2000 Jags there - thought I'd died and gone to Heaven!

When we moved to France, we were down to only (only!) 2 Jags and we sold both of them before we moved. I would love to have another one at some point, they are comfortable, stylish and oh so quick! You can keep the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis etc - they just don't do it for me. It's got to be a Jaguar!