Good news and wedding bells (sort of)

This week began with some very good news. I had a call from Uncle George late Sunday evening to let me know that he and the old Mad Duck (my words, not his) will be returning to London before the weekend. Apparently, the country air has worked wonders on Aunt Murdock and the old dear is feeling fighting fit and ready to return to town. I have to admit that the past few weeks have been a little worrying. For all my life, or at least as much of it as I can remember, Aunt Murdock has been the rock that has kept the family secure against all of life’s storms and tribulations, particularly since the untimely deaths of my parents. I am looking forward to seeing her back home. I may even let her drag me to one of her little events with only the most minimal of arguments and fuss.

It is strange but when one has known a person for the whole of one’s life, it is difficult to imagine the world without them in it. Aunt Murdock’s ill health has brought home to me just how much I have come to rely on the old bird. So much so that I am not so sure now whether I am worrying for her or for myself. I suppose that is true for most of us really. No matter how compassionate we are or how much we care for the other person, there will always be a selfishness that runs through our emotions. But at least the old dear is on the mend so I can look forward to further interference in my love life.

But no matter how much her health has improved, Aunt Murdock will definitely not be returning to her role running the family business, that mantle has now well a truly fallen on my shoulders. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure she will still be very much a feature of the office, but in a much-reduced role. I am still not sure about the future of the business or my own role in it so I will be very glad of the opportunity to speak to the old dear about it. Mind you, that will have to wait; Hope and I will be away this weekend at the old homestead so I won’t be here when she and George return to London.

Talking about Hope, I have not seen very much of her since our last little trip to the country. She has been rather tied up with exhibitions and such. She puts so much work into her gallery that I am sure it must be doing very well. I visited the gallery again this morning, just to say hello and see how things were going. I have to admit that I was rather surprised to see young Anne Fletcher there, although I suppose I shouldn’t have been as it was me who introduced them last year. It would appear that Anne has become quite a good client to Hope, purchasing a number of items as part of her new interior design business.

The other piece of good news that came my way this week was from young Dorothy. She called by yesterday evening to tell me that she has secured herself a small part in a production – I can’t recall exactly what it is called – that will be touring the provinces during the summer. Of course, I was delighted with the news, but am not sure that Angela will be too happy. I mean, they have only just moved in together and now Dorothy is planning on spending several months dashing from town to town in her new play. I am not sure how I would feel if I were the one being left behind. I sometimes think this acting lark is not particularly conducive to forming steady relationships. Even when playing in their hometown, the hours do seem to be rather demanding. I can’t imagine having to work every evening. Not forgetting the two performances every Saturday.

Well, good luck to her I say. I am sure the show will be a big hit and they will be back in no time at all with a nice long run in the West End. I am keeping fingers crossed.

I have not heard any more about Dorothy and Angela’s wedding plans. All I know for sure is that they are hoping to have the bash close to Angela’s parent’s place, somewhere in Norfolk I believe. I am still struggling a little with the whole same-sex marriage thing. I mean, I don’t have a problem with their relationship at all. They are a lovely couple. It is just that I was always brought up to believe a marriage is between a man and a woman, primarily to raise a family. But I suppose we all have to accept that times have changed and marriage does not necessarily have the same meaning or purpose that it used to.

From what I have seen with many of my friends and acquaintances, marriage is no longer the life-long commitment it used to be. In fact, when I come to think about it, very few of the couple’s whose weddings I have attended over the years are still together. And of those who have stuck it out, one would hardly call them happy. It is enough to put one off the whole thing. Not that I have any intentions that way. Goodness me no. But I am very pleased for Dorothy and Angela and I hope they will be very happy.

Tomorrow evening I have been invited to join Hope and Charlotte at a dinner party being hosted by one of Hope’s old school friends. I have to admit that I am not particularly comfortable with this kind of event where I am not acquainted with the hosts or the other guests. Whilst I am sure that any friend of Hope’s is going to be good company, there will always be the worry that we will not get along.



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!


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.



Under pressure

This afternoon’s lunch date with my dear old Aunt Mad Duck was pretty much as I expected. There was no sign of any papers to sign, so I was quite confident it wasn’t going to be a business meeting. I know there are some things she wants me to agree to regarding our mutual business interests, but I usually need a good stiff drink or two before I can cope with that kind of meeting.

No, today was all about her rekindled interest in my marital status. I know she means well, and she has my interests at heart, but she also has one eye on the family name and inheritance. The real problem is that her idea of a suitable young lady and mine are not always in the same ball park. For her, any female of good family capable of bearing children will do. Obviously I am a little more selective. Her own marriage to my uncle is one of convenience and although on the surface they seem to be happy. I know that they are actually living entirely separate lives. Whilst they are very fond of each other, there is no intimacy or affection between them.

On the other hand, those of my friends who have married for “love” have often found themselves embroiled in endless confrontations, disputes over money and in many cases, divorce. This relationship game is a veritable mine field. Whichever way you turn there are traps awaiting the unwary traveler. And whilst I am not expecting a whirlwind romance, if I am going to marry, I would like to to be to someone whose company I enjoy and I can have some regard for.

