Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I've come over all "Victor Meldrew"….I don't bloody believe it. We waited until 8 o'clock last night ( well fellows and Dawkins did) and the hampers from Fortnum's failed to make an appearance. This sort of lack of customer focus is precisely why the country is going to ruin.
As soon as they opened this morning I asked Clarence to call the distribution department for me so I could give them a piece of my mind, and in the process perhaps teach them some valuable customer care lessons. I had barely spoken to the oik on the end of the phone before he launched into a tirade of abuse. Before matters really took a turn for worse, I pointed out that its customers like me, that pay his wages and he should therefore show a little defference. Strangely he immediately put the phone down.
No matter, his marketting manager frequents my London club, and so I have made a call to him to ensure sufficient reprimand will be administered. Hampers promised for delivery before 11.00 this morning.( heavily discounted of course… )
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Anyway Tomlinson arrived in his little van and it took two of them to carry the bird into the kitchen where Dawkins was waiting. I'm not sure whether this was actually a turkey or a small ostrich it was that big! By the time Dawkins had removed the giblets, which I generously allow her and fellows to share as a bit of a treat (what was known as humble pie in years gone by), it was nearly lunchtime. Tomlinson was rubbing the breasts, and thighs with butter (the turkey not Dawkins!) ready to cover it in some of the farm bacon. Completely ready the bird (again not Dawkins) was then placed carefully in the walk in cold room.
The venison and goose are already prepared and so its just the final ceremonial dousing of the pud to be completed before we are actually ready for the big day. That and inserting the proverbial sixpence are the only real manual labour I have to do for this Christmas lark, which is good considering the amount it seems to cost me.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Fellows dropped me at the nearby railway station and I joined the tired, the flatulent, and the hung-over on the brief Monday morning journey to London. (Why do people insist on blowing out on curry on a Sunday night and then sharing the experience on the train the following morning? I must, again, impress upn the railway company that I would like my own coach re-instated rather than continuing to share these journeys with such uncouth travellers).
The club was quiet. I suppose many members have returned to the country for a Christmas break or gone abroad. It does mean that the gentle drone of snoring, the sibilance of whispered conversation, the creaking of leather as the members adjust their position, and distant tappity-tap of secretaries and their computers is much reduced and affords a more relaxed atmosphere.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Because of their size, several of the local roads have been closed to allow the fleet of lorries to get through unimpeded. At least it will all be done without my attendance.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The man from the CAA phoned back. He asked if I was the owner of the laser display and I proudly said that I was. He had been receiving complaints from pilots bound for Heathrow and Gatwick who had been startled by the presence of a reindeer and a sleigh appearing alongside their aircraft. He asked if the display could be turned off or at least reduced in intensity. Feeling cheerful this morning, I agreed.
I phoned Fellows and instructed him to call the Christmas Organiser and tell him to tune down the lasers. (I suppose this is why you put them under test - to discover any minor problems they may cause). It was at this point that Fellows pointed out that the edge of this morning's metal object was not frayed at all but crisply cut, and could the lasers have actually caught a wing tip? Pondering this I told him to bury the object and not tell a soul.
Fellows phoned back whilst I was still driving through Warwickshire. He had enlisted the help of Osbourne and they had shifted the object. It appeared to be part of an aircraft. Puzzling!
Monday, December 15, 2008
The tree is now in pride of place on the terrace. The house is decorated, and the lights are under test. He explained that traditional tree lights were "infra dig" and that we should do something more adventurous by decorating the tree with a new type of light and then illuminating the area further with lasers. As I write the lasers are displaying a reindeer and sleigh moving across the overcast sky.
I'm not sure about all this but I'm sure that Persephone and Arabella will be delighted.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The beaters were all arranged, the guns prepared, the hampers loaded. The weather was so foul that Memsahib said that it was unfair on the staff to expect them to go out in such conditions and the wind would make it impossible to hit the birds, so it would be a waste. She made sense - particularly after the problems at the hatchery earlier in the year.
I paid off the beaters with a few shillings and sent them home. There were mutterings of discontent, but I certainly wasn't going to pay them for not beating!
Gussie, Quentin, Kipper and the chums came to the house and we broke open the hampers early and scoffed our way through cook's goodies and several fine bottles of port. (That reminds me, I still haven't found any of the USB Port).
