by Keith Scott Keith Scott Return to the Home Page Go to Part III
The Autobiography  Part II
I’ve mentioned the thunder flashes from my cadet days so maybe I should admit to some, even earlier escapades. I’m not sure what it was with explosives and fires but I seemed to have had more than my fair share of adventures with them in my youth. I think it started as a five year old showing my younger brother how I could make fire. This one time I started one in some straw that littered a railway siding where we lived at the time in Pye Hill. Unfortunately it really caught and the straw was particularly thick. In my mind’s eye, I can still see the fire and two railwaymen using a come-along to move the wagons away from the blaze. Cameron obviously came by “it” honestly. (I’ll talk about that later) As for explosives, as a twelve year old, just learning about chemistry, I found a fascination with things that go bang. (A little knowledge can be such a dangerous thing) I can remember experimenting with all kinds of things to make my own fireworks. I do recall using a sewer outlet into the estuary at Harwich as a rocket launcher. Another time, at school at Rugby I couldn’t control my urge to drop a lump of calcium carbide into the school drain and setting fire to the resulting gas. The result was an explosion that singed my eyebrows and fringe and then a persistent fire which caused all kinds of activity in the school yard before it finally petered out. Fortunately, in the excitement, no-one appeared to notice my eyebrows. I suppose one could think I was somewhat wild as a youth but I don’t consider that I was ever malicious. I may have pushed the limits but I also took care to think things through and avoid causing harm. I never felt a need to hurt others except if they hurt me or others. My parents and schooling had all stressed responsibility for my actions. I know of once when I had a friend who admitted that he was attracted to me. I had to explain that I had no such feelings myself but only to him. I never once let others know what, particularly in those days, would have caused him untold grief. That’s something else I can never understand. Why do too many people get worked up about how other people feel or spend their lives? That’s particularly true of the attitudes towards religion and sexuality. As long as they don’t harm others, as long as they don’t push their viewpoints down others’ throats, I cannot find it in me to condemn. But I do condemn those that insist on conformity to their own prejudices and beliefs. Somehow it seems so often that it’s their religious outlook that drives some peoples’ view of sexuality and society. I could devote pages to counterarguments. I could add many more on historical fact and attitudes. Yet in the end, we have to accept that we need to live in our society and thus it is in each of us the means to change that society should we feel strongly enough to take on that struggle. I do know that I for one benefitted from what today is considered a crime by society. As a youth, I learned from an older woman how to find and give real joy in sex. Contrary to today’s “belief”, that certainly did not harm me. In fact it helped me grow up and value relationships and the sharing of pleasure in each other. I cannot dispute the wrongness of taking advantage of another, of imposing one’s will on another, of hurting another. There is a definitive boundary between something that helps us grow and mature and something that leads to enduring harm. But I do believe that in the pursuit of protection, we have erred too much on the side of caution that we risk causing needless harm. I think back over time and see much of value that has been lost. True we have also gained much of worth over the same period. Maybe the two sides balance! There are things though that I would wish not lost. Things such as the old British local pub that is fast disappearing from the landscape. That used to be a place where young and old, families and friends met to laugh and play together. It fostered a sense of community. Also lost is the acceptance of responsibility and accountability with which we were brought up. Too often today, there’s always an excuse to avoid being held accountable. We have also lost our “ínnocence”; I don’t think today’s air travellers could envisage anyone entering a plane carrying a sword openly. Yet I did that on my way to get married. It was a time of innocence. People did not see terrorists everywhere! Yes there were problems in the world. Vietnam, the nuclear bomb, race riots all cast a cloud over our world. Yet despite all that, there was an innate belief and trust in ourselves. This innocence was particularly true of childhood. Parents never worried like they seem to do today. As children we were allowed to roam free; play by ourselves in the parks and on the streets. In such ways it was a different world! Yet, as I said, there are compensations. Today we have things we couldn’t imagine when we were younger; computers, cheap airfares and cell phones. I can recall seeing my first television show as a six year old. The BBC used to transmit a show called Children’s Hour in black and white in the afternoon; then it shut down until the three hours of adult programming started in the evening. Nine inch screens were the norm and the shows were unsophisticated compared to the sleek, modern programs. Everyday life was different too. We didn’t have supermarkets; instead there were a lot of smaller shops which specialised such as butchers, greengrocers, bakers etc. Lacking refrigerators or freezers people bought just enough for the day’s needs. We did have farm markets and we’d get the odd itinerant such as the French Onion Johnies who cycled around selling bunches of onions they’d brought over from France. I was eleven before my parents owned their first television and never had a refrigerator until after I left home. As a four year old, I remember listening to the radio with my mother to a program appropriately called “Listen with Mother”. The radio was a large box of vacuum tubes