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.

Conversations Held From Top-Floor Windows, Part Two

Penned upon the 16th of December, 2013

Florid Flâneur: Hulloa, Mrs Follyhaven! Hulloa!

Irascible Landlady: Who d’you think you are, making that racket while decent folk are trying to eat their dinner?

Flâneur: Dinner is exactly the question, Mrs Follyhaven, and I am but a modest traveller who would like to have some in your fine establishment!

Landlady: Oh, bleeding hell, it’s you, Mr Bumblebeigh. And why do you expect I’ll serve you anything, when you’re so far in arrearage already?

Flâneur: My lady, you use such fine language that I must fall back upon my natural ignorance; indeed, I would not know arrearage from a hole in the ground. I know only one thing, and that is that I owe nothing!

Landlady: Don’t give me that bosh, Socrates. You’ll get no service until you pay your tab.

Flâneur: Hoh! To think of denying service to one of the wealthiest men in the city!

Landlady: You, one of the wealthiest men in the city? Whatever do you mean, O Socrates?

Fl̢neur: Consider the great millionaires of this fine and noble burg Рthe brokers, the moneylenders, the financiers. How do they earn their money? Through the ownership of debts! Is this not so?

Landlady: Yes, Socrates, it is so.

Fl̢neur: In fact, they own not only debts made to them, but debts made to others, for they trade them like so many cured hams. And if these debts, to the eminent financial minds of our time, entitle them to arrive at the Langham Hotel and to be shown to a private table in the dining-room, should not my own debts Рto the finest cobblers and haberdashers in Walworth! Рentitle me to enjoy a plate of kidneys in your own bar parlour?

Landlady: But, Socrates, if those gentlemen came here, they’d be able to pay for their meals.

Flâneur: So you say, but it is well known that these social pillars keep accounts of credit which extend into the hundreds-

Impatient Cabman: So why should you, a mere social pillock, be refused attendence for a debt of a few shillings? I’ll tell you why – because you said I’d be paid if I waited for two minutes – a quarter of an hour ago.

Fl̢neur: My apologies, my good fellow РI would have returned sooner had I not been delayed by this good woman, who, despite her many excellent qualities, is not appreciative of philosophy.

Landlady: Mr Bumblebeigh, listen to you go on so! Haven’t you any respect for the fairer sex?

Fl̢neur: You think women the fairer sex, Mrs Follyhaven? So it is often said, but consider Рdoes a woman not have to paint her face, and tint her hair, and perform such daily rituals, before she may show herself in public? But I may step forth into the world without any such preparations, demonstrating that mine is the fairer countenance.

Cabman: I’m not bothered about your fair countenance, old man, so long as you can countenance my fare. Have you got my money, or haven’t you?

Flâneur: As for gold, I have as much as a moderate man could carry with him, if he had a great many other things to carry and was walking a long way. But, my friend, why do you care so much for money, and so little for wisdom and truth and the great improvement of the digestion?

Landlady: I wonder that you don’t go on the stage, Socrates, talking so prettily.

Flâneur: The stage? Would you have me become a common thief?

Landlady: …no, you’ve lost me there. Explain?

Flâneur: What does a thief do? He practices dishonesty, and profits by others’ misery. Well, a tragedian is most certainly dishonest – he adopts a hundred identities, and declares untruths night upon night – and the more misery he brings to his audience, the greater his rewards.

Landlady: Your proofs are a revelation as ever, Socrates. But, I must ask again: can you pay for your dinner?

Flâneur: Oh… yes, I can, actually. A marchioness bought one of my arguments for her magazine. Can you give me change for a guinea to pay for my cab?

(Exit all agreeably to the bar parlour for cod and chips.)


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