Tuesday, 12 August 2008
My Mother is Employed by Madam at the Club.
My mother,Anna Glass,was born in Garenin in 1911,the youngest of a family of nine children. When she was 12 years old,she went with her family to their new croft in Dalmore,but a large part of her heart was left behind in Garenin,which she would freely admit. Like most girls of that ilk and time,she followed the herring fleets from Lerwick to Lowestoft, but earlier had worked as a maid in Taigh a'Bhaicair in Carloway,which also involved her helping out in the shop,adjacent to the Baker's house. In the early 1930s,my mother left for Glasgow to seek employment there,in service, like thousands of fine girls from the Highlands and Islands. It was during this time that a friend of hers from Lewis,told my mother of the grand position she had in the New Club,a gentleman's club located in Glasgow's city centre. This was the foremost and most exclusive club in Glasgow,the equal of any in London. It had in its membership the top lawyers and industrialists,people like Sir Peter Coats of the thread family, the two Weir brothers(Weirs of Cathcart) and R.W.Forsyth the Glasgow retailers. My mother went for a job at the New Club,and was seen by a Miss Dick,who was in overall charge, managing the club, and who had her own suite of rooms within the building. She was the daughter of a doctor in Burghead near Inverness,and with her background, was suited to her position of looking after such fine gentlemen. She was known by club members and staff alike as "Madam". My mother was taken on as a waitress,and working there at the New Club,was like working at Buckingham Palace,but with nicer people. She shared the good news with her older sister Kate,married and living in Renfrew. She wrote a letter to her mother and father back in Dalmore,extolling the grandeur of the club,and the kindness of "Madam". Bodach Glass had not been further than Peterhead,but the words "club" and "madam" had an unwholesome ring to them. It was not,they agreed,a place for their Annie to work in,no matter how grand she found it. A letter expressing their concerns was dispatched to my mother in Glasgow forthwith. It took a visit by my Auntie Kate to the New Club,and a long letter from Miss Dick(no mention was made of "madam") before Old Glass and Mairi Ruadh were satisfied that their youngest daughter was not employed in a house of ill-repute.