A busy start to the new year

After a very poor start to the new year, things have begun to brighten up a little in the Dimbelby-Smyth household. Dorothy has secured herself a small role in a show of some kind due to be staged in London next month. I am not sure exactly what it is but she is quite excited about it. I spoke to Aunt Murdock on Monday and she is sounding much like her old self again. Obviously, she is going to have to slow down a little but she sounds much better than she did at Christmas.

And, to top it all, I have heard back from the insurance company about my poor old Bently. thankfully the old girl is built like a tank so the damage is mainly superficial. That said though, it is still going to take a couple of weeks for the repairs to be completed. But then again, quality and craftsmanship can’t be rushed. I will just have to be patient.

Albert is still rather upset about the whole thing. He has never been involved in an accident before and, despite my constant reassurances that he is in no way to blame, he seems to feel responsible for the damage inflicted on my dear old car. If it is anyone’s fault it is the driver of the delivery vehicle that hit us, although I understand that he is denying this. I personally have no desire to get involved in all the arguments and who is or isn’t to blame, I am only too pleased to leave that in the hands of my brokers. Personally, I just want my old car back.

One of the most unexpected consequences of being involved I what they term a road traffic accident is the pressure to make a claim for injury or losses, even if there aren’t any. I think that most people will agree that I am a fairly tolerant man – there are not many things that really make me angry, but this modern-day obsession with apportioning blame and pursuing ridiculous claims is one of them. I have often heard the phrase “where there is blame, there is a claim” and I never really understood what it meant until now. From what I hear from the chaps down at the Club, this culture for claiming compensation for even the most trivial of incidents is costing insurance companies, and so consequently yours truly, an absolute fortune. And as some of them have business interests in the insurance industry one has to believe what they say. I mean, it makes sense, doesn’t it? If the commpanies are paying out untold thousands of pounds in compensation, that that will mean higher premiums for the rest of us. I do not pretend to understand how the insurance industry works – all that underwriting and so on just confuses me – but even I can see the logic in that.

I believe that several companies have already attempted to make contact with me regarding my “injuries”. It is a good job they didn’t come through directly to me I can tell you. I would have given them a piece of my mind and sent them off with a flea in their ear, make no mistake about that.

Now don’t get me wrong, where there is a genuine case I am all in favour of victims receiving their just compensation, but this idea that one is somehow owed something I find rather offensive. I was pleased to note that many of my chums at the Club are of the same mind. As far as I am concerned, at this moment in time, my most pressing concern is the return of my Bentley.

This week I have spent three mornings in the office making good my promise to be more involved in the family business. And I must say that it is all much more complicated than I had at first thought. Not that I was under an illusion over the complexity of the family’s affairs. Generations of wheeling and dealing have left few avenues for investment untrodden. I am sure that with the help of Miss Drayton and Aunt Murdock I will learn enough to enable to steer this somewhat ponderous ship into a bright and prosperous future. However, I suspect that many of the various managers are expecting my endeavours to fall a little short. I can’t blame them if they do. My record with the firm hasn’t exactly been glittering. Working under my father I made a lot of mistakes, which is why he left the running of the family’s affairs to Aunt Murdock. He never had much faith in me, and looking back I can understand why. I am not a natural when it comes to business and financial affairs, but I am determined to do my best this time around. After all, I am a little older and more determined than I was I was in my twenties.

On Friday I was going to call on Hope again but decided instead to call her on the telephone. I have never been comfortable trying to hold conversations over the telephone; one never knows quite what the other person is doing or who they are with. I know it doesn’t trouble most people, but I always feel much happier when I can actually see the person I am talking to. But since I have had very little success when trying to visit her in person, and since the unfortunate events of my previous visit, I decided that it was much safer to call instead. As it happens, Hope was available and seemed genuinely pleased to hear from me. She could only speak to me briefly but we have agreed to meet for lunch next Tuesday, which is very agreeable to me. I think I will take somewhere quiet and intimate as I have a few things I would like to chat with her about, not least being Simon. I don’t know if she has seen him recently but I feel that if she does have any intentions towards him she needs to be made aware of his track record as far as women and relationships are concerned.

