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What the mathematician said to the engineer

October 4th, 2011 (08:46 am)

As promised, some more of what happened to the Bride's boys on holiday in France.

Orlando Coppersmith’s expression as he picked up the post from the mat was what Jonty Stewart would have referred to—in his more colloquial moments—as a dead giveaway. He stood transfixed, turning the stiff, light green envelope over in his hands.

“From the Bailiffs, is it, Orlando? Or has the Vice-Chancellor found you out at last?”

“No.” Orlando passed the letter across. “It’s from France.”

“Oh. Oh. Do you want me to read it through before you look at it?”

“Yes please, if that wouldn’t be an imposition.”

“Come on then, let’s do it over breakfast. You look like you could do with the biggest cup of coffee I can find.” Jonty led his colleague by the hand—this had been a great shock—installed him in a chair, poured him coffee and made him attack a sausage, even though Orlando vowed he couldn’t touch a thing. Jonty donned his spectacles, perching them just so on his nose so he could look over them to see his lover and through them to see the letter. He began his perusal.

“So is he coming over here or anything?” Orlando had a piece of sausage paused en route to his mouth—it had been up and down like a fiddler’s elbow, without reaching its destination.

“No indication of it, as yet. Not a sniff about coming over to Cambridge in particular or England in general.”

Orlando sighed in relief and at last launched the portion of sausage into his mouth.

“It seems he has some civil engineering project in Grenoble he’s overseeing and will be busy for some time.” Jonty scanned the rest of the letter.

“And what else does he say?”

“Nothing much. Sends his regards to me, which is rather civil of him. If you’ll excuse the pun. Gives an account of drainage systems or bridges or whatever he’s working on. And that’s about it.”

“No reference to Marseille?”

“Not one. Much to your relief, I guess. You know I still think Mama has suspicions. She really does want to know why you’ll give her chapter and verse about every part of our holiday but when it comes to Marseille you button your lip.”

“She doesn’t believe what you said about me having a nasty experience with a Portuguese man o-war?”

“I think she finds it all a bit fishy. Can’t quite imagine you not wanting to tell all and sundry if you’d braved a monster of the deep.” A sly little grin crept onto Jonty’s face. “Only he wasn’t Portuguese, was he?”

If looks could have killed, Jonty would have been immediately joining the heavenly choir, if they’d have had him. “I shan’t even dignify that with a rejoinder. I still go totally cold when I think of the incident.”

“And I still can’t quite get it clear in my mind how it happened.”

Orlando rolled his eyes and shuddered. He took a piece of bacon and gesticulated with it in the air as if enumerating a favourite theorem. “In the first place, as I have said often, he bore a remarkable physical resemblance to your good self. Not just generally—you could almost be two peas in a pod—but in specifics.”

“Oh yes, the hairy forearms.”

“And the smooth legs.” Orlando was warming to his subject. He’d rehearsed his explanation time and again until he’d almost lost track of what had been the reality of a very embarrassing incident. “And he wore an identical bathing costume. Identical in every feature.”

“And I believe there was something about the hair.” Jonty was enjoying Orlando’s discomfiture, just as he’d enjoyed the original episode and the huge puncturing of his lover’s dignity which had ensued.

“The hair was identical, from the back. And the carriage. If you’d been there you would have understood.”

“If I’d been there it would never have happened. But you forget that I was in the offing. I saw the whole thing—and a great shock it gave me.”

“Not as much as it gave me. ” Orlando pushed his plate away, only one each of egg, bacon and sausage attempted successfully. “You have no idea what it was like when he turned around and it wasn’t you. It seemed like someone had grafted this stranger’s face grafted onto your body. I was very distressed.”

“Well he didn’t seem to mind that much. Still doesn’t, if this is anything to go by.” Jonty indicated the letter. “And he wasn’t a bad looking bloke. In fact, I would go so far as to say that he was just your type.”

“Nobody is my type but you.” Orlando made a grab for the letter but was forestalled.

