Conversation Peace?

  • Posted on: 08/02/2019

It is Breakfast in the Wylie Household

“There you are Mr Wylie, two poached eggs, flat sausage, crispy bacon, tomato and there’s the HP in the silver container so that Mrs Wylie does not have a fit of the vapours with the realisation that she has married someone uncouth.”

“Thank you Mrs T, I don’t suppose there might be a wee potato scone or two just to help deal with the yoke, I cannot eat egg yolk without a firm surface on which to place it. I should be eternally grateful.”

“I will see what I can manage Mr Wylie as you know I am always glad to do yous an obligement. There you are Mrs Wylie your toasted grapefruit with cinnamon and brown sugar and a glass of PLJ Lemon juice for the slimming.”

“Perfect Mrs T, but what about the cherry on the top?”

“Dried fruit is very bad for the figure Mrs W and you need to think about the rather unforgiving fashions for 1959.”

 It Pays To Think About What You Are Saying

“You are quite right Mrs T, so very thoughtful given that you are a woman what has been doing for many years now but not a lot. Perhaps that sociology course I have sent you on at the Royal Technical College has not been such a waste of money. After all even if you have become au fait with “deviance”, “divorce” and the “Nuer tribe”, all of which are disturbing or unnecessary. As you say, the spring fashions are looking rather tricky for a woman of a certain…”


“No Jasper I was not thinking of myself as having substance, despite the tightness of this girdle. I was thinking of myself as a woman of a certain age, trying to make the best of the new “slim fitting coat dresses”. Of course I will suit the large collars with my swan neck and gently sloping shoulders, but the lack of a waist will…”

“Make you look like a sack of potatoes, which reminds me I must fry they tattie scones, mi’lady.”

Is Muriel in a Revolution or Nasturtium?

“Really Jasper she is getting worse. I don’t know why we put up with her. Sometimes I feel as if I am in a scene from some play about Paris under Robespierre or St Petersburg under the Soviets – too ghastly to contemplate.”

“What’s that dear?”

“I said, too ghastly to contemplate.”

“I quite agree she knows I like potato scones with eggs. Perhaps she has been influence by this being the 40th anniversary since Churchill sent the troops into George Square and arrested David Kirkwood.”

“There you are – a pot of Assam, some toast and the scones are just coming.”

“Thank you Mrs T. Jasper do you see me in Nasturtium?”

“More of an old fashioned rose, dear.”

“Jasper you are not paying attention. Stop reading that wretched paper.  I am talking about matters of national and international importance. Nasturtium is the colour for Spring. Do you think it is me?

As far  as hats are concerned all will be well –  the hat of the season is to be the silk turban. Anyway what are you reading about.”

Switzerland is Out

“Oh nothing much dear just bits and pieces about this cold war we seem to be in and troubles in Aden, attempts to create peace in Cyprus and the Swiss having voted against giving women the vote.”

“That’s ridiculous this is 1959.”

“Mrs T under no circumstances are you to purchase any gruyère or emmental cheese, and cover my late Grandmamma’s musical box with a cloth until further notice. Jasper,  as to next week’s concert with the William Tell Overture, I shall remain in the bar until the interval. No sense in completely giving up good seats. Is there anything else pressing I should know about on the world stage?”

Politics at Breakfast?

“Well Schools in Arlington and Norfolk Counties in the U.S.A. are making attempts to integrate African Americans into all white schools.”

“That sounds splendid Jasper, I cannot understand why anyone thinks one group of pupils should be educated separately from others. We are all human after all.”

“So Dearest, I take it you are now in favour of ending private schooling as a means of bringing to an end the class system?”

“Well I wouldn’t go that far Jasper, we don’t want anarchy and more consonants than we can cope with do we?”

“What about the religious denominational schools then, shouldn’t we do away with them too; surely we have been no better than that the State of Virginia which is in America. There you are Mr W, twa tattie scones.”

“Mrs Travers haven’t you scones to mix? My Cousin Lulubelle is due at eleven for a top level “Chez Nous” meeting.”

Golf but It’s Thick Fog

“In that case I need to see a man about a dog.”

“No you don’t Jasper; you need to present your plans for the Spring window displays. You know full well what Cousin Lulubelle thinks about British business and the failure to plan ahead, which will put us at a disadvantage when we join the E.E.C..”

“I am planning ahead Muriel. I am planning for a quick round of golf and  to be at the Club for lunch at 1pm. They have steak and kidney and jam roly-poly on Friday.”

“Mr Wylie there will be no golf today, it is far to foggy.”

“Thank you Mrs T. I thought you were on my side.”

“Just pointing out the obvious Mr Wylie, as I was doing over the issue of denominational schools in Scotland as a barrier to class and social mobility and cohesion.”

“Oh please Jasper, Mrs Travers, let us change the subject, religion and politics at table, even the breakfast table is so vulgar. Anything more uplifting in the news Jasper, so we can begin the day on a positive note?”

