When you are teaching at the lower end of the educational scale, budgets are tight.
You have to learn to do with less, adapt to circumstance ...
... and take advantage of the occasional windfall.


There are good times. There are bad times.
In the years since I did my time at East Fife Technical College - Lower Methil Annexe, I have had the odd, good time, when money was coming in faster than it was going out. Times when money was something that you didn't have to worry about. Rich would have been nice, but not having to think about money, will do.

There have been bad times as well. The 'Winter of Discontent' in 1978-79 was one. I remember walking through the centre of Sheffield, on the run-up to Christmas. It was late, about eight o'clock. Not too late, but there were no other people about. Just me. The shops were unlit. The street-lights dark as well. No power - just Industrial Action and everything in short supply.
Being an avid Science Fiction fan, I have seen many a film depicting the End of the World. The lone hero walking through the deserted streets of a great city.
I felt like the Last Man on Earth. But I never felt like a hero that night.

I've watched industries come ... and go. Been made redundant more than once. Watched boom turn to bust.
At the Annexe, I served my apprenticeship in 'Hard Times, and How to Survive Them'. We were good at it. If you know how to slide around the rules, you should know. We were experts at it!

The Radio & TV department was a regular little Arab Souk (the market place). The televisions that our students struggled with, were either donations from the local television rental companies, or hopeless discards that those same companies had abandoned. They couldn't fix them - but we could! After all, we were the experts (so we believed), and a challenge was never refused. The one and only colour television that we posessed came from the College budget. We had to buy the odd item, simply to use up the annual budget.
A few of our students came from the big electronics factories in the area. They used the latest technology (silicon transistors!) but the radios and record players that they owned were a generation behind. We were the only source of the old style germanium transistors, and I soon was the centre of a thriving barter system. Five new silicon BC109 transistors in exchange for the germanium OC71 transistor required to fix their portable radio.
Is there such a thing as semiconductor usury? I would have to plead guilty on that charge.
Of course, a sucessful business needs to expand, and I found myself dealing in tins of biscuits and the occasional bottle of alcoholic beverage. A deal was a deal. Whatever the market could bear. Do remember that Adam Smith was born in Kirkcaldy, only a few miles up the road

The Motor Vehicle Department had bigger problems. Literally. A transistor is quite small (pocket sized, which is how they left the factory) but a car is harder to come by.
Few people had cars in those days, and the budget would never reach as high as buying one, never mind more!. Every teacher's car was serviced regularly. The service interval was never more than a month, and sometimes twice in the one week. An oil change consisted of extracting the old oil and putting it right back. If you were lucky, you might get somebody else's oil, which might be newer than yours.
Then again ...

Sam Leckie tried to create a wider range of vehicles for the students to practice on, by inviting the students to persuade their relatives to bring their vehicles in for a free service.
At first, this produced only the odd car. Few students had relatives who could afford the cost of car ownership. Even a free service is poor encouragement when all you have is a bicycle.

Then suddenly, one day, one of lads brought in a Jaguar. An old Mark IX.
Full of enthusiasm, Sam and his classes had that Jag serviced, till it looked like new. It purred like the contented cat that it was.
The next day; two Fords, a Rover 105 and Sunbeam Talbot turned up. Sam beamed. Blessed Heaven (or so he thought) and proceeded to service with a will! By the end of the following week, the collection of newly serviced cars totalled five Fords, three Austins, a brace of Rovers, eight Morrises, another Jaguar, a Standard 10 and a Austin Princess limousine!
Sam was in his element.

It was the third E-Type Jaguar in a week that forced Sam Leckie to leave his beloved automobiles and revert to an older form of transport. Horses. Gift horses, to be precise. And the service required there, was checking teeth. Looking gift horses in the mouth.
He casually drew Campbell Hutcheson away from the latest E-Type being serviced, and started making enquiries ...

