Dan Snr. of Glasgow Press writes, I admit to having a weakness for pies – Scotch, steak, macaroni, apple, rhubarb, gooseberry, raspberry, cherry – yes, you've got it, give me anything encrusted in a nice-tasting pastry and I am hooked! So, last week I was in heaven when I heard our neighbour had given us four 'buckets' full of 'pie' in which I could indulge myself.
For an explanation we need to go back to pre-computer days – the 1940s and beyond: I was an apprentice compositor with a company called Gilmour&Dean, of Fordneuk Street, Bridgeton, Glasgow. It was a fairly-big outfit who did quality colour work and had 'quality' customers, including a few large carpet manufacturers (who needed colourful, patterned carpet leaflets). G&D also printed for India Tyres, Babcock&Wilcox, and so on.
As an apprentice you'd be given the job of 'dissing' (distributing) Founders' type back into the proper box of the proper case. Founders' type was bought in from the typesetters, as against that produced in-house, e.g. linotype or monotype which would be melted down after printing, and re-used.
When 'dissing', you had to know the layout of the typecase, and be sure that the typeface and size matched what was already in the case, before 'dissing' the job.
Printers' Pie would come about if there was a mix of different fonts in the case or, more spectacularly, if you pulled a typecase out of a frame too far and spilled the contents onto the floor.
Caserooms were generally 'library-like' quiet, and a case of type spilling was not something that could go unnoticed. I don't recall this happening too often – but when it did, there would be loud cheering and jeering and stamping of feet from the unsympathetic fellow compositors – and even louder and more sensational if they learned that it was a case of 6-point Spartan.
Our foreman, who suffered from ulcers and had a perpetual worried look on his face, would be quick to try and calm the situation before the works' manager should happen past.
Wonderful as the computer may be, and is, there is nothing like a bit of Printers' Pie to cheer up the day.