Jasper’s Jottings: A Man Alone with a “Woman”

  • Posted on: 01/02/2019

Back from the Dentist

“That’s me back from the Dentist. Somebody prepare Askit Pooders. I am a bit sore and somewhat woozy after the gas, honestly the dreams it gives you. Mrs Travers I dreamt you had won a fortune on the Pools and were employing Mrs Wylie as a daily woman what does, it was too funny!  Hello anybody home?  Muriel, my lady wife; Mrs T, a woman what does (but not a lot) who is on a sociology course at the night school; Grace, a lovely lady from the West Indies who does the heavy work following the departure of the dastardly Hilda; Hairy Mary from Inveraray nurse to our ward Gayle? Is anyone home? I am a molar less and in need of suffocating post operative care. Hello, is anybody there?

A Note on the Hall Table

Dear Jasper.

I am quite sure you will head for the Club after your visit to the Dentist, but on the off chance that you are home before us, we are out!

I have taken Mrs Travers to Outpatients to see about her corned beef legs and then to cheer her up we are going to the Travel Agents as she wants to book early for the Fair Fortnight.

She is as ever thinking about Blackpool, but wonders if her sociology course at the night school might mean she should be a little ‘inspirational’ and consider Torquay. On the other hand given its continental style, should she break herself in rather more gently and try Teignmouth first? I have tried to suggest that she might feel a little uncomfortable in some resorts where there is a more refined clientele used to gracious living. I sometimes think in trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear I have made a rod for my own back.

Everyone is Out

Grace has taken my cocktail watch for a clean and I have asked her to pick up that awful shirt of yours, the one  that you won’t throw out, from the Shirt Hospital, at least the cuffs will not look frayed anymore. I have given her the afternoon off as she wants to go to the City Archives, something to do with her home in the Caribbean. I cannot for one moment imagine there is anything in the basement of the City Chambers connected with her homeland, but she has done a marvellous job with my brass stair rods and deserves the afternoon off.

Hairy Mary has taken Gayle to the Nursery where they are having a Teddy Bears Picnic. I did tell you this morning, however, given the performance about you going to the dentist’s, what with the codicil to your will having to be completed as the taxi was arriving etc.  I cannot imagine you were listening. Mrs Travers has left you some soup in a flask on a tray in the kitchen and there is a soft mashed banana and cream in the fridge under a plate marked Mr Wylie’s lunch and if you are able to eat on the other side there a slice of the remaining Christmas cake in the tin marked cake.  Avoid the nuts please.

So all you need do, is 1) unscrew and pour, 2) open a door and 3) lift a lid. Repeat that please. Touch nothing in the kitchen. I would like to come home to a complete house and under no circumstances interfere with the paraffin heater in the bathroom. Sit nicely and read until I get back.

Muriel x

P.S. The crème caramel is for suppa.

No One Cares

Well really – talk about leaving the wounded pride leader to die alone on the plains. Perhaps I should check outside to see if there are any hyenas sniffing or vultures circling overhead. While I would indeed like to sit nicely and read, I would venture to ask what?  I have finished my library book, the ‘Capodimonte Collectors’ Club Monthly’ has failed to materialise and obviously Muriel has taken the Glasgow Herald with her to read while Mrs T is confounding medical science at The Western General Hospital.

There is nothing else for it – desperate times call for desperate measures and all I am left with on the coffee table is the Woman magazine.  This is apparently the world’s greatest weekly for women. Still any port in a storm and it might well be a guide to comprehending the workings of the mind of the fair sex. I see there is even a serial, Man of Secrets,  and a pull out knitting booklet. Just a minute while I down a couple of painkillers. As I am not allowed to use the kettle without 6 months of training a wee swally of Blended will have to do to help get it over my notoriously weak thrapple.

A Useful Tip

Now what have we here, The Letters Page  – Woman to Woman. That is extraordinary they pay a guinea for every letter published. That’s easy money if ever I saw it. Look at this – here is one from a lady, I mean a woman, who lives in Shanklin on the Isle of White. That is where Queen Victoria lived with that ‘smart-alec’ of a husband. Can you believe this for organisation? At the beginning of every January she writes a list of all the birthdays she wants to remember and pins them up inside her kitchen cupboard! That is what I call an administrative genius.  Not only that but she attaches a large manila envelope to it into which she puts suitable cards so that no one is forgotten.

Mrs L. H. of Shanklin should clearly be in the government. I must get Muriel to introduce this system, so that when I call out in future, “Muriel isn’t it Sebastian’s birthday soon, have we got a card ?” Muriel will be able to reply instantly by looking inside the cupboard and simultaneously select an appropriate card, write and post it.

It Just Keeps Getting Better

Now this is clever – a woman from Liverpool suggests that to keep nails rust free, grease the inside of the lid of the tin in which they are kept. Secondly, when one is driving nails into hard wood – cover the tips with tallow or lard; clever indeed. However, one is driven oneself, without the aid of tallow or lard, to ask are there no joiners or builders in Liverpool? For that would be my first thought. Now here is a woman from Stoke Poges in Buckinghamshire, she writes to say that on Friday her kitchen dresser contained a bowl of fruit an ashtray and a pot of pencils. By Monday this still life is invisible beneath two coat hangers, a bus time table, a comic, a library book, an odd stocking, three odd socks, a pair of scissors, a pack of playing cards, a bottle of ink, a tin of cold cream, a bottle of disinfectant, a clothing catalogue, three marbles, a purse and a bracelet.

