The George Club Diaries - The World's A Phase
(from issue 6.4)
While I am fully versed on the seven ages of man I believe it can really be boiled down to just the two. In fact, maybe just the one. At any time in his life a man is able to take solace in the bottle or the breast.
Luckily The George Club will always cater for the bottle. The breast can often be provided by Peter "Choppy" Waters and while not formally linked with The George Club, could certainly claim an endorsement judging by the stories I hear from members who have attended his parties.
Anyway, it is most unlike me to digress, but I appear to have done so. As I say, The George Club will cater for a man in his darkest hour, they provide a facility called The Honour Room. This is a quiet room, containing nothing but a leather wing back chair, mahogany side table and a constantly roaring fire. It is here that a man can drink himself into a stupor safe in the knowledge that a steward will occasionally pop a head around the door to take a drinks order and put a man to bed with dignity intact. The Honour Room is so called as it was where a gentleman would retire to with nothing but a bottle of single malt and a revolver in a an attempt to put right his wrongdoings in the decent way.
In 1953, one of the most frequent users of The Honour Room was a certain Harold Worthington-Chapell, captain of the first XI. In fact, it was said that he would have a standing booking for every Saturday of the season.
You see, the season had not been going well at all. The highest batting average was hovering around the 12 mark, and there had not been a maiden over yet (well not in The George Club's favour anyway). HW-C would leave the field of play after yet another defeat, jump straight into his car and be in The Honour Room by 8pm every Saturday evening. What's more he would still be a vision of cricketing whites apart from the vivid green grass stains at his knees.
Concern was mounting over old Worthy's mental state. Choppy Waters attempted to Cheer up Worthy in the best way he knew, by leaving two of his finest women in wait in The Honour Room. They had been briefed to do whatever was necessary to raise the corners of Worthy's mouth. Sadly, to no avail.
The members were decidedly nervous that the room would eventually be put to its original use and that a single shot to the temple could do for the Captain of the first XI. This had never happened in The George Club and people were determined that it would not happen on their watch. Not least because the small .38 calibre holes, left in the walls by previous occupants had just been replaced by some lovely oak panelling sourced from the recently bankrupt Wellington Club (Something to do with the misdirection of funds, a junior minister and a rather indiscreet former mistress).
It was time for Choppy to come to the rescue. Choppy was positively emboldened by his previous failure and was now re-doubling his efforts in an attempt to succeed.
The forthcoming fixture was against the auld enemy, The Harrington Club. W-C's mental state was deteriorating rapidly, to the point where it was felt that one more defeat could tip him over the edge. Choppy was determined that The Harrington Club would not have bragging rights over claiming the life of our devoted captain. After all, W-C's crime had simply been to care too much about his club.
Choppy was on the case. First up was a visit to The Harrington Club's Captain, Fuzzy Peters. The visit was made by a couple of "stewards" who were more often seen ensuring fair play at some of Choppy's more exotic parties. During this visit Fuzzy was reminded of his precarious position in the cabinet what with a reshuffle in the offing and a set of photographs of Fuzzy's rather blurred, but very distinctive torso sandwiched between two of Choppy's fuller figured ladies. Next was a visit to the umpire of the upcoming fixture. A man of stature and decency, a man with no perceptible weaknesses. However, a man like this could always use extra funds to ensure that those able to damage his reputation were kept suitably remunerated to guarantee silence. A brown envelope was left at a dead letter drop in Hyde Park.
Cometh the Saturday, Cometh the man. The George Club were able to dispose of The Harrington Club with several wickets to spare. Worthy himself made an unbeaten 74 despite being dropped 4 times. His "luck" was holding so well that it even looked like Fuzzy Peters hastily replaced Worthy's bails when it looked like he had been beaten by a medium pace delivery.
While it did not turn into a glittering season, Worthy was certainly buoyed by the victory and was able to stop the rot and turn the season around. Most importantly the oak panelling stayed lead-free.
All the members agreed it was a fine outcome. Naturally, Choppy's fees for that year were waived.