I am re-reading Black Mischief. It is laugh-out-loud funny. Cyril Connolly was not best pleased to be depicted as the drunk General Connolly with a Negress wife called Black Bitch, although later she is elevated to Duchess and is delighted.
The British Legation in Azania is led by Sir Samson Courteney whose temperament is revealed here. “As third secretary at Peking he devoted himself, to the exclusion of all other interests, to the construction of a cardboard model of the Summer Palace.” The French Minister, M. Ballon, distrusts Sir Samson and goes to great lengths to discover what plots he is hatching.
This leads him to instruct his staff to work all night to crack a new British code: “Kt to QR3 CH”. The discovery of a game of consequences by one of Ballon’s spies leads to some consternation at the French Legation. “He is an old fox, Sir Courteney” is a frequent refrain. Meanwhile Sir Samson finds a rubber toy in the bathroom and whiles away the morning playing with it. The head of the American delegation is asked to play clock golf while he is waiting. I think it is probably the funniest book ever.
Is there anything to be learned from this today? Is M. Barnier thinking that David Davis is a cunning fox? Is he wondering what he plotting on those four days a week he doesn’t work? Surely he has a cunning plan? Or is M. Barnier supremely confident that he will teach perfidious Albion a lesson to be learned in the economic oubliette in which he wants to drop us? Send your answers on a postcard, I am foxed.
Meanwhile, on Jermyn Street, New & Lingwood hitherto a bastion of reassuringly expensive old-fashioned kit of which even Jeeves could not find fault, have gone bonkers. Their window is full of silk dressing gowns. Has nobody told them that Noël Coward is no longer buying them?
And more Black Mischief. I took a look at the Minutes of the last Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Cabinet (yes, really) meeting. The contractors did a good job relaying the tarmac in Margravine Gardens but it didn’t need to be done. Here is the explanation.
Well that’s nice work if you can get it.
Further down in their 388 page report they publish a letter from Mr Toad – parp parp!