I dozed off thinking over my one-liner. I was content with the delivery. Nevertheless, it occurred to the Vasa brain that, and I quote, “I have a conundrum to solve. A Mayfair conundrum.” incorporates two sentences. Although technically, they both fit in on one line.
The crossing into slumber went well. At one point, around what turned out to be a time dangerously close to midnight, I awoke. My head bandage, which had been formed into a fashionable yet culturally sensitive turban, became entangled. Of course, when one wakes up in the middle of the night, one does not have all one’s wits about. Wits are all the more remote when one’s breathing routine is blocked by an unknown source.
The alarm was flashing red in my head’s mission control. Luckily, through vigorous jumping about, first in my bed, then throughout my bedroom, knocking about a few objets and a floor lamp, I managed to free myself. It was with an air of contentment that I regained the comfort of my bed, rejoicing in the ability to breathe once more.
The following morning, grammatical perplexities and bandage induced entanglements had been thrown off. Refreshed and at the ready, I tucked into the toast and marmalade, a glass of milk at my side. I was spreading the aforementioned into the north-west corner of my second piece of toast, when Ypres came into the room.
Her movement from A to B was silent, as usual. I do not know what the sea’s most silent creature is. In my mind, scallops have always been prime contenders for the title. Consideration could be given to shrimps, and perhaps an honourable mention to a deep-sea lobster or two. Scallops would definitely pull through in the end. In any case, Ypres came into the dining room like the sea’s most silent creature, perhaps a scallop. I issued the opening salvo.
“Good morning, Ypres. All quiet on the Western Front?”
“Yes. I did get a good night’s sleep last night.”
“Splendid. Little grey cells need energy before they power on.”
“If I may take the liberty, how was the meeting with your Uncle Edward yesterday afternoon?”
Ypres has a rather impressive way of casting aside small talk. Even at an early hour in the day, when the mind needs time to climb the hill from repose to full steam ahead, Ypres sticks to her small talk aversion. I retold the events. I used my BBC World Service voice. I felt it was appropriate for the occasion. I left nothing out, although the issue with the chair might have been truncated. In retrospect, Mies van der Rohe might have been substituted for Le Corbusier. Given that they all play for team architect, the substitution had little ripple effect.
After a skilfully timed bite of toast, I revealed the cliff-hanger. Although I am not sure that is the expression I am looking for.
“The cliff-hanger, Ypres, if that is the expression I am looking for, was the assumption of romance.”
Jaws were not dropped. Gaps were not heard. Ypres did not even blink. I went on with the full post-mortem.
“It appears that Uncle Edward was confused, or rather chose to be confused, on the status of our relationship. You often mention the effect of subjectivity on the modern world. Fauchon, knowledge is power and all that.”
“I believe it is Foucault, in L’archéologie du savoir, who argued that knowledge was power. Not Fauchon.” Ypres was going done the postgraduate route again. It is a very indirect and long road to go along. Unpaved and devoid of Michelin star restaurants. I steered the conversation back to the tree-lined avenue that was my recollection of the past afternoon’s events.
“Please don’t interrupt, Ypres. Uncle Edward was confused about the nature of our relationship. He appeared to be living under the assumption that we shared romantic feelings for one another. I explained, with all the gravitas that Newton could muster, that you were my lady’s assistant, and nothing more.” I did not want to infer, if infer is what I mean, a blow to Ypres’s ego, so I added a line to be polite. “Of course, having stated that, I do not mean to offend you in any way, Ypres.”
“Be assured, Vasa, that no offence is taken.”
Ypres was quick to the trigger. A little too quick. The words left her mouth with uncharacteristic speed. The rapidity with which she dismissed the potential for offence of assumed romance involving yours truly was unsettling. I shall think twice before sparing Ypres’s feelings in future. Given my evident irresistibility (in retrospect, the joy-challenged male nurse who tended to me at Heathrow was obviously flirting), I was slightly offended. I brought the conversation back to more pressing matters.
“Do you have a status update on what our next step in the Ella affair should be, Ypres?”
“I do have a suggestion.”
“Go ahead, you may reveal all.” Once Ypres’s grey cells are activated, there is no stopping them. They are like a whale after plankton. A force of nature, and this time I am not talking about the borborygmus related periodical, to be reckoned with.
“You have been honing your observation skills. Your foray into chesticular asymmetry was happily resolved.”
“Yes. By the way, you must remind me, Ypres, to get cracking on that op-ed to The Times once I am through with my conundrum consulting.”
An informed decision will be needed to guide Miss Lanesbury. Perhaps it would be best to observe her when she is faced with her predicament. A controlled setting, where external variables are at a minimum. This would allow more data to be collected. An outcome could then be determined.”
“Right ho! Translated into English, I gather you want us to go see Ella and her gentleman friend live on Regent Street. No dress rehearsal, but an exclusive preview.”
“That is the gist of it, yes.”
I mulled it over it my head. It seemed like a prudent course of action, and so far Ypres has yet to let me down. Figuratively, of course. Literally, she let me down a mine shaft in the Ruhr after a particularly boisterous carnival celebration in Düsseldorf. I have to say, that as far as mine shafts go, it was a particularly nice one. Not that I am much of an expert in mine shafts, or for that matter, shafts of any kind.
After a period of acute reflection, and a few more bites of toast, I gave Ypres the green light. She called Lanky Ella. Arrangements were made to meet up on Regent Street in time to witness one of Ella’s famed shopping expeditions. All I had to do now was change into the appropriate outfit.
Chapter X will be published Monday, 29 February 2016, at 12:00 EST 17:00 GMT. If you enjoy Vasa and Ypres, please share on social media. Vasa and Ypres has won the Blogger Recognition Award. More information will be given in the weeks to come in the Afterword.