McFlannels United by Helen W. Pryde

I mentioned in an earlier post that we had visited a bookshop in Fort William just before closing time and in the five minutes that we were there we all bought books, well I, Peggy and Evee did but Jack was more reticent.

Anyway one of the books I pounced on was the third in Helen W. Pryde’s McFlannels series which is called McFlannels United and was first published in 1949. These books were originally written for radio and were very popular during World War 2 and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

The McFlannels are a typical Glaswegian family, the children are grown up now and their daughter Maisie is a teacher, so she has joined forces with her mother Sarah to try and change her father Willie into something more genteel than he has any intentions of becoming. Decades of correcting Willie’s broad Glaswegian have had no results but they don’t give up.

The family is still plagued by Uncle Matthew who is a sort of failed black marketeer or dodgy dealer. Rationing is still very much to the fore and at one point every member of the family is convinced that they are going to be carted off to prison for wee bendings of the rules.

The son Peter brings his girlfriend Ivy home to meet his family, Sarah and Maisie are convinced that it means he’s serious about her, but Ivy has other ideas.

I found this one to be a hoot, I think it was better than the second one, The McFlannels See it Through, although that is still well worth tracking down.

I read this book as part of the Read Scotland 2015 challenge.

Highland Hiatus

As usual I had planned to schedule a few blogposts for when we were away in Fort William and Inverness, but I was so busy beforehand that I never did get around to it, so it has been unnaturally quiet on ‘Pining’ this last week. For good reason though, as you might know Peggy of Peggy Ann’s Post is staying with me this month and we were joined on our Highland sojourn by Evee of Evee’s Blog and of course Jack was with us – he was our driver!

I worried about the weather as Fort William is infamous for being wet and of course it was wet when we got there but the drive up until then had been mainly dry, if a bit grey. We were there just last June and had great weather just a few miles north of Fort William so managed to take some lovely photos of the Spean Bridge area, sadly the weather this time was grey and very windy – when is our summer going to arrive? Anyway if you don’t know what the Spean Bridge area looks like you can see lots of images of it here. So we didn’t hang about there long this time.

When we arrived at Fort William it was chucking it down with rain and we made for the bookshop which Jack and I had been lucky to buy some books in last year. The shop owner was just about ready to close it but within less than 5 minutes – I, Peggy and Evee had managed to find books which we had been looking for. I was chuffed to find the third book in the McFlannel series by Helen W Pryde and I also bought a book about Hugh Lofting the writer of the childrens series, Dr Dolittle. Peggy got a whole load of books by and about O. Douglas (Anna Buchan) and Evee bought a couple of books by Maurice Walsh which she had read back in the year dot and wished to revisit. Now she has me thinking that I should read his books too, as if I don’t have enough books already in my piles!

Anyway, it turned out that it was just as well that we bought books in Fort William as the famous bookshop Leakeys in Inverness turned out to be a big disappointment for us, although Evee did manage to buy a few books. I would say that all of the books there are vastly overpriced, a lot of them aren’t in alphabetical order – come on – pull your socks up, it’s a nightmare if books aren’t in some sort of order, I was tempted to start sorting them out myself.

It’s always the way of it, much longed for trips to ‘special’ bookshops always end up being a damp squib for me, then I find treasures in the most unexpected places. Oh well, it all adds to the spice of life I suppose.

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.