"Mister Hutcheson. A word!"
"Ah've no touched nuthin, Mister Leckie. Honest!"
"Nothing is missing, Hutcheson. In fact, the reverse seems true."
Hutch tried to brazen it out, but Sam Leckie knew people, and Rico Napier was his boss.
"Oh, come on, Hutcheson. Out with it! There may well be two E-Type Jaguars in Fife, but I sincereley doubt that both are owned by your relatives. Certainly not the ones with a Saughton, Perth or Barlinnie address!"
Sam looked thoughtful for a moment.
"Well, I suppose it is possible ..."
Hutch looked relieved, and tried to drift imperceptibly away. He was abruptly halted by the Leckie Finger.
"... but that doesn't explain where the rest of these cars came from. Does it, Mister Hutcheson?"
The moth was pinned to the board.
" We, well, kind o' borrowed them, surr!"
"Borrowed? Mister Hutcheson ..."
Sam always provided a pause as a convenient vessel to receive a confession. Hutcheson gave a sigh, and confessed.
"It's kinda like this, Mister Leckie. We've always been short o' cars tae practice oan, and you did say that we should ask oor relatives, and seein as none o' oor relatives has a car, exceptin for Auntie Jessie - the Beadie Nurse - and she needs her car tae visit the schoolsso she'll no part with itand ..."
"To the point, Mister Hutcheson. To the point!"
"... so we had tae borrow what we could find, lyin aroond. "
"You mean, steal!"
The Leckie Frown joined the Leckie Finger.
"Aw no! Surr!"
Hutcheson looked, if anything, indignant rather than abashed.
" We only picked the ones that wouldnae be missed for a bit . An' we always gi'ed them a proper service- polished, mind ye, and nae dirty haund prints ..."
"May the Lord make us thankful for that!" intoned Sam.
"... an' we put them back where we found them."
"Somehow, I don't doubt you for a minute."
Hutcheson looked relieved. Till the Leckie Frown returned.
"And where did the two E-Types come from? Do tell ..."
"Edinburgh? Why Edinburgh? It's a long way from Methil."
Hutch twisted his features into a conspiratorial leer. Not pretty.
"The High Court, surr!"
Sam stepped back a pace.
"Do I really want to hear this, Hutcheson?"
Hutch moved closer again.
"It's a great place for some quality cars. What with the villains an' the lawyers , ye'll find their car park full o' some expensive motors . The trials take forever, an' after they've stuffed theirsels with big meals an' wine at dennertime, naebody's gaun anywhere for a while. So nane o' the motors get missed,, if ye see what ah mean, surr."
"You steal motor cars from the High Court in Edinburgh!"
Sam Leckie was adding 'aghast' to the Leckie Frown as he moved two steps back. Hutcheson stage-whispered to Sam as he moved forward, to re-seal the conspiracy.
" No sae loud, surr!Some o' thae judges are that fullthat they take a taxi hame, an' dae look for their cars till the next day. We've always got them back by then."
"And the villains?" Sam regarded Campbell Hutcheson with the look reserved for small mammals who unexpectedly come across a rattlesnake.
"Oh, them!"
" They're that sure that naebody w'd dare tae risk a chibbin , takin fae them, that they ca' believe anybody would lift their cars. They jist think that the garage has got them.
An' we do bring them back serviced!"
Having played his trump, Hutcheson stepped back. A confident smile on his face. Sam Leckie tried his best to look ministerial, but I think he was trying not to laugh.
"Campbell Hutcheson. This way of doing will have to stop. And stop now. I have no desire to visit the Sherrif Court, and I doubt that an appearance at the High Court in Edinburgh would somehow come out in our favour. No more 'relatives' cars! We shall just have to manage with what we have."
"But surr ..."
"No, Mister Hutcheson."
The Leckie Finger pointed.
"No more!"

And that was that in the Motor Vehicle Department of the Lower Methil Annexe. For about a week ... Until one day, the Procurator Fiscal from Kirkcaldy Sherrif Court came storming into Sam Leckie's office.
"What's going on with this bloody place?"
The exasperation was extremely evident.
"I've parked my car near here for THREE DAYS, and it's never been stolen the once!"

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