Meanwhile, do you know what a Comus is? A young woman assumed on Saturday that I know the word. Sounds like a holiday operator. She was a good-looking woman, but I don't want to organise package tours.
'Judgment', that's another unpleasant word, suggesting an old party finding against you from a bench. I recently got judgment against another, in which respect I'm doing better than my friend J P Donleavy, who got judgment once against himself. Displeased with the original publisher of The Ginger Man, he bought the fellow's firm - quite forgetting that he had issued proceedings against it six months earlier - nearly bankrupted himself.
A writ is like a torpedo, and the first thing they teach you in the Navy is that once the torpedoes are running, you can't call them back. When I was in boats, our captain liked to tell us that he'd got his Distinguished Service Order by accident. Having in his sights a little fishing boat, he fired a torpedo out of the wrong end of the submarine and sank a German destroyer he hadn't spotted coming up behind.
Talking about torpedoes, and wishing to avoid the mistake Mr Noel Malcolm made last week in the Sunday Telegraph, is my pal Frankie Fraser tautologically an offensive weapon? He recently undertook to enforce a judgment on my behalf, so if he is we could all be up before the beak.
Frankie, his lovely Marilyn, the Princess of Wales, a Fiona we hadn't met before and I were lunching in a local brasserie, and I was a little exercised because (a) I hadn't previously resorted to the law (preferring as a rule to settle disputes with a tyre-iron) and (b) because the defendant in the action was a woman.
'Imagine this,' I said. 'A flint-eyed hooker . . .'
'Will this take long?' said Mr Fraser. 'I'm 71 and I've got a lot of books to sign. Mad Frank, pounds 15.99, and a steal at the price.'
It's 2p to speak to him these days. The book is at number three in the bestseller list and he's been asked to address a literary lunch at Foyle's. 'Never mind that,' I said. 'Imagine this: you allow a razor-faced hooker to treat you as her bit of rough, to set you up in a flat with a wardrobe full of customised separates . . .'
'Classy Cressida been buying you shirts again?' said the Princess of Wales.
'We're not speaking,' I said.
'You've met Isabelle, then?'
'Not till next week,' I said.
'I think I'll go to the gents,' said Mr Fraser - at which point we were joined by this Fiona, whom we hadn't met.
'That's Frankie Fraser's chair,' I said.
'I don't care if it's the Pope's chair,' she said. 'Harvey Nichols was a scrum, I tell you.'
We had one here. 'Just back from the Dordogne?' I said.
'I am, as it happens,' she said.
I had her down as a three-day eventer, the splendid sort of English girl who's more than a match for the big lad Botham on A Question of Sport, who bottles wine and puts it over the French.
'OK,' I said. 'This hooker looks after you for years, and then you dump her. She'd swallow it, right?'
'Swallow it not]' cried Fiona. 'She'd have your balls]'
'Precisely,' I said. 'Now - what if the roles were reversed?'
Fiona looked utterly baffled. 'You mean if a man kept a woman?'
'It's possible,' I said. 'And then she dumps him. Is he entitled to the apartment and the Mitsubishi?'
'Of course not,' Fiona said. 'Men behave better in these situations.'
'That's right,' the Princess said. 'OK - let's go for her, the smart bitch' - at which point we were rejoined by Mr Fraser, who introduced a literary note.
' 'Why aren't more people good out of spite?' ' he said. ' 'Everything comes back very precisely on its own, and revenge confuses it.' Canetti, was it?'
He's like that these days. 'Never mind that,' the Princess said. 'Where does she live, the little minx?'
'In bleep,' I said.
''Bags I the Mitsubishi]' cried Fiona.
'I'll have the apartment and the ear-rings,' the Princess said.
At which point Frankie Fraser counselled caution. 'I'd better handle this,' he said. 'With your temper, Button, you'd have the scuffers after you. See you this evening.'
They walked out, leaving me alone with Fiona. 'Who are you?' I said.
'Isabelle,' she said.
'You're not expected till next week.'
'I got bored waiting,' she said. 'You'll be familiar with Comus? I want you to be Comus.'
I didn't like the sound of that. 'I'll be off now,' I said.
I went back to my place, and that evening Frankie Fraser pitched up with a flamingo pink Mitsubishi.
'Nice, eh?' he said.
'Very nice,' I said. 'Only one problem: it's the wrong Mitsubishi. Where did you get it?'
'Suffolk,' he said. 'We were on our way to bleep, but Mr Alway redirected us to Suffolk. He said we weren't allowed in bleep.'
The case comes up next week. I'm off to the Dordogne with Isabelle and I'd be grateful for any info on what a Comus is.Reuse content