Muriel’s Musings: O.M.O.

  We All Have Our Weak Points 

Feeling a bit more marvellous than last week

Well?  Indeed I am and thank you for asking.

I know you all think I have the constitution of an ox and a perfectly accessorised one at that, but even the chosen ones have their Achilles’ heel. Of course mine is not my heels exactly, because I wear Rayne shoes and have a foot care regime which is second to none. Let me tell you there is no reason why even in middle age one’s feet should not be fit to be seen at the scene of any accident or poking from a hospital counterpane. A programme of exercise including circular ankle movements which I call “One step, two step, tickly up there”, followed by “nice toes, naughty toes” will ensure good blood flow to the feet.

The judicious application of half a lemon rubbed into the heels (as with the elbows) works wonders once a week, along with the vigorous use of a pumice stone for more troublesome areas. Cream the feet each evening with some Cyclax foot lotion (quite the thing as H.M. uses it too and she never puts a foot wrong) and should you find your toes inclined to rubbing or blisters a little sheep’s wool makes a useful cushion between one little piggy and another.

Sheep may safely graze

I collect sheep’s wool from fences and brambles at the Rural Bolthole when Jasper and I are out on country walks and Mrs Travers, our woman what does but not a lot, disinfects and combs it out. I keep it in the Cold Room along with other emergency supplies. Of course the lanoline helps the toes anyway, but do be careful not to bind so tightly you cut off the circulation. As a child I collected sheep’s wool during the first Unpleasantness. This  was to save valuable cargo space for food imports instead of wool and other domestic products, presuming they could get past the U boats. It was sent to Lady-something-or-other, in London although I don’t imagine she did the washing and disinfecting herself either. The wool was used to knit “comforts” for the men at the Front.

Comforted by your Good Wishes and Flowers

Talking of comforts, (and I wonder if I should as I am quite sure all this talk of feet to begin with may have made one or two of you –  as my late Grandmamma used to say whenever lower limbs were mentioned – a little “frisky” this morning) thank you so much for your kind words, as I lay a bed. Jasper and the postman delivered your “Get Well Soon” greetings along with flowers from Tony Gilmour’s in West Nile Street. Tony does the flowers for the King’s Theatre when Her Majesty is in town you know. And Gary, your bouquet was sublime – you know moi so well.

A positive abundance of exotic flowers from dear Gary

It seems I am a bit of a martyr to my tummy particularly at this time of year when there are days of great warmth followed by humidity. One can tell with the rapidity by which a loaf of bread begins to go mouldy. Of course the dampness of the west of Scotland was what made us the Second City of the Empire as a result of the cotton industry. The damp holds the fibres together – ask Mr Coats or Mr Clark, they made a fortune out of damp.


While I was not exactly “hoovering between life and death” as Mrs Travers would have it in her usual “Mrs Malaprop” way, I did feel rather poorly. The old “kaolin and morph” worked wonders. It was typical that I chose to be indisposed while Mrs Travers was in Blackpool with her Billy and “the weans”.

the Magnificent façade of Blackpool’s Winter gardens

At least I had Hilda “zee German vuman, vat does zee heavy vork” and young Gayle’s nurse Hairy Mary from Inveraray to help. Unfortunately Hilda, being a European, has an overenthusiastic interest in medications –  which and how can I put this delicately –  are not taken by mouth. Quite frankly it would be the main reason for my objecting to joining the E.E.C., if I were not already committed to a United States of Europe for reasons of peace and prosperity.

I had to pretend to be asleep on a number of occasions as I heard the footsteps on the stairs, the rattle of enamel kidney dish, and her singing “Fe-fi-fo-fum…” which no doubt was for Gayle’s benefit. It was rather like being in a Grimm fairy tale. The thought brings tears to my eyes. I prefer British medicine that one swallows with water, although I suppose if one has “a delicate thrapple” as Jasper claims to have and “cannot get a pill over” it might be an alternative.

