Friday, February 27, 2009

Rather tense day day today. I now see why Tarquin was somewhat enamoured with Ms Young. It certainly puts a new light on my appearance on Desert Island Discs. (I wonder if their research has revealed that I have several desert islands?)

I wanted to get back to compiling my list of songs - so far I only have "Sweet Home Alabama", but the realities of everyday industrial problems were a constant distraction. Other tunes that I have considered are: Money for Nothing, Money Money Money, Money Talks, something poignant from Johnny Cash, Love Over Gold, Fields of Gold, but none seem quite right.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Troublesome day at the front. Never mind, when it was all over I settled back into the luxury of the old jalopy and swept imperiously back down the motorway to the Towers (I had thought of getting some outriders, but it would have taken too long for them to assemble). 

Tarquin had told me that Kirsty Young was scheduled to be on television on a BBC (now there's a proper television broadcaster) programme called Crimewatch. I'm not too sure I wish to be associated with her programme if she is some sort of felon, but I promised I would watch just to see.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I decided that I should show my face with the staff tonight but had to fit this around my intensified fitness regime. This is aimed at bringing me to a peak of physical fitness and shape for a trip I have planned with the Memsahib at the end of next week. Can't say too much at this point - but more will become clear soon.

I met up with the staff at a local hostelry and then we repaired to a local restaurant for an exercise in fine Cantonese dining. Now, back in the hotel I'm pounding the treadmill again.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I should have stayed at home for a day shooting (but I hadn't arranged for any beaters... and there some controversy over whether it is still the season) - or even mounted the the throbbing beast and taken the motorbicycle for a blast along the country lanes. But no. As a capatin of industry duty came first and I made my way back up to Worcester to ensure that my interests in the area were being taken care of properly.

Tedious - but a position such as mine requires dedication and a sense of duty.

I noticed that a number of the staff were planning to meet up at a Tapas restaurant. On checking I realised this was not run by Castillians and was therefore unlikely to be up to standard. I did not partake.

Monday, February 23, 2009

One of the few television programmes I care to watch these days is University Challenge. Of course, I can’t abide that awful fellow, Paxman; give me Bamber Gascoigne in a tweed jacket any day. I like to challenge myself by answering all the questions and comparing my final tally with the teams’. I usually achieve a comfortable margin, particularly over the metropolitan universities.

As with so many institutions, UC  has succumbed to the practice of “dumbing down”. I find it distressing that so many of the questions these days are devoted to popular culture or obscure science, rather than the arts and humanities that were its mainstay in the Gascoigne era. Another irksome trend is the producers’ tendency to make up the numbers by inventing some entirely spurious teams, often with preposterous names such as Huddersfield and Teeside. I mean, really!

Anyhow, the reason I mention this now is that tonight was this season’s final, with Corpus Christi facing Manchester (a case of gentlemen against players, if ever there were one). The Oxford team was led by a formidable young lady with an encyclopaedic knowledge – in fact, the kind of catch that I hope young Tarquin will make, when the time comes (at this juncture, the Lady Hermione peers over her copy of Horse and Hound and counters that her bookish learning probably doesn’t extend to preparing a decent roast partridge … touché, darling - but surely that is why one has a cook). 

Inevitably, Oxford triumphed, and trooped up to be congratulated. I was reminded of my own victory on the programme, heading up the old alma mater team back in the 70s. Which reminds me, I must get Dawkins to thin out the trophy cabinet, it’s looking awfully crowded again.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

An otherwise uneventful Sunday in the shires was punctuated by a ‘phone call from a husky-voiced lady claiming to be Kirsty Young, presenter of Desert Island Discs. My initial surprise on learning of the demise of Roy Plomley was tempered by the satisfaction of knowing that one’s achievements are at last starting to be recognized by the establishment. Miss Young was clearly au fait with my status as philanthropist, pillar of the local community and lately, of course, captain of industry. An appointment for a recording session was duly arranged.

Young Tarquin could scarcely contain his enthusiasm on hearing the news. 
“But father, she’s really hot!” he exclaimed, then adding more quietly “for an old bird”. I expressed some surprise that he was an aficionado of the programme, but apparently Miss Young had previously been a newsreader on Television Channel 5 (as many as five? can that be right?). The girls, too, were suitably impressed, opining that this association would improve my “street cred” no end.

