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Men of Affairs

By Roland Pertwee

At a pawnshop in the Gray’s Inn Road, Richard Frencham Altar disposed of the last of his worldly goods. Four suits from a tailor in Saville Row, two pairs of shoes in brown and patent by a craftsman of Jermyn Street, some odds and ends of hosiery, a set of dressing table brushes with black monograms on ivory and the gold cigarette case Doreen had given him on the day of their engagement. In consideration for this, he departed with a sum of twenty-seven pounds sixteen shillings in his trousers pockets. At his rooms in Golden Square, he settled his account with the landlady, a luxury that reduced his wealth by a matter of nineteen pounds. Of the eight pounds and sixteen shillings remaining, five guineas were placed on one side for the tobacconist who had supplied him with Gold Flake, and the margin transferred to another pocket for one final engagement with the habit of high living. After that—well time would show. It was futile to speculate upon the future. He had the clothes he stood up in, the brain and tissue heaven had provided him with, and a spirit unawed by adversity. Many men have started life with less.

A neighboring clock chimed the hour. Too early to dine—besides there were things to be done first. From a highly decorated vase that stood upon a particularly restless over-mantel, he drew a small packet of letters and untied the tape that circled them. They were written in a careless sprawling hand, with lots of ink and little thought. They were very full of ‘darlings’ and ‘dearests’ and ‘how much do you love me.’ They were very, very rapturous—they were very, very silly. They had made him very happy when first he read them because silliness and sincerity are often partners, but now he knew better—now they made him laugh. Not a very cheerful laugh perhaps—a little cynical maybe but on the whole tolerant and forbearing.

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Roland Pertwee

Roland Pertwee (15 May 1885 – 26 April 1963) was an English playwright, film and television screenwriter, director and actor. He was the father of Doctor Who actor Jon Pertwee and playwright and screenwriter Michael Pertwee. He was also the second cousin of actor Bill Pertwee and grandfather of actors Sean Pertwee and Dariel Pertwee.

From the 1910s to the 1950s, he worked as a writer on many British films, providing either the basic story or full screenplay. He was one of many writers who worked on the script of A Yank at Oxford starring Robert Taylor and Vivien Leigh, the film in which his son Jon made his screen debut, and on Caravan.

While he seemingly preferred writing, he acted in ten films (1915–45) and directed Breach of Promise (1942), which he also wrote.

Short stories

  • A Call on the Country
  • Camouflage (1917)
  • Jackie Play Alone (1918)
  • Delayed It May Be (1918)
  • The Hero (1918)
  • Why Not? (1919)
  • The RedMoth (1920)
  • The Little Princess (1920)
  • A Silly Thing to Do (1921)
  • The Man Who Didn’t Matter (1922)
  • Men of Affairs (1922)
  • The Chap Upstairs (1922)
  • The Money Spider’s Web (1923)
  • The Eagle and the Wren (1923)
  • Security (1926)
  • A Trial Run (1926)
  • The Common Cause (1926)
  • Rodney Darling (1927)
  • A Modern Knight Errant (1927)
  • A Bowl of Contention (1928)
  • Sentiment to the Rescue (1928)
  • The Fox and the Eggs (1929)
  • Empty Arms (1931)
  • Damaged Sixpence (1937)
  • The Governor’s Lady and Judy O’Grady (1937)
  • A Chalk Stream Killing (1939)
  • Irene Marries Money (1939)
  • Greater London (1943)
  • Move Brittania (1945)
  • Reflected Glory (1952)

Roland Pertwee

Roland Pertwee