Hopeless at relationships

Since Sunday afternoon I have been thinking a great deal about Hope Greenwood. Dorothy has been having her little chats with me, and even Aunt Murdock went out of her way to visit me yesterday afternoon to find out how things went. They are both convinced that there is something of a romantic nature between Hope and me, but I am not sure of Hope’s feelings on the matter.

Yes, we had a great afternoon on Sunday and I learned a lot about Hope’s past and even a little about her hopes for the future, but I remain as uncertain as ever about how she sees me. It doesn’t help that I am not sure of my own feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely fond of Hope; she has become one of my closest friends. I am just worried that having been single for so long I may not be the best person for her to be in a relationship with. And I am a little concerned about the way that Emily sees me. I would hate to come between them.

But relationships are not the only thing on my mind at the moment. You see, I received a telephone call from Mr Rotherby, my Estate Manager, about some comings and goings on the estate. He tells me he is a little worried about Aunt Sara, although he was somewhat vague over the particulars. He tells me that he has also been approached regarding the sale of part of the estate for a housing development. He knows my feelings on the matter but has asked if I could speak to the gentlemen concerned as they are taking very little notice of him.

So I have decided that I will have to pop along to the old family homestead tomorrow and see for myself what is going on. It might be nice to have a weekend away from the city and I may drop by to see some of the neighbours. I have already told Anne I will be down so she is going to join me for dinner tomorrow night.

 

Sunday Lunch with Hope

Last week invited Hope to join me yesterday for one of Mrs Kaczka’s renowned Sunday roasts. I have eaten roast diners in many respected and very fine establishments, but I have yet to find any that can compare to Mrs Kaczka’s. That woman is a venerable wizard in the kitchen, turning her hand to almost any kind of food with seemingly magical ease. Even Dorothy, who is herself a very good cook and makes the most wonderful Italian dishes, cannot compete when it comes to the traditional Sunday Roast. It may be a simple meal, but I believe that is part of its charm. Many places I visit try to make something special out of it, adding unnecessary frills and tastes, whereas Mrs Kaczka keeps to traditional recipes. For a Polish lady, she has an amazing grasp of traditional English cooking.

The main purpose behind my invitation to lunch was not to show off my housekeeper’s venerable culinary talents, prodigious as they are, but to ensure that, for once, I could count on having her undivided attention in a relaxed atmosphere. You see, I have been in a bit of a quandary over Hope in recent weeks. On one hand, we have a very good friendship, one I have come to appreciate and depend on a great deal and I would not want to spoil it in any way. On the other hand, I can’t help wondering if our relationship might not be heading for something a little more intimate. Dorothy and Aunt Murdock both seem to think that there is something more, but I am not exactly the most experienced chap when it comes to things like that. I am honest enough with myself to admit I am actually quite shy when it comes to the ladies and have never been very good at understanding my own feelings, let alone those of others. So I had hoped that a quiet leam, at home, with just the two of us might help me to find out Hope’s feelings on this particular subject. Exactly how I would achieve this, I had no idea.

Dorothy and Angela were to be out for the day and I was not expecting any other visitors, so everything was set up nicely for Hope’s arrival at 1 o’clock. But, as with all my plans so far this year, it did not work out quite as I expected.

I should have realised things were going slightly off course when Mrs Kaczka came running up to me a little after midday to say that all the power had gone off in the kitchen. Now, I will be the first to admit that dealing with crises involving domestic energy supplies is not one of my particular skills. Although I had a pretty good idea that we could rectify the problem by doing something with the fuses, I had no idea of either where the fuses were, or what I would do if I found them. Arthur always deals with that sort of thing and he was not there. I tried to telephone him but presume he was out with his family as I could not get a reply. At that point, all I could think to do was to call an electrician, but again, Arthur would normally have dealt with that so I had no idea who to contact. With no immediate solution to the power problem, which did seem to be isolated to the ground floor, my next thought was about the lunch itself. Should I try to book a table somewhere so that Hope and I would at least get something to eat and a chance to chat or should I postpone our date until another time?

