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Rupert Mountjoy

The Intimate Memoirs of an Edwardian Dandy, vol.I

I am fully aware that my youth has been spent, That my get-up-and-go has got up and went.

But I really don't mind when I think with a grin, Of all the grand places my get-up has been!

Rupert Mountjoy London September, 1913

CHAPTER ONE. First Stirrings

Little apology is needed-or will be made-for putting into print my frank, uncensored memoirs. For why should I not publish my diary? It may be of interest to both present and future generations of readers for many famous people are named in its pages. Here at the very start, however, I will freely admit to the alteration of certain names and places and the omission of a number of events, for nothing could induce me to embarrass or offend the sensibilities of any lady, from the parlourmaid positioned in the lower classes to the high and mighty London hostess who claims pride of place at the very apex of Society. I trust you will appreciate my concern, dear reader, though let me hasten to assure you that the above caveat notwithstanding, I also confirm in clear type a matter of importance which I have stated verbally on numerous occasions to my close friends, whilst placing in order the many and tidying recollections from the disordered files of memory. I refer, of course, to the fact that every gentleman whose name appears in my memoir has happily granted permission for his nomenclature to be revealed. Several letters have reached me from old acquaintances of both sexes who, despite having been warned of my intention to write a candid and undisguised account of my recent past, have expressed their pleasure to hear of the project. Indeed, they have urged me not to leave out their names in my manuscript, whilst not hesitating to remind me of jolly times enjoyed together at St Lionel's or sampling the varied and often exotic delights afforded to gentlemen of means domiciled in the heart of Belgravia and Mayfair, surely the most propitious areas in London for those like myself whose chief interest lies in l'art de faire l'amour. To complete these introductory words, may I cordially thank all who have assisted me in the compilation of what has turned out to be, according to my dearest chum Harry Price- Bailey: 'the horniest book of licking and lapping, sucking and fucking I have ever had the pleasure to read'. So without ado, let us turn back the years to the summer of 1898 when I was a lad of just fifteen years of age, living with my parents at the family seat of Albion Towers, which lies near the sleepy little village of Wharton on the edges of the Forest of Knaresborough in Yorkshire. Few areas of Britain are so rich in beauty and interest as this part of the country. There are moors to hike across, several wooded valleys through which flow lovely streams with glittering falls, grand ruins of castles, abbeys and historic houses and many fine buildings which show few signs of the passage of time-all these and many other features of appeal are to be found on every hand. This is why my father, Colonel Harold Elton Fortescue Mountjoy, late of the Indian Army, so enjoyed coming back to the home country after long service on the North West Frontier, for Yorkshire has an insistent appeal to all who delight in open-air pursuits, while the bracing air is unrivalled in England. Whilst the Pater busied himself with looking after our estate and taking every opportunity to go hunting, shooting and fishing, my Mama occupied herself with other ladies from the best families in the county. As surprisingly few houses were yet connected by telephone (I should add that we were an exception to this rule for though Father could be a bit of a crusty old buffer now and then, he was extremely interested in scientific progress and was the proud owner of one of Monsieur Lumiere's cameras that could take moving pictures, but more of this anon) Mama spent much of her time writing letters regarding social events in our neighbourhood, from dinner parties for the gentry to trips to Harrogate with Lady Scaggers, The Hon Mrs. Boote and other close friends. We returned from India four years ago, leaving my elder sister Barbara in New Delhi where she lives with her husband, Lord Lisneigh, Deputy Governor of the North East Territories. However, though to all intents and purposes I was an only child, I rarely suffered from the pangs of loneliness. Although I had no companions of my age locally, I was at home only during school holidays for my education was conducted at the grand old school of St Lionel's College for the Sons of Gentlefolk far down south in the beautiful county of Sussex. There I made many pals including some like Harry Price-Bailey, Terence Blacker, dive Allingham and Frank Folkestone who have remained firm friends throughout the passing years. During our vacations we frequently visited each other's homes, and as Mama was always more than pleased to extend hospitality to my school-fellows, I spent few days without someone to pass the time with. Nevertheless, I begin this excursion down the lane of recollection on one of these rare days. It was a glorious morning in early July 1898 and I looked forward to welcoming Frank Folkestone, the captain of the Upper Fourth at St Lionel's, to Albion Towers. Frank was spending the first week of the summer vacation with his parents at their home in St John's Wood before taking the train up to Harrogate where Papa and I would meet him. But what I hoped would turn out to be a highly satisfactory day opened on a gloomy note with the arrival of a telegram from Lady Folkestone, stating that Frank was suffering from a heavy summer cold and so she was postponing his trip up to us for twenty-four hours.

