Tristan Hamilton-Ffoulkes had a mother who believed that, “manners maketh man”. An example was at dinner-time, where, from an early age, the myriad rules of table etiquette were drummed into his head.
Tristan grew up and married, spending his days as an investment banker, and his nights hosting fine dinner parties that were the talk of the town.
A few years later, showing an appalling lack of manners and tact, Tristan’s wife ran off with a young, sullen, stubble-faced writer.
Following a bitter divorce, his mother’s death, and some incredibly bad luck on the stock market, Tristan found himself penniless and homeless. However, in memory of his mother, he had managed to rescue a couple of pieces of priceless family heirlooms.
Although now completely destitute, Tristan prized his smuggled loot. In private, he would polish the silver objects every day with his now ragged button-down Oxford, before hiding them in a secret place. Strangely, “the Toff” (as he had been nicknamed by his fellow hobos, because of his impeccable manners) had never been tempted to sell the precious metal; after all, this was all he had left to remember his mother by.
Every night under an embankment, with the noise of overhead traffic robbing him of sleep, Tristan would lay, thinking of his former life and his mother.
One evening, Tristan joined his fellow destitutes for the first time behind a burger joint. There, inside a huge old dumpster, they struck the mother lode. Left over burgers and stale apple pies were going to be their meal that night. One by one, they all fell on the food, stuffing it into their mouths as fast as they could. All except “the Toff” who seemed to have completely lost his manners as he excitedly thrust his hands down the front of his dirty pinstriped trousers causing his hobo acquaintances to stare slack-jawed at his antics.
Tristan Hamilton-Ffoulkes withdrew his hands clutching his silver heirlooms, and, ever mindful of his mother’s credo, proceeded to eat his dinner with sparkling knife and fork.
© 2009 Jeannette Sheehy