Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Getting Back To Normal In The Abnormal World Of The Super Rich!

It's been a long while since I last posted and I'm not quite sure how to get started again. Or even where to begin. But as the COVID panic slowly begins to subside and things are starting to open back up, hope and excitement are coming back into play - somewhat obscuring the utter shock we were in when the sky came crashing down last year.

While it all might seem like a blur at this point, nonetheless practically overnight the whole world just shut down, didn't it? Everything stopped, but everything! Social engagements came to a screeching halt and we suddenly found ourselves isolated in our own homes and apartments. The airlines shut down, schools closed, restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters, even city parks all closed. And running daily errands came to a frustrating crawl since gasoline stations began to run low on fuel, and nothing was open anyway.

The virus and shutdown had no socio-economic boundaries of course, meaning the rich and super rich were hit as unexpectedly as everyone else, even the poorest of the poor. Looking back a year later, it can almost be thought of as comical. Like the very first episode of Schitt's Creek wherein an unlucky rich family went bankrupt. Not only were they unceremoniously plucked out of their luxury mansion, but then they were plunked down at a cheap two-room motel in a cheesy little town called Schitt's Creek. 

But it really wasn't funny at all, was it? With almost everything else closed, at least the grocery stores struggled to stay open.Who could ever have imagined that going to the supermarket would be the social highlight of the day? But then after standing in long lines, the shelves were mostly empty once we got inside. Basic staples like bread, milk, pasta, canned meats, tuna, baby food and cereal - all gone! And no tissues, paper towels or toilet paper whatsoever. 

Mercifully at this house where I work, and like most rich families, we have what's referred to as a "Perpetual Pantry" that's well stocked with all kinds of basic food and household supplies. Dried beans, rice, flour, sugar, salt, powdered milk, canned meats, fish and vegetables, candles, batteries, and big bundles of paper products from Costco - which carried us through the worst part. Some rich people fled to their yachts or private islands, only to run into the same problem with food running out and stores in the ports were either closed or empty. 

Most people, of course, were not so lucky in having a well-stocked pantry or a private island, I know that. It was shocking and so heartbreaking to see news reports of thousands of people lined up for food and water. Which was when I started to contribute to local food banks and convinced the Mister to do the same. He has a long list of charities he contributes to on an ongoing basis, but I'm happy to tell you that he dumped a chunk of money into area food banks - which I hope will continue down the road.      

There for a while we thought we had lost Dame Covington. She had already been in the hospital with double pneumonia for over a week. Then she was finally discharged, with nurse's aides coming to her home twice a day. However in no time at all she was back in the hospital, apparently contracting the COVID virus from one of the aides! At her age and in her already-weakened condition (and in spite of all of our prayers) none of us really expected her to live. But she's a strong old bird and live she did, slowly now regaining her strength and vigor. 

When the new vaccines came along, it seemed like a miracle to think we could suddenly become immune to a murderous virus that had killed millions across the globe. My employer, who doesn't even get annual flu shots, was reluctant at first. But his new nutty girlfriend (who can be surprisingly rational at times) convinced him that future European travel might depend upon a vaccine passport. While that has not yet come to pass, it was enough to convince him at the time. In any case, all of us here - the Mister, the girlfriend, the house staff, the groundskeepers and I  have received our two doses and feeling good about it. Soon we'll be hosting our first fully-catered cocktail event, complete with a small chamber orchestra and Dame Covington is definitely on the guest list, even if I have to pick her up myself. So it appears we're slowly getting back to normal in the abnormal world of the super rich.

With over six-hundred-thousand of our friends and loved ones in the United States alone dying from the virus, as well as the near-universal economic devastation, I doubt that any of us have gotten through this ordeal completely unscathed. If you're still reading this blog after this long dreadful nightmare, I do sincerely appreciate it and hope that healing, recovery and a brighter future is ahead for all of us.

As always, thanks for stopping by tonight,

Andrew

 


Saturday, May 2, 2020

THE TIMES OF LONDON: "Lock-Down Disasters of the Super-Rich Revealed!"

In the last post entitled Coronavirus and the Rich I was detailing some observations on how the rich and super-rich are dealing with this sudden freeze in our lives and the abrupt halt to their high-society social activities.

I mentioned how it's most certainly easier for them to isolate themselves in their large estates and multiple homes. I also noted that with their private jets and yachts they can travel much more safely than we, the great unwashed. And I also touched on how they can better limit their exposure to the virus because they have house staff - servants, butlers and personal assistants - to run their daily errands to the market, pharmacies and of course to the liquor stores and wine shops.

But that's where I left off and didn't address the obvious; what happens if all the servants and assistants are in lock-down too, and can't show up for work?

Now comes this excellent and amusing article from the Times of London (April 29, 2020) by Lucy Challenger, founder of Polo and Tweed  (a recruitment agency that supplies staff to the ultra rich) dealing with this very issue of what actually happens when servants can't come to work! To quote Ms Challenger:

"Seeing as we're all in this lockdown together, let us spare a thought for the super-rich. In castles, palaces and penthouses across the land, oligarchs, royals, hedge-funders and trust-funders are having to confront a terrible truth: toilets do not clean themselves. Marble is a devil to look after. And keeping the silverware sparkling is surprisingly hard work. People are wanting to know -literally-how to do the laundry. They've never used a washing machine before. We explain how to understand the settings, how to separate items. To you and me, maybe this is common sense, but if you've never had to do it before, it's a bizarre new world of skills." 

In her succinct and understated British style of humor, she goes on to caution against do-it-yourself cleaning techniques without proper professional staff to help out. Said she, "Chandeliers, it transpires, are a whole world of hurt, so be grateful if you don't have one."  Which made me laugh so hard I had to wipe away tears. It reminded me of my own feeble attempt to deal with this subject in a post entitled "How to Clean a Chandelier" back in 2011.

Ms Challenger's Polo and Tweed is a premiere agency that matches well-trained house staff, in their various skills and capacities with the perfect employer, all across the globe. You might be wondering if I'm on their registry list? The answer to that would be no. In fact, I can only imagine how Ms Challenger would roll her eyes if I even applied.

Although I did graduate from a respectable household management school here in America, I know I could never compete with a proper British butler. I'm content with being an apostate American butler to this nutty old billionaire I'm working for at the moment. Who, by the way, has been hiding out at his gentleman's farm for the past month, along with his latest girlfriend of course. Which doesn't hurt my feelings one bit.

As always, thanks for dropping by this evening. I hope we're all staying safe as the world slowly comes to grips with the nightmare we're all facing.

Andrew