Monday, 30 April 2007

An exciting invitation

Dropped Felix and Bruno at school this morning and was accosted by Mrs Kierkegaard. Bruno is in disgrace as he spent rugby practice 'twirling dreamily' around on the try-line. Decide not to mention this to Harry who doesn't fully appreciate Bruno's gentle nature. Harry says I spoil him and that life will 'deal that child some hard knocks' unless he toughens up a bit. Obviously I haven't told him about the ballet lessons. I wonder what Minty will think. Decide not to tell her just yet.
Must have had PMT when I bought that gold jacket and skirt. Return them to Opera and exchange for expensive peach floral dress. I surreptitiously smudge ink on the other sizes with my Cross fountain pen so that no-one buys them and I can be sure of being the only one wearing that particular dress on Sports Day. Leave feeling exhilarated.
I arrived home to find Barbara and Pilar, the au-pair, chatting on the terrace. Decide to be firm and ask Barbara if she wouldn't mind getting on with the boot room as we have guests tonight. I pretend not to notice the look she gives me as she scuttles back to the house. Pilar looks me up and down lazily before uncurling her unfeasibly long legs and stubbing out her cigarette. 'The boy's rooms, Pilar!' I say rather more shrilly than I had intended. She smirks knowingly and slopes off. I clear up the ashtray and coffee mugs and retire to the kitchen. Six for dinner tonight including Jicky Martin, brilliant caterer and author of 'Uberfoodie!', her husband Bonce, Bun Grace-Thomas (sister of Fiona Grace-Thomas, that rather beautiful actress) and her husband Rafe (the explorer) and then, doing my bit!, new arrivals Karin and Simon Uxbridge. They have recently opened a shop in Upstanding called Forever Sunshine. It sells all manner of gifty things, candles, bronze hares, rather wacky scarves. The little pottery terriers have almost become currency among the Upstanding Set. Anyway, they have moved down from Herefordshire or Hertfordshire, not sure which.
The postman arrives early at 11.30. I throw 17 of the Boden catalogues in the bin and keep one for the woodburner. That thick paper works better than firelighters. Lots of invites as usual but one really stands out - the Earl and Countess of Wiltshire's bash. With trembling fingers I place it just to the middle of the mantelpiece, slightly disguising it with newer invites but making sure that anyone in the know will notice it immediately I hear it won't give them much change out of 600k - must ring Minty and check what she is wearing. Have horrible thought and ring hairdresser immediately. They are engaged! Feel familiar panic rising in my chest at thought of not managing to grab John at Upstanding Hair and Beauty. The thought of having to drive up to London and back on the day of the party is just too tedious for words.

Friday, 27 April 2007

We're going on holiday by mistake, hope Rupes doesn't mind

Golly I'm cross. I'm afraid I'm simply going to have to let rip on my lovely blog otherwise I will absolutely scream the house down and the bloody cat will spray everywhere like he did when Molly got her finger caught in Rupert's clay trap (what on earth she was doing messing about with it goodness only knows, I'm just jolly glad the 12-bore had no cartridges in it at the time).

Anyway. My morning has just been so frustrating I could cry. First of all I had to do the school run because Lara was going off on a two night school trip and was being boringly insistent that I drop her off and kiss her so she wouldn't be homesick. Why a lovely kiss the night before wasn't good enough I don't know - we really should have made her board last September, put some backbone into her.

Well there I was at the school gates a good two hours before I'd normally even be awake, when who comes up to me but Sally Farquarson, bright as a bloody button and smiling fit to frighten the birds. Someone should have a word to her about her addiction to home whitening kits. "Minty dear" she trills, "you couldn't do me the most massive favour and take Lavinia off my hands for the night 3 weeks on Saturday? Only she is so keen to have a sleepover with Lara and it is the Wiltshire's big bash that evening and I'll never get the babysitter to stay until 3am or whenever we eventually roll home". Then she gave a little pause and said "oh... unless you are going of course?". I tell you, I nearly scratched her eyes out!

The Earl and Countess of Wiltshire's party is going to be absolutely fabulous - Milly is doing the flowers and says the whole thing won't give them any change out of 500K - and the silly little bitch knows that Rupert fell out with him over some trivial business matter. Honestly, Rupes had no idea when he put him into Sylvanian Gold that the CEO was going to do a runner to Costa Rica with the proceeds of the round. How WAS he to know? Anyway Johnnie Wiltshire has had a complete sense of humour failure about it, and now I'm going to have to look after bloody Lavinia while Sally goes to the party of the century.

So I smiled at Sally and said "Lara will be so pleased. I think that is the night that the Wales' are coming for dinner but I'm sure Lavinia knows how to behave in those circumstances".

Damn, I thought on my way home, I'm going to have to get them round now. And he is SUCH a bore.

