Thursday, February 21, 2019

Winter Doldrums in the World of the Rich!

"I'm seeing a lot of new faces in the audience tonight, especially on the old faces." - Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show.

With the spring social season just around the corner, this is the time of year when rich people all over the world begin to trickle home after mysteriously vanishing to Switzerland for a few weeks. While their face lifts and other unmentionable nips and tucks might only take a few hours in surgery, it takes a couple of weeks or more for the healing and bruising to subside. And there are plenty of luxury spas in Switzerland to accommodate this recovery time.

At the end of the month we're hosting a small soirée for several couples who have just returned from their winter "vacations", ready to step back out into high society. Dame Covington is practically giddy in anticipation. Said she, "I wonder if we'll recognize anyone?"

My employer and his new girlfriend did go to a rejuvenation spa in Switzerland, but only for a week. And there are no discernible nips, tucks or bruising that we can tell. Ester, the Upstairs Maid, has a keener eye than I, and she suspects they have opted for Botox treatments this year, rather than plastic surgery. While I've noted some puffiness now and then, I can't really tell the difference between too much alcohol or if they're simply retaining and bloated.

But I'm looking forward to the party and the parade of stretched foreheads, alarmingly wide-open eyes, and the sometimes-permanent smiles that come from too many trips to the fountain of youth. Chef and I both agree that a snappy (if somewhat bitchy) cocktail party is just what we need to get warmed up for the onslaught of the social season - which could be a humdinger this year considering how politically polarized everyone has become in the last couple of years.

To be sure, it will be a welcome relief from a rather dull winter this year. Unlike in years past before the divorce, there were no large galas or other dazzling events, no holidays celebrated here in the house, only a smidgen of small rather-dull cocktail parties now and then - all of which I blame on the obnoxious new girlfriend. But nonetheless, we in the house staff tried to make the best of it.

In the last post I told you about Christmas with Dame Covington, which was utterly charming. Then New Year's came along and turned out to be totally uneventful. Although the new girlfriend said she wanted to have a quiet evening with just a few of her déclassé friends over for cocktails (which I really wasn't looking forward to) they wound up going to one of their private dinner clubs in the city. Which gave me the chance to celebrate the evening with a few déclassé friends of my own.

Then Valentine's Day crept up, like it does on all of us, right? And I really didn't know what to do. I did have the good sense to have our florist fill all the vases in the downstairs with red-rose arrangements. And Chef made sure we had plenty of champagne, chocolates and caviar on hand, just in case.

But again we got a reprieve! They booked rooms at the Plaza Hotel and had dinner at the Oak Room (on the ground floor of the hotel) the night of their arrival. And then the next day they had Valentine's lunch at the Plaza's Palm Court. As cliché as that all may sound, we were delighted to have the evening free! Chef made some chocolate-dipped strawberries for Dame Covington, and she was delighted as well.

I hope you got through all the holidays without undue stress, and that your winter blues have passed smoothly. Spring is just around the corner, with all the hope and renewal that always seems to bring.

As always, thanks for stopping by this evening,

Andrew         

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!

Andrew