John Hind obituary

Other lives: Labour activist who started work in an abattoir at the age of 14

My father, John Hind, who has died aged 91, was a self-educated, Glasgow-born, working-class man with a deep belief in the value of education, music, the arts and the study of science and politics.

Though John was awarded a scholarship to Allan Glen’s school in Glasgow, his father, Archie, signed him up as a “blood boy”, sluicing the floors of an abattoir in the city’s East End. John’s life there inspired a major character in the celebrated novel The Dear Green Place (1966) by his brother Archie Hind.

John worked at the abattoir from the age of 14 until his retirement at 62. Such a brutal trade might well have turned him into a cynic, but he was probably saved by his wife , Lily, whom he met at the YMCA in Shettleston, Glasgow. The place was a hub for working-class people who wanted to improve their lot through education.

He was the son of Archie, a stoker, and his wife, Meg (nee Millar). Archie Sr was prone to violence and John had established himself at an early age as someone who was prepared to protect his siblings from his father’s anger. John never defined his life by his punishing work – that was just something he did to feed and clothe his family.

John and Lily were active members of the Labour party, and their homes, first in Barlanark and then Scotstounhill, became a meeting place for politicians, including Donald Dewar, Scotland’s first minister. They also befriended poets, musicians and artists for whom there was always a bowl of soup and a bit of conversation. John’s faith in Labour ended after Tony Blair’s tenure as leader.

In stark contrast to his working life John sought to promote compassion where there was cruelty. He loathed injustice and pretension, but relished education and hard graft.

He is survived by Lily (nee Bremner), whom he married in 1950, their daughter, Morag, and sons, Ian, Donald, Ewan, Neil, Andrew and me, and by 13 grandchildren.

Colin Hind

The GuardianTramp

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