“There you are Mr Wylie – bacon, flat sausage, potato scones, fried bread, black pudding, white pudding, grilled tomato an’ a sprig o’ yon parsley for yer greens. I’ll jist make some tea an’ toast an’ then I’ll get on wi’ the sort o’ work that a woman who does does . Not of course that I do much, apparently.”
“So I have heard Mrs T. Could I have the salt and pepper and the brown sauce?”
“Of course Mr Wylie always happy to do yous an obligement. Jist as well she’s oot as you know how she feels aboot brown sauce on the table. It might as well be an invasion by the hoards of Genghis Khan or worse members of the T.U.C..” Now if you were to be caught watching the ITV with a roll and sausage wi’ broon sauce she’d regard it as the beginning of the end of civilisation.”
“Mrs Wylie regards many things as the beginning of the end of civilisation, but what the eye doesn’t see, the heart does not grieve over Mrs T.”
“Quite so Mr Wylie.”
“Talking of Mrs Wylie, where is she? And where is young Gayle and Hairy Mary, the Nursery Nurse from Inveraray?”
“Mary’s taken Gayle up the road to the Church Nursery and Mrs Wylie has gone doon the road in a state of high dungeon on account of some failing of democracy.”
“What would that be, and don’t you mean dudgeon?”
“Exactly! That’s what I said, dungeon. I’m beginnin’ to think you need a hearin’ aid Mr Wylie. It seems Mrs Sylvia Braithwaite, the new chair of the Women’s Guild, has refused to give the usual seasonal £5 donation to Miss Smallwood’s ‘Association of Ladies in Reduced Circumstances’ due to reprioritising the Guild’s priorities. ”
“She has evidence that many ladies are experiencing great hardships such as having to fill Fortnum and Mason tea caddies with Typhoo Tea and making a bottle of sherry do more than a day. Some can barely afford to put a gingerbread on the table or a cashmere cardigan around their shoulders of a winter’s eve.”
“Deprivation indeed Mrs Travers and of course she is clearly not working well with Mrs Braithwaite.”
“Indeed not Mr Wylie; she suspects Mrs Braithwaite of socialist tendencies.”
“On what evidence?”
“Unwashed milk bottles at the door and a tendency to borrow George Orwell novels from the library.”
“Sounds as if the Red Army is already in Buchanan Street Mrs T?”
“That’s exactly what Mrs Wylie said. More tea?”
“Don’t mind if I do. Could I have it in the sun lounge with The Herald?”
Oh it is nice to have the house to one’s self and a chance to catch up with events. There seems to be a great deal of talk about communications of one sort or another and I do not mean the usual “post early” for Christmas. Perhaps I have not mentioned that I was recently at an exhibition about electronic computers at Earls Court in That London. These promise to revolutionise communications in the second half of the century – so they say.
The Queen has also been involved in developments in communications this week when she made a Subscriber Trunk Dialling call or an S.T.D.. This means making a long distance call without going through the operator. Her Majesty even used her own finger to make a call from Bristol to Edinburgh and speak to the Lord Provost. Apparently it was a most successful enterprise and Her Majesty said “I am always interested in any development which brings my people together.” I wonder if she could mediate between Muriel and Mrs Sylvia Braithwaite, for the sake of ladies in reduced circumstances.
The Glasgow Herald itself is making advances in communications and for the first time ever it no longer has classified advertisements on its front page. The front page now contains the most important headlines regarding the news. So instead of taking one gently into the day with a range of possibilities regarding alterations, piano tuners, spiritualists and purveyors of pest control not to mention tea cakes and ladies companions, one is greeted with the Space Race and a range of possibilities centred around Nuclear Armageddon. Let us hope this is only an experiment; which reminds me I must telephone the shirt hospital as I have cuffs to turn. Now what page will that be on?
It is in the field of roads, however, that there seems to be most activity currently. There is for example a proposal to build a bridge across the Clyde at Erskine instead of the old chain ferry. Presumably this is because there is to be a crossing on the Forth for the benefit of the capital and Glasgow and Edinburgh are rivals, somewhat like Muriel and Mrs Sylvia Braithwaite.
You will be aware of the saying that a Glaswegian’s favourite road is the one out of Edinburgh. As for the road to Paisley, well – that is for Fair Holidays when Glasgow is closed. Of course there have been proposals for road bridge crossings at Erskine before. In the 1930’s our good friend, the distinguished lady architect Miss Margaret Brodie famous for her work at the Empire Exhibition in 1938, designed one such bridge. I suppose the last Unpleasantness put a stop to that like so much else.
War has often been a reason to build roads in Scotland . The roads of General Wade were designed to keep the Highlands under control after the Jacobite Rebellions in the 18th century. The last rebellion of 1745-6 was very unpleasant, especially if one was on the losing side and forced to spend eternity signing “Speed Bonnie Boat.”
Being such an inaccessible place has made Scotland quite good at roads and bridges. Just look at the career of J. L. Macadam for example. He revolutionised road building despite coming from Ayrshire. Our country side is full of delightful little bridges across burns and connecting farms, indeed I think it might make a subject for the Historical Society to get its teeth into.
Talking of getting one’s teeth into roads the Prime Minister, Mr Harold Macmillan, has been doing exactly this. On the 6th December he opened the Preston Motorway which is to be the first of a network of high speed roads. I am not sure if I will see this network in my life time as it has taken 2 years to construct 8 miles of motorway bypassing Preston on the road to Scotland.
