A grey sky hangs over the Potemkin village that is London. Mr Lush, disturbed by the newspaper-reading taxi drivers, shoulder-worn submachine guns, and amphibious tourist vehicles, slowly limps toward his barber’s shop in Mayfair. Upon arrival, he kindly asks him to close the window; the jack-hammers do sound so dreadfully vulgar. He asks for a glass of champagne and, as the perlage is too strong for him, he wipes a tear out of the corner of each eye with a hand-rolled silk handkerchief (passed down through the generations, of course). He gently stirs his champagne with the champagne beater attached to his Victorian watch chain until he is sure that the sparkling wine is sufficiently calm. He requests that the last few drops be filled into his perpetually empty flask.
I give it to the man who shines my shoes for that final little touch. The lustre is out of this world, I tell you. Beau did the same, he explains to his barber, whom, with exaggerated gratefulness, accepts the tip of one pound sterling after sprinkling Mr Lush with lavender-scented eau de cologne.
Freshly shaven and sufficiently recuperated, the old bespoke shoes carry their wearer to the aforementioned shoeshine shop. Mr Lush always prepares special jokes (the same which his father had already shared at the exact same establishment) for his visits. The oft-repaired shoe is cleaned and shined with the unwanted champagne. Of course, a special emphasis is placed on the glaçage of the black toe cap – an essential part of Mr Lush’s Etonian uniform.
Shining, Mr Lush taps towards the family tailor’s establishment. He had been asked to stop by for his second fitting. Mr Lush had decided, after he had sold the bespoke suit from his school days to the gardener – at a very fair price, he feels -, to do his tailor a favour. However, he found it rather ungrateful that he should be expected to pay the family price (unchanged for 50 years) up front in full. The mood was already tense at the first fitting and has not improved in the meantime. Mr Lush, therefore, has no qualms in making use of his inherited masochism and decides, as a punishment, not to tell any of his father’s jokes. However, as he throws over the basted suit, the calm feeling of righteousness is washed away. Mr Lush is furious at the state of the lapel and he repeats what had already been discussed in detail: His lapel should reflect the current political situation in the capital. However, in its current state, it resembles those of his father’s and his grandfathers’ suits. The humpbacked tailor (though frail with age, he remains an assertive man) asks in a cautious but unmistakeably irritated voice: How then should I imagine such a lapel to look like? It is most certainly not peaked! Mr Lush glances at his non-functioning pocket watch in a manner perfected after years of training, and says he must be on his way now.
While walking home, he instantly recognizes an old friend from some distance away. This friend has lent him two cigarettes every time they have met since their school days. In return, Mr. Lush always provides matches – as is the case today. Mr Lush puffs on one of the cigarettes with his old friend. The second he places in his patinaed silver cigarette case to save for later in the smoking room (more commonly known as ‘the kitchen’).
After the first step on his half-mile journey, Mr Lush sighs in exhaustion that London is simply not what it used to be. Upon reaching his goal and slipping into his house slippers, the man of the house asks the wide hallway: Where is Mrs Lush? – She’s chasing capital!, echoes back. DC/MM