A no show at Ascot!

Some of the chaps seemed a little surprised to see me when I called at the Club earlier today. I had decided to drop by for a spot of dinner and there was quite a crowd at the bar, due I suspect to old George having brought in a fresh selection of wines from his recent trip to the French vineyards. It is something he does now and again, spending his holiday touring the vineyards of France in search of new and interesting wines for the members to sample. Anyway. amongst the small crowd that had gathered to sample his latest selection was my old friend Cambridge who I haven’t seen for a few weeks. It appears he has been spending some time in France himself recently, but in his case, it was the bars of Paris rather than the hillsides of Bordeaux. He was the first to express his surprise at seeing me still in town, wondering why I wasn’t down at Ascot.

One never likes to think of one’s self as being predictable, but I suppose I have become a little set in my ways over the past few years and maybe a little predictable. It has become expected that I will be at these little social events. Not there is anything intrinsically wrong with having routines. Quite the opposite I would say.

Obviously, I could not leave the question of Ascot unanswered and was able to assure those of the chaps who would listen that I was, in fact, making my way down tomorrow evening with Hope. Unfortunately, she can only spare the one day away from the gallery this week so we will just be there for Ladies Day. I had planned to stay longer but decided that as I wanted to take Hope with me, I should limit myself to the time she had available so that I could make the journey there and back with her. When  I first suggested to Hope that we might attend the meet, she surprised me by saying that he had not been herself for over twenty years. I have to say that this admission somewhat surprised me as I had thought it was the kind of event she would enjoy. But it turns out that following an unpleasant incident when she was last there had somewhat spoilt it for her.

I have booked us into a very nice little place I have used many times before when in that part of the country. It is very close to the course and keeps an extremely fine wine cellar. I understand that they have a new chef. There is always a worry when an established chef moves on, but I have from a very reliable source that if anything the food is better than ever. Of course, I will reserve judgement until I have had the opportunity to sample it for myself, but I am sure their high standards will have been maintained.

I have decided that this year I will take the Bentley and drive us there myself. I see no point in dragging old Arnold away from town for this particular little trip. It gives him an opportunity to spend a little extra time with his family and I am quite looking forward to the drive.

 

And so it begins…

Well, it has started! After months of anticipation, political wrangling and much preparation, the football World Cup has finally kicked off. Not that any of the aforementioned anticipation and preparation are anything to do with me personally you understand. Quite the contrary in fact. Football is one of those sports I have never had much time for. In fact, I do not believe that anyone in my family, with the possible exception of young Nigel, has the slightest interest in the game.

Actually, I don’t think I have ever seen a football match – well, not a whole one. We were occasionally forced to play when I was at school, but generally, the masters preferred rugger or cricket. Soccer was not considered to be a game for young gentlemen. My father was of the opinion that is was a game solely suited for the working classes and that was the end of that. Mother took no interest in any sport that didn’t involve a racquet or a horse, which I can well understand.

I remember when I was in my last year at school we had a new PT teacher who tried to establish a football team. Bless him, it was never going to work. There was just no call for it. I understand that he left the school shortly after we did. Probably for the best; not the right type of chap at all.

Of course, some of the chaps at the Club seem to enjoy the so-called beautiful game, but it is not a subject that has ever been allowed to dominate the conversation at the bar. Mind you, I did hear a rather worrying rumour that a proposal had been made to set up a television in the bar to show some of the tournament matches. Not surprisingly, and to my great relief, the idea was given very short shrift by the trustees. It would have been far too much of an intrusion and would have set a worrying precedent for the future. Heaven knows, once one starts down that particular rocky road there is no turning back. One can only imagine where that kind of thing can lead. Amy anyway, there are a number of establishments happy to offer such facilities, but they have no place at the Club. Never hand, I hope, they never will.

