October 26

Harboring Terrorists

Many a time have I said that the only thing I dislike more than a bigot is a Catholic, and it has oft given me grave moral concerns that I consort daily with a man who embodies the less flattering of these troubling qualities.

Anyone who has been following events in Parliament lately will know that, thanks to the noble, patriotic work of a gentleman named Titus Oates, a vast Papist conspiracy has been uncovered that threatens the very fabric of English society. And readers of Peep This Diary will doubtless be asking themselves the very same question that I have been pondering this day: Is Sean a terrorist? Perhaps more importantly, could my close association with this man reflect badly upon me if public sentiment against Catholics grows as more information about this Popish plot surfaces?

I have ever considered my duty to King and country a sacred one, while loyalty to my friends (as truly important as it is to me) is in comparison, but a convenience. And so it is with no regrets at all that I have decided to begin keeping a very close watch on Sean's daily activities—that I might discover evidence of his malfeasance (if such exists) to protect me in the event that I am questioned about our connexion.

Patrick's brother Edward has generously committed to engage some gentlemen who will follow Sean during the day this week, and I will report back should any damning information come to light. For now, though, Sean and I have plans to spend the evening drinking together. It is the duty of the law to judge him innocent or guilty—for my part, I can only be so magnanimous as to judge him on his merits as a friend. And I am immensely proud to call him one. For the time being.

October 20

A Plea to My Friends

It took me full three hours after waking this morning to notice that the house was uncharacteristically peaceful, and that the reason for this new-found tranquility was the unexpected absence of both Patrick and Sean from the premises. And it was only just now that I remembered why it was that they were gone. My recollection is somewhat hazy on the subject, but the substance of the matter is that I may have accidentally set the dogs upon them last night in the course of a heated discussion that we were having about house guests who have outstayed their welcome. It has been almost a full day now since the event, and I am quite concerned that they may have interpreted it to mean that they are no longer welcome here, which is not true, as I find myself completely at a loose end without them. So, Patrick, Sean: If you are perchance reading this, please be advised that although I consider it pretty shabby of you both to have left so abruptly, I shall not stand upon ceremony and ask for an apology. You may return at any time that suits you, and we shall let bygones be bygones.

Update: My manservant, George, informs me that the conversation about house guests which I refer to above only took place in my head. Apparently, I walked out of my chambers and set the dogs upon them without provocation while they were dining. I will admit that this was perhaps a little extreme and I apologize for it, though I am certain they must have done something to deserve it. Nonetheless, this may be a good time to impose some restrictions on my afternoon drinking habits.

Late Update: As Addy points out, this incident was clearly not my fault at all. George has been summarily let go, and as soon as he recovers from the dog bite, I may well press charges against him for his shameful negligence in this matter.

September 22

Of Prostitutes and Penury

You will doubtless be expecting some sort of an apology from me, after my faithful promise in my last post that I would be more diligent in keeping this blog up to date. You will receive no such thing. Indeed, now that I think upon it, it is I who should be demanding an apology from you: To think that I provide a free service in this diary about my life, which is of inestimable value to the community at large and to those who hang upon my every word, that they might distill the precious nectar of wisdom from the blooming flower that is my prose ... and you expect an apology from me for not updating more frequently. The imposition is almost too much to be borne. You may leave your regrets and imprecations in the comments section. I am quite put out.

Fortunately, my awareness of a greater purpose requires me to forebear for the time being and acquiesce in providing you with that precious insight into my daily life and doings which is, doubtless, quite as important to your moral sensibilities and your ability to face life with courage and Christian virtue as a nutritious diet is to your physical wellness.

Yesterday, at the whorehouse where I work, there was a scene of such chaos and anguish that I had half a mind to burn the place down upon the spot—whores and all—and collect the insurance money. I will not say that I was surprised to learn that Rebecca Fagan, Sean’s she-devil of a wife, was to blame ...

