1st November 1885.
THEY SAY THAT everybody has a book inside them. If that is true, then I can only imagine how many brilliant books I have nestling inside my noble form. Perhaps there was a tome of profound poetry poking at my pancreas; a collection of lascivious limericks soaking up the excess booze in my well-soaked liver; bewildering biographies pressing 'pon my bladder and forcing me to get up at half two every morning to urinate. My doctor tells me that the latter is merely a sign of my interminable creep into middle-age, but then again he lacks any poetry in his soul.
It was with this thought in mind that I decided that the world was finally ready for my literary outpourings. As a much respected and admired peer of the realm, I had lived a life that would boggle the mind of the common man, and which would undoubtedly make for a book so popular that it would become an instant bestseller, and me an instant millionaire. It would be an irredeemably selfish act to keep such thrilling tales and amorous adventures which have been a feature of my life all to myself, an act of cultural vandalism akin to painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa, or adding a pair of long johns to Michelangelo's David.
Thus, I found myself sitting at my desk, staring at a virginal sheet of paper, ready to issue forth inside of it with my mighty quill. This is it, Likely, I thought. Time to make history.
Time passed. The page remained blank. As it transpired, writing a great work of literature proved to be harder than I had imagined. Perhaps lubricating my brain with a glass or two of whisky would help the process along? It was worth a shot (pun intended). I pulled the service bell in my study, to summon forth my man-servant, Botcher.
Dutifully, the wretch quickly appeared. Botcher had been in my service for some twenty years now, and it had felt like a couple of decades too many. He hailed from a distinctly working class background, but far from showing gratitude for my benevolent act in plucking him from his filthy existence, Botcher seemed to regard me with nothing but contempt, a contempt that was etched on his craggy face as he strode into the room, dressed in his grey slacks and black waistcoat, his blonde hair neatly combed into a side parting. Outwardly he looked refined, but I knew of the true coarse nature underneath the smart clothes and hair wax. It was akin to wrapping a dog turd in silk ribbon. Certainly, it'd look nicer, but it'd still be a dog turd.
"Yeah? What do you want?" sighed Botcher, exhibiting the contempt I had just detailed above.
"I think you mean, 'How can I help you, my lord?'" I suggested.
Botcher rolled his eyes. "What do you want?"
I sighed. "I require whisky. Lots of it. I'm attempting to write the greatest novel of the era, and need some liquid inspiration."
"You're writing a book?" Botcher asked, a rather unwarranted tone of surprise in his voice.
"Indeed, why is that so strange to you?"
"Well, it's just that you rarely stick at anything. You took up fencing only to ditch it when you realised you'd have to attend lessons. You tried horse riding, but quit when you fell off that time - and even then you only fell off because you were as pissed as a fart and were sitting on the poor creature the wrong way round...."
"Alright, alright. This time shall be different. I can the feel muse coursing through me."
"Oh. Shall I fetch the bucket, too?"
"Just get me the drinks and stop being such a twat," I snapped.
"You know, I might write a book," Botcher added, plucking a tome off of one of my shelves.
"Really? I thought your sort just...ate books."
"I might write a book about the appalling conditions I face working for you. A real warts-and-all exposé, maybe bring you down once and for all."
"Botcher," I said, rising from my chair. "They say that everyone has a book inside of them," I continued, circling back to my opening rumination with great skill and elegance. "If you were to pen such a book, I dare say inside of you is precisely where it would end up, forcibly so."
Botcher smiled and pushed the book back into the shelf. "I'll get your drinks, boss."
I nodded in appreciation and sat back down in my seat. Any moment now, a story would begin.... and what a story it would be!