Fortescue Towers

Random ramblings from the life and times of Col. Fortescue Featherstonehaugh Fortescue.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Youth of today

Good lord! What's all this one reads in the broadsheets about twenty five percent of todays young chaps being a bunch of oiks and cads ? Absolutely terrible and would not have happened in my day. Discipline, that's what it's all about. Blame the schools m'self. Back in my day it was six of the best and back to double lit' and woe betide you if you showed any emotion as the prefects would have you over a good blaze before you knew it, none of this liberal namby-pamby rubbish about paying the blighters to turn up. Hated Latin, didn't expect any other incentive than the threat of a damn good beating and twenty laps of the playing field if you didn't arrive in time.

Knew where you stood in those days in terms of discipline, roasting ones fag outside of the allotted hours, six of the best, double it if his screams disturbed the housemasters evening sojourn. Failure to conjugate your verbs, fifty laps of the 'Soggy Bottom' before cocoa, rogering Smythe-Cuthbertson after lights out, up before the beak and the likelihood of stout English willow being applied to ones backside. Many is the time I have seen chaps return to the dorm with a glazed expression and a faint whiff of Linseed about their shorts. 'Old Thumper' did sterling service in those days and not just on the playing fields of St Scrofulas. Nowadays it's all reasoning and psycho-babble rather than the sound thump of willow on flesh from behind the Pav'. Dashed shame one can tell you. Didn't do one any harm at all....Carruthers on the other hand...but one doesn't mention that in polite company. Always was a little strange even in those days but at least there were no camels in dorm 3.

Damned schools don't even support team games nowadays. Rugger, vital to discipline, especially the annual juniors versus Upper VI prefects XV. So what if there were a few injuries, we didn't go whining to mummy about the amputations matron used to perform. Got on with life even if it meant limping for a while until the groundskeeper got round to carving one a replacement limb from an old desk. First Pater and Mater knew about it would be when they collected us for the hols, beaming of face and wearing our wounds with pride. Discipline!

Can't even send the snotty oiks off to do some military service. Sight of a hundred wily pathans heading towards 'em with daggers drawn would soon sort 'em out. Make 'em realise what discipline is. Cold showers, cold steel and sound thrashings, the things that made the empire great.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Chieftain o' the puddin' race

Bit of a palaver at Fortescue towers yesterday. Cousin Hamish decided to pay a visit for the traditional Burns supper, although with cooks culinary peculiarities she burns supper most nights. Anyway, first thing one knows about his arrival is when reports start arriving about a half naked blue man in a skirt running amok in the woods. Initially one thinks that perhaps Utterthwaite has forgotten his medication again so send Blenkinsop off to investigate armed with a large bottle of valium and one of the mems' larger butterfly nets. Imagine ones surprise when he returns not with a deranged staff member but with cousin Hamish. Never been quite the same since he visited the picture house and saw that film with that Australian chappy in a kilt...Brave something. Involved a lot of fellahs waving their arses around and talking in incomprehensible accents.

Claimed he had been looking for the place for hours after losing his way in the dark but one has ones doubts about the veracity of his claims, especially after one hears that the vicar was woken up from his afternoon nap by a blue-painted transvestite waving its tackle at the French windows and shouting "Ye'll ne'er tak' oor freedom!". Poor fellah is quite un-nerved and has taken to the medicinal brandy again, something he hasn't done since the incident involving the archbishop and the sheep.

Should have taken the sensible option and locked Hamish in the linen cupboard but by the time the key was located he had consumed most of the whisky that had been laid on for guests and had taken to the battlements with his bagpipes. Attempts to coax him down failed miserably and for hours sounds emanated from the rooftops that reminded one of the time one discovered one of the hill tribes taking part in the highly illegal thugee cat strangling rituals. Unfortunately one could not order ones chaps to apply some cold steel to stop the horror this time as Hamish had locked the door to the roof.

Finally alcohol and a well aimed haggis put paid to his ramblings although not before he had regaled the assembled onlookers with two renditions of 'Auld Jock and the ghost of Mad Murdo' and shown them what a scotsman has up his kilt. One fears that Lady J may never emerge from her bedchamber again. Luckily his fall was broken by the shrubbery and Clackthorpe. Not quite sure what he was doing in the shrubbery outside the maids quarters with a ladder at midnight though.

