My uncle needed some help with his computer, this is how it transpired:
First his major domo calls the house phone this morning, to enquire if I was awake and free to talk.
Once that was established, he called on my mobile. He explained that he was having some trouble remembering how to do stuff on his computer. Would I please come by and help him when convenient. This came only after the greetings and well beings had been established. No ungracious short cuts.
We fixed on this evening – his question – tea or drinks? I said around 5.30, he laughed and said ‘we will have to see whether that should be late tea or early drinks once you get here.’
I arrived to find him sitting at his table, the computer open and his notebook beside it, with all the issues neatly listed. Ready for me to arrive.
But first of course there was the matter of tea or drinks, which was resolved with tea before we started work and maybe drinks once we finished. ‘The important things in life must come before the mundane.’
His problems were dealt with in short order, he snapped the machine shut and said, ‘well then, time to put on the brothel slippers.’ I have no idea where the bits emerge from till today, I have known him some 58 years, this expression was new.
‘An old cavalry expression for relaxing of an evening’ he said, ‘ an officer did not walk into a brothel beating a drum!’
In today’s language they are called ‘desert boots’ probably not even that any longer, but essentially casual ankle high suede shoes with rubber soles. I was so entertained – the vision of cavalry boots thumping up a brothel stairway and the soft tread of the brothel slippers came quite vividly to mind.
I love these moments with the old folk, there is a grace and charm and such perfect courtesy – not to mention the snippets of trivial information that open a window into a world gone by.