Author Robert Murray is wowing audiences with his 1950s tales of life as a grocer boy in Dundee.
But the 78-year-old Carnoustie man told how he started off as a reluctant writer.
Robert’s book, entitled The Grocer’s Boy, tells of an eventful childhood in post-war Scotland, drawing on fond memories of his loving family, his mischievous group of friends and the many inspirational people who influenced him.
Born in Barry, Robert left school at 15 and started work as an apprentice grocer with William Low on Logie Street, eventually becoming a branch manager in Dundee at the age of just 19 – the firm’s youngest manager at the time.
Robert said: “This all really started when I was living in England and writing some notes for my grandchildren.
“I wasn’t thinking about being a message boy or a career in writing, I just wrote about my days in the Scouts and my school days.
“Then I thought about writing a novel, moved back to Scotland and joined a writers’ group, the Angus Writers’ Circle, and things moved on.
“I got invited to the Tayside Writers, which is a little group that still meets every Friday.
“And it was then I started writing notes about being a grocer’s boy and then met the remarkable Eddie Small in the writers’ group. He was in groups at Dundee University and is a real force in helping people.
“So I went from writing about being a grocer’s boy skinning cheese and slicing up bacon to going back to the 1950s and describing life when I lived near Carnoustie.
“I didn’t set out to write a book about anything in the 1950s, or society, and it has all just come about and now here I am doing talks about my book.”
After managing successive branches and qualifying as a member of the Grocers’ Institute, Robert was appointed as lecturer in distributive trades at Commercial College aged 23. He also worked with Watson & Philip Ltd, on Blackness Road, for 33 years as a training officer and group personnel manager.
Robert told how at one of his lectures on the book and his career, he met up with an old colleague.
He said: “A man approached me and said he was John Allardyce and it turned out he was actually my apprentice but eventually went on to become an area manager. How amazing was that?
“He was my apprentice back on Logie Street and has brought me some old photos of me at the stores which I didn’t know existed.”
Next up for Robert is the Abertay Historical Society’s evening lecture next Wednesday when he attempts to give audiences a step back in time with his stories of the old days.
It takes place in lecture theatre two in the Dalhousie Building, Dundee University, and starts at 6.30pm, with doors open from 6pm.
The event is free but non-members are asked to consider making a small donation to the society.
Robert added: “There’s a big connection with people of a certain age who remember the old shops, places and things from that time.
“I didn’t realise that writing all this about my life as an apprentice was going to coincide with big changes and a big movement to self-service and self-sell.
“There was an industrialisation of it all. In my day I would skin the cheese, sweep floors and carry huge jute sacks of sugar then put it into 1lb and 2lb bags. It was all labour intensive.”