Being an Account of ‘Bull-dog’ Drummond’s Finally Final Round with Carl Petersen
This is what the author would like to call a ‘parodiche’, namely, a pastiche which is also a parody: it is hard to conceive of any imitation of a ‘Bull-dog’ Drummond story which is not also a spoof. So if the story is full of improbabilities, inconsistencies, loose ends, inconsequential rambling, pointless detail, happy violence, jingoism and class bias, it’s useful to remember that what we are dealing with is a ‘Bull-dog’ Drummond tale. It shouldn’t matter, just so long as it’s rattling good nonsense that gives the reader a bit of guilty pleasure …
In which Hugh Drummond prepares for breakfast
Some of England’s most illustrious sons have had their abodes in the environs of Piccadilly, on a stretch of space called Half-Moon Street in the City of Westminster, London. It may be remembered by those with any regard for literature that it was on this street, in the year 1768, that Mr James Boswell, to whom we owe the Life of Dr Johnson, had his lodgings. It will be unquestionably remembered by those with any regard for music that it was also on this street, in the years immediately succeeding the conclusion of the Great War, that Captain Hugh Drummond, to whom his neighbours owed the death of melody, had his lodgings.
On the morning which marks the commencement of this tale, these neighbours, not to mention the guests of the Flemings Mayfair Hotel and the Green Park Hotel, gritted their teeth and stopped their ears and winced in pain as the circumambient air was rendered hideous by a sequence of bellows emanating from one of the flats on the street. The flat in question, as well as the bellows alluded to, belonged to the afore-mentioned Hugh (‘Bull-dog’) Drummond, D.S.O., M.C., late of the Loamshire Guards. Captain Drummond was in his bathroom, engaged in what for him was an indispensable accompaniment to the commendable activity of observing personal hygiene in the bathtub that had been custom-built to accommodate his immense frame. My reference is to a very loud and profoundly tuneless rendering of the song which goes by the name ‘It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary’ and which ends with the assertion ‘But my heart is right there’.
That his heart was right there was so indubitably evident to his numerous involuntary auditors that they could not help wishing that the man would refrain from stressing the obvious. But no, he was not to be denied. ‘Goodbye-e-e-eee,’ he yodelled unmelodiously, ‘Piccadill-ee-ee-eee!’ As he hit the high notes in a dreadfully flat roar, Mrs Denny stopped her ears with her fingers, and in the style of forthrightly accurate critical judgement favoured by the distaff side of any matrimonial union, she addressed James Denny, her lawfully wedded husband and valet to Hugh Drummond, even thus:
“His singing sets me teeth on edge. Can’t he whistle or something, instead?”
“Oh yes, he can,” replied her husband proudly. “But careful what you wish for, my love. We once overran an entire infantry battalion in Ypres after the Captain first destroyed the enemy’s eardrums by whistling his version of ‘Pack Up Your Troubles’. You should of seen the look of agony on their faces when we descended on ’em. They was worse than shell-shocked.”
“I can believe that,” said Mrs Denny moodily. “If there’s a thing which that great big man can do without blunderin’ around like a bull in a china shop, I’d like to know what it is. Why, he don’t even sleep silently—the snores would waken the devil himself out of his slumber.”
To which Denny said nothing, but only smiled gently to himself, as he recalled to mind certain moonless nights in Flanders and the Ardennes when enemy posts were seized after the sentries guarding them had had their necks broken in the ghostly stillness of the small hours by a gigantically flitting shadow, moving in deadly silence and stealth, a shadow known to its confreres by the name of ‘Bull-dog’ Drummond …