After a rather rough landing somewhere in Neuilly, followed by unpleasant conversations first with the local police and then GIGN, our four heroes sit in the Urostar back to London with a permanently one-way ticket. There will be no future visits to France. Olivier has been shaking his head for literally hours at this point. He just can’t quite grasp the level of stupidity that he has to deal with.
After a quick investigation into Lush’s finances (and a good laugh on the part of the investigator), it was decided that there would be no financial punishment. French authorities decided that the worst punishment for an Englishman was public shaming. This is indeed true, although the feeling of public shame was oddly familiar to Lush. The Zebraffes, it should be noted, didn’t really mind.
Upon arriving in London, the three culprits walk to Lush’s apartment with their heads bowed. Lush due to shame, the Zebraffes to avoid hitting their heads on the light fixtures in the hallway. Olivier has been chastising them intermittently for hours, but nothing quite matches his fury when Lush breaks his key off the lock of his apartment’s door. Olivier has told Lush to replace the lock for years. Before Olivier can launch into a possibly-endless howl, Lush interrupts him. ‘I know someone who can fix this. However, I will need your help, Olivier.’ The ocelot does not look remotely pleased. As Lush knows all too well, hell hath no fury like a kitty cat scorned.
Leaving their light luggage with a neighbour, they set off into the city seemingly designed by Sergei Eistenstein. As they pass through the streets, they hear penguins singing songs from a long-forgotten lockdown during a global pandemic. Nina Simone’s I Wish I Knew how it Would Feel to be Free’ makes a particular impression on both Lush and Olivier, but for very different reasons.
‘I wish they would FUCK OFF with their singing’, cries the ocelot.
‘We’re almost there!’, replies Lush.
They turn at the next corner and ring at the second house on the street. Sounds of what is obviously a massive party emanate from upstairs. They are buzzed in and make their way up the wooden staircase to the first floor. It has become apparent that Lush has taken his friends to a party thrown by his ex-wife and her new husband. The guest list is made up exclusively of acquaintances and friends of the Lush family whom have all sided with the wife after the divorce.
Still standing in the hallway, Kiki gives Lush a quizzical look. ‘You fo’ real, bro?’
‘Sometimes, a man has to do what a man has to do’, replies Lush with a sigh.
Keeping his head down, Lush leads the gang to the balcony as inconspicuously as possible. Given that he is crashing his ex-wife’s party accompanied by two very large bio-engineered hybrid animals and a talking ocelot in a suit who looks furious, this is not inconspicuous at all. By the time they make it to the balcony, everyone at the party is staring at them. (Except Dave. He’s a cool guy. Dave minds his own business.) The members of the Reform Club are all standing on the balcony in various degrees of intoxication, having just finished a rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine designed to cure all of the world’s ills. As they begin their tribute to the penguins by singing the same Nina Simone song, Lush spots who he is looking for.
His old-Etonian cigarette friend raises an eyebrow as Lush approaches.
‘Sorry to bother you, but I’m in a bit of a pickle’, says Lush digging the broken key out of his pocket and showing it to his companion.
‘From what I hear, that’s not your only problem. Paris is lovely this time of year, isn’t it?’, he laughs malevolently.
‘I suppose that I deserve that… However, do you think you might be able to help me here. I recall you kicking down a door or two back at Eton. I can’t get into my flat.’
‘I fail to see how this is my problem, Lush. I think it’s time for you and your friends to… fuck off.’
His ex-wife, having followed the looks of all of the guests at the party only to find that they lead to her ex-husband, approaches Lush and slaps him on the face from behind. ‘How dare you come here unannounced!’ It is time to beat a customary retreat. His head still lowered, Lush leaves the scene with Oliver (still shaking his head) and the Zebraffes following close behind.
Back on the street, they can still make out the sounds of laughter from the balcony. Lush turns to the group and says nonchalantly: ‘Perhaps not my best idea. Anyone have any suggestions?’
Even Olivier cannot continue to hold a grudge after seeing Lush so thoroughly humiliated. Wrapping his arm around Lush, he says: ‘Next time, just ask me right away. I’ll call Ingo Messerschnitt. However, I do have one condition. We must never see any of those people ever again.’
In response, Lush simply raises his head for the first time in days and hums to himself ‘You don’t mean a thing, if you ain’t got that swing”.