You need to be careful what you say after a couple of drinks. Take the case of John. We were at a social gathering in the City for workers of a certain vintage, when he was kind enough to tell me how much he was enjoying the Edward Lear trail.
Little could he know where that casual comment would lead.
John worked for a rival firm for much of my career, and his firm frequently seemed to get the better of mine. At the time I assumed this was sheer dumb luck, but now I concede that one factor could have been that while I blundered about buying and selling things and hoping for the best, John, strange fellow, applied diligent, thorough and careful analysis.
When casting around for
mugs recruits for Lockdown Lear, I remembered our conversation, and saw an opportunity to put his skills to use. To my delight, John accepted the invitation:
I thought of volunteering but doubted that I could match your high standard. However, since you ask, I am prepared to have a go. Please send me a selection and I will try to pick the easiest!
You will soon see, gentle reader, that John has not only matched our standard, but hugely surpassed it. As to picking the easiest, I think not. I’ve always loved this limerick – does the fellow have any reason to think someone will answer, or is he randomly ringing a bell in the middle of nowhere? My anticipation at seeing this thrillingly brought to life was tempered by concern that John might soon find himself in A&E making a difficult explanation. He was aware of the challenge he had taken on:
It may take me some time, while I source the gear, grow some hair and learn to levitate.
I don’t mind telling you I was sceptical that John could achieve as many as two of these three tasks. But I should not have been. Some of my former colleagues and associates in the City can be, well, full of BS. John falls emphatically outside this category, and of course, he succeeded on all three counts. Surprisingly, the first of them proved the most difficult:
I chose this limerick partly because I knew that I owned a family heirloom in the form or an elaborate antique bell with a handle similar to that depicted. However, when I contacted my son, who now lives in my old home, he informed me that the bell was broken and irreparable and that he had dumped it the week before. He was now the proud possessor of a modern bell cast by the Whitechapel foundry renowned for Big Ben and he encouraged me to use that, but would not allow it to be removed. This necessitated a change of venue and added complications over access etc..
John also spotted the error in the artwork, with the result that his re-enactment is arguably more authentic than the original:
I took the liberty of introducing white hair into the illustration. The original depicted a man with remarkably black hair. He could not have been ringing for long.
Well, that’s enough of “the making of”. Time to make the journey from Hackney to Brockham and treat ourselves to probably (and you will know this is a very high bar) our most spectacular re-enactment ever:
Pause, if you will, to appreciate the quality on display here. The remarkable athleticism. The meticulous matching of the clothes, the sheer joie de vivre John brings. And the bell cast at the same place as Big Ben, for heaven’s sake!
Before leaving I must thank John’s partner for lending the celebrated Jean gilet, and also his granddaughter Daisy for standing by with her outstanding Photoshop skills, to guard against the unlikely event that John’s new-found levitation ability should, er, let him down.