Whilst I have no interest at all in football, one cannot help picking up on some of the stories and characters that surround it. I believe that for a not inconsiderable number of people football is more of a religion than a sport. I have often heard the quotation attributed to one former manager (I cannot recall his name, but I think he had something to do with the city of Liverpool) who said that “football is not a matter of life or death – it is much more important than that!” Nigel would know who said it but football managers all look and sound the same to me.

And that’s another thing – whenever I do see news reports or overhear conversations about football it was only too clear that very few of the names I heard were British. It would seem that the country’s “favourite” sports is owned, managed and, to a large degree, played by foreigners. So, if our national leagues are dominated by players from other countries, where does the national team come from? Not that I am too concerned or have given the matter much thought – if any. But by an unexpected twist of fate, I have found myself involved with the whole silly affair if only in the most peripheral way.

It turns out that Hopes former husband was a bit of a football fan and during their time together, Hope had taken an interest in the game. She did not normally watch matches or anything like that but said that the World Cup was different and she was supporting the England team. Charlotte, however, really does seem to enjoy it all and says she will be watching some chosen matches with her a group of her friends. I, of course, will be avoiding the whole silly thing as much as I can, which will probably mean spending more time either at the Club or at home. Even the office cannot be considered an escape from the damned thing. Only yesterday I noticed several television screens had been set up and were tuned into the tournament.

Anyway, my main goal for today (no pun intended) is to avoid any further encounters with the World Cup, if that is possible. I will pop down to the Club this afternoon, maybe stay for dinner and a frame or two over drinks with the chaps.

A weekend away

Kent-Countryside-900x450

I have to say what a jolly nice weekend I have just had with the lovely Hope. We had not planned to go away, but after having had a rather bad week I decided that we should pack our bags and head out of town for a couple of days. I originally suggested we go to Brighton and stay with some old family friends with a little house on the coast, but Hope was not all that keen on the idea. So, after a little chat and with the help of young Charlotte, we settled on a lovely little hotel in Kent.

Now, normally when I go away I will either stay with friends or, if I have to stay in a hotel, chose one that I already know or has been recommended. The very idea of booking our stay through the internet was something I had never even considered. But for Charlotte, and most young people I suspect, it seems to be almost second nature. Whilst I am getting much better with the whole cyber surfing thing, I am still very much on the beginner’s slopes. Hope has more experience than I do with with the computer, but even she admits that some things still confuse her.

So, by the time we had finished our first glass of Chablis, the hotel was booked and all we had to do was pack a few bags and then we were on our way to sunny Kent, the garden of England.

Of course, it being a sunny Friday afternoon, the roads out of town were extremely congested and I was very glad I had decided not to drive there myself. Albert was going to drop us off and then make his own way home – I would be using the car myself over the weekend and making the return journey on Sunday afternoon.

I must say that when we arrived at the hotel I was very impressed. One hears so many stories about people being duped by unscrupulous characters using the internet to front their nefarious enterprises. Nigel is always going on at me about the need for security and that I had to be careful about who I might “meet” online. Well, I have told Nigel often enough that I am not that easily fooled and anyone trying to con me would have a very hard time indeed. Non-the-less, I was very relieved when we pulled up outside what was an old stately home but was now our home for the weekend.

As a child, my mother and I were frequent visitors to the Kent countryside, but in recent years I fear I have somewhat neglected it. TWe would often visit family and friends and I have very fond memories of those long hot summers. We were always outdoors and I never remember it raining, although I am sure it did. Kent to me is a county of my childhood and one I very rarely visit these days.  I suppose that the Kent’sm undeniable attractions are better shared, which is why my stay there with Hope was so special. For two days we became tourists, something I am not used to.

I have to say that our accommodation was first class. The service and food were as good as anywhere ion the City, and the room extremely comfortable. I will admit that I can be rather fussy when it comes to hotels, but on this occasion, I found nothing to complain about and plenty to enjoy. The fact that the weather was so good certainly helped to make the whole weekend rather special. When we are in town, I feel I do not get to spend as much time with Hope as I would like. She is obviously a very busy lady with a home and the gallery to run, so I do try not to monopolise her attention. But when we get the opportunity to get away from all the hustle and bustle of our busy lives and relax, I find myself happier that I have been for many a long year.

