Anyone who thinks that the Scots are not as emotional as the Italians, are mistaken. Passion exists north of Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman-built barrier intended to discourage highlanders from moving south. The wall also discouraged the infusion of Latin culture northward. The emotion I observed among the Scots is innate and strong, however they get aroused by different things.
In the spring of 1982 George Snaith, then responsible for infusing modern technology into the Small Ship Division of British Shipbuilders, retained me to introduce the “body of knowledge” I had published about the effective methods employed by Japanese managers. Dr. Roger Vaughan arranged for me to return to the United Kingdom in the late summer for the benefit of large shipyards, including those along Scotland’s Firth of Clyde.
When I was there in 1942 I observed enough to appreciate the region’s fabulous shipbuilding heritage and I developed a fondness for the people. While I was looking forward to returning, I was also concerned. Some of the Scots were sure to be thinking, “How dare someone from America come here to teach us!”
A year later at a symposium in Boston my suspicion was confirmed and I obtained an unexpected compliment. Someone in a fascinating brogue, said, “You don’t know me. I was one of the people who were ordered to attend your lecture in Scotland. Frankly, none of us wanted to be there.”
That is what I had expected, so during that presentation on the Clyde with my first slide I said, “This photograph of a convoy in an anchorage just a few miles from here, is to remind me to tell you that I was in Scotland forty-years ago. My first mission ashore was for the purpose of buying a set of Sothern’s ‘Verbal’ Notes and Sketches, the marine engineer’s bible for operating steam reciprocating engines and Scotch boilers. You see then I believed, and today I still believe that the greatest shipbuilding heritage in the world exists here.”
My new friend in Boston recollecting that moment then said, “When you mentioned Sothern’s ‘Verbal’ Notes and Sketches you had us by the har…rts.”
Copyright © 2006 (text only) by Louis D. Chirillo