Sir F. Chook, Inventor of Leopard Oil

Likeness captured upon a daguerrotype machine in Japan, July 1891

Lettres

Wherein the Author reflects upon certain topical & personal issues of the Day.

Hubris’ Seasonal Japes

Penned upon the 1st of April, 2011

Reginald, Lord Hubris, is not immune to the appeal of touch-and-go jocularity, though he does prefer to perpetrate his gags on any day but this, so as not to give his victim any advance warning. As a graduate of the English public school system, one might suspect him of favouring simple shocks, of the adder-in-the-bedclothes, exploding-ballcock type, but his deep and cunning criminal mind was made for pranks more worthy than these. He is not, typically, the sort of fellow to mix business with pleasure – that is, to actually incorporate humour into his disreputable trades. Nor is he one given to giggles amid the boiling blood of a bust-up, except the sort of gloating laugh which has made the image of many a mad scientist. No, he keeps his jollities to his rare lighter moments, when the warmth of a fire, a comfortable chair and a quality port have banished the fury briefly from his brain. Here are some of his favourite tricks, practised from these selfsame club chairs, and recorded here as an inspirational or cautionary tale (as your temperament takes you.)

– Send footman out with strict instructions to bring back a gramophone and a phonograph; observe results.

– Declare nonsensical chess moves, such as “Pawn to King’s Lynn” or “Knight to Tallest Bishop.”

– Whist night; sandwich doping.

– Exploding cigar; exploding Bentley; exploding summer home in Nice.

– Wearing odd socks all day, and pretending not to hear his valet’s increasingly flustered protestations.

– Faking own death; attending funeral as body; bursting out of coffin to surprise subordinate revellers.

– Russian Roulette with unloaded revolver. Academic fencing with loaded revolver.

– Hosting cocktail party; announcing gin poisoned; guests compete in bloodsports for antidote; antidote poisoned.

– Baffling hunting party with bulletproof clockwork duck, retained from unlikely second-storey job.

– Sending an urchin chimney-sweep to target’s house; sweep feigns death by fit in chimney; target summons police; sweep gone without trace on return.


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