A guest post from Walter Hamilton. PART ONE This is what Walter sent me originally. I then went back asking for more info on Walter and Part two outlines that part of his story.

Now I put my poor education down to the bad design of new school buildings in late 1950. You may not believe it, but those silly architects designed my classroom with floor to ceiling and wall to wall windows, I spent much of my time there staring out of those vast windows and paid little attention to the teachers. Suffice to say I did not make it into high school and left at 15 years of age with a leaving certificate. I can not remember what was written on the certificate but nothing singing my praises as an academic, of that I am sure. 

It was 1980 before I next saw the inside of a classroom. I was in my 50s and Maggie Thatcher had decimated the Scottish industrial base, coal mines closed, steelworks closed and all the accompanying industries that were servicing such industries, the opening up of the oil industry was still a way off.

With the dole queues stretching around the blocks of every Job Shop – sadly the only jobs to be had there was for the extra staff taken on to cope with the growing numbers of unemployed. 

When you are 50 years old,
And looking for some work,
No one wants to know your name, 
No one gives you a start.  

The only thing on offer at the Job Shop was the opportunity to return part-time to college. So I took up their offer. The old fears I remembered from my early school days returned to haunt me, you see although I was not stupid it seemed I had never really learned how to learn and had drifted through my school years, leaving me with only a very basic education.

After a year in college, NS in Secretarial Studies, I enrolled in an HND course in Communications and Media Study. I think the only reason they allowed me to finish any of these courses was, bums on seats, I was still learning how to learn, and have been playing catch up ever since. I may not have been a great academic but Fife College did teach me how to learn. 

To keep my supply of beans and toast topped up and a roof over my head, I worked two evenings a week, as a telephone canvasser for a local double glazing company. During the long summer recess, I applied for a job as a self-employed salesman with the Combined Insurance Company of America. I was very enthusiastic during the interview, however, omitted to tell them that I would be packing it in as soon as the new term started at college.  
Something amazing happened – I was a natural salesman, it was so natural to me that I only had to work a couple of days a week – make my seven sales, (that was kind of expected) and back to the library and my studies. (Maybes I should have stuck with the Combined Insurance Company of America) ho-hum. 

So back to the beginning of my story, selling, whatever the product has rules, and some come naturally to you and some have to be learned. We have a very important election ahead of us and if we are to make a difference, and win our freedom, we need to train the people that will be going out door to door selling “A Better Scotland” otherwise they are just wearing out shoe leather and hoping for, what salesmen terms “A kick In” the person wants the product before you even introduce yourself. 

So all you branches of ALBA, you have your manager to manage their budget, your organizer to give the troops their marching orders (what doors they should be knocking on) but do you a training instructor in salesmanship? For only by selling will you be energised to sell more, one begets the other. To be a good salesman/woman you have to be motivated to chap the next door otherwise despondency will set in and that filters through to the potential customer and you walk away from the door empty-handed and head hanging low.


Potted history 

Born – East Wemyss, 1943 so a war baby

Dad left the sea having spent the First World War in the RN then half a lifetime in the MN. It was in early 1950 (I think mum said enough is enough, if you go on another trip don’t come back) for dad joined a new crop of miners from all over the UK and the world, for the war years had seen a big influx or migrants welcomed into Scotland. A new pit had been sunk at Corrie in West Fife, anyone taking up a position there would be given one of the new council houses, that were being built in Oakley to cater for the influx of workers, we were one of the first families to move into, what for mum would be her own permanent home – number 48 Wardlaw Way, (the numbers have been changed since the demolished the prefabs, and the street was re-numbered) was where I grow up. I loved Oakley and my carefree youth. My father had a motorcycle and he and I would travel far and wide, to place, with exotic names, like Kingskettle, Dundee, Aberdeen and of course my aunts in Granton near Edinburgh, each trip was a great adventure for a 7-year-old boy, a boy with a big imagination.  

Travelling on the ferry from Burntisland or over the Queensferry Passage was a real joy. In later life, I mentioned, to an older sibling sister, the excitement I felt travelling on dad’s motorcycle and how fortunate I was to have spent so much quality time with my father. 

“Quality time” she laughs, “mum would not let him out of the house without you along; he would have signed on the first boat that would take him.”  

I have always had itchy feet, and at 17 I joined the RAF, serving in Germany, Cyprus, and detachments all over Scotland and Northern Ireland. When in Germany, I spent every spare minute travelling in my old Ford estate van, with my camping gear and bike; I cycled extensively at that time in Holland, France and Germany. In Cyprus I learned to sail Mirror dinghies, Sailing has always been my second passion, and I re-fitted out an old folk boat and sailed out of Grimsby, with the Grimsby Sailing Club for several years, up as far as Scarborough down as far as Great Yarmouth.