“You can’t have this until you tell me how he got our address. That’s the second most intriguing bit of the whole situation.”

“As I see it, we made a mistake inviting him back for drinks to our hotel. I know it was in an effort to mollify him, but I think I saw him perusing the hotel guest book. He must have remembered our address or copied it down. I’m just pleased we left for Monte Carlo the next day.”

“Perhaps he thought you were interested, despite all your protests and confusion. I mean the average home in the rue could have easily just interpreted your hug as a manly greeting, even if you did sneak up on him from behind and take the lad quite unawares.”

Orlando groaned. “I could have sworn it was you. It should have been you— it was your body and costume and I couldn’t resist slipping my arm around your shoulder.”

“Well, I’ve not seen myself from behind so I have to take your word for the uncanny likeness. But it couldn’t just have been a case of the manly clasp you gave him, can it? What exactly did you say?” Jonty was pleased to see a wave of crimson suffuse his lover’s cheek.

“I daren’t repeat it.”

“It’s been weeks, Orlando, and as we have no secrets, you have to tell me.” Jonty had tried each argument before but never employed both in concert; he hoped the strategy would work.

“I said…” Orlando swallowed hard. He’d long known this moment would come and he could deny things no longer. “I said fancy a naughty time with a mathematician?”

“Orlando!” Jonty spilled his tea all over the tablecloth and then began to guffaw, choking in the process. Both of these attracted the attention of Mrs. Ward, who came bundling in, slapped Jonty’s back, and began to mop up the flood. The excitement at least allowed Orlando to regain some degree of composure and when the room contained just the two of them again he even managed a smile.

“No wonder he’s decided to write. Perhaps he thinks he’s still in with a chance of a naughty time.”

Orlando groaned. “If he comes to St. Bride’s, then I’m going off to Oxford for at least a fortnight or until he’s quit the country. In future, Jonty, I’ll not say a word nor lay a finger until I am one hundred per cent certain I’m speaking to or laying fingers on you and you alone.”

“Muffin head. I tell you what, I’ll reply to him and say you’ve taken a vow of celibacy. Would that work?”

Orlando nodded. “If you please.”

“I have a request to make in return.”


“What you offered him, or thought you offered me. I’ll have that in return for drafting a letter to your admirer.”

“And how naughty a time do you want?”

“Oh sort that out yourself, Orlando. Must I think of everything?


Posted by: JL Merrow (jl_merrow)
Posted at: October 4th, 2011 07:57 am (UTC)
Muscling Through

Oh, Orlando! *dies* :D

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: October 4th, 2011 09:27 am (UTC)

Poor lad. I'm so mean to him.

Posted by: helenajust (helenajust)
Posted at: October 4th, 2011 08:51 am (UTC)

Poor Orlando! Just when he relaxes enough to make a wicked suggestion he gets it all wrong...

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: October 4th, 2011 09:28 am (UTC)

I know. He won't dare say something like that for another three years!

Posted by: Anne (darthanne)
Posted at: October 4th, 2011 09:46 am (UTC)

Oh, Orlando and then to find it wasn't Jonty. I can just picture how mortified he was.

*is amused by the whole thing*

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: October 4th, 2011 10:33 am (UTC)
british flash

Mortified in excess. Bless him, I do put him through the mill at times - still, he'll get his reward soon.


Posted by: eglantine_br (eglantine_br)
Posted at: October 4th, 2011 03:28 pm (UTC)

Jonty will reward him. He will have a nice naughty time with a Shakespearean scholar.

I am very glad that Orlando did not get that particular jellyfish** down his pants. He might have been injured for some time!

**I know they are not really jellyfish, but colonies of small evil beings, but I always think of them as jellyfish. And i always want to touch them. They are so pretty.

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: October 4th, 2011 07:49 pm (UTC)

The reward will be magnificent.