Yesterday I spent the evening with my old pal Dorchester and his family. they have a very nice little house south of the river where I spent many a pleasant weekend in my youth. Having known the family all of my life I find time spent with them much like being with family. One can relax and be one’s self in the company of people who have lived with one through the good times and the bad. We were joined by Dorchester’s two sisters, Clara and Emily. Clara is just getting over a particularly acrimonious divorce whilst Emily is visiting from abroad. At the moment she is living in Germany where she works in some capacity for the European Union. I think she is a researcher, but I may have got that wrong. We had a very pleasant evening, catching up on recent events and reminiscing about some of Mine and Dorchester’s little adventures when we were on holiday from school. Clara reminded me of a time when the four of us decided to take a boat onto the Serpentine, only to capsize the thing after becoming a little too boisterous. I think we all developed nasty colds and Clara insists that she has never been on a boat since. Half in jest I suggested that I take her back to the scene of the crime once the lake reopens in the spring. To my surprise, she said she would love to, providing I agreed to behave myself!

During the evening I asked Dorchester about Anne. He was a little coy, I suspect because he didn’t want to say anything in front of his sisters, but from what he did say, it seems that he has seen her a couple of times since Christmas. I must say that I was delighted with this news. Anne is a really wonderful young lady much more suitable than that American he was seeing until recently. I am not sure his parents are aware f this new relationship; they seem to be under the impression that he can make things up with Annabelle. From my point of view, he is much better off without her and I hope that his new relationship with Anne works out. I am sure his family will all like her.

I have no plans for today other than visiting the Club this evening after dinner here with Dorothy and Angela. In fact, Dorothy is cooking and has told me to “expect the unexpected”, whatever that is supposed to mean. I just hope it is nothing too continental or spicy. I do enjoy Dorothy’s cuisine, but there have been occasions where her dishes have been a little too hot for me. Anyway, I had better go and prepare myself. There should be just enough time for a snifter of the old Scotish firewater and a glance through the newspapers.

Not a very good start to the year

I have to say that 2018 has not begun auspiciously for me. New Year’s Eve itself was much as I’d imagined it would be. I joined the chaps at the Club for a few celebratory drinks and we saw the old year out in good style. Most of the old guard were there, in body if nothing else. From what I saw, most of them were asleep long before midnight and should really have been tucked up in bed with their cocoa. Those who did manage to stay awake joined us at the bar in time to hear Big Ben herald in the new year.

We all have hopes that each new year will bring us better luck, health or prosperity than the one before. Some of the chaps were talking about gym memberships, diets and abstinence, but we all know that they will either have forgotten their resolutions before morning or will have discarded them before the end of January.

Anyway, I left the Club around 1 o’clock, hoping to flag down a taxi. This it turns out was my first mistake. I should have arranged to have old Arthur pick me up but I had given him the night off. Normally taxis are fairly easy to get, even at that time, but on this particular occasions, probably due to it being New Year, there were none to be had. The one thing that there was no shortage of was drunken revellers, tumbling out off every bar and club and making a damned nuisance of themselves. In the end, I had to walk all the way to Piccadilly before I could secure myself a taxi. By the time I arrived home it was almost 2 o’clock and I was not happy at all.

Whether it was due to the inclement weather, the drink or something else entirely, I awoke Monday afternoon feeling more than a little unwell. Now, I am not normally one for letting minor sniffles and colds get the better of me, but for once, it knocked me right out. In fact, I was so ill that I didn’t leave my bedroom for the whole day and only did so on Tuesday because I was getting unimaginably bored of just laying there, staring at the ceiling and feeling sorry for myself. Dorothy tells me that an awful lot of people have been struck down with colds and flu over the festive period, so I am not alone. Not that that is reassuring in any way. When one is unwell, there is little comfort in knowing that others are also suffering.

By Wednesday I was well enough to be out and about, so decided that I would make my way to Hope’s gallery. From previous experience, I knew that there was little chance of me managing to entice her away for lunch, but I did hold out some hope of at least having a little chat. When I last saw her she had been leaving the old country pile with that rogue Simon and I was keen to be reassured that he had not in any way upset her. Anyway, to cut a long story short, it seems that she had in fact made arrangements to meet Simon that very afternoon and could only spare me a few minutes before she had to leave. From what she told me, I gather that he cancelled his prior plans for the new year to spend it with Hope and Charlotte. Needless to say, this was not the news I had wanted to hear. Simon’s reputation is not a good one and I was very surprised that Hope had been taken in by his insincere charms.

