My dear James,—Ere long the military machine will be able to spare one of its cogs—myself. Yes, James, soon you will once again see me in my silk hat, cerise fancy vest and brown boots (among other garments). I think I shall have brass buttons on all my coats for the sheer joy of seeing them without let or hindrance grow green from lack of polish. I shall once again train my hair in graceful curling strands under (respectively) the south-east and south-west corners of my ears. If I meet my Brigadier in the street I shall notice him or not just according to my whim of the moment. But, James, I shall have to work for my living. There's the rub.
I must say the Army tries to help one. Somebody or other has issued a whole schedule of civil occupations to assist me in my choice of a career. It offers an embarrassment of riches.
Take the "A's." I was momentarily attracted by Air Balloon Maker. It sounds a joyous job. Think of the delight of sending forth these delicate nothings inflated and perfect. My only fear is that I should destroy the fruits of my own labour. One touch of my rough hands is always inimical to an air-balloon. And if you know of any more depressing sight than a collapsed air-balloon, all moist and incapable of resurrection, for heaven's sake keep it to yourself.
Allowance Man (brewing) sounds hopeful. My only question is: Does an Allowance Man (brewing) fix his own allowance (brewed)?
Am I slightly knock-kneed or am I not? Do write me frankly on the subject. You have seen me divested of trousers. Because if I am then I don't think I will try my luck as an Artist's Model.
Athlete.—Ha! I feel my biceps and find it not so soft. It's a wearing life, though. Is there such a thing as an Athlete (indoor)? You know my speed and agility at Ludo.
I flatter myself I have musical taste, but Back and Belly Maker (piano) I consider vulgar—almost indecent, in fact. Such anatomical intimacy with the piano would destroy for me the bewitchment of the Moonlight Sonata.
There is something very alluring about Bank Note Printer. I see the chance of continuing the Army trick of making a living without working for it. Surely a Bank Note Printer is allowed his little perquisites. Why should he print millions of bank notes for other people and none for himself? I can imagine an ill-used Bank Note Printer very easily becoming a Bolshevist.
Barb Maker (wire) I do not like. I have too many unpleasant memories of the Somme. It is a hideous trade and ought to be abolished altogether.
If I am wrong correct me, but isn't the prime function of a Bargee to swear incessantly? Not my forte, James. What you thought you heard that day in 1911, when I missed a six-inch putt, was only "Yam," which is a Thibetan expression meaning "How dreadfully unfortunate!" I knew a Major once—but that's for another article.
Beneath the heading "Bat" I find Bat Maker (brick) and Bat Maker (tennis). Under which king, James? Anyway, I hate a man who talks about a "tennis bat." He would probably call football shorts "knickers."
I am favourably inclined towards Bathing Machine Attendant (why not Bathing Mechanic, for short?) What a grand affair to ride old Dobbin into the seething waves and pretend he was a sea-serpent!...