run from a lead acid battery that Dad had to take to get recharged. The house where we lived then had no electricity. We made do with gas lights. At least it had a running toilet, outside! And I can remember it used to be awfully cold in the winter! Before we lived there, we had lived in a cottage without the running toilet. I can recall walking with Dad to the compost heap to empty the slops. At that time, it was just after World War II and rationing was still in place ...... and another memory is prompted: We had a cat called Ginger that I can see even today as it leapt the brick wall around the cottage with a rabbit in its jaws and over its back. I understood later that it would often bring home rabbits and that was what supplemented our meat ration. Today, I cannot stand the taste! I think it’s fairly obvious from the last paragraphs that we were not well off in those days. That was true of so many after the war. The country was exhausted and demobilisation from the armed forces had added untold numbers to the labour market while demand for that labour had been reduced by the gearing back of war production. But Dad found a job on the Railway and, over time, was able to advance. By the time he retired he was Area Manager on the Southern Region, responsible for miles of track, many stations and depots plus thousands of workers. Because of Dad’s relocations to advance his career, I spent time in several primary schools; starting at Selston in Derbyshire, Gedling in Nottinghamshire, London Road School in Newark, Notts and Swinton Bridge School in Yorkshire to the Esplanade School at Harwich in Essex. I never managed to get two years at any one of them! I did well at school despite all the dislocation and, I gather, did well in the eleven plus exam. That meant, when Dad got a promotion to Station Master at Elgin, I would attend Elgin Academy in their higher grade classes. For some reason, the journey to Scotland took on some special meaning to me. It was like coming home. I experienced an unusual excitement as we woke in the sleeper car and I could see the sun rising over the seacoast welcoming me. We had porridge in the dining car for breakfast and nothing ever seemed so normal and right.
The train arriving at Elgin Station, 1957
It wasn’t until we moved to Elgin that I made any real friends. I think that’s why I developed so strong a sense of self-reliance. I wasn’t unsociable but I never did feel a need for peer support. I think it also encouraged my motivation to excel. It’s always easier to fit in when you are good at sports and academics. But in Elgin I did make friends; I was a member of “Ra Gang”. We were the school jocks although three of us were “A” students and we ranged in age from 15 to 18. It was the first time in my life I can say I felt like I belonged in a peer group.
My brother Robert, though, had more difficulty. He was a fair sportsman and wasn’t stupid but somehow he found the disruptions of moving more disconcerting. I think we were both rebels in our own way but, where I pushed to succeed wherever I landed, he withdrew into defiance. Now Robert and I, as boys, were like fire and water. We fought and squabbled with each other but heaven help anyone else who attacked one of us. But I must admit that he taught me to move fast; a matter of survival when he’s coming at you with a knife. Of course Robert would point out that, with my almost three year’s age advantage, he needed something to balance the scales. By the time I was sixteen, my family was fairly well off but the hard years and my father’s example of his career advancement had taught me that you needed to work to achieve what you wanted. At that age it was a motor cycle and that wasn’t something my father would ever have bought me. So I found work. If fact I was quite willing to do anything as long as there was a pay check at the end of the week. My first job was as an errand boy for a pork butcher but that didn’t pay too well. So I found work with a crew repairing roofs; slate roofs at the British Thomson-Houston company. That certainly paid better but it was only for the summer. Not far from the school was a small agricultural engineering company where I managed to talk my way into repairing lawn mowers as an after-school job. That gave me a steady income but the mother-lode was working as a Christmas extra as a porter for British Rail. Dad got me that one! It was hard work, 12 hour nights seven days a week and me still having to go to school during the day. But the pay was great! So much overtime! And I could sleep through Christmas! As an older teenager, having money was great. I could not only afford my motorcycles but I could go to the pub, take girls out and have a great time. I probably wasn’t the kind of boy that a girl’s parents would want as her boyfriend but it seemed that girls were all too willing to risk it. My financial independence certainly gave me an advantage over other schoolboys that I was’nt loath to exploit. I mentioned before that I owed a lot to an older woman and I did. It was from her that I learned that true satisfaction comes from sharing, a giving as well as a taking of joy. It’s not something that a young man understands naturally. In our youth, we tend to be self-absorbed and unskilful, fumbling our way to our own fulfilment. So finding an experienced teacher helped me to a fuller awareness that one’s own gratification is intensified by ensuring our partner’s pleasure. The other thing I realized was that I had no interest in virgins. I came to the awareness that I preferred partners that were comfortable with their own sexuality. To my mind, virginity is over-rated. In fact insistence on preserving it tends to lead to an unhealthy, uptight attitude that can ruin a couple’s enjoyment of one of the greatest gifts we have. I don’t espouse rampant sex with all the risks involved but, like all life’s choices, there is a middle ground. Education is the best tool for understanding the consequences and precautions as well as our responsibilities for each other. I don’t intend to give a listing of “conquests” or dwell on my “sexual adventures” but that time of “experimentation” did form part of my growth into adulthood. I am glad that I had my chance to sample the market before buying for it solidified my choice when I finally met the girl I wanted to spend my life with. And it ensured that I suffered no lingering regrets or “what-if” questions. I could know without doubt that Linda was the ONE.      