Had Charlotte been at the gallery I would have attempted to talk to her, but she was, apparently, at home working on some project or other, so, on leaving the gallery I made my way to the Club for some lunch and a few drinks. At least, that was my plan. What I hadn’t planned for, and indeed never could have imagined happening, was that as we made our way out of Chelsea, Arthur and I were involved in what was a minor accident involving ourselves and a large delivery truck. I say minor only because no one was seriously hurt, but the damage inflicted on my dear old Bentley was not inconsiderable. In the end, both vehicles had to be towed away and I decided at that point to simply return home. I have to say Arthur was rather shaken by the whole affair and I had to send him home. Obviously, I still have the Daimler to get around in, but the Bentley is an old family favourite and I am very anxious about its future.

Yesterday (Thursday) was a rather quiet day. I awoke feeling stiff and rather sorry for myself so remained indoors for the entire day. Dorothy fussed about administering various remedies, even at one point suggesting a massage to ease my aching back. Nigel came round and we did a little more work on the ever-growing family tree, but otherwise, I didn’t do very much at all.

I am still not feeling at my best today but did manage to get to the Club for a very nice lunch with a few of the chaps. It seems that most of them will be returning to work on Monday, so we made the most of having one last afternoon together before we return to the old grindstone. Over lunch, the subject of resolutions came up again. Whilst I have already made my views on such things well known before, I was intrigued to hear what others were planning to start or give up. For most of them, next week will see the beginning of a new health and fitness regime, although I very much doubt that many of them will stick it out for more than a week or two. They have no staying power. When pressed, I suggested that I might give more attention to business matters this year. That at least is something I think I can do and, in many ways, actually, need to do. Aunt Murdock is not getting any younger so no doubt I will have to take on more responsibility over the coming months.

I think that for me it is going to have to be an early night. It has been a long day, and not the best of weeks, what with the crash, feeling ill and Hope’s involvementt with Simon. Hopefully, tomorrow will mark the beginning of something better.

 

 

No time for resolutions

It is that time of year when one is expected to make a resolution, things one wants to give up or to start. If I am being totally honest I have to say that I have never held with the whole new year resolution thing and I don’t understand why people bother. After all, the majority of resolutions made tonight will be broken by the end of February.

My mother was always very keen on this kind of thing. She would often press me to either give up something she saw as a bad habit or to take on some new project or other. It goes without saying that I have never kept any of them. But then again, neither did she.

I can’t help thinking that the middle of the winter is probably not the best time to be thinking of making fresh starts. New Year is just a fluke of the calendar; it lands in the middle of winter with two very cold and wet months still to come. As far as I can see January is a very bad time to be making life-changing decisions. If one is going to make big decisions then maybe the best time for doing it is the spring. At least then there are the warmer summer months to help brighten one’s outlook.

This evening I am going down to the Club to join the chaps for our regular New Year celebrations. I had hoped that Hope would join me as my guest but since she left the house with Simon I haven’t been able to speak to her. As it is I am sure I will have a great evening, as usual, enjoying a drink or three with friends. There are worse ways to see out the old year.

Christmas is just around the corner

Christmas is a special time of year, whether one is religious or not. It is a time for family and friends, for celebrating our bonds and our good fortune. It is also a time for reflection. As we approach the end of another year, we get an opportunity to pause and look back at the things we have to be grateful for. It is also to give a thought to those who are not so fortunate. There are lots of people who have no family, few friends and little to be joyful about. I may not be able to do anything to help these poor people, but I will spare a thought and a prayer for them.

I for one have had a very good year and as we make our final preparations for the big day tomorrow, I can’t help but feel blessed to be sharing it with some of my closest and dearest friends and family. In deciding to spend Christmas at the old family home I wanted to rekindle some of the spirit that made my childhood Christmases so special. My mother was always so excited about this time of year and always put so much effort into making it special. Although my parents died in the summer months, it is at Christmas that I remember my mother the most. This year I have decided to make a special effort, but it would not have been possible without the help of dear Dorothy who seems to know exactly what needs to be done. Not only has she taken on the cooking duties, she has organised a party for the estate staff later this afternoon that I am sure will go down very well. And with a little help from myself and Angela, she has made a wonderful job of decorating the main part of the house. We even have the most enormous Christmas tree in the hall. I have no idea where it came from but I have long since learned not to question Dorothy, just to let her get on with things. The house looks almost as good as I remember it as a child.

