Cousin Andrew is a hipster. There is no other way to say it. It is the truth.
Raised in the full Vasa tradition to be a member of the tie-and-blazer set, he threw it all to the wind. He is the son of my Uncle George, brother to Uncle Edward and one of the last people in Whitehall to champion the utility of the Commonwealth, and my Aunt Michiko.
He inherited his mother’s artistic sense. As such, he was sent to Cambridge in the belief that he would become the greatest architect the university has produced since Sir Christopher Wren. Indeed, he has quite a creative flair for buildings. He sees robust minimalism as the scourge of our time.
All was well at Cambridge until it was discreetly put to Cousin Andrew that most of his creation could not be built for structurally unsound. He was convinced all he needed was to find the right engineer. After all, from what I understand, architects routinely ask engineers to produce the impossible. When the right engineer never materialised, he had a crisis of confidence.
His studies at Cambridge ended in a mysterious incident, the cause of which was a fight over Antoni Gaudi. Whoever makes enquires for more details is inevitably shushed into silence by Uncle George. I once tried to do so over Christmas lunch. I felt Uncle George had been sufficiently filled with port to be rendered ineffective. Much to my chagrin, the alcohol appeared to have fortified his skills. As I started to whisper my enquiry, I was struck by a piece of broccoli. The vegetable had become airborne after Uncle George, thinking himself a Roman general in the Punic wars, used his fork to catapult it in my direction. Nothing brings silence more effectively than being struck on the right nostril with steamed broccoli.
Kicked out of Cambridge, Cousin Andrew set up his residence in Notting Hill, and when, as he claims, the rich ruined it, he moved to Shoreditch. Shoreditch was still not countercultural enough to his liking, and too close to Uncle George’s haunts in Whitehall, so he headed across the pond. He landed in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the hipster capital of the Western Hemisphere. It is there, from his HQ off Bedford Avenue, that he now called.
“Vanessa E. Vasa speaking.”
“Andrew here. How’s the flat?”
“When I gave my budget, and asked to make arrangements for my resettlement on Park Avenue, I expected you to be more proactive. I certainly expected there to be room for al fresco entertainment. There is only one bedroom, and the sofa is too small to sleep on. I have to share a bed with Ypres.”
“So what. I share beds all the time. It’s more ecological. More bohemian. You’re lucky you got a flat on Park Avenue. If you weren’t such a grande bourgoise you could have got much more space in the East Village or Brooklyn.”
“I have no interest in lodging in the company of hipsters who see me as the enemy. In any case, I am not vegan. I would not fit in.”
“You know eating animals is unethical.”
“So is gentrifying once affordable neighbourhoods. You should accept your heritage, start shaving, and rejoin the Vasa clan in the more fashionable parts of London.”
“Nonsense. I’m happy here. I’m designing the logo for an all root juice bar. They are focusing on golden beets. When do you start work?”
“I start on Monday.”
“Tomorrow already. Well, good luck. I’ll contact you soon.”
I hung up the phone. I surveyed the apartment once more with a dismal stare. There was a knock at the door. Ypres answered it. Our belongings had arrived from the Ritz.
Ypres made a heroic effort to bring them all in. I admired her endurance. When one bag fell on her foot like a boulder falling into a canyon she did not even flinch. She was all placid resolve. I made a note to ask her what the strongest fish in the sea was, because in my mind she looked exactly like it.
I figured it could not be a sardine. Sardines are too small. Same goes for tuna, although I have heard of tuna weighing hundreds of pounds being sold in the fish markets of Tokyo. I had continued my mental exercise and moved on to sharks when I was interrupted by the sound of a cough.
I soon discovered that the emitter was none other than the porter. He had his hand outstretched, evidently in the expectation of a tip. I did not know what to do. Normally, I would be generous. I would say something not far from “Here you are my good fellow,” chuckle, and produce a sum reminiscent of the Ottoman Sultans. I could not do that here. I had to economise.
I turned to Ypres. She immediately understood the situation.
“It appears as if you are soliciting this lady without her consent.”
I was stunned. Ypres is usually excellent in reading situations. She was now making a huge mistake. I was about to stop her, but she continued.
“Unless you leave immediacy, I will have to inform both the authorities and the British Consulate.”
The porter had left by the time Ypres had finished her sentence. All that remained was his shadow, which took a quarter of a second more to reach its owner.
“Ypres, that man was asking for a tip.”
“I know. Yet, you are economising. So, I took the liberty. I hope I was not out of line.”
“I suppose it is a case of the ends justifying the means. Am I right, Ypres?”
“This reminds me of a quote from Machiavelli…”
“Sorry to interrupt, Ypres. I am sure your quote is fascinating. After all, they usually are. However, we need to prepare for tomorrow. It must be all hands on deck when I start my internship tomorrow at that United Nations agency for which I forget the acronym.”
Happy New Year to all! All the best in 2017! – J.B. Chisholm
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 1245 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.