The Very Essence of Sartorial
Jasper Wylie here – international man of tweed and as it is unusually warm, linen as well.
Mint Juleps and Careless Talk
They say that “Mum’s the word” and “careless talk costs lives”, but if truth be told my tongue has been loosened by two or three, or was it three or four, mint juleps. My wife’s cousin, Lulubelle who is from America, gave me the recipe and dashed fine they are too. I have all the necessary ingredients in my shed from where I am writing to you. Well I have the Bourbon in a box labelled “old screws”, there is water in the rain butt (the cousin prefers soda, but anything will do in an emergency) and mint in a pot. The only thing I do not have is the crushed ice, but, fortunately, I have Mrs Travers (our daily woman what does but not a lot) on tap.
When I am in need of ice I just hoist the Jolly Roger on the flag pole and she appears as fast as her ulcerated legs permit with the ice bucket and a pair of tongs. This system works well for other purposes, especially in Ascot Week when Mrs T is invaluable as a runner for the bookie’s runner. My lady wife is not very keen on the old gee-gees so Mrs T and I operate in the shadows where this is concerned in the belief that what the eye doesn’t see the heart does not grieve over. There are strange rules about off course betting so it is all a bit under the wire if you get my meaning. No names, no pack drill as they say and my code name for the purposes of placing a bet is “Tansy”.
Peculiarities Are In The Eye Of The Beholder
If truth be told I am a little the worse for wear. In all probability I should not be talking to you in my cups, but it is all Muriel’s fault as she dropped a bottle of perfume on my foot whilst unpacking, after a couple of days away. This bottle incidentally is more of a shop display item as it almost takes two people to carry it. Muriel, my lady wife, does not carry it about with her. She leaves it in our hotel room and on a daily basis decants it into a handbag sized bottle in case she has to sit next to someone who is a stranger to Odorono or who eats fish and chips from newspaper in public.
Muriel carries this, along with her famous Mackintosh Square just in case the preceding customer at café chair or, heaven forbid, on a public transport seat might be a Socialist. Muriel believes that Socialism is a transmittable disease. I of course, being of humbler origins, have no such peculiarities although come to think of it in the summer months I do have a wooden clothes’ peg with me at all times so that on entering a building or I can peg my panama hat to the waistband of my trousers, thus ensuring it is not easily lost in a country house or left adorning the remains of a Roman hypocaust.
While Muriel was unpacking her valise in her dressing room I made the mistake of entering the inner sanctum, looking for my dressing gown, and startled Muriel who let go of aforesaid mentioned bottle of Eau de Cologne, which fell onto my un-slippered foot. She said to get some ice and to take something for the pain. So I did, and here I am, and I must say old chums, it already seems much better.
A Wee Sojourn by the Lakes
Muriel was unpacking from us having been away for a couple of days for some rest and recuperation. You are doubtless aware that Muriel was the star of the recent Country House Concert (assisted by me in a small way) at Lady Pentland-Firth’s Country Estate. If you are not, then you must have been on a jungle expedition or detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, for Muriel has sent press releases with follow up telephone calls to all the press she approves of.
Despite her undoubted pleasure at the reviews she deservedly received, she found the experience very fatiguing and so we decided a couple of nights away in the Lake District would be a good thing. Professor Sir Boozy Hawkes, who is head of Music at the Varsity here in Glasgow and is an expert on Dvorak, arranged the hotel bookings for us as he has shares in one or two hotels which give a discount. This was very kind. He is most generous and also said Mrs T might come.
Apparently he is a fan of detective stories and the occult and so he generously sent Bunty Haystack, the writer of the Rural Murder Mystery Series, and her friend, the spiritualist Madame Claire Voyant, to London for a couple of days so that Bunty might give readings in Foyles and Madame Voyant could attend a conference on psychic research to see what the world is coming to
Sur le Lac
As usual we took the Humber Super Snipe down to Westmorland, visiting the gardens at Levens Hall where they have the most marvellous topiary hedges and roses. We then went onto the Borrowdale Glen and put up at the Lodore Swiss Hotel which is a great favourite of Muriel’s. It sits just in front of the famous falls and looks out over Derwentwater.
While there we received a message from the Handsome Stranger who it turns out has a home on an island in the middle of the lake. Apparently he and Sir Boozy needed to see Muriel urgently on a matter regarding a libretto for the next concert. They would send a boat for her. It seems I was not needed and a good lunch, with custard would be provided for me while Muriel was discussing her vibrato and bel canto, or was that can belto? I can’t quite remember.
It is always rather annoying to be unwanted, but actually it suited me. There is something distinctly odd about those two, they could almost be related. A rather handsome launch was sent for Muriel while I pottered around Keswick and enjoyed a good lunch and we both had a run round the lake in the early evening sun so I didn’t miss out.
Muriel looked a little perturbed when we met up again later at dinner, although I thought the fact that news of her triumph in Così Fan Tutte had reached the Comrades and was even reviewed in Pravda could only be a good thing. Something was clearly bothering her as she was talking in her sleep – something about a woman with a crystal ball and the death of Lord Pentland-Firth. Then a little while later she was talking about what sounded like “training to use exploding ducks”. At least it made a change from the snoring which she does not do. That’s the mint juleps talking. I have said too much.
