I once met a Spanish cabaret star in Seville, his stage name was Albert Smith, and his speciality was English dancing; I understand that the local senoritas thought this was wildly romantic.
One evening the Albert Smith fan club resolved to get a lock of his hair. They got the lot! He was wearing a blonde wig. They knifed him, of course!
I merely mention this in passing to show that things are not
usually what they seem. I draw no moral though I have often thought that he might be alive today had he pretended to be an Englishman disguised as a Spaniard. Alas, however, he lacked subtlety, and subtlety, dear reader, is the secret .of success. Say, for instance, .that you have an uncontrollable urge to represent yourself as an Anglican bishop. Bedeck yourself in gaiters and a mitre and you will be lost in next to no time. You must be subtle. Ask yourself what, in all probability, an Anglican bishop would be doing. He would be in search of a schism, of course, you reply. It is therefore only reasonable to suppose that he would himself be disguised. What as? – the most likely bet would be a Methodist lay preacher. In that way, he would be in an extremely good position to act as an agent-provocateur among his recalcitrant clergy. “But,” you protest, “Firstly, I would make an absolute hash of being a lay preacher, and secondly, I wish to be a Bishop”. Patience, my friend. To your first point, I reply that you couldn’t possibly make a worse hash of it than would a bishop, and to your second, that it is merely necessary to do so in an episcopal manner and your dream would be realised. Attention to
detail is essential. Make sure you have a walking stick which you should hold in the middle, handle uppermost. This will give the impression that you are absentmindedly carrying a crozier. Look up with a started expression if ever the word GAITERS is mentioned. Raise 3 fingers in greeting, not two, I hasten to add, in either the Churchillian or the offensive sense, hut as though conveying a blessing. Why on earth you wish to appear to be a bishop is, quite frankly, beyond me. Follow these simple instructions, however, and you will be an unqualified success, and the best of luck to you.
Speaking of unqualified successes, I am immediately reminded of well, let us call him X – I do not wish to blast his career.
He is a doctor of philosophy by virtue of a masterly thesis on “The Pseudo-paranormality of the Cro-magnon”. This dealt at length with the disturbing fact that the reconstructed skull of the Cro-Magnon man looks a darn sight more intelligent than most of us. This, though earning him his degree, was far too disconcerting in its implications to meet with wide approval. So it was that I found the unfortunate Doctor X about to throw himself into the Thames, at Wapping, if my memory serves me right. I took him gently by the arm and led him to a nearby coffee-stall. Over a steaming cup of what I can only describe as coffee, he unfolded to me the sad story of social ostracism, disillusionment and despair.
“What is there left?”, he asked. “For ten years I have worked to prove that the Cro-magnon was more intelligent than modern Man, and”, he added with a brave attempt at humour, “it appears that I’m right! They just won’t listen.
“But surely there is something else you do Doctor” I argued. “It is unthinkable that a man of your qualifications should starve in the gutter.”
He laughed mirthlessly. “All that is left of my academic career is the right to prefix my name with the word, Doctor. That at least no can dispute.”
Then providence spoke; in the voice of a cockney coffee-stall owner.
“Did the gent say ‘e was a doctor. P’haps ‘e could tell me something for me feet, they ‘urt somefing chronic”.
“I’m afraid my friend is a psychiatrist”, I said inspired, “but try Boracic crystals in warm water. Bathe them in that, and sponge them with methylated spirit every morning. Here, I’ll write it down.” I did so.
I seized my friend X by the sleeve and bore him triumphantly away.
“Where are we going?”. He appeared bemused at the rapid turn of events.
“Why, to establish you in your new profession, of course” I cried gaily. “You heard the man. you are a Doctor.”
“Of philosophy”, he interjected, “not medicine”.
“Who’s to know the difference. I bet you an even fiver within five minutes of introducing you as Doctor X, nine f ten will be describing their symptoms.”.
But I know nothing of medicine.”
“That’s why I chose Psychiatry. All you need is a couch, a green-shaded table lamp and an imposing manner. You can swot up the vocabulary in an afternoon. Surely, “I said, as he appeared doubtful, “if you can gauge the I.Q. of an extinct man from a piece of his jawbone, you can sort out the comparatively simple mind of his successor”.
“I do believe you’re right”, he said, enthused at last.
I was, of course, he is now a great success, but definitely unqualified.
If you are still so set on being a bishop, a visit to him may well help you. His fees are very reasonable, and my ten per cent is always very welcome.
Copyright H. St. V. Beechey