An extract from the autobiography of Twattersley Fromage MBE
My quest a simple, yet illustrious one – to herald the dawn of a new heroic age of exploration! At the behest of none other than Her Majesty I had willingly consented to her request that one of her own from this great nation of ours be the first to reach the North Pole walking backwards no less! And it was there in the Arctic at my base camp on that frozen sea of ice and just 60 miles from said pole that I received the telegram that would tear at my loyalties to the two most important women in my life namely our Queen and my beloved Agnes.
Dearest Twattersley (STOP) Daddy in a spot of bother (STOP) Seems a syndicate of his creditors have called in his debts (STOP) They desireth to foreclose on the Manor rendering us all homeless (STOP) Like the common blue-collar plebs are more often than not (STOP) Thing is (STOP) Oops that was not meant to be a ‘stop’ (STOP) Ivor ‘Gawpy’ Leer the famous artist has offered me a small fortune to pose for him (STOP) Enough in point of fact to get Daddy off the hook (STOP) You do remember ‘Gawpy’ don’t you (STOP) Think you were both at Eton together (STOP) Whatever he wants me to pose nude (STOP) Needs must when devil drives and all that (STOP) Am not comfortable posing for ‘Gawpy’ unchaperoned given his salubrious reputation (STOP) I know you are a tad busy doing something or other in the frozen north (STOP) Yet I am due to attend his Notting Hill studio on Thursday coming (STOP) We are so broke I will even have to take the bus to get there (STOP) Oh do oh do chaperone me there Twattersley (STOP) My body is yours and yours alone (STOP)
My everlasting love (STOP)
PS (STOP) Do bring a thermal vest for afterwards as ‘Gawpy’ says his place can be chilly (STOP)
That bloody cad and bounder ‘Gawpy’ Leer has put his oar in where it is not wanted yet again. His reputation with the ladies goes before him – he even got the nurse pregnant at Eton and she was no looker. Plainly I could not allow my dear Agnes to fall prey to him. Moreover our love being ‘winter found’ I myself had not yet seen Agnes with even her gloves off let alone in the raw – certainly ‘Gawpy’ was not going to get first dibs at that! Of course, my problem was that the day the telegram arrived was a Tuesday; Agnes would be taking her kit off for ‘Gawpy’ just two days hence yet plainly I could not let our Sovereign down.
Luckily in preparing for the expedition I had not just practised walking backwards but also running backwards – the latter being a safety measure in case I was attacked by a polar bear or such like. In training I had even managed to run backwards for 400 yards in just 20 seconds – not bad for a novice. Whatever I had little choice but to amend my original plan. It was thus that I determined to run backwards at speed to the pole; affix thereupon the Union Flag; take a quick snap as evidence then rush back to Blighty for Agnes thus keeping both ladies happy as Larry.
So immediately after a swift energizing nibble on a piece of Kendal Mint Cake I donned my “teardrop” snowshoes (akin to a tennis racquet for the uninitiated) back to front and was off like a rocket to claim magnetic north for Queen and Empire. It only took me just 72 minutes to reach the pole whizzing past a cartwheeling Kraut in a leotard (typical Germanic exhibitionist in my book) and a naked Swede on a monocycle en route as only a true Brit can. I planted our flag in the snow took a nifty snap and headed off homeward bound. Albeit a bit of a sprint I got back to base in no time and boarded an ice-breaker bound for Spitsbergen. From there and with the assistance of a helpful Norwegian moose breeder I mounted a hot air balloon (not literally I stress for that would be odd to say the least) with a view to crossing the North Sea and hopefully landing near a train line with a London connection in Lowestoft. Sadly it was not meant to be. I hit a major area of low pressure weather system halfway across and the resulting storm caused me to crash land upon a fishing boat headed for Arbroath in Scotland. I must say I’ve never really taken to the Scots. Most likely because I cannot understand a word they say! I’ve always held the view that one needs a translator when north of Hadrian’s Wall. Still with a little sign language the captain of the vessel got my drift and hurried along the best he could toward the herring smoke houses Arbroath is so famous for.
As a bit of a thank you I helped the crew unload their rather smelly catch and was on my way south. However by the time I had run like Billy-o as far down as Newcastle tiredness overwhelmed me. Fortunately I had stopped at a place by the name of Marjorie’s Black Pudding Emporium for sustenance and slumped over the counter a weary man. Marjory herself, a buxom girl, took pity and offered me her charity – insisting, I must add that I first shower off the pong of smoked fish and sweat that was about me. The locals she told me call her the ‘Jayne Russell of the North East’ and I now understand why!
Moving on, and given that it was now Wednesday morning and after Marjory had lovingly primed my breakfast sausage by hand (commenting that she adored the manner in which I munched at her undoubted delicacies with such relish) I was off without so much as a by your leave as time was of the essence if I was to save Agnes from Gawpy’s roving hands. The problem was however that I had heard on the radio whilst breakfasting that there were major traffic disruptions on the A1. It was therefore fortuitous when I stumbled across a small child willing to trade his skateboard for the last bar of Kendall Mint Cake I had in my rucksack. I certainly made sound headway skating on the hard shoulder toward London. By nightfall I had got as far south as Luton no less. Lots of Johnny Foreigners live in Luton and I found one living rough under a railway arch who was prepared for a small fee to give me a piggyback ride the 34 miles to London. Although the chap was malnourished somewhat and also his turban made the ride less than comfortable we got on well – he even carried me through the night braving pouring rain and storm winds ensuing that late morning I was, in effect delivered up outside Gawpy’s studio ready for the off on the chaperoning front.
Albeit in a wretched state and devoid of sufficient sleep – I’ve always found it hard to nod off on the shoulders of a Sikh as it happens – I made a dart for the front door. It was unlocked and I entered, rushing up to the first floor studio thinking I’d got there in the nick of time only to find Agnes stark naked laying upon a chaise longue and a salivating Gawpy (I’ve always despised the way he dribbles in the company of womenfolk) painting away like a good ‘un. Yet again the bastard had got one over on me on the female front!
“Agnes my luv your chaperone is here for you………and Gawpy don’t you even think of trying anything on with my Agnes………pistols on Hampstead Heath at dawn if you do Sir.”
Agnes piped up, “Little too late for that Twattersley………we have……how shall I put…….um……already consummated our love for one another……and I must say I’ve never had so much fun in my life……..at least Gawpy isn’t a dullard like you are – and he’s bailed out daddy to boot!”
“You’ve done what Agnes! Here’s me having made my way with some haste from the North Pole risking life and limb and now you tell me you are in love with this scallywag.”
“Sorry about that Twattersley, in hindsight you need not have rushed…….anyway I don’t need your services any longer and the engagement – obviously – is off.”
Plainly I was mortified yet being a stiff upper lipped Englishman I made no show of my anguish merely saying, “Right then Agnes if that is what you want I shall take of my leave…….by the way where shall I put the thermal vest you wanted?”
“Oh Twattersley you fool even you must know that a woman in love has no need for a thermal vest. You may as well keep it…….bye Twatters……see you around no doubt.”
I left Notting Hill a broken man.