A chap is entitled to some relaxation

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The Independent Culture
LOVELY WORD, "mistress", wouldn't you say? Frilly lingerie - lovely word, "frilly", wouldn't you say? - a little flat in Dolphin Square or Nell Gwynne House, marabou mules, maybe a little poodle. Scented. Always ready to be enjoyed. (Not the poodle. The mistress.) A ... well, a plaything: smiley, docile, presentable, makes a chap feel a bit of a dog as it were. After all, a chap has his troubles. A chap has rich clients, important contacts, business associates to impress. A chap has a third-class degree to live down, a set of carefully - too carefully - honed vowel-sounds to maintain, cars to think about, houses to think about, a rich but mad wife to think about. A chap is entitled to some relaxation, and of course the little flat in Dolphin Square or Nell Gwynne House is in a chap's name; everything goes to the rich but mad wife when a chap doubles over the steering wheel of his Jaguar one day, the pain surging down into the splayed pale fingers of the left hand - the wedding-ring hand, bloody irony, ha ha! - and the sweat erupts on the brow and the terrible, terrible fear strikes just long enough to stop the heart so that darkness and perpetual infamy can mercilessly supervene.

Lovely word, "mistress", because, in the face of all this, a chap needs all the diversion he can get. Not a lot of diversion, actually, because (to be frank) a chap has a bit of trouble in the old trouser department. To be frank, it's not all it should be. To be frank, it's nothing it should be, but when a chap slips away from a meeting in the Jaguar (never say "Jag" do you see, "Jag" is a bit common do you see?) on his way to the little flat in Dolphin Square or Nell Gwynne House, a chap feels good.

The one thing a chap must never do is allow himself to see his mistress as a human being. What you do with mistresses is buy them clothes. You can tell them anything you like - tell them you'll marry them, tell them it's only a matter of time, tell them you'll look after them for ever - but what you actually do is buy them clothes. Buy them clothes and throw tantrums and grope them under restaurant tables, but make sure you've got it all wrapped up, do you see?, make sure you have good legal advice. (Provincial solicitor, of course. Don't want word getting around. Reputation to think of.)

The law's on your side, of course. Equality, constrictive contracts, estoppel, blah. The law is for rich men, at least when it comes to mistresses. Of course it is. The law is by rich men, when it comes to mistresses, so no need to worry - take it from me - about buggering about a woman's life, smashing her hopes, keeping her on a money-chain. No no no: go right ahead, exercise power, do you see? Trouble in the trouser department, maybe, but none in the back pocket where the wallet lives, what? Johnny Wallet is still as virile, as tumescent and penetrating as ever it was and what one's wife - frightfully rich but mad as a bus - doesn't know about won't hurt her.

Lovely word, "mistress". Yes indeed. Do what you like, do you see? Steal her from her husband: piece of cake. Lonely woman, out in the sticks somewhere, no car, yearning for love, sitting duck. Offer her the world on a plate, London!, little flat in Dolphin Square or Nell Gwynne House, no need for her to go out, everything she wants, best if she doesn't, frankly, can't have her seeing other chaps, won't do, not part of the game. Best if a chap's not actually married, you see, but what you do, you keep the rich- but-mad one in the background by way of a stalking-horse, head the mistress off at the last fence, that's the way, and if the manure hits the air- conditioning, ha ha, here's a spot of advice: marry the rich one but don't tell the mistress. Only creates unpleasantness on all sides, and the mistress will come round in due course: a few shopping trips, a bit of old Johnny Smooth Talk, my advice is shed a tear or two if you can manage it, but nothing in writing, do you see? Nothing in writing.

Lovely word, "mistress". Bit of stuff in the papers recently about mistresses' rights, how the law's going to change, but everyone knows that a mistress's life is a different sort of thing - a lesser sort of thing, really - from a chap's life, a chap with money and vowels and cars and a rich (but barking) wife. Take my word: the law will always be on our side. Journalists would have us believe there are tens of thousands of women throughout the country being exploited, bullied, threatened, belittled by chaps, but journalists aren't one of us. Little ratweasels. It won't happen. There'll be no knock on the door, no porky burping bailiff serving writs, no humiliation, no infamy, no end to the fiction that a chap's a gentleman. Take my word on it.

Lovely word, "mistress". If you're one of us.