The bleedin’ silly cow, wot’s she wearin’ that for, I says to me self, as I watched some fancy bird casually ‘andling the fruit on the barrow. She was wearin’ some fancy necklace that would ‘ave kept some family in dosh for a lifetime. She weren’t long for this world.
There they were, right on cue, Bert and Jeb, five yards to the side of the fancy lady, eyein’ the necklace and scheming ‘ow they could get their ‘ands on it. Serves ‘er bleedin’ well right, toffs ain’t got no sense of self preservation. But me good ‘art takes over and I walks up to the lady and whisper ” There’s a lot of low lifes eyein’ that necklace yer wearing, best take it off before it gets yer killed”. The posh lady looked startled and grasped the necklace ” I had not realized I was still wearing it “she said and glanced around fearfully. I offered to escort ‘er ‘ome for ‘alf a crown and she grasped at the straw.
So I walks ‘er ‘ome, glancing back occasionally to see Bert and Jeb 20 yards behind. We passed the news boy shoutin’ to-days ‘eadlines ” Archduke Ferdinand of Austria assassinated in Sarajevo. read all about it”. Didn’t mean nuffin to me, some posh git, probably served ‘im right. We soon reached the ladies front door where she gives me this queer look and asks me inside for a cuppa.
The butler escorts us into the drawing room, and upon invitation, I sits me self down. I gotta say at this point that I felt like a fish outta water, but the lady was all unconcerned chatting away like an old friend.
” I don’t suppose you’ve heard of George Bernard Shaw” she says.
“No” I replied “I ain’t”.
” I saw ‘Pygmalion’, his latest play, last week at His Majesty’s Theater, Mrs.Pat was superb as Eliza. I think I would like you to be my Eliza”.
“Oye! I’m no poof” I said ” I’m not dressin’ up in lady’s clothes for you or anyone’s army”.
“You misunderstand me” she laughed ” I’m offering you a job, in my household. Perhaps Henry, the head butler, can polish you a little. It’s a little gesture for possibly saving my life. You’ll have food and board and ten shillings a week. What do you say”.
It sounded like a cushy enough job to me and I accepted on the spot.
“Good” she said “Look on yourself as an empty canvas and I’ll get Henry to ready the paint”
” I already told yer, I’m no poof” I said. First she wants to dress me up in woman’s clothes and then she wants to paint me.
She laughed and rang for Henry.
So for the next five years they painted on my empty canvass. I bathed everyday, wore fresh clothes daily, was taught the etiquette of the household and brow beaten into submission until I had accomplished the tasks to the butlers satisfaction. The hardest task revolved around the dinner table, laying out the china, glasses and cutlery and memorizing the type of each wine for the course served:
- Sherry or Sauternes with soup and fish
- Hock and Claret with roast meat
- Punch with turtle
- Champagne with whitebait
- Port with venison
- Burgundy with game
- Madeira with sweetmeats
- Port, Tokay, Madeira, sherry, and claret for dessert
Due to the great war starting soon after I joined the household, and the lack of man power, due to the poor sods joining up to fight, I steadily won promotion up the serving ranks to become head butler after Henry retired. I learned to speak just as refined as any of the toffs I met and matched them for etiquette. I’m now starting to get a little itchy, wanting to spread my wings a little more and fly the coop. I think I’m gonna paint myself a new canvas. Thanks to the war’s devastation there’s lots of rich widows out there just pining to meet me. I aim to try and please them as best as I can.