The Curmudgeon


Monday, September 22, 2014

The Assassination of Lord Bell

Lord Bell always enjoyed his nights at the club. The Dover sole was passable, the claret was excellent, and the trough for each course was customarily lined with copies of the Guardian: from the Monday edition for the hors d'oeuvres, right through to the Saturday blockbuster for dessert.

On this occasion, however, Lord Bell's jowls had barely scraped the bottom of the fifth course when, out of the corner of one eye, he caught the printed words "The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher".

Lord Bell's indignation would later have to be scraped off two walls, three waiters and part of the ceiling. As it turned out, the story was a fiction, and made up as well; which only served to worsen the sordid, murderous evil of the deed. In Lord Bell's code of ethics, the only things that should be made up were facts.

He called for his phone. He had done a good bit of business on it this very day, arranging teaching contracts for his old client Harris: "Girls' schools, old boy. Just so you can feel your way around before getting properly back into things. Mostly Muslim girls; they're used to it from an early age, I'm told, so they won't complain so much." But Harris wasn't quite the man for this sort of job.

The phone arrived, in its own small gold-plated trough lined with archive pages from the News of the World. Blinking back a tear for the forces of Press freedom, Lord Bell seized the phone and dialled his clients at Cuadrilla. "Some ghastly woman called Mantelpiece has written a screed about Lady Thatcher. I want her fracked thoroughly."
"Is there oil in her?"
"How the bloody hell should I know?" The jowls of Lord Bell quivered like maniacal sea-cucumbers as the righteous wrath came foaming up his oesophagus.
"Well, we can't very well frack a mantelpiece unless there's something in it for us, can we? Market forces, Timbo. Probably doesn't even live in the north of England, does she?"

Lord Bell, who didn't seriously believe that anyone lived in the north of England, broke off the call and vowed on the sacred Name of the Iron Lady never to take another commission from Cuadrilla, except at the right price.

He thought of phoning some old chums of his late client General Pinochet. They owed him a favour and might have thrown in a few pliers-and-blowtorch flourishes for sentiment's sake; but they were a doddery lot by now and might not have the balls for it. There was Tony, of course; but he was busy crusading in the Middle East.

The Middle East! Inspiration struck Lord Bell like a blow to three of his more sensitive chins. He phoned that nice Mrs Assad, who had been so grateful to Lord Bell for saving her reputation and who, above and beyond the agreed remuneration, had sent him a crate of nerve gas for his own personal use. She was only too happy to give Lord Bell the number of some obliging young men with very strict morals and lots of special expertise.

"We will smite her ruthlessly," said one of the obliging young men when Lord Bell explained the dereliction, taking care to use terms the chap would understand, and to omit any complicated references to modern fiction, the Guardian or Lady Thatcher. He phoned some chums in Riyadh and told them to give the obliging young men anything they might need in the way of fire-power, then he put the phone away and bellowed for the liqueur and after-dinner mint trough.

Two months later the explosion struck London. It broke windows in Scotland and France, causing extensive aftershocks of stereophonic sniggers; and it caused Lord Bell, who was larynx-deep in the foie gras bucket at the time, to inhale rather sharply. His choking was a lot easier than his indignation to clean up after; and when they finally hosed him down they found his face patriotically mottled in red, white and blue. The lining at the bottom of the bucket was the latest issue of the Guardian; it contained a short item about Hilary Mantel's lecture tour in Canada, which had begun with great success the previous day.

Although certain characters in this work are acknowledged to be real people, the story itself is a made-up work of fiction whose composition was motivated largely by malice.


  • At 7:45 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I like! :)

  • At 10:05 am , Anonymous ian said...

    Me likee too!


    "In Lord Bell's code of ethics, the only things that should be made up were facts."

    The sacred creed of the marketing industry. :)

    What a pleasant chap this Lord Bell is. I've learned so much about him that I didn't know before, and all because he opened his mouth. For instance I am now aware that he was once fined £50 for the relatively minor offence of exposing himself to several women while masturbating. Naturally this indiscretion, which according the noble lord never took place, never became a scandal, the local print media knowing when they were outclassed.

  • At 10:07 am , Anonymous ian said...

    Sorry, here's the link:

  • At 3:55 pm , Blogger Philip said...

    Well, I suppose I could have included something gratuitous about him flashing his little Pottinger, but I'd quite like to keep some of my readers.


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