I have a perfectly snug space in which to write (whilst pondering the acquisition of a future Shed), but am not always able to settle and work in that spot. Sometimes a change of scene is required in order that the Muse be adequately prompted.
Last night I took myself off to a newly discovered gem of Shrewsbury: Mad Jack’s – a delightful restaurant/bar, just a two minute walk up the hill (and five minute meandering stagger down again later).
It has a wonderful courtyard, with canopy, heaters and leather sofas. And it serves decent wine. In large glasses.
It’s named after one Mad ‘Jack’ Mytton – a reckless Shropshire squire, described affectionately in his Wiki entry as “a notable British eccentric and Regency rake”. Mytton followed family tradition to become MP for Shropshire – his seat secured through paying constituents £10 each to vote for him – but he found he hated politics and instead pursued a debauched life, squandering his family’s fortune and courting death in a bizarre litany of deliberate misadventure. He died at 38, penniless and in debtor’s prison – a round shouldered, tottering old-young man bloated by drink. Worn out by too much foolishness, too much wretchedness and too much brandy.
His close friend, Charles James Apperley, wrote a biography with the barking mad title: The Memoirs of the Life of the Late John Mytton, Esquire, of Halston, Shropshire, formerly MP for Shrewsbury, High Sheriff for the Counties of Salop & Merioneth, Major of the North Shropshire Yeomanry Cavalry; with Notices of his Hunting, Shooting and Driving. I reckon it’d be a challenge to get that one past an editor these days.
In this biography Apperley mused over whether Mytton enjoyed life and came to the conclusion, No. He lacked the art of enjoyment. He was bored and unhappy. There was that about him which resembled the restlessness of the hyena. A sort of pestering spirit egged him on.
I’d quite like that last sentence on my gravestone: A sort of pestering spirit egged her on. It’d be a glorious epitaph.