Rough Scan
~XIV~
 
WE'RE told in the Scripturs that we're to take no thought what we're to eat nor what we're to drink, but it takes a lot of gentlemen to control the food appearin'ly! But I must say they're thorough: there's no' a day passes but what they change one thing or another. If it's a shilling's worth one week, it's tenpence the next, and there was a whilie it was one-and-three, no less! There's a chief Live Stock Commissioner-he's name is Mr M'Dougall; and no sooner are the puir beasties killed but they need a Dead Meat Supervisor to attend to them-Hunter, he's ca'ed. Then there's a Chief Meat Agent, but I'm no' sure what kind o' meat that'll be - beef and mutton likely. Three gentlemen ca'ed Divisional Food Commissioners come next: they'll cut it up. And that's no' the whole o' them; there's five more! But it's an awfu' work to feed the whole nation by hand, like. They've never made out to control the fish seemin'ly, for it's a fearsome price: it's kind o' slippit through their fingers mebbe.
I could get on fine masel' if it wasna for the meat cairds, and parteeclarly the instructions. But what with fillin' in name and address at E, and syndin' it; "also at B overleaf"; and makin' the butcher attend to C and D, it's a fair provoke. And Miss Celandine's been pointin' out to me that it says on the back that if I die or join the forces the caird must be returned at once to the nearest post office, or dropped in a pillar-box. Set them up! And me dead! But she says she'll do it hersel' if I'm no' able: she's a sensible lassie. She's new come home from the Front. Her uncle, the general, got her a place in a hospital "somewhere in France," as the ministers that writes letters to the papers ca's it. She was to be an orderly! Sad's her fate! I could have told them she never could mind to put a thing in the right place. But they keepit her for six month, and then she heard that the Wacks had skirts a full inch shorter nor hers, and home she came post-haste to join them. She said she preferred kiltie regiments, and her faither was a kiltie, and the neatest thing about her was her ancles; and so now she's one of the lassies she ca's "the wee Wacksies," so she is. But she often runs in to see Miss Jean, and me, and Tatty, and the kitlings: she sits on the edge of the kitchen-table, sweein' her legs, and lets on to be helping me with the meat caird, etc. We just need four o' them now that Merran's mairried, but, if you'll believe me, here anither yella paper come this very day! "Application for Ration Books" is the name o' it. There's "Read Carefully" at the top, and when you've read la and 2b, and a' the rest of the directions, you'll mebbe find out that there's no' a thing about you in it. But what between lodgers, and bairns, and temp'ry visitors, and laddies under eighteen at midnight, and boys born between midnight 30th June 1900, and ditto 1905 (there'll be a good few o' them!), and persons normally livin' in the house, it's perfeckly bewilderin'. There's a bit about "cows belongin' to any member of the household"; but there's none o' us keeps cows or sheep, I'm thankfu' to say. Miss Celandine says that, for rationing purposes, Tatty would probably come under the heading of Household Cow. A perfeck haver; but Miss Celandine is aye on the nonsense. She's been tellin' me that there's to be an exhibition of a' the folk with what she ca's "the slightest pretensions to ombongpong," and me and Mrs M'Curd'll be in the front row! She's a daft lassie, and whiles I'm thankfu' when she has to rin away back to her work and give me peace to do mines.
I thought she was away this morning, when back she come and stuck her head in at the kitchen-door, and says she, solemn-like, "Jean wishes to know if you subtract two stroked coupons from one plain one how much more meat can we have this week?" I was tryin' to add it up, but I never was good at the countin', and I was thankfu' when she said she couldna bide anither meenit.
The shoppin' takes a fearfu' time. If you see a thing you're needin', you'll mebbe think you've just to go in and buy it? My certy! They look at you up and down, and round and round, and then the lassie behind the counter goes away to the back of the shop to consult wi' anither gentleman, and back she comes and says, "No jam," and it starin' you in the face in the windy! A leddy was tellin' me that "the highest authority" is just anither name for Ananias: but there's mair Annaniasses nor him, I'm thinkin', parteeclarly in the grocer line. The very tea is ca'ed a drug now, if you please- "comes under the Drug Act" - and you might just as weel ca' the whole of the substitutes "shams" and be done with it. Here's Miss Celandine back! She says the Government is going to release a large quantity of Giraffe tripe, and does it come under the heading of "offal" or "onnal"?