New York City, New York.
Meet Augustus Berrycloth-Young – fop, flaneur, and Englishman abroad – as he chronicles the Jazz Age from his perch atop the city that never sleeps.
That is, until his old friend Thomas Nightingale arrives, pursuing a rather mysterious affair concerning an old saxophone – which will take Gussie from his warm bed, to the cold shores of Long Island, and down to the jazz clubs where music, magic, and madness haunt the shadows…
As I have often opined, what good does it do a fellow to be a master of the mystic arts if he’s not allowed to do a bally thing with said mastery? And while I’ll admit that knocking the toppers off one’s fellow practitioners at Goodwood might have been a tad childish, it hardly, to my mind, constituted a hanging offence. Alas, the old sticks at the Folly didn’t see eye to eye with me on this, so I decided that perhaps it would be wise to remove myself somewhere out of their censorious gaze until the blissful waters of Lethe bathed their cares away. Or something.
Since I’m not at all partial to the joys of the rustic, I took a fast liner to New York where the Folly, so I thought, never ventures. (Wrongly, as it happens, but we shall get to that later.)
I found a very pleasant flat – or apartment, as they call it over there – overlooking Washington Square and engaged a valet to handle all the day-to-day necessaries.
An English gentleman of means can live very pleasantly in New York if he’s sensible and doesn’t upset the natives. Even the local constabulary, who appear to be Fenians to a man, are, with the exception of the odious Sergeant Bracknel, perfectly respectful if you’re polite and don’t get in their way. There are some very passable restaurants, art galleries and concert halls if high culture is persona grata, as it were. But where New York has it over London in spades is modern music, and for the best of that one must venture above 110th Street to the neighbourhood they call Harlem.
There a gentleman can seek out the company of like-minded gentlemen while listening to the best jazz in the world.
So, as you can imagine, as I lay in bed one bright May morning sipping my first reviving cup of coffee, proper tea being beyond my man Beauregard’s otherwise extensive capabilities, I was taken aback when the man himself knocked on my door and announced that I had a visitor.
‘He’s an English gentlemen, sir,’ said he.
Now all my acquaintances, both English and American, know better than to bother old Augustus before the noon bell, so I did rather wonder whom this might be. An unaccountable ripple of apprehension passed over the normally placid surface of my morning routine, but I manfully rose above such turbulence. English visitors are not unheard of, and the steamers did have a habit of docking at an ungodly hour, and so the poor blighter, a stranger in a strange land, might be in need of succour.
And let it never be said of Augustus Berrycloth-Young that he did not rise to the occasion when it came time to cross the street and offer help. Once I was suitably bathed and fortified, that is.
Had I known the truth of it, I would have immediately hidden under my bed and instructed Beauregard to inform my visitor that I had been struck down by the plague during the night.
Instead, I took another sip of the blessed dark fruit of the bean.
‘Does this gentlemen have a name?’ I asked.
‘A Mr. Thomas Nightingale,’ said Beauregard.
Signup to our Newsletter
We will not share your personal information
What information do we collect about you?
We collect the information you give us when you subscribe to our newsletter.
You can opt out of our newsletter at any time and we will delete the information you have given us. An opt out link is included on all our newsletters.
Your data will be securely stored by our EMS (email marketing service) provider: MailChimp and is processed by email@example.com.
How will we use this information?
We will use this information to contact you with emails containing news and updates that we believe to be of interest or value.
Your data will be used solely for this purpose and will not be shared with third parties.
How to contact us