“A Monstrous Giant Erection”

“A Monstrous Erection” 

Here’s to 1958

A very happy New Year dear readers and on behalf of Jasper and myself I sincerely hope that 1958 will be all that you wish for you and yours.

Cold Cream Fighting Off Eternity

My all important beauty regime with lashings of cold cream

It is hard to believe how quickly the decade seems to be rushing past; they say of course that this is what happens as we age. For children the wait between one Christmas and another seems an eternity. For some of us of a certain age, however, the feeling is of hurtling toward eternity despite lashings of Cold Cream and the strictest of “nice toes, naughty toes” exercise regimes. Still one has to make the most of each and every day and I fully intend to help you do so. After all, one has a responsibility as a simply marvellous person helping those who strive for gracious living. 

The Queen and Jasper 

Talking of gracious – I do hope you managed to see Her Majesty’s Christmas Message which was, for the first time, broadcast on television. I am sure that you were struck by the similarity between one’s drawing room here in Scotland and that of Sandringham House. Had I been asked, I might have suggested fewer family pictures in the background, as there was just ever so slightly the feeling that one had walked into a high street photographers. Of course I would never say this in public, after all one would not like to be thought of as disloyal.

Jasper of course (you will be well aware by now of his socialist leanings) said he would be avoiding the broadcast as he had promised to help Mrs Travers, our daily woman what does but not a lot, with the washing up. As they say, fine words butter no parsnips and after his third port Jasper was somewhat comatose on the sofa.

out for the count

We had to endure Jasper’s versions of H.M.’s pronunciation of words such as lost and off which come out as “lorst” and “orff”, which he said were not traditional pronunciations at his end of Hospital Street. This is the part of The Gorbals where Jasper was raised by Granny Wylie after his parents were killed in a custard powder factory explosion.

I don’t know why he has to be so irritating. I knew my traditional response of suggesting if that was how he felt he should “go and live with the comrades” would have little impact in the face of the finest produce of the Douro Valley and a pound of Stilton from Fergusson’s, so I kept silence like so many women before and no doubt since.

Little Local Difficulties

So now we are in that strange post festive period, with grey skies and no decorations. There is so much to do but frankly one feels a degree of lethargy and ennui. I think one can overcome this by gently easing oneself back into a routine. I like to start New Year with a little drawer tidying and stock taking. It can be a mistake to venture too far afield too soon especially with the temptation of the sales. Of course the reductions in price at “Chez Nous”, our emporium for the finest decorative details, are highly recommended and may be considered an investment.

Half price at “Chez Nous”

I am not sure that the Chancellor Mr Peter Thorneycroft will be spending anything in my shop as he has just resigned because of increased government expenditure. One can hardly do that and purchase a new occasional table, can one? It is not only Mr Thorneycroft who has resigned but also Mr Enoch Powell and Mr Nigel Birch, two junior treasury ministers. Harold MacMillan, the Prime Minister, who I know well, has described this in the press as “little local difficulties”. Dear Harold is the master of the understatement, but I know he is deeply worried about this. Perhaps that is why he has taken himself off to India and Pakistan? He and Dorothy have flown to Deli and Karachi on a Britannia Aircraft. I imagine Dorothy who is an accomplished knitter will have got through quite a few pullovers. I read in the Glasgow Herald that they received an escort in Pakistan of Bengal Lancers – how romantic. I should love to have been taken up the Khyber Pass by the Bengal Lancers. A girl can dream.

our new window display with a hint of India – I know, wrong elephant!

Which makes me think, perhaps I should have an Indian theme in the shop to brighten up January, you know elephants and Paisley Pattern, that sort of thing.

Nice Nice and Not So Marvellous Malta

Sir Winston Churchill is also on his travels. He has gone to Nice. Which is very nice. I adore Nice – that of course is where Jasper and I met when he discovered me helping Matisse (who was an artist) with his cut outs. I always have been dextrous with scissors; it is one of the advantages of a private education.

The Princess Royal is not going far, she has a chill. I only hope it is not the Asiatic Influenza which many of us have been suffering from in Glasgow. The Royal family have been “walking in Sandringham Park”, no doubt in a bid to keep germs at bay or at least keep their distance from the Princess Royal. Jasper says walking shows they have so much in common with ordinary people which is of course sarcasm.

