Shed Time with Jasper

  • Posted on: 29/05/2020


An Easy Trail to Follow 

“Good morning Mr Wylie, can I come in?”

“Yes, Mrs Travers. How did you know I was here in the shed.”

“Simple Mr W. I just followed the smell o’ Old Spice and Tunnocks’ caramel Wafer wrappings down the garden path. It’s no’ that far you know. You won’t starve from there to here. An’ jist because she wouldnae let yous have that tattie scone an’ the remainin’ square sausage doesnae mean you’re goin’ tae faint from lack o’ sustenance before lunch. Anyway I have brought yous a coffee and a wee cheese scone fresh oot o’ the oven.”

“Splendid Mrs T! You should be a spy, you have a good system.”

“I learnt from the best Mr W and talkin’ of which she’s headin’ in your direction after she comes back from the Post Office.”

“Oh yes I think she is posting that set of leaflets to the Secretary of State for Scotland giving advice 60 years hence. Pity she has finished, it has been a great diversion.”

“Oh she hasnae finished! This is just to wet his appetite.”

“He might not want any more.”

“I did tactfully suggest that Mr W, but she said that as John Maclay is a Winchester and Cambridge man and a member of the Pitt Club, and was in the boat race, he most certainly would.”

“I don’t doubt it then, that’s a lot of ands. I wonder if 60 years hence the Secretary of State for Scotland will still be a very wealthy, privately educated man? Surely not.”

“Whoever it is, wan thing yous can be certain of Mr W is that women will still be doin’ all the work. Now have yer scone before it gets cold. By the way has she seen the colour of the shed?”

“Thought it might be a surprise”

“Aye it will be that, all richt, and there’s The Herald.”



A Lot of Scoffing at the U.N.

I don’t know about you but there’s nothing quite like a cup of coffee and scoffing a cheese scone of a summer morning in one’s shed. The Herald is full of the story about the Americans taking the Soviets to task at the U.N. Security Council. In case you have not heard tensions are running high since American pilot Gary Powers was shot down in Russian territory. The comrades have accused him of spying.

Well of course two can play at that game and at yesterday’s meeting Mr Cabot Lodge the American representative accused Russia of conducting espionage in the U.S.A. and other countries. Mr Gromyko, the Soviet representative “scoffed”, not a cheese scone but at the idea. Mr Lodge produced what he said was evidence. This came in the form of a wooden replica of the Great Seal of the United States which he produced from under the podium. There was more scoffing, until Mr Cabot Lodge revealed that the replica was in two parts and contained a “clandestine” listening device. Delegates craned their necks, the British representative, Sir Pearson Dickson, “smiled widely” and Mr Gromyko stopped scoffing and just starred straight ahead. Trust the British to be sitting smugly (English for scoffing) in the middle.

Things Are Not What They Were

Meanwhile here in Britain, a Space “Investigation” Research Station is being built in Slough and some are trying to show interest in the idea of a channel tunnel while not really being interested in it at all. The trouble is that would connect perfidious Albion rather too closely with foreigners, many of whom do not eat scones, cheese or otherwise. So it looks as if we are putting our money behind the hovercraft which I predict will never exactly take off which is presumably the idea.

We don’t seem to be quite as good at transport as we used to be – eight of the new Vanguards have been grounded following an oil pressure fault in one of the engines. This is rather difficult for B.E.A. who have already been booking passengers on the “enlarged Viscount” for their summer holidays. There is also trouble over the building of a new Cunard liner to replace the ‘Queen Mary’ and ‘Queen Elizabeth’.

Both Tyneside and Clydebank want the order.

Our transport systems seem so confused. Let us just hope no one starts fiddling around with the railways. Oh dear pity, there is only the one scone!

A Vision 

“Jasper. What possessed you to paint the shed that colour? it looks as if we live in Miami! I know you are in there I can smell Old Spice and cheese scones.”

“Good morning My Love, you are looking like perfection itself. I have just been reading in ‘Woman’s Topics’ in The Herald that cabbage roses are all the rage not to mention bows. How do you do it?”

“There is no need to sweet talk me Jasper even if you are spot on this morning. I felt I needed to look my best to visit the Post Office and send my leaflets on their way to the vaults at St Andrew’s House. “

“I hope it will be the first of many pieces of advice for the future.”

“Do you think so Jasper? Yes I suppose you are right, being simply marvellous at all times even in a national crisis, I suppose I do owe it to the future.”

“It would be criminal not to.”

“Indeed, but you need not think I will take my eyes off other essential matters. I have good systems in place. Talking of which have you heard the latest from The General Assembly of The Church of Scotland?”

A Good System

“How could I – the reports are not out yet and unfortunately, they prevented you from attending as a representative of the South West Women’s Guild because of certain catering matters involving soup.”

