Lady S & The New World Order

Following the mysterious and highly lucrative sale of Lady S’ religious sect to the Holy Roman Catholic Church in 2012 I have been carefully silent. My fears were confirmed finally this February yet it is only now that I can reveal the full enormity of the dreadful truth.

Many of you will remember the clandestine meetings between the previous Papa and Lady S back then but should the fog of time have clouded your memory of this momentous occasion you can catch up with my blog…. Meeting The Papa. Of course, it never came to the attention of the Press but then the big deals never do.

Subsequently we spent many months kicking our heels enjoying the slowly changing seasons, walking the dogs and taking a few lazy holidays. We even allowed our self to be distracted by the lengthy sale of a property we had built in the lower part of the estate. It was one of those ‘grey gap-year’ ideas where we were going to down-size as a ‘useful exercise in being closer to our people’ but with only 6 receptions, and no ballroom it turned out to be a step too far for the aristocratic blood coursing through the veins. I did like the cinema though. So we popped it up for sale with those delightful chappies at Knight Frank thinking ‘it’ll be gone in a trice’ but no. It stuck. It stuck in the way immovable objects like mountains stick. Think of Nick Clegg’s – can you remember him? – belief in his party’s electability. That stuck. We even got to the stage of thinking we’d made it too small for the average middle class family and should add a bar or something when finally the bloody thing sold. Hoorah!Nuns Walk Sold Sign
And what a frightful mess it had made of ones social plans too. Missed golfing holidays, only twice to the Opera, no Caribbean cruise, it goes on and on. Enough to set the gent of a certain age’s teeth on edge. 

But since then we’ve made up for it. Lady S’ almost messianic drive to sell her business, sorry religion, to the highest bidder had been replaced with a serene tranquillity and a desire to ‘see the world a bit’. She had given my alter ego ‘Trevor Travel Planner’ the go ahead to plan some good trips away. But she always suggested the destinations.

There was the June holiday in Crete where, awaiting the arrival of the boys (our daughter Miss Lolita was unable to join us due to a heavy social diary but said, according to Tatler, ‘one is gutted’), I was sipping my Piña Colada whilst looking out over the impossibly blue Aegean. By habit I make sure the sparkler was carefully put to one side to avoid uncomfortable burns like last time, Thinking to myself what a blinder our european cousins the Bubbles had pulled keeping their wonderful islands out of the hands of the Germans and various other Visigoths and scoundrels over the millennia.

We’d grabbed a week’s break from our busy schedule to relax and unwind on the island of Crete. Not yet bought by the Germans, unspoilt and basically piss poor, apart from the place where we were staying of course, where you definitely are spoilt and most certainly could not be poor. Eight quid for a cheeky beer and twenty for a burger was enough to get the nerves a-jangling and that snotty man from Coutts ringing wondering what the hell was going on. Lady S takes a dim view of extravagance and so my choice of hotel could have led to an uncomfortable conversation in her study. DSCF6255To be fair I had pushed the boat out a bit but as all good aristocracy knows; it does not do to be showy. Anyway, if there had been a cockup in arrangements our trusty butler Edwards normally takes one for the team in return for me helping him out with the necessary when a big flutter of his on the gee gees goes sour. Mostly his tips are impeccable though.

Mauritius was interesting. Those chaps at One&Only know how to do a beach resort and the local natives made fabulous friendly staff. Lady S was very keen to learnP1000080 water skiing while I and the children lolled about drinking mojitos on the beach loungers. I’m not saying we’re boozy or cheap but I did have a chat with the Somelier warning him of our prodigious drinking habits and that he best get another plane load of d’Anjou flown in. Sorted.

And then there was France. Paris, in fact. A rushed visit to the capital taking in the sights with Lady S and Miss Lolita including a surprise visit to the President’s Elysee Palace. Not normally open at the time we went but Lady S always has a way. 

