Charlie Cochrane is here and she’s talking about heroes and her latest release. Thanks for coming back to visit, Charlie!
This post was inspired by Faith Ashlin’s post here, about heroes. “A man who has honour and a sense of duty, which he holds true to quietly, without a fuss,” she said, which made me think, “That could be Jonty, or Orlando!” Admittedly my Cambridge lads don’t normally wear armour, nor do they ride on white chargers, although they did serve in WWI, both with the Room 40 cryptanalysis boys and later out in France. But they’re both heroes, sticking steadfastly and stubbornly to what they believe is decent and right.
They’re creatures of their time, of course, Edwardians through and through, at their forward thinking but still ancient Cambridge college, trying to knock some knowledge into their students, solving mysteries on the side and desperately trying to stop the world finding out that they’re lovers.
I’ve often wondered what Jonty and Orlando would have done with themselves if they’d been born in another era. Solved mysteries – of course – fallen in love with each other – naturally – and generally been funny, annoying and adorable. But what career would they have had and how would their heroic tendencies have manifested themselves?
If they’d been born thirty years later then they’d have been Bletchley men, surely. Or would Jonty have been a bomber pilot while Orlando was his wingman, in a nippy little Hurricane? A hundred years earlier and they might have been in Nelson’s navy, one of his band of brothers. (I can just imagine Edwardian Jonty and Orlando fighting over which one of them would have earned his captain’s “swab” first.)
I can also see them at the time of Agincourt, knights in Henry’s army, although Jonty has the build for one of those famous British archers. Maybe Jonty would have written the “once more into the breach” and “We few, we precious few…” speeches for the king. Go back a few hundred years and I could see them having taken up arms on a crusade as a means of running from the traumas of their younger lives.
So, what if Jonty and Orlando had been 1980’s babies? I know Jonty would embrace modern technology with great glee and Orlando would tolerate it, much as he tolerates Jonty’s car. Maybe they’d be at 21st century Cambridge, trying to knock some sense into the modern undergraduates, or Orlando would have a job in a bank, working out complex algorithms to maximise the company’s investments while Jonty treads the boards at the National Theatre, making the young girls swoon at his Hamlet. But that doesn’t seem heroic enough. I don’t think they’re the men for modern warfare, so where would their valour find an outlet?
I think (and this is may seem odd) they’d be leading lights for a charity like Help for Heroes, or the British Legion, working their socks off to make sure that people who’ve served their country aren’t left to cope alone.
And Orlando would be working doubly hard to make sure their Civil Partnership ceremony wasn’t splashed all over “Country Life”!
An invitation to stay at a friend of the Stewart family’s stately home can only mean one thing for Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith—a new case for the amateur sleuths! With two apparently unrelated suicides, a double chase is on.
But things never run smoothly for the Cambridge fellows. In an era when their love dare not speak its name, the chance of discovery (and disgrace) is ever present—how do you explain yourself when a servant discovers you doing the midnight run along the corridor?
The chase stops being a game for Orlando when the case brings back memories of his father’s suicide and the search for the identity of his grandfather. And the solution presents them with one of the most difficult moral decisions they’ve had to make…
“Are we content, Dr. Coppersmith?” Jonty, warm from the port and just slightly dishevelled from an encounter with the family’s Irish wolfhound, stood in Orlando’s doorway in the guest corridor to say his goodnights. Although, as usual, the loquacious toad couldn’t just say “see you tomorrow” and have done with it. Not when five hundred words would suffice.
“We are. Two mysteries. What more could a man want?” The man he loved to share his bed with him, obviously, but neither of them would be getting that. They’d managed a bit of room hopping at the Old Manor—where nobody seemed to bat an eyelid—and when they took a two-bedroom suite at a hotel, but neither of them was going to risk a pyjama-clad slink along the corridor at Fyfield.
Maybe Jonty was feeling the same reluctance to part for the night.
“The nature of the cases not worrying you?”
“No!” Orlando said, avoiding Jonty’s gaze but not able to avoid the disapproving sniff. “Sorry, shouldn’t have been so abrupt. No, I’m fine.”
Jonty leaned his head against the doorframe, clearly weighing up whether he was being told the truth and how far to pursue it if he wasn’t. Orlando had seen that determined look before.
“As you wish.” Jonty stifled a yawn. “I shall see you in the morning. Breakfast and then interrogating the chambermaids?”
“Something like that. Sleep well.”
“I will. My head will hit the pillow and then it’ll be morning tea time.” Jonty slipped away to his room, leaving Orlando, unmoving, staring at the door. Sleep wasn’t going to be easy to find, with dormant memories of his father—cruelly awoken more than once today—dogging his thoughts. He was far too used to having Jonty’s cold feet in the small of his back or his gentle snoring in his ear.
Maybe he could lull himself to sleep by dreaming up a plan of campaign to solve what seemed like two impossible problems.
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