It is just as well Muriel is not reading this as she would immediately decide that Mrs M.H. from Stoke Poges is a socialist  as she is convinced Labour voters live in a continual state of chaos as they have an aversion to “sprucing” . I think the said lady might benefit from one of Muriel’s lecture-ettes or at the very least she might get in touch with that lady on the Isle of Wight with the lists and envelopes. Can I add that it might not be wise to encourage smoking in the kitchen or is this quite usual in Buckinghamshire?

Living in a Sling Back

There are a lot of adverts in this publication for margarine. I have an aversion to margarine as it was a staple in the tenements. My Granny Wylie could rarely afford butter, except when she was engaged in her war work relieving the troops when they were off duty or helping young ladies out with all manner of problems. I suppose she was a sort of Agony Aunt for those living in one or two rooms.

Mind you it seems you can make some interesting things with margarine these days. I mean who would not want to try ‘Open Secret Pie’ made with cherries or plumbs and sprinkled with sugar.

Talking of living in small places, there is a very strange article here about a family who live in a shoe. I don’t think it would suit Muriel. It would be hard to position a chaise longue in a sling back. On the other hand here is something she would like a sweater like Doris Day with raffia daisies. I wonder if I could send for one?

I do like Doris Day myself. I bet she has a birthday list on her kitchen cupboard door. 

A Bit Below the Belt

I will say one thing this weekly is full of advice. I mean just look at these suggestions for new hair styles, some of them like Doris Day. I wonder if I should suggest Muriel has a new hairstyle? Perhaps not.

Ugh a hospital story; I cannot bare hospital stories. I do hope Muriel does not see this; it is quite explicit with its “trolleys” and words like “swelling” and “abdominal”. I can tell you one thing if she sees the advertisement for ScotTissue, this magazine will not be on our coffee table again. Absorbent softness is not a phrase one tends to use on this side of Great Western Road.

Fascinating Soup

Something which does fascinate me though is packet soup. This magazine is full of adverts for dried soup.  I have been thinking of refitting my shed and adding a little table top cooker might be just the thing. It would be invaluable for Hysterical Society meetings as the secretary could make us tea. It would save Mrs Travers’ time bringing hot soup down to the shed if she could make it in situ. Added to which the soup is often cold when it arrives from the kitchen.

I am sure also that with some intensive training, I could be shown how to produce this myself. This might just get the idea past Muriel, if she thought I was learning to cook. It would save a fortune on eating out at the Club on those nights when we have no Mrs Travers if I was able to whip up the odd meal. For example, I could do this sort of thing – an open sandwich – Scandinavian Style. It is just bread, cheese and tomato sauce, only I would put a top on it as it has the potential to get sauce all down one’s shirt.

And look at this Oxo advert – I must get Muriel to get this for me.

Jasper’s view of Women’s Magazines is Changing

I must say the articles in Woman do cover the whole gamut of human experiences and emotions. Many of these things are rarely touched upon in ‘Capodimonte Monthly’ or for that matter the  rather serious New Statesman. The latter to my knowledge has never indicated that the lack of children in a marriage might be due to “a faulty approach” or even “confusion.”

More important still, to my way of thinking, is this publication’s open mindedness about that most tricky of problems we do not talk about and I mean catarrh, to which, and I do not mind admitting it to you, I have been a martyr all my life.

Well Dr Meredith who knows about spasms in relation to “a longed for baby”  is not a one trick pony, as he also knows that catarrh, and please excuse the detail,  can not only be the result of incorrect blowing but also poor posture and lack of meat as this leads to mild anaemia and hence to catarrh. He does not mention a role for plump apple dumplings as described in New Cook’s Special but I feel sure he would consider them vital to the elimination of this most debilitating of conditions.

 Cutting Down and Cutting a Rug

I must say I am surprised at the sensible advice that comes from these pages. Just look at this for example, something I have been telling Muriel for years when she suggests we cut down on the old Amontillado,  “Even Water Made her Sick” a true story from Mrs Harris of East London. Well Mrs Harris, it has done the same to me. Not that I am suggesting for a moment that one overdoes things or one might be ruined like the lady on page 67 who might have been better occupied making a  Readicut Rug as advertised on page 68 which “hits the high spots” in ways which are less likely to transform your life for the worst. Might I suggest you contact Mrs Muriel Wylie, President The Home for Fallen Women, Yoosehavemadeyerbed Road, Glasgow.

Now Man of Secrets.

 Later – Everyone is back

“Hello! Jasper we are home! Where are you? Oh you are fast asleep. What has he been writing Mrs T?”

Dear Editor,

I enclose the attached suggestions for you to peruse as I am convinced they will enhance your circulation.

I trust you are all well and that this will secure the one guinea as mentioned in Woman to Woman.

Yours faithfully

Jasper Wylie – A Long Term Catarrh sufferer

“Mrs Wylie I think it must be the effects of the gas.”

“I expect so Mrs Travers I expect so. Now what about Macaroni Cheese for Suppa, we’ve all had lunch out and Jasper has had too much meat this week, and it will be soft on his gums.”