'It's only one day, Rupert,' said my Mama, trying to lift my spirits, 'and the weather looks so fine, why don't you spend the day out of doors? Perhaps you would like to join your father and Reverend Hutchinson who are fishing at the river on Mr. Clee's land? I'll ask Mrs. Randall to make you up a packed luncheon and I'm sure it will be in order for you to borrow one of your father's rods.' But I declined the offer, for I have never possessed the patience to wait for a fish to take the bait at the end of the line. Still, the idea of spending the day out of doors appealed to me. An idea struck me -Mr.

Richer, the senior teacher of natural history at St Lionel's, had fired my class with the notion of starting a birds' eggs collection and I thought that today would be as good as any to begin making up a set. I mentioned this to Mama who conveyed my request for roast beef sandwiches and a bottle of ginger ale to Mrs. Randall in the kitchen whilst I went upstairs to change into an athletic vest and football shorts as the weather was uncommonly warm and I planned a three-mile hike to Knaresborough Woods. So this is why, on that never-to-be-forgotten July morn, I went striding out of our front gates, my rucksack on my back filled with food for my al fresco luncheon and a woolen jersey to slip on in the unlikely event of a change in the weather. It was just after ten o'clock when I left home to walk through our grounds and as I walked briskly along, I had a vague sensation that someone was dogging my footsteps. Yet when I turned round to look behind me, which I did several times, the road was clear and I was apparently alone. I must be imagining it, I said to myself, yet there was no shaking off the feeling that someone was keeping pace for pace with me. The sensation of being followed is most disagreeable and I began to wonder whether some vagabond tinker was waiting to pounce upon me, though such crimes of petty robbery were so rare in the locality that any news of such a happening would warrant substantial coverage in the weekly Harrogate Chronicle. Yet I could not rid myself of the notion that I could hear the patter of light footsteps that were not my own. But soon the path was clear of trees and though I was still a mite apprehensive, I was now also slightly ashamed of my first concerns. After all, the Queen's Highway was free to all and I was probably just being tracked for fun by a young son of one of the farmworkers whom my father employed to till our arable fields. If anything, the sun now shone even more brightly. Soon after I crossed the meandering country lane that led to the Harrogate road I sat down to rest for a moment or two on a mossy bank. It stood on the verge of a meadow owned by our neighbour Doctor Charles Wigmore, whose sixteen-year-old daughter Diana was a girl whose beauty struck me tongue-tied and left me awkwardly attempting to remember my manners on the few occasions when we had found ourselves together in company. Momentarily a picture of the delightful Diana flashed across my mind as I allowed my rucksack to rest along the slope of the hillock and I stretched my arms and yawned, at peace with the world. I sat for a minute or two and then heaved myself up again-only to hear the quickening approach of another traveller behind me. I turned to see that standing only some twenty yards away was none other than the lovely Diana Wigmore herself, also dressed for the heat of the summer in a white linen blouse and a similarly coloured dress which barely reached more than a couple of inches below the knees of her uncovered legs. She really looked the acme of feminine perfection, being a lovely rosy-cheeked girl with a gay twinkle in her bright blue eyes. She

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