But as always, all good things must come to an end. I did try to persuade Hope to stay for a few more days, but unfortunately, she had commitments at the Gallery which made that impossible. So, regretfully, we made our way back to town late on Sunday afternoon. Which is just as well actually as shortly after our return I received a telephone call from Aunt Murdock to tell me that poor old Uncle George was back in the hospital with his heart. Of course, that meant jumping straight back into the car and driving across town to see how the dear old thing was getting on.

I am relieved to say that despite the rather frightening array of electronic devices and the miles of tubing that surrounded him, the old fellow was in fairly good spirits. He was obviously rather tired and looked a little pale, but was otherwise showing no signs of being at death’s door. In fact, he was out of the hospital and back home by late Monday afternoon. I paid a quick visit to the house earlier today and can happily report that the old gentleman has quite recovered from his little turn and is already talking about whisking the old Mad Duck off to the Lakes for a long weekend.

Anyway, I must finish there as I have agreed to meet a couple of the chaps at the Club this evening for a few drinks. I don’t seem to get down there quite as much as I used to and there is so much to catch up on.

Computer troubles and more

I must say it has been a rather odd few days for little old me. I like to think that I am an easy going sort of chap. I have never seen the point in getting too excited about things I cannot control, and often even those I can. Life is far too short to waste valuable time on the insignificant or uncontrollable elements of life. But this week I have had to face two very different but equally perplexing issues that have caused me worry and stress.

The first occurred on Friday afternoon.  I was sat at my desk, waiting for the computer to start so that I could write up my journal. I had been sat there for a few minutes, thinking about the week I had had and the things I might want to say when it began to dawn on me that the computer was taking an inordinately long time to get going. I sat there for a little longer, watching the little ring of dots going around and around as a message on the screen very politely asked me to please wait.

Now I am a very patient man, but one can only sit staring at a blue screen for so long. My first thought was to contact dear old Nigel. After all, he is the expert on this kind of thing. I am, as they say, totally clueless when it comes to modern technology. Nigel set the whole thing up for me almost a year ago now and I rely on his expertise to keep it working and safe. Unfortunately, he was away and not due back until Sunday, so I was a little stuck. So, I was faced with one of two choices: to leave it alone and wait for Nigel’s return, or to contact someone else for help, but who?

After a little consideration, and a small shot of single malt, I decided that the I would take action myself. After all, what harm could I do? Nigel is always telling me not to be afraid of the computer, that I couldn’t break it. So I did the only thing I could think of doing that might help – I switched it off at the wall. I had seen Nigel do that once when it had stopped working; everything had sort of frozen and no amount of clicking or typing seemed to get us anywhere. It is one of the things that I have often heard the chaps at the Club laugh about – if any piece of technology stops doing what it is supposed to do, all one needs to do is turn it off and on again. So that is what I did, only to find myself right back where I started, watching little white dots run around in circles on a pale blue screen. But now, rather than seeming polite, the “please wait” came across as more of a taunt. It was as if the damned thing was laughing at me.

Of course, it wasn’t, or at least I don’t believe it was. But one thing it certainly was not doing, was starting up. In the end, I left it and went down to the Club to catch up with the chaps and share a drink or three. Repairing the computer would just have to wait until Nigel returned.

Appart from now having a rather large and expensive paperweight cluttering up my study desk, the next few days were thankfully uneventful. Hope and I visited a very nice little bar in deepest Kensington on Saturday and we spent much of Sunday reading newspapers and generally doing very little of consequence. But then came Monday morning and the second shock.