And they lived happily ever after. Well ... all that is true. She was my princess anyway. And she still is! Actually, that first night, another officer was already sitting beside her but I was able to persuade him to switch with me. It wasn’t long before we were upstairs in the lobby as a way to get some time for ourselves. Then we found ourselves perusing the Norwegian copy of Good Housekeeping and discussing what we wanted for our home. There was no question in either of our minds; we had met our loves, our soul-mates, our partners. Now I have to confess that there was a problem. I was engaged to another. Susan was a girl “of good family” and it was “expected” that we were to marry. As I said earlier, I had had my experiences and as a young officer it was time to think of settling down. I genuinely liked her but there was no spark like what I experienced that night in Norway. If I’d never met my princess, I might have been trapped by loveless duty. Instead, I had to accept the unpleasantness of breaking another’s dream but then it wasn’t mine and that would have led to later problems. After 46 years I can only be glad that I found my princess! Perhaps because I have been blessed with love for those 46 years may be the reason that I feel no-one should be denied the same happiness. I don’t care if they are two men, two women, inter-racial or extra terrestrials; I have been blessed, how can I deny others the same chance of happiness? It’s strange to think back to our early days and when we read the words of the poet, “come grow old with me, the best in life is yet to be”. We really didn’t know what that meant; it just sounded good. Now it seems so appropriate! We have spent more of our lives together than apart. We have shared adventure and grief, joy and disappointment, struggle and accomplishment. When it then came to choose our future, both Linda and I chose Canada. So, after university, we left behind my family and the friends we’d made and immigrated. We were sad to leave yet we were full of the joy of anticipation. A new start, a new challenge! We’d made a good profit on the sale of the Tayport house so we had enough cash assets to buy a car, make a deposit on a house and still have a three month vacation travelling in Canada and the USA. That gave Linda a chance to reconnect with family and friends. For the first three weeks we spent our time at Hubbard’s Cove where Stan Guy’s parents had a cottage. Stan was a close friend we’d made during our time at university and we enjoyed reconnecting with him and his wife. So, having bought a Volvo 140 and camping equipment, we set out to explore our new land. Six weeks later we returned to Woodstock New Brunswick and settled in a campsite at Connell Park. We then got serious about finding a house to buy. Unfortunately, at that time there was a dearth of homes on the market. I started work on the 3rd September and still hadn’t got a place to live. So for a few more weeks we had to make do with a tent. By then we were having nightly frosts so it wasn’t the most pleasant, especially with a young child. Finally we did find our home and were fortunate to have the help of Stan Guy’s father in getting the mortgage expedited. Ross Guy was the president of Halifax Savings and Loan. It always helps to know someone. So, just in time to avoid the snow, we moved in. Prior to graduation, I had sent out resumes to a number of employers and we’d settled on Day and Ross, the trucking company owned by McCain Foods. I’d been interviewed by Harrison McCain in Britain and, as Harrison would often say to Linda “I’ll never let him go!” I worked from then on for the McCain group until my retirement after 36 years. In those early days, the McCain empire was in its infancy. It was still a family business. Today it has become a multibillion dollar enterprise and I can feel pride in my contribution to its success. Between the army and university, I had taken a three month computer programming and systems analysis course. That, together with my freedom to use the university computer, had let me in on the ground floor of the technological revolution. At McCain, I would become a leading advocate of adoption of computers for assisting business decision-making. Business travel in those days was a lot more enjoyable than today. The air-traveller was welcomed as a VIP. Meals were better quality and drinks free. Also there was none of the hassle that current travellers have to put up with; no security checks, no waiting and if things went wrong the airlines bent over backwards to make it right. Once the performance measures I’d been working on had been applied system-wide, I was made Assistant Manager at the Saint John terminal. For six months I lived from a suitcase in a motel, getting home on the weekends. I must have performed well enough for I then was given the Dartmouth/Halifax terminal to manage. So we packed up and moved to Nova Scotia. We bought a house outside Halifax on St. Margaret’s Bay with an easy commute to work. It was a very nice house on a fair sized lot in a private development on a promontory into the bay. By that time our second son, Colin, had been born and he enjoyed the ability to run around free; without clothes whenever he could strip himself which was as soon as his mother’s back was turned. Charles started school there which allowed Linda the time to chase Colin. For myself, I wasn’t that happy. Being the Terminal Manager just did not stretch my mind enough. So I put out feelers to a friend in the parent company who happened to be Vice President of Marketing. The upshot was that I was given the chance to develop a new department, Production