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.


Monday, March 30, 2020

Coronavirus and the Rich!

While we're all trapped in our homes during this dreadful plague, I'm getting a lot of questions about how the rich are handling all this. It's so easy to slip into daydreams and think that having lots of money might somehow mitigate the crisis and boredom at hand. Being right here on the front lines, I'm happy to share my observations and perhaps shed some light on both the daydreams and reality of what's going on around here these days.

Are rich people as isolated and bored as all the rest of us? The answer to that question is a definite yes! Their Spring Social Season has been decimated. Spring fashion shows have been cancelled. All the elegant cocktail parties, dazzling galas and fund-raising events have been put on hold. (Although I'm hearing that the fund raisers have moved online and they're still expected to contribute - even though they don't get to go in person to show off all their latest haute couture, winter face lifts, and all the new bling from Cartier's, Tiffany's, and Harry Winston.) Then, of course, beauty shops and luxury spas being closed doesn't help out the situation one bit, does it?

Do the rich get better medical care? Since it's a novel (new) virus, meaning there's no vaccine and no treatments available to date, the answer is an emphatic no. With their expensive private doctors, the rich don't have any better access to medical care or cures than the poorest of the poor in a charity hospital. Having said that, it's entirely possible that if they get desperately sick they can find or bribe their way into a private hospital room, rather than being shuffled off to a triage tent or lining the hospital walls on an army cot. And perhaps they can get a ventilator ahead of the line. I don't know about that or if it's actually going on or not - and I really don't want to think that is happening. We're all in this together, aren't we?

Can the rich better protect themselves than all the rest of us? This is an interesting question that requires some thought. But before I even begin, it is certainly true that the rich can isolate themselves better than most of us. And here's some random thoughts on that:

- There's a handful of super-paranoid super rich people around the world who actually have underground bunkers to escape nuclear wars, revolutions, and perhaps a virus like we currently have going on. But the silliness of that is that sooner or later they're going to need supplies from the surface, or a repairman to come down and fix their washing machine, right?

- Quite a few rich people own their own private islands in the Caribbean or Mediterranean - which makes for a much happier isolation than an underground bunker, in my opinion.

- Since many of  the super rich have their own private jets and yachts, they're not as exposed as those who travel on commercial airlines or cruise ships.

- As noted in a previous blog post a while back, multiple homes for the rich is quite common. Some even have gentleman farms and ranches where they could retreat and grow gardens and raise chickens, which makes sense to me. (My employer is in this category, and he's been gone for days.)

- Then of course the rich have house staff and personal assistants to run their errands (some idiot like me) to stand on long lines at the market to fetch food - therefore greatly limiting their own daily exposure.

- Even British and European royalty, with their multiple estates and castles, are having a hard time dodging this calamity. The news from Buckingham Palace is so very sad this past week.

I don't know what else to say tonight. But the rest of us can protect ourselves too. Social distancing is the key. Personal hygiene like frequent hand washings is most certainly helpful. A good diet that keeps the immune system strong should also be helpful, one would think.

As for staying sane and fighting off boredom, who knows? I  miss going to the gym and seeing my friends there like crazy. But we could utilize the downtime to take some online college courses or perhaps to develop our hobbies. I hear there's an interest and increased online sales of  easels, canvasses, and oil paints and brushes for those who have always wanted to take up painting but never found the time. Then of course we could always catch up on our reading lists. There's a stack of books in my apartment that has been there for months!  And we could also perhaps pick up a language from Berlitz online schools. Myself, I'm going to brush up on Italian in the hope of traveling there again someday when this nightmare has lifted.

As always, thanks for stopping by tonight.

Stay safe, stay strong! And try to stay positive. There's an end to this someday...

Dare I say, Cheers! 🍸🍹🍻

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Fat Tuesday and Happy Lent 2020!

Dear God, I don't know how it crept up on me this year, but Lent begins this very night at midnight! And tomorrow is Ash Wednesday! It has come early this year and I've made no preparations whatsoever.

Usually I put off New Year's Resolutions (which are supposed to last a whole year, right?) until Lent, which is only forty days and theoretically much more manageable. But still I've got nothing.