In the end, I did neither, deciding instead to telephone Hope and see what she thought, which turned out to be the best decision I had made so far that morning. Not only did she calmly undertake to arrange an electrician to visit, she also announced that she would be there very soon and would bring a little something with her. I was so relieved we would still get our afternoon together that I never thought to ask what the “little something” might be.

Once this had been arranged I felt there was little point in Mrs Kaczka staying any longer as it was obvious to me that she would not be doing any further cooking. So I told her that once she had cleared up she could go home as I returned to my study to wait for Hope to arrive.

A little before 1 o’clock the doorbell rang but instead of greeting Hope at the door, who should be stood there looking for all the world like he had slept in a hedge for a week but my old chum Dasher. He had that look on his face I had last seen when Dorchester told me that Annabelle, his American girlfriend, had left him. Now, I knew Dasher didn’t have a current inamorata so I was rather taken aback when he announced, there and then, on my doorstep, that he was heartbroken, he had been rejected by the love of his life and could never love again! Of course, I had to invite the poor chap inside, even though it was actually the last thing I wanted to do. Once I had managed to steer him into the study and poured a shot of brandy down him, my thoughts returned to Hope, how it was beginning to look like my plans had completely fallen apart, and through no fault of my own.

Dasher explained to me that he had met a certain young lady at one of the casino’s he regularly visits a couple of weeks ago and they had formed an intimate bond almost immediately. When I asked why he had not mentioned her on any of our recent meetings, he said that she had asked to keep their relationship a secret for the time being. Being totally besotted as he obviously was, he did not think to question the lady’s motives for this and had proceeded to fall head over heels. Everything seemed to be going well until last night when, out with friends at a party somewhere in the West End, he saw his new paramour on the arms of another man. Well, to cut a long story short, it seems that his new love was married. Dasher was just a fling for her, hence her desire to keep the whole thing a secret. It a sounded very sordid, more like a bad film plot or one of those books women read on trains than real life. I felt really sorry for the poor chap, but what could I do to help? Hope was due any minute, the electrician would be there at some point and Dorothy wasn’t around to come to my rescue – she would know exactly what to do and say in this kind of situation.

Well, as I am sure you can imagine, after all of this the afternoon was not the one I had planned. Hope arrived just ahead of the electrician a little after quarter past one. The power problem was repaired in no time at all. Apparently, all we had needed to do was “trip the switch” – whatever that means. So we now had power back.

Hope’s “little something” turned out to be a sort of picnic. She had been quite confident that the power issue would be resolved so she had brought with her a couple of prepared meals that she had already made for Charlotte. She had planned to heat up in the microwave but I don’t have one, or if I do we couldn’t find it, so she had to use the oven instead. This actually gave us a little time to see if we could sort out Dasher and, hopefully, send him on his way. But, like everything else at the moment, that was a forlorn hope and it began to look like Dasher was going to be with us for the rest of the afternoon. Hope was actually really good with him. She seemed to know all the right things to say and I think that having a woman talking to him seemed to help. The silver lining came when she suggested he go upstairs and try to get a little sleep. He readily agreed to this, leaving Hope and me to enjoy the meals she had prepared. The food itself was very tasty, but Charlotte is a vegetarian, so it was not what I am used to at all. That said though, I found the flavours very interesting, although I could not tell you what my meal actually was.

Despite everything, we had a jolly good afternoon together. We talked about our friends and our lives, about our ambitions and hopes for the future. As always I was captivated by her smile and the way her face seemed to light up when she laughed. I have always found Hope very easy to talk to and found myself opening up more than I had planned to about my problems with my father, my love for my mother, and my anxieties about taking over the family business from my Aunt Murdock. Of course, Hope knows the old Mad Duck very well, so knows of her recent illness and is as worried as I am about her general state of health. Hope was equally as candid about her relationships with her late husband and her two daughters. I think she has coped amazingly well with the loss and becoming a single mother. Obviously, Emily has her own life to lead, but Charlotte was heartbroken by her father’s sudden death and has struggled to come to terms with it. I have to say that in all my dealings with Charlotte I have found her to be a very strong and determined young lady.

By the time Dasher rejoined us a little after 5 o’clock I have to admit that I had quite forgotten he was there. He was full of apologies for gatecrashing our afternoon and for being such a mess. Of course, we both said there was nothing to apologise for and Hope even busied herself in the kitchen preparing the poor chap something to eat. In the end, the three of us stayed in the lounge and chatted about all kinds of things, but avoiding any mention of relationships, girlfriends or anything else we thought might upset him.

