Specially Packed for Pleasures

Made with Real Lemons

The old lemon houses of Limone

“Mrs Wylie, I am sure yous are puir dead melt’n in this heat so I’ve made some fresh lemonade with the Limone lemons you had sent from Fergussons.”

“What a kind thought Mrs Travers, what with you being our daily woman what does (but normally not a lot) and all that.”

“I come Mrs Wylie wi’ the latest news from going the messages.”

MacFisheries

“If it is about that man who has been bitten by a snake, while gathering heather in the Trossachs while having a picnic with a woman called Janice, who works on the white fish counter in MacFisheries, I know all about that. I understand that they had to get serum from the varsity in Edinburgh.”

“And is that a good varsity like the one here in Glasgow?”

“I believe it has aspirations Mrs Travers. Could I possibly have some ice in this, if you remembered to fill up the ice tray of my cream coloured Kelvinator? It was named, of course, after Lord Kelvin, who was naturally at the varsity here in the “dear green place.”

“Certainly Mrs Wylie; but no it was something else.”

What Might the Great News Be?

“Then I imagine you are referring to the death of Miss Minnie Brown of Muirkirk, which is an Ayrshire mining village. She lived above the shop which she has run for as long as anyone can remember and rarely went out for more than a day except to go to Church and “the Rural.” She left no will, but £20,000 has been discovered in her house hidden in suitcases, cardboard boxes, pails, tea chests and under cushions.”

“Who is her nearest relative?”

“Apparently a Pekinese called Mr Woo.”

“No it’s not that, it is even more interesting and on our own doorstep, well next door but one to be accurate. It’s about….”

“Mrs Travers, you know full well that I am not one for idle gossip especially when it comes from a man who has made his money in fireplace companion sets and his wife has net curtains and a circle of pampas grass in the front lawn.”

A Story Closer to Home

“No Mrs Wylie, not next door but one,down that way, I am talking about next door but one the other way, Mrs Lottie Macaulay, wife of the millionaire bungalow builder who has made his pile in concrete.”

“If it’s about her having been spotted at Communion wearing white shoes and a totally inappropriate floral diamond brooch, in the shape of a bouquet that was so big it looked as if it had been handpicked by Tony Gilmour (the florists of choice of West Nile Street) – I’ve heard, Mrs Crisp told me when I was coming out of Lizars, the opticians.”

“No it is not that, it’s about her niece Lydia.”

“You mean Lydia Port-Seaton who married Guy Cranston- Riddel in that completely over the top wedding in St Giles?”

“The very same Mrs Wylie.”

Pardon?

“No I am not interested, I am trying to catch up on world events, as portrayed in The Glasgow Herald. Cyprus is in a terrible state.”

“All right I will go and fetch the ice, but anyway she has been caught in fragrant delicatessen.”

“Oh!……Come back Mrs T, the ice can wait. I am all ears, just let me get my notebook.”

“Are you sure? I need to take some lemonade to Mr Wylie, he’s busy planning the Armistice Day Concert in the shed and he says it is hot work.”

Jasper’s HQ

“He can wait and anyway he would not be so hot if he took off that awful jumper and put on a short sleeved shirt. I am sure he said he bought one during the National Strike so that he looked more like a comrade.”

“That’s Mr Wylie for you spends money like a man wi’ nae arms.”

“Do sit down Mrs Travers, I assume you have your Mackintosh Square in your pinnie pocket?”

Mrs Travers – poised like a gazelle

“I am always poised for action Mrs Wylie like Thomson’s Gazelle.”

“A wounded one I imagine Mrs T. Now where did this take place?”

Exact Details Please

“Next door but one, like I said.”

“What? In a double fronted, honey sandstone villa in the avenue in Glasgow’s much sought after but seldom attained West End?”

“Yes; and in broad day light too.”

“No!”

“Yes.”

