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.

It was something I said!

I think that the best way to describe the dinner party I attended earlier this week with Hope and Charlotte, is lively. Or at least, it was by the time we left. Now I enjoy a good dinner party as much as the next man, but when one is being introduced into an established grouping where one doesn’t even know the host, there is always the potential for disappointment or, as in this case, trouble.

Now, before anyone gets any ideas about my behaviour, I can state quite categorically and without fear of contradiction that I was the sole of discretion and behaved impeccably throughout. I feel that I have nothing to reproach myself about at all. And, I must add, neither do Hope or Charlotte.

you see, the evening was going frightfully well I thought at first. Hope had introduced me to our hosts and the rest of the guests and we had shared a glass or two of very decent wine before being seated for our meal. In all, there were eight of us and we were getting along quite swimmingly, talking over the really very delicious meal about this and that. The other chaps were all from the City, working in banking and the like. I joined in where I could but all the talk of bonds, securities and fluctuating interest rates rather bored me, as well as going right over my head.

Towards the end of the dessert – I very presentable homemade fruit tart – the discussion turned almost inexorably to Brexit. I say inexorably as it seems that these days one can hardly open a newspaper or tune into the television news without some expert or other prattling on about lack of progress, clarity or policy. Honestly, two years down the line one would have thought they would have had things sorted out, but it seems not, and the infighting within the government is quite frankly, an embarrassment to those of us who put them there.

It is a subject that is brought up again and again at the Club and as far as I am concerned the whole thing is becoming a frightful bore. I don’t understand all the ins and outs of the negotiations, but surely the Leave campaigners must have had some sort of plan. They must have prepared a strategy for disentangling us from all the bureaucracy and red tape that Europe seems intent on burying us under. Well, from what little I have seen and understood since the referendum result was announced, it seems that they did not, at least, not one that the government can work with.

Anyway, as I say, the subject came up and, being used to such things down at the Club, I quite freely voiced my support for leaving Europe and my frustration at the way the government is handling the whole thing. Now, in retrospect, maybe I should have been a little less enthusiastic in coming forward with my opinion. Maybe I should have held back and surveyed the lay of the land before charging in with my size nines. But I didn’t.

It turns out that I was sharing the table with seven very committed and adamant remain supporters. In fact, two of the chaps and one of the ladies had actually worked on the campaign, so my interjection in favour of the result was about as welcome as Donald Trump at a Muslim women’s convention.

From this point on things got a little heated. I am not a natural raconteur, and my understanding of the finer points of European law and such is, I will openly admit, not exactly in-depth, but I feel I held my own fairly well against what I can only describe as a concerted attack on my integrity. But I was seriously outnumbered and poorly equipped but emotionally and intellectually to stand up against their vociferous condemnations of the whole leave campaign.

To be fair to Hope she did stand beside me and attempt to defend me and my honour, but it was no good. It was obvious that she and Charlotte shared the view of their friends, that the country had been let down and would suffer for what the host called the most damaging and ridiculous decision. Now, whilst I have to confess to harbouring some doubts about the way the way things are going at this moment in time, I still believe it was the correct decision and did not take too kindly to the way I was spoken to. Thankfully Hope managed to deflect some of the criticism and did succeed in eventually changing the subject, but it was clear, long before we got to the port and cigars, that the evening had bee spoiled and stood no chance of improving so long as I remained one of the company. So, reluctantly I must add, Hope and I left a little before ten o’clock and made our way back to their little flat.

I had thought that after all that had been said I may not be welcome. I did fully intend to return home once I had seen the ladies to their door, but, to my surprise, Charlotte invited me to stay for a drink. In the end, we stayed up until well after midnight, clearing the air over Brexit and a number of other issues that sprung up. I was a jolly pleasant end to what had been the most disastrous of dates. Hope and I may see some things very differently, but I am incredibly fond of the old girl and would have hated to see something as trivial as a difference of opinion over some political ideology get in the way of what is becoming a very special relationship to me. Charlotte was very vocal in her comments about my stance on the Brexit thing, but I think she understood my position and we have reached an understanding that will allow us to move on.

I suppose that looking back I should have been more cautious about voicing my opinions in new company. I misjudged them quite dramatically. I had assumed they would see things the way I did, but it just goes to show you never can tell. I spent yesterday evening at the Club where, for once, there was no talk of Brexit at all. The big issue there seemed to be the railways, Israel and Saturday’s royal wedding, subjects that I believe we can all agree on.

