My name is Sir George Edward Washington. I was born in London, the son of the late Sir George Herbert Washington. My life, compared to his, has been relatively tame, but still sufficiently full of interest to warrant recording it here. As my father always said, it’s not how you live, it’s whether someone will pay to read your biography. As an example, he always brought forth his two friends; Don, the infamous robber baron, and Keith, the great pastor of Nottinghampshire. Don was a very evil person. He drank excessively, played cards excessively, robbed, killed, raped, and maimed excessively, and yet his biography would be just as thrilling as a story of H.G. Welles. Keith, on the other hand, was a saint. He took care of his flock for over fifty years, never drank or played cards, and was a vegetarian. His biography would take up five non-thrilling pages.
I was not a bright child, as my nurse used to say, not a chip off the old block. When she said this, she would turn deliberately and wink at my mother, who would show her a gimlet eye and then explain that she had no idea what the nurse could possibly be talking about. The nurse knew better. Not only was I dumb, but I was also a coward as a child. My father used to joke that this ran rampant in the family, saying that after all, hadn’t my great-great-grandfather also been a coward? My father was no American, as he proudly said, but he knew that he would never live down what he perceived as his shame.
In fact, his shame was an entirely different matter from what he imagined it to be. He thought that the other people in the House of Lords laughed at him because his peerage had been a gift, and had not been earned in the conventional way. Actually, most of the other Lords predecessors also had done nothing for their rights, so it didn’t really matter. What, you don’t know what happened? Well then, I must clue you in on how my father got to become a Lord.
It all started on a wintery day at Valley Forge. General George Washington’s troops were tired, hungry, and most importantly, cold. The General decided that the only way to save his troops would be to arrange a surrender. This he did, and in exchange for his giving back the Americas to the British, he was awarded a hereditary peerage. Thus our family was reborn. My father’s shame did not lie in the fact that he had done nothing to deserve his knighthood, instead, it was over the simple matter of his butler. We had had Thomas Aldridge as our butler for as long as I could remember. He was a genius, and indispensable to the running of our household. Unfortunately, he committed suicide when he spilled some tea over the dress of the late Dowager Duchess of Davenport. When he saw what he had done, he pulled a knife out of his coat pocket and did the ancient Japanese rite of Hari-Kari. Others in the House of Lords always joked about “Washington and his Japanese butler.” He never lived down either of his shames, but he did not die penniless. He died eventually, of course, from a rare mental disease known as Disconnectidus-Brainus. I was left all his money. And am currently spending it in riotous living. In fact, that is why I have written this story. I needed more gambling money. I guess I was actually a chip off the old block.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009