Friday, 9 June 2017

Of All People, It Had To Happen To Tommy!

You'll be relieve no doubt that this isn't another travel report. But in despair that it's about another of my recent obsessions: Milk Stout

Or sort of. Because there's only a passing mention of Milk Stout.

"THE most popular man in the Ayrshire village of Patna is Tommy Henderson, a life-long cripple. From one week's end to another Tommy wheels his way through the village in his old hand-propelled chair. He stops to chat to the wives in the queue, or spend half-hour watching the cobbler at work.

In the evenings he goes to the bar of the Doon Hotel. He drinks only a glass of milk stout. But he's a most welcome visitor.

Friends help him on to the piano stool, and he plays and sings entertaining the company like a man without a care in the world.

Some months ago the men at the local decided it was time Tommy had a new motor-driven chair. A "swear box" was dug out. Every swear word meant a penny towards Tommy's chair.

Tommy didn't know what the swear box was for. The pennies rolled in fast.

A lot came from men who never swore in their lives. A favourite saying after putting in a penny was, "It's a darned good idea this," and in went another copper.

Last week the box was nearly full. It held about £15. It was decided to open it and see if Tommy's new chair could be bought in time for Christmas.

The good news that the box was full spread through the village. Spread, in fact, too far.

That night Doon Hotel was burgled.

In the morning Mrs Janet Dale, the proprietrix, found the till sitting on a chair. Only the coppers were left. £100 of stock was missing, including 36 bottles of whisky, 24 half-bottles, and 12 bottles of brandy.

The thieves also took a Christmas stocking containing five guineas in coppers and silver for the blind of St Dunstan's.

And — they took the swear box! To the 400 people of Patna this was the last straw. It's a disappointment that about hundred of them will have to go without their Ne'er Day half-bottle.

But it's a thousand times worse that Tommy may not get his new chair after all!"
Sunday Post - Sunday 12 December 1948, page 13.

The opening sentence sounds like one those spoof 1950's comics that you find in Viz, you know, things like Black Bag.

I'm susrprised that they had motorised wheelchairs in the 1940's. But also that there would be a burglary in such a small village. It really is a tiny place. I thought that before 1960 you could leave your doors unlocked and your windows open without having to worry about some thieving bastard having it away with all your valuables. Who would have guessed that the past wasn't the idyl it's claimed to be?

It's not a surprise that Tommy drank Milk Stout. It was a sort of invalids drink like, er, Invalid Stout before it. Watching others work. That's something I'm keen on myself. So much more fun than workingyourself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Watching a cobbler is pretty frustrating, they're forever breaking off to cut someone a new front door key.