Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Obamas arrived earlier this evening. I told their entourage that the estate was comfortably large enough to receive Air Force One directly, but they chose to ferry them in by helicopter.

I had the staff line up outside to be inspected (Dawkins was still scowling). Sadly the junior Obamas were otherwise engaged, so the heirs didn't get the chance to thrash them on the Wii, as they had planned.

The Lady Hermione was, as ever, the perfect hostess (praise be to that most wonderful of institutions, the Swiss finishing school). I entertained Barack in the billiards room and shared some of my ideas for tackling the financial crisis. He was impressed, and said he'd be sure to raise them tomorrow. Even Dawkins relented from her sulk long enough to prepare a delicious terrine of stickleback and artichoke.

You will, of course, read that the Obamas are safely ensconced somewhere else - obviously a ruse for security purposes. The only reason Special Branch are allowing me to post this entry is that no terrorists read my blog (apparently).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dawkins flew off the handle when I told her about the Obamas staying next week. She said no self-respecting Michelin-starred chef would stoop to preparing hamburgers and chilli dogs for a bunch of ex-colonials. A bit OTT, even by her standards. And what is a chilli dog, anyway? Sounds like one of those awful "hip hop" people that Tarquin likes.

Anyhow, I'm sure I can sweet talk her. Meanwhile, I've been getting Osbourne busy around the estate, putting up the "stars and stripes" in prominent positions.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dined at the club this evening with Algernon Froume. I’ve known Algie since we played rugger together at Westminster School, and for the last twenty years he’s been at the Foreign Office. Tonight, he looked more than usually concerned.

“Bit of a fix, old boy” he said ruefully, nursing his second cognac. “We were all set for the G20 next week, and then – kapow. Obama’s people took a look around the suite we’d lined up for him, and told us it wouldn’t do. Apparently he wants a good, old-fashioned English experience – you know - oak panels, turrets, crenellations, the works.

He paused for a second and stared into his brandy. “We were wondering if you might consider putting him up … he’d go bananas over your place. Remember how the Clintons lapped it up? You had to kick them out in the end.”

How could I refuse? As I was ferried back to the estate by Osbourne, I started to make plans for the latest VIP to grace its guest suite.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I have recently been giving some thought to the family image. “Surely, it couldn’t be any better?” you might think. As did I, Reader, until I had lunch the other day with publicist - and long standing acquaintance - Max Clifford.

Mr. Clifford is well versed in the ways of the modern media and cultivating profiles.
“To really hit the big time”, he said to me over a port, “what you need is a decent brand. You know, like Charles with his Duchy Originals”. I had to admit to some excitement at the thought of rivalling His Royal Highness with produce from my own fair estate.

That evening I sounded out Dawkins on the possibility of her turning out a few thousand jars of her delicious asparagus chutney on her days off. She seemed oddly unenthusiastic.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The English improvement campaign begins. My first act was to equip the office with a kind of “swear box”, except that forfeits are payable for grammatical faux pas and the more egregious spelling mistakes. The staff have taken it in good humour, and I have promised to donate all proceeds to the Lord’s Taverners.

I have also purchased, from my own pocket, a number of copies of the latest book by the estimable Miss Truss, and left them about the place for the benefit of the casual browser. There has been a good take-up already – I even noticed that one of the workmen fitting out the office kitchen was dipping into one during his lunch breaks.

Generally I notice a new buzz about the place, and I could swear I even heard someone say “notwithstanding” this afternoon.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Just because I allowed them to use my box at Twickers those young Windsors had the cheek to ask if they could use it again - assuming that I wouldn't be using it. Well they were out of luck (though I let them in for glass of Champagne at half-time while I was down in the dressing room giving my customary pep talk.

I was very satisfied with the outcome - it stirs the heart: Crecy, Agincourt, Waterloo - and Twickers. One very wealthy Gallic chum was so upset he banged his head as he jumped up in frustration. We left this Stunned Frog Millionaire nursing his bruised head and ego as he wandered away, dejected.

The only low spot of the weekend was the disappointing showing by cousin Silvio's Italian team.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I see that British Airways have a sale, offering reductions on fare to the Cayman Islands. I suppose that would be worth knowing if one had to use commercial airlines.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Last night's concert is a bit of a blur. 

My plan to fade into the background was thwarted as I was recognised as soon as I entered the venue with my small retinue of followers and hangers-on. The band insisted that by acting as Master of Ceremonies for the evening I would be establishing a level of class and respectability for the band. Notwitstanding my reticence, I agreed and took the stage to manage the proceedings.

It was an excellent show - though I did become aware of some bootleg recordings being made.