Friday, December 12, 2008
I have been thinking about having an artificial ice rink installed. At first the dilemma was where it should go - the East terrace? the South terrace? but we still have the tree to consider.
I have decided to follow the Somerset House model and install the rink in one corner of the stable yeard (away from the where the cars are kept). Hopefully this will prove great fun over the next few weeks. I shall have cook set up a second kitchen so that Clarence or Fellows can provide mulled wine and small cooked snacks. It will be nice to see Arabella, Persephone and the Memsahib doing their spirals, Salchows, toe loops, Lutz and Axels in their slinky outfits.
Closer to Christmas we'll host an evening for the local villagers (note, I'll have to find someone to roast chestnuts on an open brazier - I might have to send Fellows down to the east End of London to find someone suitable). The choir from the cathedral can provide carols (the Bishop owes me a favour due to my ongoing silence regarding a certain indiscretion).
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I wandered in to a local pub and was immedeiately accosted by the friendly atmosphere and the peculiar smells. It became clear after a few minutes that in order eke out their meagre rations the working classes had pooled their food and decided to share it out amongst them. I had never seen anything quite like it and was choked by their kindness in inviting me to partake. It would have been rude to say no, so I picked at various offerings. Most were pastry covered comestibles filled with God knows what. One chap from North Britain kept muttering about neeps and tatties and plunging into one of the offering.
All in all a strange evening. It is interesting to see how the working classes spend their time (though it is probably best to observe from a distance!)
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
After all, Every Little Helps…. So I'm told!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
danger of being laid off and the unions making threatening noises.
I like Aston Martins (there's probably one or two still in the stable
block) and I think I have one on order (or was that a Maserati)?
When I first heard of the possible lay-offs I did think of putting in
an offer, but now the Unions are involved they can forget it.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Having arrived back at the ranch, as they say ( stately pile I say….), I took the bath that Clarence had helpfully provided. Having not spared the horses in the Jalopy on the way down I found myself with an hour or two more than expected before joining the gang on the jolly to the gallery.
As I haven't ventured into the west wing for a while, since I caught the "Memsahib" messing with sequins in the ball room, in fact, I thought a tour of the outlying quarters was in order. Trouble started when yet again I heard girlish giggling coming from the said ball room. At first I thought it was just Arabella or Persephone high japing, but upon closer inspection I could clearly see the back of the Memsahib in a little black number.
Just as I thought , that bloody new stable lad, Raoul, from Argentina or Peru or somebloodywhere, was there, prancing around to the sound of the tango!
The blood coursed through my veins, and I span around on my heels and thought about fetching my Purdie and getting my avenge!!!!
On the way to the amoury, I had an change of heart and decided to calm down with a glass of pink gin and listened to Betty's speech on the wireless before dressing and attending to the important duties of enjoying ones self with chums. The Stable lad can wait…
This evening I have invited a few chums and some business contacts to come and meet me at the National Portrait Gallery for a viewing of some of the family paintings that we have out on loan. No doubt we will enjoy a few glasses of festive cheer (though I made it clear that the fineest stock from home could not be used, they may use some of the domestic stock).
This evening will also an opportunity to meet with some aspiring artists who have been asking if I'd sit for them. I will have to give in at some point as there is still a large space on the wall at the back of the mezzanine landing on the grand staircase at home where traditionally has hung the portrait of the master of the house. Since father moved on, the space has cried out to be filled.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
What had not been clear was the fact that I was expected to "participate". This went beyond the normal level of participation (i.e. paying the bill). This time I was expected to dress up and cook! I was up to my elbows in salad, pasta, pizza dough, and balsamic vinegar. I'll never get the stuff out from beneath my finger nails - in fact I have had to book a manicure.