Anyway I've come home, phoned Camilla's new diary girl Julia and of course they can't make that date - which I completely expected, after all the last little dinner we had was organised 7 months in advance. "Oh such a pity" I said. "Oh but you are double booking yourself" bleats Julia brightly "they'll be at the Wiltshire's that night so you'll see them there!"

I'm so humiliated.

Must dash, I've got to book a super duper holiday somewhere far away for that weekend. Venice I think. Or Miami? WHAT a bore.

Minty xxxx

Thursday, 26 April 2007

New Septic Tank (Rupert taught me that! Jolly funny)

Oh goodness Tory you aren't fat you silly girl! I always think of you as Reubenesque, your figure would have been all the rage a few hundred years ago, and you know you still fill out a ballgown beautifully! That's the trouble with us skinny minnies, we need a bit of help to look really good in strapless numbers. Thank goodness for that marvellous man in Devonshire Place that Sophie Stuttridge tipped me the nod about, Rupert was so impressed by his birthday presents that he didn't say a word about the invoice. Do you know, for the first time in the 20 years I've known him, he was absolutely speechless. Definitely worth the discomfort.

Well, the new man from the Rectory came around earlier, as I said. Quite a surprise, really. I was expecting the usual - you know - refugee from some ghastly little terraced house in Wandsworth or Fulham, schooled at Gresham's or Oundle or somewhere that he calls "public school", shirt from Thomas Pink, married to a girl called Lucy who reads Country Living and thinks she's married well. Well of course you know, there are hundreds of people like them littering the countryside, so tedious.

Anyway, he was quite different. American, for a start, which I always find dreadfully confusing. And not a banker from New York or anything recognisable, one knows how to deal with them. He was from Chicago or Cincinatti or one of those places you hear about on the telly but never meet anyone from, I can't remember exactly. In fact, thinking about it now, I barely found out anything about him at all, and I made conversation with the man for 20 minutes, even gave him a cup of tea for goodness sake. How extraordinary. He wasn't angling for a shooting invite - I don't think he was angling for anything actually, just came over to introduce himself - I even mentioned that we had a marvellous shoot and he just laughed and said it wasn't for him. I also found myself inviting his wife over for coffee one of my Thursday mornings (Lord knows why, the last thing Milly and the girls want is some strident American boring us about her children at our weekly goss session) and he laughed again and said he didn't think she would be available on Thursday mornings. Jolly rude, actually. But quite intriguing.

Oh damn, Ruperts bloody bitch is on heat and has jumped the gate. Probably going after that revolting border collie in the farm cottages. Must dash!

Minty xxxxxxx

Tory visits Upstanding, and feels fat

News from my end:
Dropped the boys off at school and decided to pop into Upstanding for a coffee and a quick look in the shop windows. After our supper with Adam and Felicia, Harry told me I was looking a bit 'tired' - I must say compared with Felicia I do look a little ragged around the edges. She barely spends any time in Dorset these days, always up to London for a tweak here and there. I suspect Botox and, rather uncharitably, a little work on her, ahem, chest area.
Caught a glimpse of my reflection in the window of the Rusty Rake and have decided that my trusty pink rugby shirt and jeans may not be at the cutting edge of fashion any more. Went a bit bonkers in Opera and splashed out on a gold fitted jacket and a rather daring skirt! (note to self: work on knee area when at Pilates in Charlton Haddock village hall). Spotted Bim Adams-Grayson in The Cherry Tree, having coffee with that awful woman Amanda from the Friends of Upstanding Prep. They raised their coffee cups in quite a friendly way, then waved frantically. Felt quite flattered for a moment until I realised that Felicia was crossing the road behind me. She did thank me for a lovely evening - "Your Harry is an absolute HOOT!" - but didn't really stop to chat. I'm sure they all have a lot to talk about.
Got home just in time to catch Barbara, the daily, scuttle back into the house leaving her coffee mug and ashtray outside on the terrace. She didn't bother to end her mobile phone conversation though. I really MUST talk to Minty about the best way of managing staff.

Now we are really motoring!

It is so fabulous that Tory is on board - golly we are really going to get things covered now. Tory is an absolute superwoman - manages those lovely wild boys and supports poor Harry so well in his career and manages to keep that house from falling down around her ears (Dorset is so damp and I really don't think Harry's people can have spent a penny on it in the last 250 years). And the most marvellous cook, can produce an absolute banquet out of nothing on no notice at all. And of course all of her local charity work too.

I absolutely don't know how she does it, I must say I'm dreadfully lazy and just make sure I'm fully staffed here and in London. Well, Mrs Codding my daily has been here for simply YEARS and although she is a bit of a law unto herself she does get things done when push comes to shove. There's the nanny of course, one can't manage four children without a good competant nanny and Gemma is super. And obviously managing the gardens is a full time job for Dennis, who took on the job from his father. Such a marvellous countryman, knows everything, and a jolly good beater in the season as well. We opened the gardens for 6 weekends last summer, such hard work for Dennis getting them ready but very rewarding seeing all those familiar faces from the village and the local town coming to have a look and a cup of tea. I do feel it is nice to give something back. Of course it is a dreadful bore having people traipsing through, and although we have VERY well signposted portaloos you do always get a few who think they'll try their luck and try and come into the house, but all in all its a good thing I think.

