It's Tuesday, 21st March 1911
The strike at the Singer factory in Clydebank, began on Tuesday, 21st of March 1911.
A Tuesday just like today, one hundred and six years ago.
At the time, about half of the women who lived in Clydebank and who worked outside the home, worked at the Singer factory.
According to the 1911 Census, four times as many women in Clydebank worked in the engineering and metalwork sectors then were employed in domestic service (the main female employment in 1911).
80% of these women were under 24 years of age.
The Singer strike was initiated by fifteen women who worked in the Polishing Department. By the end of day one, two thousand of the total workforce of about eleven thousand were on strike. Imagine for a minute, how that must have felt.
When I first started writing "The Sewing Machine", I thought it was going to be a novel about, well, a sewing machine. But as I wrote, Jean and Fred and Connie and Donald took over and different themes emerged.
There is sewing, of course, but the characters, and the research, dictated other narratives as well.
It's a novel about employment, about what happens when we are unable to work for half a dozen different reasons and how the removal of that choice makes us feel.
It's about families, and family secrets. Sometimes secrets are kept because people are ashamed, however there are many other reasons for remaining silent.
And it's about craft. We have all experienced the feeling of getting engrossed in a project, whether that's knitting a sock, icing a cake, sewing a dress, or even mowing the grass in the back garden very carefully into stripes. Craft, especially craft which is complicated enough that we need to concentrate, but not so fiendish that we want to chop it into tiny pieces, allows us to switch off when we are stressed, and to heal.
Once a book has been published, it no longer belongs to the author, it's the property of the reader.
Jean and Fred have gone out into the world to tell their stories. I hope you enjoy meeting them!