She had been, evidently, to the Crimson Unicorn the night previous under pretence of looking for her husband (who is at present hiding in my home, as she well knows). While there, she took it upon herself to fill the heads of my employees with such poisonous nonsense that it will cost me a fortune to undo the damage she has done. To wit: I now stand accused by my entire staff (and this is a word-for-word quote, I assure you—I could not fabricate such nonsense myself) of “not respecting their boundaries as women.” This notion—whatever it might mean—is perhaps the most dangerous idea to enter a respectable den of prostitution since it was first posited that members of the fairer sex possess souls and thoughts of their own. I have already been forced to increase wages throughout the entire establishment—and I hesitate even to guess at what further strains upon my purse this devilry will lead to.

That is all for now, but you have my assurance (little though you deserve it) that I will post on this and other topics with more frequency and variety in the coming weeks.

July 10

A Visitation from Becky Fagan

For the third morning in a row, I was awoken today by the banshee-like screeching of Sean’s new wife, Rebecca, informing her husband (and most of my neighbours) that he was a coward, a sissy, and a disgrace to all men the world over. While I am quite ready to admit that these sentiments are very much in accordance with my own opinions, I could wish that she would choose a more felicitous time and venue to express them than 3 a.m. and my doorstep.

But far be it from me to venture a confrontation with the harpie on my own initiative, and Sean—who has spent the last week sleeping in my guest bedroom, (no doubt a contributing factor in the general air of marital discord that characterizes their union)—appeared even less qualified to deal with this fearful apparition than did I. So it was that, by an exceeding close vote of 2 to 1, Patrick was nominated to reason with young Becky Fagan in the dark and the chill outside my home this morning, and (should his wit and diplomacy not desert him) to dissuade her from performing these nightly ministrations at my door, or at least encourage her to do so at a more appealing volume.

I cannot say that he was successful. It is not for me to decide whether the blow to his pride or the one to his cheek was the more painful to Patrick, but I am certain that he suffers greatly from both. And though we were granted a brief intermission from the invective that had been hurled at these walls following Patrick’s ill-fated intervention, it was shortly to be replaced by an unearthly wailing which promised to rob us all of our sleep until it finally and abruptly ceased at around six o’clock.

It is clear that something must be done. I have given Sean a number of practical suggestions (such as poison) to alleviate his marital woes, but he is not, at present, disposed to receive advice from even his dearest and most deeply concerned friends. I have given him a week to sort it out before I set the dogs upon him.

July 7

A Nightmare in Three Acts ...

You will notice that we have been absent from these pages for some weeks. The truth of the matter, as far as I am concerned, is simply that the events of the last two months have been so exceedingly unpleasant that I was loath to document them lest the very act of documentation appear to give them an imprimatur or a tacit approval from my quarter. And I most ardently do not approve. That having been said, you may be inclined to peruse the following list of occurrences in my life during the months of May and June—and, mayhap, to shed a tear or two for the abject horrors that I have been forced to endure:

1.    Sean is married. I cannot say I find it remarkable that he should have made such a catastrophic error of judgement by throwing away his independence in this fashion, but even I was surprised at his ability to make so completely undesirable a match as the one he has made with Rebecca Lynn Olson—daughter of a failed tradesman from Surrey, social climber, heretic (she once confided to me that she believed the stars were in fact “the winking souls of all the darling little kitties and puppies who are gone to heaven”), and insufferable, driveling bore.

In her favor, I will say that she has demonstrated at least one small piece of good taste: She clearly does not like Sean very much at all.

2.    Patrick’s paper on “The Seven Chromatic Qualities of the Aether” (which, as far as I can tell, is an extremely lengthy and almost disturbingly tedious way of saying that the sky is blue) has been accepted for publication by the Royal Society, and he has spoken of precious little else in more than six weeks. The only respite that I have had from this torment was when I offered to take dictation for a paper he was giving on the topic and replaced every instance of the word “minds” with the word “swine”. Sean and I were so consumed with mirth when he announced to his assembled colleagues that he “considered them a collection of the most literate swine in all of England” that we had to be escorted from the room.

Patrick refused to speak a word to me for a full three days after this event, which was a tender mercy indeed.

3.    I was brought up before the Magistrate yet again for “swindling”. Apparently, some letters I had been sending out (the ones where I claimed to be an African prince in a difficult political situation desirous of temporarily unloading a large quantity of gold bullion upon a trustworthy English gentleman in exchange for a generous percentage of the haul) had fallen into the wrong hands. Fortunately, no one was able to prove anything.

