Sunday, 7 December 2014
Hamilton and Inches
Fantasy Bob's dwindling readership might think that an invitation to Hamilton and Inches' champagne Christmas reception would be just the kind of sybaritic pleasure their hero would enjoy. A glass or two of fizz, a few canapes in the elegant premises of Edinburgh's premier jewelers - what could be more relaxing?
But if the tremor of excitement in Mrs FB's voice as she opened the envelop containing the invitation had raised his anxiety, her final suggestion sent him into panic. 'I might see my Christmas present there, so you should bring your credit card.'
FB knew better than to remark that his life partner's burgeoning jewelery box already overflowed with baubles, bangles and beads. He knew that to suggest that perhaps a natural limit had been reached would be unwelcome. But he also knew from previous forays into this emporium that a serious depletion of the disposable income for investment in empire biscuits was at risk.
Not that he would not grant Mrs FB her heart's desire. But some emergency measures might be necessary.
As Mrs FB stood by a glass cabinet eager to inspect its contents at close hand, FB attracted the attention of an assistant who made ready with his key,
'I see Hamilton and Inches was established in 1866', he remarked to the first assistant assisting inspection of a glittering cabinet.
'Yes sir.' The key's journey to the lock slowed perceptibly.
'You know of course that 1866 was the year that WG Grace at the age of 18 scored 224 not out.'
'Really sir...............' The key had stopped; the assistant glanced around.
'Yes, it was for the All England XI against Surrey at the Oval.'
The key returned to the assistant's pocket as he found a reason to hasten to the opposite end of the showroom.
FB dutifully consoled Mrs FB. 'Seems they're a bit busy - I'll try some one else.'
A demure female assistant passed and FB smiled winningly at her. She narrowly survived this harrowing experience but was unprepared for his opening remark.
'I see Hamilton and Inches gained the Royal Warrant in 1955.'
'Yes sir - we are very proud of it.'
'Of course you are. And of course, 1955 was the year that Alan Border was born.'
'Sir?' The tremble of querulousness in her voice unwittingly invited FB to elucidate.
'He played 156 Tests for Australia....................'
A frightened look.
'..........with a batting average of 50.56.'
The assistant looked around for help. But FB had hit his stride.
'Ian Botham and Vic Marks were also born in 1955....'
The assistant was backing away.
'............and Abdul Qadir of course.'
For some reason, there appeared to be an exclusion zone around FB and Mrs FB for the rest of the evening. Try as she might Mrs FB could not summon an assistant to indulge her.
'They do seem very busy,' said FB sympathetically, but inwardly relieved that his bank balance looked like it would survive intact.
'Oh well,' responded Mrs FB, 'I'm not sure there was anything I really wanted anyway.'
FB nodded philosophically - a calm that lasted only a moment.
'Don't forget I'm going for a girls' trip to Paris this weekend - I'm sure I'll find something there....................'