Now, I don’t always visit the office on a Monday. I find struggling into work so soon after the weekend such a bore, but I was feeling unusually bright and breezy as Hope left for the Gallery, so I decided I would pop in and catch up on a few things that Miss Drayton had insisted were urgent and needed my attention. I have to say, most of the paperwork that passes over my desk seems extremely tedious and as far from urgent as it is possible to get. None-the-less, I am trying to be more “hands-on” so decided I would make the effort and see what all the fuss was about..

Well, I hadn’t been at my desk for more than a couple of minutes when Miss Drayton, looking rather sheepish, walked slowly into my office and handed me a single envelope. I looked up at her and smiled, but she lowered her eyes and took a single step backwards as if to put a little distance between us. I have to say that I found her demeanour to be a little disconcerting. Normally any post for me has already been opened and only those that require my personal attention ever make it as far as the desk. It was very unusual for any item of post to be handed to me unopened. I may not be the sharpest knife in the cutlery drawer but even I knew at that point that something was not quite right about the scene playing out before me.

Miss Drayton remained silent, still seemingly captivated by the pattern of the carpet. So I opened the envelope, withdrew the single sheet of paper from inside and read the very short letter which it turns out was Miss Drayton’s resignation.

To say I was shocked would be putting it mildly. I thought everything was ticking along very nicely and had no idea there was anything wrong. I just can’t imagine the office without her being there. Who was going to deal with all my correspondence and meetings and such? She was very apologetic about the whole thing and was very determined that I was aware that her leaving was nothing personal. It would appear that Miss Drayton’s has, unbeknown to me, be walking out with a young gentleman from the legal department and they have decided to get married and return to his family home in southern Italy. Apparently, they run a successful wine business over there.

It turned out to be a somewhat emotional morning as Miss Drayton set the wheels in motion to find her replacement. I have to say that I had no idea it was going to be quite so complicated. I have had three meetings already this week with a stream of people from Human Resources asking all kinds of silly questions and going over several very dreary and, to my mind, pointless documents. I really don’t understand this whole recruitment thing at all. Apparently, the new Miss Drayton will be a Personal Assistant, not secretary, and might even be a man!

After much discussion, we have agreed that whoever I take on will come from within the compoany rather than bringing someone new into the office. Miss Drayton and I are going to meet with a few eligible candidates next week. I can’t say I am looking forward to it, but I suppose that these things have to be done.

Hope says I need to give Miss Drayton some kind of send-off, which I agree sounds like a jolly good idea. Not that I know anything about organising this sort of thing. Under normal circumstances, I would be asking Miss Drayton to sort things out but that is obviously not as good idea in this instances.

Anyway, earlier today Nigel dropped by and brought back my computer. He had called round yesterday but had to take it away. He did try to explain the problem to me but it was all gobbledygook to me. These computer chaps talk in a foreign language. Mind you, it was no more intelligible than half the waffle Human Resources have put into the job description for my new Miss Drayton.

Well, that’s just about it for now. I am going to make my way down to the Club for an evening with the chaps.

Yet another Bank Holiday

Well, we have just had another of those interminable Bank Holidays and the City has been fairly crawling with tourists. I can imagine that from the air the streets would have looked like a hoard of frantic termites running aimlessly through the streets. Hope and Dorothy were both busy today so I thought I would wander down to the river, as was such a nice day, but I very quickly realised that this had been a mistake. My quiet stroll turned into a nightmare of bustling pavements and indiscriminate music coming at me from all sides. By the time I actually reached the water’s edge, I was completely out of sorts and as far from relaxed as I think it is possible to get without actually blowing a fuse.

I rather bravely wandered down to St James’ but that was even worse. At this point, I decided that enough was enough and made my way to the one place in the City I can rely on for some peace and quiet – the Club. And if I am to be brutally honest, I am beginning to feel that life in the city is not what it used to be.

