Jeffrey Barnard’s Feeling a Lot Better Than Me.

Tally Ho, anchors aweigh and how the Dickens are you?

 Bit of a curtailed missive this, I fear.  One is rather unwell this weather dontcha know?  Not a sore-head, windy-bottom, never-again Sunday morning illness either.

 No.  This is the real thing: the General’s bootlaces, the curate’s egg – the sore head, runny nose and chesty cough variety of unwell.

 So you find me still within the four-poster, a-coughing and a-spluttering into a silk kerchief.  A bit like those Romantic poet Wallahs of yore really: all doom, gloom and atomic-powered self-sympathy.  Minus the consumption and syphilis though. And spitting up blood. 

 Not that any bugger in the household would notice if I were expectorating the red stuff.  Damned ingrates,  I could be dying here.  But no, they’d rather blather on about Rafael Federer getting the heave-ho at Wimbers  and how this is Andy Nadal’s year than ensuring this poor invalid’s hot toddy is within easy reach.

 I managed to dig deep within myself though, shout for My Man Carruthers and order him to summon medical assistance for yours truly v. quickly, pronto and as soon as can be.  With all his claimed ailments he’s bound to be on first-name terms with the chit of a girl that secretaries for the bag carriers. 

 But the silly old bugger didn’t have the faintest notion of what one was tootling on about.  Shows how dicky the old vocal cords are if you ask me.

 “Would you,” I croaked, “phone the doctor fella?  Tell him his pills, unctions and presence are required ASAP.”

 He simply stared at me as if he’d caught me in bed with his daughter again.

“Does Your Grace require another wee whisky?” he asked.

 “No,” I said with all the vim and vigour at hand, which was not a lot, “I want a cure for this disease wreaking through the old capillaries.”

 “And not a whisky?”

 “Well a small one,” I relented.  I didn’t wish to hurt the old ogre’s feelings by rebuffing his obvious concern, y’see.

 “As Your Grace wishes,” he said, before scooping up the half-full tumbler at my side.

 “And don’t forget to get hold of the medical chap,” I instructed.  “This is a dire emergency here.  Dial 999 if you have to.”

 “Should I speak to the doctor before I fetch your whisky?” he asked.

 “Oh, bloody good show Carruthers,” I said, nothing wrong with applauding the minions now and again.  “Have a chat with the surgery first.”

 That was an hour ago.  I’m still waiting on my dram and it’s like a bally desert in here I can assure you.

 On reflection, I should have insisted that something whisky this way comes above all else.  Didn’t think the bloody phone lines would be so busy though.

 But, hey ho! One lives and learns.


Always Someone Worse Off Than Me. Good!

Tally Ho! Anchors aweigh and how the Dickens are you?

 Well it’s of to SW19 for me.  Managed to bag a couple of briefs for next week’s Wimbledon final FOC, gratis and for nothing. 

Not too sure if it’s for the Men’s or Ladies though.  But that’s a mere academic point as one finds it increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the chaps and the chapesses on the court these days anyhoo.   Bring back the frilly knickers for the fillies, says I.  And long trousers for the gents. 

I watched some fellow called Mario Sharapova yesterday.   Deuced good-looking cove.  Blonde hair, six foot two and eyes of blue.  He could carve out a fine career in Hollywood were he to learn the Mother Tongue.  Wouldn’t even to change his daft, girly first name either.  A lot of Italians on the silver screen these days.  Can’t think of any offhand mind you. 

 I can’t even phone my Californian correspondent, Arnie, for a hint either.  He’s not been talking to me since I told his wife that the last born got the father’s looks.  Don’t quite understand why she flew off the handle at that.  It got even worse when I joked that maybe the big fellow should get a Maternity Test.  Bloody foreigners.  I tell you, they speak a different language. 

 Anyhoo, you’ll naturally be wondering how one managed to winkle the tickets for the princely sum of sod all.  Well it’s all down to my good friend Staggers: a spot of Yuletide misfortune; and the inefficiencies of the Communists running England’s legal system.  

Six months to come to trial?   Not that I’m complaining, for once.  It’s worked out bloody well for me.

 You know Staggers, don’t you? Eton, Cambridge and, latterly, MP for some dreary industrial town in the north.  Now set for an appearance at the Horseferry Magistrates Court.

 Yes old Staggers has got himself into a bit of lather.  Got caught welcoming in the New Year with a Guardsman in Hyde Park, y’see.   In a very friendly fashion.  A very good friends fashion. 

 Foxed me for a minute when he told me about it I can tell you.  Storm in a teacup I thought.  Staggers has always been a confirmed bachelor.  A bit like Ted Heath except less dangerous to the country. 

Thank God for the voice of reason that is the BBC.  I can now accept that I have lesbian tendencies.  But I refute the accusations that we’re all Good Europeans.  

And Staggers’ little incident is proof positive.  Quod Erat Demonstradum no less, as we with a better education than the plebs are want to say.    Found in flagrante, i.e the privates were on parade, amidst the rhodendrons with the thermometer hovering around zero.  Makes one proud to be English.  You wouldn’t find a Frenchy or a Jerry showing their mettle in such a manner.

 Naturally I immediately offered my services as a character witness.  And by immediately I mean that I had a good chuckle first.  Steady on, one has to get one’s priorities in order.  Nothing better than an old chum with more boodle in the bank letting you know he’s come a cropper.  Schadenfreude the Jerries call it.  They’ve simply got hundreds of words associated with gleeful misfortune, invasion, world domination… but funny isn’t in their vocabulary.  Strange that.

