Indian in England

Musings of a student

Friday, July 01, 2005

Lunch with Lord Daffodil

THE other day I had lunch with Lord Daffodil in London. Daffodil is not his real name, of course, but what the heck. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, no?

Not that Lord Daffodil is a rose. Oh no. He is unlike any flower you care to imagine. But he is a real lord. I can vouch for that. Having spent bitter days with Lord Curzon, Lord Dalhouise, and Lord Mountbatten just prior to my school-leaving exams, I know the real item when I see it.

We happened to be together at a certain place during lunch hour. Since we move in the same circles, I felt duty-bound to buy him a sandwich. He was my guest, in a manner of speaking. And he looked hungry.

"Daffodil, old chap," I said, tapping him on his right shoulder. "You look hungry. Fancy a bite?"

"That would be lovely, old chap," he said gratefully. "I am a bit peckish."

"In that case let me get you a sandwich," I said kindly. "What would you like? White or brown? And you aren’t a vegetarian, are you?"

"Oh no, no. I eat everything. Brown, white, black, anything is fine!"

"Splendid. You stay right there then. I will be back in a second."

I got him a whopping big coronation chicken on brown and a whopping big coronation chicken on white for myself. He fell on it like a hound on deer. Not to give offence, I followed suit, and we sat there in companionable silence with our mouths full, grinning at each other. At least, I grinned. The lord was too busy.

Now, I am aware most of you plebeians have never lunched with a peer. Why, the majority of you might not even have seen a real live lord. So while Daffodil tackles coronation chicken, let me see if I can paint him for you.

I must say the good lord is quite an accomplished chap. Member of the House of Lords, psychiatrist, peacenik… and if that doesn’t impress you, he was deputy head boy in school (and he was only a teenager then, imagine) and a keen amateur musician (gave lungs as a baritone soloist in his younger days, I understand).

A man of many parts, certainly. Yet I was a bit disappointed. To me he looked more like the owner of a prosperous construction company than a lord. Average height, stocky, hairy hands, thick head of hair worn Salman Khan-style. And rather bullish shoulders… you know the kind that belongs to self-made men who work their way up by their 40s and then start going soft all over.

And the shoulders were a bit soft. At the beginning of our discourse I had given it a friendly poke -- purely in the spirit of scientific inquiry, you understand -- and it felt slightly squishy.

That said, Daffodil did have a personality. He wore a healthy, well-trimmed greying beard, which he stroked every two minutes. Together with his wide set eyes below rather mean eyebrows, he looked forbidding but distinguished. And when he lifted his sandwich for another bite, cufflinks gleamed gold at his white-sleeved wrists. So did two rings, on his right ring and left little fingers. Clearly this was a man who could afford his own lunch.

Sandwich finished, Lord Daffodil gave a little sigh of pleasure. He looked almost approachable.

"Ah, that was nice, wasn’t it?" I said. "We must do this again."

On second thoughts, I shouldn’t have said that. I am not sure I can spare the time to go out with the Daffodils this summer.