This post is in danger of becoming overlong, so I shall finish now with a bit of blog housecleaning: Patrick, Sean, and I are all now on Twitter, that you might more conveniently stay abreast of our daily operations. More information can be found in the sidebar. I am quite sure that there is more to tell you, so I shall attempt to be much more diligent about keeping Peep This Diary up to date this month. If nothing else, I have quite a good deal more to say about Sean’s new bride.

April 27

Meeting With a Madman

I have had a very strange day. On a tip from Sean—who has been irritatingly pleasant to me ever since I had a fit of regrettable (but entirely justified) temper and publicly referred to his new ladylove as a “nasty, controlling dragon-woman”—I went to see an acquaintance of his who has some experience in the Hospitality business. I had been hoping that this gentleman (who Sean has called the preeminent expert in the field) would help me to develop a strategy for opening a second whorehouse in London to build on the success of the Crimson Unicorn. I was deeply mistaken in this hope.

When I walked into the gentleman’s home, he flashed me a smile that was eerily similar to my own Emergency Smile No. 17 (for when a new mother insists on making me look at her child), gestured to a daybed in the corner of the room, and bade me recline upon it. Not wishing to upset this eccentric—who, if Sean speaks truth, would be an exceptionally valuable business contact—I acquiesced and lay down upon the divan, at which point we engaged in the following utterly baffling conversation:

Me: I had been hoping, sir, that you would be so good as to help me solve a problem that I have. 
Him: My, my. You are in much better shape than I expected after speaking with Sean. If you can admit that you have a problem, we have already taken the first, halting steps towards a cure.
Me: [stalling for time with Emergency Smile No. 3 (for halfwits)] Yes. Very good. Yes, I see that. ... Perhaps we can start by talking about “syndication”, which, as you know is all the rage amongst London merchants nowadays. What I’m trying to do …
Him: It’s very interesting that you should use the word “rage”, is it not? What made you choose that word?
Me: It’s a fad, a fashion. A trend. A method that is first practiced by thinking men who have a pragmatic need for it, then blindly followed by blithering idiots in search of a substitute for thinking.
Him: [serenely] Very interesting indeed. And how does that make you feel?
Me: [my dudgeon suddenly rising] Sir, if your intention is to waste my time, I would thank you, respectfully, to stuff it. I am a busy man, and I do not suffer fools unless I stand to make a considerable amount of money out of them.
Him: Let it out. Just let it all out.

By this point, I was so incensed that I was unable to speak at all and just sat there working my jaw muscles and blinking at the man, who was clearly either drunk or mad. After we had sat like this for some minutes, he turned to me with that same chilling smile and said, quite matter-of-factly: “We’ve made some real progress here today. Please come back at the same time next week, and tell Sean that I will take on his case pro bono. Very, very interesting indeed.”

And so I left, considerably more confused than when I had arrived, and headed back towards Hampstead, making a brief stop at Smithson’s Emporium to buy a sturdy walking stick with which to beat Sean about the head when I returned home.

April 7

Sean's New Woman ...

...if “woman” she can be called. I would say that she is more like a snake, except that snakes cannot hiss at you with the same malice that this harpy exudes from every pore of her body. I am not exaggerating. Last night, Sean brought this new lady out with us to attend a performance of Middleton’s Women Beware Women. Sean was acting nauseatingly coy, in a manner that I have not seen since the day that he sold me a pair of silver candlesticks which I later discovered he had stolen from my own dining room.

Although I was justifiably suspicious of this obsequious behaviour, I went out of my way to make the girl comfortable, and even attempted conversation with her during the first intermission, asking whether she might not be more comfortable backstage fawning all over the actors than listening to us discuss matters that were far removed from her interest and intellect. But despite my Herculean efforts to make her feel welcome, she spoke only to Sean the entire evening, and (oddly) she never once changed the subject from his finances. Such an unpleasant, ungrateful bore of a woman I have never met in my entire life. It's no surprise that Sean is besotted with her.

