Now that I have ascended to elder-statesman status, I often find myself doling out advice to apple-cheeked chaps still in their 60s dealing with the problems of today.
I do not mind in the least, as it is the cross I must bear for being a wise old man who appears, I am told, an attractive clubman.
One example is a mem I have known for many years, first when he was a young sprout and shot about the city in his two-seater with the debutantes of his day and now a wealthy widower awash in loneliness. He pressed against me a few weeks ago with a furrowed brow that bespeaks a troubled mind.
The nub of the problem, as he saw it, was that he had fallen for a local songbird of prodigious proportions who was called “the Belgian Bombshell,” but before he went on bended knee he thought of checking in with the club seer (his words).
I gently pointed out that the woman in question was some 30 years his junior and the strain on his system come the wedding night might well see him from this world into the next. I suggested a pet hamster as a diversion from this theatre of love, and even suggested the name “Ronnie,” as I have always thought it was an appropriate name for a hamster; it has a chime to it.
He left abruptly, no doubt to carry out my advice, even forgetting to thank me, but I have grown accustomed to this being the case.
Another of my successes was an old friend, the Very Reverend (Mumbles) Te Deum, our leader here at the club in all things ecclesiastic, and deeply respected for his solemnity. However, on this occasion he pressed me back into my chair as I was on my way to the WC after a large club lunch with the obligatory apple crumble to top it off.
He would not let go of my wrist, and as a former rugby player of some note, he knew how to get my attention by putting his knee into my thigh and stopping my squirming.
He whispered heatedly for several minutes, but as he mumbles I could not make head nor tail of his point. He gulped like a winded thoroughbred rounding the far turn, finally blurting out that he had “doubts.”
“Doubts,” I said, “but you are up for a bishopric.” That was the rumour — that the elderly bishop of Upper Sooke would not be with us long as he had developed a cough that could not end well.
Mumbles leaned forward, “Adam and Eve, come on!” I did my best to steer him back to reality. I observed that only a few weeks ago, a banker chap had gone off the rails and refused to foreclose any more on widows and orphans, forcing his spendthrift wife to return from Florida. He came to his senses just before “bonus day,” much to the relief of his weeping partner.
Mumbles paid no attention to my well-thought-out discourse, and launched into the “good book” stories that we know so well, something about Lot’s wife and that filthy Abraham having relations with his 900-year-old consort.
He had a point, I suppose, as these tales had confused me when I was a lad, but Mumbles held many degrees. Surely he had tested himself before this.
Off he went, recalling Jonah and the vomiting whale, not to mention the erupting skin condition afflicting Job. And wasn’t Ruth an odd duck, eh? Then I had a 10-minute stern talking-to re: The Burning Bush. I yearned for relief.
Eyeing the men’s toilet from my forced confinement, I rallied with the idea that one can do so much good even when in the midst of doubt. Mumbles relaxed in deep thought as I shot for the restroom. It can be dangerous giving advice, especially immediately after lunch.
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