I’ll soon be home alone

I had some good news today. Well, strictly speaking, it’s not my good news, it’s Dorothy’s. She went for an audition yesterday for a part in some kind of short film. Well, this morning she received a call to tell her that she had got the part she wanted. I haven’t seen her so excited before. Apparently, it is her first part in any kind of film – she has always worked on the stage before. Anyway, filming starts next month in Scotland so she will be away for about three or four weeks. She did tell me what the film was about, but to be honest, it sounded very “arty” and I didn’t really understand it all. Dorothy will be playing a ghost of some sort, but I am not even sure about that. I am sure it will be very good and no doubt I will see it eventually.

Over a simple lunch at home, Dorothy and I had a very pleasant chat about what she would be up to in Bonnie Scotland. She tells me filming will be around Edinburgh, the only place in Scotland I have actually been to. My parents dragged me along to the Festival a couple of times when I was a small child, but I never really took to it. There were always far too many people around, and all doing all kinds of strange things I didn;t understand. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy theatre, but some of the arty-farty stuff that goes on in Edinburgh during the summer was all too much for an impressionable young man like myself.

When I think of those visits it all seems very odd. For one thing, neither of my parents were particularly keen on theatre or the arts when we were in London. We would occasionally go to see one of the bigger shows, but that was fairly infrequent and never more than a couple of times a year. But in Edinburgh, it was one shown or party after another. I suspect it was actually more about what people today call networking.

I haven’t been back to Edinburgh for many years now, although Dorchester and I did spend a few days there shortly after my parents’ accident. He had decided that I needed cheering up so he dragged me up there to spend a couple of days taking in the culture and sampling whiskies. I am not sure we saw much of what I would call culture, but we certainly did enjoy the most extensive range of single malts I have ever seen in one place. Maybe I ought to go back soon. Talking to Dorothy reminded me that Hope was in Edinburgh last weekend. What a small world.

Anyway, Dorothy will be heading North of the Border in a couple of weeks. She made it very clear that before she goes she wants to “sort me out” as she put it. I am a not sure what this entails or what she has in store for me, but if there is one thing I have learned in the few weeks she has been staying with me is that when she gets an idea into he head, it is best to just go along with it. I have tried resisting her little urges and ideas, but one way or another young Dorothy always seems to get her away. She is like Aunt Murdock in so many ways. Younger, obviously, but almost as fearfully determined.

The only hint I have had of her plans for me is her insistence I keep tomorrow free. What for, I can’t say, but I suspect it will not involve drinks or food. Needless to say, I have agreed to go along with whatever she has planned for me. I only hope it doesn’t involve shopping or anything sporty.

After lunch, while Dorothy went off to meet with Angela to give her the news, I popped along to the Club for a game or two of snooker. And I am so glad I did because Dorchester was there. I haven’t seen him for a couple of weeks so it was really great to catch up. More so because he was on his own without that awful American woman, Annabellelurking in the background. According to Dorchester, they are planning on visiting her family in the States next month. If you ask me it is getting far too serious between them. I mean, we hardly ever see Dorchester at the Club these days, and when we do, all he can talk about is Annabelle.

According to Dorchester, they are planning on visiting her family in the States next month. If you ask me it is getting far too serious between them. I mean, we hardly ever see Dorchester at the Club these days, and when we do, all he can talk about is Annabelle. I have known him for more years than I care to remember, and I have never seen him behave this way before. He has had relationships before, plenty of them. One or two of them have lasted several months at a time. But he has never missed so many snooker nights at the Club or flown halfway around the world to meet the family.

It is starting to feel like everyone is deserting me. First Hope goes to Scotland, quickly followed by Dorothy. Now Dorchester is flying out to America. Who will be next? Aunt Murdock off on an African safari? Cambridge cruising along the Nile? Maybe not!

One interesting thing I did learn between breaks is that Dorchester has recently joined one of those health clubs the chaps and I were discussing a couple of weeks back. He has suggested that I join him there tomorrow; he seems to think it would do me good. Of course, Dorothy already has plans so that little treat is going to have to wait.

 

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Am I losing control of my own life?

This morning I had an unexpected, but a very welcome telephone call from Hope Greenwood. She hasn’t returned home yet but is in Edinburgh staying with an old friend. Apparently, she has been having a short break and visiting a few artists in Scotland. She told me that she heard yesterday that I had visited her gallery – it seems that the helpful young lady I spoke to on Wednesday was Hope’s youngest daughter, Charlotte.