Planning. I’ve been lucky to work for a company that was able to pursue long-term goals. Too many businesses are more concerned about short-term profits to feed the shareholders and the pockets of the executives. This tends to reduce re-investment in the company’s assets and curtails growth. Being privately owned by the McCain family, the company has been able to increase and improve its assets without the limiting of necessary funds to pay dividends and huge bonuses. Over the long term that has maximised the profits. Capital is the life blood of industry, greed the haemorrhage. That was a time of growth for the company. Acquisitions were frequent and each facility needed to be brought on stream with a production plan to meet Marketing forecasts. I had the belief that central control was a requirement to efficient utilisation of the company’s assets. With my background in computers and economics, I was determined to utilise technology to ensure a more efficient supply chain. Initially, I made use of self-created systems to plan the production requirements of each facility. I designed a spreadsheet based program to use the inventory and Marketing plans to determine the production schedules for each plant as well as the longer-term operations plan. When more sophisticated logistic planning tools came to the market, I brought a new system to the company from a Canadian development company. This was then to be the company’s global solution for logistics planning until my retirement. To ensure that all my requirements were met by this tool, I was constrained to take an active part in its development. As the prime user and the “expert” in realising its potential, I found myself giving presentations on the economic optimization of the supply chain. In those early days the biggest problem was the failure to understand the requirements due to the interface between the business illiterate and the computer illiterate. This too often led to the adoption of totally unsuitable systems or the failure to take advantage of technology. Trying to explain to consultants that the major raw material that we used was subject to change seemed a difficult concept for them to grasp. A potato is a living organism and changes over time requiring adjustments to processing with a need to balance costs of production against storage. Not everything is made up of nuts and bolts with the same input every time a run is made. As I said, I was considered an expert and amongst the invitations I received to lecture on the subject of optimizing the supply chain was to present a paper at the World Congress in Dublin. My basic approach to optimised planning was the requirement to optimise the whole rather than pursue the optimisation of the parts. There is a great disinclination to work towards total profitability when business emphasizes the profitability of the individual components. It is hard to enforce a requirement to make sacrifices for the best result overall when individuals responsible for those components are solely measured on how well the component performs. My solution was to cost out the effects of optimization and relieve the burden on the component. Thus if, say Export Sales wanted a run of a product out of sequence, they would be given the cost for the change and, should they still want the product, a charge would be levied against them and passed to the plant which incurred it. This approach had two main beneficial effects, the change was more acceptable at the plant and sales decisions were made based on true costs. The former avoided the acrimony and heel-dragging that can afflict business. The latter helped ensure the company never chased business where hidden costs led to negative profitability. To go to Part III To Return to my Home Page
I suppose if you have a storybook romance you have to have a fairytale wedding… So, once upon a time, in a country far, far away, the snow was falling softly on a landscape of white- painted mountains and trees daubed with cotton wool. It was the season of that magical time of the year, Christmas and day had yielded to evening. The lights of the town nestled snugly in the valley glittered welcoming in the snow-deadened quiet. In the town, a group of British Army officers were taking advantage of a break in the middle of a winter warfare training course in Voss, Norway. This beautiful mountain resort was unlike most venues the British army chooses for its training in that it actually had a night-life. Amongst the military contingent was a young 2nd lieutenant and, from a nightclub, he could hear music and cheerful voices muted softly by the snow. Inside in the warm fug of the bar, the joyful laughter of people having fun gave welcome to these visitors. And there, sitting around a long table, was a group of young ladies from the USA on a skiing vacation. One of those was a princess in disguise. Sometimes life deals us a hand that is unbeatable; sometimes love strikes like lightning, swift and unexpected.
It is destiny! That night, two young people met and two young people fell in love. Eleven months later they were married. Like the night they met, this night too held a magic. Once more the snow was falling gently and once again the sounds of joyous laughter rose to provide a backdrop to their love. Disney could not write such a script. No illustrator could paint a picture to match the beauty and splendour. The bride wore a princess’ gown of matchless white and the groom, the uniform of a prince complete with sword and spurs. And each was cloaked by the aura of their love
Initially my time with the company was with its  transportation company. Day and Ross is one of the  largest trucking companies in Canada. My first job was as Assistant to the Senior Vice-president. What that meant was that I headed special projects for management. I spent a lot of time preparing data for a law suit against Petrofina but my main work was in generating the methodology and means to measure operational performance. I then had to lead the implementation which required a lot of travelling.