Sunday, 6 November 2005

Heyeroines in need of a slap

11. Deborah Grantham (Faro's Daughter)

Any establishment that spends £70 on green peas for every £42 that it spends on champagne (chapter 4 - Wenlock does the maths so you don't have to) has obviously got something seriously wrong with it. In crossing that threshold in St James's Square Max Ravenscar is stumbling into something more than your common or garden gambling hell. That he initially gets the wrong end of the stick is shown by his second visit, when he comes supplied with some spare whiplashes. Clearly he reckons that there are some things that Priddy's Foreign Warehouse and Vaults cannot supply, and I don't just mean Best K.Q. iron, faggoted edgeways.

It is probably on this second visit that he discovers what is wrong. Lady Bellingham's establishment is not just suffering from bizarre gastronomy and the pursuit of exotic ironware. The colour scheme is highly questionable with the yellow saloon hosting first Miss Grantham in a green dress (presumably intended to go with the peas) and then Sir James Filey in puce (Ravenscar, we learn in chapter 17, is much more conservative in his tastes, spending much of his time in a brown study). However the reason for such disastrous combinations quickly becomes apparent. Miss Grantham suffers from Daltonism: perhaps deuteranomalous tricomacy, tritanopic dichromacy or even achromatopsia (colour blindness - Wenlock does the long words so you can be impressed). This becomes quite obvious when she starts sewing coquelicot ribbons onto a green and white striped dress and wishes to accessorise this outfit with garnets.

Suddenly the reasons for the significant losses suffered by Lady Bellingham become explicable. Refusing to admit to her problem, Miss Grantham has been attempting to play cards, and run EO tables while unable to see what she is actually doing. Without colour cues to allow her to sum up gaming situations at a glance she is always going to be at a disadvantage, and it is her poor aunt who has to bear the cost of the inevitable losses.

Luckily for Miss Grantham, Ravenscar has a solution. Just as Mad Margaret from Ruddigore could be calmed by Sir Despard Murgatroyd's occasional use of the word "Basingstoke", so Miss Grantham can be alerted when she is handling something scarlet or green by Ravenscar's whispering "Jezebel" or "Jade" accordingly.

He never does explain what colour he means by "Doxy".


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1 comment:

mandy said...

Poor Max. He really wanted a navy blue study, but the interior designer painted it brown. You just can't get the help.