“Well I suppose, given that in midsummer it never gets dark in Scotland it is indeed most likely to have happened in broad day light. Tell me, how do you know this?”

“Well I met Mrs Macaulay’s woman what does far more than I apparently do in the bookies where she was collecting her husband’s winnings and I was putting a bet on for Mr Wy…… I mean oor Billy. She was much traumatised, indeed she had already had three Askit Pooders and it was only 10.30 am. So I suggested we had a wee milky coffee and an apple turnover in the City Bakeries in Union Street.”

“And?”

Getting to Nitty-Gritty

Mrs T continues with her story

“Well it seems that Guy Cranston-Riddel who is a Wing Commander in the R.A.F. has been posted to Cyprus to help with the deteriorating situation between the Turks and the Greeks. Mrs Cranston-Riddel, a former W.R.A.F. herself ,was to stay on until term finished at that posh boarding school in St Andrews so that she could fly out with their girls. In the meantime she decided to visit her Aunt here in Glasgow.”

“Yes that explains the additional set of hanging out ‘frillies’ I saw on the washing line, which I had thought way too small for Mrs Macaulay, even although she has given up on her daily Fry’s Chocolate Cream sandwiched between two slices of plain bread which I always thought betrayed her social origins. Do go on.”

“Anyway Mrs Wylie, it seems that Mr Macaulay decided to put in double wash hand basins in their bathroom as an anniversary present for Mrs Macaulay and while they were out at golf the plumber called.”

A Plumber in the Joint

“I think I can see where this might be going Mrs Travers so perhaps, you might omit the obvious plumbing terminology, if you could cut to the chase.”

“Well I don’t think there was much chasing Mrs Wylie. I gather Mrs Cranston-Riddel had divested herself of her summer housecoat before the plumber had finished sweating his pipe under the hot tap. Well when I say not much chasing, she did at least make a show of it for the sake of decency and ran downstairs where they ended up underneath the dining room table.”

“Goodness Mrs Travers, you know so much… and then what happened?”

Under the Table

“And then Mrs Macaulay’s daily woman, what does such an amazing amount, came in to put out the table mats for a suppa party that night and caught sight of the couple under the table.”

“It would have been the better part of valour to have ignored them.”

“I am not entirely sure what that means Mrs Wylie, but anyway it was difficult as Mrs Cranston-Riddel was shouting per ardua ad astra which means….”

“I know what that means Mrs Travers it is the R.A.F. motto through adversity to the stars.”

“Exactly. I believe, Mrs Wylie, she may well have got to the stars, according to Mrs Macaulay’s woman what saw too much and is on the Askit Pooders.”

“If only Mrs Macaulay had taken my advice and stuck to the old fashioned tablecloth all of this might have been avoided. Table mats are asking for trouble and really are rather common.”

“From what I have been told Mrs Wylie, it would need to have been a pretty large tablecloth.”

“To think that girl was convent educated.”

“They are always the ones that go off the rails.”

Alert the Home for Fallen Women

“Well indeed, I wonder if she is going to need some help from my committee at the Home for Fallen Women?”

“Isn’t Mrs Macaulay one of your fundraisers?”

“Yes she certainly is, it might be difficult. I had better give her a call and tell her I think next Easter might be busy so we need to have one or two extra jumble sales. It might help her to open up. Of course we must not spread gossip, so not a word to Bessie Mrs T, I believe we can both be counted upon to be the souls of discretion. In the meantime should you hear anything else, don’t think of sparing me the appalling details. Who knows when Lottie might want to confide in me and it is better that I am well briefed.”

“Well by all accounts that’s certainly more than the Wing Commando’s wife was.”

“That’s Wing Commander, Mrs T.”

“I know Mrs Wylie I choose my words carefully, oh here comes Mr Wylie.”

The Innocent Abroad?

“Hello Muriel. Hello Mrs T. I thought one of you might have brought me some iced lemonade; it is stewing in that shed and I am only up to 1915. By the way have you heard…..”

