Monday, June 11, 2012

Lord Bonkers' Diary: "No one will suspect a peer of the realm of breaking the law"

"No one will suspect a peer of the realm of breaking the law"

I have fought too many by-election campaigns to be afraid of fisticuffs and am no duffer with an orchard doughty (that sturdy club beloved of Rutland gamekeepers), but I am not accustomed to being quite so ‘tooled up’ – as Violent Bonham-Carter used to put it. Still, I walk up from the harbour, with its smells of tarred rope and rusted chain, armed with pistol, cutlass and so forth as requested. I reach the cliff top and await the arrival of the pastymen.

One by one, figures appear through the chill mist. I recognise the remote cove and also discern a prosperous-looking fellow (who turns out to be Squire Rogerson) and a fellow in clerical garb who, sure enough, is Parson Gilbert.

We spy the lines of a trim brig out at sea – and then those of a second ship that rounds the headland. “It’s the Revenue,” growls Squire Rogerson, “they’ll be no shipping of pasties tonight.” He allows his lantern to flare for a moment and immediately the signal is answered from onboard the brig.

With that we find ourselves rather at a loose end, so we repair to the Jolly Tyler. My new companions turn out to be a friendly bunch. Parson Gilbert, for instance, proves Sound on any number of points of doctrine (though in Cornwall they no longer cleave to the back-foot no ball rule as we do in the Church of Rutland). Even the remote cove begins to unbutton a little.

“The trouble is,” explains Squire Rogerson (a capital fellow at standing his round), “we have twenty bushels of pasties ready to go, but there we shall not be able to load them aboard the Saucy Robin Teverson as long as the Revenue men are watching.

“I may be able to help you,” I reply. “I happen to have one of Rutland Motors’ finest charabancs parked outside the Jamaica Guest House. Why don’t we fill it with pasties? No one will suspect a peer of the realm of breaking the law.”

“Wasn’t there a lord in Essex...” begins one, but I fix him with a stern eye and he is quelled.

“The only problem,” I continue, “is what to do with the Well-Behaved Orphans.”

“In my experience,” returns Squire Rogerson, “there is nothing as good for orphans as sea air.”

Previously in Lord Bonkers' Cornish adventure

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