Razzler and the write stuff versus Hermione and the real deal
‘DEAR secretary of the Ulan Bator Club..’ I paused and sucked on my fountain pen, the one passed down to me through the generations from great-grandfather Erasmus. Generally referred to as Razzler, he died long before I was born. Still his legacy lives on in the gold-nibbed form of a writing implement which is a joy to hold, though it leaks like a colander.
It is said that Razzler never used it much, except to sign the all too numerous cheques he made out to his book-maker at the races in the Phoenix Park.
Usually the mere act of picking it up suffices to kick-start the flow of creative juices. I think of it as a Rolls Royce among pens, slightly dated in its appearance but still capable of high performance in a stately sort of way. On this occasion the Roller proved reluctant to shift out of first gear as I set about my letter.
‘Dear secretary of the Ulan Bator Club…..’ The problem was that there were simply too many distractions.
Or rather there was one big distraction – Hermione. Normally the most unflappable, nay serene, of beings, this afternoon the loved one was buzzing around like a hornet in heat.
‘Do you know that the Mulligatawnies are coming to lunch on Sunday?’ she asked as she wheeled the vacuum cleaner into the study. I knew no such thing.
‘The Mulligatawnies are coming, so the place will have to be spotless. Marcia is a martyr to allergies and dust triggers allergies. Find yourself a cloth, Medders, and start shining up the frames around the portraits in the hall.’
She switched on the hoover and began working away at the Persian rug around my feet. The noise of the wretched machine drowned out any muttered observation that the word ‘please’ would be nice. While I did not exactly snap to the command, I did at least bow to her will and spent the next hour making the gilt around the forefathers gleam.
An hour of polishing seemed a decent contribution to the running of the household. I gave old Razzler’s oil painted likeness one last wipe and retired to the peace of the parlour.
Perched on the sofa and hunched over a mahogany coffee table, the act of correspondence was resumed.
‘Dear secretary of the Ulan Bator Club…..’ The peace of the parlour lasted no longer than the few seconds it took to remove the cap from the pen before Hermione bustled in.
‘Do you know that young Persephone is going to the ball the day after tomorrow?’
I knew no such thing but it was evidently high time that I did. Imagine, our little girl going to a debs, with painted eyebrows, with high-heeled shoes, with a new hair-do. With a boy!
Hermione waxed dreamy-eyed for a while about ball-gowns and lip-stick while I sat silent, full of regret at allowing the shotgun licence to lapse. It was time for some fresh air. Tucking pen and paper into jacket pocket, I adjourned to the garden.
In the shade of the weeping willow, sitting on a bench, I was soon lost once more in composition.
‘Dear secretary of the Ulan Bator Club…..’ Hermione seemed to materialise from nowhere, pointing with distaste at The Pooch as he lay curled sleepily around my brogues.
‘Do you know that dog smells?’ she demanded. I knew no such thing. Nose bunged up by a summer cold, I have smelled nothing since May.
Washing The Pooch is a fraught two-person operation, one holding the protesting pet and two administering the shampoo.
We knelt together beside the bath as it exploded with snarling canine and blood-tinted suds. She asked what it was that I had been writing. I explained that I was hoping to join a pub quiz team. The minimum requirement for new recruits is knowing the capital of Mongolia. Hence the name – the Ulan Bator Club.
She shook her head sadly: ‘Oh dear, you forget who is coming to lunch and overlook our daughter’s latest milestone. These are the things you really need to know. The capital of Mongolia, or Madagascar, or Mali are all on Google.’