In need of a map

This week I have found myself in something of a quandary. I suppose that we all face these little dilemmas in our lives – reaching a crossroads where it appears that whatever direction one chooses to go is going to turn out bad, either for one’s self or one’s friends. If one could only see the full picture are were furnished with a map then maybe the choices one makes would be easier, but life is not like that and this wee I fond myself not only lacking the picture but did not even have the vaguest idea that I needed one. After all, one only needs a guide if one knows one is lost.

You see, having recently made the decision to decamp to the old family home for the rest of the summer, I have taken a keen interest in the goings on around the estate and village. I suppose that in some people’s eyes I am equivalent to the old Lord of the Manor, even though that distinction does not really exist any more. My father was a very hands-on local, throwing himself into the local politics and taking a lively interest in the local families and their affairs. Although he spent a great deal of his time in London, my mother tended to stay behind, and when he was at home he acted his part with great enthusiasm and flair. It is a role I never wanted and I admit that I have not made much effort to fill the old man’s rather large shoes.

Most of my visits are short and generally speaking I try to avoid getting too involved with the gossip and petty feuds that seem to be the mainstay of rural life. Most evenings you will find any number of the local fellows propping up the bar in one of the local hostelries, freely discussing each other’s business and ruminating over small time concerns.

I have several reasons for choosing to stay down here for an extended period and part of that is that I feel I need to take some interest in the threat to the local area from developers who seem intent on buying up land so that they can build more of their unsightly and clearly unwanted new housing estates. Like most people, I have read the reports of housing shortages and the like, but surely this is a problem for the big town and cities, not our lovely country villages? More houses bring more people which mean more traffic, and the last thing we need right now is an increase in traffic. One or two of the local businesses seem quietly keen on the idea, saying it will bring more trade, but other than a few extra faces around the public bar of an evening, I doubt that any of the kind of people these new houses attract will be spending any of their money locally. After all, don’t these people normally shop at either the big supermarkets or online? I can not see that doing the local business people any good at all.

We really do not need all the trouble that these extra, unwanted residents will bring, not to mention the disruption that will be caused by the building work itself. It is all so unnecessary and pointless.

Which brings me to my own dilemma. Hope came down on Monday to spend a few days with me, accompanied by young Charlotte who wanted a couple of days away. Everything was going well until we visited the King’s Arms on Tuesday evening for a light supper and a few drinks with some of the locals. Talk invariably turned, as it does, to those pesky developers. Charlotte, in particular, took a very keen interest in the discussion and began asking some rather pointed and relevant questions. There is something of the snoop about Charlotte, in that way she a lot like her sister Emily who, from experience, can be like a dog with a bone when her interest has been piqued.

Anyway, during the course of the disussions, a name cropped up that seemed vaguely familiar to me. At first, I could not place it but didn’t give it too much thought at the time. To be totally honest, at this point in the evening I was losing interest, distracted somewhat by another conversation further down the bar about the problems local farmers were having due to the dry weather. Not that I know the first thing about agricultural issues.

However, by the time we had returned to the house, it came to me where I knew the name from – it is one of the companies at the heart of my family business. Now, whilst one cannot be held responsible for the activities of every little element of one’s business interests when I made this fact known to Hope and Charlotte, they were both rather shocked. It put a bit of a dampener on the whole evening. In fact, it rather spoiled the rest of Hope’s stay. They left late this afternoon, determined that it was up to me to do something about things.

I have to admit that I am unsure of how to proceed. So far I have not told any of the locals about my connection to the developers and I am not sure it would be very helpful if I did. I have already made my opposition to the planned development quite clear so I have to be seen to do something, but I don’t know what I can do. Yes, it is effectively my business so I can, in theory at least, pull the plug on the whole thing. On the other hand, I am not sure just how much influence I can have on the day to day management of the activities of the various elements of the business.

After giving it some thought I have decided that I will cut short my stay here and tomorrow I will visit dear old Aunt Murdock and ask her advice. If anyone knows what is going on she will.

 

Absent without leave

Just in case anyone has been wondering why I have not been writing recently I would like to clear up a couple of small matters.

Firstly, I have not, as one of the chaps at the Club suggested, been the victim of some kind of honour killing arranged by Hope’s eldest, Emily. Mind you, I can appreciate why he might think that after the rather embarrassing events of last Monday. I have to admit that I am very much still in the dark over why a young lady who, in every other way, seems so normal could have taken against me in so violent a way.  In fact, her latest outburst embarrassed even Hope who seemed as much at a loss as I was to explain Emily’s actions.

One knows that one cannot expect to please all of the people all of the time, as Lincoln once put it, I have never encountered anyone before who I seem to ber s completely unable to please any of the time. I don’t really want to dwell on that last encounter, so let us just leave that one there.

Secondly, and this is a rumour that seems to have also originated in the Club bar, contrary to popular belief, I have not been given any kind of warning or ultimatum by dear Hope. Far from it in fact. Although she has never read my online journal, she is very happy for me to continue doing whatever it is I do.

Lastly, although the past couple of weeks have not been particularly easy for me, I have not been confined to an institution of any kind. Despite that Dasher may have been implying over the bar at the Club, I am very much of sound mind and body.

No, the real reason for my absence is a very simple and relatively boring one. You see my old chum Cambridge called upon me last Tuesday and asked if I would like to join him on a little trip he was planning to his old family estate in the highlands. Now, this time last year I would have hesitated to venture into the wilds of “bonnie” Scotland, but this year I just saw an opportunity to get away from the interminable World Cup that seems to be pervading every corner of one’s life at present. Now, I don’t want anyone to bet the impression in any way that I am some kind of grumpy old spoilsport, but it has to be said that the media’s general assumption that we are all football fanatics is rather annoying. Pages and pages of the daily newspapers have been dedicated to the damned thing and my normal television viewing has been disrupted in an unforgivable way.

So yes, the prospect of a few days at Cambridge’s Scotish country estate was most welcome. Hope and I had no immediate plans that I was aware of so I accepted the offer and very soon was safe aboard the Edinburgh bound train.

We had a wonderful few days in the picturesque highlands. I don’t see as much of old Cambridge as I used to and it was very pleasant indeed to spend a little time with the old chap and catch up on things. Of course, no matter where one goes one can never be totally removed from the humdrum of everyday life and all its cares and woes, but for my money, spending a few days on the banks of Loch Duntelchaig cames very close. The weather was near perfect and I found myself a little homesick – not for my house in town, but for my own little getaway in the heart of Hampshire. In fact, I think I will pay the old place a visit once Wimbledon is out of the way.

Anyway, I arrived back a couple of days ago only to find my absence noticed by far more people than I had expected. I must say I was quite touched by everyone’s concern until I realised that I had left in such haste that I appear to have overlooked the need to tell anyone where I was going.

Whilst for most – the chaps at the Club certainly – my absence would have been of little consequence, it seems to have been felt most keenly by dear Hope who, I am almost embarrassed to admit, I forgot to tell of my last minute plans. She was, as one would expect, extremely annoyed at what she called my thoughtlessness. In my defence, and I accept it may be a poor one, I have become used to doing my own thing and have still to come to terms with the idea that there is someone who might need to be consulted or at the very least be informed of my decisions. Rest assured, that lesson has been well and truly learned.

 

 

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.

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.

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.