Characters, — July 3, 2009 9:27 — 0 Comments

The Dole Man Cometh

Norman Carruth – who was also in the Social Security Office in John Mitchel Place back in the 60s –  was an aristocrat; at least he acted and sounded like one. 

He claimed to be a cousin of Sir Brian Horrocks, one time Chief of the Imperial General Staff.  He was tall, with a cultured booming voice and a considerable presence.  He completely overawed the public who attended the office and most of them thought that he was the Manager.  He once sold the same box of apples to three members of staff – I was one of them.  Like a true thoroughbred, he sailed undisturbed through the subsequent uproar and paid nobody back.


Bill Bleakley was tall, burly and impatient.  He was known as "Ackely" from his pronunciation of the word "actually" which he used frequently.  He and Norman Carruth were rivals.  They simply did not get on and engaged in a constant squabble.  He was short tempered and on one occasion ripped the gear lever from the floor of the office car, a Ford Popular.


Mick McKevitt looked after one of the Newry town boxes. Mick was a steadying influence. I liked Mick and he took the trouble to keep me right in my early months in the place. He had a puckish sense of humour. He was dependable and very intelligent. More than once his sound advice kept me out of trouble.


Len MacCartney was small and silverhaired. He presided over the new claims section.  In those days there was no formal training for recruits and his method was to show you how it was done for a day and then let you get on with it.  Needless to say my early efforts were of mixed quality – I was often not sure what was needed and many a client had to wait longer than he should have had to for his benefit to be paid.


… more later …

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