Jasper’s Jottings: Fair Enough

You Might Even Go to Paisley

It is Glasgow Fair. For those of you who do not come from “Caledonia – Stern and Wild”, this is the annual trades’ holiday for the city, when most factories close and the workforce depart for their annual holiday. Different parts of Scotland have their Fair Fortnight at different times which as one wit said means that unlike our neighbours south of the border we do not have a day of unbearable travel congestion, just localised bottlenecks. It also means for example if you live, or “stay” as we Scots say, in Glasgow you can travel to Edinburgh or, if you are really desperate, to Paisley for essential shopping.

Threads from Paisley

Only joking, Paisley is a fine mill and engineering town, even if the canny inhabitants do require “the pigeons to bring their own pieces”, have the unique ability “to peel an orange in their pockets” and thrill to the sight of “fruit in the hoose and nae buddy’s sieck”. Oh the banter that comes with inter – urban competition.

So Many Interesting Facts about Trains

The entrance to Central Station

I bumped into an acquaintance yesterday Mr Margettes, the chief operating superintendent at Central Station, who was looking quite exhausted. He said that 250,000 holiday makers had already passed through the Central Station. Something like 450 additional trains have been made available throughout Scotland with 14 special trains taking Territorial Army soldiers to their summer camps.  More than 2,000 extra coaches have been borrowed from other regions in England and Scotland.

Mr Margettes is full of interesting facts, at least I think they are interesting. Muriel says he makes her want to yawn and that she cannot understand men and their fascination with trains. She believes that men hanging around on platforms with notebooks who become overexcited at the very appearance of one of the new diesel locomotives should be locked up.

Even More Interesting Facts about Trains

So I will refrain from telling her that between 7pm yesterday and 3am today – a southbound train passed through Carlisle Station every 9 minutes. These have been almost exclusively passenger trains except for a few fish trains. You can smell the difference, the passenger trains could do with more ice.

At Kilwinning, in Ayrshire, a train is passing at the rate of one every five minutes on its way to the coast. At Central Station, 13 main line express trains had left by late afternoon yesterday and 8 fully booked “starlight specials”, left St Enoch’s Station in the evening.  15 boat trains have left for Ardrossan and the Isle of Man and two trains have gone from Buchanan Street Station for Dover full of holiday makers bound for the continent.

The magnificent Blackpool Tower

Apart from the usual Scottish favourites, enthusiastic holiday makers have been heading for Blackpool, Llandudno, Whitley Bay and Scarborough. Two stowaways were discovered on a south bound train. Peter Blair, aged 6, of Thistle Street and Peter Lee, aged 5, of 81 Cathcart Road boarded a London Express at St Enoch, disappointed that they were not going with their friends. They hid under a table in the dining car only to be discovered by a dining car attendant. They were taken off at Carlisle and returned to Glasgow.

Increasing numbers of my fellow Scots are travelling by train to Europe, Spain is a favourite and many Scots are combining Rome with Sorrento where a 15 day holiday costs about £50 including, you will be glad to hear, train travel. I wonder if in the event that we join the Common Market there will be more travel to the continent? I think interesting times lie ahead.

The Anniversary

Muriel looking simply marvellous

I am not sure how Muriel will greet a newspaper account that the Riviera is no longer the haunt of the rich and famous but is often as crowded as Blackpool these days. Of course that is where dear Mu and I met just after the war, when I bumped into her helping that Matisse chap with his cut outs. Muriel says scissor manipulation was one of the more useful accomplishments she learnt at her good school. The others of course being the famous three armed dress and the carrying of egg shells to the waste bin on a china plate.

I am reminded of Nice and the Côte d’Azure because it has just been “the anniversary”. May I take this opportunity to thank you all for your many good wishes. I cannot imagine how you always remember. I find it hard enough to remember myself and often wonder how I came so late in life to the wonderful state of matrimony. I have concluded that it may well have been an excess of pastis and the intoxicating sound of a gypsy violin on the Promenade des Anglais as well, of course, as Muriel’s rare beauty, unique ability to accessorise  and her finely turned ankles.