Talking of great friends, I had lunch yesterday with Anne and she has accepted my invitation to join us on Boxing Day. She is spending Christmas Day at home with her children, but they are going to their father’s on Boxing Day so she is free to spend the day with us. That will be nice. I do find Anne to be not only very attractive but also very good company. She is very easy to talk to and seems genuinely interested in the things I have to say. She is also very keen on preserving the local heritage and has become active in the local campaign to stip proposed housing developments in the immediate area.

Almost everyone is here: Aunt Murdock and Uncle George, Dorchester, Dorothy and Angela, young Nigel and my Aunt Sara. My old school chum Simon may be joining us at some point and I am hoping that Hope will also be here, but for now, we have a splendid gathering and I am really looking forward to tomorrow.  Dasher has also said he will make an appearance some time during the week, but as is usual with him, he couldn’t be more specific.

Merry Christmas.

 

Friends and Hope

It has been a very quiet weekend here in old London town. Nigel was due to visit but was held up on business, Dorothy and Angela had gone on a last minute trip to Paris, and Dorchester seems to have taken to his bed. Even Dasher and Cambridge were out of town, although I am not sure where or why. In the end, I spent most of the weekend at the Club, but with mainly just the old guard for company, it just wasn’t the same.

I like to think of myself as a fairly independent person, someone who can manage very well alone. But this weekend I have begun to realise just how much I do rely on my friends. But I suppose that we all do. Friends are a very important of who we are. And like too many things in life, it is more about quality than quantity. I may not have any experience of social media, but I am aware of its impact on young people and the obsession with having as many friends and followers as possible. I don’t hold with all this idea that you can collect friends online like some people collect stamps. Real friends are much more important. Just how important one doesn’t always realise until they are not around.

Talking about how important friends can be, this morning I made a little time to call my friend Hope and invite her to join me for lunch one day this week. I am delighted to say that she has agreed to meet me on Thursday when I have finished at the office. I am particularly pleased as I would like to ask her to join my little gathering at the old family homestead over Christmas. I am aware that she may already have made arrangements, but faint heart and all that.

It was only a very short conversation but a very welcome one. I find it quite strange just how much I have come to value her friendship and her opinions. I also get along very well with young Charlotte, but have yet to meet her older daughter; I think her name is Emily, but I may be wrong.

Dorothy and Angela will be back from Paris tomorrow so things will get back to normal. Or at least, the kind of normal that I have got used to.

No better place to be

I was delighted when Anne accepted my invitation to stay with me while she is in London this week. It may seem rather odd to invite her here as I haven’t known her very long, but we really do get on so well. Her trip is a mix of business and pleasure: she is meeting a couple of potential clients for her interior design business and also doing some Christmas shopping. She has also spent the last two evenings at the theatre which is something she loves to do apparently. I suppose if you are a fan of the theatre then there is no better place to be than in London.

What with her meetings, shopping and theatre trips we haven’t had much opportunity to spend much time together, which is fine. I have had a rather busy week myself what with extra time spent at the office and preparing for the Christmas holidays. December is one of those months that seem to fly by with far too little time to accomplish everything one sets out to do.

She has been in town since Tuesday and today we managed to fit in a very pleasant lunch together. We met at a lovely little bistro I know on the Strand, close to the Savoy. It is one of the few that prides itself on its traditional British fayre. One can dine on cuisine from all corners of the globe in London. There is no shortage of Japanese, Mexican, Italian or Indian, but trying to find good quality British food is harder than one might think. As it was, I enjoyed a perfectly prepared Fillet Steak, washed down with a particularly smooth Shiraz, while Anne settled for the Dover Sole and a glass of Chablis.

From what she told me her new business is doing exceptionally well. She has managed to secure two very prestigious contracts this week and says she now has almost too much work which is remarkably good in this difficult economic climate. I keep hearing people talk about austerity and a stagnant economy but I must say that from my point of, things have never been better. I know that we have had to make some changes in the business with regards to staffing, all very regrettable, but as things stand at the moment we seem to be doing rather well. Anne is very happy with the way things are going at the present time, with both her business and her private life being on the up, as it were.

