Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The importance of being urn-est

There are times that I feel I am living in a P.G. Wodehouse novel.

Wodehouse wrote a series of stories about Bertie Wooster, a member of the British idle rich in the 1920s. Most people remember him for his "gentleman's gentleman," Jeeves, but I always liked him for the crazy antics of someone with to much time and money on his hands. He was the successor to those Three Men in a Boat.

The residential hotel in which I stay is populated mainly be students and professionals from every country but England. However, there is a small corps of "permanent residents" who meet each night in the bar for a glass of wine, a political argument and a stream of very British jokes. They are always proposing but seldom executing some cockeyed scheme to either irritate the "foreigners" or to set the English-speaking world right.

A few years ago, the group was joined by James. He didn't live at the Vincent House, but was a frequent visitor. One day recently, James dropped dead while standing on a train platform.

Last week, one of the old boys came to breakfast with a large plastic bag. Curiousity got the better of Torquelle, who strolled over from his table to ask in his public school accent "Just what is it you have in the bag, Bill?"

Bill, ordinarily the most conservative of this conservative group, unemotionally replied "James. Won't you join us for breakfast?"

Bill had the ashes of James in an urn on the table. He was taking him for one last round of his favorite haunts.

After toast, beans, fried tomatoes and sausage, Bill led a party of friends on a long London pub crawl. Towards evening, they wobbled to the Thames and "pollute the river" with what was left of old James. The made it home for dinner as usual.

I can only hope that someone gives me such a last ride. Pip pip, James.

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