A Hotel Guaranteed to Appeal to Muriel
Being a last minute reservation the Lodore was unable to take us for a second night. There was an unexpected cancellation at the Keswick Hotel in the centre of the town by the station and we got a discount thanks to Sir Boozie. Fortunately the Keswick Hotel cheered Muriel up especially when she discovered that the Queen had been at the same hotel the previous year.
Set in 4 acres, this establishment has views of Latrigg and Skiddaw mountains. It is a true railway hotel and was opened in 1869 following the completion of the railway in 1865 by the Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway Company. It has welcomed many distinguished guests including Sir Winston and Lady Churchill. During the last Unpleasantness, it was a “safe house” for Roedean School pupils.
Last October the Queen came and a new building was erected linking the station platform with the Hotel so that Her Majesty would not get wet should it rain. The Hotel was able to take the car in its garage, but there was no room for Mrs T.
She seemed quite happy to stay once again in rooms in Paraffin Alley.
Ice on demand
I think I will freshen my glass. Ouch! My foot is beginning to hurt again. I will just hoist the flag.
“No need Mr Wylie, I anticipated your call. Here is some more ice. No need to worry she is putting new shoe trees into the Raynes and fresh tissue paper into her hats. Here is the paper and by the way the boy has not come back with the winnings yet and I have to go to Timothy Whites to see if they have any more Eau de Cologne bottles to replace the one your foot broke. Then I am going home early. Madame has given permission, she is cooking this evening. Here is the paper. See you in the morning.”
Perusing the Evening Paper
“Thanks Mrs T; toodle pip.” Umm what have we here, Premium Bonds in existence for about a year it seems; doesn’t time fly? Wonder what I have done with mine. Not sure, I agree with running the country’s finances by what amounts to a lottery. A bit like making the poor pay for services in the hope that one day they will be rich. That’s Harold Macmillan for you.
Oh dear! Eight people have been killed in London. It seems a bus on Route 7 has collided with a queue in Oxford Street at a bus stop. That is rather sad – to go out for a day’s shopping and not come home; so many people affected when this sort of thing happens. As my old Granny Wylie used to say “you never know the minute”.
Well I see that, like Muriel, Noel Coward has been on an island although he was not in Keswick, he has been living in Jamaica which is a bit different I imagine. The great playwright has been accused of not paying his taxes, in the press. I suspect there are other reasons why the press do not like Noel Coward. He arrived in Southampton on the Queen Mary “dressed in a black tweed jacket with a white diamond pattern, dark trousers and a black and white checked bow tie”. When asked about his tax affairs he said he was “disgusted but entirely unworried”. According to one passenger he found the whole business of talking about money “rather vulgar” adding “I am an artist”. He is here to see Michael Wilding in his new play Nude with Violin.
Now I wonder if I should have another little Mint Julep, y’all as Lulubelle would say? Well y’all think I all will. I wonder if I should hoist the old Jolly Roger for peanuts, it cannot be too far off suppa time. Oh I forgot Mrs T has gone early and if I summon Muriel I will get a talking to and have to eat peanuts with a spoon which takes ages. Gosh! I do feel a bit squiffy. Hark! I hear angry footsteps – enemy at 6 o’clock. Bolt the drawbridge men.
News of a Terrible Accident at a Bus Stop
“Jasper are you talking to yourself again, Jasper I know you are in there let me in. I have just had Bunty Haystack on the telephone; there is terrible news. She has been in a bus accident in Oxford Street with that Madame Claire Voyant and I am afraid the medium is dead.”
“What about Bunty Haystack?”
“She is alive, or how else would she make a telephone call?”
“Through the medium.”
“Oh Jasper, stop being factious and let me in……. Jasper let me in!”
“Did you bring ice and peanuts my little chickadee?”
“Jasper are you drunk?”
“Why I do declare, y’all ah am!”
“And I do not need a spoon with the nuts, I have my own fingers.”
Muriel is Not Amused
“Jasper you are quite at liberty to spend the entire evening in the shed, but I shall not be running up and down the path with ice or anything else. Perhaps before I go you could tell me why a boy has just knocked at the front door with £10 for a Mr Tansy and why have you not paid the last coal bill?”
“Muriel I am disgusted, but entirely unworried by your accusation that I have been betting on the gee-gees and as to the question of the coal bill I find any talk of money rather vulgar.”
“Jasper, you behaviour is appalling. I am going to go out for suppa. I have a standing invitation from the Handsome Stranger.”
“I bet you do Mu, have a nice time and by the way, I am thinking of taking up painting and I am going to paint you Nude with a Violin.”
“Jasper I hope you have a pillow and blankets in there otherwise it is going to be a long night.”
“Nighty Night Miss Mooriel, honey lamb, tote that barge lift that bale get a little………… Muriel, it is midsummer night do you fancy dancing in a stone circle with a violin and flowers in your hair?”
“Really Jasper, do I look like a pagan? I am a past president of the Women’s Guild and we do not dance around stone circles?”
Jasper Wylie “hic!”