I have barely drawn breath this morning but then it’s a tough life running a crack emergency medical service on one’s own, well almost. You see just about everyone is “under the doctor”.
Muriel has not been well since we returned from Inverness and as you know she normally has the constitution of an ox. My lady wife is, therefore, en boudoir, and Mrs Travers, our woman what does, is holed up in the maid’s room. This does not really matter as to be quite honest she does not do a lot.
I have been attending both, assisted by Hilda ze German vumin, vat does zee heavy vork, and Hairy Mary from Inveraray, nursery nurse to our ward Gayle. I can tell you it is pretty exhausting running about with hot bags, beef tea, and cold compresses. There has been much talk from both ladies about “the change”, but as to knowledge they have both had this at least four times and therefore should, by my reckoning, be well and truly transformed. Still I play along and shake my head when they say “Is it just me or is it too warm in here?” or in Mrs Travers, case, “Help, murder, polis! It’s the sweating and swellings.”
Under the Doctor In So Many Different Ways
Dr Cronk has been in to see Muriel. He is private of course and arrives in his Bentley with a gladstone bag containing the original leeches and bloodletting equipment which allow him to charge £15 guineas a visit, but as Muriel says he does look nice in a Prince of Wales check.
Mrs Travers has had Dr Payne who is from the local surgery and comes courtesy of the National Health Service, which Mrs T still calls “on the parish”. He comes with the latest equipment and medicines in a Rover and smokes “Craven A” for health reasons.
I almost forgot we also have Lady Pentland-Firth here as she let’s nothing pass her by and is in the guest bedroom having had a touch of the vapours on Monday. She is under Dr Valentine a newly qualified medic and rugby player, who she met in the Half Moon Bar of the Central Hotel recently and has been here since Thursday. Apparently his bedside manner is very up to date. Hilda having taken in two medicinal hot toddies, asked if the doctor was under arrest as his movements seemed to be confined with handcuffs and he was unable to speak. Furthermore she thought that Lady P-F must be on the mend as she was serenading the young man with some of her more memorable hits from her days in pre-war Berlin before she was ennobled.
Influenza from Foreign Parts or Outer Space?
As any casual glance at the local press reveals all are suffering from influenza which is sweeping through Glasgow and has affected many aspects of our life here in the “dear green place”, to quote Daniel Defoe and even tomorrow’s game between Celtic and Rangers at Hampden has a cloud having over it.
This match between the old rivals has been much anticipated as it is the Scottish League Cup Final and both teams have already met twice this season. On the first occasion Rangers beat Celtic 2:0 and on the second there was a reversal of fortunes with Celtic winning 3:2. Both of these games were played at Ibrox. It seems the “fitba” has been badly affected by this “Asian Flu”. I am not entirely sure how we can have caught this as the furthest East we have been recently is North Berwick.
Mrs T remains unconvinced and is certain that all contemporary woes can be assigned to the cosmic rays coming from the Soviet Satellites. Muriel has suggested that before the last Unpleasantness it would have been referred to as Empire Flu and at least the ̓flu after the first Unpleasantness had the decency to come from Spain like lemons and oranges. I am surprises she has not put the blame on the Shadow Chancellor, a Mr Harold Wilson, whom she has recently put on her list.
What Would We Do Without Hilda?
I must say old Hilda has stepped up to the mark and is, I think, enjoying the freedom in the kitchen which the absence of Mrs T has allowed. She is rather bravely wandering around with Mrs T’s symbols of high office -the Eubank and electric floor polisher, even daringly using them outside the maid’s room. It must be a little like Cardinal Wolsey on his death bed with Thomas Cromwell fiddling about outside.
Never mind every cloud has a silver lining and we are having frankfurters and sauerkraut for suppa with some sort of chocolate cake called a Black Forest Gateau for pud. Splendid. This will make a nice change from Friday’s usual fish pie. I am not keen on fish and yet it remains a Friday custom. You see if it were possible Muriel would be a Catholic Presbyterian as she is very bound by the heritage of her Scottish ancestors many of whom were Covenanters and some who were just plain thrawn. Yet she likes the glitter and theatre that comes with Catholicism. Her recent gift to the parish of sequined pulpit falls has, it has to be said, given rise to much chatter behind net curtains.
Muriel Misses Out but Jasper has Plans
Talking of the theatre, Muriel is very cross as we have had to cancel our visit to London to see Judy Garland in London where she has “been holding audiences in the palm of her hand”. She was also rather keen to see Marcel Marceau, a mime artiste, who is very popular, I am not sure this holds much appeal for me. If I want to see mime artists I can go to the race track, well I could if Muriel allowed it.
I think what I will do will be to take a chance that she will be well next weekend as I rather want to see a Miss Shirley Bassey who is appearing at the Glasgow Empire after a season at the London Hippodrome and on her way to America. She will be appearing in Glasgow with Alan Clive, a British comedian, Ray Overbury, a tap dancer, and a team of sea lions. Although I suppose Muriel might turn her nose up at Variety especially at the Empire which can be a bit rowdy. She might prefer Jimmy Logan and Stanley Baxter at the Alhambra which promises song, dance, laughter and glamour in “The Five Past Eight Show”. Alternatively there is the Urals’ Ensemble at The Kings with Russian dances and songs. We shall see.