“Sorry Jasper, let me put you right – they did not prevent me from attending. The parallel sessions on Church Catering in the Space Age, could not be agreed with my diary, no matter how they tried.”

“So Muriel, how do you know what is going on in the closed book that is our National Church?”

“Well I have a spy of course; Lottie Macaulay is my secret listening device. She is a local board member with aspirations to hold high office under my Lady chairmanship of course. After all, I have the suppa cloth with the names of the covenanters’ wives in Coats embroidery thread. The Assembly required ladies to help with refreshments for druthie ministers and I suggested to Lottie that volunteering might be a step in the right direction for securing the post of Treasurer in the not too distant future, particularly if she were to telephone me each evening with a full report of events.”

“Are you sure you have not come directly from the U.N. Security Council?”

“Too kind Jasper. Had I been there scoffing would have been kept to a minimum, I can assure you.”

“Yes I am sure. What have you found out?”

Infiltration and Strawberry Tarts

“Well Jasper you are not going to believe this – Mrs Macaulay couldn’t believe her ears either. As she was serving the strawberry tarts, she overheard the Moderator say that “If women come into the Kirk Session, somebody will have to do the work of the women and that the Sessions could be overrun as there are 174,000 members of the Women’s Guild. She told Mrs Hay the President of the Guild who is herself the wife of a minister. Mrs Hay very cleverly said publicly ‘Even if a few women do infiltrate into the stronghold of the Kirk Session the Women’s Guild will not in any way be weakened.’ So now that is on record.”

“Well good for her! The use of the word “infiltrate” says it all if you ask me. Sometimes it seems as if the whole country, if not the world, is run by clubs. Do you plan to do anything?”

“Of course, Jasper. I plan to write to the Moderator , copy to Mrs Hay, with my deepest apologies for my absence suggesting that to make up for it I take charge of the October Events to mark the 400th Anniversary of John Knox and the Reformation.”

“They will never agree to the “monstrous regiment” doing that.”

“Of course they won’t, Jasper, no one gives up power without a struggle, but it will be fun seeing how they get out of it.”

“And Mrs Macaulay, will she be elevated to the committee?”

“Steady Jasper, one swallow does not make a summer.”

New Enthusiasms, New products and a New Arrival

“Talking of spring, Muriel there is an article here about leaping into spring with a caravan; it’s very 1960 apparently.”

“It may be very 1960 Jasper, but it is not moi. Remember the ghastly one we found Bunty in! Anyway I would be at a loss to think about a suitable outfit for a caravan. Have you been reading Wind in the Willows Again?”

“Are you saying I remind you of Mr Toad?”

“ Well, you do have enthusiasms that rise and wane, talking of which reminds me there was a telephone call from a Mrs Dangerfield, who has just moved into the area from somewhere in the north of England, think it’s Wigan. She says she would love to join the Hysterical Society and be of use. She has an interest in spindle whorles.”

“Oh that sounds useful. What does she sound like?”

“I don’t know, Mrs T took the call. I asked her what she knew and she said that when she was in the bakers buying some pan bread and a couple of macaroni pies, she heard that Mrs Dangerfield already has a nickname – the Wanton Widow from Wigan. Anyway, I have left a number on the pad. I must go as I need to do one or two things before lunch. I have been asked to open the Jute Goods Association meeting at Piltochry Hydro.”

“Sounds thrilling!”

“Well Cousin Lulubelle thinks it might be good for business, we could tie it in with an event in the shop. You could do a window. It might be interesting to think of new uses, such as wall coverings etc. Anyway they are going to put me up if you want to come and are not too busy with the Wanton Widow and her whorles. Lady Pentland-Firth also wants me to use my spy system to see what they are doing at Pollok House this summer. Apparently, there is talk of madrigals and a programme directed by Mr John Currie, with pieces not heard since the 15th century. Not only that but croquet on the lawn. What do you think?”

“About what?”

A Night Out is Needed

“Oh Jasper are you listening, why do men never listen?”

“I was just thinking Dahling that after all your work on the future we should have a night out. I have got tickets for the summer review at the Citizens at the weekend.”

“You mean Sixes and Sevens, it’s all black Beatnik Sweaters and girls with scarves.”

“Exactly – I think we need to do something different. Then we could have a late suppa at the ‘Gay Gordons’ in Exchange Square as they are having a nightly dinner dance”

“Jasper I hope you are not going to turn into a beatnik?”

“Well I rather fancy a black roll neck sweater and sideburns. It might appeal to the wanton widow!”

“Jasper have you seen yourself in the mirror lately? You are more shades of grey than anything else and with side burns you’d just look like Gladstone, not someone from the Left Bank, at least not the Left Bank of the Seine. By the way are you sure about this shed colour? It must be visible from a spy plane!”


Jasper Wylie

May 1960