Good news and wedding bells (sort of)

This week began with some very good news. I had a call from Uncle George late Sunday evening to let me know that he and the old Mad Duck (my words, not his) will be returning to London before the weekend. Apparently, the country air has worked wonders on Aunt Murdock and the old dear is feeling fighting fit and ready to return to town. I have to admit that the past few weeks have been a little worrying. For all my life, or at least as much of it as I can remember, Aunt Murdock has been the rock that has kept the family secure against all of life’s storms and tribulations, particularly since the untimely deaths of my parents. I am looking forward to seeing her back home. I may even let her drag me to one of her little events with only the most minimal of arguments and fuss.

It is strange but when one has known a person for the whole of one’s life, it is difficult to imagine the world without them in it. Aunt Murdock’s ill health has brought home to me just how much I have come to rely on the old bird. So much so that I am not so sure now whether I am worrying for her or for myself. I suppose that is true for most of us really. No matter how compassionate we are or how much we care for the other person, there will always be a selfishness that runs through our emotions. But at least the old dear is on the mend so I can look forward to further interference in my love life.

But no matter how much her health has improved, Aunt Murdock will definitely not be returning to her role running the family business, that mantle has now well a truly fallen on my shoulders. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure she will still be very much a feature of the office, but in a much-reduced role. I am still not sure about the future of the business or my own role in it so I will be very glad of the opportunity to speak to the old dear about it. Mind you, that will have to wait; Hope and I will be away this weekend at the old homestead so I won’t be here when she and George return to London.

Talking about Hope, I have not seen very much of her since our last little trip to the country. She has been rather tied up with exhibitions and such. She puts so much work into her gallery that I am sure it must be doing very well. I visited the gallery again this morning, just to say hello and see how things were going. I have to admit that I was rather surprised to see young Anne Fletcher there, although I suppose I shouldn’t have been as it was me who introduced them last year. It would appear that Anne has become quite a good client to Hope, purchasing a number of items as part of her new interior design business.

The other piece of good news that came my way this week was from young Dorothy. She called by yesterday evening to tell me that she has secured herself a small part in a production – I can’t recall exactly what it is called – that will be touring the provinces during the summer. Of course, I was delighted with the news, but am not sure that Angela will be too happy. I mean, they have only just moved in together and now Dorothy is planning on spending several months dashing from town to town in her new play. I am not sure how I would feel if I were the one being left behind. I sometimes think this acting lark is not particularly conducive to forming steady relationships. Even when playing in their hometown, the hours do seem to be rather demanding. I can’t imagine having to work every evening. Not forgetting the two performances every Saturday.

Well, good luck to her I say. I am sure the show will be a big hit and they will be back in no time at all with a nice long run in the West End. I am keeping fingers crossed.

I have not heard any more about Dorothy and Angela’s wedding plans. All I know for sure is that they are hoping to have the bash close to Angela’s parent’s place, somewhere in Norfolk I believe. I am still struggling a little with the whole same-sex marriage thing. I mean, I don’t have a problem with their relationship at all. They are a lovely couple. It is just that I was always brought up to believe a marriage is between a man and a woman, primarily to raise a family. But I suppose we all have to accept that times have changed and marriage does not necessarily have the same meaning or purpose that it used to.

From what I have seen with many of my friends and acquaintances, marriage is no longer the life-long commitment it used to be. In fact, when I come to think about it, very few of the couple’s whose weddings I have attended over the years are still together. And of those who have stuck it out, one would hardly call them happy. It is enough to put one off the whole thing. Not that I have any intentions that way. Goodness me no. But I am very pleased for Dorothy and Angela and I hope they will be very happy.

Tomorrow evening I have been invited to join Hope and Charlotte at a dinner party being hosted by one of Hope’s old school friends. I have to admit that I am not particularly comfortable with this kind of event where I am not acquainted with the hosts or the other guests. Whilst I am sure that any friend of Hope’s is going to be good company, there will always be the worry that we will not get along.

 

 

The end of a very busy week

I must say that I have had a rather busy week this week, what with one thing and another. It all started with an absolutely wonderful weekend away with Hope, although I have to admit that it did not look very promising on Friday. Arthur was supposed to be driving us up there in the late afternoon, but he was rather suddenly struck down with some kind of tummy bug, leaving me without a driver. Of course, I am more than capable of driving the car myself, but I had hoped to be free of that particular responsibility. I mean to say, one can’t really make the most of the wine cellar knowing that one has to take to the wheel later on.

