A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To The Twenty-First Century

by John M. Joyce (Oct. 2008)

I felt that loss most keenly this very morn. My valet had just drawn my bath and made his way into my dressing room to lay out my clothes for the morning when I heard him utter such a wail as to strike fear into my heart. Imagining dead bodies spread-eagled and bleeding over my tweeds, or scorch marks on my linen for which I would have to beat the lithesome, young laundry-maid, again, I leapt, like a high jumper, from my bed sending my grand bol of scalding hot chocolate with which I customarily start my day, spinning across the room in the process.

Writ true across his face was the same distress which I now felt.

I gazed at him with my brain a-whirl. I could see in his features that he remembered, as I did, that lovely day back in 1965 when we were given a tour of the Littlefrock, Sparsatin, Windblower and Jones production floor. We saw, and admired together, the sheer skill of the master-craftsmen splitting off from the great blocks the wafer-thin sheets of alabaster which would later form the firm, pierced panels of my hand-carved undergarments. We wondered together at the marvellous skill and precision of the journeymen as they precisely drilled the thousands of string-holes into the sheets and the young, oh so very young, apprentices smoothing off the burrs and drill-tailings around the multitude of holes using nothing more than their bare index fingers as files, and their own spit as lubricant. Their tears of joy as they accomplished such fine and skilled work is one of my abiding and happy memories of that day.

Ah, now I knew first hand how Mrs. Arvina, my amply endowed housekeeper, must really have felt on that day seven years ago when she had been found desolate and inconsolably weeping over her broken, maiden-smoothed, best Pennine Millstone Grit brassiere, manufactured, if I recall correctly (and I probably do for I have a certain reputation not unconnected with brassieres), by that now defunct great northern firm of Japhet Gremium and Sons Ltd.

I remember, as well, that on that day when she had been found weeping over her shattered Gremium nether garment, that I had placed my hand on her shoulder and had squeezed it lightly in a manly gesture of sympathy. She had returned my gesture with a little hiccough and a tremulous, and oddly attractive, smile.

It is, however, that which I had said next, which that morn, as I surveyed my cracked and ruined singlet, made me ashamed of myself. I had had the temerity to suggest the solution, similar to the one which my valet had offered to me, that imported Chinese soapstone, machine carved brassieres were an acceptable substitute, and I recall her words of rebuttal well.

Right there and then, as I recall, I knew that I had found the solution to that particular domestic crisis.

I have never told her, nor will I ever tell her, that I am a major shareholder in Curate Legweek Armoured Undergarments Development Enterprises Ltd. I will also, most certainly, never tell her that I, and my best friend Professor Sir Tittius Handfall, jointly hold the patents on the anti-jiggle, suppressant shock absorbers which are built into every CLAUDE Ltd. industrial strength armour plated brassiere.

I am hoist by my own petard, it seems.

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