Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Royal Flash by George MacDonald Fraser

The late George Macdonald Fraser took the character of Flashman from Tom Brown's School Days and invented a later history of womanising, cowardice and military glory.

It was my father who introduced me to Flashman, initially reading out the part in Flashman at the Charge when the titular hero gets completely 'foxed' on iffy Russian 'Champagne'. I knew then that I had to read some myself. This book comes from a job lot I bought in 2006 when attempting to read all twelve in a year. (I've not accomplished that yet...)

Partly a pastiche of the Prisoner of Zenda, Royal Flash is the second of the Flashman Papers 'edited' by Fraser. Here Flashy gets himself thoroughly pickled, unaware that he's about to get framed while drunk and incapable:

Being bored, I was careless, and didn’t keep to close and eye on my glass. It was a magnificent dinner, and the wines followed each other in brilliant succession. Everyone else punished them tremendously, as the Germans always do, and I simply followed suit. It was understandable, but foolish; I learned in later years that the only safe place to get drunk is among friends in your own home, but that evening I made a thorough pig of myself, and the long and the short of it was that “Flashy got beastly drunk”, to quote my old friend Tom Hughes.

Wonderful stuff, and sage advice, I might add.

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