(With apologies to PG Wodehouse)
Everything in life that’s any fun, as somebody wisely observed, is either immoral, illegal or fattening. The exception to this rule is, of course, the Tweed Run. So it was that Bunty and I hot-footed it down to Clerkenwell and that fine establishment, Bourne and Hollingsworth.
To find a man’s true character one has only go for a bike ride with him, and Bunty’s certainly shone through by the end of the day. It was one of those days you sometimes get in May when the sun beams, the birds toot, and there is a bracing tang in the air that sends the blood beetling briskly through the veins.
But on arrival we only bumped into one of my aunts. This was not Aunt Dahlia, my good and kindly aunt, but my Aunt Agatha, the one who chews broken bottles and kills rats with her teeth. When Aunt Agatha lets her angry passions rise strong men climb trees and pull them up after them. She came leaping towards me, like Lady Macbeth coming to get first-hand news from the guest-room.
This I took to be due to the fact that she probably hadn't breakfasted. It's only after a bit of breakfast that I'm able to regard the world with that sunny cheeriness which makes a fellow the universal favourite. I'm never much of a lad till I've engulfed an egg or two and a beaker of coffee.
"I suppose you haven't breakfasted?"
"I have not yet breakfasted."
"Won't you have an egg or something? Or a sausage or something? Or something?"
She uttered a sound rather like an elephant taking its foot out of a mud hole in a Burmese teak forest.
"No, thank you."
She spoke as if she belonged to an anti-sausage league or a league for the suppression of eggs.
One of the poets, whose name I cannot recall, has a passage, which I am unable at the moment to remember, in one of his works, which for the time being has slipped my mind, which hits off admirably this age-old situation.
We by-passed Aunt Agatha and headed for the start line on our fine velocipedes. Thereupon my old pal Motty appeared.
“What ho!" I said.
"What ho!" said Motty.
"What ho! What ho!"
"What ho! What ho! What ho!"
After that it seemed rather difficult to go on with the conversation.
Fortunately we were off and, before we knew it, it was time for tea at St Pancras Gardens. Stilton Cheeseworth and his gang had set up a little picnic on a tombstone and we were cordially invited for a quick snifter. It is true of course, that I have a will of iron, but it can be switched off if the circumstances seem to demand it. As Bunty always says, “Whenever I feel that strange sort of emptiness of heart or aching void in the soul, there’s only one thing to do – take a couple of cocktails.”
Gussie was there. Gussie and I, as I say, had rather lost touch, but all the same I was exercised about the poor fish, as I am about all my pals, close or distant, who find themselves treading upon Life's banana skins. He has an enormous bald head, all the hair which ought to be on it seeming to have run into his eyebrows, and his eyes go through you like a couple of Death Rays.
“You must meet old Rowbotham, Bertie. A delightful chap. Wants to massacre the bourgeoisie, sack Park Lane and disembowel the hereditary aristocracy. Well, nothing could be fairer than that, what?”
We headed south with a rather wobbly Bunty who weaved around the road in a terrifying manner. Intoxicated? The word did not express it by a mile. He was oiled, boiled, fried, plastered, whiffled, sozzled, and blotto. He was in the frame of mind when a weaker man would have started writing poetry.
Luckily for him, Celia took pity on the old blighter and nursed him along to Kennington where luncheon was served. Celia was tall and willowy with a terrific profile and luxuriant platinum blond-hair, the sort of girl who might, as far as looks were concerned, have been the star unit of the harem of one of the better-class sultans. However she had a penetrating sort of laugh. Rather like a train going into a tunnel.
On arrival poor Bunty looked haggard and careworn, like a Borgia who has suddenly remembered that he has forgotten to shove cyanide in the consommé, and the dinner-gong due any moment. A fine hamper revived the spirits and we set about embarking on the home leg of the journey.
Crossing the river I was in that painful condition which occurs when one has lost one's first wind and has not yet got one's second and it was all we could do to reach the finish, spurred on by the thought, “Sober or blotto, this is your motto: keep muddling through.”
Muddle through we did and it was with some relief that the refreshment tent beckoned. We sat on a bench with that sort of end-of-a-perfect-day feeling. The last rays of the setting sun shone through the spring leaves, birds were twittering in the trees, the women's dresses crackled gently in the stillness. Peaceful. That's what I'm driving at. I felt peaceful. Everybody felt peaceful.