Jolly boating weather

A correspondent accuses me of being a toady to the English upper classes, citing several posts in which a titled lady or gentleman has either saved the day or provided timely advice. My defence is that I can only write about what I have experienced. It so happens that the aristocrats I have encountered possessed admirable qualities, be it resourcefulness, stoic determination, good humour or simply a firm bottom. And while there are surely many toffee-nosed swine among their number, it has thus far been my good fortune to avoid them. (Lord Angus Fartwell may be the sole exception, although I suspect he is an impostor.)

The first patrician to cross my path arrived on the scene in my early days with the circus. She was the daughter of a Baronet and her name was Millicent. Trained as both a nurse and a masseuse, she had a job at England’s premier boarding school for boys. She was seconded to us for a summer season, pending the appointment of a permanent circus doctor. Millicent was a woman of early middle-age, full of figure with a handsome face and flawless complexion. Although unwed – and consequently childless – I would describe her bust as maternal.

Oddly enough, it was the circus dwarves who were most intrigued by her. She was not at all perturbed by their appearance, nor intimidated by their brusque behaviour, which seemed to impress them. Maybe they reminded her of the schoolboys she was used to tending. I noticed that one muscle-bound manikin called Edgar was a frequent visitor to her trailer for rub-downs and perk-ups.

“I know she wants me,” I overheard him saying to one of his bow-legged comrades. “She’s seen me in my underpants and knows I’m not small where it counts. Tomorrow morning, I’ll be waiting for her in the pavilion.”

The pavilion of which he spoke had been loaned to the circus for its bathing facilities. Millicent showered there every morning at precisely thirty minutes past six, when virtually everyone else was sound asleep. Being an early riser, I had seen her stride purposefully from her trailer in her dressing gown, with towel over shoulder and shopping bag in hand, the latter no doubt containing the shampoos, gels and lotions that women apply on such occasions.

I resolved to be close at hand next morning, lest the dwarf’s ignoble scheme give rise to an untoward incident. So shortly after daybreak, I assumed a strategic position on the far side of the pavilion, beneath an open ventilating window. Although this denied me a view of the action, I would certainly hear the accompanying dialogue (and other noises). Peering round the edge of the building, I presently spied Edgar approaching alone. When he was inside, I heard him take off his boots and make unpleasant puffing noises. I began to imagine the surprise he had in store for Millicent and my nostrils twitched in distaste. A little while later, I heard another person enter. I held my breath and listened intently.

There was a wordless exclamation, which sounded like the noise a woman might make on seeing a dog licking its private parts. This was surely Millicent. But before she could utter a word, Edgar made his pitch:

“No one knows I’m here,” he panted huskily. “If you lie on the floor I can keep going for as long as you want.”

There was a pregnant silence of no more than five seconds, in which Millicent appeared to be formulating a reply to this unexpected offer.

“You ghastly gnome!” she cried indignantly. “Do you really think you can seduce me with that…that THING?! I grew up in the country and watched my father tease stallions when I was a girl in pigtails! Put on your clothes and get out of here at once, you stupid naked little man!”

There were no more words spoken, but I surmised that Edgar was following the instructions given to him, and soon heard him stomp out of the place briskly. Millicent then turned on the water in preparation for her shower, and I crept around the building to return to my trailer. Before I had gone twenty paces, I was halted in my tracks by the following words ringing out from the pavilion:

Jolly boating weather!

And a hay harvest breeze!
Blade on the feather!
Shade off the trees!

I could scarcely believe my ears. How could a woman indulge herself in a merry sing-song so soon after such an unsettling experience? I bit my lip and gulped before resuming my journey. Ever since that day, I have held upper class English ladies in no small measure of awe. Anyone who can sing the
Eton Boating Song five minutes after being propositioned by a naked dwarf has the respect of Gorilla Bananas.

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