Things were getting heated, down at the club. Broadstairs and I were engaged in a ferocious battle of wits over the twin theories of the day. He’d published his nonsensical pamphlets, and I’d given my talk at the Royal Society. And now it came to this; the two great intellectuals of our time, exchanging arguments over brandy as skilled swordsmen might battle with sabres — feint and counter-feint, parry and strike. Broadstairs listened with scorn to my postulations, then drew himself up in riposte.
‘Don’t be an ass, Carruthers,’ he snorted.
I bristled, but kept my cool. ‘Your face is an ass, Broadstairs,’ I said.