24 with Bertie Wooster
Hour 2: Elevenses
Those of my public who’ve followed my struggles with international communism, homegrown fascism and aunts, will know that while Bertram is ever eager to don his dove-grey spats, natty gentleman about town apparel, and clutching his whangee in hand and tipping the rakish homburg atop his cranium, sally forth to accomplish his good work by stealth, there is little reason to do so (rogue dynamiters not withstanding – if that’s the word I want) – before the preprandial hour: for it is at elevenish, that the clink of bone-china on bone-china can be heard in the land, and the addicts of Indian, Chinese and Ceylonese leaf, gather to complain about the tea cakes, and swap the first gossip of the day.
Eleven and an oddish number of minutes therefore found me at the blasted tea shop where Bingo Little once fell in love with a waitress, and where in the red-hot Eighties, Marx used to polish off a good slab of dripping on toast before rushing to the British Library Reading Room to get down his feelings about Industrialists and the state of his digestion.
It wasn’t long before the old Wooster sixth sense (It is six, isn’t it? I must remember to ask Jeeves) began to exert a peculiar tingling as of the scalp trying to crawl up and then down the small of my back. Seated in this benighted tea-shoppe (an establishment so declás, that it adopts an extra ‘e’) was none other than Lord Sidcup, formerly the wouldbe Dictator and proud wearer of the Blackest Shorts in Christendom: Spode. What on earth could have drawn this man-mountain from his forthcoming nuptials with the county’s premier gawdelphus Madeleine Bassett, to lave his blood-stains in the sparkling limonardo, I could not at first conjecture. But then my ear detected a faint but unmistakable ticking sound from the black doctor’s bag under his Lordship’s table.
Had he reverted to type, and was planning a suicidal gesture: exploding himself among the hated proletariat? Or perhaps had he been targeted for political assassination himself; hobnobbing - as he now was – with any number of volatile politicos in the Upper Chamber, where if I recalled my briefing his presence on the Cheese and Wine Committee had caused substantial ructions with his campaign for A British Cheese Cache.