Jasper Does His Best

Jasper with his scythe, toiling dans le jardin

Jasper of course did his best, while I was unwell, but with the gardener also on holiday, he has been busy trying to keep the weeds at bay, especially the sticky-willie which is such a chore. He was not amused when he went to our local ironmonger’s to buy some weed killer for our red chips and Mr Steel said in what passes for humour among brown coated tradesmen, “Cooking tonight are we sir?” “It’s for my chips” said Jasper testily. “I thought so sir, I heard Mrs Wylie was unwell.”

a rather green garden our moi

When I felt a little better he did take me for an airing in the car and we went to visit a private garden open to the public for some charity or another. Those and such as those were all there admiring the landscape created from some old slate quarry with the help of “a slow daughter” (you can always tell – they wear ankle socks and Clarks sandals at 35), a one armed tractor driver and a dog that can tell chick weed from pansies. It was all very green. Personally. I like a bit of colour in a garden, but everyone thought it was marvellous so I have sent Jasper out to remove the geraniums and think about trees as I am sure I should open my garden or should I say gardens next year. I wouldn’t want to be thought common with an excess of colour.

A Very Poor Tea

Far be it from me to find fault, however, I have to say it was a very poor tea served in the tennis court, which is one thing to show off about, but not when all you have to offer is two jam sponges from Lyons, dusted with icing sugar to look homemade. Not to mention some fake empire biscuits – we all know that trick. I have done the two Royal Scot biscuits sandwiched together with a spot of Robertson’s myself, but not charged 2/6 for it.

the temple of Apollo

Talking of tricks I met Cynthia Savage  by the temple of Apollo – you know, her husband is in pickles and condiments and made a fortune in red cabbage. She was up to her usual trick of smelling a rose with one hand and using her tiny scissors with the other to take a cutting of mock orange. I couldn’t resist asking if that was a Madame Butterfly rose that she had hanging out of the basket she claimed was for her gum boots in case it was wet in the arboretum. I always keep the display cabinet locked when Cynthia comes for tea – it’s a bit like having Queen Mary in and finding the following day the jade animals have vanished. I shouldn’t judge but I don’t care for Mr Savage and I suspect Cynthia’s behaviour is a cry for help and all that piccalilli must take its toll.

In Memoriam – Madame Claire Voyant

Lady P-F prefers black

Fortunately I was well enough to attend the Memorial Service of Madame Claire Voyant, the medium and good friend of Bunty Haystack the crime writer. You may recall I disturbed a séance that was being held in my kitchen by a gullible Mrs Travers. Sadly Madame was killed recently in a horrible bus crash in Oxford Street while on a trip to London. Bunty has been very upset as she had become very friendly with the medium and was using her as a research source for a forthcoming book in her Rural Crime series – The Bunty Haystack Mysteries. You may have read “Turnip Terror” or “The Cream Tea Caper”.

Some of us went along to support Bunty including oddly enough Lady Pentland-Firth who  does not really know her but said she thought there was something very familiar about Madame Voyant. We did at least get to go in the ancient Pentland-Firth Rolls Royce which was fun. Indeed fun seemed to be the order of the day as the celebrated medium had left instructions that when she departed her memorial service was “to be gay” and there was to be no mourning and “no cult of the cemetery” as she was being “transferred to a better place”. So we all wore day dresses except Lady Pentland-Firth who said she could not enjoy a funeral in colour.

The service and reception were in the Ca’Doro, a grand suite of function rooms in Union Street just across from the Central Station. It has been “completely redecorated”, “refurnished” and “relit” as the manager proudly explained to me. The service was in the Venetian Ballroom and followed by a fork luncheon in the Palm Court.

I found it all rather odd, but odder still were the sheer number of people I knew who seemed to have used her services to communicate with the dead. Lottie Macaulay (wife of the millionaire bungalow builder) was there. To be frank that was mysterious, as she has trouble communicating with the living. Maud Maltravers had come from Melrose, they are in tweed and she would go to the opening of an envelope. The Chanlock-Craigs were there from Glenscoban Bridge as Madame had regularly brought them into contact with a successful cattle breeding ancestor, who gave unsavoury instructions about genes and heredity. Crystal Faulds was there too. She is to be “the face of makeup” for the new Scottish Television channel (STV) and claims that she got the job through inspirational conversation with her mother who has been dead since 1946 via Madame.