View from “The Phoenicia” over the Grand Harbour, Valletta

I am sure Dr Fuchs will not get ̓flu as he is now only 200 miles from the South Pole which will keep sniffles at bay. Talking of bays, I had been thinking of the marvellous harbour in Valletta, Malta. I was there briefly during the last Unpleasantness. I cannot say much due to the Official Secrets Act, but the siege of Malta was one of the most unpleasant parts of the last Unpleasantness. I was sad to read that Miss Mabel Strickland, head of Malta’s Progressive Constitutional Party, (and her family own the simply marvellous “Phoenicia” Hotel) was stoned recently when she called on Prime Minister Mr Mintoff to resign. The crowd booed when Miss Strickland called for three cheers for Malta, Gozo and Britain. According to Reuter’s News Agency the crowd booed when Britain was mentioned. How very rude! I hope this is not the shape of things to come.

A Stunt Outside the Grocer’s

Advertising through television is certainly the shape of things to come especially where washing powder is concerned. This it seems is to be combined with inducements or “offers” to tempt the housewife. I quote a J.K.S. who reports a recent experience in the Glasgow Herald:

I was hurrying out for my morning shopping when I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a monstrous giant erection outside the grocers.

I feel instinctively, although she doesn’t say, this must be the South Side they are given to being stopped in their tracks although had it been in Paisley she would have been “devastated”. The cause of the monstrous, giant erection was the army of small men in duffle coats and a crowd of passers-by who were not living up to their name. J.K.S. (and no wonder she spares us her full name), found herself “hovering” in case we mistook her for a passer-by and realised that it was a TV Unit bound on an advertising stunt.

A Poor Choice

Again the duffle coats and small men suggest we are not talking Glasgow’s exclusive West End here. I would have liked more detail on that – so unlike The Herald. The writer said she would have been more interested if she had been wearing her knew winter outfit and not as she was for she “had I come flying out in my house shoes and old camel coat.” I rest my case who in the West End would a) fly out of a house and b) be seen dead in house shoes and an old camel coat? In any case camel is not good for West Coast Scottish complexions, so very draining.

Clearly J.K.S. was aware of her faux pas as she feared being “zoomed in upon and caught most unready”. She has only herself to blame. A little old lady standing next to her told her that anyone being interviewed was given £1 in Grocers’ Vouchers. Not surprisingly JKS was soon singing the praises of “Sopo” in return for free groceries, old coat and shoes notwithstanding. Yes, exactly; that’s what I thought, it has to have been filmed in Edinburgh. Camel coat says it all. Not even Southsiders would stoop so low.

The Danger of Dressing Gowns

In the same vein inappropriate use of dressing gowns can send out the wrong signals like a camel coat on a northern skin tone. I say this because I went to see “Woman in a Dressing Gown” at The Regal. I took Mrs Lottie Macaulay with me. She is my neighbour and the wife of the millionaire bungalow builder who has made a pile in (or is it of?) concrete. Not to put too fine a point on it Lottie is a little nouveau and a bit rough around the edges, you know the sort of thing diamonds before 6 and mink coat to a church soup and pudding lunch raising funds for the homeless. This only requires good tweed.

Like the star of this film, Lottie lingers o’er long in her dressing gown and I thought it might be a tactful means of indicating this to her. I have tried to suggest that those and such as those tend to talk about a “housecoat” and that one can dress it up with a chiffon scarf at the neck in a pussy bow and fluffy mules on the feet to suggest one is arty rather than bone idle. This is useful I said if someone calls rather too early or indeed too late.

Note the earrings and pussy bow worn to great effect with my housecoat

Never take off earrings until after 10pm, it is asking for trouble. I am not sure if she took the hint she is as dim as a Toc H Lamp, although sometimes well meaning. Jasper says I should not interfere and that the subtext of a man driven into the arms of another woman due to excessive dressing gown wearing was rather too near the bone as far as Mr Macaulay is concerned. He once chased me around the drawing room having called on the pretext of borrowing some snow chains from Jasper who was out and it was August. It is, as I say, a funny old world. 

Uniting the World with the Moderator and a Three Piece Suite

The Moderator spoke of the state of the world at a service to mark the centenary of Park Church. I was invited as a noted local philanthropist and provider of pulpit falls at reduced prices. He said that God has told him that we live in a united world and unless we give up the idea of nations we will soon be blown to smithereens. The Moderator should know as he is Dr George F. MacLeod grandson of the famous Dr Norman MacLeod who by his emphasis on the parish and not the congregation did much to restore the Church of Scotland after the “Disruption” of Victorian times. This was complicated and needs Jasper to explain but you have not got all day, so suffice to say we Presbyterians have a tendency to disagree with ourselves and then go off in a huff and set up new churches which is why our towns such as dear and frequently devastated Paisley are often referred to as “Jerusalem”.