March 29

Of Whores and Journalists

After I mentioned this week that the Crimson Unicorn received a write-up in The London Gazette which had quite a salutary effect on our little business, many of you readers have been clamouring for me to post the review itself on Peep This Diary, that you may read it for yourselves. Before I do so, I will take pains to remind you that this blog is not a democracy and that your pathetic, self-serving entreaties have about as much sway with me as do the political opinions of a leprous beggar (or a woman) with the King of England. However, the write-up was really quite something to behold, and it had been my intention to post it here even before I was so rudely enjoined to do so by individuals amongst my readership. If I may extend my earlier metaphor to elaborate this point—when the wishes of the common people mirror the edicts of the King, we may be sure that we are in a nation that is well governed or—more likely—well policed. This is the article I was referring to:

The Crimson Unicorn brothel in Southwark, long regarded as one of London’s most notorious dens of sin, has reached new depths of depravity in recent months due to a change in ownership. Sean Fagan (a degenerate Irishman with no family connexions) and Jack Shepherd (a controversial local tea merchant) have brought this house of ill repute into the public eye through a series of weekly events and promotions that have evidently struck a chord with the baser instincts of many of London’s dissolute but well-funded men of leisure. 

The Unicorn’s most popular attraction, “Naughty Nurses,” is offered at a discounted rate to regular customers, and has, according to a representative of the establishment “been quite the moneymaker.” There can be little doubt that this weekly occurrence is the most vile, sinful, rotten abomination ever to defile the citizens of our once proud city. Naughty Nurses takes place on Wednesdays at the Crimson Unicorn on Southwark Street. Nurse costumes are supplied by proprietor.

March 18

Saucy Scullery Maids and Naughty Nurses

I have neglected this blog for nearly a month now, and some explanation is clearly required. However, I am not a man who apologizes where no sin has been committed, and I have learned from experience never to explain my actions without an attorney present, so you will receive no such satisfaction.

Suffice it to say that I have been occupied with business, particularly the day-to-day operations of the Crimson Unicorn, which is fast becoming London’s premiere bawdy house. Last week, we attracted more clients than our chief competition, Harry’s House of Harlots (or, as it is more commonly known, Harry’s House of Herpes), and, thanks to the recent addition of our immensely popular “Naughty Nurses” attraction, which was written up in The London Gazette as “The most vile, sinful, rotten abomination ever to defile the citizens of our once proud city,” we are poised to overtake even the notorious Black Orchid, which is reputed to be the favoured establishment of ill repute amongst discerning Members of Parliament.

So, as you will imagine, I have had my hands full—and I might add that I have had very little help from Sean (my business partner in this endeavour), who—my sources have informed me—spent the entire day today lying in a ditch.

January 27

In Love

I have fallen in love. There is simply no other way to put it. I don’t believe I have experienced anything like this sweet, giddying sensation before in my life, but I feel that even if I were to die of it, I would never give it up. Not for anything in the world. This whole day I have been walking on tiptoes, with such a brightness and airiness about my person as I have never felt before, and I fear that at any moment I might float up into the aether and disappear into a thousand tiny pieces of light and joy … or turn, of a sudden, into a songbird—that I might fly away to spend the rest of my days singing my love to the trees and to the Earth below. 

But you will want to know details. This morning, I took a different way home from church than my normal route, since the sermon had focused upon the importance of taking time to “stop and smell the roses” (and since I was hoping to avoid a certain person whom I had cheated out of a considerable amount of money the night before), when I turned a corner into Fleet Street and my life changed forever. For there she was: The brand-new 1678-model Gala Coupé Carriage, with the reinforced splinter bar and the very latest spindle technology on the rear axletree. Just sitting there for all to see, as if she were not too good for this world.

My eyes feasted on that wonderful sight for what seemed like an eternity, though it can hardly have been more than a few seconds, as the driver urged on his horses and disappeared into the London streets with such grace and speed that two beggars were knocked sprawling into a fruit stand. And though on any other day this interruption would have sent me into a fit of rage, my longing eyes never once wavered from the object of their adoration as it sped towards the horizon and vanished like a mirage.

I must have her for my own.