WEll……., Lady P-F fills us in

Now that’s not what I heard, but I am not going to be the one who spreads rumours from the casting couch. Put it this way as Lady P-F says “when we are talking of God’s gifts we  are not talking balcony brassiere here more the dress circle at the Kings!”

“…..let’s go on with the show….”

Also in attendance at the memorial service were the Handsome Stranger and Professor Sir Boozy Hawkes. The Professor is a leading expert on Grieg who is currently unfashionable because of “the simplicity of his melodic line”. He played the organ at the service, while we waited for “the vibrations” which according to Mrs Travers she felt through “ma new frock” although I tried to persuade her it was actually the Underground from St Enoch’s Square which provided the shuggle.

While I was half way through a mushroom vol-au-vent, the Handsome Stranger sidled up to me. Well I knew he was the Handsome Stranger, despite being heavily disguised as Ethel Merman. He needs to speak to me urgently and alone and says he will be passing the much sought after but rarely found house that is my West End home regularly during the next week and if no one is in perhaps I might place a packet of OMO in the window. “Do you mean the washing powder that adds brightness to whiteness?” “Yes exactly” he said. “Well I tend to use Persil as it washes whiter and that means cleaner, and it’s good for Gayle’s woollens” I replied, “but I will see what I can do.”

Good for woollens

The Handsome Stranger brought the memorial service to a close with a terrific rendering of There’s no Business like show Business.

 A Bored Muriel

In truth I am a little bored this afternoon. You know what it is like when you have been “hoovering between life and death”, one does want to do something but does not have the energy, all magazines have been read and everyone is otherwise engaged.  Only Frau Hilda is here bleaching aprons with jam stains on them. Hairy Mary has taken Gayle to the boating pond. Mrs Travers has gone on a coach trip “By Glen and Moor – A Good Day’s Tour, No 4”.

Mrs T loves a bus run

This a Ford and Wylie’s tour (no relation) they are the Ford main dealers in Glasgow and operate out of Pollokshaws as well as using Ford buses to run outings in the summer. There is nothing Mrs T likes more than a bus run. This explores “the beauties of the Clyde” and goes to “river and firth”. It starts in Glasgow and goes to Carluke and Lanark, down the Clyde valley to Crawford. Then it is on to Thornhill and across country to somewhere called Moniaive before setting out across the moors for Dalmellington and Ayr and home via Prestwick, Irvine and finally Beith where they make the furniture. She is going to be exhausted. I hope she will feel like topping and tailing all those blackcurrants we picked earlier this week.

Rogano’s, my favourite haunt – and I hope it continues to be

Jasper has gone into town  He was going to the library and then to have lunch at The Rogano where the dish of the day is “Jellied Eels” offered as “a cool delicacy” which arrive “tender and succulent” to your table at The Rogano, in Exchange Place just off mid Buchanan Stree”. Jasper asked if I would like to join him and I said did I really look like a costermonger. No, not my thing at all and I feel a little common for The Rogano. I do hope they are not lowering the standards like so many places these days/

I have asked him to pop into Mackays, the travel agents, to see if they can help me get me tickets for the Edinburgh Festival. I want to see Robert Helpman in Nekrossov and Moira Shearer is appearing with Anton Walbrook in Walter Hasenclaver’s A Man of Distinction.

Unexpected Callers Reveal Things are Far from Whiter than White

“Whiter than white”

There’s the door, “Frau Hilda can you get that for me please?”.

“Ja eure majestat gleichzeitig.”

“Danke Frau Hilda.”

“Meine konigin; it is zee errant and zee very difficult cosin from zee tief im Suden von America der cousin Lulubelle”.

“Lulubelle what are you doing here? I thought you were with Elvis and Sebastian in America!”

Listen here honey lamb

“Long story Cuz, but more important why are you advertising  your services in the window of this well appointed west end house?”

“What do you mean?”

Oh Muriel, honey lamb! You are so naive. A packet of OMO in the window means Old Man Out. In the last Unpleasantness it was a special offer, often combined with a plate of egg and chips.”

“I knew I preferred Persil! Oh there’s the door again.”

