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Rupert Mountjoy

The Intimate Memoirs of an Edwardian Dandy, vol.III

'I am not over-fond of resisting temptation.'

William Beckford [1759-1844]: Vathek

CHAPTER ONE. A Menu To Savour

I well remember standing in front of the fire in the drawing-room after breakfast on the morning of October 28 1905.

Outside in Bedford Square the weather looked distinctly chilly and a brisk wind was winnowing the last big harvest of leaves from the trees. It was a good morning to stay indoors, I reflected, as a sudden squall briefly rattled the windows, though I would have to go out at about half past twelve, as I had accepted a luncheon invitation from a new acquaintance, Miss Nancy Carrington. Of course, I could have always telephoned and pleaded that a trifling indisposition would prevent my presence at her table, but on the other hand, Miss Carrington only lived across the road and, even more important, she was a good-looking, young American lady from Boston whose wealthy family had rented a house for her in Bloomsbury to enable her to continue her studies in the nearby British Museum during the six months she planned to stay in London. Nancy Carrington had called round last Thursday, which happened to be my twenty-second birthday, 'to meet my new English neighbours' and I had been very much taken by the sensual beauty of this lovely rose cheeked girl, whose long blonde hair cascaded down in ringlets to her shoulders and in whose bright blue eyes appeared a merry twinkle when she smiled. She had been wearing a figure hugging dress nipped in at the waist which accentuated not only her slender frame but also her pert, uptilted breasts which thrust saucily against an exquisitely fine silk blouse.

When, during the course of our conversation, I happened to mention that I was celebrating my birthday, she immediately invited me over to her house for a celebratory luncheon. At first I demurred, but she insisted, saying that her cook had just completed a cordon bleu course at Mrs. Bidder's Academy of Domestic Science and that she would welcome the excuse to make a small party which would give her cook the chance to show off her newly learned prowess. I rang the bell and my footman Edwards promptly appeared with a sheaf of letters on a silver salver. The second post has just arrived, sir,' he said, passing the tray to me. Thank you, Edwards, I'll read these in the library. Meanwhile, would you please telephone Harrods and ask them to deliver by noon a large bouquet of flowers suitable for a gentleman to take as a gift to a lady who has invited him for luncheon.'

'Certainly, sir,' said Edwards, bowing slightly. 'May I presume that the bouquet is for Miss Carrington at number forty-seven? If so, may I recommend chrysanthemums as the lady is particularly fond of them.' It never fails to surprise me how servants glean their information but it is a fact that nothing went on at Albion Towers-our family home near the sleepy little Yorkshire village of Wharton-which was not known by Goldhill, our old butler, and his staff, and which was doubtless discussed in detail in the servants' hall! But in this case, as will shortly be shown, I soon found out how Edwards knew about Nancy Carrington's taste in flowers, it being the result of a romantic liaison my young footman had formed with Nancy's personal maid. After telling Edwards that I would be dining at my club that evening, I went into the library to open the post. The first letter was from my tailor, Mr. Rabinowitz, thanking me for the prompt payment I had made for my new suit and offering to make me an overcoat, at a very moderate cost, out of a beautiful eighteen ounce grey tweed cloth which he had bought directly from the mill. I filed the letter away for future reference and then opened the envelope postmarked Knaresborough which suggested that the letter inside came from my parents. It was indeed a short note from my father, informing me that His Majesty King Edward VII would be visiting Yorkshire in three weeks time and that we had been invited to a reception in York on November 15 given in honour of the visit by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Yorkshire. Would I please let him know as soon as possible whether I wanted to attend? My mother had also scribbled a short note to add that our neighbours Dr and Mrs. Wigmore had also been invited and would attend as would their daughter Diana, the lovely girl who readers of my first book will recall, was my guide and partner on that never to be forgotten summer's afternoon seven years before when I first sheathed my cock in a wet and welcoming cunney. Whether wonderful or disastrous, one never forgets one's first fuck: I was a naive schoolboy of fifteen and at first, frankly, bewildered by my maiden voyage along the highway of love; but I was fortunate enough to be shown the ropes by a sophisticated girl who took the trouble to explain how best I could please us both and thus cater for our joint needs. Diana is a talented artist and is working in Paris at present but whenever we see each other we usually end up in bed. If for no other reason, this was a good enough bait to make me accept the invitation to go up to York, though I would probably have agreed to do so in any case, because I wanted to pay my respects to my old Uncle Humphrey who lived in Harrogate. It was Uncle Humphrey, my mother's eldest brother, who had persuaded my parents that I should spend a year sampling the delights of London after having gained (God knows how!) an upper second-class degree in law at Oxford University. He had taken me to one side at a family party during the summer for what he called a man-to-man talk and from his opening remarks I gathered that during his youth he had been something of a young gay blade about town. After much clutching at the lapels of his dinner jacket and marching and countermarching across the drawing-room carpet, he confessed how he had conjoined, as he put it, with many attractive young ladies who may not have been thought suitable companions by his parents but whose company he very much enjoyed-especially during the wee, small hours, if I took his meaning! 'Marriage is an excellent and most proper institution, my boy,'

Uncle Humphrey had intoned solemnly, 'and I trust that when your time comes to settle down, you have as satisfying and comfortable relationship as has been granted to me with your Aunt Maud. But let us not beat about the bush. Just as it is important for your bride to come to you unsullied, it is of equal import that you too gain experience in ah, “intimate relationships” between the sexes. The best place to do this is preferably far from one's home and in the anonymity of a big city. So if you agree, I propose that you spend the next twelve months in London. You can stay rent free at my old friend Colonel Wright's house in Bedford Square, Bloomsbury, where all your domestic needs will be looked after by Mrs. Harrow, the housekeeper.

There you will be able to entertain with total discretion any friends of the opposite sex. Furthermore, I will make you an annual allowance to enable you to live at a decent standard of comfort.' He waved away my effusive words of gratitude. 'No thanks needed, my boy, it's my very real pleasure,' he continued, placing his hand on my shoulder.

'I've already settled fifty thousand pounds on both my daughters and your Aunt will never be able to spend what's left in the bank even if I kick the bucket tomorrow. And in any case, I'd far rather enjoy spending my money now whilst I'm alive than give the damned Government the satisfaction of mopping up thousands of pounds in death duties from my estate.' It took a while for my parents to be won round to his freewheeling point of view, but in the end they consented, on the strict understanding that I would take up articles with Godfrey, Alan and Colin, the family firm of solicitors, immediately after the year was up. So I owed a great deal to Uncle Humphrey and though I wrote to the old chap occasionally, I knew how much he thoroughly enjoyed the visits I paid him and Aunt Maud (especially as his two daughters had married and lived far away, cousin Beth in Cornwall and cousin Sarah in the Highlands of Scotland. So I sat down then and there and wrote back, first to my father, telling him that I would return home to Albion Towers two days before the party in York and secondly to Uncle Humphrey, asking him if it would be convenient if I came to see him in Harrogate whilst I was up in Yorkshire for a few days. When I looked closely at the third and final letter Edwards had given me I saw that it had been posted in France. And yes, the name of the sender. Miss Diana Wigmore, was written on the back of the envelope- what a coincidence! I'll wager she's writing about this party for the King, I thought to myself, and sure enough that is what had made Diana put pen to paper. For the record, diary, I will copy her letter in your pages: 69 Rue General Olivier Norman, Paris Darling Rupert, My Mama has just written to me about a grand reception being given in honour of the King on November 15

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