“About Mrs Cranston-Riddel under the table?”

“No, about the Glasgow tram driver who received an electric shock while at the controls last night. He managed to bring his machine to a stop.”

“That’s more than the plumber at the Macaulays’ did.”

“What are you two on about, what I was saying before you erupted into gales of laughter, was that the driver managed to bring his machine to a stop in Shettleston Road before he was treated for shock at the Royal Infirmary; which reminds me, a man has been bitten by a snake in the Trossachs.”

“We know Dahling, we know; don’t we Mrs Travers?”

“Yes Ma’am we know a great many things.”

“Did you both know that they hanged Peter Manuel this morning at Barlinnie Prison?”

“Let’s not talk about that Jasper. I bet he wished he had a table to hide under, nasty piece of work.”

Jasper Finds Muriel and Mrs T Unexpectedly Obliging

“Honestly Muriel, Mrs T you are both talking in riddles. Talking of talking in riddles I just met Lottie at the corner of her driveway bundling that niece of hers into a taxi for the airport. She seemed a bit disengaged and was not at all pleased when I asked her about progress on the bathroom front. I felt I had said something wrong. Anyway I hope you don’t mind Muriel, but to make up for any distress I have asked them in for suppa this evening. Sorry Mrs T I know it will be a lot of last minute work for you.”

“Oh Jasper, Dahling don’t be silly, what’s a little impromptu suppa and we haven’t seen the Macaulays for such an age. I am sure she will have so much she will want to tell us. Mrs T now I know you had plans for meeting up with your Support Stocking Support Club tonight at the Trades and Labour Club, with smoke filled atmosphere and mirror ball, but do you think you might be persuaded to stay on?”

“Oh Mrs Wylie I would be glad to do yous this obligement, despite being 15 hours on these various veined legs. Mrs Macaulay always has so much worth listening to at the dining room door with a glass. I am sure she will have much to tell about her niece’s visit. I understand that wherever she visits in the course of her husband’s postings for the R.A.F. she takes a great interest in local people particularly their plumbing arrangements.”

There is Always a Price to Pay

“I must say you are both being very obliging on such a hot day. I think I should pop into town and get some sherry, a nice iced fino I should think. Muriel is there anything we need?”

Rogano’s

“I tell you what Jasper, just to cut down on the work a little could you pop into The Rogano and ask them for a selection of their carry out Hors d’Oeuvres which they are advertising as specially packed for pleasure.”

“Like the plumber Mrs Wylie.”

“Don’t be common Mrs T.”

“Really ladies! I mean Muriel, Mrs T, it is if you are speaking in tongues. Now Mrs T, I must get you a wee something for your trouble. What about two tickets for ‘The Mike and Bernie Winters Show’ at The Glasgow Empire? They have several speciality acts such as performing budgerigars, or there is a play, ‘The Lovebirds’ at the Kings with Betty Driver. A honeymoon couple are given a gift of a lovebird who has knowledge of their past, or if you like Stanley Baxter is at the Alhambra.”

“Thank you Mr Wylie they will do nicely.”

“I wasn’t really meaning all of them Mrs T, but I suppose so, I might just as well add in Lex McLean at the Pavilion and you can be out every night next week.”

“Whatever you say, Mr Wylie. Now don’t think of the money think of your effortless suppa party this evening and my cultural enrichment as a member of the truckled working class.”

“I never think of anything else Mrs T and while we are at it with my old cheque book what would you like to do Muriel seeing as there would appear to be a week of cold suppas ahead of us while Mrs T is hitting the entertainment high lights of the city.”

Muriel Seizes the Day Too

“Well Jasper since this evening with the Macaulays has been thrust upon us so very much at the last minute and it will be quite exhausting even for one who is simply marvellous, I would like something to look forward to. So I would like to go to The Regal tomorrow and see Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in Indiscreet.”

