This afternoon I was woken by a peculiar scratching noise outside my window. As my rooms are situated on the upper floor of the house at 23 Albermarle Street, this noise was a cause for some curiosity on my part.
Without a second’s thought I hopped out of bed and peered out of the cask blinds…and what did I see? There, hanging off the ledge of the window was a short, swarthy looking chap wearing a fez!
At first I thought it was an entertainer monkey, the kind I have seen perform with the organ grinders in Piccadilly, to the amusement of passing tourists and folk who have not ventured beyond these shores. However, closer inspection revealed that the object had a human face, albeit a thoroughly disgusting one, blackened, as it seemed to me , by soot and dirt.
By and by it dawned on me that this unhappy sight was infact one of the race of men known as Hindoos.
Well, I was incensed at this intrusion of privacy. Taking my cane from the corner of the room, I opened the window and gave several hard whacks to the hairy hands of this grim supplicant. Soon I was able to force him to loosen his grip and he fell to his death on the street below.
This unexpected alarum has caused me to lose near two hours of sleep. Why is it my misfortune to be put upon in this manner? I play for the MCC in a matter of hours. And now my brain is addled.
Yesterday I attended the illustrious Olympiad for the World’s strongest man held at the Crystal Palace of London. They came from all four corners of the world.
LittleJohn of the North, from a grim place named Cleethorpes, the mighty Tom Cribb from Hackney Wick, Goliath, who lives in Runcorn, and a French pretender named Xerxes who heralded originally from the Rhone valley, but left to set up a roofing business in Paignton in 1872, where he has resided ever since. All were in attendance, the mightiest men in the world, brutes Poesy. .
In amidst this muscular symphony I caught sight of a familiar face. For there, dressed in a leopards-printed maillot, whiskers twitching four to the two, was the cur himself, Mr David Nivens. He had recovered the cock that had so deserted him that fateful night last December. Indeed, despite a certain paleness of his cheek, which may have indicated gout or perchance jaundice, I know not which Poesy, despite this ague, the presence of this unwholesome corona, Mr Nivens appeared in fruitful health.
He bounded up to me like a dog with constipation as I stood performing my stretching routine and hollered in his chafing tone
“What Ho Fry! Planning a little performance are we?”
To which I countered with disdain
“Like the performance you gave us last Christmas Mr Nivens?”
To which he replied
“Yes my performance, good, hahahaha, very good Mr Fry…”
The argument won, I sauntered off to take my mark in the wings.
It was quite obvious that I was going to trump all and sundry and trump them I did. For the first event, the clutch, I set a new champions ship record of 40kg, which nobody else perforce could master. It was indeed the third year I had set this mark. This was followed by the second event the lunge, wherein I took a bell in each hand and thrust the leg out in forwards motion. My score of 32kg was a new world record.
And thus it came to the final event the clunge.
Somehow the reedy Dr Niven had made it to the final stages. However it was time for misfortune to strike. As he strode onto the stage, a moment after Xerxes of Ramsbottom and two minutes before Goliath of Paignton, I noticed something amiss. Indeed Poesy, twas a small thing visible to only the keenest of human eyes.
For as he strode onto the stage, there, cradling in the leopardskin maillot (which in latter days has come to be known as the ‘leotard’ after that French chagrin Leo Tard) was a bulge! Yes dear Poesy, priapus stirred. Of course no one else noticed this but I did. I had to! For herein lay Mr Niven’s secret!
And so he climbed onto the stage to tackle the biggest beast of them all—the never before stirred 50kg bell.
As he was doing this I, yes I Poesy, was in the wings rifling through Dr Niven’s surgery bag. And there I found it—the horny root! Clutching the horny root I paced it back to the stage just as Dr Niven was raising the old iron over his head and bellowed—“Mr Dr Nivens! Once again your felony has been discovered. You are unmasked and now you must pay.”
Well his eyes fairly bulged, while his moustaches twitched with that feverish anxiety that one only sees displayed on the face of the mountain goat (capra hornus) during the mating season.
O glorious conclusion Poesy, for he fell back in a perfect parabola, the iron slipped from his clutches and flew into the face of Xerxes who collapsed with a roar. The resultant hulbubabaloo rendered him lifeless and he fell down clutching his face in a vain attempt to feign injury! The cur. The damned insolent cowardly cur. While the judges (bufoons all) clamoured around him to look I, of course, was not to be fooled and ran onto the stage to deliver him a procession of blows and kicks of such dexterity that priapus was, for once and for all, quenched.
They gave me my medallion and sceptre and crowned me the World’s Strongest Man for the third year running. Meanwhile Mr Nivens was banned from the Olympiad for three years hence and slumped home with his sceptre shattered. Yet again I triumphed.
Christmas is almost upon us. Chill does the wind lie and slant falls the rain. It reminds me of the time of our tender conjugation, last winter. Do you remember it like I do?
I was playing for the Duke of Marlborough XI while you were a mere tea lady, a chit of a girl, in the employ of the Scullery Maids Dias CC XI.
Do you recall my heroics? A century before lunchtime and six wickets after tea? Like Titan I bestrode the game, trampling foe and enemy with the swish of my bat.
I approached you over the luncheon interval and asked if you would picnic with me. You said “Oh yes,” the diamond crush of your eyes squeezed tight into the porcine folds of your cheek.
Thus we sat, side by side, on the grass verge, my hamper spread out before us. You told me you had never seen a hamper like it as your eyes devoured the vast array of cucumber sandwiches, teacakes, cakes, scones and creamy tart.
Soon you could not resist and greedily you took a double cucumber from the hamper, relishless however. I asked whether you would like some sauce and you acquiesced. And so I took a big dollop of the Fry special and smeared that cucumber in gentlemen’s relish. Do you remember how you gorged yourself on it? Ere sipping from the nub, there nibbling on the crest. O and do you remember your laughter as you spilt the relish all adown your laced petticoat? Do you remember it? I recall like it was yesterday. How mightily annoyed I was that you had wasted my sauce in such a stupid, slipshod fashion.
And then the snow flakes fell over the pitch and play was abandoned.
I remember it so well. And how could I not? For it was indeed the fastest cricketing century off the season—scored off a mere 372 balls. How I was lauded. Man after man came to shake my rough hand. O but that was not all for I also took six wickets for a mere sixteen runs.
But the fairest thing was the maiden I bowled that day. My fourth over— six deliveries of such artistry, such control that the next day the Times wrote—“never has bowling of such controlled artistry been seen on the cricket field.” Yes the mighty WG Grace (less, if I may), reduced to the status of a bumbling fool. He couldn’t touch one of those balls. Not one! The fool; the bewhiskered, bumbling, arrogant fool. My mastery of him was complete, how I rejoice looking back. How he ever dared to denigrate the great name of Fry! I taught him, by God, I taught him!
Oh but I digress dear Poesy, my Poesy. Later that evening we went back to my quarters on the Albermarle where I performed the backwards jump onto the mantelpiece for you. I can still see the embers ignite in your eyes, caused by my displacement of the mantel coals, one of which landed on your petticoats and set it aflame. How you shrieked with fear as the burning took hold of your underskirts and crept inexorably up towards your hidden middle. How you burnt, Miss Haversham-like, reduced to a tinder cinder, my crispy kinder.
And then how you quivered as I rubbed liniment all over your seared left leg. A short silly leg it was dear Poesy. A short silly leg…..
And then the snowflakes fell over old Piccadilly passage….the sky sighed…..and all was white.