“The hoi polloi” – possibly the most damning phrase ever to be uttered, after “I’ll have a glass of the house red.” As even my man knows, ‘hoi’ is Greek for ‘the’, so the unfortunate utterer is actually making a sort of cross-lingual stutter, condemning himself to the very class he is trying to distinguish himself from.
Habits of the polloi are incredibly contagious, and must be guarded against. When I gave my man a day off last year, I found myself putting on my Crockett and Jones black lace-ups without a shoe horn. When my man heard of this such was his sense of personal failure that he made me vow to never give him a day off again. I felt honour-bound to aid him in his quest for betterment.
Betterment was Casanova’s reason for visiting London in the summer of 1763 – he had just been accused of trying to defraud a fifty-two year old Marquise of her fortune to pay his mounting debts, and wanted a chance to start afresh as well as avoid jail. Used to the squalid conditions of Venice in the summer, he found London a balm. “English flies even kiss with more gentleness,” he commented, in the first known example of hormonal entomology. The Pitshanger Poet archives note a visit he made to us during that August, wanting advice on how to write a love poem to convince the Soho-based courtesan Marianne de Charpillon to sleep with him – money was not enough of an inducement. A rare woman indeed. It seems the recommendations given to him were ineffectual, and, as punishment, he vowed to never mention his visit in his Histoire de ma vie.
We were surprisingly not short of summer visitors in tonight’s meeting, a tribute to the writers’ work ethic and nothing to do with a love of the cheap alcohol in the bar afterwards. John Hurley kicked things off with a gripping poem about a deathbed confession. Then David Hovatter read a meditative piece on a seventeenth century Dutch painting depicting a dead tree, followed by Caroline Am Bergris confronting a volcanic mirror. Sandeep Sharma pleaded for lessons to be learnt from the witnessing of terrible events, while Clare Glynn Chitan imagined the lessons a green-eyed cat was giving her. Owen Gallagher brilliantly described the Scottish Diaspora, and Daphne Gloag evoked memories of shared games of love. Helen Baker offered an unusual commemoration of the beginning of World War I, and Alan Chambers dreamily described a boat passing through a lock. Finally, Martin Choules told us about an epic rainstorm.
A rainstorm had threatened to spoil this evening but decided against it, and we were able to go home dry in some ways, if not others. Should you get caught out in the rain, my man recommends the Shoreditch 2 Modern Herringbone Fulton umbrella. If you have been, thank you for reading.