The "Rock and Roll" lifestyle is not for me. (I wonder if I should feature a "Cardinal Sin & the Bum Notes" on my upcoming "Desert Island Discs" appearance).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cardinal Sin and the Bum Notes are finishing their world tour this evening at their home venue in Worcester. All the funds raised are being given to charity - which is a nice gesture.

There is an auction and raffle planned.

I did consider putting an "Evening with..." myself as one of the prizes, but felt that would defeat much of the anonymity I have managed to maintain. Another thought was a week on one of my islands... but I doubt many of these people actually have passports or have flown and it would be wrong to so embarrass them.

Anyway, I will attend the concert and blend quietly into the background.

I noticed whilst in the Worcester office that I am not the only follower of "Cardinal Sin and the Bum Notes". Indeed this photo was showing how far and wide their fan-base is spread. (It is a coincidence that I own a couple of smaller islands in the area).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Clarence woke me early. My clothes had been laid out for me and my executive trolley-case had already been loaded into the jalopy. The drive had been swept and I mused on the dedication of my domestic and estate staff as I hit the empty roads before dawn.

Time seemed to flash by and before I knew it I was sitting in Worcester enjoying a coffee and catching up with the progress that had been made in my absence. Notwithstanding the fact that this had not been as great as I had hoped the staff were eager to please.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Industry can get by without me today. I had a quiet day on the estate. 

I was interested to notice that I have now had over 1000 readers of this masterpiece. I trust that these followers are learning how to conduct themselves, how to deal with everyday situations, and how to treat their staff and their domestic staff. 

Sunday, March 8, 2009

It is nice to be back home at the Towers. Proper walls, proper heating, and no doubt come morning, proper daylight.

Fellows had collected us at the airport and arranged to the luggage to be sent on separately. No dog-sleds this time, just the unabashed luxury of the jalopy.

The staff were lined up on the steps to greet us when we arrived home. The Memsahib had bought each of them a little gift from the airport. This will, no doubt, encourage even more devotion from them. I was amused to see that for Dawkins she had bought several tins of pressed bear meat. No doubt these will be squirrelled away into her (not so) secret stash of canned goods that she keeps behind a panel in the fallout shelter.

A good weekend, but nice to be home.

The lemming hunt did not involve firearms at all. The fact of the matter was that we were taken out on some snowmobiles and given the opportunity to take some photos of some small hamster-like creatures. Clarkson would have been appalled, but the Memsahib thought it was sweet.

Just time to get back to the airport for the journey home. Hopefully the luggage should already be at the airport. The porters had decided to make several trips as there was concern regarding the thawing ice and the weight of the bags if done in a single trip.
It is our final few hours before flying back home. Everything is packed that we we won't need this morning. (Can you believe that we had to pack for ourselves? - This may be an Ice Palace but is certainly doesn't have the right level of staff to cope with some of these most basic of requirements).

I believe we have a lemming hunt scheduled for this morning. If I had known in advance I would have brought the Purdeys. Not quite sure how this will work. Whether they have beaters and you have to hit the lemmings as they take flight, or whether they are launched from a clay-pigeon trap. Either way, I have no doubt that we'll bag quite a few.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Seems strange living in this sub-Arctic twilight. It must be what its like living in Manchester or points north.

Strange evening yesterday. We sat around waiting for the Northern Lights, but they never showed up. (You just can't trust these tribute acts). Fortunately my mobile telephone's ringtone of "Sweet Home Alabama" kept me amused for a while.

Then there was general ripple of activity in the restaurant - surely not excitement from yet another way to serve reindeer meat? No. Indeed, everyone was putting on their cold weather gear and heading outside. There before us was a truly astonishing sight. 

The Arora Borealis provided a curtain of coruscating lights in greens and reds stretching from the horizon high into the sky. It was stupendous and somewhat eerie. As you know, we are famous for our firework displays - but they could not compete with this (I shall be discussing this fact with Fellows, on my return), except for one aspect - sound. The Arora Borealis played out its display in total silence broken only by the "oohs" and "aahs" of the audience and the occasional popping of expelled gas that had resulted from the reindeer feast. It was a "lumiere sans son".

Friday, March 6, 2009

Did you know that Bentley do not make a snowmobile?

I demanded the best available as befits a distant cousin of Carl Gustaf. After much debate they brought a Yamaha. It reminded me of my motor cycle nestling in the stable block back at home. The Memsahib didn't look at all sure. There was no cocktail cabinet, no makeup mirror, no heated seats, and no CD changer. When it was fired up it sounded like one of Osborne's chain saws.

