Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Ideals and Expectations

That references form an integral prerequisite of the recruitment process is a given. Never have I employed a member of staff - even one below stairs - without first availing myself of their moral standards, willingness to adhere to rules and personal principles via a preceding employer. Should a prospective Chambermaid harbour any distasteful flaws, or Under Housekeeper endeavour to conceal a dishonest defect or two, then I expect to unearth such transgressions for, doubtless, such minutiae will play an important role in influencing my decision whether or not to offer the candidate a coveted position at Farthing Hall.

A lack of referees accompanying a job application, therefore, invokes an air of suspicion on my part. I am, you see, in the process of replacing a Scullery Maid. The previous occupant fulfilled her obligations admirably but has decided on an adjustment to her career. The Antipodes beckons, apparently. The notion of journeying with little more than a rucksack was touched upon during her exit interview for why any young lady would choose to voyage without the assurance of a silk lined leather trunk and hotel in which afternoon tea takes precedence over bar based entertainment, eludes me.

Still, her decision made, I at once contacted Quality Appointments to The Gentry Agency. Disappointingly, their initial candidates bordered on mediocre. Clearly my demand for someone with experience went unnoticed. Cleansing and scouring may, to the unversed, be unskilled tasks but I venture that attention to detail, not to mention physical robustness, is essential in fulfilling my expectations.

A second batch did, I confess, reflect a modicum of improvement, at least in terms of basic competence. Yet I note several Curriculum Vitae failed to list referees.

Should such a transgression prompt me to conclude this to be their first such appointment or, rather, that a prior role was so inadequately executed to deny the appearance of a testimonial?

Further calls to the Agency proved to be unduly lengthy and simultaneously frustrating.  I insisted I had no intention of inviting candidates for interview without prior sight of a hand written endorsement. Twice during our exchange the telephone line clicked into inaction forcing me to redial whilst making a mental note to contact the Telephone Exchange. I will report the fault later.

Meanwhile, this negative encounter has impelled me to bypass agencies. Instead, I will rely on my society equals. Hopefully they will either recommend an alternative organisation - one which still prides itself on established values - or even be in a position to personally recommend a replacement.

If there is one thing that this debacle has proved, it is that ideals and expectations rarely infiltrate the class divide.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Bentley, Marmande tomatoes and top shelf magazines

My Bentley is undergoing a spot of maintenance work today.  Only after extensive deliberation did I resolve to permit a nearby, independent enterprise to undertake the labour.  Previously, our London dealer has undertaken any necessary overhaul of our vehicles but with the economy under sufferance - at least according to gossip I overheard at a recent Demise of Subservience Discussion Group - I am eager to declare my support of local businesses. I trust their professionalism matches their eagerness.

            The proprietor appreciated my commission and, indeed, offered to dispatch an underling to collect the vehicle. Unwilling to allow an adolescent in oily overalls to indulge in a motoring experience way beyond his calling, however, I drove the car to the garage this morning.

On my meander back to Farthing Hall I took the opportunity to call upon several retail outlets in the village. A rare but thoughtful gesture and one much appreciated, no doubt, by those shopkeepers whose products I procured. Yet not all the choices on offer fully met my expectations.

In the bakery, for instance, I purchased a granary batch ‘baked on the premises’ though heaven knows where it else it could have been cooked. The adjacent trader, a greengrocery, was also singularly unimpressive. Being most unhappy with the original choice of Marmande tomatoes made by the owner, I determined to handpick a pound and a half from the more succulent selection tucked away at the rear of the counter. I trust my reprimand will prevent the reoccurrence of this display débâcle.

My final destination was a crowded news agency. And a most distressing visit this turned out to be. For I was forced to suppress my shock at the sight of a number of top shelf magazines which must surely be illegal imports and certainly warrant a stern letter to my MP whence I returned to the Hall. 

Nevertheless, undeterred, and having composed myself aside the broadsheets, I chose a number of quality glossy journals which I hand delivered to the surgery. The alarmingly youthful looking GP accepted my donation. Such a pity he demonstrated marginal distress at being called away from a patient. Given the ageing and inferior array of periodicals in the waiting area, I’m astonished he didn’t show more gratitude.

Following an afternoon of intense correspondence, at 4pm, just as a fragrant tisane moistened my lips, I received a telephone call from a young apprentice informing me that my motor vehicle would be returned to me within the hour. Only if the manager himself is behind the wheel, I insisted.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Ongoing Duties


I have begun the New Year with a much needed assessment of my Charity and Community Commitments.  Given the demands upon my time - ongoing and relentless committee obligations not to mention the occasional lecture for how unselfishly eager I am to share my skills with less knowledgeable villagers - I have taken on the duty of monitoring my diary. Further clashes are to be avoided at all costs.  How grateful I was for The Master’s forgiveness when his post Boxing Day shoot conflicted with the raking of my internal labyrinth.

The débacle would never have arisen, of course, but for the inefficiency of my junior administrator. Had I not repeatedly told her to distinguish between mine and The Master’s duties? Why, I even purchased two tones of writing implement. Such a shoddy attitude has been noted in her personnel records and henceforth I will mastermind my own diary entries.

Meanwhile I have taken to compiling several lists. The first consists of organisations whose function would be unfeasible without my guidance (Rub and Buff for the Inexperienced – an ongoing series of workshops revolving around brass maintenance) and The League of Traditional Housewifery to name but two). A second inventory is devoted to institutions such as the Parish Council and Church. I have, for some years, provided each with a backbone in terms of well informed opinion and refreshments (though I will no longer waste imported Jasmine tea on individuals whose preference is rationed to powdered leaves confined within what I can only describe as flimsy packaging). Whilst yet another inventory contains those societies whose practical assistance is matched only by my determination to raise standards. Some improvements were recorded towards the end of last year. On one unannounced inspection of porches, for instance, I was pleased to witness the majority had recently been swept if not washed. A written reminder posted through a number of letterboxes prompted somewhat belated action in the remaining households.

After weighing up my commitments, however, I am currently nursing a dilemma. Although I had probed the notion of stepping down from one or two organisations, how could I possibly abandon my duties without stimulating an unnecessary plummeting of values? The core of village life cannot be abandoned. I will, therefore, retain all my committee roles, doubtless to the infinite gratification of the community.