Fortescue Towers

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Our man in....

The sun has finally set on the British Empire. One has heard from ones sources in the corridors of power that the High Commissions in Tonga, Kiribati and Vanuatu are to be closed down. Quite abominable and one will of course be writing stern missives to ones MP, The Times and of course Her Majesty to protest at such behaviour from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Postings to such exotic locales were much sought after when one was a subaltern in ones younger days. Ten years with the screw guns and mule trains on the frontier, being shot at by the natives, heat, dust and having to take tiffin with the mem' would be rewarded with a nice cushy billet on an island paradise. Dusky maidens and G and T's on the verandah as the sun sank over crystal seas would more than make up for the flies and a charwallah that made Blenkinsop look like the jolliest man in the empire. A rather pleasant perk of being one of the ruling classes and one that should jolly well be retained. After all, nowadays they pack the common oiks from council estates off to parts foreign, claiming it is character building and will stop them being such bad lads, so why not continue funding decent upstanding chaps to be sent to far flung corners of the world. After all, they are much less likely to try to steal the hubcaps from the local chieftains Rolls Royce and get hideously drunk on the local firewater.

What's more, such postings enabled those of wealth and standing to quietly move their black sheep out of the public gaze in times of scandal and send them off to some remote corner of empire where they could not do too much damage, unless of course one counts cousin Henry and most of the local medicine men have now lifted their curses after intervention from one of our gun boats in the area and an undisclosed sum from the treasury. One distinctly remembers great uncle Arbuthnott being given a diplomatic post and a one way ticket on a steamer from Portsmouth after that little embarrassment involving several barnyard creatures and a peer of the realm. Saw him twenty years later, stuffed full of G and T, three wives, twenty children and the governorship of a small island, proudly raising the flag for queen and country. Didn't do him any harm at all. Family honour intact, Her Majesty got a representative on distant shores and the locals got a fine example of British pluck and determination through watching his ever more desperate attempts to build a raft that would return him to civilization.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Religious ramblings

The vicar was most irate when he arrived for dinner last night. After mumbling through starters and letting fly with some most unvicarly epithets during the main course....although one did put that down to the sprout terrine lovingly prepared in the Fortescue Towers kitchen, one finally managed to get him to tell all over a post prandial port and cigar.

Seems some chaps and chapesses have been busily re-writing the good book to make it more accessible to the common man, removing all the 'archaic' language and good bits and now the vicar is quite disgusted.

"Fortescue," he says "before you know it they will have done away with the Old Testament and the New Testament will be 'Bloke born in a shed becomes chippie, wanders around a bit, does some miracles, has lunch with some other chaps, gets betrayed by an oily tick, killed by the state, comes back to life, the end'. Where will it stop ? Modernisation ? 'Chap born in council house, grows up, does some magic, gets a few mates involved' might as well call it Harry Potter and the gang from Gallilee. Absolutely bloody disgusted I am. At this rate there won't be enough to fill a side of A4. Fire and brimstone, that's what puts bums on pews. Bit of patricide, fratricide and matricide, a few fights, the wrath of God and lots of begating in between. Got to be better than Eastenders to get them off their lardy backsides and praying for deliverance. The place is almost empty as it is. What happens if they can memorise the whole damn thing in two minutes flat ? I'll tell you what, bugger all in the collection plate and me having to justify why the vicarage needs a new roof to the archbishop. It's just not on. Going to write a stiff letter to the Church Times I am."

Must admit one has mixed feelings about all this. Old Testament, it's what made empire great, all those missionaries fired up on tales of Gods wrath and a bit of begating, faces glowing with religious zeal setting off to convert the heathens, turning the map of the world pink as they went, putting the fear of God into all and sundry. Kept 'em from cluttering up street corners too, can't be making the place look untidy and scaring the citizenry whilst you're pootling around darkest Africa with a pith helmet and a chest of religious tracts. However, one remembers ones days as a choirboy, believe me a King James Bible hurt a lot more than a ball of paper when it was hurled at one by an irate minister after he caught one having a crafty forty winks at the back of the altar.

Monday, March 07, 2005


Bit of a scandal last week, sort of thing that the less savoury tabloids love. Vicar in love child shocker! Seems they were claiming the old boy cast his wild oats when he was younger and now the past was coming back to haunt him in the forms of Lady Emmaline and her sister Lady Agatha. Of course one did not believe a word of it but looking back, the signs were there.

One remembers those far distant summers spent punting down the river with Lady Emmaline and her delightful sisters Agatha and Eglatine along with the vicar and Blenkinsop who would limp along the riverbank bowed beneath the weight of a picnic hamper full of delightful comestibles and lashings of ginger beer, occasionally disappearing from sight as he fell over clumps of nettles. All so often 'Roly Poly' as the vicar was affectionately known and Agatha would disappear to collect wild flowers for her to press and would be gone for some time. Should have been suspicious of the time they vanished into the churchyard only to reappear several hours later with 'In Loving Memory' embossed across the back of her coat.

Just last week, the ladies returned along with a young gentleman who actually bore a startling resemblance to Luigi, the under gardener. Could not quite work it out until one suddenly remembered the day when the artistic Eglatine requested that Luigis father sit for her in the top meadow. Agatha went along too and one can distinctly remember them returning somewhat flushed but one put it down to sitting in the afternoon sun for too long. Oddly enough several of the house maids left soon after with mystery ailments. Used to be most disturbed at the sounds of retching emanating from the servants quarters of a morning but attributed it to the suppers cook whipped up of an evening.

Anyway, alls well that ends well, the vicar has been completely exonerated without so much as a stain on his character, seems that he and Agatha simply fell asleep in the churchyard and there was no wrongdoing whatsoever. Luigi has gained a brother he never knew he had, although one does hope that he does not share in Luigis topiary peculiarities and everyone is happy. However, one will have Blenkinsop on standby with ones Purdey when ones nieces come to visit just in case the new brothers take after their father and the Mem' has begun interviewing replacement house maids, none of whom are under fifty and most of whom resemble the Russian Olympic shot putt team.