Charlie Cochrane

The True and Scandalous history of the Lords of Aether, Part the third

1 June 2012

It is now behoven upon me to describe the trial of Victor Leach. You might say, as Poll does, “Beare, you silly sod, they’ve never managed to pin anything on the old villain.” Ah, but I’m not talking about the Old Bailey, but a kangaroo (more like cockatoo!) court here at the Lords of Aether, when the nasty little toerag tried to infiltrate the club. They assembled twelve good men and true and put him in the dock.

Now, when I say dock, I mean an upside down table they made him stand in, while they sat on two rows of benches like a load of silly beggars. And as for twelve good men and true…I told my Poll that the only words that counted for my lot were “twelve” and “and”.

Everyone wanted to wear wigs and gowns, of course, but Lord Anthony overruled them. Knowing Shelley, he’d have sported gold ringlets, high heels and sparkly garters. Anything for showing off and making a spectacle of himself. Have I told you about the incident in Drury Lane with the black bombazine dress, the policeman, the flower seller and a pound of carrots? No? Some other time, maybe. If the details ever stop being a state secret.

They charged Victor with having an offensive face, and a presence that disgraced the club. Which is coming it a bit, seeing as all of the members here would be a disgrace to a drunken party of costermongers flashing on the front at Brighton.

Lord Anthony tarted himself up in the role of the judge, of course. He allowed himself to wear a robe, alright—his game, so he got the best part in it. Looked more like a pair of my old nan’s velvet curtains. Poll had the washing of it afterwards—we didn’t enquire too closely what some of the stains were or how they got there—and she said it was the finest hammered velvet. Very educated, my Poll. She can tell a hawk from a handsaw and a molly from a machete so I suppose she knows her cloth.

I wasn’t officially allowed to listen to or watch the proceedings, but it’s surprising how much dirt accumulates by doors and how long it can take you to clear it, down on your knees with your eyes and ears at keyhole level. Unfortunately I missed some key bits both when the charlady came along and when my knees started to play up. They accused Victor of infiltrating the club on numerous occasions, to perform unnatural acts, but he insisted that the photographs were faked, the witness statements a pack of lies and the sworn affidavit from Coutts a clever forgery. He couldn’t give a credible explanation for what had happened with the anteater and the annotated copy of Bradshaw’s.

I guess they’d have hung, drawn and quartered him if they’d got the chance—or made him perform on the stage at the Glasgow Palace Empire for a week, which would be almost as bad. But all they could do was sling him out on his ear, and that not even literally, as the miserable sod has his contacts and protectors. All they could do was shoo him off, brandishing their snick-a-sees and umbrellas or whatever else they had to hand. Shelley had a feather duster which looked like it had been put to unnatural use, as well!

Lucky my Poll didn’t have to wash that…

The True and Scandalous history of the Lords of Aether – a digression

27 April 2012

My history of this club is rapidly approaching the present day and the current load of limp wristed, gin swigging, somnambulant burgesses. (Poll is getting concerned about my language and is advising I resort to minced oaths and euphemisms. You’ll have to bear with me – or Beare with me – until I can work out how to prevent the old girl reading this memoir, then I can get back to employing an appropriately manly idiom.)

Before I give you a little of the history of our current gentlemen (I write that word with gritted teeth) members I shall share with you some of the verse I produced when first I came to the club and to which I added as I met the shirt fitting catacombs and their nefarious acquaintances.

Lord Anthony Banning astounds
When he’s hawking or riding to hounds
But concerning his breeches
He oft overreaches
And continually strays out of bounds.

Young Spencer would honestly rather
Not get everyone in a lather
Men want to seduce him
Or at the least goose him
In search of a bit of How’s your father…

Stokes thinks if he’s gentle and kind
Alexi will surely unwind
A friendly alliance
May lead to compliance
Poor bloke – his hope’s all in his mind.

A devilish cad name of Starr
Seduced a young lad in a bar
He whipped off his trollies
In front of the mollies
Now that lad’s the Gay Hussar

Beware of that bounder called Leach
He employs manners poor and foul speech
Keep your money to hand
Hide your jewellery and
Keep your meat and two veg out of reach…

A sterling young steward called Beare
Will defend Aetherites far or near
He’s as fierce as a lion
The man they rely on
And never would bring up the rear!

