The McFlannels by Helen W. Pryde

There’s next to nothing on the internet about the author Helen W. Pryde, but I did find the above photo on a site called alamy. She seems to have written a lot of radio screenplays for the BBC and I’m not sure if the McFlannel books which were originally radio plays account for all of her writing.

I was really chuffed to get two of the books (4 and 5) in a charity shop, just as I had almost given up hope and had decided to trawl the internet for them. Of course I managed to buy book 3 when we were up at Fort William with Peggy and Evee in May.

The series comprises of:
1. The First Book of the McFlannels
2. The McFlannels See It Through
3. McFlannels United
4. McFlannel Family Affairs
5. Maisie McFlannel’s Romance

After Peggy left to go back to the US I just binged on books 3, 4 and 5 devouring them one after the other. When they were published, from 1947 on I think these books were seen as just a bit of light reading, a good laugh. Nowadays though they’re a real window into the social history of mainly Glasgow, with occasional days away into Edinburgh – or as we say in Glasgow – capital punishment!

These books are written mainly in plain English but father McFlannel, in the shape of Willie speaks with such a broad Glaswegian dialect that his wife and daughters are permanently embarrassed by him and despite years of attempting to train him up to be more genteel, none of it rubs off on him. Which is just as well as he is the best character in the books and holds his own with the posher members of society, who tend to be called McSatin or McSilk as almost all the surnames in the books are types of cloth appropriate to the characters, such as the McTweeds being a bit coarse and the minister is Mr McCrepe.

As I haven’t lived in the west of Scotland for donkey’s years now I’m wondering if all the pithy ways of expressing yourself have gone. Do people who think they are better than other folk (like a Scottish Hyacinth Bucket equivalent) still talk ‘pan loaf’ meaning a put on posh accent. Somehow I doubt it, which is a bit of a shame because it was amusing when you had dealings with people like that. Thankfully if you want to re-visit those days then you can through the McFlannel books, if you can get a hold of them.

I read these books as part of the Read Scotland 2015 Challenge. I’ve lost count of how many I’ve read this year, I’ll have to do a re-count.

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