There is something special to being invited to a posh restaurant by a charming, well dressed man. In a corner, there’s a piano playing some gentle jazz, along with a soft tenor sax adding to the warm, sultry feeling of a top-class restaurant. You’ve been invited by an aquaintance of yours, a friend of a friend, let’s say. This isn’t just girls who like this kind of thing, boys enjoy a decent glass of wine and a nice meal too.
As a budding writer, there are times when characters hold conversations in one’s mind. There are occasions when the characters aren’t actually in one’s book, as on this occasion. A friend of mine was challenged to write a story in 400 words, this was too much of a temptation, so I wrote this…
Lord Peter Wimsey.
It is a cool summer morning and Lord Peter has just emerged from the wood that edges the south lawn. The air is gentle and the birds are quieter now that the dawn chorus has subsided. He has just returned from a stroll and is now wandering across the damp grass with his two playful labradors gambolling at his feet. In front of him is his home, a stately two storey pile of Cotswold stone, where the French windows of the breakfast room stand open to the breeze.
Something puzzles Lord Peter as he walks towards the house, because Bunter is standing outside, as if bearing a message. As Lord Peter comes within earshot, he says to Bunter, “I say, Bunter, what’s up?”
“I fear there’s a detective novel being written, sir,” Bunter responds calmly.
“Dash it,” says Lord Peter with his right hand resting on his shooting stick, “we don’t have time for that today, do we?”
“I regret we do not,” comes the response, “you have a lunch with Agatha at Claridge’s and a meeting at Coutt’s after that, sir.”
“She’s short of a story, is she?”
“I believe that may be the case. She mentioned that you’d been to Bucharest last December and your train had become stuck in a snow-drift.”
“I say, how on earth did she get to hear about that?”
“I couldn’t possibly say, sir.”
“But Bunter, I know you are the soul of perception, but what’s all this about another detective novel being written?”
“Well, sir, it’s like this…” but before he can finish, Lord Peter says, “has that wretched Sayers woman turned up again?”
“No, sir,” Bunter responds with the calm of an experienced hand, “I would look over there, standing on the gravel drive.”
They both turn to me and Lord Peter puts in his monocle to his short-sighted eye, and frowns.
“Dash it,” says Lord Peter, “another ruddy pastiche.”
Shouting to me across the lawn, “bugger orff, I tell you!”
Somewhat shocked at his use of language and with the colour rising to my cheeks, I fumble my pencil into my handbag, close my notebook and hastily depart.
What he said after I left we will never know.
If you hadn’t guessed already, you’ll know that I live in Europe. Now there was a time when I could ask a Dutch person “how good is my Dutch?” In a manner like my asking people about their childhood memories (1). Now this wasn’t to ask how good they thought my Dutch was, but to find out if they were willing and able to make a decision for themselves, based on their own perceptions. Many Dutch people are unable to do this, because they’ve been trained in evidence-based decision making.
Only I have a problem: in the intervening years my Dutch has improved to the point where many now do not notice the BBC accent doing its best to keep its vocal head above the Dutch water. This has disarmed me because I now have to tell people that I am English, and so they are fore-warned that my spoken Dutch is pretty good.
In Roman times, the ownership of a slave was common for those who could afford it. This, however, wasn’t the southern American states before the 1900s; there were a wide variety of slaves from house slaves to those working the galleys. The house slave often had a lifestyle more in common with a servant today, albeit that they did not have their liberty. However, they were well fed, well dressed and even had days off.