I know that I try to connect with the common man - but sometimes I fear I go too far.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Clarence had also sent Fellows out to de ice the drive and gates, which was more to do with trying to annoy Fellows than necessity demanded
After a delicious breakfast of kedgeree and black coffee to keep out the cold, I entered the sumptuous warmth and luxury of the car…(Clarence again, I think he wants a day off, the bloody creep..) No staff, no family, just me and the open road. Turn up the "Steppenwolf" and hit the accelerator..and start to sing "Born to be
I was a little concerned recently when this photo appeared in the press. Fortunately, whilst the apalling "photoshop" editing left tell tales of a certain person's presence - it was not enough to be identified.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
The reason for the trip was an Uncle's brithday. The reason for the location was a family joke. Several great grandfathers back one of my ancestors made it to Firenze on his Grand Tour (hence the Italienate garden beyond the west terrace at home). He loved Firenze - the art, the gardens, the churches, the frescoes and the statuary. It was this last item that was his downfall, but more on that later. He stayed in Firenze for several months and had a fleeting liaison with the daughter of the noble house of Borgia-Berlusconi. All went well as long they kept their liaison secret, but when he became notorious after the incident, she spoke up for him - their friendship became public knowledge and he was run out of town not realising until years later that he had started a new branch of the family.
The incident? Yes. Well.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
It was a good journey but I must have a word with cook regarding provisions. She had left me some apples but they were far too juicy and I ended up with pectin stains on my silk tie. If I'd been going anywhere important I'd have been livid. I phoned Clarence and told him to get me a replacement as I would obviously discard this tie at the earliest opportunity.
I checked up on staff matters in Worcester during the morning and then headed back home where a quiet soiree is planned.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I have decided that we should send the luggage on ahead. Fellows or even Clarence can drive it out to Italy and then we will neither have the irritation of check-in, the excess baggage fees, nor the frustration of missing bags on our return. Another idea is to travel light and just buy outfits once there, but there will be insufficient time for bespoke tailoring or couture in the agenda. So I have decided that Fellows will travel on ahead - and that way he can also check out the hotel for us before we arrive (we never stay with the Italian side of the family if we can help it).
Monday, November 24, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The occasion - saying farewell to the trusty retainer - went on well into the late evening. It had been decided that we would use an Indian restaurant of some notoriety. I was appalled to realise that I was expected to serve myself (after all, it's not breakfast - where cook leaves the various choices on the sideboard for selection). It was astonishing how many people turned up and evident that said retainer had become quite well known during the time he's been with me.
We moved on to one of the local hostelries, and then moved on again to another. This last stop was a rowdy affair, and had several of my other staff not been present I might have feared for my safety among such rabble.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I do hope that things remain seemly, though I might have a quiet word with the Chief Constable to makes sure we have no unfortunate surprises.
The Maitr d' was polite enough not to ask what I was doing with such a rag-tag band, but the look of pity (or was it embarrassment) was clear.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Making my way to town is a bit of pain nowadays. In the old days, we had our own signal and halt on the railway line and the trains would stop for us (Great Great Grandfather negotiated this as part of the sale of some land to the railway in the mid 1800s). Now I have to drive (or be driven) to a public railway station and travel with the great unwashed. I did approach the railway company and request my own carriage and buffet, but they were disinclined to oblige.
Before dawn this morning Osborne had erected the hide, and I found myself and Purdey waiting for the thief. Just as dawn broke the bally heron landed amongst the lillies and bold as brass plucked another from the pond.
Blam, Blam, good shot, what ooh!
Osbourne fished the bugger out and took it straight to Dawkins. As I took off the Barbour and put Purdey away, I heard Dawkins in the kitchen..."more Game" she said to Osbourne, "I bet this will be almost as good as the swan we had last week... "
I can taste dinner already!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The Memsahib has been watching some television programme called Strictly Come Dancing. As a result she has asked the staff to lift the carpet in the old ballroom. I fear that this will not end well. Young Arabella and Persephone have been whispering a lot and breaking into fits of the giggles when I have approached and I have even seen one of the maids sewing sequins onto one of my old dress shirts. Boarding school may be a suitable way ahead for the girls, and I suppose I could alsways sack the maid... but the Memsahib is another kettle of fish (the old trout).
I am very sure this will not end well.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
I like Fridays at the Club, I can sit there with like-minded people, gazing down at the Thames as it sweeps by, reading The Times, and drinking fine coffee. Then after luncheon, and maybe a glass of port, I settle back in my chair and perhaps take a quiet nap before heading back to the Memsahib and the heirs for a weekend on looking after the estate.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I have never understood the allure of long hair on men. It would appear that Tarquin has a different view and that this is now in vogue as a way of contrasting with my own follicly sparse scalp. I'm sure that I am not the first to undergo this hirsute contrast, but at present feel that the family allocation of hair follicles is unevenly balanced.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I tried to blend into the background, but obviously that is not so easy when one is so well known and so highly regarded.
