Sausages for Sailors

  • Posted on: 20/03/2020

The chances are you are needing something to lift your spirits, so why not turn the clock back 60 years and join Muriel Wylie on her visit to Lady Pentland-Firth’s. This week features an edition of the magazine Woman and Home.  

A New Butler Greets Muriel at Lady Pentland-Firth’s

“Good afternoon Mrs Wylie, her Ladyship is in the Grinling Gibbons’ Library. Would you permit me to take your coat?”

“So very kind. I don’t believe we have met before?”

“Regrettably not Madam. I am “Scampi”, her Ladyship’s new butler.”

“What happened to Mr Dodders?”

“I am afraid the previous incumbent was proving to be a disappointment in terms of service provision to the noble lady.”

“I can imagine, but to be fair he was 92.”

“So I believe Madam. He just couldn’t quite remember at the end, if he was coming or going.”

“And where did she find you? Judging by your build and the artfully placed scars I cannot imagine it was The Servants’ Registry.”

“No Madam, she came upon me, while rattling her tin can in ‘The Chain and Anchor’, down by the Broomielaw. When I put a penny in the slot, she came over all funny and said I was just the sort of front of house steward she was looking for; particularly given her current work with the merchant marine charities. You see Mrs Wylie I am myself an old tar, an old sea dog if you will. I have sailed the seven seas. Now if you will follow me.”

Going On Board 

“Mrs Muriel Wylie requesting permission to come aboard, your Ladyship.”

“Oh Scampi you are such a … well a scamp! Certainly, permission granted. Do come into the Captain’s quarters Muriel, and Scampi perhaps you could bring us a tray of grog, to put us in the mood. Isn’t he marvellous Muriel? A bit rough and ready, but therein lies his charm, I feel. I finally had to release poor old Dodders and give him an opportunity to pursue other opportunities, as your cousin would say. How is she by the way?”

“Oh, in remarkably good spirits. She’s taken up with those Kennedy people who are aiming for the White House, Elvis is doing well and she is even pleased with my forward plan for the business.”

“I do sympathise with you having to rely on her financial backing Muriel. It must be quite humiliating. What are you thinking for the year then?”

“Nests of tables and magazine racks are going to be big. Jasper is going to be the face of the magazine rack. Lulubelle says as a man who ‘can get a piece at any door,’ should be able to charm most women into parting with the discretionary part of their housekeeping, for a bespoke wrought iron receptacle for such page turners as “Rod and Fly”, ‘Fun with Ferrets’ and ‘Know your Onions’.”

“Are those actual publications?”

“Oh yes – they are hobby magazines. Men buy them and the wrought iron rack keeps them tidy instead of strewn all over the floor.”

“I don’t know Muriel. I quite like a man and his hobby strewn all over the floor. Anyway put me down for sixteen. I will put one in each of my guest bedrooms. I won’t have it said that the Pentland-Firths live in the past.”

“Would you like one for Scampi?”

“That won’t be necessary. He knows his onions. Or is it his knots? I forget. Anyway Muriel let’s get down to business? Coffee?”

“Yes please. What have you got in mind Patience?”


“”Well Muriel I thought in the first instance we should have some advance publicity, saying something to the effect that since the loss of my late husband the Admiral, Lord Pentland-Firth, whose mother was a Minch, I have struggled to come to terms with my grief in a number of imaginative ways.”

“Does that include your period of heavy Amontillado consumption, after your husband’s nephew briefly inherited the estate and was subsequently eaten by lions, after which you were duped by a man who was divided into three by the Auchenshuggle tram?”

“I was not duped Muriel. I was on the rebound following my beloved husband’s death, albeit somewhat mysteriously at a Flower and Fete Show (F.A.F.S.) lunch, when he ate a rissole supplied, might I add by your cousin and her outside catering business. No! I think we will gloss over that and as to the over-indulging in the matter of Amontillado, I was an ambassador for the sherry company.”

“If you say so. Well I am sure an advanced press release will be quite possible. I shall ask Bunty Haystack to do that as she is good with words. What about the event itself? Are we still going for ‘Sausages for Sailors’ as the headline?”

“I think so, don’t you? Everyone likes sausages. They are simple to cook and have a hearty appeal about them and men will not blink an eye about parting with their cash as they might for vol-au-vents or an afternoon tea. Both of which, let us agree, lack substance. We can have mash and gravy too. Do you think Mrs Travers would supervise my kitchen? I am afraid the cook went in sympathy with Dodders.”

“I am sure she can be persuaded, there is nothing she likes better than a power vacuum.”

“What’s that?”

“Nothing to worry about, it’s a sociology thing.”

“Oh is that that twilight class she goes to? You need to stamp that out. Next thing you know she will be eating her main meal in the evening!”

Simply Marvellous Ideas – All of Them Muriel’s

“Now Patience obviously the venue is your own lovely home and hopefully the garden if the weather improves. What time were you thinking for the event?”

“Actually, Muriel I was thinking an all day event with a maritime theme which will maximise the income opportunities for creating more homes for wayward sailors.”

“Are they all wayward?

“The ones I have met are.”

“Very well then Patience, but we are going to have to do a lot more than sausage and mash.”

“I knew you would know what to do Muriel. You are the one with simply marvellous ideas, so I want you to be the director of the event. I shall merely be a figure head.”

“How surprising. Presumably you are going to open it?”