All's well that ends well, at least we didn't have to partake of cooks haggis this year although one is informed that some fellahs from the MOD want to examine it in case it can be used to replace the armour on the next generation of tanks. As for Hamish, one is told that Blenkinsop packed him off back to castle McSlurry. Doesn't explain the sounds of hammering in the early hours or why the large crate that stood in the corner of the stable is missing though. Very odd.

Must remember to find out who flung the haggis though, useful chap to have on ones team in the inter-village cricket matches.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Monsoon season

Rather inclement weather we are having here at Fortescue towers. Howling gales and it has not stopped raining for days. The peacocks in the formal gardens have begun to resemble a small U-Boat pack as they wander forlornly back and forth heads poking from the surface of the water like beady eyed periscopes. Cook has even taken to spear fishing in the kitchen garden. One thinks that the wetsuit might be a mistake as the Japanese whaling fleet has been reported steaming full speed ahead towards the estuary.

Of course, what with the ancestral pile not being what it once was a few draughts have been finding their way into the great hall of late. Reminds one of the sort of wind that used to howl up the Khyber when one served on the frontier. In fact, must make sure the chambermaids do their jobs properly, been getting a bit lax with the cleaning recently. Took the old elephant gun to what one thought was a grizzly roaming the hallways only to discover it was a giant dust bunny propelled by the gale howling through the hole Sir Hubert made when he fell through the floorboards over the festive season. I think cooks plum duff may have been to blame for that one.

Place is full of strange smells too, not just from cooks leftover sprout soup and Blenkinsops little problem. No, the mem' has decided to take pity on the sheep in the lower meadow and now the place is full of the beggars drying out in front of the fire. Can't even enjoy a glass of port and the broadsheets without having one of them decide to take a bite out of the crossword. Damnably annoying and all that sopping wool makes the place smell like a school cloakroom. Think one prefers it when the mem' is taking potshots at the servants rather than being charitable.

Just wish it would stop raining, can't take much more of Blenkinsops complaining about wet rot in his wooden leg. Can hear him moaning about it a mile off as he limps slowly down the long gallery with ones bedtime cocoa, preceded only by the occasional surprised bleat as he stands on a wandering sheep in the darkness. Really should show him where the light switches are, might get ones cocoa whilst it is still warm then.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Surviving the festive season

Well, one survived the festive season more or less intact. Only three houseguests were hospitalised through cooks plum duff, something of a miracle given last years record of 53. Giving her a copy of that Delia womans book in her Christmas box may have reduced casualties somewhat. Even Utterthwaites naked sprint through the shrubbery couldn't dampen spirits although Lady J did have to be revived once again. Must remember to water the servants wine ration down a tad next year.

The boxing day hunt was a roaring success even though no foxes were chased whatsoever. Flash of genius from whoever it was who thought of spraying the gypsy encampment on the village green with aniseed. One minute they're whittling pegs and putting in illegal drains, next minute they're off over the hedgerows with a pack of beagles and the Fortescue hunt in hot pursuit. Blighters certainly can run with a bit of encouragement. Some even managed to get as far as Little Crumbling in-the-marsh. Bloody good sport!

Even those wounded in the slight incident over New Year have started to get better, the medical chappies at the cottage hospital reckon most will even make a full recovery. Of course, it was their own fault. Honestly, one minute there you are sipping a good port and mulling over another slice of Stilton whilst the guests get ready to sing Auld Lang Syne when all of a sudden it's like the Somme outside as the entire village lets off their hoard of illegally stored fireworks. Of course they were not to know that Carstairs and his chums from the regimental hospital had been let out for the celebrations but that's beside the point. Just because the chaps are a little shaky from a few too many tours on the frontiers of empire you can hardly blame them for their actions although one isn't quite sure why the memsahib joined in as well. These are military chaps and returning fire from the Orangery is only natural. Not quite sure where they got the screw gun from though. Still, it was a textbook barrage, shows the regiment can still handle itself in times of crisis. Paid for all the damage and as our local constabulary point out, three of the casualties were the local bad lads so crime figures will fall for a while. Oh and in all the confusion the topiary had a slight accident so the vicar will once again be able to write his sermons without being disturbed by the phallic vision across the churchyard. Poor fellow was becoming quite agitated.