“Frau Vylie zer ez a gentleman at zer door who is asking if you do sunny side up or easy over any vay he is not fussy.”

“Well hush ma mouth!”

à bientôt

Muriel Wylie

July 1957

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3 Responses to Muriel’s Musings: O.M.O.

  1. Matthew Bate says:

    German medicinal practices, vulgar public gardens, and gay funerals.

    I’m glad to hear you are well, dear Muriel. The world needs more effortless elegance and taste, even when that is expressed and communicated from you sick bed. Less gin, more food, as my GP is keen to remind me.

    Footwear is difficult at the moment; so many dressed for sport without any intention of doing so. I do like the idea of the nursery rhyme exercise regimen and would at this very moment be going ’round and ’round the garden like a teddy bear had I any idea of how teddy bears went ’round and ’round gardens. I have not a clue.

    This new German medicine sounds interesting. I don’t know if Muriel is quite so chuffed. I’ve decided against doing a ‘Brexit’ joke, it would bring tears to the eyes.

    I too find public gardens a little vulgar, and I don’t believe in weeds. I like nature the way Ted Hughes intended.

    I’m rather jealous that Muriel attended a gay funeral with Lady P-F. It sounds like a hoot. That, and a fork luncheon. What a loss though, the vessel for so many interesting secrets…

    Shuggle. I will use that in a sentence today. Maybe a shuggle is best experienced in the privacy of your own home rather than on a coach trip. Bachelors only, I would imagine, as with jellied eels.

    I wonder if OMO could catch on on Twitter…

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

    Chérie Muriel,

    Zut alors, ma chérie! Trust Cousin Lulubelle to reveal the true meaning of O.M.O. in one’s window and, I must say, I am more than a little shocked despite my being a woman of the world and very theatrical! Although, one must ask oneself, how exactly does she know? Particularly as she is an American, which she cannot help obviously, but still……? The Handsome Stranger requires firm words it would appear…..of course a lady of your calibre would only use Persil!

    Dwaaling, one is relieved to hear you are no longer ‘hoovering between life and death’ and that your full marvellousness quotient is almost back up to full capacity. If only one could say the same… is ‘hoovering between life and death’ surrounded by tea chests, packing cases and cardboard boxes as one prepares for the impending house move…..simply ghastly! One is a lady ‘on the verge’, as we says dans le théâtre. If it weren’t for a dear friend, also of ‘very theatrical’ bent and who is ‘The King of Packing’, assisting moi in the packing process, one fears it would be all too much and one would be buried in a tea chest along with the Amontillado, the Tío Pepe and the Emva Cream. Said friend has introduced moi to the Cardboard Wardrobe and they are a revelation! They contain one’s frocks and accoutrements in the most ‘simply marvellous’ style. They are all that stands between moi and complete nervous exhaustion…..not to mention the effect on my wee Mimi the Shih Tzu…..she is in utter turmoil too. One is trying to maintain consistency with 9 o’clock “Bim-Bongs’ and 10 o’clock ‘Beddie-Bongoes’ but she doesn’t know whether to ‘Bim’ or ‘Bong’…..and, quite frankly, nor do I?!

    The one consolation in all this upheaval, you will all be relieved to hear, is that one will still be on the right side of Carlisle after the move. Anywhere else would be unthinkable, naturellement!

    Yours camping it up in cardboard,
    Lulu xxxx

  3. Moira Taylor says:

    Thank heavens you are restored to full health Muriel. How we have all missed you.
    I could do with borrowing Jasper for a while this week as Sticky Willie is playing havoc with my ornamental bush.
    I can’t wait for you to open your extensive gardens, dear, will you have a HaHa? Perhaps Jasper could fix you up a nice water feature?
    I do hope that losing her muse doesn’t mean that Bunty Haystacks will stop writing her marvellous novels. I recently read ‘Murder amongst the mange tout’ – very exotic. The memorial service sounds strange, to say the least. What a collection of minor celebrities, tradespeople and ne’er do wells. How fortuitous that you and Jasper were able to attend. I’m getting slightly worried about The Handsome Stranger though – Ethel Merman? Really?

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