Gay Gordons – By Duncan Harley

It’s a funny old life. Many more years ago than I care to remember I considered an army career. The lure of the uniform and an escape from a post-WW2 factory job in a Lanarkshire light-bulb factory was at the back of it.

An interview in Edinburgh followed - all expenses paid as I recall. A sad relic of the battles in Korea, replete with coloured gongs and khaki trousers sat behind a desk and asked various questions.
“Would I be prepared to undergo basic training at Sandhurst? … did I have a relative who had served in the desert who might vouch for me … did I have backbone? Would I like a Sam Browne.”

Well, the answer to most of those questions was a resounding maybe. And I returned to my light-bulb career for a brief period before taking up knitting for a hobby.

I only say this since, and I know that I have harped on about this sort of exploitation of writers before, the library @ the Gordon Highlander Museum recently asked me for £60 per day to research within their hallowed halls.

Now, call me silly or call me mad … but how can that be justified. After all they are a funded institution and, aside from regular Lottery grants, rely on volunteers to man the barricades. Most writers are generally underfunded and devoid of  such luxuries as £60 per day.

I would dearly love to read the archives of course, but not at such a cost. I mean, the regimental custodians might perhaps be glad of some positivity given the nature of their job.

Mind you, last time I visited the regimental museum – for a book launch some years ago – I was threatened with a body search by an overbearing bullying ex-squaddie on the way out. Just in case I had stolen the regimental silver no doubt.

I might record the sad episode in my next book.

Duncan Harley is author of The A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire plus the forthcoming title: The Little History of Aberdeenshire - due out in March 2019


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