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.

Aunt Murdock sets out her plans

After a busy fortnight at Wimbledon and Royal Birkdale it is back to business, at least as far as my dear old Aunt Murdock is concerned. I received one of her summonses on my return from the Open, and it would be a braver man than I to ignore such a request (I use that word in the loosest possible way).

Anyway, old Mad Duck had something of an agenda when I met up with her yesterday in the rather fine surroundings of the Dorchester. The Dorchester is one my favourite meeting places, I am rather fond of their lunches and they keep the most amazing wine cellar. After some pleasantries and half a bottle of a very fine Claret, conversation naturally turned to family matters. I say naturally, but in truth it was Aunt Murdock gently steering things that way. She has an uncanny knack for getting people to talk about things they really don’t want to.

Now, I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t want to talk about my family. I am actually rather fond of some of them, but once Aunt Murdock starts driving conversation down that particular avenue, it can only go one way. And despite my best efforts and a bottle of claret, there was no way to derail this particular verbal juggernaut.

Lady Murdock has several bees in her bonnet that she likes to harangue me with on a regular basis. Sometimes it’s about my life style, sometimes about money, but most often she gets all maternal on me and starts pestering me about marriage. She believes that the one thing I need above all else is a nice young wife who can push out a couple of children. Personally, I can’t think of any more dreary or off putting than having a brood of children getting under my feet all day.

Anyway, it seems that the old dear has been giving my nuptials rather more thought than I have and she has drawn up a short-list of eligible ladies she wants me to meet. I must admit that I was rather aghast at the notion that I should prepare to meet each of the ladies on her list over the coming months. Would you believe she has even arranged to have me invited to a number of social events so as to maximise my opportunities.

I can tell you I was rather angry at all this interference. I mean, a chap has a right to decide for himself where he goes to and who he sees. No woman has the right to make those decisions for me. That is just not on.

Of course, I am not foolish enough to actually say this out loud. Good heavens no, I am not that silly. I will just have to go along with her plans and hope that this time I somehow manage to find the next Lady Dimbelby-Smyth. After all, being married doesn’t have to mean I have to make any substantial changes, and it might actually be rather fun.

Anyway, my first engagement, so to speak, is a little soirée being organised by some old school pals of mine in a couple of weeks. Mad Duck says it is some kind of charity fundraiser on the Thames. Sounds frightful, but at least it’s close to home. In the meantime, it is, hopefully, all back to normal at Chez Dimbelby-Smyth. Tomorrow I need to go out and re-stock my wine cellar. I think I will invite Dasher to join me – he has great taste.

Foreign bride update

I wasn’t going to write anything today, it being a wet Monday after a busy weekend, but as I had some interesting news last night I just had to pass it on.

Actually, it’s not so much news as an important update.

You see, last night I was at the Club for my usual Sunday evening snifter, when who should walk in than old Dorchester. Now, you may remember that last week I was aghast to hear that Dorchester was to be married to a foreign lady he had met on the internet. We heard the news from Neighsmith, the Club’s old retainer who had always been something of an oracle when it comes to knowing what is going on. Well, in this case, it seems that dear old Neighsmith has been either misled or he has misheard something. In any case, it was a great relief to hear, from the man himself, that he is definitely not intending to marry anyone at the moment.

In fact, he has engaged the services of a Filipino as a cook, although she is actually from Wembley, and not Manila. Apparently, she is an excellent cook, about 40 years old and over 16 stone. He recruited her through the internet which is probably where the confusion arose.

I can’t over state how relieved we all were to hear that we had been mistaken. It seems that Dorchester is seeing a foreign lady. She is an American heiress and he has been seeing her for about three months now, which is quite a long time for him.

Never-the-less, it is slightly worrying. It is not like Neighsmith to make a mistake like that and a few of us have become concerned about him. When I asked around at the club, nobody could actually say how long he has been working there. I mean, he must well past 70. He has been a fixture of the place for longer than even old Grantly can remember, and he is in his 90s! We will just have to keep an eye on him.

So, we can all relax a little now. I have to admit that the thought of one of my old friends marrying so far beneath him was a worry for us all. I am sure that some of these people are very respectable on their own circle, but the idea we would be expected to welcome one of them into our own, was too much for some of the members. That’s not to say we are all comfortable with his relationship with his American lady friend. We all know what they can be like; they have no idea of class and only care about money. That’s not to say that money isn’t important. It is. But you can’t buy class and you can’t buy breeding.

Apparently, we will get an opportunity to meet this particular American as he says he will be taking her with him to Wimbledon next week. We will see how that goes.

And in case you are wondering why I am not at Wimbledon at the moment, I had planned to be there for the whole two weeks, but I had a snag with my accommodation so have decided to just go for the last week. Which is probably for the best anyway as I am feeling a little under the weather today and may have to rest for a day or two.

Shock news for a Friday night

Before I say anything else, I have to admit to being a little the worst for wear today. It was a rather long and lively evening at the Club and I am not at my best this afternoon. I can’t help feeling I must be getting old when a drink or three over the odds leaves me feeling a little delicate.

I was at the Club when one of the old retainers sidled over to me and passed on the juiciest bit of gossip. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not one for idle chitter-chatter and would normally have shushed the man away, but as his news involved one of my particular friends, I just had to hear him out.

Well, it seems that my old chum Dorchester has gone and got himself engaged to be married.

I know! It’s quite a surprise. I almost dropped my glass of Glenlivet when I heard. The strange thing about it is that I only saw him at the weekend, just before we left Ascot, and the blighter never said a thing.

Sure, I had heard he was getting very close to a young foreign lady, but I had no idea it was serious. Who would have thought it hey? The scourge of the female dorms brought to heel by a foreigner.

Mind you, he isn’t the first to fall for their exotic charms and even more exotic ways. I’ve seen it all before, and it always ends badly. I mean, these foreign women just don’t understand our ways, and, why should they? Even European women can be trouble on the matrimony front, but the further east you go the more trouble you are asking for.

And that is what worries me about Dorchester’s proposed nuptials. You see, according to old Neighsmith, the lady in question is from the far east – the Philippines he believes. We all know that Filipinoes aren’t for marrying. They make excellent domestic help, apparently, but you should never consider marrying them. That just isn’t on.

Neighsmith has it on good authority that his new-found lady love has actually come to him through some kind of online agency. I have heard that online shopping is all the rage at the moment, but I hadn’t realised you could actually buy a bride this way. Of course, Neighsmith could very well be wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time the poor chap has grasped the wrong end of the stick and got his hands messy.

But why would a decent chap like Dorchester want to marry a Filipino for heaven’s sake? I mean, by all means take one as a domestic or whatever, but not as a wife. It is a ghastly idea and I do hope it is all a bit of a misunderstanding. If it is true than I really do worry about the future for our great country. I for one have no intention of heading down this particular path. Heaven forbid!

Of course it goes without saying that I am not a racist. Anyone who knows me will tell you that. It is just that we need to keep up standards or what will become of us all? I think it is safe to say that all the chaps are of the same mind as myself over this. I am hoping to see Dorchester whilst at Wimbledon this year. Hopefully then I can get to the bottom of this.

In the meantime I think it is time I called it a day and got myself ready for the evening. Aunt Murdock has invited me to the theatre to see some play or another. Not sure what it is, but I have to keep the old dear happy as she has her hands on the old purse strings so to speak.