THE FINAL SLAP
I’m almost afraid to admit it, but it’s more than forty years since I wobbled my way down to the stables with a bucket of oats on the handlebars of my rickety push bike. (My pony needed feeding before school.) No doubt these days I would be chastised for no helmet and well, the bucket on the handlebars would have them flinging the “ ‘elf and safety m’larky” at me. Echoing in my ears as I wobbled my way was the sound of the mill hooters, signalling clocking-on time for the hordes of workers responsible for producing garments that were internationally acclaimed. These workers were the “real people”, people who had been born into the life of the woollen mills. Generations earned their money with pride. Camaraderie was supreme. They worked hard, looked after each other, took good holidays in distant climes but were always happy to come home. Fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, all gave their working lives to Pringles.
The people in the Border town of Hawick are a friendly bunch. They are passionate about their traditions, their Common riding and their rugby. But for many the current news that Pringles of Scotland are about to shut down their operation in the town comes as the final slap in the face. No doubt tongues will wag and heads will be shaken in disbelief that such an important part of the history of the town is about to be lost forever. How can this be allowed to happen? How on earth must the retired workforce feel?
Hawick people have always believed in quality. They don’t “do” el cheapo. Which makes it all the sadder that the reason for the demise of such a dynasty as Pringles of Scotland is cheap imports, created through cheap foreign labour.
In recent years many of these proud workers were forced to queue on the pavement awaiting their redundancy pay. Queuing like they were waiting for a fish supper. For some the ordeal reduced them to tears. Was it really necessary to inflict such a cruel treatment upon them?
So what now for this Border town with its beautiful park and recently opened Heritage Centre? How are they going to explain away the downfall of what must be the most famous name EVER in the knitwear industry? How will the “auld faithfuls” deal with the very heart of the industry they made so great being ripped out?
Wouldn’t it be nice if some of the superstars who proudly flaunt the Pringle banner got together and devised a rescue package to put Pringle back where it belongs. Yes, I know I’m only dreaming, but in a wee Border town where the rugby players have the hearts of lions, they all raise the war cry, “it’s not over ‘til it’s over.”
Better still, perhaps this is all a nightmare and tomorrow I am going to wake up and find that Pringles is back where it belongs, flying the flag for Scotland and a wee Scottish Border toon.