Report by Little Jim Ladd (our countrywide reporter of the nation’s underbelly)
Jim was prevented on two occasions from entering the kingdom of Upper Echelons in Suffering, Wilts. The only way he could gain access was to flash his gold card and be able to recite the whole of Money, Money Money and A Man After Midnight by ABBA in Latin. Once there, Jim gave us this report,
The first night was the hardest. I couldn’t get to sleep as just outside my hotel room, there were a number of young men shouting “Hooray’ repeatedly and at a decibel level greater than Wimbledon when the strawberries arrive. I later found out it was a Henry the Fifth party; a ritualistic right of way for these young bankers and brokers. Apparently they normally have an entourage of women called Henrietta but this night the women had made other plans to frighten the vicarage with mock lasciviousness instead.
When I made my way down to breakfast, all the English breakfasts had been eaten, devoured more like. The debris on the tables created a scene more like a reenactment of The Battle of Agincourt: there were toast soldiers, half-eaten, with ketchup dripping off them onto the white tablecloth; the remnants and stains of rashers of bacon strewn are on the still spinning plates; shards of sausage skins on the walls and in the sugarbowl. After a couple of minutes, I took in the carnage and was taken aback further by the growing sound of a chorus of voices singing “Little Arrows” by Leapy Lee. The proprietor of the establishment looked afraid and retreated like a wind up a drainpipe trouser-leg, mumbling to himself, “Once more into the breeches!” I haven’t seen fear like it since someone stood up at a Tory conference and suggested really increasing the welfare budget; but, the perpetrator of that wheeze was already inebriated to a point where he abstained voting himself down.
Under such a barrage of what was now noise, I didn’t know whether to wait out the onslaught or just eat out for breakfast; being the stoic I am, I made my way into the lovely backyard and contemplated the greatness of the English roses in the garden enjoying an unseasonably mild St Crispin’s Day morning. The English choral singers made their way rather reservedly up the stairs and forming an orderly queue, proceeded, one by one, to enter the porcelain dominated chamber and evacuate their bowels to the tune of Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No.1. Once the wind section had vacated the building, the place was eerily quite, save for the sobbing of the proprietor. I helped him from under the table and waited quietly while he changed. When he came back down he apologised and prepared the best continental breakfast I had ever tasted: the orange juice was so fresh I could eat the fibre in it; the croissant was still warm and had just enough crustiness to make one say OOOh La La under one’s breath.
Having passed the day in Hardy-type country, lamenting as Thomas did, the onset of mechanical modernity, I returned to the establishment where the ladies had joined their lads and were in full swing in a smaller version of Last Night Of The Proms. One of the strongest of the party had brought their own flag – a small paving-stone lifted from the town centre street – and had daubed, in ketchup, mustard (English of course) and Blueberry skin and flesh, in the logo of the UK. She had to repel one Henry’s repeated attempts to eat the symbol. My last sight of the throng that night was the burning of a croissant in a ritualistic frenzy backed by – I think they had an ironic infiltrator – “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”