The Rhythm of Autumn

  • Posted on: 11/09/2020

The narrator set the scene once again highlighting the news of the 2nd week in September 1960. Of interest to all our readers is really how Gayle is getting on at school…..

Sausage Shortcomings and Two Shades of Saffron

It is already the second week of September 1960 in Scotland and come to think about it everywhere else too. After the summer break the inhabitants are returning to the rhythms of life that will see them through the coming months, the months of the long dark nights of the soul, or winter as it often called. More widely the move towards the end of the year is reflected in the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in Rome, troubles in Africa and tension in a divided Berlin. Closer to home a tree planted by the Queen Mother (who as Muriel would say “never puts a foot wrong”) in Chester has been stolen. British productivity in industry is a problem, something which has been highlighted by the shortcomings of the British pork pie and sausage business.

The Church of Scotland is trying to answer criticisms of their institution by Robert Burns according to an article in The Glasgow Herald. “One might have thought” as Jasper said at breakfast, “they might have answered this by now as he has been dead since 1796.” Princess Margaret has been in Glasgow, in “two shades of saffron” and a “flowerpot hat” (‘We can all make mistakes’ says Mrs Wylie) presenting colours to the Highland Light Infantry and having lunch at the City Chambers with Lord Provost Mrs Jean Roberts. If she plans to stay the night, the film choice is The Story of Ruth at the Odeon or Can-Can at the Gaumont in Sauchiehall Street with Frank Sinatra Shirley MacLaine and some French people. For most people, life is about getting back to work, leisure activities and school.

At The School Gate With Young Gayle

“Now Gayle, here is your leather satchel with red leather pencil case inside as well as an apple and a Kit-Kat for break. I know some of the other girls have Jammie Dodgers, but they are grant aided. Your indoor shoes are in the shoe bag which Mrs Travers made for you from a pair of Jasper’s old corduroy slacks. Perhaps after our little practice last night you can remember that when you go to Prayers it is “Our Father who art in heaven” and not “in charge of heaven”. We don’t want a repeat of Monday do we? And the Reverend Brotherton is a Minister of the Church and not, as you shouted out, Santa.

Just for information the other pair of shoes in your bag are Gym Shoes and not as Uncle Jasper suggested plimsols or Mrs Travers “gutties”. This is Beaconsfield Road, not Govan. Mary will pick you up at midday. Remember your peg is the one with an original sketch by Arthur Rackham. The Mini the Minx is one of other Gayles, Gail – note the difference in spelling, the one with parents who run a pub on the south side. Try not to pick up her accent.  It would be better to make friends with the third Gayle, spelt Gale. I do wonder what her parentswere  thinking spelling her name like that. Perhaps as they have an estate on the Ayrshire coast and a boat at Largs they are fond of the wind. Yes, I know she stole your sewing card and passed it off as her own, but I am sure she has her good points. Now here comes Lady Dumbarton’s grand-daughter, you can go in with her.”

Meeting the Head Mistress 

“Oh good-morning Mrs Wylie. I was just checking the fire escape was in working order, if you will let me climb back in. I think my academic gown has got caught on some barbed wire. Now, how can I help you?”

“Well Miss MacClean, there a couple of things. Firstly, let me give you this beaker for break, something Gayle can pour her milk into. I am not entirely happy about drinking from a bottle even if it is with a straw.”

“It is indeed a pretty beaker, but do you really think it is a good idea to set Gayle apart from her classmates? After all, we want everyone to be the same don’t we? And the satinwood writing desk you had brought in to replace the standard classroom desk is already something of a talking point.”

“Do we really Miss MacClean want everyone the same? I was under the impression this address was in honour of our late Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, not Mr Khrushchev and his automatons.”

“Quite so Mrs Wylie, perhaps it is something we should discuss with the Governors.”

“I have already done so to save you time so that you can inspect more fire escapes and they agree with me, standards need to be raised.”

“On that point Mrs Wylie have you made any progress with the Lord’s Prayer and the question of Santa?”

“Most certainly and we have also been through Jesus Loves me and Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam. Word perfect.”

“That is good. I am afraid Gayle’s attempt to out sing Miss Throttle and the Senior School Choir with You are my Sunshine was disruptive, not to say inappropriate.”

“That’s her Uncle’s influence I am afraid, but in his defence his parents were killed in a Custard Powder factory explosion.”

“Oh, dear how terribly sad. How is Mr Wylie?”

“Quite well actually. He would have been here but he is going to Edinburgh with the Hysterical, I mean Historical, Society. They always have an outing in September.”

“Do give him my regards. His talk to the Seniors here on Road Transport improvements in Scotland from 1841 – 1842 was sensational. Now if you will excuse me Gayle’s class has Eurythmics. They are going to be flowers waving in the wind.”

“What flowers exactly?…. Wild flowers! I do not think so.”

“Your suggestion then is what Mrs Wylie?”

“I was thinking old fashioned roses, something Gertrude Jekyll perhaps.”

“Mrs Wylie it’s a preparatory class of Music and Movement not the Chelsea Flower Show.”

The Historical Society Outing

“Is that you ready Mr Wylie?”

“Yes, Mrs Travers our faithful woman what does (but not a lot), that is me. Peggies cleaned, shoes shined and a tasteful suit in a light tweed. It may be September, but Edinburgh is never warm.”