The question always arises this time of year, "What are you giving up for Lent?" And I'm drawing a blank. In fact, I  just put up a Twitter Tweet asking if "doing only half of a bad thing counts as a good thing?" What do you think? Would that work, or is it an immediate pathway to hell?

My employer doesn't participate in Lent in any way. Although I think he might should! The last couple of months between Christmas and Valentine's have been crazy as all get out. As if this house were a hotel with a revolving door at the front entrance, his parade of new girlfriends seem to come and go at an increasingly alarming rate.

The minute we grow accustomed to and comfortable with one woman, she's out the door and a new one comes in. The trigger seems to be when they start talking about marriage, or wanting an engagement ring. Some of these ladies play it slowly and carefully and the relationship lasts for a couple of years before they start getting demanding. But the last one, who moved in here and tried to take over the house only lasted six weeks before she was booted out. Which didn't hurt my feelings one bit to see her pack up and go.

But it's like we don't have a normal routine around here anymore. Like we're out of the loop with the normal flow in planning for future events throughout the coming year, simply because we don't know who or what to plan for.

Anyhow, I just wanted to check in and say Happy Lent if you're Catholic and trying to participate this year. It's only forty days after all. Forty long miserable days. But we'll get through it.

As always, thanks for stopping by this evening.



Wednesday, January 29, 2020

January Blues 2020!

Not unlike a dreaded postpartum depression, it happens every year around here after all the hullabaloo of the holidays has passed and the winter blues set in. All that excitement about gift shopping, decorating, cocktail parties, fund raisers, galas and formal sit-down dinners for family and friends gives way to absolute idleness and bickering until the Spring Social Season starts to wind up. Unless of course you're a winter sports aficionado, in which case this is your favorite time of year on the ski slopes of Aspen or Zermatt with all the après ski parties each evening into the wee hours of the morning..

There's still a couple of deep-winter perks to come: Super Bowl Sunday on February 2 can in some circles require caterers, bartenders, valet parkers, perhaps even outdoor tents with big-screen audio-visual techs on hand. Plus the Academy Awards on February 9 can often be a time for high fashion dress up parties, whether in a private home or especially if viewing from a private club or a luxury hotel ballroom. Not forgetting that many of the rich and super rich will be attending the event itself at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.

Then of course Valentine's Day on February 14 always creates a hubbub among the rich. Like, what to do? What to get for your most beloved, which might even be your wife? A new car? A new plane? A luxurious week in Zermatt? In any case, it's always a hey-day for Tiffany's, Cartier, and Harry Winston. Not to mention Master Chocolatiers in Switzerland and Belgium.

This holiday season has been a little strange around here. I've mentioned in several posts about the long line of girlfriends streaming in and out of my employer's life since the scandalous divorce some years back. Some of them last for a few months, some for two or three years. But in December there was this new one who swooped down on us, I kid you not, like the Wicked Witch of the West!

After only a couple of weekends of dating my employer, she moved herself in here lock stock and barrel. By that I mean a big truck arrived with all her stuff - clothes, shoes, and boxes and boxes of files - like she was going to be here forever. She even brought her own Christmas tree decorations and insisted we add them to our own traditional tree. Then she immediately started giving orders to our house staff about her laundry and food preferences, and she asked the groundskeeper to keep her car washed at all times. She even tried to turn me into her personal assistant - which I totally rejected.

But it doesn't end there. She also dumped her full-grown dog in our laps, which freaked out our own dogs really bad. And she asked my employer's Personal Secretary at the office to get her a new computer, printer, and a new big-screen TV for the Master Bedroom. "I only like to watch Samsung TVs" was her explanation. Seriously?

Needless to say, we were all reeling about this new crazy woman and her take-over of the house. One day I was escorting a technician from Direct TV around the house to upgrade all the TV receivers when she came up and introduced herself as "the lady of the house". Which was news to me! Really? I thought she was only a temporary guest!

Mercifully after about six weeks my employer had seemingly had enough. For reasons I'm not yet privy to, that same truck that brought her in here came back and hauled her and her dog out, again lock stock and barrel in one brief afternoon. And our dogs seem to be so very grateful and relaxed these few days following. We'll see what the next girlfriend might bring, but I tell you this - the last one was a real doozy!

I hope your deep winter blues, if any, are going well. But every passing day is a count down until spring and renewal, right?

As always, thanks for stopping by this evening.