Some of my chums are not so diligent when it comes to drinking and driving, but having lost my licence many years ago after a little accident involving a stray dog and a police car, I am a little more cautious these days, particularly when I have a passenger.

I did consider asking young Nigel if he was free but reluctantly decided to step up to the mark and do the honours myself. Now I am not a comfortable town driver at the best of times, but attempting to negotiate the Friday night rush-hour traffic did nothing to calm my nerves. Don’t get me wrong, I love driving my dear old Bentley but not on congested city roads. I much prefer cruising through the countryside, and I am sure the car does too.

Needless to say, by the time we finally arrived in the environs of the old homestead I was feeling rather tired and stressed by the experience. If I hadn’t needed to drink before I picked Hope up, I certainly did by the time I guided the Bentley up the driveway. Although it has to be said that Hope’s presence beside me was a somewhat soothing influence, there is also something soothing about the sound of the Bentley’s tyres crunching over the gravel. It always reminds me of coming home from school for the holidays.

It is funny how certain sounds or smells can trigger childhood memories, even those one has forgotten over the intervening years. Certainly, there are some things that will always remind me of home: the smell of my mother’s perfume, the polish that old Danvers used to use on the woodwork, the sound of the car tyres crunching across the gravel, all evoke such happy emotions.

Hope and I spent the evening at the Royal Oak where we enjoyed a splendid meal and a bottle of their rather fine Chardonnay. It was the first of several visits we made to that esteemed establishment over the course of the weekend. I had planned to have Anne join us there for lunch on Saturday but unfortunately, she found herself somewhat “tied-up” with some client or other so had to postpone our little get together. I do think it is a crying shame when a young lady’s business or career impacts so badly on their social life. I have seen it a number of times with Hope when she cannot meet me or was generally unavailable because she had to see a client or dealer. It really is a bad show.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not one of those chaps that believes a woman’s place is in the kitchen. I would never be so presumptuous as to suggest such a thing. After all, we live in a modern society where such things are simply not acceptable, and rightly so. But none-the-less, one cannot help feeling that society is very much the poorer for their absence in favour of business advancement.

As it turns out were not exactly short of company during our stay in the country. Several of the local families also frequent the King’s Arm’s which was jolly nice, particularly as it gave me a fine opportunity to introduce that who didn’t already know her to Hope who, I must say, seemed very much at home amongst the local bigwigs.

Thankfully these little gatherings in the village meant that when we were at the house we were relatively undisturbed, which was fine by me I can tell you. We had a rather splendid weekend together and it was one of the best birthday’s I can remember. And as it was just the two of us I had the opportunity to show her around the old place, including the gardens which we did not see much of over Christmas. On one of our little perambulations, we saw some signs of work undertaken taken on one of the old barns on a neighbour’s property. It looks as if they may be converting it into a new house. Talking of which, there is still a great deal of chatter locally about predatory property developers putting pressure on the local landowners to sell so they can build new houses and the like.

Hope and I did discuss the pros and cons of all these new developments that are beging to encroach on our beautiful countryside. I had to admit that I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. On the one hand, the chaps in government keep prattling on about the need for more new houses, but on the other hand, why can’t they concentrate their efforts in the towns whjere I am sure most the houses are actually needed. I don’t see the point in trying to inflic these dreary new developments on us poor country folk.

Anyway, Hope and I had such a splendid weekend that we were rather reluctant to head home on Sunday. In the end, we left it so late that by the time I had dropped her off at her flat it was far too late to get to the Club. Which was a shame as I had heard some of the chaps had prepared something of a treat for my birthday? Ah well, it can’t be helped I suppose.

Monday morning started reasonably well. I had received a message from Aunt Murdock inviting me to join her for lunch, which I was only too pleased to accept. We met a little after midday at the Savoy, somewhere I know that the old dear enjoys. I am delighted to say that she is very much on the mend and looks better than she has for quite a few months. I have to admit that I have been rather worried about her, but it seems that right now she is doing very well indeed. In fact, she has invited me to join her and Uncle George for a little get together they are planning at their home on Sunday.

The rest of the week was rather busy, what with silly little meetings at the office, a couple of evenings at the Club and a rather unusual lunch date with my old chum Dorchester. It would appear that he is getting very close to Anne and I suspect that it may not be too long before we hear that they are officially a couple.

For now, I think I will draw this to an end as it is getting quite late and I have a busy day tomorrow. First I am going to visit Dorothy and Angela, then Hope and I will be attending some kind of art event somewhere on the Southbank. I am not entirely sure what it is all about, but Hope assures me that I will enjoy it.