Poll says that I have been remiss in my duties. Not in terms of those of the marital bed, for which she can have no complaints, but in my narrative here. “Beare, you daft sod,” quoth she, “you witter on and on about all sorts of old tripe, but do you ever tell those good folks anything about the men themselves who pay your beer, tripe and porter bill?” It is therefore behoven upon me to tell you a little of them or Poll will lump me with the frying pan, like she did when I came home tired and emotional last Candlemas.
I’d better start with Lord Anthony and, as sure as growers of roses follow horses with a shovel and a bucket, if we start with Lord Anthony, we’ll have Jack Starrington following on behind. Those two have been inside each other’s beds – and trousers – since Noah was a boy. My Poll thinks it’s romantic, really, the pair of them running away to sea when they were barely out of their nappies. I had to say, “Poll, old gal, there’s nothing glamorous about being blown onto a lee shore off the Scillies with a sou’westerly blowing a gale and the bosun three sheets to the wind. Never mind the captain more interested in the cabin boy than in his course.”
Poll always has to have the last word, mind. More than once if she can. “But they were in love, Beare, you daft old bugger. When you’re young and besotted it’d take a lot more than six at the gratings and a dirty old captain to make you think life’s bad. It’s when your heart gets broken it all falls apart.” She speaks the truth, that girl, even if she does say a lot of it. Lord Anthony has never been the same since those days. Many a time he’s been in his cups and poured it all out to me, how they’d come back from sea and gone up to the University only for Jack to decamp and leave his best pal right in the lurch. He went off spying, of course, serving Her Majesty, but I think that’s an excuse.
Why not take his Lordship with him? There’s more to that story than meets the eye and if a shapely bottom isn’t at the root of it, my name’s not Savage Beare.
There’s been nobody to fill the gap for Lord Anthony since; not one of that long stream of limp wristed, toffee nosed, lapdogs he’s dallied with have meant as much to him and none of them will. Poll wants to try to get them back together but I say there’s more chance of sticking the arms back on the Venus de Milo. Parted brass rags and that’s an end to it.
As for Jack, he’s as bad, although at least he doesn’t come over all slobbery and blubbing when he’s had one too many. Plays it all close to his chest, which is probably half the problem or so my Poll – shoulder to cry on for half of London – reckons. He’s a decent enough bloke, and I’d take my hat off to him about the way he’s stuck by Commander Sutherland (or I would do if I trusted the members here not to do something unspeakable to it – last time they encouraged a pigeon to lay an egg in it and the time before, an armadillo…well, least said about that the better).
Poll says we should get the two silly sods in a room together and make them thrash it out – though I suspect they’d be thrashing other things first, sooner than mending their relationship. Still, there’s a part of me that wants to knock their silly heads together and keep doing it until they see a bit of sense. Still, in a world where men seemed to be ruled by the contents of their britches rather than their brains, we can’t expect logic to play a part.
As my Poll – who’s having the last word again – would say, “If it’s choice between making a sensible decision and getting their ends away, your gentlemen always think with their wedding tackle.”
Bless her. Such brains. She should have been up at the University.