Lushness Can be a Danger

The offending weed known as sticky willie

Unfortunately due to the pressures of business and an increscent request from Mr Chanter for “the books”, we did not have time to holiday in foreign parts. Muriel does not, in any case, like to holiday with the crowd or as she calls them “the bucket and spade brigade”. It seems “our sort”, that is to say those who live in Glasgow’s much desired West End and have Rural Boltholes do not go away at this time of year.

There is apparently a danger that gardens become too lush and lush gardens to a Presbyterian present the summer dangers that in winter are posed by dancing. As we say, “you know what dancing leads to”, well lush gardens lead to exactly the same thing. Thus weekends are spent in the country doing battle with “sticky willy” and ground elder. This is essential if one is going to open one’s garden to the public.

The Ha-Ha

Muriel has ambitions in this direction as she thinks it would raise funds for The Home for Fallen Women.  As I pointed out the opportunity to lose oneself in the shrubbery or walled garden might just lead to more fallen women. After all just look what happened to Doreen Dunstaffiage’s daughter, Rose, when she fell in the Ha-Ha at Buffy Bentall’s. Nine months later the bloom had certainly worn off Rose. Muriel said I was just saying this because I did not want the work that would be involved. Frankly I want the garden to be somewhere to read the paper not a weekly re-enactment of the hunt for David Livingstone.

A Wizard of the North and a King over the Water.

Abbotsford House, home of Sir Walter Scott


We did, however, manage a night away for the anniversary. Muriel fancied the Borders and so we motored to Drybugh Abbey by way of Abbotsford House. This is the former home of the “Wizard of The North” Sir Walter Scott, author of the Waverley Novels.  His descendants still live there. The house contains his wonderful library and demonstrates his antiquarian nature with a range of display cases containing his collections.

The drawing room

Muriel is very keen on the Chinese wallpaper which was the choice of Sir Walter’s wife, a French lady, clearly with excellent taste.

the beautiful hand painted Chinese wallpaper

Like most of us, from time to time, Sir Walter overextended himself and his bankruptcy brought about some of the best novels in English literature. Novel writing was not considered quite proper for a gentleman and so for a long time the author of Waverley, Rob Roy etc was a well known secret.

The Abbey

We stayed the night in a lovely hotel at Dryburgh before making an extensive visit of the Abbey. This is of course in ruins but contains not only the tomb of the illustrious Sir Walter but that of Field Marshall Haig from the first Unpleasantness with the Germans.

The last rest place of Haig

It struck me that lucky Haig is able to rest in his own land unlike the millions who lie in “some corner of a foreign field…”

Traquair House

From there we motored to Traquair House near Innerleithen. This is a Jacobite House where the famous Bear Gates are closed, not to reopen until a Stuart is restored to the throne.  As Muriel said “I wouldn’t, personally, spend too much time oiling the hinges.” This I thought interesting as Muriel has no more oiled a hinge than she has grappled with sticky willy.

Jacobite wallpaper

Muriel was rather taken with the white rose wallpaper in one room – a symbol of the Jacobite cause – supposedly the Bonnie Prince plucked a white rose at Gelnfinnan and put it in his hat. From then on the white rose has been a Jacobite symbol. At Traquair, they only grow white roses in keeping with their idea of supporting the Jacobite King.

Only white roses are grown at Traquair

I rather liked some of the beautiful glasses used to toast “the King over the water”. I was reminded of dear Granny Wylie, who used to sing Speed Bonnie Boat to me when I was a child and could not sleep. Not that Granny was a Jacobite, but she was quite fond of toasting the King, or indeed anything, over the water. Actually she tended not to add very much water at all.

The Worst Patient in the World and The Best Nurse

Not on top Form

Now I am sure you were expecting Muriel today, but she has been a little incommoded this week with a summer chill. Muriel being a Calvinist (except in matters of the wardrobe or soft furnishings) does not do illness well. She believes deep down that it is a like poverty and brown shoes in the city – a personal failing. I, on the other hand coming from The Gorbals, am able to enjoy a little ill health. Well one had to, there was often precious little else to make much of.

