A Victorian evening

My good lady wife Mrs Shark, Master Shark, our grandson young Master Edward and myself have just concluded a most convivial evening in the drawing room singing around the grand piano.

Ah, but didn’t Mrs Shark’s fingers dance like dainty butterflies over the ebony and ivory and there was ne’er a dry eye in the house when we all sang ‘Come into the Garden, Maud’.

Lord Tennyson’s poetry and Mr Delius’ musical setting combine so well…indeed, I believe I even heard the upstairs maid weeping as our voices rose in a crescendo.

But, that’s by the by, and now that the little ones have been put to bed by Nurse and Mrs Shark is embroidering an antimacassar I have time to peruse the daily papers.

Egad, foul contagion is on the rise in our fair capital city!

The Daily Mail – the paper of the gentility and beautifully pressed by my butler, the trusty Scrotum*  – is revealing grim tales of plague and bacterial infestation, with whooping cough, scarlet fever, mumps and typhoid decimating the labouring classes.

I hear tell of a new process called ‘vaccination’ which, it is said, may serve to prevent some of the foul diseases to which the flesh is heir.

Indeed, it is rumoured most strongly in medical circles that such a process could eradicate such dire diseases in years to come.

It is to be devoutly wished that the more scurrilous purveyors of news – the hacks of Grub Street and, in particular, one Mr Hitchens – will refrain from their usual alarmist tactics and allow this scientific miracle to bear fruit for future generations to come.

I shall now adjourn to my study for a glass of port and the academic delights of ‘Timney’s Weekly’ – a journal for the ‘discerning’ gentleman. I do hear that Timney has acquired some of the new ‘moving pictures’ for distribution to favoured subscribers.

I must ask him for a private viewing some time whilst his good lady wife is away from home at their London pied à terre.

Goodnight, gentle reader.

*The wrinkled old retainer © Vivian Stanshall


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