INT: To go to Oxford University?
INT: Why you?
MG: This is a letter from my commanding officer who was the Colonel when we were… in the armoured cars, that sort of thing. But he was an older man, he was retired. So this is a letter from him: “My dear boy, with great pleasure and satisfaction, you have given me great pleasure and satisfaction with your letter in which you thank me for helping you to get your education. I’m quite sure that it was not so much my doing but your willingness and ambition. I have to admit to you that I have of late thought quite a bit about the bitter pills that you must have swallowed whilst you were in the army.”
And then it changes: “Before the war, in Warsaw, I had a great friend of mine who was Jewish”
He was one of the most intelligent and learned man that I have ever met in my life.”
This is why I want it in the archives-
“I have just now had information from France that the Germans got a hold of him and he was tortured and then killed. I feel that Poland has lost a great intellect in the loss of this man.”
Poland has lost. And then he tells me about if you are in Edinburgh come and see me and so on.
INT: And he was involved was he in ensuring that you went to Oxford?
MG: Ah now, I was sent to Oxford and I have never actually, until I found this, I never quite knew why it was that I was chosen. Mind you I wasn’t the only one, 70 of us were sent to Oxford.
MG: From the Polish army. I was one of them and it was quite a possibility that he may have had more influence than I have thought about it and maybe he was responsible. I had actually forgotten that I had written to him. But anyway the reason for having this faculty in Oxford was the fact that the Germans had systematically killed all the educated people in Poland and this was in fact an intention to replace the Polish diplomatic corps. So had things gone otherwise I would have been a Polish diplomat instead of living here. But things didn’t go that way because after my second year, during my second year
INT: When you were… sorry to interrupt you, what were you studying when you started studying there?
MG: Law and Politics.
INT: Which must have been a huge jump because you had stopped your education all those years before and then suddenly you’re in Oxford.
MG: Yes now if you ask me how I learned my English. So I said to myself I’ll have to learn English, not just to talk to people. So I got a hold of the ‘Tale of Two Cities’ and started reading through it with great difficulty.
INT: I think most English people find it difficult as well.
MG: Yes and since I had to do philosophy amongst other things at Oxford I then went on to something that is difficult and that is Moore’s…He’s a Professor of Philosophy, he is a logician and it is so difficult to read that most people haven’t got through it but I have read ‘An Adventure of Ideas’ by Moore which is probably more than most people have attempted. But anyway I had acquired my English.
INT: While you were studying. Then what happened then?
MG: The faculty had to dissolve because of the money. Poland had a lot of money. The gold from the Bank of Poland was deposited in Britain, it was rescued from Poland and then it had to be handed over to the new Communist government in Poland by agreement.
INT: But that meant they couldn’t
MG: They only retained a certain amount of money for the upkeep of the Polish army but the rest was transferred so we simply ran out of money at the end of it. So then I worked. I did a variety of things poorly paid. I worked in Peebles in textiles for a while and at one stage I looked at my demob money, £70, and I said if I don’t get out of here and get a good job I won’t even have money for a bus ticket.
INT: Oh dear. So how did you do it with your £70?
MG: I found out that they were digging tunnels for the hydroelectric schemes. That was 1948/9, ’48 or 9 and I joined the hydroelectric scheme.
INT: And was this you back in Scotland then?
MG: Yeah I was back in Scotland from London. From, actually from Peebles. I went from Peebles to the hydroelectric scheme, the one on Loch Lomond side. If you go along Loch Lomond you can actually see the pipes going down on it, it’s still there. And you were earning big money from those days- £20 a week.
INT: And was that actually a physical job you were doing there?
MG: Oh yeah very much a physical job.
MG: Drilling rock.
INT: And you had no training apart from your wood chopping had you?
MG: It doesn’t require much training. It is not…
INT: Particularly skilled.
MG: It is not highly skilled. It was miserable and wet and damp with a load of muck going on you but never mind.