Living in a city like London, with all its hustle and bustle can be both invigorating and exhausting. The streets are always busy, the bars, theatres and other attractions constantly swarming with inquisitive and noisy tourists. It is truly a city that never seems to sleep. And for those of us lucky enough to call it home, it is almost alive with possibilities. There is certainly no shortage of new and interesting things to see and do. But the seemingly relentless pace brings its own pressures and one can, at times, be left in something of a daze trying to keep up with it all. I count myself very lucky that at such times I have an escape route; the old family homestead. I don’t know if it is that the pace of life in the City is getting too much, even for me, or something else, but this past week or so I have been feeling the draw of the countryside more and more.

The last weekend I spent at home with Hope had made the old place seem much more interesting and comfortable than it had for some time. Whilst I am sure that much of that can probably be put down to the time spent showing her around, I do find that Hope is one of those people who, by their very presence, can bring life and vigour to any surroundings.

As a boy, I so looked forward to returning home from school. My mother was always there to greet me, although my father was, more often than not, busy in the City with business of one sort or another. Although my mother would often join him in town, she always made sure she was there when I first arrived home. Since my parents died the house has felt less and less like a home to me. My visits have become increasingly infrequent, but the old place still has a strange attraction to me, one that seems to be getting stronger.

I suppose that it is the people who make a house a home. For me, it was always my mother who made the old pile worth returning to. Certainly, the old place has a lot of history and is littered with artwork and treasures that my father’s family have collected over the centuries. But it was my mother’s touch that made it somewhere worth being. Without her, it became nothing more than a museum, a shrine to the Dimbelby-Smyth dynasty that I found increasingly less relevant to my own life. Now, one begins to see the merit in the old place. Hope certainly seemed to enjoy being there and has quite openly said she cannot wait to return and “spruce” the place up a little.

I am not sure exactly what she means by that, but some of the chaps at the Club said it sounded ominous and I should be very careful about what I allowed her to do. In all honesty, I don’t believe she is planning to redecorate the whole place. Maybe she will just want to add a few of those “feminine touches” I have heard talk of.

I had not planned to return to the country until later in the summer but as there are one or two items that require my attention I have decided to invite Hope and Charlotte to join me for a few days next week. If the weather holds out they will see the old estate at its best. The English countryside undoubtedly offers some of the finest views one can get anywhere in the world and I look forward to sharing it with them both, if they can make of course. One can’t always assume that they will be free or available.

I am off down to the Club now to meet old Cambridge. I haven’t seen the old fool for a couple of weeks now and there is so much to catch up on. Maybe Dasher will be there as well this evening – he is another one who has been absent rather too much recently.

Let’s keep it together

Earlier this week I was reminded of that wonderful old poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling:

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   

It was one of my father’s favourite pieces of literature and one he lived his life by.  We live in a very difficult and complicated world and it very easy to find one’s self lost in the chaos of recriminations, strife and anger that surround us every day. I think that sometimes my father handled his business affairs a little like a military campaign. He would strategize to the n-th degree, trying to second guess the competition and doing everything he could to put his competitors (or enemies as he often called them) off their stride. But whatever his competitors were doing, however much pressure the business put on him, he remained always stoical and I never saw him lose his temper over a business matter. I remember him saying to me once when I had first started working with him at the office.

Don’t get me wrong, my father had quite a temper on him and he could fly into the most alarming and frightening rages, but never over the big issues. One felt that the world could be facing imminent doom and my father would remain the calm and reassuring rock that we all could cling to. If he had been on board the Titanic, he would have simply poured himself another gin and listened to the band play on. But should he find anything out of place in his study, or muddy footprints across the hall, woe betide the culprit (usually a much younger me!).

I think I must have inherited that from him, that very English ability to remain calm in the face of adversity. I like to think of myself as a relatively calm sort of chap;  I don’t get angry easily or very often. But there are times when one can see that final straw approaching and one knows that the proverbial stack is about to blow.