“Well I might, if pushed, but you know me never one to seek the limelight, but I am good at these things. I might ask the First Sea Lord or even that new minister and his wife. You know the one who worked among the cannibals.”

“Hadn’t you heard? He didn’t get the job.”

“What! I told the Kirk Session he was to get the job. Besides I liked his wife. Who cannot warm to a couple with their own shrunken head collection?”

“Evidently a lot of people Patience. Anyway they want someone with a guitar.”

“No good will come of that Muriel. However, we mustn’t digress. Have you any thoughts, any more inspired ideas?”

Sausage Snobbery 

“Well to begin with in addition to the basic sausage for sailors, why don’t we have a marquee for advanced sausage lovers – a sort of gourmet tent for epicureans willing to part with a little more for something special. Appeal to the sausage snob.”

“Muriel I love it! What sort of things?”

“Well Woman and Home, not a magazine I generally read, but Mrs Travers lent it to me, and it is the sort of thing that will sit comfortably in a wrought iron magazine rack….”

“Go on Muriel, go on.”

Woman and Home has just had a double page spread on ‘Variety with Sausages’ which includes Sausage Apple Rolls, Frankfurter Soup and Sausage Risotto. And for the men there is even a Savoury Sausage Custard.”

“Muriel Dahling you are a genius. It has Gracious Living stamped all over it.”

“Don’t overegg the pudding Patience, but I agree with you.”

Mermaids and Other Attractions

“What else, Muriel?”

“Well we must have a strong maritime theme, so we should have a tug of war, a knot tying demonstration and what about a pirate den for children?”

“Are we having children?”

“They do tend to be part of the family package Patience if you are going for an all day event. Why what would you do with them?”

“Walk the plank?”

“Very funny.”

“I aim to amuse. Do you have any thoughts about music?

“Well Miss Allegro and the choir will do some sea shanties and the Gilbert and Sullivan Society are to perform selections from H.M.S. Pinafore. We could have a grand finale with Rule Britannia and Sons of the Sea – Bobbing Up and Down Like This.”

“Anything else that might bring in the pennies?”

“What about a white elephant stall with ship related items like ships in bottles and old ship bells etc.? You know just the sort….”

“Of rubbish men will buy.”

“Exactly Patience. We can have a quiz and bottle store with rum and exotic liquors made from coconuts. We could have a crossing the line ceremony and an opportunity to meet Neptune with a pay bar staffed by mermaids.”

“What about the Ladies?”

“Well how about a fashion show in the Orangery? Breton tops and sailor collars, I’ll think of something.”

Jasper’s Role


“Muriel, sometimes I am left wondering why people say the things they do about you. I will certainly put them right in the future. Just because one is organised does not mean one is bossy and overpowering does it? At least not all the time. I won’t have to do a thing. You have it all under control. Now tell me do we have to have anything boring, I mean intellectual?”

“Anticipating your thoughts and thinking about a possible grant from the Parish Council, I have already spoken to Jasper who said he would happily put on a display and series of talks about Naval fire power, women at Sea, Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton etc., etc.. He says he has days and days of material, indeed he could make it a week-long event.”

“That’s what I was afraid of Muriel, but it will bring in those and such as those who will happily pay for his tedious…. I mean thought provoking, presentations. I think we will give him a special space of his own, to show how much we value his contribution”.

“Oh that’s kind Patience. He will appreciate that. Where were you thinking of, somewhere accessible?”

“The attic!”

Scampi Returns

“If I might interrupt my Ladyship, I took the liberty of making up a tray in the galley. A Pink Gin for Mrs Wylie – no cherry as it is Lent, and a lime and tonic water for you Lady Pentland-Firth what needs no alcohol to climb the rigging.”

“Oh Scampi, you are a one.”

“I aim to please, Ma’am.”

“Indeed you do. Now once Mrs Wylie and I have finished making a list of all my wonderful ideas, I shall be down to see how things are before the mast and to see your hammock is secure.”

“Your Ladyship is too kind. One cannot help but compare you with another great naval leader, Lord Nelson, as he rallied the fleet before Trafalgar.”

“Oh… kiss me Hardy.”

“Madam, I will kiss you wherever you wish.” 


“Tea Dahling? Really she was all over him like a rash and he’s the butler for goodness sake. I don’t trust him. I wouldn’t be surprised if the only sea he has seen has been from The Renfrew Ferry. And what’s more she has no idea about Gracious Living at all!”

“She is a grown woman Muriel, you cannot interfere. You will get no thanks. Anyway, I imagine you are doing all the work for Sausages for Sailors?”

“Yes of course; but at least it will run like clockwork. By the way she wants you to have a section on ‘Heritage of the Sea’, the focal point of the event, you are getting the plumb spot.”


“Oh the attic rooms of course”

“The attic!”

“Yes Jasper. She says you must think of it as the Bridge and yourself as the Captain and of course you will have free access to the Pentland-Firth Nautical Instruments Collection. She said there was just no one else she could trust to give this prime spot to.”

“Oh well in that case I must go and make some notes.”

“That’s the spirit Jasper. Now where is Mrs Travers? I need to persuade her, I mean tell her, about her pivotal roll in Sausages for Sailors. We have to remember as Lady Pentland-Firth says, a sailor coming ashore and needs a bed and she intends to make sure that is possible.”

à bientôt

Muriel Wylie

March 1960