Good Morning!
50’s Iran excerpts from cheeky Australian column

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | April 6, 2020                       

At the end of each edition of Good Morning!, a daily newspaper column that ran on page two of Adelaide’s The Advertiser, was the signature of one “Wm Waymouth”.

And who was William Waymouth? Why nobody, actually.

“He” was merely an alias for Sidney Downer or a stable of other uncredited staff writers who contributed the witty snippets (not all of whom were necessarily men).

Aussie journalist Gregor Arch Grosvenor spilled the vegemite in his 1983 memoir A Long Way from “Tipperary”: 58 Years of South Australian Journalism:

I had a number of stints writing the Good Morning column in The Advertiser. Many of us did, standing in for Sidney Downer, who was on extended sick leave.

The column was conducted under the name of William Waymouth, and there must have been almost as many William Waymouths as Jack Smiths in the city. Almost every member of the senior staff must have had a turn at it. Apparently the idea was not to get anyone too entrenched, in case Sid Downer came back — he did not.

In at least one case it should have been Wilhelmena Waymouth!

For some time, I kept a slip of paper handed to me by the Deputy Chief-of-staff. It was a memo he had received from the C.O.S., who was going on leave. It read: “Keep Arch Grosvenor on the Good Morning column. He is doing a good job”. I had not filled the role for some time when night editor, Claude Hill, came to me and told me it had been decided to discontinue the column, but he wanted me to write it for the last week. He didn’t say: “We can’t think of a better person to kill it off!”

At the end of the week Claude approached me again. He said: “The column has picked up considerably during the week, and we are going to have another look at the position. Can you knock out another one for the morning?”

A reprieve was not granted, so the final edition of the column was ‘wrapped up’ in less than an hour.

There was one similar effort earlier by Bob Jervis. The copy submitted by the stand-in was rejected out of hand, and Bob set to work to provide alternate copy not long before knock-off time.

Whoever wrote them (Wilhelmena?), here’s a collection of extracts from the column pertaining to Iran, Britain, oil, Premier Mossadegh, Persian rugs and Persian cats....

The Advertiser (Adelaide, South Australia) newspaper

June 22, 1951

In the words of the old Shell advertisement:—“THAT’S PERSIA! THAT WAS!”

[Shell Oil ads of the 1930’s and 40’s featured pedestrians doing doubletakes as an automobile sped by with the tagline “That’s Shell – That Was!”]

That's Shell – That Was! (Shell Oil ad, 1931)

October 2, 1951

Persian “threat” of “strong measures” to escort oil tankers with sloops if the British Government interferes on the seas shouldn’t cause much heart failure in Whitehall.

Jane’s “Fighting Ships” [annual reference book] credits Persia with possessing one frigate, three gun boats, one Imperial yacht, one tug, one corvette, one depot ship and two MTB’s (reported)—but no sloops! [Motor torpedo boats]

POSTSCRIPT.— Despite the encircling gloom, this is the sort of thing to make even a Persian cat laugh. When RN [Royal Navy] cruisers Euryalus and Mauritius were changing station opposite Abadan refinery a week or so ago, Euryalus received a signal: “Can you accommodate 10 Wren ratings?”

“You watch us,” was the reply as Euryalus hummed with anticipation. Then came disillusionment. The new draft turned out to be 10 husky male ratings from the frigate Wren!

October 3, 1951

POSTSCRIPT.— Acid test comment by employe of the newly established Iranian National Oil Company seems to hit the nationalisation nail on the head: “I shan’t believe in nationalisation until our salaries are a fortnight in arrears.”

And a US comment on the same topic: “Persia expects every Englishman this day to do his duty.”

[British personnel were forced to evacuate Iran on Oct. 2nd. The second quote was an offhanded quip attributed to a U.S. newsman in TIME magazine. The first may have been contrived.]

October 4, 1951

Ironic exhibit at the Jubilee jewellery exhibition is the Persian Order of the Lion and the Sun. The medal depicts a lion somewhat sadly couchant with a smiling sun peering over its back. In fact, appropriately enough, the lion is taking it lying down.

At a pinch, it could pass for a Persian cat. That’s an idea for future issues of the order.

Incidentally, the Budget jump in jewellery sales tax has, I’m told, bumped up the value of the show by about a quarter of a million pounds.

[The Australian Jubilee celebrated 50 years in the British Commonwealth]

October 5, 1951

POSTSCRIPT.— Suggested theme song (from “Annie”) for the British departure from Persia: “I went in like a lion and came out like a lamb.”

[“My Defenses Are Down”, an Irving Berlin tune from the hit 1946 Broadway musical and 1950 Hollywood film, “Annie Get Your Gun”]

October 10, 1951

With Egypt now cocking a snook at Whitehall, the adaptation of Churchill’s famed wartime phrase “The First of the Few” to “The First of the Queue” in Persia’s case, appears to have scored a bull, if not a lion.

[John Bull / British Lion reference. When Nahas Pasha threatened to break the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty, Egypt was said to be copycatting Iran]

November 1, 1951

On technical grounds, the University of Edinburgh has turned down the application of Persian Premier Mossadeq to wear the silk and satin robes of its Rector.

So there’ll be no ‘Auld Weepie’ for ‘Aul Reekie,’ but even Persian cats know it’s no use crying over spilt silk. . . ?

[Dr. Mossadegh was among the nominees to become Rector of Edinburgh University in Scotland]

August 22, 1953

Never-A-Dull-Moment Section . . . Since Monday, Russia has exploded an H-bomb, [hydrogen bomb] Mossadeq has gone to the wall (the wailing wall probably), the Sultan of Morocco has been deposed, [Mohammed V] the trammies have gone on strike [tram workers] and England has regained the “Ashes.” [prized cricket trophy]

Whew! What a week!

[Premier Mohammad Mossadegh was just overthrown on August 19th]

October 3, 1953

This 1952-53 biennium has been anything but a millennium for some foreign big shots. “Uncle Joe” died, [Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin] Farouk and the Sultan of Morocco lost their thrones, [King Farouk in Egypt] the bald and lachrymose Mossadeq has been required to hand in his chips (and presumably his neck), and now the former Egyptian PM looks as if he has had it. [Premier Mostafa El-Nahas] Who’s next in the batting order?

POSTSCRIPT.— Talking of Mossadeq’s shining pate . . . A local wit pointed out the other day that Mossadeq must have taken too figuratively the Shah’s promise not to touch a hair of his head.

[Mossadegh was in military court for treason, potentially facing the death penalty]

November 11, 1953

Ill-Wind Section . . .
While Mossadeq is wailing and gnashing his teeth at his court martial in Tehran, he has won a most surprising popularity among American house wives. Because of his hate campaign against Britain, Persia’s rial fell from 32 to the dollar to 125. That has made Persian rugs so dirt cheap in US shops that, though handmade, they cost less than American power-loomed copies.

November 13, 1953

Week’s Oscar for total reversal of form must go to that notorious Britain-hater Mossadeq for saying that there is nobody as kind and just as the monarch of Britain.

[During his military trial, Mossadegh praised King George VI]

Filling in the Gaps: How Newspaper Layouts Squeezed Every Last Inch
Filling in the Gaps: How Newspaper Layouts Squeezed Every Last Inch


Related links:

Richard Murray’s Greatest Iran Quips | Sunday Times (Perth, Australia) column, 1951-54

British humorist Nathaniel Gubbins Lampoons Premier Mossadegh (1951)

Be wise and help to nationalise! | Peter Russo (Australia), June 5, 1951

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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