Learning to count… more recollections of an apprentice.

Somebody once told me you could keep geraniums over the winter and that they would continue to flower all the year round.

Aye that ‘ll be right! I had to try it, though, so I put some in a cold frame and some on the kitchen window sill. Well the ones in the cold frame were not too happy,
but the others have loads of flowers. I was counting them and I got up to twenty. Twenty – a score!!

Memories came back of learning to count twenty ban notes by holding them in one hand and flicking through them with the fingers of the other. It was a long slow process learning to hold them just right so they would flick over. It all depended on the quality of the note – brand new or very old were the hardest but worst of all was the ten bob note.

Then of course was the odd time when putting the last score into the £500 bundle the whole lot would explode onto the floor and you would have to start again.

I suppose its a bit of a lost art now as the use of cash becomes less and less.

As the apprentice you were given full responsibility for the £2.00 float in the postage box. And the key, of course.

All the outgoing mail had to be recorded in the Postages book with the cost of the stamp also being noted. As well the box, the book and the key for the box, there was the sealing wax, a seal, a candle and a box of matches . It was a very important and responsible job!, The accountant checked the book every week and made sure the stamps and what had been used added up to £2.00.

Then about once a month the Manager would check it over as well.

Then there seemed to be a few rules regarding posting items such as saving account
passbooks which had been left in the branch to be updated. If the address was near enough to walk to, then it had to be delivered by hand.

Well you could walk to most places in Leith, but a boy walking about in suit in some parts of he town was kind of unnatural, so to tell you the truth, it was a bit scary.

There are lots of tenements in Leith and back then there were no
lights in the stairs. So I’d find myself up a dark close with a pile of envelopes trying to make sure I delivered the passbook to the right person. This is where the box of matches in the postage kit came in very useful. Fortunately nearly all the doors had the occupants name on a wee plate and the match gave enough light to check you had the right door to put the envelope through before you burnt your fingers.

Well I survived the tenements of Leith and the dark closes. As for the geraniums, well
they’re still in bloom and are back out in the garden , I’m sure they’ll survive if I remember to water them.

Gordon Deas.