We had just left the restaurant and were striding down the Strand when who should we bump into but young Charlotte. I have to admit that I didn’t recognise her at first as she was so well wrapped up against the cold. I introduced Anne but it seems they had already met when Anne had visited Hope’s gallery a few weeks ago. I asked Charlotte if she wanted to join us for drinks, but she declined saying she had a previous engagement. It was a shame as I do enjoy Charlotte’s company, she is such a pleasant and lively young woman.

Anne is out this evening meeting with friends and will be returning home tomorrow morning. I had thought she might have stayed over the weekend but it seems she has work to do and people to see. I suppose that is the price one has to pay for being a successful entrepreneur.

I am off to the Club now for a light supper and a drink or four with Dorchester. His girlfriend has not returned from America yet and I think he is becoming a little worried. He has spoken to her but apparently, she has been a little evasive and noncommittal. reading between the lines I believe Dorchester to be a little worried about their relationship. I expect this evening will be one spent trying to bolster the poor chap’s flagging self-esteem. I do not relish the role of Agony Uncle, but he is one of my oldest friends so I will do what I can to reassure him.

Spoiling Christmas

 

Well, it is now December so I suppose it is time to start thinking about Christmas. I know that some people have been preparing for some time already, but as far as I am concerned, anything done before December is simply much too early. I have heard that there are people who decorate their homes in November, but why on Earth would anyone want to do that?

Shops are the worst offenders of course. I had a need to call into Harrods at the beginning of September and having lost my way a little, walked straight into some kind of Santa’s Grotto. It was very disconcerting, being dressed for summer but surrounded by Christmas decorations and fake snow. One can hardly move around the City without coming face to face with either a snowman, an elf or Father Christmas himself.

To me Christmas is a time for children; there is something magical about it that is wasted on adults. At least, the adults that I know. I remember my own childhood Christmases spent with family and friends at the old house. It was a very special time and one of the few occasions where I could guarantee having both of my parents around. My mother always got very excited and put an awful lot of time and effort into making it perfect. My father was a little less enthusiastic but he indulged my mother and I and he always took part in whatever games or activities we came up with. Not always with as much enthusiasm as I would wish, but you can’t have everything.

These days I don’t really get too involved in the all the rigmarole of Christmas. As I say, Christmas is really a time for the little ones and as I don’t have any, there seems little point in going to all the trouble. Of course, we have decorations and a tree, but I try to keep it all within sensible bounds. And what we do have is all indoors. I have never seen the point of all these outdoor lights and sparkly decorations, which seem to get bigger and brighter every year.

Now, I don’t want anyone reading this to get the wrong impression. I have nothing against Christmas. I am not some kind of later day Scrooge. I do enjoy the festivities and the parties, but I really do feel that the over-commercialisation is spoiling the whole thing. There is far too much greed involved with far too much emphasis on spending money, very much at the expense of the spiritual side of the season.

I suppose I will have to make a decision very soon about how I am going to spend Christmas this year. I generally spend the big day itself with old Mad Duck and uncle George, sometimes at their place, sometimes here. Every now and again though I return to the old country pile with friends and family in tow. I think that this year I will invite Dorothy to join me in the country. She hasn’t seen the old place for simply ages and I am sure she would love the atmosphere. Obviously, I would also invite Angela as well, unless she has other plans.

That’s another thing about Christmas these days – everyone is always rushing around trying to visit relatives they never see from one Yuletide to the next. I see very little point in spending time with people one hardly knows and don’t really like, just because it’s Christmas and you are related. I want to spend time with the people closest and dearest to me, not simply to fulfil an annual obligation.

Of course, not everyone gets to enjoy Christmas. There are numerous people who have to work over the festive period. I do feel so sad for them. It can’t be pleasant having to work as if it were a normal day while the rest of us enjoy all the festivities and food. I suppose that is one good thing about me spending the holiday in the country,  at least Mrs Kaczka and Arnold get to have a short break. I am sure they will both appreciate and make the most of the opportunity.

And I suppose I really ought to decide on gifts for people, but it is not easy. After all, many of my closest family and friends are hardly in need of anything, except maybe a hair transplant for Uncle George. I like to think that I am very good when it comes to buying gifts. Everyone says how good they are. I must speak to Miss Drayton about it tomorrow when I get to the office.