There was a similar problem with our builders when I had this sun lounge constructed. I am only saying this because according to the Prime Minister this is the first section of the motorway which will link London, Birmingham and the west coast. As Mrs Travers has already said, quite obviously Mr Macmillan, being rather top drawer himself, had little understanding of the protocol around “having work done.” He was therefore ill prepared for a builder’s day, which begins at 8 am with “arrival tea,” (“four sugars doll, I’m cutting back”) and then “settling down to work tea” at 9.00am, with a break at 10am for “wur 10 o’clocks.” Dinner is at 12, then “wur 3 o’clock break” ( piece of cake will be fine darl’n’) and then a four o’clock finish with tea at 3.45 to give one the energy to get home for tea which is on the table at 5.30pm. The whole process is lubricated with chocolate digestives which are the only way of getting any project completed involving men. Well she said it was not the only way, but she was well past that sort of thing now.
Apparently the Prime Minister actually drove 4 miles along this road before making a speech. Quite clearly he was determined not to be outdone by the Queen and her passion for telephone dialling. I am not sure if he reached the limit of 70 mph, but he will not have encountered any crossroads, traffic lights or obstructions such as learner drivers. I think I might miss the idea of a crossroads. Sometimes I like the idea of a choice, the road not taken as Robert Frost put it in 1916. Perhaps the Motorway will remove choice.
I am not normally a great fan of Mr Macmillan unlike Muriel and Mrs Travers, but I have to admit he is a planner for the future which suggests he puts country before self. As he says, we live in a competitive world and we must compete to live through greater efficiency. I wonder if this is the only way forward? Perhaps competition will be our undoing much like the affairs of the Women’s Guild which might be so much more with co-operation and perhaps even a fiver for ladies subsisting on Typhoo Tea.
The Prime Minister is a clever man or at least he is well advised by literary men and one cannot help but approve when one reads that he quoted Robert Burns at the opening of the Preston Motorway:
I’m now arrived – thanks to the Gods!
‘Thro pathways rough and muddy
A certain sign that makin’ roads
Is no’ this peoples’ study:
Altho’ I’m no’ wi scripture cramm’d
I’m sure the Bible says
That heedless sinners shall be damn’d
Unless they mend their ways
It is the Prime Minister’s belief that this new road is a sign “… not the first sign but the most striking one so far – that we are no longer heedless sinners and that we are determined to mend our ways.”
Electric Transport – The Coming Thing
There is clearly something in the air or at least on the ground as there are also reports about the need to modernise our trams. According to Sir Patrick Dollan, the socialist and former Lord Provost of Glasgow, last night in a television interview he stated that modern electric trams “are the future”. He is suggesting that Glasgow should send technical experts to Europe to study the development of modern electric trams at which Europe excels. His reasoning is strategic and he believes that Britain can as an Island nation no longer afford to be dependent on foreign fuel, like oil, for our transport. The Suez Crises with its petrol shortages and rationing has, he reasons, proved this. This seems rather at odds with all the motorway building, but then I am not sure the Prime Minister wants to be reminded of Suez which was not our finest hour.
Of course improved communications are a double edged sword. For example one has to visit annoying relatives during the festive season without the excuse of landslides, floods or highwaymen. Having said that, cars, roads and dense fog have made it possible for six “hold ups,” to take place in Glasgow “in four hours” last night. This included robberies at a shoemaker’s in Bridgeton and a coal merchants in Pollokshaws. One brave shop keeper fought back by throwing bottles at the robbers. This is rather mean at this time of year – not the throwing of bottles, I mean the robbing of small businesses. Although the price of coal does tend to upset me as well. Not that I am suggesting one should rob one’s coal merchant.
Muriel Tries to Mend Ways, but Finds Road Closures
“Jasper… I am home. Mrs Travers, coffee would be simply marvellous. aAnd have you pricked the bottom of the Christmas cake with a knitting needled and poured in the brandy? I hate a mean Christmas cake.”
“Hello Dahling, how are things at the front? What news of the donation for the Association of Ladies in Reduced Circumstances?”
“Jasper I have offered an olive branch and said I no longer object to the proposed Tramps Refuge, but not only is the five pounds not forthcoming, she has put my article on “Canapes for Christmas – Let Muriel take the worry out of entertaining” on page thirteen of the Parish Magazine after Mrs Macaulay’s “Cheerful Boxing Day Chutney” and the advert for the Mole Catcher.
Goodness knows Jasper I have tried to open roads, but quite honestly I think it because H.M. The Queen who “never puts a foot wrong” is the Patron of Ladies in Reduced Circumstances. Mrs Braithwaite would rather we were under the yoke of Mrs Khrushchev, who has no dress sense. I think I might write to Buckingham Palace.”
“You could always try telephoning Her Majesty who has the S.T.D. now.”
“I don’t have the number.
“But I do; I got it from Sir Meyer Galpirn, the Lord Provost of Glasgow, who got it from the Lord Provost of Edinburgh.”
“Give me a pad a pen and my spectacles.
Jasper, I cannot get through to Buckingham Palace, that number was created for Her Majesty for that day only.”
“Never mind Dahling, let’s have a glass of Madeira and then we shall go out to the Club for a spot of lunch. Don’t worry about always being the one to try and keep the lines of communications open. Sometimes people don’t want new roads and you know anyway what G.K. Chesterton said, “New Roads; new ruts.”
Over and out , toodle pip