It turns out Ypres was right. It did take me more than a half an hour to find a suitable job. Much longer than the hour-long foot massage Ypres gave me. She proceeded from toe to toe as serene and unmoved as an oyster on the half shell.
Unfortunately, I soon came to realise that the deck is stacked against the young professional eager to pursue a career. Perhaps the world is jealous of my youth and natural elegance. It seeks to take revenge on what it cannot have.
I sent numerous curriculum vitae paired with persuasive cover letters. I outlined my experience as a conundrum consultant, author, and King’s College graduate. I pursued my contacts in the business world, hounding the well-connected over canapés. I even hosted a small soirée (Lord Mansfield did not attend, even though he was invited, despite Ypres’s protests that he was dead). The evening was going well until I mentioned I was looking for a job. I was then met with muted smiles and glazed eyes. Glazed eyes not seen since Napoleon’s post defeat beef wellington at Waterloo (or was it chicken Kiev?). It did not help that Ypres brought out the digestive cookies stating economy.
Days went by and I received few replies to my applications. Those replies that came in were standardised. Most called me Mr. Vasa or Madam Vanessa or Sir/Madam/Both. They were obviously written by a computer program with a tenuous grasp of the English language. I considered this quite an affront, especially as I have such a wonderful and exuberant command of the English language, if exuberant is the word I am looking for.
I even resorted to seeking employment at the bottom, where I started as a girl. Indeed, I used to run a lemonade stand, of my own confection, in Regent’s Park (the smarter end). That’s where I met Lanky Ella Lanesbury. She was my competitor. We engaged in a jolly price war until, long story short, we both approached the same executive member of London organise crime to burn the other’s stand to the ground, used water from a monkey reservoir at the London Zoo, and ended up in court at the Old Bailey in Crown v. Lanesbury and Vasa. (Full details are available to browse through in A Mayfair Conundrum, or the court records, for the legally inclined. The court stenographer was very thorough).
I headed to Regent’s Park to scout out the old lemonade stand location. Ypres wanted to come along. She mentioned something about Sir Edward Grey going to the London Zoo to watch birds as a way to relax. I slipped out of the flat as she was about to go on a monologue and never looked back. I was almost at the spot my stand had been so many years ago when I started to re-something (I’m pretty sure it’s not regurgitate, and I think it starts with an “r” and that there is an “m” in it) nostalgically. I was having a good laugh over times gone by when I was stopped in my tracks.
“Would you like to buy some cookies?” a seemingly innocent Girl Scout uttered. I have an unfortunate history with Girl Scouts. I am not fond of them. She had pigtails. I issued a firm no thank you. She asked me if I was sure. I told her I was on the verge of bankruptcy, but not to share the fact in well-connected circles. She whistled and a gang of her peers approached. They were all in uniform. The tallest one’s eyes were at the level of my waist, which I had accentuated with a Premier Empire style dress.
I laid my cards on the table. “I am merely scouting a location for my lemonade stand, girls.” I chuckled at my use of the verb scouting, which I felt was very appropriate to the situation. This seemed to create some sort of silent uproar. A couple of the girls consulted one another. Then one of them, with a bun instead of pigtails, stepped aside and yelled, “Sasha!” I assumed Sasha was in some sort of executive position. I was pleased that my cause merited such attention. Sasha appeared and my spirits were immediately dampened.
“Listen, toots, this is our turf. We own it. Ain’t nobody gonna come here and sell lemonade. Capisce?”
“I see you speak Italian. I too occasionally habla italiano.”
“I ain’t speaking no Italian. I’m asking ya to leave. And I ain’t gonna ask ya twice, princess.”
I was astounded that a little Girl Scout in Regent’s Park, who I should mention was the shortest of her troop, could have picked up such a peculiar speech pattern. She sounded like a mobster from one of those old black and white movies. The effect was rather confirmed when she snapped her fingers and one of her colleagues gave her a toothpick which she immediately applied to her teeth.
“Surely this is all rather exaggerated. You see I’m in a bit of a financial bind. A lemonade stand would provide me with some needed liquidity.”
“Ya want liquidity? Why don’t I liquify your face?”
“Well, I was rather thinking of financial liquidity, as it were. Surely you would not liquefy my face.”
“Just watch me!”
I took that as my cue to leave Regent’s Park. Luckily, Ypres’s walking program meant I got a good start when I ran away. I reached the safety of the Park Street flat within record time. Ypres was reading a book by the library window.
“Ypres, did you know that Girl Scouts are running some sort of turf war in Regent’s Park? I was nearly assaulted for suggesting a lemonade stand.”
“How odd. Any news on the job hunt?”
Ypres always gets right to it when the subject is something I rather not talk about.
“Well, as a matter a fact…”
Right then and there my phone rang. The next morning, I was boarding a plane at Heathrow.
Chapter VII will be published Monday, 31 October 2016, at 12:00 EST 17:00 GMT. Vasa and Ypres’s first full-length adventure, Vasa and Ypres: A Mayfair Conundrum, is available on Amazon. If you enjoy Vasa and Ypres, please share on social media. Vasa and Ypres is on Twitter. You can also join over 1175 WordPress followers. Should you be desperate to part with your money, and, in the process, fund Uncle Edward’s Vasa Assurances, a donation button is available on the homepage. Donations will help keep the Vasa and Ypres project going.