☰ Captain Arthur David Linklater (1870-1951)
And that was that. Or it was to all intents and purposes. Dum clearly felt hard done by if for no other reason than that after most of a hard working life he had nothing to show for it. A couple of years later, for his diary entry for 15th August 1939 Dum wrote of his son Nelson, who had now become Dick and would remain so; Dick's 21st Birthday. Was only able to give him £1 owing to the extreme financial strain but promised something very different if matters take a turn for the better.
Matters never did take a turn for the better - and that must have been very humiliating. But it takes two to tango and as Dum points out he put his trust where he never should. Dhunjibhoy was clearly a scoundrel; a man who to Dum's face threatened to “break him in a month” if he dared to set up in business should never have been trusted. And Dum's knowledge was not just with hindsight. Dhunjibhoy had had a relative of his beaten up and thrown in the dock for having the temerity to start up a business which he felt was a threat to his own interests. There were many other such stories told of Dhunjibhoy; even if untrue, the smoke should have served as some sort of warning of fire down below. Dum had legitimate business interests and career prospects which he sacrificed at the behest of a man with a flawed character and came to rue the day, but not all the blame can be laid at Dhunjibhoy's door, any more than at Dum's. There were greater forces at work which Dum seems to take no account of; after the First World War the lucrative contracts for coaling and docking were slashed by 50%; ‘war prices’ became a thing of the past and Dhunjibhoy had to turn the screws. He had to give up “the Port Trust Dry Dock contract which he had held for over thirty years”. The Great Depression [1929-33] saw richer, more successful men than Dum walk the plank. On top of which another World War was about to engulf Europe. Regarding WW2, it is only from Dick's diaries that we learn Dum attended Oswald Moseley's meetings; even then we don't know what were Dum's political affiliations.
The microcosm of Dum's whole life and
‘career’ - for want of a better word - reflect, as did the
lives of so many others, what was happening in the macrocosm of the
British Empire. At the beginning of the twentieth century Britain was
one of the richest, most powerful nations in the world whose economy
was still largely reliant on wind, steam and the horse. Life then would
have been recognisable to a Roman. Within thirty years, in fact by 1929
all that was in the melting pot along with the wreck of the first manic
expansion of capitalism that developed into the Great Depression. Whereras
in 1919 Arthur had been given the choice of a carriage
and horse or a motor car for the purpose of going about his duties
come 1929 only the car would have been on offer. Flying was a reality;
the wireless and x-rays, household electrical appliances, the flickers
and gramaphone and much else besides would have struck our same time-warped
Roman dumb with astonishment. Against this technological flow, Britania
was steadily sinking to the point where by 1945 she was one of the poorest
developed capitalist nations. It is hardly surprising that the lives
and fortunes of her individual citizens were equally squeezed. While
Dhunjibhoy can be roundly condemned for exploitation and deceiving a
loyal servant into placing his trust where he never should have and
with disastrous consequences, he cannot be blamed for the fact that
Dum was also a victim of historic circumstances as much as his own mistakes.
For the immediate future Dum looked to property development to keep body and soul together; he had done it before after all. He got a lump sum of £2000 at Dhunjibhoy's death with which he bought the leasehold of The Neww Inn, Maidenhead. Other speculative ventures followed, all in London I think, which will be dealt with shortly. For now, let us bear with Dum as he gives vent to a final outburst at what he saw as “scurvey treatment” at Dhunjibhoy's hands. At what date and for what purpose Dum prepared another rehearsal of his grievances I don't know, but fortunately only the first three pages of it remain which will be more than enough to ring down the final curtain on Dhunjibhoy - although there will be a brief final-final curtain call! Some of it rather resembles Molly Bloom's ‘Soliloquy’ - albeit with Dum's characteristically generous and seemingly random use of commas - but I have left it uncorrected as it gives a good idea of how his treatment at Dhunjibhoy's hands rankled. It is a borderline rant!