Cheap at the price

The shooting season which commences on the “Glorious Twelfth” sees high society wending its way northward to the Yorkshire moors or the Scottish Highlands so that they may enjoy the manly pleasures of shooting birds and then eating them to the skirl of the pipes. Accommodation is somewhat limited and in order to meet the demand and render some service for the cause of sport, a Scottish Laird has placed his 150-roomed castle at the disposal of all able to afford £120 per week inclusive. In an interview with the wife of this public-spirited Laird, Reynolds News (10.8.52) reports that “American millionaires, wealthy Hungarians and Danes, a few English noblemen … and a Chinese . . . have booked at the . . . castle.”

Before the war a member of the aristocracy once delivered himself of the observation that if Hitler and Goering had learned in their youth how to play cricket there would not have been any international tension. Now, Mrs. Farquharson, wife of the Scottish Laird, suggests another remedy. She tells us: “I only wish 1 could get some of the world’s politicians up here for a shooting party. Perhaps we could then get some international problems straightened out.” It is good to know that there are still aristocratic minds pondering on the ills which beset our troubled world. But the solution is not so drastic as one might think on first reading. The lady does not mean to get the politicians up to her castle and then shoot them off—a solution which might have some effect. She is merely suggesting that they get together and under the mellowing influence of shooting grouse, drinking whisky, and lunching off cold salmon, settle all their differences. We hope this explanation will settle the idea that the Scottish aristocracy have become direct-actionists. Not only politicians would benefit but everybody else who visits the castle, for she tells us that going out on the moors shooting birds and fishing for salmon gives “them a broader outlook. They can discuss things affecting their countries with perfect ease.” Here is an idea worth following up. Those of us who are interested in discussing the problems of present-day society should hire a castle and “at perfect ease” discuss our problems; perhaps that is the short cut to Socialism we have all been looking for.

Asked by the reporter why she was doing all this, Mrs. Farquharson replied, “We only want people to get the right idea of Scotland.” We sympathise with the lady’s ambition. Let us assume that this and other similar establishments were not available for the sportsmen of all nations, and that the host of “American millionaires, wealthy Hungarians and Danes, a Chinese, etc.,” all arrived in Scotland without any castle to go to. They might then have to find accommodation in an Edinburgh slum or a crofter’s cottage without any electric light or the latest mod. con. They would then get the wrong idea about Scotland. They would return to their native lands thinking that there are slums in Scotland or that there are homes where they themselves would not keep their pet poodles. The lady is absolutely right The only way to get the “right idea of Scotland” is to visit a castle and pay £120 per week. Nobody can be expected to shoot straight after a night in a cottage lit by oil lamps, with outside sanitation, and no Scotch whisky. But starting out from a castle with the skirl of pipes in their ears a real day’s sport is obtainable. It mellows the outlook and enables one to see the world as it really is instead of the pessimistic, soured and distorted view of those who won’t pay £120 per week. Thus when the sportsmen see beaters and servants they will understand that they are working for the love of sport and not because they have to act as flunkeys in order to live. If the children of the servants run bare footed it is because it is healthier for them to do so. If the sportsmen see people eating baked beans on toast, or adulterated turned fish it is because they prefer it to the Scotch salmon, and the chilled wine of the Castle. You see how living in the proper atmosphere gives you the “right idea”?

“We don’t want it to be thought that we are going to make huge profits,” said the lady. “That would be cheapening the whole thing.” At one hundred and twenty pounds a week we would have thought it would be difficult to achieve that. It all goes to show that essentials are grasped in the Scotch Highlands.

Are working-class people allowed to stay, if they have suddenly come into money, was the next question asked of Mrs. Farquharson, by the reporter. Quick as a flash came the assurance. “We did this sort of thing on a smaller scale last year and all types of people came.” (Italics ours.) Could such thoughtfulness be improved on. Out of consideration for the smaller bank accounts of the “working-class people,” it was all done on a “smaller” scale. That is the final argument that should serve to give her visitors the “right idea,” for she goes on to say “they were people like big manufacturers doing all kinds of interesting work.” In this way she again shows that her present visitors will get the “right idea,” for they will surely think that all workers are “doing all kinds of interesting work,” instead of soul-destroying monotonous labour at the factory bench.

In a recent debate in the House of Lords, on the economic situation. Lord Balfour stated that he was in favour of removing food subsidies so that the increase in prices would teach the workers the “facts of life.” Perhaps the noble lord will take a trip to the castle (he is a banker and can well afford it) and compare notes with Mrs. Farquharson. The results may well be interesting, if not instructive.

One further point must be mentioned before we leave this lady to her castle and her millionaires. We note that there is a Chinese among the guests. Our hearts rejoice that there is no colour bar. Here is another solution to the much discussed and very vexed question of racial prejudice. The ability to pay £120 per week will throw down all barriers just like the trumpets of Joshua broke the walls of Jericho. Let this be a rallying cry for all the coloured races. Use your initiative and enterprise and make a lot of money and all else shall be given unto you.

A. S.

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