So, with all this at the back of my mind, I joined dear old Mad Duck at a little bistro she likes to frequent, just of the Brompton Road. As is her custom she was early and waiting for me when I arrived. Punctuality is one of her little foibles. Apparently, she has never been late for an appointment in her life.

Anyway, once we had ordered our food and started on a particularly fine Chateau Lagrange, the conversation took the expected turn as my dear old aunt introduced the subject of matrimony. It started innocently enough, with an update on the impending nuptials of my cousin Charles. It seems that what had started as a small family affair has blossomed into a full scale society wedding. I know Charles well enough to know that this escalation is not his idea, and will definitely not be to his liking. I have only met his bride to be once, and I must admit that she didn’t strike me as the ostentatious sort. This is just the sort of thing that can happen to chaps like us. All we really want is a quiet and simple life.

Inevitably, as we discussed Charles’ future, my own came slowly and inexorably into focus. Didn’t I think it was about time I too got married? Wasn’t it about time I started thinking about an heir? And then, as if on cue, who should “just happen” to pass by our table but my cousin Dorothy with one of her friends, a petite young lady called Angela. Of course, this may have just been coincidence, but knowing Mad Duck, a very much doubt it.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, Mad Duck dropped so many hints about Angela’s eligibility and, rather embarrassingly, her family’s reputation for having lots and lots of children, that in the end I decided to bite the bullet, so to speak, and suggest that she and Dorothy join me for supper later in the week. By the time we had finished our lunch (and a third bottle of Claret), it had all been arranged, much to the delight of Aunt Murdock.

It came out during our conversations that Dorothy’s play is about to close. I can’t say I am surprised as it was particularly awful, not that I would ever say that to her you understand. She is a rather sensitive sort. Well, as she had expected a longer run, she has nothing else planned and has also had to give notice on her flat. Being the chivalrous chap that I am I have offered her a room at my house, just until she can secure another job. Needless to say she was delighted at my philanthropy and will be joining me in my Kensington abode this coming weekend.

Thinking about it now I am not sure how this is going to work out. I am used to having my own space and have never had a young lady living in like this. And what Aunt Murdock will make of the arrangement I can only guess.

Anyway, I must be off now. I have agreed to meet a couple of the chaps from the Club for a small party on the river. It was one of those impromptu sort of things that seemed like a jolly good idea after a few snifters of single malt. Let us just hope the weather is kind – I am not too good on the water when it gets a little choppy.

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.

Anyone for tennis?

Good evening. While I type this my man is packing my things for a week at Wimbledon. Now, as you know, I would normally have been there already but unfortunately, we had a slight problem over my accommodation. This year I was planning to stay with my old school chum Archie Mercer. Unfortunately, due to what we might refer to as a “domestic dispute” between him and his good lady wife, that particular arrangement had to be cancelled at the last minute.

I have noticed before that married friends often have to cancel or change arrangements. It can be very frustrating but I suppose it is one of those things you just have to put up with. From what I have seen from my own experience of friends, once married you are no longer the master of your own destiny. Although that is not the reason I have not yet taken a wife of my own, it is certainly one of the consequences of matrimony that must be considered before taking the proverbial plunge.

Anyway, luckily for me I have now been offered the loan of a house not 10 minutes from the club by dear old Cambridge. Apparently, he has been called away on business rather suddenly so he offered me the use of his very fine home, and his seats for centre court. Of course, I have my own ticket, so rather than let them go to waste, I have invited Dorchester and his lady friend to join me. She was delighted to accept as it seems she has never been to Wimbledon before and is a great tennis fan. They will be staying with me in Cambridge’s rather fine and almost palatial home.

We will be joined at the club by my friend Dasher who has just arrived back from a golfing holiday in Scotland. I say golfing holiday but I suspect that he spent more time at the 19th than all the other holes combined. Now, don’t misunderstand me, he is a fine golfer and will undoubtedly have played some good rounds, but I know him too well to believe the trip was all about sport. And a week in the heart of whiskey country will have been far too tempting.

Dasher and I have been to Wimbledon together before a number of times before and we always have an enjoyable time. The last time was two years ago when we were honoured to see a British winner hold aloft the trophy. Maybe we will see Sir Andrew do the same thing again this year. Whether we do or not it looks like being a very exciting week.

Changing the subject, earlier today I had a brief meeting with my dear old Aunt, Lady “Mad Duck” Murdock. We met up at the Savoy over tea and cakes to discuss some business matters. I don’t know why she feels the need to go through things with me when all she needs is my signature on a few boring documents. IO mean, if I can’t trust old Mad Duck with my affairs, who can I trust?

I do enjoy meeting at the Savoy. It is so much more civilised that her office, and the scones and cream are simply divine. We did one have one of our meetings in what was supposed to be my office, but it just didn’t work for me. The caterers we hired were as good as you could expect, but they simply couldn’t complete with the quality of food and service at the Savoy.

Anyway, I must make a quick visit to the Club before turning in. I want to see Neighsmith before I go away for the week. Someone should talk with him about the mix up last week and it looks like it is going to have to be me. A few of us had a chat last night and we are all concerned about Neighsmith’s health, particularly his hearing. When I get back we are going to make arrangements for him to see someone.

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.