Thursday, December 20, 2018

Christmas With Dame Covington!

It seems that Dame Covington has taken full-time sanctuary here ever since her unfortunate incarceration a couple of months back for assault. Other than a small bruise and hurt feelings, her victim sustained no permanent physical damage, has dropped all charges, and no lawsuits have been forthcoming. Yet still the Dame is hiding out here to let the dust settle and regain some modicum of dignity before venturing back out into local high society - and we are so pleased with her delightful company.

Last evening, in fact, she saved a cocktail party from becoming an utter disaster. I mentioned a couple of years ago that I'm not a big fan of Antonio Vivaldi. His Four Seasons composition is pleasant enough. But his concertos (relegated to breakfast music by most civilized people) are just so dingy and repetitive -  totally maddening in my opinion. In fact, composer Igor Stravinsky said, "Vivaldi didn't write four-hundred concertos, he wrote one concerto four hundred times!"

Apparently Dame Covington has a similar opinion, which endears her to me even more. My employer's latest girlfriend (number seven by our count) invited a few of her déclassé friends over for holiday cocktails. The Dame was already downstairs, and just as I setting out the hors d'oeuvres Miss Seven came downstairs and greeted us with charm, if not grace. She went over to the CD player (yes, we still have one of those) and thumbed through the collection of albums, randomly pulling one out and popping it in before her guests arrived.

When it turned out to be Vivaldi concertos, Dame Covington's eyebrows shot up in surprise and she gave me a look of what can only be described as alarm, bordering on panic. And I'm afraid my own expression of shock offered little to relieve her distress. But with finesse, aplomb and well-practiced diplomacy, Dame Covington stood up and began her plan of attack:

Dame: "My dear, I see you're a fan of Vivaldi?"
Seven: "Who?"
Dame: "The composer of these charming concertos."
Seven: "Oh.
Dame: "Have you ever heard his Four Seasons?
Seven: "Not that I recall."
Dame: "Would you do an old lady a kindness and put them on now? They're just so lovely, especially for this time of evening."
Seven: "I'd be delighted, if we have it."

As Miss Seven shuffled through the CD collection to find the requested piece, Dame Covington looked at me with a devilish grin and rolled her eyes. I had to suppress a laugh, but I really wanted to kiss her!

Seven: "Who's this Edit Piaf? There's several of her albums here."
Dame: "Oh, how wonderful. Lets do listen to her!"

And thus the evening was saved! Vivaldi free, as it were. In fact, I'm going to hide his albums up in the attic so we don't have to run into this nightmare again.

With Christmas fast approaching, it seems that my employer and Miss Seven will be spending the holiday in Cabo San Lucas. Not very Christmas-y in my opinion, but at least they'll be out of here for awhile. Which leaves only me, the house staff, the dogs and Dame Covington to celebrate the day together. Chef has generously offered to serve up a Christmas dinner for all of us, and asked the Dame what she prefers.

At her request it seems we'll be having a traditional British meal. Except instead of turkey there will be individual Cornish game hens for each of us, along with stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. But Chef declined to personally make the Dame's request for a British Christmas Pudding and took it on himself to ask our personal shopper in London to send one over from Harrods - which will be a great gift and treat for all of us!

I asked the Dame if I should set a formal table in the dining room for the event. But she insisted to sit with us at the High Table below stairs where servants have their meals. Now tell me, how classy is that?

I hope you're having a wonderful holiday season and planning a splendid Christmas dinner with family and friends. As always, thank you for reading - not just tonight but for all this year past! Merry Christmas, and a peaceful and Happy New Year!


Saturday, September 29, 2018

What? Dame Covington Is In Jail!

This evening I got a late-night call from our local Constable to see if I could come and bail Dame Covington out of jail! Seriously? It seems the dear old gal had become belligerent and created a ruckus at a fancy cocktail party here in town. Apparently there was an argument about politics and Covington used her gold-handle cane to trip her opponent - an equally elegant lady of roughly her age who didn't take it well and called the cops!

Of course I jumped out of bed and drove over right away. In my world I always have access to bail money, be it for my crazy old employer himself or for his occasionally unruly guests. But Dame Covington is a special case and I'd use my own money to bounce her out of jail, if need be.

This charming wise old woman has been a friend of my employer's since childhood, elementary school in fact, and was a best friend to his first wife who died some years back. She's like a fixture in this house - always around in the background. She can be found in the library quietly reading a book, down at the pond with parasol in hand watching the swans glide by, or unobtrusively making herself a hard boiled egg in the kitchen. In fact, I'd be worried if I didn't see her around here on a daily basis. For those evenings when she's had a few too many cocktails and can't quite make it home, she even has her own designated bedroom on the second floor, next to the elevator.

Among her multiple marriages, no one seems to know or care where she gained the title Dame along her journey in life. But she has a regal air and carriage which gives her all the respect she deserves. It's rumored that she was once quite rich, but now is almost totally dependent on other people's cocktail buffets for her daily nutrition.

Bless her dear heart, she has all kinds of issues in staying out of jail. The dents and scratches on her ancient Rolls Royce testify to her driving skills. While she doesn't drive on highways anymore, apparently she's a terror on streets here in our little community. Our local cop Michael is very lenient with her, but here's some funny exchanges he's shared with me:

Michael: Did you see that red light, Madam?
Covington: Of course I did young man, but there's so many of those in town - do you expect me to stop at all of them?

Michael: There was a stop sign at that intersection, Dame Covington!
Covington: Yes, but it appeared like more of a suggestion and I wasn't really in the mood.

Covington: Why did you stop me young man, can't you see I'm in a hurry?
Michael: Speed signs are there for a reason!
Covington: Alright then, I'll take it under advisement. May I go now?

I met Dame Covington the first week I worked here, it was in autumn. Upon escorting her and my employer's new wife (both with cocktails in hand) out to the balcony to observe the brilliant fall colors of red, yellow, orange and purple, she said to the new wife, "Your grounds are lovely my dear! Who does your trees?" And I've been in love with her ever since.

After posting bail, she fussed all the way home about the embarrassment and discomforts of being thrown into the clink. But coaxing her with a Hot Toddy I finally got her tucked into bed, up on the second floor. And I'm going back to bed myself, right this minute!

As always, thanks for stopping by this evening, even at this late hour.


PS: Her bail was only $50!