Hello, my old cock sparrows. Poll here. Now, before you jump to conclusions, I have to say that the daft old sod Beare isn’t three sheets to the wind again. He and Spence have gone off on some secret mission, one they couldn’t even tell me about. “Lips sealed, old girl,” he said, as he donned his steel lined bowler and whipped his sword stick under his arm. Must be serious stuff.
Of course, those of us who are left behind need to make the best of things, not sit fretting, and there’s always work to be done. An opportunity to get behind Beare’s desk and give it a good dusting, for one. And if anyone’s fretting, it’s the silly old tart himself. He hates leaving the running of the club to anyone, especially when the “anyone” is young Farrell. He’s a good lad, with extremely pinchable cheeks at both ends if you get my drift, and Beare’s been teaching him the ropes this last year. He’s proved himself capable, but there’s always the worry that such a comely young piece will make himself a target for Victor, who could never resist a pert behind nor a twinkling young eye.
I promised I’d keep an eye on the young sprat—a nasty job but someone has to do it—and ensure his virtue is kept intact. I’ll keep the same wary eye on the club’s safe, wine cellar and collection of unusual postcards. You never know where introgressive specimens like Victor will try to strike next. When I see him, I can see where Darwin got his ideas from. More monkey than man. Anyway, I’ve got the keys to all three on my ring and anybody who wants to go poking around will have to apply to me.
Talking of poking around, spring’s in the offing, although with this flipping cold she’s a long time showing her hull on the horizon. In April the sap rises and so does many another thing round here, and when I say that spring and beds feature in many a man’s imagination I don’t mean the season and flowers. The squeaking and creaking that goes on here all hours of the day and night takes some believing.
“What’s that noise, Poll?” Farrell asked me, this time last year when thoughts had turned to oats and the spreading of them. “Have we got mice?”
“We have not,” I replied, irate at the implication.
“Oh. Maybe I should go and investigate.”
“Don’t you dare. I promised your mother when you brought her here for Mothering Sunday that I’d preserve your innocence and preserve it I will if I have to put bromine in their brandy and take a pair of pliers to their nethers.” I shook my feather duster at him. “When the springs are creaking, don’t go peeking.”
“But me no buts. You’ll see things you won’t understand.”
“Ah,” he said, as if light had dawned. “It’s to do with serving Her Majesty, isn’t it? Secret business.”
“It’s to do with queens indeed,” I said, wishing to tell him no lies. “And the affairs that only they understand.”
Bless him. Maybe I’d better go and pinch his cheeks right now…