Dasher eventually left about eight, Hope shortly after. This was not the afternoon I had planned but I suppose, the way things have gone lately it was probably the best I could hope for. At least we had had a couple of hours to chat and relax which I am very pleased about. Whether or not I understand our relationship any better I simply could not say, but I do know Hope much better than I did.

I had thought I might pop down to the Club, but decided against it. I had had quite a busy day and decided that the best thing to do was to relax with a single malt.

It’s a family affair!

I had lunch with dear old Aunt Murdock today, and what an event that turned out to be. You see, I haven’t seen her for a couple of weeks and so have not had the opportunity, until today, to tell her about Dorothy.

To be quite frank, I had been putting it off. I was rather hoping that someone else would let her know how things stood. Actually, I need not have worried. She may be an old stuck-in-the-mud, but it turns out she was quite alright about the whole thing. Admittedly she was disappointed that her attempt to match me up with Dorothy or her friend Angela was fruitless, but she took it all very well. In fact, she already seems to have another eligible young lady lined up for me to meet.

But today’s meeting was all about business. You see, it seems that the old dear has actually been quite ill recently, not that one would guess from her demeanour, and she wants me to take more of an active interest in the family business. Now, I love the old codger dearly, but she doesn’t seem to understand that I have tried to do the whole running the family business thing and it just didn’t work. In fact, my father practically had me frog-marched out of the building, all over some misunderstanding about some missing paperwork. I mean, it is hardly my fault if one or two contracts had not been filed properly.

Since then I have stayed well away from the business side of my family’s affairs. That is, until now. According to Aunt Murdock, I am going to have to be a little more “hands on” in future as she may not be in a position to give as much time as she has been doing to either the bank or the properties.

I suppose I can see her point. She is getting on a bit and perhaps I do rely on her a little too much. Anyway, the upshot is that I am going to be spending a couple of mornings a week at the office, trying to get to grips with it all. I would like to say that it should be jolly good fun, but I am sure it will be anything but.

And to top it all, she has only gone and arranged another one of her “blind dates” for me this weekend. Apparently, we have both been invited to a small garden party organised by one of the bank’s largest investors. I am sure it will be an interminable bore, but I can’t risk upsetting Aunt Murdock right now. So, I don’t seem to have any choice but to go with her and play along with her latest attempt at matchmaking.

The thing is, I am sure I know the lady she has in mind for me. If I’m right, it is one of my Aunt Margaret’s old friends. Margaret is actually only a year older than me and I have met several of her friends, one of whom I know is currently single (she lost her husband two years ago in a car accident) and on the lookout for groom number two. If I remember rightly she is about 48 and built like a Sherman tank. Of course, I may be wrong and she may have me lined up to meet a supermodel. I wish!

Anyway, I had better have myself an early night tonight if I am going to put in a full morning’s work in the office tomorrow. I will have no more than a couple of drinks at the Club tonight. I would stay at home, but I need to speak to a couple of the chaps and it is the only place I can guarantee seeing them.

 

 

Climbing the family tree

One thing that I have noticed recently, both online (I am getting up with all the jargon now!) and on the television, is that many people are enthusiastically researching their family history.

I suppose that coming from a family like mine I am fairly lucky when it comes to looking into your ancestry. Mine is the type of family for which there are fairly extensive records, but not all of it. Certainly on my mother’s side it is all a bit of a mystery as they were mainly from trade or professional backgrounds.

And of course, you can’t always be sure that the stories one has been told, or even read, are as accurate as one might hope. After all, there are some things that families may wish to cover up to avoid scandal. Not that I think for a single moment that my family has anything worth hiding, but one never knows.

Anyway, it occurred to me that I might like to do a little research on the matter; try to find out more about my forebears and where I have come from. The problem is that I have absolutely no idea where to start. I know there are records one can search through at libraries and museums and such. It can’t be too difficult, I have seen those celebrities do it on that program, whatever it is called.

