Saturday, 11 September 2010

Still more of Keats and Chapman (would you believe?)

Keats had taken a part-time job behind the bar at the "Cat and Fiddle", the nearest "local" to the flat he shared with Chapman, and Chapman would stroll down there mid-evening for a pint or two. It was a quiet pub, and the pair could often manage a leisurely conversation with each other or with some of the other regulars.

One evening there was a young man in the bar they hadn't seen before. It turned out that he was the nephew of one of the regulars, and his uncle had brought him in to show him off. The cause of the uncle's pride was the fact that the young man had just spent his first season playing for the county cricket team, and had already come to the notice of the England selectors. The lad was a fast bowler, a seamer, and a master of reverse swing, added to which he was about six-feet-seven-inches in height.

"If that man bowled you a yorker," remarked Keats in a low voice to Chapman. "It would be like von Richthofen's Fokker tri-plane coming at you out of the sun! Look at the height of him, would you... and the length of that arm!"

"The sight-screen isn't made that would be big enough to show up his delivery!" remarked Chapman, in awe.

Just then the young man came over to the bar and ordered a drink from Keats.

"Could you do this for me?" he asked Keats politely. "Put some crushed ice in the bottom of a pint glass..."

"Straight or handle?" asked Keats.

"Straight'll do, thanks... then one slice of lime and one of lemon, then some more ice, okay? Then could you get a separate glass and mix an unstirred vodka martini just like James Bond has, pour it gently over the ice, and then fill the glass to within half-an-inch of the top with Canada Dry ginger ale - diet of course. Then float some squirty cream out of a can on top of that. Then cut a maraschino cherry in half and put both halves on the top, so that they look like a pair of little red eyes."

Keats looked up at the young man, taking in his whole six-foot-seven, and said, "That's a tall order!"

Chapman whispered to Keats, "You wouldn't have said that if I had been the one to ask for a drink like that!"

Keats looked down at his friend, and at the single malt in his hand, and said, "I made your drink in short order."


Keats and Chapman have been at this sort of thing since they were young, y'know. Chapman recalls an incident from their schooldays within the ivied walls of Greyfriars thus:

Keats and I had just had tea in the study shared by Harry Wharton and Frank Nugent. I recall that apart from Harry and Frank, Keats, and myself, there was Bob Cherry... oh yes and Hurree Jamset Ram Singh was there too I remember now, because Keats was experimenting with toasting crumpets with the butter already spread on them and Ram Singh was advising against it, saying "The meltingness will be terrific!" Anyhow, I digress. Keats and I had gone back to our study to finish the prep that was due for next day. There was some simple Greek construe and some geometry. I romped through the Greek, of course, but got stuck on the geometry, and so I appealed to Keats for some help.

"I say, Keats old man. That new maths Master, Mr Cohen, has set a stinker of a problem. I can't make head nor tail of the figures. Can you help me - it's all to do with Pythagoras' Theorem?"

Without looking up and without pausing for breath Keats said to me, "You want I should draw you a diagram?"

My blood ran cold, I can tell you. It was as though the whole of my life was suddenly mapped out for me!


This morning Consuela (my Tejana maid) brought me my mail as I reclined on my chaise longue. There was a letter from a company of lawyers in the USA, and it contained some rather intimidatory language about my continual references to Wes Studi, the famous Cherokee actor. I have instructed my own lawyers - Messrs Hunt, Lunt, and Cunninghame - to write back and make it clear that: a) I have often expressed the highest regard for Mr Studi in my writings and b) the references are about someone who is pretending to be Mr Studi rather than about the man himself.

Really, there is an ocean of difference not only between their supposition and the fact but also between the laws of the United States and those (I like to think cleaner, purer) laws that pertain to Alba's realm. That's Scotland to you.

For example: I am informed that in most States of the USA they have no concept of de facto Eccleprurience, and indeed, as they are without the services of a triple-term Deemster, the simplicity of the legal principle aquam igne et aqua haurio is like a foreign language to them. The poor dears.

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