(Died January 12th 2007 aet 95)
An appreciation by Ian Hamilton
My way from Alan Glenâ€™s School took me along George Street past the shop of Guy Aldred and the Strickland Press. John Taylor Caldwell was Guy Aldredâ€™s assistant. Sometimes I stopped and looked curiously in the window at the socialist and anarchist pamphlets displayed there. This was about 1942.
One day a wee shilpit, ill-dressed man saw my interest and spoke to me. I still remember his words.
â€˜I hope theyâ€™re not teaching you daft notions in that fancy school you go to up the hill there,â€™ he said. That was how I met John Taylor Caldwell.
I donâ€™t remember my reply but from then on I was an occasional visitor to their shop. I spent much of my pocket money on their pamphlets, some of which I read, and some of which I pretended to read to shock my parents. (They werenâ€™t shocked, but youngsters try.) In that shop I first got the sniff of hot metal printing. It has never left me. It was the perfume of ideas.
I got more than that. The three of us had great arguments about God. These were not arguments that anyone won. Their arguments were not like that. They taught me a strange dialectic. They taught me that the other personâ€™s argument was certainly wrong but should be respected. They taught me how to think. That is why I thought of John Taylor Caldwell when I read of his death.
They say that when Guy Aldred died he had nine pence in his pocket, and a whole city mourned his passing. I expect that John Taylor Caldwell died with even less money. That was the way he lived, and it would be the way he died.
I have â€˜justifiedâ€™ the sides of this farewell piece to make them as straight as he was, and as a tribute to his love of hot metal.Â I donâ€™t know if it will appear like this in my blog, and I donâ€™t care.Â It is a personal thing. If ever a life was justified it was John Taylor Caldwellâ€™s.
Maybe someone who knows his remaining relatives will see this and tell them.