Chapter One – A Knave’s Lucke
One of the comments on a previous Ask Jimmy requested tales of classic Mystery Method bar game and working in teams. These tales I have by the bag full. Back in the times of yore, long before knaves recognised the ease with which they could simply pound the streets on a sunny day to find themselves a fine wench, or use Tinder, there was genuine suffering, scarcity and loud music. Night game it seems is a dying art, and I can see why because day game is simpler, easier and much more effective for the lazy knave. But back in the mists of time, we had not this wondrous new technology. Nor did we have ‘the Facebook’. We didn’t even have MySpace at first. We had ye olde text messages, passion in our hearts and the night game teachings of a legendary old wizard. These are things of a now long dead age, but things you will all meet in the following story of magic, Christmas and bravery.
So get yourself a hot toddy, a mince pie and a seat by the fireside and jump into Jimmy’s time machine for a moment to experience a three part Christmas tale of a bravery and valiance that all took place in the distant past, when man rode only on horse-back* while dragons circled the air . And throw a few fog filled streets in to add to that ‘ye olde’ feel.
*and the South Western trains from Wimbledon to Clapham Junction, I can’t tell the story unless South Western trains from Wimbledon to Junction exist, so we’ll just fudge that bit.
We’re now far back in the mists of time, it’s all black and white and a yuletide spirit is in the air. We can see someone, emerging through that wispy wintry mist at Wimbledon station. Is it a great hero, a man of derring-do? Is it a selfless hero whose legend shall span the ages? No, it’s just me, nigh on 15 years ago! There I am! A long haired, lazy layabout. Look at me back then, a right useless knave, always looking for the short cut and a way to put my feet up early. How I have changed. If you’d asked me how to meet a girl back then I’d have had but one answer. ‘To the tavern, mate’, I’d have proclaimed. You see there was simply no other way back then. Yes there was the office, and the office was generous, but you had to rely on the luck of the hiring policy to bring you your fayre. There was online gayme, which was mostly full of rotters and porkers and still a bit embarrassing to admit to doing. There was ye olde speede-dayting for a while, which was great for about a month, but was then full of rotters and porkers. There were out of the blue occurrences like at the super markets or on the the South Western trains from Wimbledon to Clapham Junction, but you couldn’t survive off such an inconsistent supply. No, it was really just ‘the tavern’. That’s where you had to be. Be it at gigs, or salsa dancing or just being on yet another almighty bender, the tavern was the place to get the job done.
Young Jimmy and his knaves were a likely bunch. They were Northern of origin, base of intention and as daft as they came. The lowest of the low if we are to be honest. They spent a lot of time in the taverns and much fun was had, but there were so many distractions and drawbacks to game in the tavern that luck was all too often a deciding factor. Jimmy had little to complain about in life, but he was always left with the feeling that he was missing out on the secret of great riches. A knave he was, but was he not kind? Was he not generous? Was he not loveable? Was he not talented? Alas, he was in fact none of these things, but still he felt he was thoroughly deserving of a tumble with an 8.5.
One wintry afternoon with Christmas fast approaching, Jimmy was scurrying home earlier than usual from the office. Claiming a dose of some vague but impossible to pinpoint malady had raised eyebrows but won him an entire afternoon off and he planned to fill it like Faust, in pleasure and dalliance. There was a Christmas party starting at a local friend’s house and he intended to ‘get on it’ early. Being cheery of spirit is maybe why he took a slightly different route home that day.
‘I’ll get off a stop early and have a walk through the village, I’ll get myself one of the spiced yuletide pastries at the Giggling Squid’, he chortled as he drifted past carollers chiming ‘Good King Wenceslas’ and street vendors hawking horse chestnuts and toasted waffles. ‘Why shouldn’t I, I have all the time in the world. I am but a young knave and also a genius I am beginning to suspect, so I shall do what I want’.
And that he did. He did indeed get off a stop early that day and as he wound himself through cobbled streets of the familiar old village of Wimbledon, squeezing tight pathways lined with old stone houses, past the busy cafes and bars filled with early Christmas revellers, he savoured the spicy smells of the cinnamon buns and the sights of the festive ales on offer.
‘I’ll be back up here in an hour or two and I’ll have a right laugh’, he announced aloud to himself, imagining getting stuck into some daft wench after quaffing more than his fair share of the festive ale.
‘Huzzah!’ he yelled excitedly as his daydreams got the better of him, forgetting himself in the moment and setting people spinning around in alarm, clutching at their valuables. The thought of the forthcoming evening’s festivities spurred him on and now, turning away from his intended route, he turned his collar from the chilly afternoon air and pushed through the warm hordes drinking mulled wine at the Wimbledon Pentecostal Christmas market.
‘I’ll have to hurry up and take a short-cut through these dingbats’, Jimmy mused. ‘if I want to get to the Squid, get home and back here in time to not miss some of this festive ale’.
The Christmas market was a proud tradition in Wimbledon with a long history, as generations of traders had painstakingly built their reputations over the decades for this mere six weeks every year when they could return to the village and set up their colourful stalls and share their gifts with the world. As he pushed through the crowds Jimmy’s eyes took in a blur of rich colours, browns, greens and reds, stripes of German candy canes flew by his left, brightly coloured boxes of swiss chocolates up ahead, the noises of chatter filled the air in stereo as he veered to his right past a stall where kids in duffel coats pawed at crafted wooden childrens’ toys, asking their mothers for one more Christmas gift. It was a swirl of family fun, joy and good cheer, but thankfully in an hour or two all that crap would come to a close and the ale would flow as the venue became merely a great place for Jimmy and his merry band to do an early spot of Christmas wenching.
As he passed a spiced pie stand and slowed down to consider the trade off between the Giggling Squid, his favourite eaterie, and the succulent juicy ripeness of the Christmas mince that seemed to twinkle right in front of his eyes, out of the corner of his vision Jimmy saw something that made him look twice. Tucked away at the side of all the cacophony and chaos, between the sloped walls of some of the old village cottages, he saw a tiny alleyway, a ginnel that he was sure he’d never seen before. He’d been at this market 100 times and knew it like the back of a losing betting slip, but there had surely to his mind never been a street there. He glanced around as if to ask for confirmation from the cheery revellers, but although they were only an arms length away, they seemed to be out of his reach, oblivious even to his presence.
He gazed up at the plaque on the corner of the old stone, the name of the ginnel was obscured by ivy that draped itself over the wall. Thoughts of the Squid and mince pies were fading from his mind. He was strangely enticed by this queer little street. He drew a breath and slowly craned his neck to take in what appeared to be a light a few metres up the alleyway. To his amazement, there, just a stone’s throw from the Xmas revelry, in the gloom of the tiny alleyway was what seemed to be an olde curiosity shop throwing out a yellow glow from it’s tiny, almost hidden, entrance. Through the gloom of the ginnel he could see the illumination of a variety of unusual objects stacked up under a green awning, pushed up against the front of it’s olde peeling red framed window.
Drawn towards the shop, Jimmy began the few tentative steps which would change our brave young hero’s destiny for years to come.
Part two is coming soon. You can find Jimmy at his own blog here, though quite why you’d want to do that is completely beyond me.