The First Book of the McFlannels by Helen W. Pryde

This book was first published in 1947. I managed to buy the second book in the series in a St Andrews bookshop but as I’m determined to read the books in the correct order I had to resort to the internet for book 1. I’m so glad that I did because the book was such a laugh, it was a real tonic and as the McFlannel family are arranging their flitting at the beginning of the book it was very apt as we are flitting at the end of the week after 26 years in this house. Peggy Ann got her hands on the first book before I did, you can read what she thought of it here.

The McFlannels are a typical working class Glaswegian family, it’s 1928 and Mr McFlannel is a fitter in one of the Clyde shipyards, and even though he is bringing home a good wage, he is adamant that he doesn’t want to live in a ‘bought’ house, he’s happy to pay a rent his whole life. His wife Sarah has ambitions for a better life for herself and her family and is thrilled to be flitting (moving) from their room and kitchen tenement, with a place on the stair (outside lavatory), to a bigger flat, even Willie her husband has to admit that their room and kitchen is too wee for them and their four children.

This had me laughing out loud in parts, not something which often happens to me, but it was just so funny. The relationship between Mr and Mrs McFlannel is so realistic and she reminded me of my own mother. I can clearly remember my mother boasting to our Glasgow neighbours that we were buying a house because she had always wanted her own back and front door.

All of the characters are named after fabric, which denotes their type of personality. McTapestry, McVelvet and McPlush are obviously meant to be a bit higher up the social scale than the McTwills or McCottons, in their own eyes anyway. My personal favourite was the name McCamel Hair, but so far they have only been a brief mention, maybe they’ll have a bigger part in the second book which has a World War II setting.

I’m starting it tonight as I’m in need of something light and humorous at the moment, navigating around our house is a nightmare, the books are the worst things to pack, fair enough you don’t have to wrap them in bubble wrap but there are just so many of them and you can’t put too many in one box otherwise you can’t lift the box, and the weight of the books pulls the box apart, amd we still have four bookcases to empty. What I want to know is – whose idea was it to buy all these books!

You might find the Glaswegian website below interesting.
Have a look here at the Our Glasgow Story site.

2 thoughts on “The First Book of the McFlannels by Helen W. Pryde

    • Peggy,
      I was clueless at first too, I thought I was going to have to ask my sister but then I remembered the horrible experience of having to go to the loo at a friend’s flat and it was on the close stair landing, just a WC – not even a basin. Sitting there when you heard someone coming up the close stairs was awful!!

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