It was just a brief call as she had an appointment, but she told me she will be back in London tomorrow. There wasn’t enough time to discuss the invitation to old Cambridge’s soiree but I told her I would call into the gallery again on Wednesday. Maybe this time I can take her out for that lunch I promised myself.

Whilst I was on the phone talking to Hope, Dorothy walked in and did a little eavesdropping. At times she is like an old mother hen, fussing and manoeuvring. I sometimes think she is taking tips from old Mad Duck. She may even be some kind of third columnist, planted by the old dear to spy on me. Nothing would surprise me where Aunt Murdock is concerned.

According to Dorothy, if I’m going to meet Hope for lunch again, I am going to need some new clothes. She told me that my current wardrobe is a little too conservative and old fashioned. I am not sure I agree with her, but she seems to have set her heart on taking me out shopping. Of course, I have said I couldn’t possibly find the time, but I know Dorothy well enough by now to know that she won’t let a simple matter such as being far too busy get in the way of a good plan. I am sure that now she has suggested going clothes shopping, as far she is concerned it is going to happen.

The more I think about it, the more I worry that my life is being controlled by the various women around me. I mean, there is Aunt Murdock trying to get me married off, Dorothy doing her best to “modernise” me, and even Miss Drayton seems to be trying to turn me into a business man. I know they mean well. They all seem to think they are doing what is best for me, and I am sure that in some ways they may even be right, but surely a chap needs to have some control over his own life.

 

A gallery without Hope!

Today I decided to call into Hope Greenwood’s art gallery, mainly to pass on the invitation to Cambridge’s charity bash, but also as it is the only way I am going to stop Dorothy nagging me. But as well as that, I was also extremely curious to see where Hope works and, maybe, to invite her to join me for lunch.

Now, I don’t know much about art galleries. They are not the kind of places I visit as a rule. My taste in art is fairly traditional and I already have far too many old paintings about the place to be buying more. Of course, I have been in one or two, mainly to attend some sort of exhibition or another. Aunt Dorothy is very fond of art and will often drag me along with her, but usually only when she can’t beat some other poor soul into submission. I don’t know if she invites me because she enjoys my company or to try to teach me. To enlighten me or simply as an excuse to introduce me to some very boring people. Art people can be extremely tedious. They get very frustrated if one doesn’t share their interest, and almost apoplectic if one should ever be so foolish as to contradict their opinions or question their knowledge or understanding. I did that once and I can assure you, it was not pretty.

No, in my experience, artists are very much like actors: self-obsessed, ignorant of anything but their art, and extremely dull company. Of course, there are one or two exceptions, Dorothy being one of them. She is anything but dull and actually doesn’t seem to be into all that sycophantic back slapping that goes on.

Anyway, this morning I sauntered on down to Hope’s gallery, which is actually in Chelsea, not an area I frequent very much these days, although I do remember it well from my younger days. Some friends and I use to frequent one or two of the clubs and bars of a Saturday night. I must say that the area has changed very little since I was last there, although the Kings Road itself strikes me as being a lot busier with some very exclusive looking stores.

The gallery turned out to be very easy to find. But as I approached I began to feel surprisingly nervous. I actually had to stop a few yards away just to take some deep breaths. It must have been some sort of anxiety attack, although I can’t recall having one before. It took me a couple of minutes to calm the butterflies that were chasing around my stomach, but once I began to feel more composed and in control, I walked into the gallery’s front door. The building on the outside is rather dull. There is nothing that would make you want to stop and take a look inside. I had expected it to be all glass and steel, but it was actually very warm and welcoming. Space inside had obliviously been created especially to show off the various art pieces in their best light. The upper floor and been partially removed to create a mezzanine floor at the rear of the building, leaving the reception and first part of the gallery very bright and open.

I took all of this in as soon as I walked through the front door. To my immediate left was a small desk that I presumed was the receptionists. At first, I didn’t see anyone else in the building and thought myself quite alone. It was only as I made a move towards the rear of the gallery that I spotted a young lady adjusting some kind of statue.

“Sorry to keep you,” she said, “I’ll be right with you.”

After what could only have been a few seconds, she stopped what she had been doing and turned to face me. I am not very good with such things but she looked to be no more than about 18 or 19 years old and dressed in a way I thought to be a little too casual for working in an art gallery. But she seemed friendly enough.

When I asked if I could see Mrs Greenwood, she looked at me a little quizzically and told me that Hope was, in fact, away for a couple of days, talking to potential clients and artists.

I have to admit that this took the wind right out of my sails. In my head I had prepared for any number of eventualities, but not once did I consider the possibility that she wouldn’t be there. I must have looked a bit of a fool because the young lady then offered me a seat and asked if she could get me anything.

