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The Colonel

Updated: May 2

I've updated this and published it on my Medium blog here. It's much better.

The Colonel was probably never a Colonel; if served in the military at all he'd have been in the ranks. Had he become a corporal or a sergeant he'd have been demoted to private repeatedly because of various acts of larceny or consensual sexual malfeasance.

Small things will give away his lack of breeding; the cheap cigars, the insistence on drinking champagne when he has nothing to celebrate, the rubber soles on his shoes, the slot mags on his car. Sometimes people will notice, but The Colonel knows that not every scheme or ploy will work. He knows when to move on, and how to do it. When it is time to move on it must be done with alacrity and stealth. In order to achieve this he must have a vehicle that is perfectly aligned with his activities. Unfortunately no car can be a wiling accomplice, in spite of what we've been lead to believe by futurists and television executives. In the absence of a car with a character, he needs a car with character. He must be able to impress and to retreat swiftly.

The Colonel's natural haunts are bars, hotels and clubs; anywhere he can engage people and draw them in. He is primarily an entertainer who does not charge the venue or the medium. You pay the Colonel directly. The genius of his schemes is that you don't know that you're doing it. You think you're buying a vintage Omega Seamaster from his late brother's collection; you think you're sending your vintage Omega Seamaster to a distant specialist for appraisal before it is included in a consignment of similar watches bound for a Chinese collector with a particular fondness for small diving watches with limited waterproofing. The Colonel sometimes wears one himself, when visiting somewhere for the first time.

It's the psychology. The differences that make the difference. Conservatism is an interesting example. The Colonel exists in a conservative environment, where nothing must appear to change. It's not a concern of the average golfer if their watch lacks a helium release valve. What is important is that it sits well in a manicured environment which is protected by history and social convention. Privilege, in other words.

So The Colonel chooses his accoutrements with care. He swedes his environment with taste and discernment, the very things a casual observer would believe he lacks. His clothing, his manner, his car, are all chosen carefully. As an example I will describe the latter.

Whatever is known about the colonel, it seems certain he did not grow-up with a sense of entitlement. He amassed what confidence he has by being competent and imaginative. For this reason he could never quite bring himself to buy a Bentley, in spite of many main dealer test drives. For similar reasons a Rolls Royce would be out of the question. It started as a laudable mission to build the finest possible motor car, in fact to define that term as distinct from the various ramshackle contrivances that had been offered to the public in the eighteenth century. Unfortunately the consequent list of owners is a roll-call of terrible, privileged, vain people. The Colonel takes money from the people who drive these cars, while letting them think they're the clever ones.

An Aston Martin is similarly out of the question. The public associate this, the invention of an unfortunate tricycle racer, with the secret service saints who keep us safe from foreigners by starting wars and spreading misinformation. The public believe these people drive Aston Martins in spite of the overwhelming evidence that intelligence officers drive rented Fords between distant filing cabinets, and spend more time typing than having sex. Aston Martins are driven by people who genuinely like rugby.

That leaves only one credible marque ideal for the purpose. Jaguar. Obviously there are foreign marques but their combination of competence and artistic flair mark them out as being 'other' in the eyes of an Englishman. Though Englishness is hard to encapsulate, and this will not be an exceptionalist tract, there is a combination of confidence, entitlement and a willingness to exploit others which is both quintessentially English and exactly the combination of qualities required by a quick-witted independent businessman.

So The Colonel drives a Jaguar. A dark one, it's difficult to tell which colour it is because he rarely washes it. A dark, dirty car blends into its environment, but it's only a quick jet wash from an obliging Eastern European away from stealing the show. It is not, however a showroom model.

The Colonel carries with him the tools of his various trades, and has places to keep them in. Secure storage. Should you be fortunate enough to be a potential business partner you will see such wonders as a watch display case which will glide in and out of a place where you wouldn't suspect was concealed anything other an excess of wiring. There is a complete dining set, carefully camouflaged as a picnic basket, for the occasions when it would not be wise to be seen in town, or when he fears he may be cornered in a building where the only way out is either into the street or through a kitchen full of angry, failed artists holding sharp and hot metal. There are many tartan blankets, which are easy to replace when the need arises, and The Colonel travels with a sleeping bag for the occasions when he is required on an alp. He favours a small double as he dislikes the feeling of his legs touching each other.

The necessity to travel, and to occasionally make repairs, makes storage for practical tools a necessity. The Colonel's practical tools are very specific and could misunderstood. Be assured that a practical explanation is never far from The Colonel's lips; "No, officer, that lever is for gently turning the engine of a car to see if it had seized; and no, that's not a grappling hook, it's for removing broken baffles from a car exhaust. Oh that, it's a sex toy. I'm the exclusive sales agent for the Schengen Area. Would you like me to demonstrate?"

As a natural consequence of being able to dine al fresco at a moment's notice, The Colonel has been able to include access to a very particular type of nourishment. In order to explain I must say a bad word. I'm a little prone to bad words, a trait I've learned from my dear mother, but this one is fucking bad. It's a word guaranteed to strike fear into the heart of every Englishman. No, not Liptons... Mocktail. Hear me out, there is something to learn from all this. The Colonel long ago discovered that there is utility in being the only sober person in the room, while deciding exactly how drunk he should appear. This has proven very useful when valuables are safeguarded for valuation, or perhaps when there are papers to be signed. For this reason there is a system for dispensing cocktails which can be alcoholic when it suits the distributor. By choosing from two seemingly identical spouts, The Colonel can choose who gets the Tanqueray and who gets the Wanqueray.

Nuturaly there are holders for stemmed glasses where necessary, but not within easy reach of the driver's seat. The Colonel would never endanger the life of another human being without appropriate financial recompense and a tenuous moral justification.

Document storage is probably the dullest of The Colonel's requirements in a vehicle. Documents are a necessary evil, where the goal is to legally commit people to helpful schemes, or perhaps to incriminate them should their interests not align with the natural way of things. The traditional method is not available to The Colonel because, while he seems to be of the ruling class he didn't attend boarding school or Cambridge. As always, the car provides and you'd never find anything without The Colonel's personal intervention.

Thus, The Colonel is equipped to implement a Grand Scheme in the same manner as his mentor and hero, Mr. Dick Dastardly, who was the instigator of a motorsport-based betting racket and died a billionaire while trying to fuck a pigeon to death on the wing.

I think the car's worth doing, don't you?

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