Like my father, the bigger worries of the world do not bother me too much. After all, there is very little point in getting worked up about something you can do nothing about. What would be the point in that? But what I do find is that frustration over seemingly insignificant things or some form of injustice can, and often will, lead me to lose my temper.

But not everyone shares this view of life. There are a number of the chaps at the Club who would do well to read and take heed of Mr Kipling’s inspiring words. But I suppose that in this day and age where there is so much pressure to conform and succeed, it is very easy to be pushed off track by events. Just yesterday I dropped into the Club for a quiet lunch when I found myself caught up in what I thought was a lively conversation, but turned out to be a slowly simmering argument. Two of the chaps – both very pleasant normally – it turns out were business rivals and had had a falling out over some kind of deal or other. Now, I didn’t get all the details, to be honest, it was difficult to follow exactly what they were saying after a while, but it was obvious that they would need to be separated before heated words turned into something a little more substantial.

I felt a little like one of those UN peacekeepers that you used to see much of on the television, positioning myself between the two combatants. All I needed was the blue beret. I have never, in all the years I have been a member of the Club, seen any of the chaps lose their composure in such a spectacular fashion. That is not to say that there haven’t been arguments and the occasional small fracas in the bar, but yesterday’s incident was by far the worst I have witnessed. And not just witnessed! There I was, arms outstretched, keeping the two of them apart, only find myself at the receiving end of a powerful left hook. It took me rather by surprised I can tell you. One moment I was standing there between them, seeking calm and consideration, the next I was sitting on the damp floor (it seems that one of the chaps had spilt his drink at the onset of hostilities) with my back to the bar and a throbbing left cheek.

I am a little unsure about what happened next. There was a flurry of activity, a little more shouting and quite a few pairs of legs passing in front of my eyes, then it was all over. The warring businessmen had been separated, calm restored, and a first aid kit secured to tend my wounds.

I cannot imagine what it was that had brought these two normally relaxed chaps to such a point of bitterness and recrimination. As my father said to me, there is nothing that can’t be resolved by a little calm consideration and a quiet word. I wholeheartedly agree with his approach and only wish that others would do the same. So much more can be achieved when we keep it together rather than losing control.

This is an adage that the current incumbent of the White House should take note of too. There is no point in his antagonising the likes of the North Koreans and then expect them to take notice of what one has to say. Diplomacy doesn’t work that way.

By the time I visited Hope later in the evening my cheek had come up in a gloriously colourful bruise that demanded some explanation. She was as appalled as I was at the behaviour of the two gentlemen in question, but relieved that I had not received any further injuries. In fact, Hope made feel like something of a hero which I suppose I am really.

Worrying unduly over matters that you cannot change or the inherent dishonesty of business seems so pointless to me. One could spend one’s life getting worked up about this and that, but it would be short and not too happy life. I for one prefer to keep calm and carry on, as the old war posters used to say.

I have kept something of a low profile today but will be out and about tomorrow with Hope. With a little luck, the bruising will have gone down a little.

And for those out there who are not familiar with Kipling’s “If”, you can read the full poem here.

A very modern royal wedding

Well, one way or another it has been quite a weekend. One would have to be living in a particularly large and thick bubble to have avoided seeing something about Saturday’s Royal Wedding, although one could be forgiven for forgetting the FA Cup Final. I count myself amongst the latter, but the wedding has been a large part of the news for the past week or so. As always, there was much speculation about the dress and the names on the guest list. I am sure no one will be surprised to hear, I have taken no interest in either of these things.

