Dance Music and Popular Songs for everyone
Have a good time!, enjoy a great Party!
A little bit of my history
I was brought up in an orphan home with my younger brother Michael from the age of 6-15, beginning January 1946-23rd October 1954.
(Orphan Homes of Scotland, later to be called Quarriers after its founder, William Quarrier). A complete village near Bridge of Weir.
Tough times with bullying and abuse by the oldest 17/18-year-olds
and the earlier house parents. We eventually did get over it thankfully!
After our father who took us on the train from Forfar (there was a family breakup and he got custody of us both, leaving the rest of our siblings at home) we were picked up from Glasgow and dropped off at the initial collection Cottage No 30 for two weeks.
Then sent to No 22 for 2 years and moved again to No 40 for the rest of
our time there.
The homes (as we called it), consisted of 43 detached large houses called
cottages, with around 30 children in each, with house-parent couples.
It had its own school, inclusive Infant to Senior. Fully functioning hospital,
a large church, baby maternity unit, Sanitorium, Epilepsy home, all trade
workshops, Fire Service unit, Waterworks etc.
Apparently, there were around 2.000 children and young adults in care
at the end of WW2. From the late 1860s to late 1930s, more than 30.000
children were taken into care, due to parental deaths and/or family breakups. In the 1930s many were sent to work on farms in, Canada,
and Australia at the age of 11 to 14. Later, girls were put into service, nursing or childcare, while boys went into the Forces.
For girls, the home had its Brownies, Speedwells and Guides.
For boys up to 10, we had Navy cadets, 10-16 Boys Brigade.
We had a basic education in the school there with only very few clever
pupils going on to Grammar school at Camphill, Paisley.
However, I did fairly well at Geography, English, Art, Technical drawing
and Woodwork. Our Tech and Woodwork teacher Mr Greenwood was
very good and sympathetic and rather took me under his wing.
So much so, that he gave me free rein to do whatever I chose with him
overseeing my efforts. I made a couple of toolboxes for lads who were
going out into the world as Electrician and Joiner. I also made a table
lamp and a standard lamp, the latter of which along with a Ladies Sewing
Cabinet I gave to my female house parent Mrs Ann Black. The cabinet is
still in the possession of her daughter Joan after all those years.
I started my musical journey when I was in the 'Boys Brigade' as a side drummer of the pipe band. Later when I moved back to my home town of Forfar in 1954 to start my apprenticeship as a joiner/cabinetmaker,
the tradesman whom I was under, played accordion and piano with the 'Jim Sutherland Scottish Dance Band'. When he found I was always drumming my fingers and whistling, and realising how keen I was to play,
he asked me if I'd like to join the band. I jumped at the chance!. I played
with them for two years. At the same time, our workshop foreman was the Pipe Major of 'Forfar Burgh Pipe Band' and suggested I join them,
which I did with not a second thought. Both things really sent me on my
way. I then played with Clive Laings 'Angus County Dance Band' for the next five years. It was during this time, around 1960 that I was asked, at very short notice, to fill in for another drummer who was ill. Imagine my
surprise when I went to the dance hall and found it was 'Jimmy Shand'.
I could have fallen through the floor. Unsmiling Mr Shand shook my hand at the finish saying "Ye did a'right son" and in his hand was ten bob,
fifty pence in today's money, which was one-fifth of a weeks wage then.
I left Forfar aged 23 after securing a job in London with a joinery firm,
as a foreman in charge of making and fitting out Westminster Banks, shops and private houses in London and the home counties.
I had 16 men and 4 apprentices to oversee including the machinists.
Taking new staff on trial was all right, but having to sack people I hated.
I worked for various companies while in London, including an exhibition
firm Beck and Politzer where I was in charge of making a large stand
for the American Meat Marketing Association, at the Ideal Homes 1964
exhibition at Earls Court. I spent the whole month there supervising the
maintenance on a number of stands and having great conversations with
the American contingent, who dreamed of having Scottish connections.
After a few years having got married, and as we couldn't afford to buy a
house in the South, we moved up to Westmoreland (as it was then) and
managed to buy a semi-detached cottage in a small hamlet. We spent the the next eight years there modernising and bringing it up to date while
also having our two longed for children Gordon and Lawrence.
As I was already having to rent premises for my workshop we kept our eyes and ears open in the hope we could find a property to combine the two. We eventually found a barn through a friend which I converted. Built on a shoestring with very little money, I did everything myself,
stonework, bricking, plumbing, electrics, all joinery (including making the doors, windows etc) except having help lifting the concrete lintels above them. I worked all the hour's God sent on the building while
keeping my day job going on my Cabinetwork. Many a time cleaning my building tools after midnight. We spent four years in caravans on
the site until we could move into the first room in the daytime which was the kitchen, then slept for two years crammed into what is now the
Admittedly tough times but somehow we managed to keep our sanity.
The music had taken a back seat until friends and customers in my
business of Antique Furniture Restoration and Cabinetmaking heard what
I had done previously regarding music, and encouraged me to take it up
again. So, at the age of 50, I got myself back into the music scene.
I now play on a regular basis for various functions, tho' mainly solo.
Playing with musicians whom I've known for many years, for Ceilidhs when the occasion arises. The Bands; 'Front Parlour Band' & 'Hard Times'
Members:- Laurie and Gordon Johnston augmented when required by
other local experienced musicians.