Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Sparklers and Canapes


Celebrating the demise of that outrageous fellow, Guido Fawkes, has been a Gosworthy-Pringle ritual since my early childhood. Mama, in her wisdom, annually turned a blind eye to my sneaking out of bed in order to view the distant beacon from the balcony of my suite. For, like her, it stirred an enthusiasm in history. Indeed, I would have chosen to study the subject if my Boarding School's curriculum hadn't insisted upon other priorities. Regrettable, perhaps, yet I wager the Humanities could never have offered as much valuable and practical application as have Needlepoint and Deportment during the intervening decades.
 
Still, the interest spawned during my formative years continues prompting me to coordinate the reintroduction of more traditional revelry.

Firstly, as I insisted at our initial Village Committee meeting - to which all the local dignitaries I had summoned turned up with the exception of the Parish Council Deputy Chair; I highlighted said absence via the Flower Arranging Guild's Autumn Newsletter - the modern term Bonfire Night reflects neither the quality nor gravitas of our festivity. It is right, therefore, to rekindle Guy Fawkes Night.

Although there was considerable pressure exerted upon me to host this year's event at Farthing Hall, clearly the Master would never tolerate commoners trampling his precious lawns. We have, therefore, defaulted to the village green, an area familiar to the working class community where they will undoubtedly feel more at home than in the grounds of such a prestigious residence.
 
The venue being settled, I took it upon myself to draw up some rules. Groups of youths are to be discouraged. In particular, I suggest there should be no congregating around the soft drinks kiosk since this could, so easily, engender unruly behaviour.

In addition, sparklers will be limited to one packet per person. Heaven knows, I harbour no desire to be responsible for over excited adolescents.

The entry fee, I decided - and my colleagues, unable to propose a viable alternative, soon concurred - should be by donation to a charitable venture. And what better recipient than the nearby Residence for Retired Butlers which was, I am proud to confess, founded by my paternal grandfather? He was such a visionary.

Other tasks are in hand. I have ordered a plentiful supply of Catherine Wheels and Rockets. I just hope the local dairy is able to donate sufficient milk bottles to cope with demand for they seemed genuinely perplexed at my request. Meantime, one of my fellow Committee members has been dispatched to purchase matches while Cook has kindly offered to contribute a selection of canapes.

I am, I confess, overjoyed at the prospect of such merriment. Given the success it will, of course, be, I expect to continue organising such events for the foreseeable future.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Harvest Memories


This is the time of year that evokes one of my dearest childhood memories – that of Cook permitting me to pop beribboned containers of homemade grouse paté into the bespoke hamper mother annually donated to The Home for Fallen Women and their Subsequently Disadvantaged Status. Harvest Festival has ranked highly in my affection ever since.

            Yet, as the seasonal celebration approaches, I am experiencing an unequivocal quandary. And one, in all probability, I am surely honour bound to resolve. For The Parish Church’s imminent service leads me to recall with acute dismay last autumn’s offerings which, frankly, were barely tolerable. Indeed, I recall remonstrating with the newly appointed Vicar, enlightening her of my sure knowledge that a number of local families had the ability, though clearly not the desire, to delve a little deeper into their larders, as well as their wallets.

So, determined as I am to ensure the debacle is not repeated, I will shortly indulge in a spot of casual canvassing in order to prompt a more acceptable level of generosity around the Parish. A tiresome task, encouraging donations, but nevertheless one I feel compelled to undertake.

            I mentioned my calling to the Vicar yesterday following her somewhat belated acceptance of my invitation to morning coffee. Though a demanding schedule precluded her from staying little more than eleven and a half minutes, I used the time effectively by airing my discord concerning her pulpit plea for non perishable goods. Surely, I implored, given the obvious need for vitamins amongst the deprived classes, more attention should be focussed on freshly edible offerings. Her politeness warranted praise though her doggedness in refusing to take on board my unquestionable familiarity with village life less so.

            I shall, therefore, plough my own field this year as I have no more intention of contributing packaged food than I would venture from the privacy of my private quarters without pearls.

Meanwhile, I have despatched Rodgers to call upon a number of purveyors since a supply of sturdy boxes is paramount. With a multitude of fruit ripening in the orchard, robust containers will ensure my award winning heritage pears remain blemish-free until their delivery to, and consumption by, the needy.

Only then will my Harvest wishes be sated.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Academic Duties


A few months ago when I mentioned to the Vice Chair of our Village Action Group my desire to further extend my influence in the community, according to a diary reference I have just now located, I anticipated an imminent opportunity. It is not in my nature to dwell upon delayed prospects, of course. Not to mention inexplicable tardiness. Yet such a belated response to an overwhelmingly generous proposition is mightily discouraging. My numerous commitments encroach upon a significant amount of my time and I do not make such offers lightly. Nevertheless, I am pleased to have - albeit belatedly - joined the Board of Governors of the village school. My aspirations extend to the position of Chair, of course.

Although I have so far attended but an initial meeting, there is clearly a wealth of issues to tackle. The slovenly attitude of the outgoing Governor is no loss and, if my fellow Governors care to follow my paradigm of energy and enthusiasm, I am convinced the establishment has the capability of enhancing its existing, somewhat average, reputation. I sincerely hope so.