I tend to think of Men of War as jellyfish (of which I'm very fond) but you could be right in the colonial organism thing. Will have to get out my invertebrate book!

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: October 4th, 2011 04:47 pm (UTC)

Oh dear. Poor Orlando. What it must've taken for him to even say something like that thinking it was Jonty. It would be interesting to see the incident from Jonty's perspective. A little taken aback at first and then a lot amused as soon as Orlando realized his mistake.

Karin :)

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: October 4th, 2011 07:42 pm (UTC)


I think you've got Jonty's reaction absolutely down pat. Heavy on the amusement.


Posted by: kayberrisford (kayberrisford)
Posted at: October 4th, 2011 04:59 pm (UTC)

*massive grin* :D

But, aw, you meanie ;)

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: October 4th, 2011 07:32 pm (UTC)

I know. I should restrain myself, but Orlando's so easy to plot against.

Posted by: Elin Gregory (elin_gregory)
Posted at: October 4th, 2011 05:34 pm (UTC)

*cries laughing*

There's nothing sadder, and funnier, than utter self control and complete dignity slipping on a banana skin. Oh poor Orlando! And I bet Jonty will never let him live it down.

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: October 4th, 2011 07:37 pm (UTC)
bon copain

Poor Orlando indeed. Maybe I should get that engineer to visit sometime?

BTW This story has its roots way back after the last RWC. Player inspired. :)

Posted by: anteros_lmc (anteros_lmc)
Posted at: October 4th, 2011 08:42 pm (UTC)
Water stone

Orlando might fool Jonty but he doesn't fool me!

Identical in every way....a great shock it gave me.

Pffft! Methinks the mathematician protests too much ;)

Edited at 2011-10-04 08:43 pm (UTC)

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: October 5th, 2011 08:44 am (UTC)
bon copain

LOL I've never considered that possibility. What has Orlando been confessing to you?

PS This started life as an idea post 2007 RWC. Inspired by a certain French player. :)

Posted by: anteros_lmc (anteros_lmc)
Posted at: October 5th, 2011 08:34 pm (UTC)
Harris sea hills

What has Orlando been confessing to you?
*gasp* I would never betray a gentleman's confidence! ;)

This started life as an idea post 2007 RWC. Inspired by a certain French player. :)
Not Chabal I take it? XD

Posted by: mylodon (mylodon)
Posted at: October 6th, 2011 09:29 am (UTC)
vicent et clement deux

Mais non. Quatorze. Toulouse. Could be body double for Jamie B. :)

Posted by: anteros_lmc (anteros_lmc)
Posted at: October 6th, 2011 09:03 pm (UTC)
JB hip

Could be body double for Jamie B.
Oh aye? With or without the towel? ;)

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: October 7th, 2011 10:38 am (UTC)

Either or both.

Posted by: DementorDelta (dementordelta)
Posted at: October 5th, 2011 03:04 am (UTC)

*giggles* I love Jonty's reaction, most of all. It says so much about their relationship.

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: October 5th, 2011 08:43 am (UTC)

*nods* He's so wordly wise, isn't he?


Posted by: Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll)
Posted at: October 5th, 2011 05:57 am (UTC)
Brig -- Good Show by sallymn

Much sniggering from over here.

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: October 5th, 2011 08:43 am (UTC)
british flash

Hee hee. Glad you liked it.

Posted by: knightengale40 (knightengale40)
Posted at: October 5th, 2011 07:20 pm (UTC)

Love it!

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: October 6th, 2011 10:19 am (UTC)

Thank you!

Posted by: Rikibeth (rikibeth)
Posted at: March 25th, 2012 06:11 pm (UTC)

Oh, how wicked of you! And how wicked of me for laughing nearly as hard as Jonty! Luckily I didn't spill my coffee. It wouldn't have done my keyboard any good.

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: March 25th, 2012 08:09 pm (UTC)

LOL This story was one of those that gets inspired by a chance thing (in this case a photo of a certain French rugby player that made me think of JB...)


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