His master’s voice

old_man_at_celeyran-largeSo, a man is sitting in the park eating his lunch and checking out the local talent, when this old man appears, coming down the path towards the bench where he’s sitting.

Now this old guy is old money, you can tell. The kind of money that bought a dozen very good suits on Savile Row in 1956 and is going to get every damn cent’s worth out of them. He’s a little old gent, well into his seventies, but wiry and strong, all decked out in a tweed suit, a smart green waistcoat, matched silk tie and pocket square, fob chain, and a spotless green homburg — the whole production – and he’s striding down the road like he’s being charged by the foot.

In his left hand, he’s brandishing a stout silver-tipped walking stick, and as he gets closer, the man can see that his other hand is cradling the end of a smallish house-brick which he has tucked into the crook of his elbow. It’s a perfectly nice brick – red, quite new, but with a couple of chips out of the near end. The brick has a piece of bright red string tied around it with a careful knot. The string loops down toward the old man’s knees and then back up, the end clutched in the same hand as the walking stick. The string dances and jiggles as the old man waves his stick at young people and rapscallions.

So he harrumphs up to the bench, stops with a crunch of gravel and an excuse me, young man, dreadfully sorry, do you mind? so the man says, yes, of course.

The old man rests his walking stick up against the bench, takes the square out of his pocket and brushes a speck of dust off the bench, leans over, still cradling the brick carefully with his arm, flicks a few leaves off of a patch of grass in front of the bench, replaces the pocket square and plops the brick down right in the middle of the patch of grass. He looks at the brick, moves it a bit to the right, loops the string around his shoe and tucks the end into his pants pocket, then settles back with a sigh of contentment to survey the view.

Now, the man has just about finished his sandwich, all except the dried up crust at the end, so he looks at the brick and thinks, why not? so he goes would your dog like a bit of my sandwich?

The old man looks round at him and says, I beg your pardon?

Your dog. Would it like the last bit of my sandwich?

I don’t have a dog, young man, says the old gent, his eyes boggling out a little.

Sorry, says the man, I just thought, and he points at the brick.

The old man looks down at the brick in front of him like he’s never seen it before in his life. He says, that, young man, that is a brick. You can tell from the fact that it is a damn brick. Does it look like a dog to you?

Well, says the man, it’s got a string tied around it.

The old guy is up out of his seat now. I hope, he says, that you are not suggesting I don’t know the difference between a brick and a dog? He grabs his walking stick and he’s waving it in the air, big random swings.

It’s all too much for the other man, and he bolts for it, shedding crusts and papers as he goes.

The old guy reaches down and picks up the brick.

“That fooled the little fucker, Fido. Good boy.”

[Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – Old Man at Celeyran]

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