If you don’t believe me take a train from Paisley Gilmour Street Station as it is getting dark, sit at the back of the last carriage and look back – you will see from the spires and towers, silhouetted against the sunset, there seems to be a church for each inhabitant.

Dr MacLeod taking as his text, “Look unto the Rock whence we were hew” said that God was telling him “The state of Glasgow’s housing is appalling, possibly the worst in Britain.” I only hope the new tower blocks and council schemes help. A decent home of one’s own is so important. As I said to Dr MacLeod, “it is the rock upon which one builds gracious living – a bit at a time beginning with a three piece suit and a nest of tables. I can do a discount for bulk sales.”

Hopeful Signs for 1958 

Perhaps the Moderator might take comfort from not only my generous offer of 10% on bulk sales of suites for a tower block but also, as the American President General Eisenhower has wisely suggested in a letter to the comrades, that Outer space should be used for peaceful purposes, Germany must be reunited, there should be a nuclear test ban and we need to reduce conventional weapons. There are also other interesting indications that the world will be increasingly united through improvements in transport. I see for example that B.O.A.C. (British Airways Overseas Corporation) is ordering 35 V.C.10 jetliners from Vickers Armstrong. Believe it or not they will travel at 600 miles per hour and are designed to be in service in 1965. They will of course have Rolls Royce Engines.

Thinking perhaps of German Unification a Miss Pickett-Brown is starting a German Club for Children in Park Circus. This takes place on Saturday mornings. She believes in learning with objects and uses games, handwork, puppeteering, dancing and acting to inspire her students who must be 6 years of age and older. Having read that she has an “interest corner”, featuring German Stamps and coins Jasper has gone along with some of his collection.

Beware the Enemy at the Gates 

Of course with the New Year we must not discard the old, willy-nilly. Not all in 1958 will be good.  B.O.A.C. may be planning improvements but I have disturbing news from British Rail that they are planning to replace some dining cars with “a new light refreshment service in second class coaches on the Flying Scotsman”. As I have just said in a letter to the Chairman of our illustrious railway, I have no intention of hurtling through Crewe Junction while making my way to a second class carriage in my sling backs in search of a sandwich and a piece of fruit cake in a cellophane wrapper.

I reminded him that civilisation is built on silver service and if it is the case that the barbarians are at the gates I might just as well go in search of “a monstrous erection” and free vouchers for “Sopo” from our grocers. Furthermore I have requested a reply from the organ grinder and not the monkey and on decent writing paper, with my name and his signature in black or blue black ink, with the stamp stuck on straight with a border of equal dimensions, copies to the Moderator and President Eisenhower.

Muriel Wylie

January 1958

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5 Responses to “A Monstrous Giant Erection”

  1. Matthew Bate says:

    ‪A future of high technology, houses for all, and sari wall hangings. ‬

    ‪Christmas was extraordinary and astonishing, thank you. I made a complete Farage of the New Year but am working to rectify it. 2018 will be magnificent. ‬

    ‪Modern science favours the lifting of heavy weights to ward off the effects of advancing age. Sorry. Watching Her Majesty‘s Christmas Message ages the modernist republican. Jasper’s remedy of three ports is entirely appropriate. Three ports though…‬

    ‪I confidently predict that the Indian look will endure. I am considering it at present. ‬

    ‪Nice sounds nice. Yes. Asiatic influenza is not nice. No. I’m sure Fuchs will make you feel better. ‬

    ‪Men in duffel coats are an odd breed. They always like a different type of Jazz to the chap standing next to them. Almost always some form of sociologist or pervert.‬

    ‪If you’re concerned about the incorrect use of the dressing gown I would suggest paying little attention to the invention of the onesie. Many blame Churchill.‬

    ‪Does Mr. Macauley wear a duffel coat?‬

    ‪A United World, a home of one’s own and a three-piece suit sounds like a good plan. I’ll write that down. Oh, suites. I’ll have a quarter of sherbets please.‬

    ‪Jet liners, proper letters and progressive education mean a bright future. The loss of the dining car is a shame, although much worse is to come from the railways.‬


  2. seileasdar says:

    Dearest Muriel,

    A very happy, healthy and prosperous 1958 to you and yours as well, Dahling! May Chez Nous thrive and Jasper, Grace and Mrs Travers flourish under your tutelage and may all of yours paths and beds be covered in roses with those marvellous ventures of yours that leave us speechless and gasping for breath.

