I finished reading book number 91, The World According to Bertie, by Alexander McCall Smith, part of the 44 Scotland Street serialization. Bertie’s new brother, Ulysses, has been born, and Bertie is learning to take care of him by changing him and putting up with his mother breastfeeding the baby wherever they happen to be. It’s difficult for Bertie. Irene invites the hated Olive to play at the flat one day and Olive decides to play nurse, using an actual needle and withdrawing a syringe full of Bertie’s blood “for testing.” In another episode, the family goes for an outing to the Italian deli and leaves Ulysses outside in the pram and forgets to bring him home. When they reach home and realize this oversight, they go to the city nursery and are given Ulysses back. However, when Bertir goes to change Ulysses, he discovers that something important is missing. Apparently, they have been given the wrong baby–a girl. Soon the error is corrected.
Matthew and Pat are still an item and Matthew has asked Pat to marry him and she has said she will consider it, but neither is comfortable with the proposition. Then Elspeth Harmony, Bertie’s teacher, stops by the Gallery, and Matthew is smitten. So too is Elspeth. Matthew breaks it off with Pat, much to Pat’s relief, although she is annoyed that he has found someone else so quickly. Matthew asks Elspeth to marry him and she accepts.
Angus is despondent because Cyril has been arrested for biting people, something he has not done. He has called a lawyer to help him with the problem and finds himself unable to paint a single thing. Bertie saves the day by pointing out a dog down the street who looks like Cyril who does bite people and when the police go round to check on this dog, one of them in promptly bitten and Cyril is released from his fate.
Domenica is annoyed with Antonia, who has taken one of her Spode cups and saucers, and who is having an affair with one of her Polish builders whose only word of English is “brick.” It isn’t good for friends to live too close to one another.
Big Lou has a new boyfriend who treats her well and tells her she is beautiful. He is, however, a Jacobite. It isn’t a hobby. He is deeply committed to the cause and has a group that have invited the heir-apparent to come to Scotland. Lou tries to be enthusiastic but fears it is a lost cause.
Ms. Harmony has lost her job when she hears what Olive has done to Bertie with the blood tes. Olive has told him that he has leprosy. Ms Harmony tells Olive the only way to tell if one has leprosy is to pinch one’s ear and if one feels no pain, they have leprosy, so she pinches Olive’s ear. Irene hears about this and gets Ms Harmony suspended. The new teacher, Mr. Bing, has the children write or draw a picture about their lives. Bertie writes quite a lengthy essay about his life. It is quite a poignant essay. Ninety-one down, 34 to go.