The lady Hermione was rather less impressed, possibly as a result of listening to Tarquin enumerating the various charms of Miss Young for most of that afternoon. I feigned indifference, and began compiling my list of records. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I see that Harridan Harman has come out with some further utterences worthy of ridicule (which hardly needs pointing out). In her latest statement she is suggesting that buses should be withdrawn from middle class areas.


How will my staff get to work?

Friday, February 20, 2009

It was a strange day. I had planned to nestle in the comfortable leather of the club and let the world float by. I settled down with the newspaper, and a pot of coffee. The next thing I knew, there was discreet cough from one of the runners as he stood apologetically by my side with the telephone.

This turned out to the first of many such distractions that rather put the kybosh on quiet day.

Never mind. The Memsahib was up in town for a bit of shopping so I agreed to meet up with her for the journey home. (I suppose we should have got Fellows to collect us, but in our contribution to all things green, we decided to take the train. It does mean rubbing shoulders with riff raff until we get to First Class, but it is a sacrifice we are prepared to make.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I heard, with mounting dismay, about the incident in the North Sea where the helicopter plunged into the sea on its approach to an oil platform. Information was sketchy at first, and though it was apparent that nobody was hurt, it is still unsettling. 

The platform in question was owned by my cousin Olaf in Norway and his refined products are made available to us at a very competitive rate (we don't discuss this generally as the Chancellor gets nosey). The Oyall family are well know in and around Oslo because of the extent of their off-shore drilling interests. The media refers to Olaf as the North Sea Oyall and they tend to hound him because he's a bit odd looking (huge thyrotoxic pop eyes) and does have some eccentric habits. Though a bit wimpy he enjoys letting his hair down and getting a bit bluto'd, he likes cross-dressing and getting stoned - so much for Olaf Oyall.

I was pleased that oil turned out well in the end.
I could not be bothered to eat with the staff last night. I stayed in my suite and had the chef prepare something light so that I could get on with some economic planning (given the number of requests I get for help, I though a bit of additional planning was sensible). Once finished I tried to have a bit of a work-out, but the Indian Clubs left marks on the ceiling and there really wasn't enough room to work up a sweat.

Busy day today. I decided to extend my beneficence at this time of financial instability for so many and brought in some new members of staff. They seem like good coves at this point, but only time will tell (let's see if they are up to the hard work, the total devotion, and respect that I demand). 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It was evident that taking time away was not viable so I returned to Worcester today and picked up the reins once more. 

One problem that has arisen from all this time in the Midlands is that Fellows is not (generally) in tow. This means that I have to carry my own bags at times. This, I detest. It ruins the cut of my suits, it discomforts my shoulder, and it is demeaning. I have decided to mitigate this problem by using a small, wheeled case which is far more convenient.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Just give me some peace.

I took the day off to have a quiet time with the family. Indeed Persephone explained to me that I was experiencing some "daddy-daughter" time. Despite this my phone continued to ring and it became clear that as far as my staff are concerned without my intervention the world would probably cease from turning. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

I was at the club today.  Martin Johnson phoned first thing to apologise on behalf of the team for the shambolic display against the Welsh. I told him that it was unacceptable and I expected a better show for the rest of the tournament (or sponsorship would be cut).

I had arranged for a number of my more remote staff to come and meet me during the morning. It was an opportunity to give them a bit of a pep talk and re-motivate them to go back and work harder (as I said "Remember there are 168 hours in a week - and I only expect you to work 80 - Make the most of your spare time to better yourselves").

I found the whole thing a bit tiring so I've decided to take the next couple of days for myself and the family.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I have been receiving some strange emails. 

Tarquin assures me that they are something called "spam" and to be expected. (I have heard some of the staff speaking of spam, but I had always assumed it was some form of food for poor people). The latest item of spam that I have received was entitled "Learn the secrets of having a perfect body" and has turned up hot on the heels of last week's match photo, which is disturbing. More disturbing is "Women will be your resigned slaves" which is a travesty. Whilst I do expect utter and uncompromising devotion - slavery is not acceptable.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Clarence had been thorough. Fellows was dressed in chauffer's livery when he collected us in the Bentley. Half an hour later we pulled up at Marco Pierre's - the restuarant was empty but for a string quartet playing "our song" (Sweet Home Alabama). The room was full of roses (flown in from Holland) and Orchids flown from Thailand.

