From Victorian Hangover Chapter 2

Jack and I always were, and always have been, the closest of friends. He was a fair, quiet boy, always thoughtful and gentle, and brilliantly clever in the way expressed by the word “Brainy”. From the first he was much taller than I, so much so that my shoulder has always fitted nicely under his arm. Our customary attitude, indoors or out, was close together, his arm round my shoulders and mine round his waist. We have always been very much alike, and have even been taken for twins, despite the difference in age and height. As children, and even during our school holidays, we would always slip off together, and roam about in our usual attitude, completely oblivious of the world, engrossed in endless stories which I would spin, in the true Vizard tradition, straight out of my head. If my imagination faltered for a moment, his quick “Yes, go on”, would immediately stimulate me to fresh extravaganzas.

Never once, that I can remember, have we ever exchanged a sharp word, and I cannot recall that we even indulged in the usual squabbles of nursery days. When Jack was away at school my storytelling activities were transferred to Ben, so I was never without an appreciative audience, and could hold either, or both, of them enthralled for hours.


For some strange reason, despite our devotion to each other, Jack never seemed to consider it any part of his duty to interfere in the ceaseless warfare that raged between George and me, or to protect me from his bullying. His attitude was one of Olympian aloofness, and in later years I have recognised Jack In the account of the Jewish riots about St. Paul, where it is recorded (Acts ch. XVIII v. 17) that they took and beat Sosthenes before the judgement seat, and Gallio cared for none of these things. Jack was Gallio to the life; George and I would grip handfuls of each others golden curls and indulge in shin kicking matches to the accompaniment of uproar and shrieking fury, and Jack would unassailable hold on his way until the tyranny was over. Neither did it ever occur to me to demand his protection. When I have asked him of recent years, why he never intervened on my behalf, his reply, in tones of benevolent confidence was, “Oh, I knew you were quite capable of taking care of yourself”. And so I undoubtedly was.