20 Jul Parisian Pugilism and Penicillin
For the period from 1929 through 1943, Montparnasse’s Felipe Beaulieu was Paris’ undisputed bare-knuckle boxing champion. Standing a diminutive five foot one, what the heavily-moustachioed Beaulieu lacked in stature, he made up for with blistering speed and an often ill-directed temper, exacerbated by a sizzling case of syphilis.
During his decade at the top, the list of opponents he’d bested read like a who’s who of Parisian hard men. Fighters of the calibre of Pierre ‘Haymaker’ Bisette, Lucien ‘Lefty’ Leblanc and Didier ‘Do You Want Some More’ Favreau, all suffered savagely at the hands of the petite pugilist.
Favreau once marvelled at the lack of respect many opponents would pay the champ, especially when they had the Absinthe in ’em.
“I recall one such night, when a decent up-and-comer by the name of Jacques Poulin entered the ring having spent the early part of the evening with the green Goddess — still clutching the bottle as a matter of fact — proclaiming, ‘pain to be the domain of the insane’. Beaulieu pummelled seven sorts of shit out of Poulin inside twenty seconds and made him do a little wee.”
According to Cartwright P. Moocjheenie, a Beaulieu left hook was similar in force to being “blindsided by a Paris Metro“. Far from waxing lyrical, Moocjheenie was basing his observations on actual experience.
Having successfully completed a letter drop in Istanbul, Cartwright P. Moocjheenie found himself at the crossroads with Asia, having eaten one too many Iskender kebabs and with plenty of time on his hands. A saffron scam he had pulled on a dodgy vendor at the Grand Bazaar had netted him a nice wad which he had blown almost completely gambling on Tavla with Metin the Turkmen in Sultanahmet.
Thankfully he had a sack of pistachios the size of a large man’s head, a bag of saffron only slightly smaller and a return train ticket to London.
It was between Budapest and Vienna while nursing a hangover of scale, that Moocjheenie decided to make an impromptu visit to Paris in the hope of a rendezvous with Francoise — an energetic fling from his Merchant Navy days. They’d met almost two decades earlier in South Africa. She a dancer in a dirty dive in Durban, he a third mate on a shitty steamer out of Mombassa.
Calling on Francoise unannounced was a risky proposition at the best of times. Francoise’s current line of work dictated she kept strange hours and often, even stranger company. On this particular evening in June, Francoise was playing host to the then Nazi Minister of Mayhem, one Helmut Hecklerr. A fat pig of a man with a penchant for cheap company and expensive cognac.
Having decided it prudent to scale the facade of Francoise’s apartment block to gain access to her third floor balcony — from where he planned to gauge the lay of the land, before making his entrance, sans pantaloons — Cartwright was startled to find himself face to foot with the infamous, robed Minister who had just nipped outside to smoke a post-coital Cuban.
Using a patented distraction call Moocjheenie later coined ‘stranded kitten’, it took only a deft ankle tap using Hecklerr’s adjacent walking stick, to send the unbalanced German Minister toppling face first from Francoise’s balcony into the cobbles of Rue Montorgueil below.
Not a man to waste a generous slug of Remy Martin, Moocjheenie downed the remainder of Hecklerr’s bulbous snifter on the balcony and adjusted his attire, before entering Francoise’s boudoir to squeals of delight.
Enduring a severe bout of pistachio indigestion coupled with a cognac cloud of size, it was later that same evening on the platform of Pont Neuf that a slightly staggering Moocjheenie was clipped by the 7.19 from La Defense.
As luck would have it, it was Felipe Beaulieu, who, in a fit of unlikely charity, came to the aid of Moocjheenie. Startled by the attention and dazed by the Metro, Cartwright jumped to his feet and zig-zagging his arms in a swarming motion, turned two full three-sixty degrees circles creating a kill zone of three foot radius between shoulder and waste height — a technique he’d discovered to his shock and awe from an SAS nutter in Normandy whom he’d woken with a light tap on the shoulder to offer a steaming cup of tea.
His limited charity beyond tested, Beaulieu landed a single uppercut on the jaw of Moocjheenie (during his second circle) knocking him out cold and sending him back to a prone position on the platform. It was 30 minutes before a groggy Moocjheenie woke again. After apologies and introductions, Beaulieu took Moocjheenie to Le Chat Noir where the reputed healing properties of Chartreuse were put to the test.
Although none of the parties involved remember anything more from the evening in question, it was Cartwright Moocjheenie who that night first introduced Felipe Beaulieu to Doctor Dubois. Dubious, a Parisian physician of some renown had had recent dealings with an up-and-coming Scottish bacteriologist by the name of Alexander Fleming. It was Fleming on Dubois’ recommendation that offered to cure Felipe Beaulieu of his festering pox using the latest in fungi-based pharmaceuticals.
So immediate was the effect of Fleming’s new wonder-drug, Penicillin on Beaulieu’s syphilis, his mood and his general outlook on life, that he vowed never to throw a punch in anger again.
Today Felipe Beaulieu grows asparagus on a small angular plot of land on the outskirts of Lyon and shares a one-room wooden shack with a ginger tabby by the name of Brett. He still maintains regular contact with Cartwright P. Moocjheenie.