Continued: The True and Scandalous history of the Lords of Aether, being the Reminiscences and Researches of Julius Savage Beare

24 February 2012

Part the first

Nothing changes under the sun. People say that these are days of particular wickedness and vice and that it wasn’t like that when they were young. As usual, people talk a load of old cobblers. I’ve seen the old newspapers they have in the Club archives, and those so called “good old days” weren’t one long picnic in the sun with nobody doing anything worse than swatting the head of a daisy with their snickersnee. Rape, murder, robbery, it was all going on back when our dear queen was just a twinkle in her old dad’s eye.

There has been a gentleman’s club on this site since the times of Good Queen Bess and if I say that its members included Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe you’ll have a pretty good idea what used to go on. All boys dressed as girls and “once more into the breach”. My Poll says, “As long as there’s been men there’s been mollies and renters. Probably back to when old Julius Caesar came along and his lot founded the old city, they’ll have been lifting their togas and jiggling their styluses.” Well educated, my Poll.

Now, my “gentlemen” (if you can call such a scabrous bunch of shirtlifting poofs “gentlemen”) aren’t the first to offer their services to the Queen. (And, believe me, these men know all about queens and the services they offer. I’m digressing again, Poll would whack me.) Back in the days of doublets and hose, the men who met here were at the behest of Elizabeth, maintaining her honour against the dagos and any others who sought to breach our wooden walls. They did a roaring trade rooting out spies and tipping the buggers into the sewers up by what was left of the old city walls. One particularly insidious scrote evaded their ministrations, though. Senor Jose Maria Jimenez, dealer in Jerez wine and state secrets, said to be the most dangerous man this side of the channel; Queen Bess’s men couldn’t implicate the swine, not for all the frills on her Majesty’s corset. So they got Will and Kit after him.

Kit Marlowe – there was a bloke. If he turned up on the doorstep today he’d feel right at home with the present day occupants of the club. Will Shakespeare I’m not so sure about. You can’t pin him down, not for all his telling his fancy lad how pretty he was and trying to “shake his darling buds of May”. Is that what they called it in those days, the dirty buggers? Anyhow, him and Kit set up this Jimenez good and proper. Lured him to an upper room in a tavern back end of beyond (well, back end of Bow, but that’s the same thing), and got him embroiled with a young actor laddie who’d whip off his doublet and show his singlet for tuppence. No sooner had the dago gent concerned started fiddling with his codpiece, when an artist sprang out from behind the arras and captured the whole scene on canvas. Threatened to sell it to that scandalous pamphlet “Newes of ye Worlde” unless the man hied himself home. England one Spain nil, I make that.

For all that my gentlemen have got the morals of alley cats, and smell like them sometimes, they’re true servants of the Empire, and I serve them as such, to the best of my abilities and with the aspiration to be the top of my profession. A Beare may be first, a Beare may be second, but there’ll never be a Beare bottom!

 

The True and Scandalous history of the Lords of Aether, being the Reminiscences and Researches of Julius Savage Beare, official Steward to and unofficial Biographer of the Club

27 January 2012

Prologue:

I wish to make it plain that I am neither a spoon-fed, milksop, dilettante nobleman nor a powdered, painted and pox-ridden molly. Just because a man works in a bakery doesn’t make him a Bakewell Tart. I maintain my employ here because I gave my word to Lord Anthony that I would serve him, after he saved me from a gang of cutthroats down by where the old Neckinger used to flow into the Thames. I am a man of honour and stand by my promise. (And the pay is exceptionally good. As my Poll says, “finicky morals butter no parsnips.”)

If you are liable to be offended at the contents of this memoir, then bugger off now. This isn’t London as depicted in the writings of some coddled and addle-pated lady of leisure who never sets her silk-girded foot onto the cobbles in case she steps in a pile of horse turd. This is London at its rawest and raciest, the things that go on behind closed doors and under the streets, the sort of things our dear old Queen would have kittens about if she knew. Although if I told her why that little footman at Osborne is nicknamed…

I digress. As my Poll says, “Stick to the point, Savage, you silly sod.”

As long as there have been horses on the streets of London, and flourishing roses to bear witness to that fact, there have been gentlemen who ploughed their own furrows, heedless of the demands of society or the constraints of the law. Whether the Lords of Aether or their metaphorical forebears, men have always broken the Articles, stretched the law to its breaking point and generally given the fico to the world. That’s the way of things and has been since Noah sailed up the Thames, letting the elephants off at Wapping to graze.

Will what I write be true? Every word. Will it be libellous? Most likely. Will it be fearless? To the hilt. Down from Crecy, through Agincourt and Waterloo, whenever there’s been a call to arms, the Beares have responded.  If there’s a banner of truth and courage being flown, there’ll always be a Beare behind.

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