Family - Waddell Connection - Jane Waddell - Uncle Tonal (transcript)/div>

19 March [2013]

Dear Robin & Sonia,

I'm trying old-fashioned letter writing as phoning is impossible.


Uncle Tonal was Grannie's choice of a godmother for Walter. It never did do, as you can imagine. Another kind of boy would have been thrilled with the whole life style at Ardnamurchan point, but not Walter.

'Uncle Tonal' was what Walter called her when he was little. She enjoyed the joke. (She always wore pork pie hats, stiff collars and looked like a little man.) Have you got the book ... "Herself"? It gives a very good picture of her and the life she made there. She wasn't entirely popular. She wanted to improve the local people's lives by building a road (I think to Fort William) but the locals strenuously objected – they thought (rightly!) that it would ruin their way of life. She couldn't see that.

She was very High Anglican Church and very well versed in all that that involved. (This was the attraction for Grannie.) The Donaldsons were very wealthy – he was McBrayne's shipping – Sandy could tell you more, North Met [?] etc. They had all been brought up by Nannies, and all the children spoke with strong London accents. This, I understand, was not Cockney. It was known as "The Speech of London" and had been there since way back when. (Cockney was something else, and deserves another letter).

Frances inherited a lot of May Donaldson's stuff and didn't know what to do with the huge tomes. She was about to give them to an Oxford [?] rummage sale when I rang her and suggested she give them to the Post Office at Kilchoan (or some such place) which she did, and they were delighted to have them and would treat them most reverently.

I don't think Uncle Tonal ever went to school. She had a dreadful prose style. Her publisher used to tell her [that] her books would sell so much better if only she could write them better, but she couldn't.

I don't know how much more you'd like to hear on this subject. She was a very interesting person, and I'm afraid that we as a family had a lot of fun at her expense. (So I believe did Compton McKenzie – see his book Hunting the Fairies)

Love to you all ...