 Anyway, the upshot is that as Staggers is otherwise detained, I get free tickets for Central Court at Wimbers.  Or is it Centre Court?  Can’t remember.  Better bloody seat than Staggers is facing I’m sure.

 Now you’ll need to keep this to yourself, under the hat so to speak.  Old Staggers has taken out one of those Super-Duper-Injunctions to stop the info appearing in the News of the Screws come Sunday. 

Waste of time and money, says I, as it merely means that some idiot with nothing else to do will plaster it all over the interweb.  Rum show that.  You won’t catch me baring a chap’s delicate matters so lightly.  But you wouldn’t catch me baring the delicate matters in Hyde Park either.

But, hey ho! One lives and learns.

Always Be Wary of a Chap with a Volvo.

Tally Ho! Anchors aweigh and how the Dickens are you?

Bit of a balls-up for yours truly at the weekend if the truth be known.  Even though one usually gets a tad itchy sitting with the middle-classes, I accepted an invitation to the annual Huntsman’s Ball on Friday.  Not quite Ascot, but received a rather splendid bowl of sheep’s head soup in return. 

Got home early a.m. Sunday, yes Sunday, telling the Mem Sahib it was a leap year when she found me in the drawing room with trousers at my ankles and boot polish on my arse. 

Atmosphere a bit frosty over the roast beef I can tell you.  Bit of an indignity y’see.  Lord of the manor getting debagged and daubed by the oiks.  Bit of a puzzler for me too.  I didn’t think the lower orders had a sense of humour.  And in truth, in held ‘twas I who’d sallied forth with a tin of Kiwi in the breast pocket.

My man, Carruthers, looked uncommon sprightly too as he ladled out the portions, especially for a chap who imagines he’s riddled with a text book’s worth of ailments.  He’s always complaining about something, y’see.  If it’s not his arthritis, angina, murmuring heart or high blood pressure he doesn’t have much to say.  Bloody laziness I call it.  Or Galloping Socialism.  Which amounts to the same thing really.

But knock me down with a feather.  There was a curve to his lips, he was flashing his falsers and humming tunes.  Quite put me in mind of King Tut under the bandages for some reason.  If it wasn’t for the snatches of Hieland Laddie I’d have thought the old sod was in pain. 

“What’s up with your face?” I demanded. 

“First day of Summer, Your Grace,” he answered.

I had to steal a glance at the Mem Sahib for confirmation but she was as puzzled as I.  Bit of a conundrum this one.  It was still a bit early in the day for the old bugger to have been pilfering the Glenlivet.  But there he was, beaming like a school janitor at a new sawdust delivery. 

“Well, as it’s such a fine afternoon,” I said, “perhaps you’d care to run some soapy bubbles and a chamois over the Bristol then.”

“As Your Grace wishes,” he replied, making a stiff sort of bow that the writer chappies would call ironic, doctors ambitious, and me bloody suspicious.

“And wash your gloves while you’re at it,” I scolded.  “You look like you’ve been dipping them in ink.”

That wiped the smile off his fizzer rather sharpish I can tell you.  But a chap is required to put the foot down with a heavy hand now and again, says I, when one wishes to keep the standards high and the staff on their toes.

Now that I think about it – I should have got the raddled old sot to clean the Land Rover instead. 

Hey ho, one lives and learns.

Latent Danger of Immigration

Tally Ho! Anchors aweigh and how the Dickens are you?

Simply splendid day at WhackoTowers thus far.  Took the old Land Rover for a spin round the fields, make sure the hired hands were a-busy and not thinking about comely wenches, cider and Mother Russia.  Bloody Communists the lot of them.  Still, the new foreman seems a handy sort of fellow.  Big brute of a cove with a full beard and a penchant for pulling wings off of dragon flies.

Caught him reeling a swan in the other day don’t you know.

“What the hell are you doing man?” I asked him.

“Me fishing me Lord,” he said.  And you should read his bits in a slightly penetrable accent to get the full effect.  He claims to hail from Smolensk but could be a bloody Glaswegian or a Geordie for all I know.  Except those accents are impenetrable.

“Fishing?” I queried.  “Fishing involves fish.”

“Turkey nicer for dinner,” he grunted back.

Well this was a fine pickle, with me the local JP too.  I wouldn’t have sold the bugger a fishing permit had I thought my good grace would be repaid by such rudeness.  And I only sold him the damned thing because the pond has been piscine free since strange Sir Baskerville Whacko dropped a depth charge into it back in ’63.

“Now look here my man,” I said, “that turkey is a swan.  And as such it belongs to Her Majesty, the Queen.”

That foxed him.  “But big bird on your water,” he said.  “That mean it’s yours.  No?”

This Communism must be contagious because I nearly found meself agreeing with the lout.  But I had to stand up for the honour of Old Albion, Queen and Commonwealth.  Especially as PC, that’s Prince Charles to you, is coming down next week.  He’s just gammon for tales like this.  You would be too if you’d been waiting for as long as him to get the old crown planted firmsquare on the noggin.

“Put big bird in back of car,” I told the fellow, speaking foreign to let him know that the matter was now amicably settled. 

He didn’t look too happy, probably homesick y’see.  Used to a kick in the pants these Commies.  The ways of an English gentleman are foreign to them.

Should have got him to pluck the thing I s’pose.  My man, Carruthers, made a frightful hash of it.

Hey ho, one lives and learns.