“Aye you can say that agin Mr Wylie. I’m always glad tae be on the road hame tae Glasgow, but it’ll be a wee change.”

“An outing gets the season off to a good start for Historical Society members, especially as we are having to increase the subscription this year. And I cannot expect members to sit around listening to me talking about double dry-stone dykes and the salt beef trade for the Royal Navy in the 1790s all the time, now can I? People will get bored.”

“ Surely not Mr Wylie! There are very few people fall asleep most, especially those wi’ a wee hip flask. They jist hang on tae every rich cadence an’ jist wish there were another 150 slides of the journey into Smithfield  from Falkirk, through North London.”

“Mrs Travers you are too kind. I must suggest a wee increase for you to Mrs Wylie.”

“Oh, Mr Wylie I don’t deserve it, but if you insist.”

“I have something new this year Mrs T. Did you know that they made shoes for the cattle a bit like horses?”

“Amazing! That will have ’em sit up in the pews.”

“Perhaps you would like to come?”

“Well I wid of course, but don’t forget I’m at yon sociology course and Thursdays is always deviance nicht an’ no’ one tae be missed.”

“Of course, but if you are interested we can always have a Saturday morning lecture.”

“ How kind but dinae put yersel tae any trouble. Now have you got your tasteful tweed knapsack because, as per her ladyship’s I mean Mrs Wylie’s, instruction I have made yous some “pieces” fur lunch in Holyrood Park. There’s a round o’ boiled gammon wi mustard and anither wi’ egg and cress, an apple an’ some o’ ma special fruit cake. There’s tea in the flask.”

“Thank you,

“Mrs T, there’s the door. That will be Mrs Dangerfield and Mrs Macaulay.”

“I didnae ken Mrs Dangerfield wis coming. I thought she was at the rural bolt hole.”

“Well she was, but she has come up specially for the coach trip, she has a small service flat in Partick.”

“I’ll bet she does.”

Mrs Dangerfield Arrives

“Good morning everyone, so looking forward to Edinburgh Castle. Is that a packed lunch? You really needn’t bother Jasper, I have brought enough for two, including my never to be forgotten fruitcake. I am sure you could do something with it Mrs Travers.”

“Nae skin aff ma neb, but what about Mrs Macaulay, wife o’ he bungalow builder, do yous need a packed lunch”

“I’ve just popped round to say I won’t be going as I have one of my heads and might you have a spare Askit Pooder?”

“Yes of course Mrs Mac, you ken me I have the Askit Pooder Mines.”

“Wonderful, I have completely run out and Mr Macaulay is a little hung-over after a heavy night at the Concrete Mixers Association Annual Dinner.”

“That’ll be twa then.”

“Aye, I mean yes. Thank you. I am so sorry Jasper, I was looking forward to Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Apartments where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James VI, not to mention Holyrood and the spot where Rizzio was stabbed to death.”

“Not to worry Lottie, I will bring you back a guidebook, but it’s too late for a refund.”

“Coo-eee, it’s me, Bunty. The door was open so I let myself in, bit of a rush telephone call from my publisher, so haven’t had time to make my picnic up, can we stop at the City Bakeries on the way”

“No need Miss Haystack. I have a spare one.”

“Oh Jasper you think of everything.”

“Doesn’t he jist.”

“By the way the bus is here.”

“Let’s go then; everyone follow your Chairman.”

What On Earth Is She Up To?

“Sit down Mrs Macaulay. I’ll get yous the Askit Pooder an’ a wee cup o’ tea now that they have gone. Pity you couldnae’ve gone;. you could have  kept a wee eye on that Mrs Dangerfield I dinae trust her an inch.”

“I couldn’t agree more Mrs T, but she certainly charms Jasper.”

“No fool like an old fool.”

“Have you noticed that she is beginning to dress like Muriel. “

“Now you come tae mention it I did notice – the glasses and the duster coat. Very odd. Nothing so queer as folk Mrs Macaulay.”

“Never a truer word spoken.”


“Well Darling how did the day go?”

“Splendid Muriel, we had a very good tour of the Castle. The Scottish War Memorial is very moving and a very impressive building too.

The Scottish War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle

Holyrood Palace was interesting  – we saw some beautiful objects that belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots as well as the blood stained floor. As it was a bit wet, we had lunch on the bus.”

“I am sure Mrs Travers will have done you proud with your packed lunch.”

“Actually, I gave that to Bunty as she didn’t have time to make one and  Mrs Dangerfeild had also made me one. As she had gone to so much trouble, I thought I should be polite and eat it.”

“Really? That’s a bit odd.”

“No, her fruit cake is to die for Muriel.”

“Well talking of cake, I hope you have got me a birthday cake for tomorrow, Jasper.”

“No I haven’t, but I am taking you to see Frank Sinatra and Shirley MacLaine and some French People in Can-Can.”

“Oh La-La! Sounds simply marvellous Jasper.”

“By the way, how did school go? Hairy Mary from Inveraray said Gayle had eugenics.”

“Really you can take the girl out of the Highlands etc., etc.. Anyway never mind suffice to say I am making progress Jasper, I have improvements in mind for Scottish Education.”

“Splendid Muriel I don’t doubt it for a minute.”

Muriel Wylie

September 1960