‘What what!’ bellowed Uncle Archibald Reginald Featherstone the Third, fifteenth Duke of Normington and Honourary Chair of the Haveringminster Cricket Association good-naturedly.
‘Archie!’ responded Peregrine St. John Psmythe, gallumphing guilelessly across the carefully threadbare carpet of the hallway of the Ingot Club for Gentlemen of Novel Opinions like a particularly rangy antelope in a brown tweed suit. ‘What what indeed, old fruit! How the devil?’ He pumped Archie’s hand with the vigour of a professional pump operator who, reinvigorated by a bracing round of redundancies amongst his colleagues and union-mates, has resolved to put his all into the execution of his pump-operating duties in the hope of staving off early retirement and, with it, the threat of more time to spend with his forthright and ebullient wife.
‘Perry, Perry, Perry,’ thundered Archie warmly, which was technically correct, although perhaps a touch too emphatic for the club’s older members, several of whom shifted restively beneath their newspaper pages like volcanos who are trying to sleep under the business section and keep being disturbed.
‘Archie!’ reiterated Peregrine, noticeably failing to move the conversation on.
‘Perry,’ repeated Archie, somewhat grudgingly this time.
‘Archie,’ said Peregrine. ‘How the devil? How the deuce are you? Archie, Archie, Archie. My old fruit. Uncle Archie.’ The silence which followed this stretched out like an elongated object of some kind described in unnecessary detail for comic effect.