The Importance of Strudel
“Guten Morgen, mein Herr Vylie; it is Hilda here. May I come in to your spacious and vell appointed sittoooterie?”
“ Of course Hilda; how may I help you?”
“I vas vundering if you would like zee kaffe mit a little apfelstrudel and cream for zee elevenzees?”
“ By Jove Hilda! I vuld! I mean I would. Cake and cream in the morning it’s not allowed. What does Mrs Wylie say?”
“Frau Vylie does not know.”
“Only Berlin, but they know everything.”
“Jolly good; yes we might get away with it – I am a little peckish.”
“ Vell, I shall be but a moment, in the meantime here are your slippers, zee post and zee Bible, I mean zee “Glasgow Herald”, all of zeem varmed”.
“Varmed, vas is das? I mean what is that?”
“Heated up for your comfort and by zee vay Mrs Lottie Maccaulay, zee vulgar bungalow builder’s vife is coming after lunch to relieve you zo zat you may have some man time in your shed or club. I sink she has zee eye for you.”
An Opportunity to Escape the Sick Rooms
Well in that case I might pop into town for a little rest and recuperation -let me just have a look in the classifieds to see what might be amusing. Ummn well there is a luncheon meeting of the Publicity Club at the Grosvenor with a guest speaker on Stamp Collecting, which reminds me I wonder where my albums are? The Scottish Vegetarian Society has a meeting on “Vegetarianism and the Spiritual Life” at the Central Hall in Bath Stret with Dr Andrew Gold, “all welcome, silver collection”. I don’t think so – not if I am having frankfurters for suppa. The Glasgow Elders and Office Bearers of the Church of Scotland are having a discussion “Do we Require Bishops?” with the Reverend Hope. That’s in the Christian Union in Bothwell Street, don’t think I will bother – that will end up being too boozy for a Friday afternoon and I will fall asleep on the bus and end up in Clydebank. What about, the “Arran Reunion of Natives, Visitors and Friends” who are meeting at the Grand Hotel with a demonstration by the Scottish Country Dance Society tickets from Mr Bisset? No I always get a fit of the giggles watching a strathspey.
Things are Looking Up
Oh now this looks more promising. I could taxi it to Bath Street where there is a special offer on ‘Reddnut Ancient Browne’ Sherry at 22 shillings a bottle, a bit steep but Muriel will approve. Then I could have a brisk walk to Argyll Street where Anderson’s have Chianti at 7 shillings a bottle, which is a snip even if “grown under Italian Skies”, have a wee tasting session with Mr Anderson, order a case then meander to Buchannan Street and go to Rowans where they have a special offer on golfing pullovers from 55 shillings and want one to “appreciate the protection of wool”. Not only that but they have “any colour you fancy” so long as it is lovat, grey or blue.
Then I could have a late luncheon at Rogano’s where they have Paté de la Masion. This, as Muriel would tell you, is a sort of ‘Shippham’s’ meat paste for epicures and is “delightfully contrived from chicken liver, onions, veal and fresh cream” and makes “a wonderful introduction to any meal.” I wonder if that would leave any room for the frankfurters? I am sure it would.
Now what else is going on? The Moderator is worried about the wireless and what people see on commercial television, “the mind of man” he says” is now completely incapable of being arrested by the spoken word”. He wants to live here, there are many days when in view of the spoken word I would quite like to be arrested. I am sure that the Prime Minister Mr MacMillan would like to have the Soviet leader Mr Kruschev arrested as he is a master of what The Herald calls “upside down language” such as he demonstrated recently when he described “the small peace loving states of Syria and North Korea”. The Sputnik has emboldened him and given him new powers at the same time as having reduced those of Mrs Travers and her abilities to damp dust and vinegar wash skirting boards. Oh Muriel will want to know this – The Queen is in Washington; there is a rent strike among the miners in Sanquhar, better not tell her that! And Prince Charles and Princess Anne are making good progress with their swimming lessons.
B.E.A. has made a million pound profit in August and the Council of Europe has suggested that there should be a common European foreign policy to prevent it from becoming a protectorate of the United States or Russia. Well that will never happen will it?
Hilda Makes Herself Indispensible
“Zer you are Herr Vylie; zat vill keep you going.”
“Hilda would you mind keeping an eye on Mrs Wylie, Her Ladyship and Mrs Travers while I pop out for some emergency rations?”
“ Zat is fine Mrs Vylie is sleeping like an alabaster effigy; her Ladyship has said she will pay to have zee ceiling replastered in the guest bedroom and the one who does so little, vell she can stew in her own juice as you British say.”
“Splendid Hilda you are such a treasure; just like a matron in Emergency Ward 10. What would we do without you?”
“Flattery is not necessary, Mr Vylie. Vork is my passion. Now suppa is at 7.30 and lateness is not tolerated.”
“Quite so Hilda, punctuality the politeness of kings, can I get you anything while I am out?”
“Some liver salts would be appreciated, no fruit flavours, after all as your ‘pooh bear’ would say life is not all folderols.”
“See you later then. Now if Mrs Wylie or Mrs T should decide to get up and try and make a fish pie or lemon junket for pud, don’t let them. I know they will say Jasper needs to be fed properly, so for that reason tell them I insist at great personal cost they both stay in bed until Sunday might.”
“I was planning scnitzel for Sunday.”