A Major Mews Story

Donald Shephard

When John Major returned from service in India he retired with the rank of major to his country estate which he called Mahal. The rambling old mansion was so named because Major Major liked to think the Raj lived on in his Raj Mahal. Such was his quirky sense of humor that he named his surviving identical triplets John Major (major), John Major (minor) and John Major (minimus). All three sons, major, minor and minimus had been sent back from India to be schooled at Eton and Sandhurst, the Royal Army Military College. In the course of time, each son had earned the rank of major. On formal occasions such as the family gathering at the Raj Mahal at Christmas, the eldest son was called Major John Major, major. The middle son was Major John Major, minor and the youngest was Major John Major, minimus. Since they were all named John it became confusing to say such things as “John, where is John?” and “Why, John is in the john, John.” So they dumped the John business altogether. They were simply Major Major, major; Major Major, minor; and Major Major, minimus. Their father was reverently referred to as “The Major” or “The Old Man”, if the context was less reverent.

All three of the junior Major Majors retired honorably from the army and began second careers in varying civil service and commercial roles. Major Major, major, known in the army for his skillful administration of the military police and referred to there as Major, Major, major M.P., ran for and was elected to the House of Commons for the constituency of Upper Piddlington in Middlesex. Within the hollow hallowed halls of the Palace of Westminster he was thereafter known as The Honorable Major Major, major, M.P., M.P. (For those of you who have not come across the strange concept of Middlesex, it refers to an English county and not a no-man’s-land between the male and female genders. I take this digression because there may be some who have glimpsed Major Major, major, M.P., M.P. skinny dipping and wonder about the reference.)

The second son, Major Major, minor, having led the sappers with cunning, courage and corruption purchased a minor mine and later became the Minister for Mines in the Tory government. He was known as the Minister for Mines, the minor miner Major Major, minor.

Finally, Major Major, minimus the most commercial of the Majors, retired from a distinguished cavalry career. His deeds are celebrated in verse and song. These songs recall the exploits of the nightshift of the Brigade of Light Horse which left their mounts on sentry duty and proceeded to a local tavern where they became slightly intoxicated. Unfortunately, none of the horsemen had brought any cash along and so the good Major Major, minimus whipped out his credit card to cover the expenses of the evening for the entire troop. Hence the well-known ditty and classic poem entitled, “The Charge of the Slightly Tight Night Light Brigade”. He went on to operate a transportation company called the Major Major, minimus, Minibus Corporation.

Since all three sons required an apartment in London in order to conduct their businesses, they purchased a set of flats in Chelsea, and called it the Major Mews. The ground floor flat had a large, golden “A” on the door. On the wall was a brass plaque ornately engraved with this inscription, “Major Major, major, M.P., M.P.” The second story flat marked by the letter “B” had a similar plaque reading, “Major Major, minor, Minister for Mines and a minor miner.” Beside the top floor flat marked with a “C” a rather breathless reader would see, “Major Major, minimus CEO of the Major Major, minimus Minibus Corporation”.

A sharply dressed, flat-heeled lady double bass player, invited to a “bring your own food and bottle” musical evening at Major Major, minimus’s apartment became confused by the similar name plaques. Having run up and down the stairs three times carrying her bass instrument, her Bass Ale, and her Sea Bass fillets, she knocked on the B flat door which was answered by the son of the household, a collector of mynah birds. The mynah bird on the shoulder of the minor scion of Major Major, minor, Minister for Mines and a minor miner told the musician to take her bass, bass and Bass and go to the C flat Major and “be sharp, you are late.”

Back to ... Playing With Words | Home page