During our gathering - to which I took a quantity of Cook's excellent shortbread together with some elderflower tisane, the former rapidly consumed while the latter was disregarded in favour of excessively sweetened tea - I suggested utilising the opportunity to share a brace of proposals which I have been cultivating during the summer months.

Sadly, the agenda did not specifically permit the discussion of such far reaching proposals as the advantages of installing an adult presence at the school gates in order to deter lunchtime absondence. Heaven knows what tempts the youths to leave the school premises what with a plethora of stimulating activities available. On which subject I would be delighted to organise an intensive Conduct and Deportment Workshop for those young ladies who need to learn that skirt length is intrinsically linked to academic achievement.

Yet my innovative suggestions were not particularly welcome. Indeed, by the end of our intercourse I was a trifle suspicious that my colleagues were displaying a degree of reticence about endorsing new initiatives. A little lobbying via my legendary Farthing Hall morning coffee gatherings should, however, furnish me with the appropriate juncture to persuade them to adopt my principles.

In the meantime, word has reached me of mutterings encompassing an outrageous rule which restricts Governor appointments to ex pupils. Such a preposterous notion! Having attended the finest boarding school in the land my demeanour and protocol far exceed those of my working class associates who clearly lurched through their precious State education system only to emerge with barely the rudiments of social etiquette.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Horticulture


Plans are afoot to expose my rear access. Frankly, this was not part of my initial aspiration when I offered Farthing Hall as a venue for a pioneering village horticultural event. Yet the growing possibility of the local community scrutinizing my main entrance was simply too much to bear. I may be of some standing in the area and, as such, willing to host the Show (the first of an undoubtedly regular summer occasion), but I do not wish my private approach to be on public display.

            Hence the decision to steer visitors along one of the previously defunct tradesmen’s routes. This will not provide as stunning a vista as when perambulating the cedar lined drive, admittedly, though I trust an appropriate willingness to contain disappointment will be in order.

Of course, the refurbishment is in danger of bestowing undue burden upon my gardening contingent. I have therefore selected an additional workforce to offer assistance. Terms of temporary employment have been agreed. Once satisfactory references are within my safekeeping, the recruits will be under instruction to revive the entrance used by delivery boys of old. It has become remarkably unkempt of late and I refuse to stint on first impressions. After all, a fine floral display is paramount in order to reflect the quality of the inaugural event.

            Meanwhile, I have invited representatives from a nearby printing establishment to visit me at noon today in order to discuss the programme design. In point of fact, a draft schedule has already been compiled.  This includes one of my rather charming pencil sketches of the magnificent magnolia grandiflora which I frequently appreciate from the parterre. Admittedly, I did not invest much time on said illustration. My schedule simply precludes such luxuries. I hardly need add, however, that it reflects my usual artistic standard and will, therefore, make an excellent front cover.

            From mutterings below stairs, of which I became aware only this morning, I learn that a youth of a reporter from our regional newspaper has got wind of my project. That is all well and good, but I will not have a fledgling journalist exploiting either my premises or horticultural exhibition to further his career. I have assured the company’s Group Director, whose wife I fleetingly encountered at a recent sherry decanting workshop, that I will not only submit my own article covering the day’s activities, but will ensure it is delivered to the Editor. By hand, of course.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Backhanders, Havannas and Double Handed Lobs


My passion for, and commitment to, that most quintessential English celebration which infuses my diary at this time of year is well documented. And rightly so. I have been a regular attendee of The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club since Papa first settled me on a velvet seat in the Royal Box. He may have momentarily popped down to the locker room to partake of a hand rolled Havanna or two with HRH, but his absence was sufficiently lengthy for me to cultivate what quickly became a lifelong ardor for backhanders.

            Yet despite my obligations, I have been obliged to return to The Hall where, with more than a soupçon of displeasure, I find myself undertaking crucial work for the Village Fête. It is all quite intolerable at such a late stage. Indeed, the event may have been my inspiration but, really, despite an initial and healthy burst of enthusiasm from the ladies of the village, the Committee has dwindled to myself (Chair), the Deputy Librarian who rarely attends our weekly meetings despite my frequent postal reminders, and the local Meals on Wheels representative, who turns out to be more mince and mash than scones and cream.

            With the celebration a mere two weeks hence, planning time is now of the essence.

            Immediately after perusing today’s luncheon menu, therefore, I contacted a number of potential benefactors to persuade them of our need for both quality and copious raffle prizes.  I look forward to the arrival of appropriate deliveries from my chosen donors. Heaven knows, if the county’s Care Home is to stand the remotest chance of replacing those blemished mattresses, generosity is paramount.      

            My subsequent task involved penning a note to the village school Headmistress requesting further details of her somewhat courageous suggestion of a fancy dress competition. There were mutterings, reported to me by Cook, that a cluster of senior girls, overflowing with unregulated hormones, were contemplating transforming the event into something akin to a St Trinians débacle. Clearly, there is no room in village life for such outlandish behaviour. I shall do my utmost to ensure both skirt lengths and conduct remain within the boundaries of polite society.

