CB Fry and The Titanic

April 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

“I am Charles Burgess FRY!”

Thus I shouted as the policeman gripped my arm, and attempted to lock an iron bracelet around my wrist. The nerve of the man. The sheer unadulterated nerve!

It’d started pleasantly enough. I’d been dining at the Savage Club with two compatriots. We were picking over the ruins of the Lords match in which the Chinaman Ellis Achoo had devastated England with a new ball he had invented (that I named “the bad one”). It came as no surprise to me that the inept buffoons had lately lost their nerve, led as they were by that odious urn of excretia, Grace.

In any respects I was preparing to eat the haunch of pheasant cooked with a modicum of plumage which was when I discovered that I had no fork. Well of course one cannot eat pheasant with one’s hands these days and so I decided to take my neighbour’s. Doyle, however, is a most cantankerous fool and refused me.

Angered I took the nearest thing that I could find– a gold fork lying in the display cabinet on the wall and buried it deep into the partridge. As I raise it to my lips, I notice the room’s eyes on me!

“What,” I shouted out loudly as Messrs Rees, Jakes and Fosworthy looked on. “Think I know not how to eat a pheasant?”

I brought it to my lips and bit hard. Ah it tasted good. I was masticating it when a servant came over and stood above me.

“What is it you blithering idiot? What do you want?”

“Um, Sir,” quoth the discomposed lackey. “Please, but you may not use that fork. It’s not for use.”

“I’ll use any fork I like you fool. How dare you interrupt my luncheon. Now go away.”

“Sir, that fork belonged to Lord Nelson. We have it here on special display. It is priceless. It is gold!”

To say I was angry would be an understatement. I buried the fork deeper into the pheasant and ate directly from it, licking the utensil from top to bottom.

There was a visible gasp around me.

“Someone call the police,” arose a shout.

And then Doyle approached me with a grim look on his untidy face.

“I am arresting you in the name of the king.”

Well I wasn’t having this lickspittle arrest me and so I served him a mighty blow to his face. He went down in a crashing heap. Unfortunately another man took me from behind. He had grasped my arms in a lock and weighed me to the floor.

“I arrest you sir, for defiling Nelson’s fork!”

There were thirteen of them Poesy all upon me. I could not take them all, though I tried.

A few hours later I was at the dock of the Queen’s Court in the Old Bailey. The magistrate, Lord Kempton, used to be a friend of mine. We had shared rooms at Oxford. Unfortunately he had been lost to law and the sentence that he issued was a harsh one.

“You are to serve fifteen days in Pentonville for the defilement of her Majesty’s property!”

This could not be true. What travesty! For, Poesy, I was due to sail with the England XI to Australia in ten days time!

“No,” I cried. “You cannot do this. I am to sail to play cricket in Australia! You will undo a lifetime’s work!”

Kempton understood my plight but said the law was blind and that his hands were tied.

“Fear not Fry,” says he, “you will be there. We will get you to Australia. There is another boat. The greatest ship of her kind. She is faster, more navigable and more commodious than any other and she sets sail in 15 days. Her name– The Titanic!”

Fry’s Titanic diary

Day 1

Gods! Finally I am set sail. Three days after my teammates are already departed. They en route while I languish here in the bowels of this ship.

In truth this ship is a hideous wreck. My quarters, are cramped, and carry a foul air of pestilence.

Day 2

I dined with the Rt Hon George Absquith this evening. Lady Margaret and I did make badinage. My repartee was unparalleled. I got quite drunk on the champagne and tried to follow her back to her cabin, but she would not let me inside. One day she will realise what she has lost.

Day 3

Canapes on the pavilion this evening. There is muttering of war. I tell everyone not to be stupid. Who would make war on the English? These are the days of peace and freedom. The only war is to be made on the pitch! Ha! I get quite drunk and attempt to swing from the chandelier in the main hall. Luckily I see sense and merely swan dive off the parapet.

Day 4

Managed to get a net today. I commanded one of the deck hands—a small boy named Toby— to throw me a couple. One of my shots was hit so hard that it loosed a lifeboat. Ah well they will never need that!

The captain is a rum bloke called Smethwick. I fancy he likes a bit of the lash.

Day 5

Supine supernumeraries! What an experience. I was playing tennis on the deck with the Rt Hon William Perry this morning. As I closed the match with a smash to his head, I saw a fine form floating past. O but how! Dressed head to toe in willowing white cloth she’d come to play. Her name is Penelope Simmons. I am enamoured. I am entrapped.