Notwithstanding the quality we headed out across the ice fields - chasing the few hours of daylight. We stoppoed at a reindeer farm for lunch. The menu comprised Reindeer - in steaks, in stews, in burgers, or in sausages. The drinks menu was equally limited. How many ways can you server reindeer milk?

Back on the snowmobiles the safari was scheduled to help the farmer herding wild reindeer across a lake. I am not sure why that should be considered a tourist attraction - that's what I have labourers for.

Finally, back at the "hotel" we decided that a sauna would be a fine way to warm up and prepare for the evening. I have been told that we can expect the Northen Lights this evening. The Memsahib seems particularly excited by the prospect. I am a bit dubious, I think that once you have seen one of these tribute bands you've seen them all... and I am a firm fan of Cardinal Sin and the Bum Notes and don't really wish to sit through an evening of northern soul.

Whilst we are here, there is one thing that I know the Memsahib would like to see. I phoned Clarence and asked that he see to it that the Arora Borealis put in an appearance at about 10pm. That will be just perfect. Clarence seemed a little nonplussed, but muttered that he would see what could be done.
I am rendered almost speechless.

Notwithstanding the dog sled debacle we were delivered to what can only be described as an igloo, in the middle of what appears to have been a river but is now an ice field. The manager came out to greet us and with a clap of his hands a team of Scandinavian porters came to handle the luggage.

We were escorted inside and given a warming drink. This was just as well as everything seemed to be fahioned from ice. (Branded, no doubt, Ice-KEA). What had Carl Gustaf been thinking!

The Memsahib was evidently quite taken with the magical quality of the edifice - either that or it was the huge, blond porters. We headed for our room and took a brochure to help us decide what we should do during the next few days. (My reaction was to find an Aga and sit as close as we Khan).

We slept under a pile of furs that would have made a Canadian trapper his fortune - and the gentle cracking of the ice did little to ease me to the arms of Morpheus.

This morning it's crisp and cold and we should have four hours of daylight at some point. We have decided that a snowmobile safari is a suitable activity for the day.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Limousine !!!

I shall be having words with Carl Gustaf. It maybe his idea of a joke, but with the Memsahib and our 24 items of luggage plus hand-baggage a DOG SLED is not what I call a limousine.
It is with great relief that I have decided to take a few quiet days away with the Memsahib. Things have been a little tiresome of late and we received a kind invitation from Carl Gustaf (a distant cousin who has done well for himself in Sweden).

We have always considered him a little cold and aloof, but he has suggested we come over and spend a quiet weekend in one of the country's most famouse hotels. (It was in preparation for this trip that I stepped up my fitnbess regime over the past few weeks - these people do, for some reason, seem to like wandering about naked in tha sauna, and one has to be seen to be trim).

Not quite sure what to expect - but Carl Gustaf has directed us to the town of JukkasjÀrvi where we will be met by a limousine of some sort. On checking my faithful old World Atlas (most of it still coloured red), this place seems alarming close to the Arctic Circle.

Clarence has been sorting out our packing. There seems an alarming bias towards long-johns, sweaters, heavy coats, boots, thick socks, and so forth. He has limited the luggage to twelve cases each (I hate it when we have to "pack light") commenting that we are only to be away for the weekend.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My thoughts have turned again to the standard of English in the office. I decided to consult the author and good friend Lynne Truss over lunch. Normally I take her to the Fat Duck in Bray, but after their recent “difficulties” I have decided to give it a miss for a while, and we went instead to a rather nice place here in Worcester.

As it happens lunch was a little rushed, on account of Miss Truss finding seventeen errors in the menu before we had even ordered wine. She was, however, very sympathetic to my cause.

“But darling, you absolutely must take matters in hand” she insisted, pulling apart her lobster. “Noblesse oblige, and all that”.

She’s right, of course.

She gave me a few ideas and I promised to let her know how it all goes (actually, I suspect she is after material for her next book).

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Having had a little more time on my hands recently, I started to review some of the documents produced by my team. While I am not able to comment on the technical substance, I do feel myself more than qualified to advise on their stylistic merits and the correctness of their language.

Gentle Reader, I have to admit to a degree of shock. These turgid pieces were hardly the sort of thing one would pick up lightly after dinner. Their tone was functional and, well, a little brutish. But more alarming still were the crimes committed against the Queen’s English. Infinitives were split without concern; prepositions nestled comfortably at the ends of sentences; aberrant apostrophes abounded and as for the subjunctive mood – one would think it had never been invented.

Now, I must remind myself not to reproach the staff unduly; I know for a fact that some of them attended only the more minor public schools, and I understand from a colleague in Human Resources that even this is no longer a requirement for new entrants to the Company. Still, the situation requires action. I must make plans.