The champagne was at a perfect temperature, and the chocolate (brought in from Belgium) was carved into the shape of doves.

The lady Hermione looked stunning as usual and as we ate, passers-by peered in at the window but the Maitre d' kept everyone waiting outside until we left.

Perfect evening.
The Memsahib has made it quite clear that rugger was out of the question. I told Farting Freddie to stand down. Fortunately Clarence had remembered that today was St Valentine's Day and had taken the initiative to arrange something for Hermione and I.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Woke earliy this morning and took the opportunity to have a bit of a work out in the gymnasium. After those pictures appeared last week, I realised that it would be a crime not to hone such a perfect musculature. After dashing to the pool for a quick couple of laps decided that breakfast would be the last of Dawkins's spotted dick from yesterday.

It really is difficult to beat pudding for breakfast!

Unsure how the rest of the day will pan out but Clarence tells me that I have a lot of calls scheduled. Farting Freddie has offered to fly us all to Cardiff tomorrow to watch the rugger, so I may just prepare for that.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

After a hard day in the office yesterday, I decided to take up the offer of an evening meal with the staff. Unfortunately arrived about 20 minutes late after severe difficulty parking the new jalopy. I had forgotton how hard parallel parking is. The parking valet or Fellows normally handles this sort of thing, and despite ordering some elderly ladies out of the way in their dinky car, I still struggled.

I'd almost given up when the driver of the car in front returned, packed his tiny shopping bags (on his own!) in the boot and promptly left. Obviously I eased the car in to the spaces and parked right in the middle. At least this should keep it safe from the riff raff.

The meal was a reasonably pleasureable affair, and the staff found time to amuse themselves by hiding one of the team's wallets whilst he was in the gentleman's convenience.

After the meal, allowed the staff to procure me a beverage or two in the "Cardinals Hat", which I'm sure makes them feel good about themselves.

Today has been another long drawn out series of meetings and teleconferences. I cannot understand why people invite me to these things if they have their own idea's about things. I have always said if I wanted their opionion I would give them it.

Looking forward to returning from the shires tonight as Dawkins has promised spotted dick.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I see that Bentley have decided to lay-off some of their workforce. I will consider contacting them and seeing if they have a presentable person who could look after my cars. (The problem is that being based in Crewe, a lot of these people will be from the north, so I have to make sure that they can be understood and that they know how to behave. Mind you, in my experience they tend to be the salt of the earth and can be quite hard-working).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I have again made the journey to the Midlands to keep a watchful eye on the staff. I was a little concerned about the overnight weather forecast and the impact that may have on my journey. Fellows suggested that I should put a shovel in the car "just in case". Once he had explained what a shovel was and how it works I told him to go out and procure one - wrap it in a blanket and place it in the boot (I don't want it moving about whilst driving and damaging the car or my valise). At the end of the day (at the beginning of the day) the journey was trouble-free and I had nothing to worry about. 

Monday, February 9, 2009

A quiet day at the club. I was feeling generous so spent some time looking at how I could reward my staff for their ongoing devotion and hard work. (I do regret the end of the feudal system).

I'm not sure what came over me... but I soon snapped out of it.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Yesterday's score was more satisfying than the game. Beating Italy 37-11 was a win and encouraged me to call cousin Silvio to gloat. He wasn't at home but Radiccio came to the phone made some polite conversation and offhand comments about Italian men in tight shorts and promised to tell Silvio that I called.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Game is going well but I did have to have a few words with the dressing room at half-time. (Had to cut them short, as it were, due to the referee getting antsy about kicking-off on time).
I've sent Clarence ahead to ensure that our box is warm and fully stocked for today's game. I was worried that cousin Silvio and his wife might wish to attend but managed to avert that with tales of the weather and expected travel chaos.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Wasn't too pleased to see this. I thought this game was in camera

Evidently it was!
This weather is becoming tiresome. It is disrupting my days and forcing me to change plans. It seems that Omnia vincit nix. When I got back to the Towers last night I told Clarence to call the Met Office and complain. It obviously had no effect, or they were just being cussed as today we have further snowfalls. Indeed things are so bad that the traffic of people from Wales into England has been halted ostensibly for safety reasons (though I do wonder if there's more to it than that).