Beijing was another story. It’s a 4-night town and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Our Chinese cousins like to do2014-11-21 02.40.58 things big. They’ve got the biggest airport they’ve got the biggest wall, the biggest Forbidden City, they’ve even got the biggest smog. In fact the airport terminal is so big its even got its own smog. Inside! Lady S was appalled and she made certain our guide was well aware of it. “You Oriental types need to take a leaf from the book of civilised countries like England. Only burn smokeless fuel!” Emphasising each word with a poke to the chaps chest. His English name was Clarke or ‘Craarrk’ as he pronounced it. Diminutive, stylish, good posture… yes you’ve got it – Gay. Gayer than a row of pinks tents on a lovely day at Henley. But, here’s the thing – there are no gays in China! Isn’t that amazing? It’s official so it must be true. “China is a forward thinking and vibrant society and does not suffer from the ‘gay’ illness”. You have to picture Clark as he is telling us this. He’s got his scarf tied in that way that only women and metrosexual men know how to do, he’s got one hand lightly resting on his hip and a slight pout. “What would you think if your son said he was gay Mrs Ree?” He asked? We felt sorry for him.

The following day we flew to Osaka/Kyoto for a few days of ‘kulcha’ before taking the  Shinkansen (bullet train) over to Tokyo. Did a bit of shopping, went to the famous Tsukiji fish market and the popped over to the imperial palace gardens for a walk about. All very nice I thought to myself but a bit dull. P1010391As if reading my mind Lady S peered over her pince-nez and said “why don’t you toddle orf and find a nice sushi bar somewhere near? I’m going to have a gander at a few things in the palace and I’ll join you later. Text me.” I couldn’t believe my luck, maybe I’d be able to catch up on a Top Gear episode even. “Oh are you sure darling, wouldn’t you like me to join you” I ventured. “No, no it’s just a bit patchwork or I particularly wanted to see. Terribly dull. Now orf you go.” Us chaps are easily pleased.

Dubai was the real eye opener It was when I got the first inkling as to what was really happening and what a powerful lady she really is. The knowledge has caused me to look back over the last few years of travel with a different eye. A worried eye.

We took a quick ten day break to America doing a whistle-stop tour of Washington – photo of Lady S at The White House – taking in the sights and – P1010807a private tour of the The White House’s West Wing which would be an absolute delight for most people. But with my new found knowledge it was full of concern. What was going on? What was Lady S involved with? 

We then travelled on down to Florida and hooked up with Lady Benoir (she was a key acolyte in the now sold quasi religious sect) and her husband Jimmy. Like me Jimmy is a simple soul; liking his golf, his footy, and his food. He also has a drink named after him The Jim & Tonic, more of which later. “You boys push off and enjoy a game of golf” Lady Benoir says with Lady S behind appearing aloof. “And have a few beers afterwards.” Not normal words for our women folk to say to their husbands I hear half of you say. And, to be honest, a further concern for me. What are they up to? Shall I burden Jim with my worries? No. I can’t. It’s too big to believe. People will think I’m going mad.

But what was that caused me all this concern? Why have I gone all conspiratorial?  

To my surprise Dubai is a wonderful city. It’s not like London or New York or any other major city it’s got its own character and its own skyline. Those imaginative Arab chappies have built a city out of the sand they’ve even built an archipelago of islands called the palm. We were staying at an anonymous but classy hotel at the base of the palm called The Fairmont. It has fabulous views over to the impressive Marina skyline across a large bay. Parachutists pay to be thrown out of a perfectly serviceable aircraft to see the view. And if thats not high enough for you travel up to the top of the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world and have a look down. Awesome.

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After a few days of delightful sunbathing Lady S decides she’s got the snorkelling bug and is going to do quite a bit of it from the beach by the hotel. “You just sit and write your err… diary thing darling” she said. Normally I would take this at face value but something didn’t sound right so I played along with it for a few days but determined to find our what was going on.” The snorkelling trips got longer and longer over the days and I couldn’t help but notice the strange freighter moored just off shore. Lady S said it was marvellous to snorkel around because it attracted all the fish.  I wasn’t so sure.

The freighter appeared empty but for the occasional flash of a white uniform through the large cabin windows. So on that fateful day I took the hotel’s Kayak out and pottered around the bay eventually coming to the freighter from the far side. There was silence apart from the waves gently lapping against the dark red hull. It was very photogenic so I started to take a few photos of the ship contrasting against the city back drop when all of a sudden a door flung open on the gang way and a burly guard stepped out dressed in a white naval uniform. He pointed at me and shouted ..

