Watson and Philip

Spending a most enjoyable and comfortable evening in Queen's Hotel on Friday 15th November 2013 with former employees of Watson and Philip (Food Importers, Dundee) I only recognised one person there - ME - my reflection in the cloakroom mirror. Years have rolled. After all 1951-1953 were the years I was in the firm's employment. It was my second job after leaving Rockwell High School at the age of fourteen-and-a-half.

My first job was with Phoenix and London Guarantee Assurance, British Linen Banking Buildings, Murray gate, Dundee - at a weekly wage of twenty-five shillings. After one year in post I summoned up the courage to approach the most unapproachable cashier - Miss Gray. She sat in a dim corner of the general office on a high wooden stool at an angle-top desk supporting her beautifully-bound green leather ledgers hunched over the books wearing hand-knitted grey half-glove - pen in hand - her persona complimenting her surname. Her Christian name remained a mystery.

"Miss Gray", says I. "I have been working here a year now do you think I might be given a wages increase? She exploded - never rising from her stool - "NO!" - "THIS ISN'T A FACTORY!!"

That was that!

Time to move on to Watson and Philip's Cash Office.

My time in the cash office in Craig Street premises was an interesting and rewarding time. I was very much office junior doing perhaps tasks senior members of staff were too busy to undertake. Checking invoices - delivering internal mail and filling kettles for tea to serve round an open fire lit first thing in the morning and kept stoked all day from a coal bucket sitting in the hearth inside an iron fender.

It was cosy when the cash office staff (consisting of the male cashier, Betty - the bookkeeper - and I) pulled chairs to the glowing warmth during winter tea-breaks. I do not remember the name of the head cashier - he was always referred to as "Mr".

One of my duties was to print company payment cheques of a 3"x6" printing device. It had three inside rollers requiring regular re-inking. (If memory serves - red for pounds - blue for shillings and green for pennies, half-pennies and farthings) - first sliding a tiny side-lever towards the sum printable - then turning an awkward wee side-handle to take the cheque to print, repeating the process for every varying value of every payment.

Sometimes, unfortunately, I registered an incorrect amount and was severely reprimanded each time with a stern warning that two pence would be deducted from my thirty-shillings a week wages for every cheque I ruined. Cheques were delivered by hand each afternoon) in time to catch the post) to Mr Philip senior for approval and signature. Oh! Happy Days!

Submitted by Anna MacDonald