As far as I am concerned, weddings are very personal. They are significant to those involved, either as guests or participants, but for those not directly involved, I just can’t see the attraction. I have been a part of many of my friends and family’s nuptials over the years – I have even been Best Man on a number of occasions (some of which are best forgotten) and generally found them to be very jolly affairs. But the idea of watching someone one does not know personally take their vows on the television I find extremely tedious. The ladies do tend to take much of an interest in this kind of thing. Speculation about “the dress” and not so restrained critiques of the hats and dresses of the varied guests seem to form a large part of the entertainment. Us chaps tend to be less worried about that kind of thing. I can’t say I have ever given a moment’s thought to the attire of others, unless, of course, one finds one’s self faced with one of the more extreme items of haute couture that one or two of the younger generation seem to favour on these special occasions.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a great supporter of the Windsors and everything they stand for. I know a number of the family personally and had I been invited I would certainly have been there enjoying the event along with the rest of them. But I do not know the couple and therefore have no personal link to their big day. My intention on Saturday was to make my way to the Club for a light lunch, drinks and a frame or two with some of the Chaps. We had been assured that they would not have the newly installed television on until later in the afternoon when some of the chaps wanted to see the Cup final.

But, as so often seems to happen these days, the best-laid plans can go awry remarkably quickly and for the most unexpected reasons.

But everything changed when shortly before I was about to leave Dorothy and Angela arrived on my doorstep, carrying several bottles of wine and the largest picnic hamper I have seen outside of Harrods. It transpires that they had planned to spend the day at a small party with friends somewhere in Chelsea. But the hostess had rather unexpectedly gone into early labour so they had been forced t make alternative plans. Hence their sudden arrival on my doorstep. My initial reaction was to invite them in, offer them the free use of the house and set off for the Club. I saw no reason to change my own plans. But Dorothy had her own ideas and I soon found myself holding a glass of chilled white wine as the girls sorted through the contents of the hamper. During the time Dorothy lived with me I learned that once she has got an idea into her head it is best to acquiesce and do one’s best to enjoy whatever it is she has planned.

There is no denying that Britain is a great country with a fine and enviable history. And whilst some may contest that our influence on the world stage is in decline, there is still one undeniable truth, one thing that no one else can match us for, or even come close. No one, and I mean no one, can come close to the British when it comes to putting on a show of pomp and agentry. It is part of our heritage and something that we take very seriously. And although I would not normally have chosen to sit and suffer the interminable speculation and pointless interviews, I have to admit that seeing the processions, hearing the fanfares and the wonderful music did make me feel proud to be British. This kind of events does a lot to bolster patriotism and raise our esteem in the eyes of the world. Despite my reservations and a natural disinclination to got caught up in the media frenzy surrounding these events, I found I actually enjoyed the whole thing. Although, I have to confess that this was probably as much to do with the rather fine Chablis and the company as it was the event itself.

During the build up the big event, there was a lot of chatter in the media idea as well as the Club about the new addition to the housWindsorindsr. Not too long ago the very idea of a divorced American actress of mixed race marrying into the royal family would have been unthinkable. Now, I have no love for the Americans as a people but have nothing against the young lady herself. From what I have seen and heard she is very pleasant and has a real concern for others. There have been a few quiet mutterings of objection from one or two of the old guard down at the Club, but I think that by and large the public, and it seems the Windsors themselves, have been very supportive of Harry’s choice and been supportive and inviting. After all, there is virtually no chance of her ever becoming queen so no real harm done.

Dorothy and Angela stayed until just after 3 o’clock, by which time we had finished the wine and consumed most of the contents of the hamper. I was feeling rather tipsy and decided that what I needed most right then was a quiet lie down before making my second attempt to get to the Club. I had no sooner closed my eyes that I heard the arrival of another unexpected visitor – Hope. Apparently, trade had been rather slow all day so she decided to close the gallery early and, thanks to the female bush telegraph, knew I was at home. Of course, I was delighted to see her, particularly as I had not expected to see her at all on Saturday. She had seen the wedding on one of those tablet things Charlotte had taken to work, so I opened another bottle of Chable and we sat and discussed the finer points of the day’s events.

The Sunday newspapers were dominated by the wedding with just about every front page featuring a picture of the Prince and his bride. I have to admit that they do make a charming couple.