Goodness me, is that the time? I've got that new chap whose moved into the rectory coming for coffee in a minute. Not sure about him, he's a bit smooth for my liking and I'm sure he's just angling for a shooting invite. Not that he looks the sort who has much experience in that direction, always such a liability having people like him loosing off cartridges behind the line. Must dash!
Minty xx

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Oh gosh! HI Araminta!

Hi everyone! Well its Tory here, just taking a quick break from entertaining some of Harry's clients and settling the children! You know how it is!
Harry told me that an old school friend of his was around this evening so quickly had to put together a 'thrown together' meal - you know these are the absolute HARDEST to pull off. Anyway a quick trip to the local super sorted everything out, despite having Topsy Pool's lamb in the freezer for months - I do always feel duty bound to buy a half a lamb even though, well, the children don't even LIKE lamb and Harry always says that my Shepherds Pie is too fatty. Sigh.

Bruno and Felix just would not settle this evening, I think they saw how desperate I was looking. You know Harry's career depends on how well he entertains these old boys and I never did do well in the kitchen despite Mummy and Daddy investing so much in the Cordon Bleu course.

Look forward to chatting soon and sharing the gossip about the PCC meeting on Saturday - I arrived suitably harassed and cut Lady Blashford terribly about the sale of the North Chapel benches.

xxx Tory

This is jolly exciting, isn't it? Can't keep away

Well Tory is busy - settling in a new au pair or something. She is marvellous with them, knocks them into shape in no time. This one is from Slovakia. Or Slovenia. Actually I think perhaps it was Poland. Barely a word of English, apparently, and thin as a rake. Tory thinks she's probably rather hopeless but won't cost much to feed (unlike her previous one, Lenka, marvellous with the children but quite enormous and ate for Estonia) and Harry has always been a tit man so she doesn't have to worry about that aspect at least. Anyway she'll be along later, once she's collected the children from school and sorted out Bruno's new fencing kit and finished with her PCC meeting (she IS good, I find those local church councils just ghastly, all that discussion about flower rotas for hours and hours and all you get at the end of it is 8 stems of yellow chrysanthemums on a dusty windowsill. Makes me shudder to think of it).

But I'm really rather taken with my new blog so I shall plough on without her for the moment.

Rupert thinks me starting a blog is ridiculous. He said that he can't see what on earth I could possibly have to say that anyone will find interesting, and more to the point People Like Us won't read it because if they have any sense they will be out walking the dogs or shooting or shagging the au pair, like I should be doing instead of wasting time on the bloody computer.
I don't think he meant I should be shagging the au pair, but you get the gist.
I think he is just a bit cross because he is hopeless on the computer, he even gets poor Lorena (his secretary) to type out all his emails, and he doesn't like me doing things that he doesn't understand.
But I told him that of course people like us used computers, at least all the girls do, I don't know anyone who doesn't. How did he think that everyone ordered anything from Boden without a computer? Let alone sort out the invites and acceptances for the hunt ball. Well that shut him up, I can tell you. Honestly I do love him but sometimes he is a prize chump.

Must dash, Lucy has just popped around with a spare girth for Magic, must see if it will fit the fat little bugger.

Minty xxx

Welcome to a new blog for People Like Us

Well blogging is the new sport of the 21st century, and I've tried to get into it, I really really have. But have you seen the really dreadful sorts of people doing blogs lately? So dull, living such mundane, sad little lives. Running around on some sort of nightmarish urban treadmill based around a 3 bed terrace in Clapham, or grinding their way through an utterly irrelevant suburban existance somewhere near Milton Keynes. Ghastly.

No, what we need is a blog for People Like Us. People who live in the country, with a bit of land, some livestock, a dog or two (of course). People who have nice marriages to nice boys who are jolly good providers for us and our children. People who understand that there are certain things one does and certain things one just does NOT. People who couldn't say the word "toilet" if the welfare of their Jack Russell depended on it (and those of you who are lucky enough to own one of those splendid plucky little companions will know what I mean).

Shall I introduce myself? I'm Araminta Dix-Charrington. Minty to my friends (and Mrs Dix-Charrington to everyone else). I live in a small manor house in Wiltshire with my husband Rupert, who does something in the City and goes up to town every day, bless him, and our four children Archie, Molly, Lara and Edward. I hope to get a jolly good friend of mine to join in on this blog and provide a Dorset perspective on life too, with a bit of luck she'll post later to introduce herself.

I'll post more later (the Aga man has just come for a service so I must dash), but thank you for reading my blog and come back regularly!
Toodle pip
Minty xxxxx