Dundee, Linton Tweed and A Change of Subject

“Well Muriel, how about this – People without jobs – a photographic study of Dundee by Michael Peto. You know Muriel. 5.2% of the insured population of Dundee are unemployed. Blackness Foundry closed down last year which exacerbated the problem. And all a man with a wife and two children on the Dole gets is £5. Consider this the new slim fitting coat dress with a collar in Linton Tweed checked in two shades of Nasturtium by Matita at Dickens and Jones costs more than five times as much at 26 guineas. Now what do you make of that, my Dear?”

“Jasper if you feel such an affinity with the comrades I don’t know why you don’t just go and live in Russia. Or better still, cancel your unplayable round of golf at your one religion only golf club and your unnecessary steak and kidney followed by Jam roly-poly lunch, at your equally discriminatory club and go to Dundee and set up a soup kitchen. I am sure we can spare the vegetables.

Not only that but as you clearly have no intention of doing any work this week at ‘Chez Nous’, you will not be missed having clearly provided evidence, by your lack of interest in my ‘Windows towards Europe’ idea, that you are indeed a sleeping partner in our business. If you were not already in the spare bedroom because of your snoring I would send you there.”

“If I were not already there Muriel, I would go. Wouldn’t I, Mrs T?”

“Has anyone noticed how the nichts are fair drawing oot and are far mair licht?”

Separate Ways

“Mrs Travers, it still never ceases to amaze me how you talk like that. After all, as I have pointed out before. you are from Warrington.”

“Ah ken Mrs Wylie. Honestly what am I like?”

“You are skating on thin ice Mrs T.”

“Well I am going to play golf, fog or no fog and rest assured I shall be having custard with the jam roly-poly.”

“If anyone is looking for me, I shall be in my boudoir planning a piece for ‘The Glasgow Lady’ on Conversation, before the arrival of my cousin. If I need anything Mrs Travers, I shall ring for you.” 

 Kitchen Thoughts

“It is just as well that as a woman what does, (but not a lot) I do indeed have quite a lot to do in helping to run this household. It is also just as well that I have my own domain beyond the baize door as it were. Most o’ the time they do, in fact, get on despite their different socio-economic backgrounds and origins. If truth be told they mitigate against each other’s less desirable characteristics. At heart, they are all heart the result of being Glaswegians despite coming from different sides of Buchanan Street. All the same they can be very annoying.”

“Are you talking to yourself again Esme? You know they say it’s the first sign of madness or considering relocation to Edinburgh.”

“Oh good morning Grace; no I was just thinking about upstairs, they have a mood on. He is going out to annoy her and she is adopting her default position of no compromise.”

“Best to stay out of the way, then?”

“Yes I would, it will be fine by the evening. It is winter of course, Grace, and February in some ways is worse than January. Winter requires such effort and if there is one thing certain about Mr Wylie is that he is no slave to effort.

Mrs Wylie of course never gives in, be it a point of view or a soup recipe. It is her way or the highway. How did you get on with your trip to the City of Glasgow Archives the other day? I meant to ask, but it went oot o’ ma heid . I imagine it was a wasted trip, can’t myself see how yous would find oot much about yer family in a Glasgow record office, after all you come from the Caribbean Grace, not  Cardonald.”

“Thanks for asking Esme, and you might be surprised at the connections between Glasgow and my country. We are all closer than you think.”

“Oh Grace you are a caution! Now could you give me a hand and collect the trays from the nursery, please? Hairy Mary, the Nursery Nurse from Inveraray, should have finished giving young Gayle her breakfast by now. I made her some nice porridge with a mashed banana and a little evaporated milk. I think it is good if the kiddies to go to Nursery with something hot in their tummies. Sets them up for the morning. That Fuzzy Felt can be an exhausting business not to mention all that In and Out the Dusty Bluebells.

“Yes I will do that and then I will set the fires and start the ironing. Might see if Hairy Mary will read my cup later.”

“Good show Grace, but stay out of Mrs W’s room. She will ring for coffee when she has simmered down and then I wouldn’t be surprised if she heads into town after Cousin Lulubelle’s visit in search of coat dresses and turbans. By the way what colour is nasturtium?

“Orange, yellow and red I suppose Esme, the sort we have at home; warm colours, just the thing for a cold foggy, gray day.

Time for Housewives’ Choice and Some Sad News

“Yes just as a little music helps, think I will put the light programme on for  the news and Housewives’ Choice.

“And in Switzerland male voters have overwhelmingly voted against women voting in elections .The death has been announced of the American Rock and Roll idol Buddy Holly, who has been killed in an accident along with J.P. Richardson known as The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens. As a tribute B.B.C. Light programme will play It doesn’t matter anymore by Buddy Holly, who was 22 years old.”

Later – not letting the sun go down on their wrath

“Jasper, I am sorry, here I have bought you something.”

“No Muriel, I am sorry. Oh Shirley Bassey!  What is it called? I haven’t got my reading glasses.”

As I Love You.”


February 1959