“Yes indeed Muriel, anything else? I should like to know just in case I need to visit the bank manager for a loan.”

“Well Jasper there is Cecil B. DeMille’s ‘Ten Commandments’ in Vista Vision and Technicolor on at The Gaumont, but on second thoughts an evening about the Old Testament will only remind moi of the Minster and all the soup fuss, so let’s just be Indiscreet, everyone else has.”

Jasper off to town

“Very well, I will fire up the Humber Super Snipe, and pop into town. Oh yes and before I go did you know……..”

“Yes we know all about the wealthy Pekinese in Muirkirk.”

No Flies on Jasper

“No not that… I mean do you know all about Mrs Macaulay’s niece, the plumber and the fact they discovered from the underside of the table that it is by Waring and Gillow of Lancaster and quite valuable.

“Jasper you knew?”

“Oh yes, of course; it’s been all round the Golf Club for days. Mr Savage said that Cynthia says it serves them all right for skimping on tablecloths. Otherwise the indiscretion would probably have gone unnoticed if not unheard. As they say in the R.A.F., which is 40 years old this week, per adua ad astra!”

à bientöt

Muriel Wylie

July 1958

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4 Responses to Specially Packed for Pleasures

  1. Patty Cargill says:

    The posting is a veritable minefield of laughs, with Mrs T, WDBNAL, coming through nicely with the mangled expression du jour. Mille mercis for the chuckles. (It did seem that dear Jasper was awfully, overly generous with his pocketbook. Hmmm.)

    Cheers,
    Patteecee

  2. Moira Taylor says:

    Well, does Mrs T not have the patience of a saint; all those interruptions from Muriel, I thought we’d never get to the juicy, erm I mean, topical newsworthy story. I must confess the only Lydia of my acquaintance was the one in that jolly song; you know, Lydia the tattooed lady; the one who on her back has the Battle of Waterloo and next to it the wreck of the Hesparus too. But no it turns out to be a totally different Lydia altogether; one who has erred, big time. And under a table. And with the hired help.
    Good to see old Jasper back in Muriel’s good books for inviting Lottie to suppa; mind you the way he is handing out treats for all I am rather suspicious of what HE may have been up to!

  3. Matthew Bate says:

    A nibble in the Trossachs, the dire state of popular entertainment, and some poor chap is bitten by a snake.

    A snake bite, eh. That’s his excuse.

    Lucky Mr. Woo. I’d look after him.

    It does seem to be a week of brooches, doesn’t it. They can be used both for good and evil, as I’m sure I’m about to find out. Ah, but a short-sleeved shirt is the villain of the piece. Don’t do it Jasper, you’ll be tempted to buy a shed in Jamaica and start writing spy novels.

    It’s always the plumber. And it’s often the convent girls. I hope he used-up his roll of PTFE tape. Wing Commando. Splendid.

    Stanley Baxter every time. For crying out loud not Mike and Bernie Winters. Honestly.

    Mx

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

    Chérie Muriel,

    Specially packed for pleasure indeed! Your Bons Mots cette semaine are a veritable feast of juicy tit-bits for the reader – as juicy as those lemons from Limone no less! One must say that one wasn’t aware of the wealthy Pekingese of Muirkirk, however, one shall endeavour to have Mr Woo and Mimi the Shih Tzu well acquainted tout de suite.

    Maintenant, on to the subject of snake bites, one has oft warned the innocent tourist of the dangers of wandering gaily or gathering freely in the Trossachs. As we women who mean business know, Mu dwaaling, do we not, that this wantonness and gay abandon leads to more than just troublesome reptiles. Incidentally, have you been on to the Home for Fallen Women regarding additional fundraising and tablecloths?

    As for tablecloths, dwaaling, as well we know, skimp on a tablecloth and one skimps on so much more as poor Lottie Macaulay has found out to her chagrin…….per adua ad astra……!

    Yours indiscreetly,
    Lulu xxxx

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