Jessica Raine (center) in Call the Midwife

This was insulting and wounding to me. It was like sending an Italian tank-warfare manual to Hasso von Manteuffel. Gott im Himmel, what does the deputy editor have against me to wreak such Oedipal revenge? Her father, Sir Humphrey, is an old friend of mine. Her brother Jack once had me down to Eton to speak; he got me so drunk with his housemaster’s excellent wine, I made a complete fool of myself. Plus, she went off and got married—why pile it on?

Oh well, Jessica-Jenny has now spoken, and I can almost trace a lawyer’s thoughts when she wrote about being compelled bring me “back down to earth.” Professors Klinghoffer of Basel and Wulffshlagger of Zurich have been working on my beta amyloid plaques, the frontals of my brain that trigger me off when I see enchanting females like Jessica. Klinghoffer wants an intervention, which means cutting some brain tissue out, but Wulffshlagger says it’s not necessary and that I might end up like that Kennedy girl whose father lobotomized her seventy or so years ago. I don’t know whose advice to follow. My wife thinks I should be lobotomized, but my children think it’s too much. One thing is for sure—I will not leave it up to the deputy editor, nor to the love of my life that could have been, even if the kind nurse Jenny would tend to me after the operation.

This has been a very hard column to write. I’m infuriated by Jessica-Jenny’s heartless remarks about a man who not only laminated her picture on a bike, but left copies of it on strangers’ tables the way handicapped people do. But I think the deputy editor’s conduct has been even worse than mine. My amulet against women I have wronged in the past obviously doesn’t work, so I threw it down a crevasse I skied awfully close to yesterday. Let Jessica-Jenny go with men her age and listen to monologues about football or other such rubbish. Let them lurch drunkenly toward her, unlike an older gent who would have given up drink for her. And let’s see who among my rivals will weave thousands of blossoms and use weathered green trellis lit from behind to simulate dining under a huge wisteria tree—a plan I had for Paris.

I was recently a guest of my old buddy Sir Roger Moore and his wonderful wife Kristina. “Keep away from young actresses,” James Bond told me.



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