On my retirement I had intended to sail over to France and buy a plot of land by a canal in the south of the country, live on my boat and use the land as an allotment, selling the vegetables to the passing boats, sadly it never happened, life got in my way. 

Leaving the RAF I found work in a quarry, when they found out I could weld I was promoted to the black gang, Maintenance, and over time became a maintenance man. Work was plentiful and the wages were good, so I was able to indulge my passion for sailing and motorcycling. 

As my pension grow closer I, by default, became my mother’s carer, it was a double-edged sword, I was happy to do it and spent a lot of good time with my mother, but it was very tying so I rented an allotment, someplace to escape to and unwind. When mum went into rest care on a Wednesday, my blind friend and I would disappear into the Yorkshire Dales, on our tandem tricycle. Cycling the Dales was an unforgettable experience and someplace it is easy for me to grow homesick over.

Mum lived well into her 99th year and on her death, I returned to Scotland – the carer now required my care. 

I live in City Park in St Andrews, which is great for me, shops on my doorstep and a bus station next door, my free chauffeur-driven transport, with a regular service to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, and from there to Aberdeen and all the way to Inverness, the bus will carry me and my folding bike. I still cycle most days, and now know the roads of East Neuk and North East Fife like the back of my hand. This past two years, coronavirus, has curtailed a lot of visiting National Trust and Scottish Heritage properties. And killed off my plans to cycle the Danube from the Black Forest to Vienna – returning via Salzburg and Zurich, sadly that is a fast-fading dream, as coronavirus has stubbornly held fast and my 80th birthday fast approaching, I am simply running out of time.  

Life is much the same for man and chimpanzees – a one-way ticket and no guarantee.   


Walter has led an interesting and eventful life. At nearing 80 years of age his support for Independence remains undimmed. He offers good advice training canvassers on how to approach the electorate and putting across a friendly, enthusiastic message is important. We have a positive message that offers vision and ambition. It is our duty to promote that message as skilfully as we can.

I am, as always



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24 thoughts on “ONE MAN’S STORY

  1. I worked in insurance for forty years, most of the time in Sales so I would echo what Walter says (by the way the CICA was always seen as being at the dodgy end of the business). During the indyref I went on a mass canvass in the Pennywell area of Edinburgh. I was teamed up with two experienced canvassers and I was surprised by the passive nature of their interactions with the householders we encountered.

    One lady OAP we spoke to said that she would vote No because ‘We couldn’t afford to be independent’. My colleagues were going to record her response on move on but my sales training kicked in and I said, ‘If we were able to afford it, would you vote Yes?’

    ‘Well, I suppose I would!’

    ‘Why do you think we couldn’t afford it?’

    ‘I read it in my newspaper.’

    ‘What paper do you read?’

    ‘The Express.’

    We then had a discussion about where she got her news from and the motives of the news organisations. When we left her she was questioning her sources and was at least considering voting Yes.

    This is a sales technique known as Isolation where you cordon off each of the objections in turn to find out which are real and which are not.

    Before the next indyref (assuming there is one) canvassers should receive at least basic sales training.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. This is something that is so important. Its not just enough to record people’s voting choices – although there are times when you are obviously faced with a staunch Unionist/Tory /SNP voter and any attempt to have a conversation will simply be wasting your time. Many ‘new’ canvassers feel unprepared to hold those conversations through lack of organised knowledge. It’s something we should be concentrating on to give our activists the required iinformation to pass on.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The phrase, “university of life” springs to mind about Walter’s achievements. In that metaphorical institute of learning he is surely a Ph. D.

    Unlike our present day crop of student politicians/ turned SPADs/turned MSPs/turned ministers, Walter has much actual real life experience. I am pretty sure that this was as helpful on the doorstep every bit as much as sales training, if not more.

    Liked by 8 people

  3. Greatly enjoyed that read.
    Cracking advice re selling the obvious benefits of independence, Walter. Great idea, to promote independence using the sales approach. I like to think most folk these days are happy to natter with strangers on buses, in the pub etc, and if they instantly identify you as friendly and genuine they’ll be more prepared to be convinced. Yes, I’d buy a used car from you, pal.
    Btw, don’t give up on either of the dreams – Danube/Independence.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Walter’s story, (so far) is one of happiness and contentment enjoying the outdoor life with his father, then a long career in the RAF. His care of his mother in her later years confirmed my thoughts that Walter is a man rich with good memories of his life. I wish to read a potted update of his life story 20 years from now. Best wishes Walter.

