Chere Julie, dear Jules. (revisited.) Part nine.
My beloved Julie.
I arrived in Buckinghamshire this afternoon. Jacqueline was kind enough to place her helicopter at my disposal and we
enjoyed a very pleasant journey. We would have taken the Lear Jet but it was undergoing maintenance and was
unavailable. At first Jacqueline was angry and annoyed because she dislikes the time spent travelling and said she
preferred to be either here or there but not somewhere in between. When I reminded her that we had hardly seen each other
in the past few months and we could use the time to catch up on the developments in each others’ lives her irritation eased.
By the time we left the coast of France behind she had become very agreeable company and recounted the story of the time
she had taken the Concorde to New York.
As you know, Jacqueline uses her own private transport and only reluctantly takes a taxi when it is unavoidable. She had
never been in a large airport before and she found the experience horrendous and vowed she would never do it again. The
worst thing was having to queue and she instructed her chauffeur to offer money to the people ahead of her to allow her to
go to the front. Some of them were very willing but many of them refused in spite of being offered quite large sums. When
she went through the metal detector it rang madly on account of the jewellery she was wearing and had refused to take off
when requested. The officials insisted on a body-search and Jacqueline refused to comply with their wishes. She
demanded that she be allowed to contact her lawyer as she wished him to be present if she was to be stripped naked and
humiliated in public. The official relented and allowed her to pass without inspection but she made a big mistake in
pressing a large sum of money in his hand as she passed and thanking him profusely. Just moments later she was
surrounded by a dozen CRS soldiers carrying machine guns and several men in white protective overalls bearing what
looked like fire extinguishers. She was ordered to lie down on the floor and spread her arms and legs akimbo.
Until that moment, Jacqueline assured me, she had remained calm and good-humoured but she had no intention of
complying with such an outrageous demand. Jacqueline has studied more than a dozen martial arts and is more than
proficient in four of them including Fung tze-kwang which is practiced by less than a hundred disciples on a small, remote,
island off the coast of Borneo and is the most feared of them all. Just fifty years ago there were more than a thousand
adherents but as Fung tze-kwang always involves a fight to the death their numbers have dwindled. Jacqueline kicked off
her shoes and dropped into the ‘sleeping-cat’ position with one eye open. The soldiers kept their distance and the crowd of
onlookers, which now was several hundred strong, gasped and inched away. Jacqueline crouched, apparently somnolent,
but acutely aware of any nuance of change in the attitude of her adversaries. She was ready to pounce like a lioness in a
group of caged Impala when a government minister who was a regular visitor to her home happened to pass by,
recognised her, had a few words with the commanding officer and secured her release. For her journey back from New York
she arranged her own transport.
The weather in Buckinghamshire has been glorious today and I spent some time sitting next to the carp pond where we first
kissed. We had such hopes and dreams, dear Julie, and the future was like an unopened present placed under the
Christmas tree waiting for the prodigal son’s return. We opened this gift and found more than we had expected. If time could
be turned I would twist it on its heel and lead it like a lamb back to the fold. I would go back with you to that carp pond and
start afresh. I wish we could revisit that pond together, erase the past five years, and begin anew. While we were together I
did not think I could love you more but in the week we have been apart I realise that I have merely scraped the surface of my
love for you and I want to plumb the depths of my affection.
In recognition of Jacqueline’s presence there will be a banquet this evening and already I can smell the semi-sweet aroma
of a brace of wild boar which are being turned slowly on a spit over glowing embers by two local boys who are naked to the
waste and drenched in sweat. They love this task and there are always many who volunteer to do it and so a few are,
invariably, disappointed. They are not paid for their labours as it is a respected tradition on my cousins’ estate that it should
be an honour to serve the family and it would be wrong to besmirch the act of genuine servitude with an exchange of vulgar
financial recompense. There are five villages on the estate and they take turns to supply boys for duty at the spit.
I must bathe and get ready for the evening. I have been informed that the theme will be, once again, Robespierre. It is a very
popular theme in this house as he was renowned to be immaculate in his attire and personal matters and allows the
guests to dress in their finest clothes. Some consider Robespierre to be a hero for his instigation of the reign of terror but in
this house he is considered a dictateur sanguinaire – a bloodthirsty dictator. All the male guests will wear bandages around
their faces to indicate the injuries he suffered when, prior to being arrested, he attempted suicide by shooting himself
through the head but managed only to shatter his jaw. At the end of the evening we will rip off the bandages, embrace each
other warmly, and dance around the guillotine which has been erected on the lawn. This is the original guillotine that was
used to be-head thousands of true patriots whose only crime was to love their country too much. It is ironic that it is the
same guillotine which was used for both our beloved king Louis XVI and Robespierre himself which my cousins’ ancestors
purchased and brought to England in the early 19th century. It has been adapted with a sound system and is able to play
both quadrilles and madrigals. At the end of the night an effigy of Robespierre is guillotined to tumultuous applause and the
rousing strains of La Marseillaise. Jacqueline will wear a Marie Antoinette costume, of which she has many, and Julien has
lent me a magnificent suit of clothes that Leslie Howard wore in the 1934 film version of the Scarlet Pimpernel.
It is painful to know that you are just a car journey away from me but the distance between us cannot be spanned at this
moment. I hope, with all my heart, that one day we will be reunited and go forward into a brighter future. I love you as much
as I am able and will love you more as time passes.
Please pass my warm affection to your family.Jules.
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