If you are a Subscriber to this fine Periodical, you are, according to our recent Member Survey, a Rich Old Man. With Christmas only a month away, you are, no doubt, in the process of sending out Invites to the Familial Manse for the traditional Old-Fashioned Christmas Family House Party. Relatives from far and wide will come to you, for they know that to refuse your Invitation is to risk being Cut Out of your Will. This is All Well and Fine… as long as none of your Loved Ones is planning to Speed your Departure from this Earthly Existence.
We at Porcine Quarterly have noticed, however, that our list of Subscribers shrinks Dramatically during the Christmas season. We don’t like it. It seems Fishy. It is also Inconvenient, as we have a Money-Hungry Magazine to support, plus wives, children, and other assorted Dependents to keep in food, finger-paints, hats, kites, gloves, and trips to the South of France. We have, therefore, Looked Into the Matter, and our findings are Disturbing. Our average Subscriber is, to be fair, Tottering on the Edge of the Grave; it seems, however, that many Former Subscribers have, in fact, been Done to Death by Beneficiaries (who seem to have a Grudge against us, for their first act upon coming into Money is generally to cancel the Household Subscription).
Frankly, Gentlemen, we cannot afford to lose any more Subscribers. As a Public Service, therefore, we have written up a few simple Hints that should help you all in your effort to evade The Grim Reaper over this coming Holiday Season.
Relatives You Ought To Suspect
Who, at your little family gathering, has gotten rather thin of late? Who has that hollow-eyed stare that one associates with starvation? Who falls upon the Festive Board like a wolf falling upon an unfortunate peasant?
Relatives who display these characteristics may be desperate for money. Watch them with Caution, or, even better, have your butler throw them out into the snow. This is Cruel, but, in this life, one must think of Others. Specifically, in this case, you must think of the staff of the Porcine Quarterly. Throw them out! Let no Pity stay your hand (or, rather, the hand of your butler, or, if your butler is Aged and Infirm, your footman, or a sturdy parlour-maid)!
Shakespeare tells us, though the exact play escapes us at the moment, and we have no Compleat Shakespeare in our impoverished office with which to check the reference (a Christmas gift of original folios and quartos would, we at Porcine’s humbly suggest, come in uncommonly useful), that a man can “smile and smile and be a villain!”
We think the old Bard was onto something there. Is your gathering a jolly affair? We doubt it. YOU may be enjoying yourself, but if a Relation seems pleased about something, he is probably contemplating your gruesome death. See if they’re still smiling when they are out in the snow, having been hurled there by some member of your household staff.
Under the influence of Strong Drink, Relatives are capable of literally anything. A Tippling Relation, especially one with Sporting Instincts, may have Very Dubious Associations Indeed. And consider the expense of The Drinking and/or Sporting Habit! Those bar tabs and bad bets add up. One day, a Dissolute Relative will wake up (probably hung-over) to realize that only an Inheritance can save him from a very nasty situation indeed!
The best place for a Dissolute Relative is, in our opinion, Out In The Snow. He will not Lack Company, if you have followed our advice in other matters.
The Best Policy, On The Whole
We strongly urge you to Alter Your Will. Don’t wait, as many foolish Rich Old Former Subscribers have waited, for Christmas Eve to announce your intention to change your will. “My solicitor,” these Former Subscribers announce to their relatives, “will arrive in the morning!” And then they go off to bed and are murdered.
No, no, my friend! Change your will now! Is there not a Cat’s-Home that you’ve always wanted to endow? Or, if you dislike Cats, why not leave your filthy lucre to the staff of your favorite Quarterly? We Are Not Getting Any Younger, and neither are our wives or our children. Or, when you come to think of it, Anyone.
So change your Will! And tell your family that you’ve done it. Perhaps include a copy of the new Will with your Christmas Invitation. Suddenly, the whole crowd of them will want to keep you alive, in the hope that you will have A Change of Heart.
Merry Christmas, Oh Rich Old Subscribers! And do try not to be murdered. We at Porcine’s need you- or, rather, your Subscription Fees. Do try!
Notes: Porcine’s Quarterly approached me, in the hope that I would look into the high Mortality Rate of their Subscribers. I was rather tied up at the time (with the Affair of The Duchess, The Severed Finger, and The Red Brotherhood, which I have recorded elsewhere), so I could not accept the job. I am pleased to see that they engaged some other investigator to look into the thing.