    Liked by 9 people

  5. Every one of us has an auto-biography we could write. Unlike, Walter, few of us have the writerly gift of un-self-conscious ‘honesty’ that’s required to make our personal memoir of real interest to anyone else. If you haven’t been writing for all of your long years, Walter, I’m bound to say: you should’ve been.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. A good idea to give some sort of training to those who chap on the doors for the Alba party, having correct information at hand could mean the difference between voters giving Alba their vote or not, and it gives off an air of confidence that the canvassers know what they are talking about.

    Liked by 8 people

  7. Having good information is essential. Being a good salesman doesn’t help if you can be caught out by an unexpected question. ( I have to say though, that speaking personally, I don’t react well to a sales pitch. )

    However, Walter might be right about being too passive on the doorstep. I went out canvassing with people who would back away from any challenging question though again this was no doubt influenced by the official Yes campaign who made people wary of engaging in case of provoking hostility – and the area we were in was apathetic or downright hostile. ( Contrasted greatly with the experience of others campaigning in the central belt who had a much more cheerful experience. One of my sons, then a student in Glasgow, was very upbeat after campaigning there and couldn’t understand my reservations about the eventual result. Sadly, as it turned out, my presentiments turned out to be true though it still did not prepare me for the awful depression which hit on the day after the count.)

    Liked by 5 people

    1. The thing about a good sales pitch is that it doesn’t feel like a sales pitch. Good selling is about matching what you’re selling to the person’s wants, needs and desires. In this case, ideally you’d find out what the person wants in life for themselves and their family and then tell them how independence can help them to achieve that.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. As has already been mentioned, I think asking people where they get their information is key.
    More often than not, there’s a daily mail/express in there somewhere, and of course the BBC. You tend to know quickly because the wall-to-wall headlines are regurgitated almost verbatim. When you drill down beneath the headlines and start to ask more searching questions, it tends to get folks backs up, because they simply haven’t bothered to do any research.

    Best just to ask the first question, then leave it. Plant the seed.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Great story and a very interesting one too with some good advice thrown in. I’m always surprised when others’ stories closely mirror my own in certain ways but are widely different in others. There is a lot to be learned from the wisdom of our elders though, although I also appreciate that the young feel they have to carve their own way. We can all learn a lot from each other at any age and it’s important we listen to the stories and experiences of others, preferably with as many diverse backgrounds and histories as possible. Life is indeed a rich tapestry.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. Ah life’s rich tapestry!

    Poor old Queenie in her platinum year she’s just woken up to the fact that her favourite son is to put it frankly a sleaze bag who friend include child traffickers and abusers. Taken her a long time to wake up to her faourite sons predilections.

    No longer an HRH we must be grateful to Queenie for waking up. As parents go, she has certainly presided over an arrogant and deviant brood. But hey ho, God Dave the Queen, she’s a pillar of all that is good and great. No old slag at all – just the boy about which she had no prior knowledge.

    Or am I missing something.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think his titles have been removed to place distance between him and the institution of the royal family once it really hits the fan.

      Although, he may really be the next toom tavard

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Loved reading Walters’s story and the comments.

    On the Alba party needing salesmen. Well, they need all sorts of business support to allow the political people to do their politics, safe in the knowledge that the business is in good hands. A bit like the civil servants supporting the SG (but honest decent and trustworthy people, obviously). When Alba started up I really wanted to be part of that admin team, I am not a front-of-house sort of person but I can do the background stuff very well. Despite my best efforts, I was not required it seems…or does it. Today I get an email from Alba, missing important information already int the public domain and spelling the name of a guest speaker incorrectly. So please get your salesmen but also get some of the (free) support on offer to help with all the other tasks.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree lulu bell everyone has a part to play , I enjoyed Walters essays as they brought back fond memories , on the subject of sales people , the snp have sales people , sturgeon , Russell , swinney and company it is just that they are liars and conmen ( not a mistake) , I alongside many others have complained incessantly that the snp have NEVER even attempted to EXPLAIN or HIGHLIGHT why independence is not only desirable but desperately necessary

      There are MANY examples of indy individuals who have produced mountains of verifiable information easily understood and freely available for download YET the snp have NEVER produced any information to counteract the lies and misinformation excreted by the unionist establishment

      To sell ANYTHING you have to have a PRODUCT to sell and it has to be needed and desirable the snp have NEVER made independence desirable or needed , individuals HAVE

      Liked by 1 person

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