A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

The emergence of a Victorian gentleman in the 21st century.



Indigo Quilps had an odd perspective on life.

Raised in a children’s home run by Brumpton Council, he achieved quite a lot while he was still in their care, a condition that terminated when he left full time education and was therefore considered ripe for independent living.

   Brumpton Orphans Sunshine Home was the sort of place any child would delight in going home to after a day in school because Mollie Daybright who ran it had a brilliant understanding of what children most needed out of life. And the one thing she believed above all others was that children and books go together like strawberries and cream. An avid reader herself, she created an atmosphere in which the printed word was avidly grasped by Indigo Quilps.

Now, there are books and there are books. There are the sort filled with pictures designed to interest or amuse or even disturb the young child, and there are books dependent on words to convey those emotions. And no sooner could Indigo read than he went for the wordy ones.

Amongst those was a particular fetish of Mollie Daybright’s. Tales wrought from hardships in the past, and she had loved them all her life and consequently accumulated quite a lot of that genre. It gave her an oozy sort of feeling to think of children dying in gutters or being flogged by stern Victorian masters or climbing into the black hell of chimneys to earn their farthings. It wasn’t that she had a sadistic nature, but far from it because she ran a children’s orphanage with the lightest and gentlest of touches and the softest of voices, even when things went wrong as they sometimes did.

So Indigo was subjected, voluntarily on his part, to a collection of children’s versions of well known stories, many by the great Charles Dickens himself, and he formed, even when he was ridiculously young, an image of a world he didn’t particularly like in terms of wanting to share it, but was fascinated by.

So much for the boy Indigo Quilps, and things got what might appear to be bleaker as he grew older. He left school with “A” levels and consequently left the orphanage where, it must be stressed, his every need had been satisfied. He even fell in love with Maria Cavendish, a pretty enough girl of roughly his own age who consequently had to leave at the same time as he did. Before Maria there had been Dennis, but he, being a boy, offered little variety when it came to intimacy, though memories of Dennis did prop up quite a lot of Indigo’s later considerations when such things were needed.

But back to Maria Cavendish. She had everything a teenage boy could possibly want in a lass. She looked the part, had the sort of hair he found to be fascinating and even dreamed about, and generally pleased his twenty-twenty visionin other respects. And in addition to that she was perfectly happy to do what he wanted to do when they found themselves together., which was quite often seeing that the council had provided them with their own bed-sits as a refuge when they left the orphanage.

So the inevitable happened and they got married because she fell pregnant almost straight away. Two separate bedsits became one small flat, and Indigo Quilps found himself to be a typical Victorian gentleman.

He even dressed the part, trawling through charity shops, flea markets and boot sales for the most appropriate attire, which he found both for himself and for Maria. He even equipped himself with a walking cane even though his own legs worked perfectly well.

So they were set up to be an odd couple, though there was something about Indigo that had the fascinating effect of stifling any giggles or titters that his appearance might provoke. You see, he found he rather liked to wear a top hat, and that complemented his lean face to give him the very likeness of a Dickensian beadle.

Their child came along at the conclusion of nine months incubation inside Maria’s increasingly adequate stomach. It was a girl, which was just as well because Indigo had been planning to be followed around by his own personal Oliver Twist perpetually asking for more. But Oliver wasn’t to be, and Olive was.

The trouble with babies is they sometimes cry at night, and Olive was good at that, a habit that Indigo thought must be Maria’s problem to sort out, and as a consequence he found plenty of things to do that involved actually mooching around the town after dark, where Olive’s screeching couldn’t reach him.

So there we have it. A teenager in largely Victorian sartorial elegance, complete with top hat, cane and stiff collar, and the dark of night.

He bumped into other nocturnal folk, mostly those staggering home from this or that pub at closing time, and they, being what and who they were, assumed rather talkative personas. That could have been well and good but some of them tended to assume argumentative personas as well, and Indigo loved a good argument. He could even give forth opinions that he’d never had, and do it in such a way that it was quite clear he was some kind of expert. Take sport, for instance.

He’d never done anything but fail when it came to sport when he’d been at school, and at the home, before he left it for good, Molly had assured him that there was absolutely nothing cerebral about kicking balls about , and she was sure that Mr Dickens never did anything of the sort.

Which formed his own opinions in the University of Night. But condemning activities without a concrete opinion wasn’t good enough, so he formed opinions and carefully crafted facts to back his ideas up.

The line-up’s all wrong,” he would say, not knowing what a line-up might be and in what silly sport you might expect to find it, and not particularly caring. The drunkards hanging onto his every word could work that one out.

Or on another occasion he declared “of course, it was off-side. Even a blind man could see that!” Which brough about a great deal of head-nodding and appreciative murmuring, which he rather liked even though he had no idea what off-side meant.

You know, squire,” shouted one large and rather hairy man, “you’re good, you are. You know what’s right and what’s wrong. You ought to be in politics!”

Which set Indigo Quilps thinking.

© Peter Rogerson 23.07.22


© 2022 Peter Rogerson

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Added on July 23, 2022
Last Updated on July 25, 2022
Tags: orphanage, literacy, books, Dickens, hardship.


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 78 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..