            As far as catering is concerned, Farthing Hall will, of course, lead the way.  The kitchen staff are fully aware of my expectations.

            After a somewhat exhausting day, reasonable headway in both marquee décor and ticket design has, I believe, been achieved. Barring any unforeseen hitches, I shall return to the Championships after breakfast tomorrow. The Master is likely to accompany me. After all, there’s nothing that satisfies him more than the occasional double handed lob.

 

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Arts Extravaganza


Farthing Hall’s Arts Extravaganza is under threat of infiltration by crocheted paper handkerchief box covers of insipid hues. Such blandness wreaks of charity shop status. Indeed, so does the telltale odour.

I might well have anticipated such influx. For recently, whilst ordering a tin of ointment for The Master’s furuncle which has yet again surrendered to unregulated distension, my attention in the pharmacy was diverted by nearby mention of yarn remnants. I glanced around to witness a couple of helpers from the Tea for the Retired Afternoon Club who were rather too loudly vocalising their views. If only they embraced their washing up duties with such verve. The topic of their excitement soon became apparent: Caring for The County’s Women of Disrepute outlet’s box of random skeins. Leftovers from indeterminate origins, I would say. The wool, if not those females whose morals have long since deserted them.

            It seems a number of other villagers have also been making similar purchases. Their resultant lilac, pastel pink and sky blue offerings are now littering my orangery. How they clash with the Italian marble décor! I cannot imagine anyone yearning to purchase these items. Yet nevertheless I am honour bound to coordinate a display. A discreet position will be found where they will not distract those attendees - and there will be a profusion - expecting quality works of art created by professional exhibitors.

            To this end, I have been in touch with creative groups throughout the county. Doubtless they are all eager to be included in my exposition. The inspiration first presented itself during one of our weekly Arts for the Gifted masterclasses, an initiative I established after experiencing undue frustration on a previous course which, had I realised it came under the jurisdiction of the Local Authority, would have been disinclined to attend.  However, at the aforementioned masterclass, over a cup of Earl Grey with an accompanying Rich Tea biscuit during a break in finalising my latest landscape, the Arts Extravaganza notion presented itself.

            I delayed not in undertaking the organisation. A number of colleagues of similar artistic enthusiasm – though inferior execution - were recruited.

            I, of course, have undertaken the bulk of the work. Catering and decor, sherry and canapés fall within my jurisdiction. Artists and their agents similarly liaise directly with me. That my pre dinner drinks were last night disturbed by a query over easel positioning matters not. A little persuasion to call at a more reasonable time - avoiding morning coffee, luncheon and afternoon tea – will surely be met with consideration. That is, if they wish to remain part of this most prestigious event.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Swearing In


 
What an invigorating day and one culminating in equal measures of exhilaration and reward.  Not only to me personally. I believe society will also benefit.

I refer, of course, to the Swearing-In of the new High Sheriff. He will prove to be a most worthy appointment, of that I am certain, hence my unshakable backing of his tenure.

It is high time a traditionalist returned to office. Last year some do-gooder more akin to left wing shenanigans than solemnity and duty took on this historic role. Indeed, I can still barely believe that the incumbent was of female variety. Thank heavens society’s equilibrium has now been restored.

In addition, I am also pleased that the new High Sheriff acted upon my recommendation of a military tailor. True, the premises of the custom clothier, being on the far side of the county, involved a lengthy journey but, frankly, the resulting velvet jacket and breeches, gauntlet cuffs, three pointed pocket flaps and black hose were worth every mile. HS cut quite a dashing figure, in fact. His choice of gloves - cotton in preference to kid - I will continue to question, yet he kept a firm hand on his cocked hat so I could ask for no more.

The County Assizes based ceremony was brief by official standards.Thankfully the weather proved loyal for the town parade which followed. Some citizens unfortunately appeared to regard the procession as nothing more than an opportunity to stare without restraint or respect. I understand such behaviour is quite commonplace nowadays.

By way of support to our new High Sheriff, I insisted on offering Farthing Hall as a venue for the obligatory Reception which followed. Members of the judiciary were in attendance, along with the Under Sheriff, one or two of our more respectable Councillors, several business entrepreneurs with a leaning to charity affiliation and the Editor-in-Chief of our local newspaper consortium. I trust the latter will carry front page coverage of the event in next week’s edition. 

Despite HS’s suggestion for a casual gathering, he eventually relented at my proposal of a formal luncheon. These occasions should, after all, be marked appropriately. As I pointed out, it is not within everyone’s capability to juggle canapés and drinks whilst conversing in intellectual dialogue. Particularly if they have failed to benefit from attendance at Finishing School.

The afternoon concluded with a speech from the High Sheriff. He really is rather eloquent, a point I mentioned to him prior to my suggestion for regular monthly gatherings. I would, after all, be pleased to retain my association with, and offer guidance to, this figurehead of our community. 

He appeared delighted at my proposal. Yet being such early days he currently felt unable to commit to a date.