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It was an October night in my eighteenth year when the following amazing adventure took place. I was taking my evening stroll around the grounds of Smithersthwaites Boarding School. The fog was as thick as Cook’s tapioca pudding and it filled me with a sense of patriotic pride and a slight feeling of nausea. By Gad – only England could produce fog like this. I was musing on our nation’s greatness when I heard a muffled cry,
“Jackers – is that you old man?” It sounded like Porkers and I shouted,
“Over here Porkers, old bean.”
A moment later, the rotund figure of my friend and fellow prefect emerged from the fog, he was out of breath and could only gasp,
“It’s ghastly, simply ghastly, Barkers is distraught!”
Now for Charles ‘Barkers’ Barking-ffoamers, our head-boy to be displaying emotion was a rare occurrence and I took Porkers by the arm and said,
“My rooms old chap, I’ve a fresh bottle of brandy.”
He nodded and we repaired to my rooms, where a log fire was burning low. I added more wood and helped myself to a shot of brandy as well. We both stood,
“The King!” and enscounced ourselves in the leather, battered but comfortable armchairs before the fire. I allowed Porkers time to recover his composure before pressing him for details. He eventually said,
“It’s Chalkers, he’s missing. Nobody’s seen him since breakfast – Barkers has heard a dreadful rumour that he might have,” Porkers swallowed more brandy before lowering his voice,
“He might have gone native.”
“Good Gad!” I exclaimed, “Chalkers? Never in a million years.”
Y’see, Edward ‘Chalkers’ Buggring-Chalke was the headmaster’s nephew. A more resolute believer in the preservation of the old ways you could never find. Chalkers followed his uncle’s example in shagging as many of the local village girls that he could manage. Buggring-on-the-Marsh residents were mostly a surly bunch of brutes, but they were working class – what could ye expect? So why would Chalkers want to join their ranks? It was unthinkable, none of them had hyphenated names, none of them had any money and none of them had been to a public school.
At that point, there was a knock on the door and Barkers and Trenters came in. Barkers face was pale and Trenters seemed barely less horrified. I pressed a glass of brandy into their hands and guided them to armchairs. They toasted the King then sat down. As their colour returned I asked,
“Any word chaps? I mean is the rumour true?”
“Can’t say old boy. But Chalkers was seen yesterday in the company of Charlotte Tanbury, her father’s a…” Barkers shuddered, “he’s a tradesman, a grocer don’tcha know?”
“Well,” I remarked slowly, “she’s dashed pretty, for one of the lower orders and Chalkers does take after his nunc where that, ahem, sort of thing is concerned, what?”
“But he’s secretary of the 1800 Society. He’s absolutely resolute about preserving the old customs.” declared Trenters. We were all members of the 1800 Society which had first been established by Colonel Tarantula Greystone-ffforbes over a century ago. Its express purpose is to keep Britain firmly on track as the most marvellous place in the world by always remembering what it is to be British and upper-class. The only way to do this is to stick to the old traditions.
“We have to go after him.” I declared, “Find him and try to make him understand the awful mistake he’s making.”
Trenters and Porkers both voiced their approval and Barkers said,
“By Gad, with chaps like you in the Society, Britain will always be strong.”
Dreadfully embarrassing for us all. We were Chalkers’ chums after all, and in those days a chap didn’t leave his chum in the lurch. No need for more emotions from Barkers, but he soon recovered and said,
“Very well, Jackers old man. We will go after Chalkers. But this could be a frightfully dangerous mission don’tcha know?”
We didn’t care about that. Another snort of brandy to keep out the cold and we were ready to go and rescue our friend from the clutches of a fiend in human form.
Time for me snooze, old man. I’ll tell ye the rest of this story tomorrow. G’night.
end of part 1
In five hundred years time, most of us will be forgotten dust. But Hitler will still be remembered, God loves irony.