Friday, April 22, 2016

My Billionaire's World! What a Crappy Day!

With all the insanity going on in the world right now, I don't mean to stress you tonight. But this has been an awful day. In fact, an awful week and my future employment here is in the balance.

It was the former Missus who hired me seven years ago - basically to be her personals assistant, to run her errands, and to assist with dinner parties, cocktail events, and her renowned huge galas. All of which was great fun for me at the time.

I made it clear to both her and the Mister during the very first interview that I'm not a handyman and have no concept of plumbing, electricity or any of that crap. But the Mister said it's not a problem since his people in Central Maintenance at the corporation could handle all that stuff. Honestly, he was so enamored of his new wife at the time that anything she wanted (including me, I guess) was fine with him. And thus I was hired.

But since the divorce all that has changed. Instead of being engaged in all the fun and glamour of high society events, my job's been reduced to house sitter, dog sitter, and morphed into being a property manager - calling in contractors to fix things around the house.

Mercifully I've had the help of Dario, one of our Italian groundskeepers, to fix things like a loose door handle, a leaking toilet, a broken vacuum, or a fountain pump that's not working. Together with the other staff, we've been a great team in keeping this huge house running.

But today was Dario's last day!

He's moving on to open his own small business - which delights me no end. He deserves it and I've no doubt he'll be successful. But this leaves me depending on outside contractors for any little thing we need done around here. It exposes me as the fraud that I am as a property manager. And it's just a matter of time when my old tightwad employer gets tired of paying all these bills and tosses me out in favor of a Mr. Fixit.

I'll be ok with all this. I can call up the agency and ask them to find another job. And the former Missus told me to call her up when I'm free from here, But we'll just have to see. Maybe it's time to move on to another career altogether. I don't know quite yet.

But I wanted to let you know what's going on around here.

As always, thanks for dropping in this evening,



Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Afternoon Tea Vs. High Tea!

Last weekend I had the opportunity to tour a new boutique hotel in New York (I'll not mention the name) which was exquisite in every way and detail. Except I was taken aback by a small poster in the lobby that announced "High Tea at 4:00".

It's unclear who could have made such an error, the Maitre D' or the hotel manager, but this confusion over nomenclature is peculiar to America and took me back to my childhood. Being a dumb American as opposed to a sophisticated Brit, I grew up thinking that afternoon tea was simply a cup of tea or coffee with some left-over snacks to tide one over between the lunch and dinner hours.

High Tea to me was something much more elaborate involving fine china, sterling-silver platters and linen napkins - with snacks like scones, cucumber sandwiches and other tempting delicacies of the finger-food nature being presented by house servants or restaurant waiters. In my mind this was the sort of thing you see at a ladies tea in a fine home, or the lobby of a luxury hotel.

While I eventually outgrew my ignorance, I guess I'm not alone in my American confusion where Happy Hour replaced tea time a long time ago. In addition to that poster in the elegant hotel in New York, I once saw a printed invitation to my employer's former wife (whom I adored and miss, by the way) inviting her to High Tea!

This all comes up again thanks to my Twitter buddy Nikki Glenn who posted a great article about the difference between Afternoon Tea and High Tea.

It seems High Tea in England is something the servants take in late afternoon after the Master and/or Mistress of the house have finished Afternoon Tea upstairs. Along with the tea, this break for the servants includes meats and vegetables like a full dinner, not just scones and finger food, before they must prepare for their employers' evening dinner. Since the servants sit at their usual dinning table (below stairs or in the kitchen) it's a normal high table compared to the small low tables in the sitting parlors upstairs, where Afternoon Tea is served.

The article Nikki posted explains it all, and get ready for some really great laughs! The writer, etiquette expert William Hanson, suggests that our entire breeding and background can be deciphered from the way we take tea! Here's a link to his hysterical article in the Daily Mail.

But for a more in-depth look at the history and etiquette of Afternoon Tea, here's a link to an article by Grant Harrold, widely known in England and Europe as The Royal Butler. Here's a link to his fascinating article: The Etiquette of Afternoon Tea. 

I expect this is more than you ever wanted to know about Afternoon Tea, especially since most Americans drink coffee for an afternoon pick-me-up or skip it altogether, as previously mentioned, and go straight for Happy Hour! But if you're sending out invitations or managing a boutique hotel, it behooves us to get the name right, don't you think?

As always, thanks for stopping by this evening, It's Happy Hour as we speak!