It’s been a dram long wait but Gerry’s in high spirits.
For some people, the wait to get to the pub after work can feel like a lifetime.
But Robert ‘Gerry’ Morrison has literally spent that long anticipating his very first drop of alcohol.
Gerry reached the grand old age of 100 at Balcarres Care Home where he currently resides. Guests Lord Provost Bob Duncan and Broadcaster and musician Billy Anderson attended to mark the special occasion.
Later at a large family gathering in the Fort Hotel in Broughty Ferry he celebrated by taking his first ever drink of brandy having abstained from booze his whole life.
With a twinkle in his eye, he took a sip and admitted that he was enjoying breaking the habit of a lifetime.
The centenarian said after his first drink: “It is my first and it’s a brandy. It’s good, very good.”
Gerry Morrison with his first alcoholic drink at his 100th birthday celebration.
His daughter, Doreen, 57, said: “I think the key to his longevity is that he never smoked and hardly drank. He did window cleaning until he was 82. He has a good spirit and is always positive.”
She adds: “He’s had a sweet heart stout before. But let’s just say I’ve never seen him drink brandy like he has today.”
Gerry with his daughter Doreen at his birthday celebration at The Fort in Broughty Ferry.
Temptation to tipple must have been high what with Gerry’s sons Gerry, 71, and Blair Morrison, 69, owning, over the years, seven pubs in the region.
His sons are known to locals as ‘the Morrison Brothers’ and had interests in the popular Dundee hostelries the Old Bank Bar and the Trades House in Dundee. Pubs in Perth and Stirling also kept them busy.
Gerry is proud of the fact that their pub in Stirling was the biggest in Scotland, adding: “They have had successful careers running the pubs and worked hard.”
“There was never much trouble with those two bruisers on the door.”
Adding a little mischievously, “Gerry had the brains and Blair went along with him.”
Son Gerry remembers: “He liked a flutter on the horses. But that only hurts your wealth not your health.”
His Dad was born in Belfast, County Armagh in November 1915 – a period he refers to as ‘the recession years’ – as shops were closing and jobs were scarce.
His son, Gerry, learned recently of a tragedy in his father’s life: “I found out that when he was seven years old his Dad was kicked and killed by a horse.
“He had to give up school at age 12 to keep his 3 sisters out of poverty. He had to go barefoot. It was tough in those days. He delivered veg on a kart and earned a shilling a week. ”
In his youth Gerry senior was sent to Palestine for 2 years with the army.
He was reluctant to discuss his time overseas other than revealing that his mates would often say to him: “Gerry, have a drink, have a cig.” However, he never gave in to temptation.
After he was ‘demobbed’ he moved to London. There he met Agnes Maxwell, his soon to be wife.
He said: “I met a Scots girl and we married in London. That was a long, long time ago in 1943’’. ‘Nan’ as she was known became mother to their three children, Gerry, Blair and Doreen.
Gerry said of Nan: “She was good at dancing, and I was a good dancer too. She made a good wife.”
The couple moved to her hometown of Dundee. At first they lived in a tenement on Park Avenue with a shared toilet in the close. But Gerry pushed for a move to Douglas where they stayed for 33 years.
Gerry can’t recall all the jobs he undertook but didn’t much fancy the work in Dundee’s Jute Mills. “I didn’t like the fumes,’’ he said.
He remembers jobs as a conductor on trains and buses that took in routes near Camperdown and a job as a lamplighter at the harbour that entailed long hours.
Son Blair said: “He was always on the go. I used to run along with him when he lit the lamps and he’d be on the bike.
But he will be best remembered as a window cleaner in Dundee – a job he happily carried out for 47 years!
Residents from a street he once covered on his round have sent him a hand-painted card of him with his ladder, cleaning windows, for his birthday.
Doreen said: “When I was young I remember Dad used to get up at 6am every morning. He would polish my shoes then go out for the papers and rolls and I would hear him whistling on his way back.”
Blair adds: “He still gets up early. He is the first down for breakfast in the mornings.”
In his spare time he enjoyed football and managed Blackness Foundry football team.
He now lives at Balcarres Care Home in West Ferry. Gerry explains “Nan died in 2000 but the boys and Doreen looked after me well.”
The centenarian enjoys walking and visits from a family that includes an array of great grandchildren.
Gerry is also well-travelled – he is not long back from a break in Jersey and likes to revisit his roots once a year with a holiday to Ireland.
Doreen said: “We went to Jersey in August. We had the best time, just me and dad. He loves life and is looking marvellous. It was just fantastic.”
With regards to his birthday he said, modestly: “It’s just another day and I’m keeping well”.
Of his time in Dundee, he said: “I can’t say a bad word about Dundee. Dundee’s been very good to me and my family. I’ve had a good life.”
Everyone toasted Gerry on his birthday and someone reminded him that too much drinking is bad for your health. But then, this sprightly gentleman will no doubt be back on the wagon tomorrow. Fit, raring to go, and with a special card from her majesty the Queen taking pride of place in his room.