The Singular Adventures of Maximilian Yuen, Gastronome and Gentleman

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I fear this has been a hard month for you, beloved readers. I’ve no doubt many a tear will have been shed at my absence, and indeed I would not be surprised to hear that the suicide rate had spiked markedly. When roaming the centre by night, armed only with bow tie and bulging chequebook, fresh perhaps from the ball or theatre, your salivating maws were left confused and confounded; where, you asked, shall I eat, without guidance from the Berkeley Squares food correspondent?

Indeed, the enigmatic ‘Our Correspondent’ was singularly devastated by my disappearance, so much so that he was moved to compose a particularly touching article, dripping with sullen anguish and paternal concern.

I seek, therefore, to apologise honestly and unreservedly for my absence in the previous edition. Or at least, I would do so, had the particulars of my disappearance not been entirely beyond my control.

For as it happened, while sizing up the soon-to-be Ivy restaurant, seeking neither a meal nor a loan but rather a stiff drink after my most recent bankruptcy, I was set upon by a pack of ruffians, baying for my blood and eyeing my waistcoat with a jealous zeal. I laid about as best I could, delivering deft blows with the haft of my umbrella, but for every youth I felled a further dozen sprang upon me, until seemingly all of Clifton Village was filled with these exponentially multiplying bruisers.

Before I knew it, I was seized and bundled into a sedan chair, then carted most unceremoniously to their leader. He was a tall man, wearing a well-cut suit and quite bald save a waxed handlebar moustache. Quite singularly, he had no eyes. ‘I’m going to have you for dinner,’ he asserted in cut-glass tones. I shuddered. ‘For dinner at my top fifty favourite restaurants, and you’ll have to review every single one!’

Hearing this, I let out a cry of despair. Fifty reviews? I barely manage one a month! Could it be that I might finally have to work for a living?

The travelling life for me

This was taken only hours after the end of my ordeal. Look what a state I was in, bedraggled and starving, with barely an ounce of spirit left in me.

‘Or I could just, you know, have you for dinner,’ added the villain, somewhat crestfallen, whose name turned out to be the Blackbird. I must confess I let out a sigh of relief, thankful in the knowledge that my innate indolence might be indulged. With a cry of ‘Dig in, old man!’ and an enticing gesture towards my abdomen, I watched with only marginal disgust as he took a juicy bite of my kidney.

But he had fallen straight into my trap! ‘No!’ he cried, spitting blood, ‘kidney stones!’ For in his hunger he had bitten into my secret weapon, and now his teeth were cracked and his dental fees through the roof. Seizing the opportunity, I dashed out of his seedy hideout, which was actually a rather nice house in Redland, and didn’t stop running until I reached Berkeley Squares HQ a full month later. I mean, I say I didn’t stop, but then a couple of Caribbean jaunts on expenses don’t really count, do they?

But regardless, here I am, back at last, slipping happily back into my leisurely writing habits. Now, has anyone got a spare kidney?…