My eldest daughter Joanna is working as the Night Manager in a prominent Glasgow hotel, of a well known hotel group. She enjoys the job.

Of course in a city like Glasgow, it is impossible to escape forever some contact with violent drunks, but we have always felt that the majority of Glaswegians, from all walks of life being kind, friendly and helpful – gentlemen in the truest sense of the word – more than compensates for this problem. Glasgow men do not lack courage and initiative either. They dealt with terrorists at Glasgow Airport some years ago with deadly despatch before ever the police etc had arrived.

Joanna arrives on the scene with the incident in full happening and has to deal with it unaided and on the spot. She believes that generally the fact that she is a woman (and not one easily intimidated) is helpful because even a Glasgow villain would hesitate to attack a woman, certainly not in a public place. This man however is so drunk and so vicious and abusive in what he shouts at her, coming right up to her and yelling obscenities in her face that for a moment or two her courage fails her and she feels wobbly. She thinks, if he touches me, or if he reaches for a weapon, I will shout for someone to call the police. But in general she hopes to see the drunks off, either safe in their room if they are resident (often they are very big spenders with only occasional lapses) or out of the hotel if they are not resident. If the police are called, they come with all guns blazing, (metaphorically!) and the noise and disturbance upsets the other guests.

Somewhat to her surprise however she feels the offender hesitate, and he ceases abusing her, and just occasionally mumbles some protest sotto voce. He is not a resident, and he grudgingly agrees that she may call a taxi for him. Still feeling quite shaky, and thankful for the mystery of his swift capitulation, she turns round to get someone to summon a taxi.

Standing behind her is every male member of staff who is on duty, from the banqueting manager, the bar staff, the concierge, the night porter. Chefs are present in their white coats, one or two with the kitchen knives they were working with still in their hands. Other men are hastening towards them. They are standing, a dozen or so strong, quite silent, with their arms folded across their chests, in much the same way as the administration of the Scottish parliament received Cameron when he was foolish enough to go there. They are an intimidating sight. No wonder her drunk thought better of his treatment of her.

You could certainly ask of Glasgow men, Wha’s like us? (The answer being, Gey few, and they’re a’ deid – which isn’t exactly encouraging!) I’m married to a Glaswegian so I know all about this.

I’ve never been a daughter of the city of Glasgow though I’m fond of the city, and would be proud to be reckoned as one of that august body. I do not know if Joanna would count herself one of them either – she grew up in Sussex after all. However, the ladies of the City of Glasgow should be dealt with using extreme caution. If anything, they are more deadly than the males.



James, my youngest grandson, is at the stage where he speaks a few words but understands many more.

We went up for the weekend recently and I took as my contribution to the occasion a trifle that I had made. It is not a standard trifle and we cannot remember whose recipe it was. In our house we call it ‘Elisabeth’s trifle’ which would suggest that she first tasted it at the house of one of her friends, made by the mother of the household perhaps; so if you recognise this as your recipe, do get in touch and I will give you the credit for it. John’s birthday is on Boxing Day, and he is inordinately fond of trifle, so when she lived at home, Elisabeth would make ‘her’ trifle on his birthday. I make it every year but Elisabeth was in America this Christmas so did not partake of it.

As it is a ‘drunken’ pudding we debated giving the children a yoghurt but then decided we would give them a small portion of the upper layers of the dessert, making sure they got none of the alcoholic base.

It was quite evident that both boys enjoyed their pudding, but for James it was obviously a culinary high spot, never to be forgotten. His mother said to him, Do you like the trifle, James? Nod if you do! He nodded his head repeatedly like a Chinese mandarin. He likes to feed himself, and is normally resistant to any assistance, but to my surprise he handed me his spoon, while rather anxiously retaining hold of his bowl. Would you like me to gather up the bits left over, I enquired. He nodded with enthusiasm. I gathered up as  much as I could and he gobbled the lot. I said it was ‘All Done’ and he nodded sadly but held on to his bowl and when I next looked at him he had it balanced on his up-turned nose and was licking the inside. Goodness knows how he would have reacted if we had given him the base!

In case any of you wish to try it, here is the recipe.


Take a large glass bowl and place 8 trifle sponges in the bottom of it. Pour over a sherry glass (about 6 fl oz) of alcohol (whatever you have or prefer: I used brandy). Fork the sponges so that the alcohol is absorbed into them, and add orange juice, generally twice the amount of alcohol and make sure it is absorbed through the sponges. Take one or two punnets of raspberries and scatter them on top of the sponge mixture; then chop up two bananas and add them. Separate the whites and yolks of 2 eggs. Whip the whites until stiff. Put 250g of mascarpone cheese in a bowl and mix in the egg yolks plus 2 oz of sugar. Beat until smooth; add egg whites; mix to a smooth consistency. Pour over sponges and fruit. Beat half a pint of double cream until thick and pour over trifle. Leave to rest in fridge for several hours. Just prior to serving, scatter the seeds from 2 passion fruit over the surface. (This is optional: they are not always obtainable.)

NB We have eaten this often with no ill effect, but you would have to bear in mind that not everyone can eat uncooked eggs.



I’ve been reading a book called What Matters in Jane Austin by John Mullen. It is interesting and explores a whole range of different issues, some of which I had worried over on my own, and others which would never have occurred to me. It wonders which I have often done in private if she was indifferent to servants – she scarcely bothers to name them; or if she is immured to the evils of slavery with Sir Thomas going out to the Caribbean to protect his so-called Christian interests while teaching his son etiquette and good behaviour when dealing with lesser persons such as slaves. (I recommend the book but you need to have a detailed knowledge of all her novels.)The book quotes a lot from her various novels. There is much that needs to be discussed.

On another issue (one which had never crossed my mind,)was how they blushed. I have to admit to a deficiency here. I have never blushed. It is not , needless to say, that I have not suffered embarrassments – sudden urgent needs for the toilet when it wasn’t convenient, spilling a glass of red wine on my hostess’s new Belgian lace tablecloth; everyone suffers those from time to time. But one presumes when people blush they know they are doing so – they must feel hot. This has never happened to me.

I am not greatly concerned about other people’s opinion of me, and I used to find my mother’s wondering what the neighbours would think intensely irritating. What did it matter and who cared?

I have observed people who blushed. One girl where I worked, very blonde and fair skinned, used to go scarlet if anyone so much as noticed her. She was a nice girl, sweet natured and obliging, and spoke very quietly, hardly much above a whisper. She left us to join the police force, and I did wonder how she managed; and whether they had hired her to enjoy her sweet and lovely disposition among themselves. Her name was Violet which seemed appropriate.

When I think about it, my children weren’t given to blushing either, and I haven’t noticed this tendency among the grandchildren. Perhaps it’s all just down to genetics; or maybe, like fainting it is no longer fashionable. Did the wearing of corsets contribute to both fainting and blushing?

Your guess is as good as mine.