Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The King's Head

Jacobs, let me tell you that last night I found myself in a situation most unbecoming for a Gentleman of my standing. It was nearly as awful as the time my carriage driver got lost on the way to Lady Julia’s townhouse, and we ended up in a lesser known corner of the ‘East End’. In polite society, one tries never to mention that place, and now I know why – a stultifying representation of hell on Earth, if ever there was one. Apologies for my digression Jacobs, but I have to frame my evening in a context you may understand, to fully portray the horror.

So I set off the local pub, a place called 'The King's Head', with ‘Fusilier George’, as my uncle has named him. Really, he is only a gamekeeper, and I had to put up with his constant wittering on the subject of pheasant roosting patterns. A thoroughly boring man – now I understand why these classes are so obsessed with killing each other.

Finally, after what seemed an age, we arrived at the Kings Head, and my immediate concern was to consume as much gin as possible, in order to overwhelm Fusilier George’s most terrible monologues, which by then had moved onto a discourse on the growing seasons of bracken.

But Jacobs, let me tell you, the greatest horror was soon to occur. On my appeal for gin, the uncouth landlord, as these types grandly call themselves, informs me in no uncertain terms that there is no gin! Although Fusilier George offered condolences, my most urgent thought was to skewer the bar keep with my cane sword. Luckily, I held back (bearing in mind the warning I received from Inspector Barratt of the yard, after that unseemly incident in George Henry Lee's) and I managed instead to quickly quaff the shot of emergency gin from the handle of my cane sword.

It was, however, a close call, Jacobs.

All was a not a complete loss, as I was introduced to a cider, peculiar to the region, and peculiar in its unbridled strength. I was assured by the inquisitive yokels that its strength was on a similar note to that of Gin, and if I am honest, the taste was not dissimilar either.

I’m afraid I can’t remember much more Jacobs, past three large flagons of this cider, which I drank with improper haste. My memory is a smoke coloured haze, punctuated with blotched faces of the local peasants singing crude renditions of our finest band marches, and calls to arms against the Zulus. Further, Jacobs, I have woken this morning with a strange hat, fashioned of folded menus upon my head, and a small mammal, which the chambermaid has assured me is, a ‘vole’, attached to the end of my cane sword. I am concerned that I may have behaved with undue care to my rigorous stature as a Gentleman.

Never-the-less, I have risen to a glorious day Jacobs, although it is the first I will have to spend with my Uncle. I am, of course, not looking forward to this, but needs must if I am going to ingratiate myself suitably with the old duffer. I shall be in touch soon, and in the meantime if you can contact The Indian Commissioner and make enquiries as to the whereabouts of my ‘shipment’, I would be most grateful.

Monday, 30 March 2009

First few days in the Country

Jacobs, after much hoo-hah, I’ve finally managed to secure some paper and ink from Smythson of Bond Street , so can now relate some of the tortures I have endured in the past few days in the North Country.

As you can see, simple luxuries such as correct stationary are peculiar in their absence. Not only that, but without my intricate network of connections up here, I have had to use ‘money’ to procure these implements! I have no idea what the woman in the general store was saying to me – some mumbled Northern dialect probably left over from those Viking chaps, but I got the distinct impression that payment was required. I see you got my wire and thank you once again for forwarding this money so quickly. It seems that the word of a Gentleman in this barbarous land is not even worth some reasonable writing implements! (This reminds me, if Lord Reuben enquires about that twenty guineas again, tell him that I am in Sri Lanka or Rhodesia. He really is becoming such a dreadful bore).

But that is all by the by, as I'm sure your main concern is to my well-being and circumstance. Well, as I told you before I left, my Uncle, Samuel Whitworthy-Smeddon, the 3rd Earl of Yorkshire (please use his full title in any return correspondance; the old buzzard has been known to fire his rifle at the postboy if his name is shortened), is a terribly cantankerous and tiresome old fool who still thinks that we are war with the bloody Zulus. He has turned the family estate into some sort of fortress, using the local hired hands as some sort of militia. He has even given the embarrassing parade of simpletons honorary military personages, such as Private Smith, the gardener, and Captain Miller, the old groundsman. Of course, these dim-witted chaps love their new titles, believing themselves to have earned their daft misnomers through some sort of merit; the only merit as far as I can see is the madness and senility of my Uncle.

I am sure the next month will be almost intolerable – there is not even a gentleman’s club to speak of within a day’s ride. It has been suggested that I patron the local drinking den, or ‘Pub’ as they are called up here. My word, Jacobs, I can hardly bear stepping outside of the grounds lest I am accosted by one of those awful Northern men, or their intolerable and toothless wenches, never mind spend my evening hours in their bawling company. Unfortunately, the old duffer is running out of gin, so I may have to make my virgin visit this eve. Rest assured I shall bring my cane sword and small leg pistol. Should any of the uneducated oafs get any ideas above their station, they shall soon learn that a Gentleman is not to be questioned.

So wish me luck Jacobs, I shall write soon and let you know how the adventure passed. And, to sign off, a small matter of interest. Did you know that this Yorkshire actually has a city in it? Called ‘York’ of all things. What a coincidence!