“Good evening!” said the Colonel. Cheerily.
I looked up and put down my pen. “Good evening Colonel,” I replied, “how can I help?”
“Oh, not so formal; never mind the Colonel,” he said, followed by, or so I thought, “Not a real rank anyhow, not the same as you, y’ know.”
I deduced from this that he was telling me that his commission was in the Territorial Army, however I did not react to the remark.
The door opened further and he stepped through the doorway into the office. “I was wondering if you have a telephone directory,” he said.
“Certainly, they’re in the outer office. I’ll show you.” I eased past him, leading him out to my Secretary’s office where a shelf held the entire collection of Greater London telephone directories. “What name are you looking for?”
“Not sure,” he said.
“Yes, I’m trying to find the number of my flat.” He said. The news that he owned a flat in London came as somewhat of a surprise, and it didn’t gel with the facts that he allegedly lived in Edinburgh and stayed in the Club when in London.
“Do you know the address? We might get that from Directory Enquiries.” My hand hovered over one of the telephones.
“Not sure of the address, “he said, looking and sounding slightly embarrassed for the first time.
“Um, that’s a bit tricky,” I said, while I pondered the situation surrounding a person who is unaware of his own telephone number, his address and the name of the occupant – which, taking his comments at face value, was presumably himself.
“Well, thanks, I’ll just have to go there.” With that he turned on his heel and disappeared. I walked slowly back into my office, wondering how he was going to get to his flat if he didn’t know the address. Maybe, I thought, he had a photographic memory for the location of the flat. I paused by my Secretary’s desk and glanced at the bedroom occupancy list sitting on her desk. My eye fell immediately upon the name of the Colonel. He was shown as resident in one of our single bedrooms.
It took a couple of weeks for the penny to drop. The Colonel had by then engaged the services of a prominent and successful lawyer who was also a member of the Club. The Colonel had also taken the opportunity to be more closely on hand to offer advice on divorce proceedings to his new girlfriend, and had taken up occasional occupancy of the lady’s flat. Despite what had been said previously, the divorce was still ongoing. His new lady, now being introduced as his fiancé, began to be seen regularly in the Club, frequently taking lunch with her new protector and his – their – lawyer.
One of the many intrigues that adorn the pages of ‘Four of Clubs’