I enjoyed Spain so much that the following year six of us went to Lloret Del Mar. There were two couples and my mate Stan and myself. Again we travelled by train and ferry. We left Perth on the Sunday night, arriving in Lloret the following Tuesday afternoon. Walking down a side street we espied a Bar profusely decorated with tartan and bedecked with Scottish flags. It was imaginatively called 'The Scots Bar'. There were lions rampant and dormant, St. Andrews crosses, and tartans of every hue. To the untrained eye it would appear a little garish but to me it was heaven.
"Fower pints an' twa vodkas, por favor", I said to the owner.
"Scottish", he said, recognising my accent, "where do you come from?"
"Perth", I replied.
"Perth! I know it well."
"Get awa', I bet ye say that tae aw' the tourists", I retorted.
"No", he said, "I used to be a waiter in the Salutation Hotel. See that blonde woman at the end of the bar, that's my wife, she's from Glasgow". He then produced a photograph which he handed to me.
There used to be an old man who sold newspapers from a barrow at the South Street Port in Perth on a Sunday morning. He always wore a kilt and had a full set of whiskers. I felt sorry for him because no matter the weather he would be there selling papers to supplement his meagre pension. The photograph was of the owner with his arm around the old man resplendent in his kilt.
"What's he doing here?", I peevishly asked.
"He comes every year for a holiday", the ex-waiter explained.
So much for his meagre pension!
In April 1967 I saw an advertisement in a newspaper offering successful applicants a chance to join the MENSA organisation. To qualify you had to have a very high I.Q. I wrote off and after a preliminary test I went to Edinburgh University to sit a proper examination. The following month I received the result. To join MENSA you had to have an I.Q of 148 or higher. I had, according to them an I.Q of 140. About the same time a young fireman in Perth who, to use a colloquialism 'was a few pence short of a shilling' had an accident at work and went to hospital for a brain scan. He was given a letter from a Doctor stating that there was nothing medically wrong with his head. He showed me his letter and I showed him mine. He said, "They might call me daft, but you and I are the only two people in this Depot with a piece of paper confirming that we're sane."
From 1964 to 1967 routes that the Perth crews worked began to close. The Almondbank, Aberfeldy, Blairgowrie and Crieff branch lines closed. The Perth to Inverness via Forres also closed as did the Perth to Aberdeen via Forfar although the line was open for freight as far as Forfar until June 1982. Due to a landslide in Glenogle (which can still be seen) the line from Dunblane to Killin was closed in September 1965. In May 1968 the Perth Harbour branch line closed. This used to run behind the back wall of the prison emerging at the Shore Road, running alongside it to the harbour. We would deliver empty wagons to be loaded with sand and lime. There was also a Gasworks branch line which ran near the Friarton road into the Gasworks close to the harbour. We would deliver wagons of coal and collect the ash and residue.
With the advent of diesel, a fireman's job was on the line, and, in 1969 Dr. Beeching swung his axe and I and hundreds of others at Perth were given the chop. On December 31st I left, my career splintered, my dreams of being an engine driver like sawdust on a bar-room floor - stood on and swept away. I had to endure eight years in the backwoods before returning to the Railways.
...and my mum wasn't pleased !