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The Fourth Statistical Account of East Lothian

Grieve's diary, Longniddry Farm

David M. Robertson

Mr Gordon Morrison the farmer at Longniddry Farm has preserved a series of farm diaries kept by the grieve in the 1940s and 50s. Although the grieve is remembered by Mr Morrison as being very effective in his job, his writing skills do not display the same expertise. The work is recorded in the briefest of notes, in handwriting which is very difficult to read. Many words simply consist of an initial letter and a squiggle. It is for example debateable whether the word I have transcribed as “driving” is in fact “driving” or “doing”. “Cleaning” and “clearing” look identical, and it is sometimes impossible to distinguish between “to” and “from”, and “stook” and “stack”. Sometimes the context supplies the answer, but not always. Familiar words are persistently misspelled - “feild”, “mangle” (mangold), “bruze” (bruise), “shaing” (shawing), “saing” (sowing). It took some time to realise that entries on the lines of “10 cattle to Georgie" meant that cattle were being sent to Gorgie Market. Similarly it took a while to dawn that what appeared to be “Slater” as in “500 raily bags from Slater”, or “Roling Slater Field” refers in fact to the “station”. Interestingly, a field named “Sea lands” in a late 18th Century plan, and prounounced “Sealans” by an “auld residenter” who mentioned it to me in the 1960s, appears as “Ceiling Feild” in the grieve’s diary.

By highlighting this I do not mean to mock or belittle the Longniddry Farm grieve, but it is worth noting how a man in his very responsible position could get by on a minimal level of literacy, and worth pondering too whether the much praised thoroughness of Scottish education in the “old days” was as good as it is often cracked up to be.

What follows is a summary of the most important work done in 1950. I have omitted the odd jobs that were often done on wet days or Saturday mornings. No work was ever done on a Sunday and Saturday was a half-day. The words for 1950 were kept in a “Boots Scribbling Diary” (appropriately). On a “Memoranda” page the following employees' names are noted: -

Grieve's Diary 1950

JANUARY WORK

(1st January was a Sunday. Monday 2nd January was a holiday)

FEBRUARY WORK

MARCH WORK

APRIL WORK

(Saturday 29th April and Monday 1st May were holidays)

MAY WORK

JUNE WORK

JULY WORK

(Holidays Monday 24th to Saturday 29th August)

AUGUST WORK

SEPTEMBER WORK

OCTOBER WORK

NOVEMBER WORK

DECEMBER WORK

Christmas Day (a Monday) seems to have been an ordinary working day.

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