Man in Debt
Chapter 13

Copyright© 2017 by Scriptorius

Holliday & String
7, Main Street
Chinfold Major
29 March

Trask, Blaimire & Co.
1, Haymarket
Lower Newton Godfrey

For the attention of Mr Henry Blaimire

Dear Mr Blaimire,

I have received your letter of 27 March and as stirring events – in more than one way – are upon us, I will be brief. I regret that you misinterpreted my comments concerning cucumber sandwiches. Believe me, I was thinking merely in terms of the delicacy of constitution that affects so many men of advanced years – by the way, I note that your words confirm my inference regarding your age. However, since you describe yourself as a first-rate trencherman, I will ensure that the same fare is offered to you as to others. I just hope that your denture fixative will be up to the job. Again, my intentions arise from solicitude and no derision is implied. If you persist in taking my motives amiss, there is nothing more I can say. It has been stated that there is no such thing as the last word in diplomacy, but I begin to doubt this.

As for my ‘bluster’, you will soon discover that I am quite capable of putting my money, or rather my play, where my mouth is. And by all means do your worst by bringing me a sample of your parsnip wine. You will find me equal to the occasion, at least up to the level of a couple of bottles. However, I cannot escape the feeling that you would be better off with a good burgundy, a potion usually considered suitable for a man in the ‘sere and yellow leaf’ of his earthly span. Further, I would advise you to refrain from putting your champagne on ice. In the improbable event of your needing it, I would make my telephone available to you, so that you could call your wife and ask her put the bubbly out to cool – slowly of course, allowing time for your team’s fleet of Morris Minors and suchlike to trundle back home for the celebration snifters.

We shall meet in three days in the Aytuzi v King matter which, I think you will agree, has become a diversion.

Yours truly,

Lionel String

Aytuzi Finance Company
Unit 3, White Horse Yard
Newton Godfrey
31 March

Cedric King
Poplar House
Halfpenny Lane
Little Chinfold

Dear Cedric,

Thank you for your letter of 28 March, to which I would have replied yesterday, had I been available. Unfortunately, my son Adam was ill with what we suspected was tonsillitis – happily a false alarm. The little fellow has recovered from whatever it was and is as fit as a fiddle. If you have a family, you will understand such matters.

Enough of my troubles. Cedric, my dear chap, can you really believe that you have replicated the solar furnace? By the way, I don’t understand why you didn’t use an empty gas bottle or something like that to ‘capture’ your inferno. Those things are quite robust, so do get one for your next essay into lunacy. That might give you an extra femtosecond of life before you incinerate yourself. I don’t want to see you crash face-down into the mud, but surely you appreciate that you are not the first one to claim a solution here? I mean, really, jam jars and the like. I could come up with something better myself.

You quote Lloyd George’s comment that one must be prepared to take large steps to cross a chasm. As far as I know, he didn’t say anything about doing it with a tightrope. Frankly, I think that this is what you are attempting, and my feeling is that you are about to topple into the abyss. I can only hope you will do so after honouring your obligations.

Your remarks concerning the fate of our planet are well taken, but you have missed one or two points. Maybe you are right about the mighty black hole, the possible doom by asteroid and whatever else you have in mind, but has it not occurred to you that we are faced with more immediate problems, such as the Atlantic conveyor, ozone depletion, etc? Cedric, everyone is going on about these things. Are you a genuine student of them, or just another quack? I would like to believe that the former is true, but your comments lead me to think otherwise.

While understanding your reference to our paltry earthbound affairs, I would point out that, high-minded though we may be, these matters are our limits. Allow me to draw your attention to contemporary fictional works. Only last week I saw a film in which a taxi driver remarked to his distressed fare that our world may be a heap of trash, but it is all we have. Are you getting the message?

With regard to Aunt Ethel, I must caution you against optimism. The event you describe might have been a last flicker, but could equally well presage a full recovery, upon which the old girl will probably disinherit you, leaving you dependent on your own seemingly flimsy resources. No, Cedric, you will not distract me by this stratagem any more than you will by the pseudo-scientific idea you mention.

Now, realising that you are mired in adversity, I take no pleasure in intensifying your pain, but I have bad news for you. Our eponymous headman has been here and spent some time grovelling in the records, with the result that he intends to take what he euphemistically calls an interest in your case. Believe me, Cedric, you would be more comfortable with a swarm of wasps in your hair. In my more fanciful moments, I think of Mr Aytuzi by the corruption of his name I have devised; Hate-Uzi – get it? Lest you should think that implies a dislike of firearms on his part, let me advise you that the reverse is true. In fact the old boy has a frightening collection of guns, which he claims are all harmless replicas. I don’t believe that for a minute. You may remember my telling you that the family of our grand fromage is of eastern Mediterranean origin. I understand that Aytuzi’s great-grandfather was known as the Beast of Beirut and my assessment is that our numero uno is a chip off the old block. According to our in-house gossip machine, he once squared accounts with a recalcitrant borrower by means of a duel. The result? Well, Big A is still with us, isn’t he? What of the defaulter, you may ask. Cedric, I implore you, don’t tangle with Bossman.

Your petulance is showing again. What brought about the outburst – a theatrical one even by your standards (have you ever thought of turning pro?) – concerning your earlier loan of £1,000 at 20% interest? The liver, is it? A pile of bile? I recommend more water with it, old boy. And do watch your blood pressure. These choleric fits do not bode well for you.

To set you straight, let me say that your former lender was quite right. When one repays a loan, the instalments comprise, unless otherwise specified, a mix of interest and principal, the former falling as the latter rises. Had you borrowed the sum for six months in the first place, your repayment schedule would have taken account of this and over the half-year you mention, you would have paid back more principal than you actually did, and the lender would have had that extra amount available to lend out to someone else. This is called ‘The Rule of 78’ (I will not belabour you with the technicalities) and is reasonable to anyone but a member of the awkward squad. Are you with me?

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