Politeness, wine and small boys
These troubling times affect us all in different ways. While there is
little political discourse on this small island of Manhattan, there is
no argument in unremitting imbecility after all, strange tales do surface.
I offer one such to you, not from here but from there, though I would
like to think it's happening all over in its own way.
So this pal of mine's parked his motor in a No Parking private kind of
car park and paid no heed to the sign offering a free and easy clamping
service. Sure enough when he gets back from doing his business there's
a shiny new clamp on his motor and a big geezer putting the equipment
back in his clamping van.
Now this pal of mine is a bit tasty if you get my drift and one would
not be mistaken in supposing he could be a bit lively if given sufficient
reason. And the clamper was no shrinking violet either. Much used to having
abuse heaped upon him he was the quiet, violent type. A potent mix indeed.
So when my pal approached the clamper it looked like fireworks could well
have been in the offing.
'Did you put that on my car?' asked my pal in a neutral tone.
'Yeah,' replied the clamper, equally neutral, but clearly sizing up
the threat and preparing for a bit of argy bargy.
My pal reached into his pocket and the clamper stood up to his full six-three.
Seconds out…Round One.
'So can I give you a cheque? Or should I get cash?' asked my pal politely.
'I just want to get it taken off. I saw the sign so I can't complain.
I mean, you're only doing your job. And a hundred quid is no big deal.
Not when people are getting their heads chopped off in Iraq.' My pal
'You know,' said the clamper. 'In all my years of doing this no one
has ever said that to me.'
A quiet moment of bonhomie ensued.
'Fuck it,' said the clamper kneeling down by my pal's motor. 'I'm taking
it off. You're right mate, compared to what's going on in the world
this is a joke. Put your money away.'
They parted with a mutual respect for those in danger on foreign shores,
and for the greater scale of things.
With the moral reflection out of the way let me apprise would of my current
situ. You are well aware that She Who Must Be Obeyed has made it clear
that though the muse may be with me I must once more offer my allegiance
to the Fickle Mistress of Fashion. I won't say I don't relish it to be
honest. There is much to be said for using one's actual training and experience
for something other than shopping for handkerchiefs and Officers' gloves.
Anyway as I write I am about to board a jetliner to the Flesh Pots of
Asia there to chat with a behemoth outfit who may or may not wish me to
join the ex-pat community. Long way no? Well yes but frankly one is so
alien here it hardly seems any different to be in the land of the communist
dictator. I mean, English buses driven on the left, the game of football
not confused with It's a Knockout in skid lids, and Rugby Sevens. One
could almost be in Albion.
With the possibility of leaving these fair shores for a period the Boss
and I have thrown ourselves wholeheartedly into the Autumnal social melee
with dramatic effects. As you know Old Thing I like nothing more of an
evening than to sink into the club chair with a slim volume of Yeats and
a glass of single malt, perhaps with the World Service playing quietly
on the wireless. No such luck these last few weeks. With a dear friend
making a royal visit we have been squiring him round this steaming metrop
to all manner of soirees. Let me share a few with you for your edification.
Bergdorf Goodman is like Grace Brothers but without the excitement of
Mr Humphries and Miss Brahms (who actually was very fit at the time).
Nonetheless they do provide a very acceptable White Bordeaux when it's
time to unveil a new something-or-other. This time it was a book by one
of those boys who go on the box to teach Neanderthals how to eat indoors
and stop wearing animal skins. Anyway I took our visiting royalty along
to this shindig and within minutes we'd consumed enough White B to warrant
the trip and much more besides. He's not altogether without his admirers
is my mucker and so with the Mem out of the way I was able to bask in
his reflected glory.
Next evening saw us at a wine tasting event at some gawd-help-us posh
restaurant in the Flatiron District. Swish area but sadly deluded establishment.
We were to sample Les Pinots Noir but, and forgive me for being ridiculous
here, they were from somewhere called Cally-Forn-Ya. It's in North America
apparently. Now isn't that the oddest thing - the thought that they're
making a sort of reddish liquid out of grapes and rather audaciously calling
it 'wine?' Whatever will they think of next? I won't bother you with the
results of the 'tasting' except to say that 'wine' may be a similar colour
to wine but it is far less pleasant to drink.
The following evening we went to, wait for it… the opening of a
Barber's Shop. Yes I know what you're thinking - TUFTs - Turn Up For a
Tenner. Hold your horses though. The B's S in question goes by the name
of a famous whiskey that coincidentally sponsored the event and provided
copious amounts of the amber nectar to mitigate any worry about one's
Enough? Not by a long chalk. For a change we planned a daytime excursion
to JFK airport and the Eero Saarinen designed TWA terminal. It's the one
shaped like a big sea shell and there was an art exhibition going on there.
Anyway we forswore the opening party and instead went for a leisurely
poke around during the week. Alas we erred. It transpires that during
the opening night's shenanigans people actually smoked inside the building.
That's right. Quelle horreur they actually smoked! The fact that there
were also gang fights, satanic rituals and human sacrifices is by-the-by.
For god's sake man, they smoked! Needless to say the exhibition was closed
down, the organisers sent to Camp X-Ray and the building razed to the
ground. Just in the nick of time.
Add to that bit of common sense the fact that apparently the Idiot-in-Chief
had a microphone up his Harris or something during the recent 'debate'
and you can see that life here in this banana republic continues as ever.
I understand they're going to have a novel public-participation stage
during the selection of the new I-i-C. I think what happens is they ask
whatever members of the public they haven't excluded from voting who they
want to win. Then the lawyers and judges secretly decide who's actually
going to win. And then they give it to the current knuckle-dragger anyway.
It's about as close to democracy as that Cally-Forn-Ya stuff was to actual
wine. And so the world turns.
However, lest I leave you with the impression that all is lost let me
share with you a recent triumph in the field of 'teaching the young how
to behave in polite society.' A very dear friend is parent to a young
scamp who is old beyond his nine years and so desperately in need of suitable
conv with which to dazzle his school chums.
Now I don't know how nine-year-olds are supposed to behave in this country
but I suggested to him that next time his school master gives him some
juicy information in front of the rest of the class he should purse his
lips, let his eyelids droop, stare pointedly at his perfectly manicured
fingernails and drawl 'Oh really? How fascinating.'
Wasn't that how we succeeded so well under Headmasters Granger and Harper?
I'm sure it was.
When next I write I'll be returned from the Flesh Pots and may have news
of great import. Or not.
Your own dear dedicated follower of fashion,