Baron Crapulence
The witterings of
Baron Crapulence of Chugley Harvard
As recorded by Felicity O'Toole
'A Brief Engagement
and Cider'

baron crapulence ir Hugh Grossly-Featherstone, Bart., has at last emerged from Hospital. I didn't get around to visiting him but then he was only there for three weeks and he makes such a fuss of these little things, it was probably all for the best. However it does seem to have knocked some sense into him for I was elated to find him sitting with my daughter Norsia on one of the seats by the lake staring dolefully at one another.

"Hello, whats this? Feeding the ducks, Eh?" I greeted them. I was delighted to learn that Sir Hugh had at last proposed marriage. To her, that is. This put me in rather jovial mood and as it was a fine day I decided to see how our cider apple crop was doing.

We grow three varieties of cider apple: Coccagee*, a Herefordshire variety of Irish origin; Hagloe Crab, also a Herefordshire variety and one from Devon called Slack my Girdle. It looks as if we are in for a good year. We have another 15 acres of matured trees this year and there are further fields of baron crapulenceyoung trees for future years. We will have to enlarge our small brewery soon, we don't have any trouble selling the cider, either the rough stuff which we sell to take away or drink in our little farm bar as farm produce, thereby avoiding a lot of taxation, or the more refined 'Scruffy Yokel' and 'Ye Olde Bowel Loosener', the latter a well matured product, which we sell at the estate houses and to other free houses in the area. Of course I never touch the revolting stuff myself, but the peasants seem to like it.

After a chat with the delightful Miss Purrbright who looks after the bar, keeps the accounts and I dare say does one or two other things, I looked in on Bumble, our brewer, to see how things were and what barrelage he is expecting to produce this year. I like to keep in touch with all parts of the estate enterprises. He has this idea of experimenting with a brew containing herbs. Now I know that some ale brewers do this but I've never heard of any cider maker do it.

Bumble is a sound man however and I shall let him go ahead with a small brew. I only wish he wouldn't smoke all round the brewery, we don't need silly Health and Safety wallahs on our backs. He is what you might call a heavy smoker, he always has a cigarette either in his hand or more likely in his mouth. Goodness knows how much ash falls into the vats, but I don't suppose it is very noticable. He's one of these roll-your-own people and uses these extra long paper wrap things, I suppose to save him rolling them so often. He assures me that he only smokes a herbal mixture and I must admit it has a very strange smell so I suppose it must be.

This euphoria of the day did not last long. After a quick luncheon at The Crapulent Arms and a chat with Mullard, the landlord and my tenant, I returned to Crapulent Towers. If anything, I expected there to be some sort of celebratory atmosphere, however hearing a bit of a fuss in the morning room, I unwisely entered. The tableau that confronted me took me somewhat aback; a lachrymose Norsia surrounded by her mother and what I can only describe as an impi of her sisters.

"How could you" she screamed between sobs. I was about to reply "How could I what?", but before I could do so my good lady wife had ushered me out of the room.

"Gervase, you are sometimes a very stupid man." she fired, somewhat venemously I thought, at me "Now go over and see Anastasia immediately, she's expecting you." Anastasia is Lady Grossly-Featherstone, Sir Hugh's widowed mother. Utterly bewildered and after a stiff Bruichladdich I summoned Jenkins and went over in the Rolls. I found her in extreme ill humour. During the course of the next hour or so the conversation, to which I didn't manage to contribute, aided my understanding not at all, even when coherent. Apart from the fact that the engagement was obviously out of the question and that it was all my fault, I didn't grasp much else.

As Jenkins drove me home, I reflected in my perplexed state of mind as to the cause of this apparent crisis. To think that I might have married Lady Grossly-Featherstonehaugh; I'm rather glad now that I did not. I was very close to her at one time until she was precipitately sent off to Switzerland by her parents and the next time I met her, less than a year later, she had got hitched to the late Baronet and had already given birth to the young Hugh who was making the devil of a row, teething or something I think they said, whatever that is.

I really can’t understand the ladies sometimes; they get an idea into their head with no apparent logic at all. It’s not as if Sir Hugh is extraordinary rich and frankly I can’t imagine him getting such an advantageous arrangement as marrying Norsia. What Anastasia saw in the late Baronet always escaped me. She was very loyal to him however, It even seemed to me at times as if she felt indebted to him although I would have thought he should consider himself fortunate, he never did amount to very much.

Dinner was an ill-attended and a desultory affair, after which I was so looking forward to relaxing in the library with a stiff whisky but there I discovered one of my daughters who had not attended dinner, Katertonia as her name was confirmed to me the next morning, snoring in a chair with barely half an inch left in the Gin decanter by her side. So I withdrew rather unhappily to my dressing room for the rest of the night, summoning Carruthers to bring me the required refreshment, which I partook of rather freely as I contemplated living for the rest of my life with a hoard of unmarried daughters.

* An Irish word meaning goose turd - Felicity O'Toole

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Introduction


Introduction

I: Noblesse Oblige

II: London

III: Cook

IV: Some Daughters

V: More about Cook

VI: A Cricket Match

VII: A brief engagement
and cider

VIII: Children Going and Not Going

IX: A Shoot

X: Christmas, Now
and Then

XI: A Night in Soho




 
 
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