Back at The Towers both Fellows and Osborne have been out with the snow ploughs and have done a sterling job of keeping the Estate roads clear (must tell them to get a cup of hot chocolate from Dawkins when they finish).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I developed a strategem for last night's pie night. In order not to stand out (too much) from the staff I brought my pies myself rather than having them carried for me. I wrapped them in a plastic bag from a supermarket (whatever that is) and then camouflaged the individual comestibles in Mr Kipling's boxes so that they would not attract too much attention and I could help myself to the fine F&M pies at will. As for the other pies, the staff seemed to enjoy them but as far as I was concerned it was a case of Purgamentum init, exit purgamentum and I steered well clear.

A great deal of hilarity permeated the hostelry throughout the evening, but one has standards so I ensured that modicum of decorum was mainatined in the area where I was sitting. A number of gentlemanly challenges were thrown like gauntlets and I had to act as second to a gentleman acquaintance of mine.
The snow was heavy overnight. The staff at the hotel had made no attempt to keep the snow clear of my car. I had a leisurely breakfast considering my options. I saw one of my staff and told him to hurry up, to drive up to the office and then call me to let me know the state of the roads.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The staff have arranged another event at their local hostelry. They refer to it as "Pie Night". I have agreed to attend this evening and so I called Fortnum & Mason's to ensure that some suitable comestible was delivered in time for the event (I have to ensure that there is at least one item that I can eat without fear). 

F&M started to raise concerns about the weather and so forth... just the sort of dissembling I was concerned about last week when talking to them. I asked to be transferred to the Chief Exec. 

The pie will be here in the next 90 minutes, and will be accompanied with a fine wine for my trouble!
I was taken out to dinner last night by the great and the good. It made a change from watching the feral feeding behaviour of the staff. The restaurant was a small place, but they had agreed to close it off to other patrons for the evening so that we would not be troubled by paparazzi or journalists. The fine Punjabi fare was reminiscent of the meals Dawkins sometimes prepares, but without the finesse. 

I managed to drag myself away at a sensible hour and prepare for a late night call with Barack - this could become tiresome if he insists on calling so late.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

We suffered no further distress from the weather last night. It's most frustrating that we had suffered at all. This sort of winter weather is meant to happen up north, not down here. 

Anyway things should have been back to normal this morning as I headed up to Worcester. When I arrived I powered the jalopy into the car park only to find that my parking space had been blocked off by builders who had started to refurbish some of the offices. No "by your leave", or "do you mind if" - just completely blocked. I thought I'd remonstrate with them, but they must have been sitting around drinking tea somewhere, as there was nobody around.

I was almost speechless when I arrived in my office (which I share with a few of the staff) - one young turk had the effrontery to be ensconced at my desk. This is really too much. I will ensure that his team leader is informed and that suitable retribution is exacted.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Well you may have seen on the BBC that I have added to my collection. A modest donation along with the Scottish Government and the National Galleries in London has secured the Duke's Titian "Diana and Actaeon".  Plans are now afoot for the painting to alternate between the galleries in London and Edinburgh and home. Originally the old duffer had tried to drive a hard bargain and set a cut-off day of 31st December. After seeing a few of the photos taken during our New Year's Eve party I convinced him to be a little more flexible (as certainly the photos implied he could be). A good deal all round methinks.
The estate was as pretty as a picture when Clarence woke me this morning. It had clearly been snowing much of the night. The roof tops of the various outbuildings, the stables and the gatehouse were laden. Tracks of a few adventurous deer and a fox were clearly visible as I stood by the window helping myself to Dawkins' finest kedgeree and some hot java. I hear that no buses are running in London because of the snow - it make me wonder how ordinary people will get to work.

Fellows and Osborne are out with the snow ploughs clearing the estate roads.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Does it never stop?

The Memsahib became enthused by Strictly Come Dancing - and now that's over she and the girls are hooked on Dancing on Ice. They keep looking over at me as I sip my brandy and read the latest market news. Comments that Ellery Hanley looks good in lycra and "he's all man" will not tempt me.