Valentine Rose

‘What’s your surname?’ I asked him

He raised one eyebrow


‘Valentine Rose? Are you kidding?’

‘No I’m not kidding. It was my mother’s idea of a joke old sport. Actually, I rather like it.”

‘It must have been hell at school’

‘School? Oh, I didn’t go to school. Educated at home you know!’

He twirled his cane

‘My mother was very particular. Very, Particular.’

‘What’s she like then?’

“Oh, she’s a great beauty. The greatest some say.’

He said this entirely seriously and apparently without any conceit

‘Married beneath her of course. Her friends never really forgave her. Very proud woman. Very concerned with appearances. Gets quite jealous of the younger generation. Particularly the ones who aren’t in her social bracket.’

He looked rather regretful as he said this and took off his round, green glass, shaded spectacles and began to polish them. I noticed that he blinked a little in the light

‘Are you short sighted?’ I asked

He put the spectacles back on

‘Oh, I should say so. Practically blind old sport. Mind you it helps when you do what I do’

‘What do you do?’ I asked. The space around us suddenly seemed strangely hushed and far away

‘Oh, you know, I like to bring people together’

He paused and smiled at me, lit another cigarette then looked speculatively at the gathered people in the club around us

‘Or sometimes … tear them apart……’