And would you believe it, just as I was pouring myself a small brandy and considering how I might go about the whole thing when who should turn up but my charming godson Nigel. Now, when it comes to things of a technological nature, I am a bit of an old dinosaur, but Nigel is a veritable wiz with that kind of thing. He was a little surprised when I mentioned my little project, but in no time at all he was on the computer and setting things up for me. And would you know, by the time he left about an hour later, I was up and running and my family tree started to take some shape.

He has promised to call back later this week to show me more about how to search online records and such. He said something about signing me up to some kind of online ancestry service or other. It is all beyond me but I am sure I will get the hang of it. After all, it is only a short time since I since I first got myself onto all this and look at me now! Whilst I admit that I am hardly an expert, I am getting quite good at all the typing and surfing.

Earlier this afternoon I had a chat with young Dorothy about the family, as it is more her side than mine I need to brush up on. She was able to fill in a few gaps so I am more than ready to get stuck in, as they say.

It seems that there is more to computers than cats and people falling over.

A friend of Dorothy

This afternoon I had arranged to meet with my cousin Dorothy and her friend Angela for a spot of lunch. The whole thing was arranged to appease my Aunt Murdock who had well and truly set us up. It is all part of her new campaign to get me married off to some worthy (and preferably wealthy) heiress or other. But this time she has failed most spectacularly.

I had invited the girls to meet me at the Savoy and was surprised when Dorothy arrived alone. When I asked where Angela was, she told me that she was far too embarrassed after what had happened on Monday. Neither of them were aware of Mad Duck’s plot to do a little matchmaking until they arrived, so were on the back foot so to speak. According to Dorothy, Aunt Murdock had asked them to join her and “a friend” with a view to discussing her future plans once her current show closes at the end of the week. She had invested quite heavily in Dorothy’s production and was disappointed to see it close early, but was already looking for the next project she might encourage Dorothy to take a part in.

Aunt Murdock and I share a love of theatre, but seldom see eye-to-eye on style or quality. I enjoy good comedies and murder mysteries, whilst she is always on the look out for serious drama, one women shows and art house projects that I simply do not understand.

Some of the chaps have suggested that I invest a little of my time and money in the theatre, but in truth I don’t really know much about what goes on behind the scenes, so to speak. Not that I think Aunt Murdock has either, but she makes up for it with great enthusiasm and a larger-than-life personality that demands attention from everyone she comes into contact with. She is a frightful force of nature my aunt.

Anyway, back to my lunch and it turns out that Angela is “a friend of Dorothy” in more ways than one!  I mean, I knew from our previous meeting (once again instigated by Mad Duck) that Dorothy was gay, so there is never going to be anything of a romantic nature between us, but what was plain to me but not mad Duck, was that Angela is gay too. In fact, Angela is Dorothy’s current girl friend. This is something that dear old Mad Duck would never even consider as a possibility, and she was completely oblivious to the obvious intimacy the two girls shared when we met them over lunch.

I had suspected as much and was not really surprised when Dorothy gave me the full story. Anyway, our little lunch engagement gave us an opportunity to make arrangements for her moving in at the weekend.

I must say that now I have had to consider the idea further, I am quite looking forward to having Dorothy around the old place. The house is a little on the large side for one person, even with staff, and it will be good to see some of it used a little more. My only concern though is the kitchen. Now, I personally hardly ever venture into the part of the house. In fact, I can’t recall the last time I went into the kitchen. After all, that is what staff are for. I know from our previous conversations that Dorothy is a very keen cook and I suspect that she will want to do her own cooking. How this will go down with old Mrs Kaczka, who looks after the house and me, I just don’t know. I do hope that they get along; I would hate to see them clash over the use of the kitchen.

Actually, Mrs Kaczka is a very fine cook indeed and I suspect that Dorothy might like to learn a thing or two about polish cuisine. Her Gulasz and Sernik are particular favourites of mine.

I am certain there will be some teething problems having someone else about the place, but I don’t expect them be unsurmountable. The biggest issue we face is Aunt Murdock’s reaction. Someone will have to tell her she was barking up the wrong tree when she thought that either Dorothy or Angela were suitable contenders to be a future bride. That will teach her to interfere with her matchmaking, but I am sure it won’t stop her.

 

 

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.