This is just the second book by Compton Mackenzie which I’ve read. I started off with Keep the Home Guard Turning and this one is its sequel. World War ll is having more of an impact on the islanders than before. Disaster has struck and there is no whisky to be had anywhere. Previously they had been rationed to one ‘nip’ every other day but now the islands of Little Todday and Great Todday are completely dry and the boat is eagerly awaited, hoping it’ll be loaded with whisky supplies but the islanders are always disappointed. All of the whisky which is being produced is being sent to America to help pay for the war.
Sergeant-major Odd who comes from London/Nottingham has come back from Africa where he had been sent on war business and is determined to marry his Peggy. The few English characters in the book give Mackenzie the chance to have some fun with the different accents, he obviously had a good ear and although it doesn’t appear in this book, I was impressed that in the first one he wrote the Scottish characters saying amn’t I and English ones saying aren’t I, some writers who should know better don’t seem to have noticed the distinction.
Anyway, if you’ve seen the film which was made of this book in 1948 you’ll know that relief for the islanders comes in the shape of the ship the SS Cabinet Minister. When she runs aground on some rocks it isn’t long before the men of the two Toddays come to the rescue and they’re thrilled to learn from the crew that the ship is carrying 50,000 crates of whisky, bound for America.
Well they can’t leave it all to the tender mercies of the sea can they! I could only find a teeny wee bit of the film on You Tube, but it gives you an idea of it.
This book was first published in 1947 and the author does admit that a ship called SS Politician, with a similar cargo did come to grief off the island of Eriskay in 1945, and Mackenzie claims that that is where the similarities end!! This is another humorous read from the author who is better known for his Monarch in the Glen books.
Mackenzie based another of his books on the same islands, it’s called Rockets Galore and I’ll be reading that one next year for Peggy Ann’s Read Scotland 2014 challenge.