The era in which I blossomed was a difficult time. Post-war optimism had petered out, rationing was still in effect and there had been a wholesale conviction of bestiality served to all children’s radio show presenters because enough of them were proven guilty to suggest that they all must be. All that was left on the wireless was a series of quiz panels hosted by a poorly-educated man named Darryl and his constant inaccuracies were encouraging the national murder rate.
In my Father’s fiftieth year, he established moderate wealth after penning a series of terrifically well-received instructional manuals on the topic of ‘how to run the perfect bath’. His revolutionary theories thrust him into the upper echelons of society and he even claimed to have lathered up Alexandra of Denmark one night after drinking too much at a Royal Eurovision Party. “My randy Scandi Alexandy,” you would hear him ejaculate late at night, often while alone in his study.
Upon this ascent was where I met my first very close friend, The Venerable James Ferdinand Bambi III; a much respected fellow who had expertly navigated the razor-edged industry of log flume design.
“I tell you, it’s all about the big drop at the end, my boy,” he revealed to me in a whisper from the tightened corner of his mouth. “Make them drop and money the money don’t stop. That’s what we say in the flume industry.”
Bambi was an eccentric, caring man with soft hands, forever moistened by the juice of the flume. His wife, Mrs Jennifer Bambi, was the product of spectacular breeding and the heiress to a lucrative empire of intersection window-cleaning franchises. The Bambis were in their fifties when we first crossed paths but the chasmic difference in age stood no chance of preventing a wonderful friendship between James and I, in defiance of society’s norms.
I recall how bravely he responded to the accusations and the bitter indignation of those who cursed and berated him for mounting a friendship with a mere one-year old. But Bambi was not a man to be troubled by the speculation of others.
“You don’t get through life by just coasting along lazily and waiting for something to happen!” he would exclaim, before excitedly mentioning that actually sometimes you do, because that is precisely how log flumes operate.
Bambi was kind enough to furnish me with a brilliantly well-paying job at an entertainment facility owned by a dear cousin of his, an exuberant war widow named Ms Clara St Dawes, who had daringly gambled the state-funded compensation for her husband’s intriguingly-grotesque death on a horse named ‘Stern Willy’. At thirty-five-to-one odds, she’d won enough money to open her first of many entertainment venues at a local children’s hospital. The prized feature was a water-ride (of course designed by the Venerable James Ferdinand Bambi III) called Hades’ Delight, and it simulated a relaxing float through the bubbling, mystic river Styx before eventually plummeting into the Underworld. It was enchanting, educational and exciting; all that a child-in-need should need.
Stylistically, the ride was an acclaimed success and the local community were delighted by its inclusion, however several complaints were soon registered with regard to the awkward implicative nature and proximity to the cancer ward and so, regardless of the approval of the majority, the enterprise was eventually disbanded. Bambi mourned the malalignment of both his cousin’s hard work and his own artistry, and would recall in regret-soaked tones of how orderlies would continue to profit handsomely off the coins left in the mouths of fresh cadavers by friends and loved ones who had really gotten into the whole thing.
It did not deter Ms St Dawes, however. In a world frenzied by booming reputations and lines of credit approved on breast-size alone, she established what was considered to be the world’s first ‘petting pond’ near Kendal. It was there I worked as a Swan Wrangler for three months of the year, in the quaint summer of Northern England, wading into the chilly waters of Killington Lake to reprimand ducks for biting the eyes out of children’s faces. Despite succumbing to a fierce mint-cake addiction and developing trench foot, I look back on those days with a great fondness.
I experienced my first true love on the shores of Lake Windermere, where I met a teen-aged, freckled lass named Mortha. She owned an enigmatic voice that I assumed to be a Scottish accent until I discovered, six months later, it was the result of her being deaf. Mortha and I shared so much together; experiences, stories, opium-based foot wash and, eventually, the Epstein-Barr virus. We were completely in love by the end of my first summer at the petting pond and had she not been offered a part-time gig as the Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade, I suspect our lives would have followed a very different path.
But some things are not to be.
I returned to London at the end of summer via airship, wisely deciding to survive the journey which went against the fashion of the time. With a tidy sum of money in my pocket and a new world ahead of me, I pondered the man I wished to become. My dear friend, James Ferdinand Bambi III and his delightful cousin, the entrepreneurial Ms Clara St Dawes had both seized mighty legacies and I looked to them with the highest respect, but as I strolled through the streets of Chelsea, I considered the ceiling of their dreams. Did I simply wish to pursue a single facet of life and chase it endlessly, like a hungry fox to a single rabbit? Or did I wish to fully embrace the enjoyment of all rabbits, like a children’s radio show presenter (but not quite to the same far reaches of decency)?
There was much to consider as time poured way, however, my wonderings and wanderings would have to remain at ease for a moment. Life itself was conjuring an agenda upon my behalf.