No booze on EgyptAir from Joburg to Cairo to Rome and so I got stuck into the best book I’ve yet seen on ‘Lucky’ Lord Lucan, the earl of the realm who disappeared in 1974 after murdering his children’s very British nanny in London.
Laura Thompson’s “A Different Class of Murder” is full of hitherto little-known detail on the upper classes, historically a brutal and unsavoury lot. Lucan disappeared never to be found. Officially declared dead recently, sightings of the errant earl were reported on-and-off in Zimbabwe for years.
His aristocratic family, like many with colonial hankerings, had a Barclays bank account in Bulawayo but it wasn’t touched and duly went into abeyance. There were never-verified claims he was hiding in the eastern mountains of Nyanga, evidently growing apples, and then in the wild bush of the southern Tuli Circle bordering Botswana.
The Lucan mystery obsessed the British press to the extent that a friend of mine working for the London Daily Mirror only needed to say there had been another sighting in southern Africa to get an all-expenses-paid trip to see his mother retired in Durban. With dollar signs in his eyes, he dreamt of finding Lucan one day – there would be a bounteous reward from the newspaper moguls of the day.
Laura Thompson’s book helped me through my 36-hour journey to Italy. Well known by now is that I have an affliction that robs me of my mobility and independence.
Except on the golf course, handicap is a derogatory word, according to etymologists. Cripple is worse.
Hobbling around with a walking stick not being able to move very far nor very fast is a bloody nuisance. Correctly speaking, say the etymologists, such a disability can be nobly and bravely borne.
At modern airports Point A to Point B can be miles apart. Wheelchairs, little electric buggies and elevators are necessary. Don’t try escalators on your own because if you don’t break your neck getting on you’ll surely break it getting off. (Pictured: the lift contraption to get you into and out of the aircraft.)
Fellow travellers look at you with pity, with resentment when you are taken to the front of the queues and with jealousy when you sail through diplomatic customs and immigration gates with no fuss.
How nice it would be to be a genuine VIP. Not one with an importance stolen from rigged elections like those I know. VIP also means one with very important money.
Lord Lucan’s upper-class chums stuck together. He was an awfully decent sort of chap, he couldn’t possibly have done it. Blood was found on his discarded clothing. Perhaps he jumped off a ferry leaving British shores. That was one theory. Another that he confronted a burglar and it all went horribly wrong so he fled. He had gambling debts up to his eyeballs. Was it his difficult wife he really wanted to get rid of?
We’ll never know. But it’s a great story – and how I love stories.
When things get bad, there should always be a way out, a bridge over troubled water. I certainly intend to master the uphill cobbled streets of old Ostuni to see the beautiful ocean vista unfold before me with this old gentleman to help refresh me at the top. He is Luigi Menazzi Moretti who started the family beer-making business 130 years ago.
Start living again. Carpe diem. Seize the day, seize the moment as if it were your last.