I declined, although if the truth be told, I could have done with a small brandy to steady my nerves. Why had I not considered this possibility? And why hadn’t I called ahead?

Because I don’t like telephones! And I felt it best to extend the invitation personally rather than over the telephone or by post. It is so much more personal that way. I had also wanted to take Hope out to lunch to a nice little bistro I know not far from the gallery itself. I haven’t been there recently but I am assured they still serve a first class Dover Sole and the wine list is still as extensive as ever.

So, there I was, reclining in a leather armchair in a Chelsea art gallery, with absolutely no idea what to do next. I have never felt quite so deflated and unsure of my self, and I can tell you, it is not a nice feeling. The young lady asked if she could take a message, but what should I say?

“If you could ask Mrs Greenwood to call me if you would be so kind,” I replied, handing over one of my calling cards.

The young lady took the card from me, looked at it, then looked back at me and said, “So you’re Lord Robert?  I’ve heard such a lot about you. Why should I say you called?”

I explained that I had an invitation to a charity event and wanted to invite Hope to join me. I mumbled, keeping my eyes away from hers. Despite her somewhat casual attire she was extremely attentive and seemed very interested in my welfare. At my request, she ordered me a cab to get me home.

It’s strange isn’t it, that in my head I had gone over all the possible ways this meeting could have gone. The brusk decline, the flirtatious acceptance, the existing engagements, the family commitment. I had even considered that she may have a medical condition that required treatment that would prevent her being my “plus one”. I had never even considered the idea that she simply would not be in.

The taxi had arrived by this time so I arose from the chair and offered my thanks to the young lady for her help.

Once I was back home I began to regain some of my previous composure. I also ran the events of the previous half-hour through my mind. For one thing, I had not asked either the young girl’s name or where Hope had got to on her business trip. Or even when she would be back. It seems that when the chips are down, yours truly is definitely not the man to send on ahead on reconnaissance. I suppose she is probably in France or Italy, soaking up the culture and using her charms to secure the work she is keen to display and sell.

From what little I saw of the works on display, it looks like Hope specialises in contemporary styles, rather than the more traditional portraits and landscapes that have until now been my only choice for adorning my own walls.

Oh well. I’m sure that the young lady will pass on my card and message when Hope returns. All I can do is wait.

I had planned to pop into the club this evening but I think I will give it a miss tonight. I have a long day tomorrow with an early start – I have a business meeting at 10 o’clock so I need to be in the office earlier than usual. I can’t remember who the meeting is with, except that it is something to do with Human Resources, whatever that means.

 

Under the thumb!

It has been rather busy around here lately, what with Dorothy moving in, Aunt Murdock insisting that I take a more active role in the business and finding the time to look into my family tree. But that does not mean that I have ignored my friends. However, I have noticed that my dear old friend Dorchester has not visited me for quite some time. Of course, I have seen him occasionally at the Club, but he hasn’t even been there as much as he used to.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised really. I have seen this kind of thing happen before on numerous occasions. A chap gets involved with a young lady and they immediately begin to drop out of society. It seems that some ladies can be very demanding and once they have a chap in their grips, they begin to change them, starting with forcing a wedge between the poor chap and his friends. It always reminds me of a show that Aunt Murdock dragged me to a while ago: I love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!

I had thought that Dorchester was above this kind of thing. He has had plenty of lady friends before but they have never come between us, until now. I have to admit that I am not particularly fond of Annabelle, his latest girlfriend. Her being an American is only part of the problem. Whilst we were together at Wimbledon this summer I found her to be a little over powering, as it seems is the nature of most Americans. They appear to have no sense of protocol or even simple good manners.

So it seems that Annabelle has well and truly sunk her claws into poor old Dorchester. A couple of the chaps and myself were discussing this only yesterday evening at the Club. None of us have seen much of him this summer and, according to old George behind the bar, he has not been at the Club for at least a week, maybe more.

I really must ask Dorothy about this tendency by the ladies to want to monopolise their partner’s social life. I can understand they don’t want their beau to be out every night drinking and socialising when they could be spending time with them, but to brow beat the poor chap into giving up all connections from his past is just not on. Is it insecurity, jealousy or some genetically inbuilt drive that compels them to try to keep the man in their life under their control? It really isn’t on keeping a chap away from his friends.

It is all very sad. I hope that poor Dorchester escapes from Annabelle’s clutches before it is too late. The poor chap is so obviously well and truly under her well-manicured thumb!