There’s an urban legend that keeps rearing its head in our Cotswold town. Which brings me to the first problem of this post: can a rural village have an urban legend? I shall assume for the moment it can.
The legend, like all good legends, involves eccentric aristocrats and chow mein. One night years ago a member of the local landed gentry shuffled into the wine bar. He was wearing velvet slippers, as you do when you are landed gentry. The wine bar is chock full of toff-y types who do deference very well so nobody mentioned the slippers. Indeed they made sure their lord’s glass never went empty.
After a while the aristocrat got hungry and decided he fancied a Chinese takeaway. He shuffled off across the square to order his food, and this is where it all went south. The Chinese restaurant is strictly cash only, but naturally our lord doesn’t deign to carry the paper stuff on his person. He’s never had a need for it. He has “people” who transact on his behalf. Still, the owners of the Chinese takeaway are immune to class distinctions and make no exceptions.
Anticipating this conundrum, R. the barman was dispatched across the square to pay the bill. But if the person telling you the story has had a lot of wine, there’s a different ending where R. doesn’t figure at all. In this version the proprietors of the Chinese brandish a cleaver and chase the lord out the door while the wine bar attendees gape in horror. A lesson in Chinese democracy, nevermind the current owners are Malaysian.