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Workplace "Rammies", industrial history etc

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Workplace "Rammies", industrial history etc
Post by SilverbladeTE   » Wed Oct 23, 2019 3:23 am

SilverbladeTE
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Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:14 am

this is an idea for RFC as he does a great job of "fleshing out" the culture etc of his stories and is a general item of note about the realities of life for folk in rough, industrialised areas on the not too distant past (least not that distant for some of us!) :)

Talking of Mantorah (spelling?) made me think of this as it's got lot of personal history for me.

I genuinely LIKE reading of Howsmyn's attempts to have have his workplaces ethically, morally, sanely, safely run and working for genuine "Capitalism" that accepts the workers and managers are tied to one another for mutual benefit and that people do not have to be reduced to meat paste in factory accidents or worse to make profit.

Sane folk understand the economy rolls like an ocean from the flow of cash not its accumulation by despotic wahoos and treating folk badly is not merely horribly immoral and actually murderous, it's eventually very bad for the economy and may also one day lead to the "serfs" stringing you up from lamp posts....

In Scotland, in general a "rammy" is a Scots word for "a fight", however it had a SPECIFIC connotation as well:
When men at the factories, mines etc got their (bloody meagre) pay packets at the end of the week or fortnight, to try and make some more, or to take their frustrations out etc, they'd arrange a collective fight:
last man standing picks up the winnings!

so you may have up to 200 men, more usually anything from a dozen to thirty, fighting near the factories with folk betting on it.
smarter ones arranged rules so they wouldn't get too hurt, it is very easy to cripple a man with the old fashioned, leather soled, steel studded and heeled boots ("tackety boots") folk used to wear for example
so kicking or such would be against the rules.
seriously, the introduction of rubber soled boots saw a large reduction in deaths from street and pub fights!

My maternal grandfather was crippled in one of the appalling, stupid, pointless workplace accidents that were so common when he was around 17
they used young men who were fast on their feet to feed 3'x3'x1" plates of red hot steel into a small rolling press, then they'd run round and grab the heavy plate in tongs as it shot out the other side, bring it back around, and feed it in again....
insane, stupid, wasteful and dangerous as hell but that was the reality of working for greedy scumbag factory owners :evil:

Grandpa was a huge man for this area being about 6'2" and built like the proverbial "brick outhouse"
privation and hellish pollution led to folk here becoming on average being very small, local regiment had a "Bantam battalion" where they took men for WW1 who were only 5' to 5'3"!
hence the Kaiser called them the "Poison Dwarves" for being such vicious little bastards :twisted:
Note, average height at the time of William Wallace was 5'7" or more (they were a lot bigger and better fed than is commonly thought), but then centuries of war, climate change, privation then pollution ruined the average person's health and stature.

Anyway, one day as happened now and then, the red hot steel plate shot out a bit too fast and caught my Grandpa on the hip....shattering and roasting it (left a hellish injury, saw the deformation and scars once, ugh, poor grandpa!)
they thought he'd die or never walk again in his life
but he did walk but he was left with a severe limp and pain the rest of his life.

Being a big guy, unable to runway from trouble, but kind hearted but absolutely NOT taking crap from anyone and loathing scumbags (family traits more or less) he earned quite a reputation and got work as a "bouncer" in the Glasgow dance halls in the 1920s
This was the time of the infamous "Razor gangs"

Some of you may have hear or seen the TV show "Peaky Blinders", I don't watch such as it's too "near the knuckle" for me, but at the same time the Birmingham gangs were using razor blades sewn into their hats as concealed weapons, while the Glasgow gangs just used straight razors....
Folk were sliced to ribbons, or got the ghastly "Glasgow Smile"

So, Grandpa carried a 2' long leather cosh filled with a mix of sand and and lead shot to deal with trouble makers.
You can imagine the kind of mayhem that may have gone on and why good bouncers were important, not thugs, but hard cases who were smart and avoided going too far and kept things as trouble free as possible.
Lot of it's psychology and knowing how to take the right tack with a problem, exactly like good uniformed police work, 90% of the time you can avoid violence purely by right attitude.
And that does not mean acting hard or threatening etc as the default posture!
Often a friendly query about what's going on with a genuine smile works wonders and avoids any harm...sometimes alas, you do need to threaten an actual bozo into submission, but stirring it up without cause ALWAYS makes it worse.
(lot of my family have been or are bouncers and police)

He explained to me that you never EVER hit someone on the head or neck with a cosh or fist (his hands were like proverbial "coal shovels"), as that was too likely to cause serious or even lethal harm and back then they hanged people, so it was always wise to err on the side of caution.
So what he did was grab a trouble maker by the lapel and then whip the cosh, which he had hidden sort of at the back of his neck/shoulder or up his sleeve, it was flexible, and smack it down into the angle of the troublemaker's neck and shoulder!

it rarely "KO'd" folk (stupid Hollywood, it's unusual and often result of very dangerous injuries that causes actual unconsciousness) but the cosh did stun them for a few seconds and that was all you needed to hustle the idiot away and get him in a good lock or bash his arm with the cosh so it was numbed into being useless for an hour or two.

He really was a man only a lunatic would take liberties with, but also very gentle, humorous, kind fellow and well read (he loved Westerns in particular, lol, 'cause as he said "the bad guy gets it and the good guy gets the woman!" :lol: )
He used to make amazing art by taking glass plates, painting them with black paint, scraping out a design, then dyeing silver foil and putting it behind it, to make images of butterflies etc

Please note that for all the problems, issues and reputation, Glasgow had THE most book shops per head of the population in the world at one time.
We're not mere mindless brutes and morons (alas we do have some of those, "Neds"...sigh, every race creed or colour has its useless wahoos, alas :roll: )

So, when the men at the factories etc had a rammy, they'd ask Grandpa and his cousin (they were best mates) to guard them, because the money was for those folk, quite substantial and scumbags did attack such places.
Losing your pay packet in those days was far worse than now, no welfare to fall back on. :(
The men trusted Grandpa because of his reputation and also, lol, they knew he couldn't run off with the money since he was lame! :mrgreen:
Apparently he did foil a couple of such hold ups (guns were rarely ever used in crime here, razors, knuckeldusters and pickshaft handles being usual weapons).

Note that one of the few firearm murders in Scotland occurred over exactly that issue:
a man armed with a Luger pistol held up a rammy and shot one of the men to death who resisted, from what I recall reading of it.
But think that was after Grandpa had moved on from being a bouncer and was working as an overhead crane river in a steel factory.



anyway, a wee diversion, but thought it maybe entertaining or enlightening and you can well imagine such things going on in Safehold? :)

the poor downtrodden workers of the likes of Mantorah may well have rammies, and think what might occur if one of them got robbed....
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