Friday – The Airdale


The Lass of , ,


If you ever happen to visit Richmond and this idea has for
generations occurred to many thousands of people from all over
London a walk up the steep, but not overlong, hill to the Terrace
is remarkably rewarding. From this vantage point can be seen
one of the fairest views in Christendom.

To the delighted eye, the sight of Thames, describing twists
and turns in the well-wooded country, seems almost too like a
picture postcard to be true. Yet real it is, and will remain so just
as long as the hand of the planner can be kept at a safe distance.
Disraeli, whose heart is popularly supposed to have been given
to Buckinghamshire in general and Hughenden in particular, had
this to say of the view: “No place like it”.


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While Napoleon was at Elba nursing fresh ambitions for a
final attempt to rule France, a procession of Allied royalties and
generals, erroneously thinking that all was well, visited Britain.

The royalties, who included the Czar of All the Russias and the
King of Prussia, had a day’s outing at Ascot. On their way, they
stopped on for an hour and a half. It is reported
that all “expressed themselves quite delighted and in rapture with
the well-known exquisite beauty of a scene which all foreigners have
pronounced unsurpassed”.

The Star and Garter

There is a good deal of pardonable
exaggeration about that claim, founded of course on a proper British
pride. But it seems difficult to believe that the incalculable Czar
made any such admission. No doubt, however, they admired the
panoramic beauty of the scene. We may well leave it at that, and
let all who love beauty judge for themselves.

Of course, you rarely meet beauty without the beast rearing its
ugly head. In this case, the beast is the beast of war.
Continuing along the Terrace, you come to The Star and Garter
“a famous resort for well-to-do Londoners until the early twentieth
century. The Star and Garter formed the background for an act in
Shaw’s The Doctor’s Dilemma. Then there was much stimulating
talk about phagocytes. The hotel is now a home for the very badly
wounded men of two world wars. Should you ever feel you have
the right to forget war, pay a visit to The Star and Garter.

The Lass of

But it’s time for a drink, and if you don’t like to drink alone,
it may be that a lad in blue will be persuaded to join you. So we
pass the entrance to Richmond Park, where you come to The Lass
wherein dwells Friday, the airedale.
Now one school of thought declares that the name of the inn
refers to that other Richmond, which is in Yorkshire. The
man won’t have this at any price. Both sides may be heard to sing
the ballad with varying degrees of tunefulness. I am neutral on
the point.

The fine old house was built in 1537. Extensions were made in
1918. The walls are adorned, as are those of so many other fine
houses, with sporting prints, set off with antlers and the usual
appurtenances of the taxidermist’s art. If you are not very carefiil,
you’re quite likely to trip over an elephant’s foot; and I’m not
talking about the pink variety, but about th noble brute himself.
Animal life, or at least the evidence of fit, is due to the fact
that the late landlord, before looking after the needs of the thirsty,
looked after and trained animals of the old Bostock Circus, with a
spot of big game hunting in between times.

Friday – The Airdale

Friday is full of the joy of life in summer and winter alike. He
is, like most of his honoured breed, a grand chap to know. At first,
he is apt to strike you as being all leg and tail, with the body as a
convenient point of juncture. The drawing suggests something of
this, I hope.

He is the absolute pet of his mistress, and also the sturdy friend
and self-appointed protector of the lads from the Star and Garter
Home. On any night of the week you can see these boys really
enjoying a game of darts and a pint of something to match in the
public bar. From their chairs they can throw a dart with the best,
and I who have long been a menace with a dart in my fist-have
nothing but praise and envy for their deadly accuracy.

Yes, the boys in the chairs have their blessings. Many of them
have become skilled craftsmen, for God never takes away unless
He gives something in return.

Come, then, to the joy that is left after battle; come to The
Lass of Richmond Hill; come and be saluted by Friday; come and
salute the boys who are not forgotten.

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