"You know, we'd love to do it for you, we really would. It's just..."
I could sense there was a hammer blow being readied, as I sat outside my student flat, phone squished against my ear, awaiting the verdict of the girl's unnaturally straight-laced voice at the end of the line.
"Please, go on," I said.
"It's just, you're not a real Lord, are you?"
It was more crushing than I could ever imagine. Not a real Lord? In what sense was I not a real Lord? I sat in silence for a second; my face reddening and warming despite the cold air. I hadn't yet experienced anyone questioning my status since I had started out. I needed to know what she meant by not real. Of course I was real.
"I'm sorry, I don't understand," I said, trying to stay calm. I had my deeds. I knew the score.
"Well we hadn't actually heard of you prior to your email, so we checked Debrett's and they didn't have you listed...We assumed this was some kind of joke, sir."
I reminded her it was Lord, not Sir, and that it wasn't a joke. Why would she assume it was a joke, anyway?
"I am a real Lord, I'll have you know. I recently purchased some land in Lochaber, Scotland. One square foot. I may not be in Debrett's just yet, but I will be, soon enough." The comment sounded more than a little desperate, in retrospect. It was all I could think of saying, at that point.
"That's all well and good, but we always use Debrett's as a guide to the peerage..."
Damn Debrett's - I should have known. I had been wondering how significant not yet having my name on the 'list' would end up being, and now it was clear - it was extremely significant. Especially when you were trying to get a green suit made for you overnight by a bespoke tailor on Savile Row.
"We'd be happy to offer you a pre-cut black suit if you came in tomorrow, but as far as green is concerned, there's absolutely no chance. We'd have to make it from scratch, and well, you're just not important enough for us spend all night doing it..."
...OK, so she didn't actually say that last bit. She did say something along those lines, though. I just didn't happen to be listening because I was thinking about how it was now official -I'd failed the challenge Imants had set me. I'd let the whole of The Eccentric Club down. Or at least that's how I felt. Would they still want me in? I wasn't to know. I definitely knew I wouldn't be wearing a green suit to tomorrow night's Convivial Meeting, however.
"So there's no chance..."
"Not unless you suddenly tell me you're the Prime Minister or something. There's just not enough time otherwise, I'm sorry."
I told her I was the Prime Minister, but she chuckled to herself before breathing awkwardly down the line and waiting for me to speak. It was still a No. I decided to accept my fate and thanked her for her time, informing her I wouldn't be needing the black suit. What use would it be if it wasn't green? I already had a perfectly good grey one to take with me in any case, I didn't see the point. I looked up into the sky as spots of rain started to fall. I felt so damn dejected.
You see, up until that point, everything had been going swimmingly. I hadn't had much by way of reply from any of the Savile Row tailors I had emailed, but it hadn't mattered, because I'd been contacted by a suit shop in Redruth, Cornwall, who had told me they could get me a green suit made of tweed. I would have bitten their hands off if they hadn't been declaring this to me over the phone. Instead I decided to accept their offer, before hanging up and yelling whoops of delight down the aisle of the bus I was sitting on.
At the time, I didn't give it much consideration, because I'd been so excited I hadn't taken note of the date. It was to be shipped down from a manufacturer in Hertfordshire and arrive for collection on the 27th January. No sweat, I told myself. What could possibly go wrong? It was only the day before I was due to head over to London. There wasn't likely to be any problems, right? Plus they had given me a discount price for the rental of the clothing and offered to throw a tweed flatcap in, half price, if I was interested. At the risk of looking too much like a Guy Ritchie-wannabee, I turned the cap down and opted for just the jacket and trousers.
Over the following days I couldn't get a particularly striking image out of my head - me walking down Dover Street in Mayfair, looking country-dapper in my tweed suit jacket and trousers. There was no way this wouldn't help me fit in with The Eccentric Club. Plus it wasn't too overbearing for the first visit, which would make me feel less self-conscious at the event. I almost imagined myself as a slightly greener version of this rather dashing young man:
Aside from also not being a Chinese boy in New York, of course. But you get the idea - I was preparing myself to look good. The day of collection arrived without me even thinking of getting in touch with the Savile Row tailors once again, to give myself a back-up plan.
The problem was, the hours ticked by. I rang the shop over and over. The suit had yet to arrive. It wasn't an issue though, their deliveries were always late. As long as I was patient I would get my suit, and then I could head over to Redruth to pick it up.
Then, I received the phone call I had been dreading, around 4pm.
"I'm so sorry sir, our delivery has arrived. There appears to have been some kind of error..."
My tweed suit just didn't show up. They told me it would probably arrive the next day, but it dawned on me that I had to get a 7.23am train from Truro, and there was no chance of it being there by then and I couldn't change the tickets, I didn't have the budget. I pleaded with the shop for something else, but it was no use. With limited stock they could provide me with hunting gear, but that was it. Plus hunting gear wasn't available to rent. I'd have to spend hundreds and hundreds of pounds, just to end up looking like a turkey hunting turkey. If I was intent on wearing something green, I'd need to wait until the delivery the next afternoon.
I was distraught by this. The excitement of the green suit wasn't going to materialise. I cursed myself for having no foresight; I should have given myself another option to fall back on. I frantically rang around tailors and suit suppliers in Cornwall and London, but most of them were shut by now or just dismissed me as a lunatic; or even worse a fraud, like the lady on the phone. That was the nail in the coffin. The kick in the teeth. There was just no way I would be able to get what I wanted in such a short space of time. I'd be going to The Eccentric Club the following morning looking as dull as ditchwater, with some dishwater thrown in.
Lord Christopher Ward
- Lord Christopher Ward
- For those of you who are new to knowing me, I am Lord Christopher Ward. Second in line to the internet throne, third in line at the post office on a Wednesday morning. Currently a student studying Professional Writing in Falmouth, Cornwall, I envisage a world where I can surf, write, and use my title to get me free stuff. Just don't ask me how I got here; my memory is warped from time to time.