Although I belong to a club, I am not especially clubbable. Do not mistake me; I do not fashion myself a curmudgeon, or erect specious barriers between myself and my more clubbable fellows, one or two evenings a week will find me taking my dinner at my club, or reading the news from abroad over a cheroot as I drowse by the fire, and the opportunities to be a man without the constraints that lie heavy upon one when forced to trim one’s sails to the requirements of intercourse with the fairer sex are not unvalued by me; nevertheless it seems, whether by conscious design or the perhaps even more powerful because unnoticed bindings of habit, I do not seek out my fellow member’s for deeper connection but allow my concourse with them to remain upon a superficial footing and when club business requires the drawing up of a committee to attend to important matters, such as new membership, or the reupholstering of our sedan chairs, some of which date back to the First Afghan War, the angel of Club Duty finds me absent from my post. Sometimes it seemed to me that much as according to the German savant Nietzsche a volk is only a method for the Infinite to reach a great man, and then ultimately to get around him, so it seemed to me at times with the Club. I could discard the Club as a velvet lined case for a revolver. And the revolver in this case went by the name of Hugh Moncrief-Jones.
To say that Moncrief-Jones had won his fortune by a vigorous shaking of the Pagoda Tree would not be wrong, but it would simultaneously say too little and too much. Too much because it would claim that any such facile sociological or economical category could capture the man, and too little because it would at best avoid, and at worst evade, his true claim to fame and notoriety, namely that he was reputed to have gazed with living eyes upon the mysteries of the erotic, and therein to be an initiate. It was for this reason that I sought him out. My son Spencer had had his heart broken. A three month dalliance with a woman of no very sound repute (in fact an actress at a small theater in the East End) had left him a shell of a man; none of the plums of life be they professional advancement, or connection with another woman, or money, or success at hobbies or…had any savor for him. He had foundered upon the tenderest of rocks. I asked Moncrief-Jones to take time to talk to Spencer. He agreed.
TO BE CONTINUED