The sainted Granny Wylie

Granny Wylie would have made any modern nurse look dilatory as she rose to the challenge of the sick room. Others had money, fame and fortune, Granny had bicarb, arrowroot, kaolin and morph and “in extemis” the hot poltice. There was nothing like a case of septic throat, a quinzie or even just a giant boil to get Granny going. She was the Florence Nightingale of our Close and many a poor lassie said her soap and water enemas were like nothing else they had ever experienced. None of your chemist products for Granny Wylie she grated her own carbolic soap often using the same “Wonder Shredder” as she used for the macaroni cheese. In the recovery ward (her bed when the worst was by) there was always the treat of the bread and milk sprinkled with sugar to look forward to and knowledge you were on the mend. Muriel’s family were not like that and she was just left in a darkened room to ride out the worst. The result is she is a very bad patient. I think that’s her calling now.

Muriel Requires Attention

“Jasper, Jasper, I fear the end.”

“What end Muriel?”

“The bed end, Jasper. My covers have come out and I am chilly.”

“There you are then, all tucked in Darling. Would you like a hot bag or the stone pig?”

“No thank you Jasper, then I will be too hot.”

“What about some tea, some nice Earl Grey with lemon?”

“Oh no Jasper I couldn’t, the thought of the lemon.”

“I could get you some fresh lemonade.”

“No Jasper then I would be alone and anyway that lemonade tastes odd.”

“i think that is because it is without Dubonnet.”

“Don’t make me laugh Jasper.”

“Will I read to you dearest?”

Nothing too sensational, please

“Yes Dahling but nothing too sensational”.

Un-sensational News

“Well I have The Herald, let me see, well Coplands is closed today and Monday for the Fair Holiday. There is a “Potato Demonstration” at the Science Service Station in Corstophine where there will be a presentation about forthcoming and, dare I say, important changes in seed potatoes. Oh yes and Isobelle Hall is writing to say that despite our fears that in 1950’s Britain the horse is on its way out Horse Shows have never been more popular. Oh you will like this, the typical woman at a horse show will leave before the end to “put on the mince”.

Mrs T’s seaside entertainment

I wish Mrs Travers, our woman what does but nothing at al this week as she’s not here,  were not in Blackpool with Billy’s weans. I would just like a plate of mince and potatoes now I am thinking of potatoes.

Oh yes there is an article on men and beards. Well I suppose it would hardly be anything else would it? Unless one counts Mrs Macaulay and she could give most of us a run for our money.  Apparently no one ever questions a man about his moustache, but feel free to ask ‘why do you have a beard or why are you growing a beard?’ The most usual answer according to our writer is ‘I am  a painter.’   They are considered by some to be unhygienic and it is said that if you rub salt into your chin and hold a glass of water beneath it – your beard will grow immediately. The writer, a Mr Wright, says that an actor once said to him that beards are questionable because ‘they are usually sported by gentlemen of an artistic persuasion.’ So you think that is the same as ‘very theatrical’, Muriel? Sebastian has a beard.

Sebastian, our thespian nephew

Now there is so little news Muriel but  I could read you some details about the arrangement’s for Glasgow Fair trains, there is some wonderful information. Did you know that over……. Muriel you are not listening, oh you are asleep – fair enough.”

Chin chin

Jasper Wylie

July 1957

Muriel is NOT asleep!

(P.S. No I am not, but I would rather throw myself in front of the starlight express than hear about trains, now where is my Vogue, Jasper?)

This entry was posted in Talk of the Town. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Jasper’s Jottings: Fair Enough

  1. Matthew Bate says:

    Holiday train journeys, pocket rummaging and the impatience of middle-class patients.

    Surely this is the perfect system for holiday allocation? Gone with the demise of central planning, no doubt.

    Peeling an orange in your pocket sounds like a terrible idea. I once had a similar incident while adjusting my shirt in a lift.

    I like trains, especially the nuclear-powered levitating ones we have in 2017. One mustn’t hinder progress or we will merely move from coal to coal-fired electric. Make no mistake, this technical advance is a miracle. Faster than an aeroplane and cheaper than a car. I can’t imagine my regular, inexpensive European tours without them…

    Obviously I’ve never inspired an artist, although I’ve driven a couple to it.