Day 6

Curses. I have been dreaming about my team. I cannot help but wonder how that adipose barrel of butter Grace is faring. Undoubtedly he is turning them against me. On my boat! Where I should have been. If only we could go faster. I will tell the captain of this junk to burn more coal! Fry needs to reach Australia!

Day 7

Good, we are making time. I threatened the captain last night to increase our speed to the maximus. He pointed that we were already travelling as fast as we could. Then I looked at the map. “There,” I said to him. “Why can’t we go that way?”

“Those are the North Atlantic straits Sir,” says he. “They are the most treacherous waters in the northern hemisphere.”

“O you quaking, quavering fool. Are you English or are you a coward? What straits ever bowed the English before. We must go that way—through there avaunt!”

After some hard slaps to the face the fool saw sense. Finally we are catching them!

Day 8

I mustered up the courage to speak to Penelope. What an angel. She is going to holiday in India with her parent. I asked her if she likes cricket. She said yes and asked me the same. I could only look away and blush.

Day 10

I must break out of my cabin.

Day 11

The weather turns against us. These seas are cold. The ladies and gentlemen of the ship had a dance today. I charmed and wooed every lady. But my eyes were set on the fairest of them all. Penelope! We danced three roundels and a waltz. Ah the romance. At the end she slipped me her glove. I feel she is smitten.

Day 12

I had a vociferous argument with the captain. The fool tells me we must change course. The seas are too rough by day. We shall sail by night then, says I. Under the stars. He tried to protest but I whipped him into understanding.

Day 13

I have grown closer to Penny. She calls me Charles now. How felicitous!

Day 14

O the error of my ways! O dogged mistakes! O painful fate! Earlier this afternoon I thought that I would surprise Penny by calling at her chambers and escorting her to luncheon. I reached her room to find the door ajar. Thinking my arrival would surely be a charming surprise I crept in. O but what I found! She was there lying insensate on her sofa. Her eyes drooped into a sort of oblivion and she made soft moaning noises. Lying next to her on the floor was a bottle of morphine! She is a morphineuse! I left immediately.

Day 19

I have been in an ill humour for ten days now. Penny keeps calling around. She told me that she had taken medicine for an old ailment. I do not believe her. Fie the liar!

Day 20

Today was another dinner. An American braggart was there—his name Boy Hoover. He is a large man and considers himself to be possessed of the deepest bass in the world. Over dinner I challenged him to have it out. Thus we stood abreast of each other. He went first. Indeed he produced a note of such ungodly profundity that I thought it would stir the beasts out of their briny lairs.

But he had not reckoned with Fry! I opened my mouth and yodelled a note of such ear-splitting intensity that many thought it was the ship’s foghorn itself. Ha! The American is defeated.

8pm

It was the ship’s foghorn!

8.30pm

The captain has been down in a funk. He announced that we have struck something in the water. I told him not to be foolish.

9pm

The ship is still. We do not move.

10pm

I am on deck. The scene is a riot. I believe we have hit a berg! The captain has lost him mind. I saw Penelope running around in circles! The poor wretch has lost her parent. She is like a little bird and relies on me utterly.

10.15pm

God I cannot get to a lifeboat. It’s women and children first. Do they not know that I above all need to get to Australia.

11pm

Uff the ship sinks. This is serious. I see all the women are off. Penelope has boarded one. In the confusion she lost her parents. She sees me. Suddenly she stands and screams “You are the only man I ever loved CB.” O God !How could I leave her. How could I let her go? NO! You are CB Fry. I will reach her boat. I can jump it! Yes I can jump this distance.

11.23pm

I made the boat! I produced a new world record long jump and bounded out of the poopdeck and into the lifeboat where Penelope sat. Unfortunately the force with which I hit the boat unbalanced it and sent Penelope flying out miles in the air and out into the sea. I trust that she will have been rescued by an able sailor.

Postscript

The voyage was a perilous one. But I made it. I rowed for 16 days without food nor water until I made it to the southern tip of Australia just in time for the Melbourne Test. That same day I scored 141 and took 4 wickets for a measly figure. As ever I was a success.

But I never heard from Penelope again. They found her chiffon skirts floating downstream, and no one knows if she was alive or not. The tragedy of the Titanic will be told for years to come. God bless her and all those who sailed in her.

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