Monsieur Propriétaire appeared at the top of the front steps of the grand 18th-century château and took a deep breath, to drink in the cool, crisp, early-morning air. Standing down in the gardens below, watching his every move, was Aubin Jefaidesbulles, his technical director.
It was March 1st, 2021. Nearly a year had passed since Monsieur Propriétaire’s discharge from the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Bordeaux, his home for six weeks during his dalliance with Covid-19, and during that time Aubin had watched his boss gradually regain his strength. The rehabilitation had gone well, as he had witnessed a transformation from a wizened, wasted and prematurely aged figure, to one who now stood tall, exuding energy and drive. Daily exercise, a new phenomenon for Monsieur Propriétaire, had been an important facet of his rehabilitation. Only that morning Aubin had observed him out on his morning run around the vines, wearing the gold lamé tracksuit he had purchased at a charity auction earlier that year.
Monsieur Propriétaire had been very proud of his new sportswear;
“Look”, he had said to Aubin at the time, “a golden tracksuit from Savile Row – and it was a complete steal at 2,500 euros”.
Aubin had inspected the label closely. His grandmother had been in the high-end linen trade and he knew many of the names she had dealt with on London’s Savile Row, where the city’s finest gentlemen’s tailors were based. There was King & Allen, Richard James, Gieves & Hawkes, and her most loyal client Huntsman & Sons. Aubin had therefore eyed the Jimmy Savile label with a modicum of suspicion, and it only took a few minutes online to discover the horrifying truth. Aubin had decided to say nothing to his boss; it seemed unlikely he would discover his error, Aubin had concluded, given that he wouldn’t even know how to plug in a computer, never mind navigate his way onto the internet.