    Sticky willy. No. It’s too easy. Although there is something to be said for an oiled hinge. Is that anything to do with what happened to Rose? I really don’t know what got into her.

    Oh, for a night away with the wizard of the north, or even the midlands. Haig could put in an appearance, as could Gordon. And Napoleon for that matter. I’m sure Granny Wylie would be able to fashion a cure for excessive seriousness from that lot. Muriel would be happy and well in moments.

    As someone who is periodically bearded, a couple of times a week at least, I can assure you that while they could indicate an artistic temperament, they are not an indication of talent.


  2. Moira Taylor says:

    Dear Jasper, I share your love of trains (the real (steam) trains obviously) and thrilled to your descriptions of the train services to various destinations. Why I felt I was actually there, under the clock at Central, awaiting the arrival of a beloved …. oh dear, fantasising again, I really must take more water with it. Where was I? Oh yes, trains – the romance; the dining car; the lovely smell as we go through a tunnel; the unique sound of wheel on rail. Sigh.
    I am, I admit, with Muriel when it comes to destinations though – no Blackpool for me. Ardrossan for the ferry to Arran; over the String Road to the lovely wee quayside at Blackwaterfoot on the West coast. Ah, peace, tranquility and beautiful sunsets. What more could the discerning holidaymaker require?
    When it comes to nursing methods I am firmly in the Granny Wylie camp – there’s not much cannot be cured with a Kaolin & morphine poultice or a good dose of Dr Collis-Browne’s Chlorodine.
    I’ll leave you with that thought as I head for the garden to do battle with sticky Willie.

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

    Chéri Jasper,

    How bona to varda your dolly old eek encore, dans les bons mots! (I thought I’d start with a very theatrical opening as you have just been discussing beards and their prominence amongst painters and those of a ‘very theatrical’ bent like our darling, Sebastian). Personally, if they are clean and well-manicured I don’t mind a chap with a beard, but each to their own!

    Only you, dear chap, could slip so smoothly from finely turned ankles to sticky willies…..I have to say you lost for moi for a moment when you mentioned grappling with sticky willies…..I almost had one of my turns and had to demand that Jeeves remedy the situation immediately with a Gin & Dubonnet…..it does wonders for one’s clack, as I’m sure Muriel is aware in her incommoded position. May I also recommend a goose grease and brown paper poultice for Muriel’s summer chill. My Grandma Mabel swore by them……and she would know having been a former Frances Laidlaw ‘Sunbeam’ no doubt having suffered many a chill in a Stoll Moss Empire Theatre dressing room up and down the country.

    Any road up, heartface, one still feels decidedly queer! “Jeeves, encore une fois, Gin & Dubonnet, s’il vous plaît!” It’s on account of my packing up the house to move……the stress of it all is taking its toll on my artistic and ‘very theatrical’ constitution…….! Muriel will understand. I hope she is returned to her ‘simply marvellous’ self very soon……to attend to her Ha-Ha……

    Yours from amongst the packing cases,
    Lulu xxxx

  4. Jim Clelland says:

    “… in Glasgow you can travel to Edinburgh or, if you are really desperate, to Paisley for essential shopping.” Is anyone really that desperate?

    “… and thrill to the sight of “fruit in the hoose and nae buddy’s sieck”. Oh the banter that comes with inter – urban competition.” Fruit in Paisley? Surely not? Unless it’s in jam.

    “…Granny had bicarb, arrowroot, kaolin and morph and “in extemis” the hot poltice.” A formidable sounding woman. Sounds like my late mother’s Aunt Mary, and she was a hospital matron who put the fear of God into many a young Edinburgh doctor.

  5. J Peasmold Gruntfuttock says:

    Please accept my sincere best wishes for a speedy recovery to dear Muriel.
    I should also just mention that Sticky Willy causes me no end of problems down here in Tilling as well. I’m forever picking burrs out of my pussy. He comes in from the fields and woods covered in the blethering things, love his heart.
    If you’re not better by Monday I shall send some Turkish delight and some flowers via Interflora.

Comments are closed.