It appears that this journal has been discovered by some of my staff and labourers.
I saw one of the more educated fellows reading an earlier entry. To be fair, he was following the lines with his finger across the computer screen and mouthing the words (with some evident difficulty). I have no doubt he will discuss this with some of the rougher elements when they meet in some pub or other. I must consider a greater degree of circumspection.
When we just ran the estate, the farm managers would take care of the labourers and so forth. Now I find that I have to waste my precious time with such trivia as assessing the labourers and staff who take leadership, direction and inspiration from me. This can be onerous and I found myself looking for new epithets and descriptions that may adequately describe their performance. Some phrases that I found myself using included: Delusions of adequacy; wretched; poorly dressed; inarticulate; oaf; execrable choice of car; and bemused. (You have to understand that many of these people probably went to secondary modern or comprehensive schools and as such are making the best they can of life - but are obviously of limited intellect).
Monday, November 10, 2008
Was on a promise with "the Memsahib" last night but fear too much "stocktaking" in the cellars may have left the auld trouser monster ( or Python Lee Jackson, as the Memsahib likes to call him) somewhat less attentive than she would have wanted.
Shall have to keep an eye on her, as it seems we have employed a new stable lad today. I certainly hadn't approved that addition to staffing!
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Was pleased to see I had two barrels more than expected of the '96
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Taking advantage of the weekend lull and appalling weather I decided to retreat to the Wine Cellar and begin my annual inventory. It is nothing too grand any more, as I'm down to my last few hundred barrels and cases though some do date back to Grandfather's time. Beneath the north range and hidden from prying eyes the vaulted chambers stretch beyond the witness of electric light (installed by Pater so he could find the Montrachet).
It occurred to me that rooms the Cardinals Hat Public House (an hostelry to which I was introduced by my staff one evening a year or so back) reminds me of the cellar's chambers or is that just because it specializes in Austrian beer - and could not really be used to hide relatives for years on end.
Enough day dreaming, there are bottles to count and turn. A task that I do not shirk, nor delegate to Fellows or the Butler though the latter does have a key, but is under continual surveillance once in the cellar by hidden CCTV cameras. I suspect this will take the rest of the day and much of tomorrow.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Continuing my notes on the infrastructure and lodgings in the Worcester area, I should mention that although Worcester is not served well by hotels at all - for example, I have found none with in-house masseurs or helipads - however I should let concerned readers know that my regular lodgings are at least acceptable at the local hotel the Worcester Whitehouse. Though rooms are tremendously pokey (it's not really possible to play tennis or rugger in the rooms - have tried, broke a lamp!), and there are only standard sized double beds (one likes to have room to sprawl at night), it at least has a certain pretension to grandeur about it (relative to the general disposition of the town, clearly!) including but not limited to a winding staircase in the centre of the building. A reasonable selection of whiskeys can be had, including with breakfast, and the bar staff are fairly well spoken and suitably deferential. There is a gymnasium and a paddling pool (they have the audacity to call it a swimming pool, but for a man of my broad shoulders, it is but a mere stroke from one end to the other), however the gym is lacking the Indian clubs which I am very fond of when exercising in my hereditary long johns at home.
I realised just after the historic victory of Senator - now President Elect - Obama this week, the not insubstantial irony of my own arrival at this particular, parochial Whitehouse whilst he must be preparing to install himself, his family, and by all accounts a new puppy, at the real Whitehouse!
I realised I should have spotted the portents of his success in advance. Let me explain ... In the car park of the Worcester Whitehouse I am sad to report the PoshMobile is often blighted by the outputs from passing seagulls, who appear to use my vehicle alone as target practice. The windscreen and bonnet is often plastered with their sticky oomska and it takes not inconsiderable efforts on behalf of the staff to clean it off satisfactorily. Suddenly it struck me (the idea, not the seagull droppings, I hasten to add)! All the time I have been lying awake listening to these clamouring birds, clearly lost and far from their homes by the sea, and even as they deposit in great quantities onto my paintwork, they have been issuing the clarion call of the Obama campaign:
"Yess we caaaaaaaaaaan! Yes we caaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!"
