Herefordshire is looking particularly beautiful at this time of year. I was visiting my cousin Sherlock, who keeps bees there, near Much Marcle. Yes, in answer to your unspoken question, he was named after his famous great-grandfather on his mother's aunt's side, Sir Leslie Sherlock, the man who introduced barbed wire to Ethiopia. It's purely by coincidence that Sherlock keeps bees in his retirement, as does the fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes. The cocaine habit and violin are two more, less fortunate, coincidences, as I was to discover over the weekend.
Travelling back in the Morgan, I became mired in a hideous traffic jam on the M5. There was a 5-mile tailback. It seems that the Bishop of Gloucester was being transported to a charity 'knock the mitre off the Bishop' event at Teignmouth. Just my luck. These Bishop transporters easily block both carriageways. You'd think they could transport the blighters by air. Though apparently - as I was later informed by Brucie Boulting at the bar of the Riding Crop & Chastity Belt at Fiddlecombe - there aren't enough spare RAF Hercules at present, and the trains can't cope with that sort of load (there was something about too many low railway bridges presenting a hazard, given the height of the average Bishop in full regalia complete with mitre, but Brucie and I were on the Calvados by then, so I couldn't swear).
On Monday afternoon, after breakfast, I went back to bed. I finally emerged on Tuesday morning, fit as a fiddle and raring to get back to the memoir I am writing, entitled 'The Memoir I am Writing'. Yes, the title needs work, but then so does the whole thing, as I haven't started it yet. I spent a couple of hours staring out of the study window at old Bellweather, my gardener, wrapping tarred twine around Mrs Thumper, my housekeeper (he tells me it keeps the wasps off her when she's digging, but I don't really care to intrude on the horticultural side of things; damned odd, most of it; still, as long as I get my spuds and cabbages, what do I care; and they do seem to enjoy themselves, those two; reminds me of the time I shared a billet in Glasgow with Gielgud and Richardson the pantomime horse chaps; they were always tying each other up). And after a couple of hours of that, I gave up and went to the Non-Sequitur and Mortified Silence for a stiff one (or three).
Colonel Clasper was there with Alice, his 22-year old 'secretary'. The old goat rambled on and on about the time he found a Chinaman's head under the umbrella stand in Rangoon, all the while staring at Alice's chest and caressing his brandy glass. I was glad to get back home, though I had to rescue Mrs Thumper: Bellweather had tied her to an apple tree and forgotten about her.
I have finally made some progress with the memoir. I am making notes. The plan is, to get as much as I can remember in note form. Raw material, if you like. Then I shall start to order it into something more, er, ordered.
This afternoon, I was thinking of the time when I lived in Paris, after the war. After which war? It doesn't matter, there's always a war somewhere, as Colonel Clasper always says.
Determined to become a writer, I did as so many have done before and since. I fled to Paris and I found a disgusting place to live. I was determined to do two things: to live in poverty and to produce great literature. Well, I only managed one, and within 3 months I was back in England, playing Wishy Washy in pantomime at Twatton-on-Sea.
Still, I had some experiences that can only be described as experiences. Desperate for money, I took a job at Madame de Pompadour's, on the Rue des Poissons, playing the piano while the whores went about their whoring. The place was a hideous hole ('a hideous hole filled with hideous holes being filled' was how Lazarre, the barman, described it), but they had a sense of humour. Besides the appalling cheap plonk they dished out, they also served abundant quantities of cake in the Boudoir d'Antoinette.
I had to sleep in the attic. There were two hammocks between three of us. My companions were Ligotte, an evil-smelling mulatto dwarf covered with tattooes of his favourite goats, and Butto-butto, a giant, mute pock-marked Lascar who claimed that his left ear had been bitten off by a Marseillaise fishwife.
We had to piss in an 'Emperor' hare-jug, modelled on the Frambois bust of Napoleon.
Every night at 2am, Frou-Frou, the red-haired absinthe-drinker, would come up to our attic room, to smoke and talk about her futile passion for Delfine, who specialised in corporal punishment and face-sitting.
It was hell in there.
You know, many's the time I've swapped anecdotes with the likes of Brucie or the Colonel, and I've thought, 'why aren't I putting this into a story?' Well, the last time I actually said it out loud. 'Why aren't I putting this into a story?' I said, out loud.
The Colonel snorted.
'Reminds me of what that bounder Norman Scott thought to himself, when he was rogering that queer Liberal, what's his name, Jeremy Thorpe. "Why aren't I putting this into a Tory?" the blighter thought.
'A week or two later on, Scott was airing these private speculations with Lord Boothby. When he mentioned the bit about putting it into a Tory, old Boothby said, "ah, so you were, my dear boy, so you were!"
'The most disturbing thing, Scott said afterwards, was the way Boothby was dripping hot candle wax onto a nude photograph of Reggie Kray while he was talking.
'Scott also reckoned that Boothby had "Knock Before Entering" tattooed above his arse.
'But it's up to you, whether or not you choose to believe any of this. It's pure gossip, old fruit.'
Ah, Colonel Clasper! An endless inspiration!
*** To be continued.......***