    I am delighted to read that Chez Nous will start the year off with a half-prize sale. I shall have to pop in an be inspired to brighten one’s rather downcast and gloomy mood. I have just returned from West Berlin, and what shall I say, not everything might be roses in 1958 there. Things seem to settle, but with all the enthusiasm, I can’t shake the feeling that worse might be approaching slowly.

    I am glad, dear Muriel, that you continue to fly the Flag of Etiquette and Good Style. I might have to book in at one of your classes for a fresher-upper! I fear I have been corrupted by the footloose laisser-faire life style of Berlin. Frankly, almost anything goes there amongst the new builds and ruins and people looking across the pond while emulating health-worrying short-length fashion. And then they dance Rock’n’Roll throughout the night and catch cold afterwards! Only recently, there was an announcement that a certain Mr Presley, GI would be stationed in West Germany. This might be the end of all we hold dear and a true temptation for the young. I fear the worst!

    Miss Picket-Brown does well to offer German classes and I would encourage Jasper to contribute what he can, dear Muriel! Any help with influencing those lost German souls could be very promising and economically worthwhile. Just imagine, my Dear, you could see yourself opening a School of Etiquette and Gracious Living in Berlin soon, of course in prime location on the Kurfürstendamm, near the KaDeWe for furniture contracts and those fashionable lunches with important people, of course!

    I remain with warmest wishes
    your dear faithful German friend,

    S xx

    PS: We should get together soon over lunch to discuss those plans so you can make them your own. And please keep me in mind for the Berlin Dependance of the Wylie Institute. I speak the language and know the people. I could be most useful, indeed. xx

  3. Louise Lewis (Lady from the right side of Carlisle) says:

    Chérie Muriel,

    Exactement, Mu dwaaling! The decade does indeed seem to be rushing past at an alarming rate. At times, one feels like the Roman God, Janus, whom the month of January is named after, with one face looking toward the past and the other looking to the future. The future pour moi involves a RAWTHER ‘big birthday’ later this year – we are indeed hurtling toward eternity. But being, as one is, ‘une femme d’un certain âge’, one cannot possibly comment any further…….”Jeeves, a medicinal Amontillado, if you please!”

    Moving swiftly on to the subject of the ‘monstrous giant erection’, one was RAWTHER hopeful that our dear Sebastian was returned to us from America at long last with a large film crew and giant accoutrements. However, I see my hopes are dashed! As I’m sure you’re aware, one is usually quite exhilarated at the prospect of a giant erection but this one is quite clearly ‘monstrous’, as you say, involving small men in duffle coats, house shoes and an old camel coat. Most unsavoury, if you don’t mind my saying!

    Speaking of unsavoury, one is not at all taken with British Rail’s ridiculous idea to replace dining cars with ‘a new light refreshment service’ in second class coaches. What fresh Hell is this, one asks oneself?! Do persist in your protestations, Mu dear heart! Otherwise, before we know where we are, we will be paying precisely £1,000,000 to sit in aisle with our luggage balanced precariously on our well-coiffured heads! A monstrous notion indeed……..one needs to lie down………

    Yours in a housecoat,
    Lulu xxxx

  4. Moira Taylor says:

    And a Happy 1958 to you and Dear Jasper too!
    Like you, Muriel, I have been rifling through my drawers as is my wont in January. My bookcases also see a thinning at this time of year.One receives so many books as Christmas presents that room must be found for them so it’s goodbye to the unloved and unwanted tomes of Christmases past.
    I too was shocked at the reaction to Miss Strickland in Malta.After all my late Papa was aboard HMS Nelson as she escorted the convoy carrying much needed goods and oil to that beleaguered island. Booing is terribly rude but stoning is positively archaic!
    The correspondent JKS does herself no favours, does she? Admitting to leaving the house improperly clad AND accepting a bribe to endorse a commercial product? Heavens to Betsy!
    Your description of Lottie Macaulay’s dimness was very cruel but I’m afraid to say it did make me titter.
    It’s good to know that God takes such a keen interest in Glasgow’s housing situation; perhaps you could get Him on board with your interiors business, He could spread the word as it were.
    Very good luck with your correspondence with the Chairman of British Rail, Muriel, if anyone can halt this particular bit of ‘progress’ it will be you.

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