* * *
Thursday, November 6, 2008
On a more parochial level I have also been asking myself whether I need to upbraid my immediate staff who consistently fail to dress for dinner when we meet in the evening? Though Mother would probably question whether I should really be mixing with the staff at all?
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I also observed that it always seems strange driving through Warwickshire, knowing that most of the county was family land until the mid 1800s. (Indeed, our Grinling Gibbons armoire came from the Castle).
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I had planned to visit Worcester, but yesterday the heirs were playing badminton in the Long Gallery and one of them (they won't admit who) hit one of the chandeliers. Several of the crystal droplets were shattered, and the Memsahib was a bit flustered.
I decided to stay put in order to oversee the ordering of correct replacements from Swarovski. It was also necessary to have words with Nanny: the children should not be playing racquet sports in the Long Gallery. The real tennis or squash courts can be used if they must play.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Where was I? Ah yes - bit of a fracas currently - something do with the "performance" of the "system" we have put in for them. Apparently some people are having to wait longer than they expected for results - I can understand their frustrations, having had to wait over 3 minutes for crumpets and port the other evening in the library. In any case, I have asked a few of the technical wonks (odd chaps - more to follow) to look into it all and see if the nobs and cogs of said system cannot be more thoroughly oiled and lubricated. Surely it can't take much more than that.
Besides, I cannot understand this never-ending yearning for speed in the modern world. What happened to just letting life's events unfurl in a natural and orderly fashion? I see too many young turks rushing hither and thither, all of a pother. They are understandably trying hard to impress me and others of my seniority and standing, but I ask you, when did you ever see Winston Churchill break into a sweat? Precisely.
As an example - as I drive the jalopy in a Worcesterly direction this week, I will never be exceeding 70 mph. (I have to confess, by the way, it's a bit of a nuisance having to drive myself at these times, and in such a small car; but I have made a deliberate decision not to take one of the proper cars to work as it might just been seen as too damned ostentatious. In my position, perception is everything, so I with great restraint I limit myself to this rather compact Jaguar number. Quite nice inside I suppose, but nowhere to really put your feet up. It is therefore with substantial irony I refer to it as the "PoshMobile"!) More haste, less speed, I say. Ghandi said "There is more to life than simply increasing its speed." Scientists tell us that the fastest animal on earth, with a top speed of 120 feet per second, is a cow that has been dropped out of a helicopter. If I was going any faster in the PoshMobile, I wouldn't be able to spot them coming and steer carefully out of the way, would I? I rest my case.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, live music. The Memsahib, Lady Hermione, had decided that we should have a family evening listening to some music as I had been out the previous evening and Tarquin and the girls should see more of their father. After cook had cleared away from dinner we retired to the drawing room where a fine string quartet played a selection of Bach, Handel, Elgar, Manilow, E.L.O. and Winehouse. A most satisfactory evening.
Took a stroll down to the stable block earlier - weather hasn't been conducive to a run on the motorcycle but nevertheless I dressed in the full leathers over the underlying silk and sat astride the beast for a while, imagining the sinuous curves of the country lanes and seductive views of rivers, lakes and towns as I sped by. Persephone interrupted my reverie as she clattered back onto the cobbles and leapt from her steaming mount. She enjoys nothing more than a canter round the estate.
Must go. Neighbours are starting to arrive for cocktails before lunch.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Broke open the hamper for some light victuals. Fellows is hovering around hoping for left-overs. Some chance, eh?
Taking breakfast in the orangery with the Memsahib. Will expect to be waited on hand and foot (as I damn well should be!) as the little grey cells feel somewhat overused this morning. Some kedgeree and kidneys should kick-start the day.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
He's going round to check on the deer fence and will fix it if necessary. Asked if he could provide any other "precautions" but he said that after the nasty business in summer with the piranha in the lower lake and the missing teenagers he needed to be a little cautious.
Damn shame you can't set the dogs on them really. I'll have a word with Squiffy Senior the local Magistrate, see if he'll help out.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Have left the Memsahib back in Surrey to keep an eye on the servants and the heirs (Tarquin, Persephone, and Arabella). Took the old jalopy up to the midlands this week. Good time of year for travel - cold and bright. Purdey's in the back in case I see any decent pheasants.