Ship

“Go away ! You have no business here! Go if you know whats good for you!” Well I must say! He seemed a bit put out so I turned the kayak around and rowed off as quick as I could. After a few hundred metres I stopped and looked around at the ship it was quiet again. What was that all about? So I looked at the pictures I had taken and that was when I realised. Realised what we were into. There, through one of the large windows was Lady S. Standing by a flip chart talking to a large table of men. The last photo caught the guard full on but it wasn’t his face I was interested in it was his name badge on his chest. It was the worst word i could imagine. 

The word was S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

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Rome: Meeting the Papa.

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My sleep was broken. Lady S was awake, her pink diamanté eye mask pushed over her forehead and her good eye looking at me. Gleaming.

Something was up.

“Good morning darling.” I managed. Wishing for a few more minutes dozing.

I could see she was positively fizzing with excitement. “Dahling, we’re going on holiday…”

Now those of you who have read my previous blogs will well know that when Lady S has a good travel idea the prospects for yours truly can become dramatically worse. Which is why I have developed an alter ego, a sort of risk mitigating St. Christopher for the wary. Trevor Travel Planner. Of which more later.

With a faint sense of foreboding I asked “Business or pleasure?”

“Both darling” she cooed. “You know how much I enjoy your company when I am working for my calling.”

The sect.

“Not another mountainous tribe my dear. You know what happened when we searched for poor people in Snowdonia. Those paths put my back out for months!”

“It’s nothing LIKE that dear! I realise now there are far smarter ways of finding lower echelon acolytes than traipsing about where they live myself. We’re going to Rome instead! Now.. What do you think about that? I know you love all that superlative roman architecture……”

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Years of marriage to my wonderful wife have taught me to sense traps but I still haven’t managed to avoid them. Even when they are so obviously coated in candy.

“Oh! Well! Marvelous! I suppose? What did you have in mind work wise? I don’t want to do another leaflet campaign in shopping malls you know. It was dreadfully embarrassing trying to explain to those Miami cops why I was giving out those anti female circumcision photos last time. They thought I was a bloody pervert!

“Nooooo, nothing like that at all Gerald.”

“We will spend days taking in the sights, seeing all the Roman ruins, eating fine Italian cuisine and… ” she mumbled the end.”What? What did you say?”

“We’re going to the Vatican to ….. ” mumble mumble.

“Good God woman what are you saying? Stop muttering!

Her good eye met my gaze. “We’re going to meet the Pope.”

Well. I knew she was up to something but never realized it would be this ambitious. I sat bolt upright nearly knocking over the kedgeree on the breakfast tray that Edwards had so carefully positioned earlier.”

“We are what? Going to meet the bloody Pope! Have you gone mad woman? He meets heads of state. Nelson Mandela. Bono. Even that little shit Tony Blair. But he doesn’t meet the English aristocracy. The Vatican won’t allow it! Not after that god-awful fracas with the Duke of Edinburgh and his jibes about condoning Hitler during the war. Took them months to sort it out. They just won’t talk to us…….”

“Will they?”

There was something about the way her eye started twitching that worried me.

“It’s not about me wanting to talk to him darling. it’s about him wanting to talk to me!”

It took a while for me to process.

“But what does he want to talk to you about?”

“Dearest, he wants to parlez. He wants to talk to his competition…..”

“He wants to what? Talk to his…… Competition? ….. Jesus!”

“No, he’s not invited apparently.” She smiled. “Just joking darling. It’s just me and the Pope.”

“His competition? Are you seriously saying he wants to talk to you because he thinks you are competition to the Roman Catholic Church?”

She looked at me with disappointment in her eye.

“Are you not aware of how big a money spinner the Catholic Church has been over the last two millennia? And have you any idea how many endowments we’ve had since we started three years ago? We are white hot! They want to talk to us about our business model!”

“Thank God for that!” I stuttered. “I thought for one awful moment you were going to have a theological debate! Think of the damage to his people if you destroyed the Pope’s infallibility?”

“Yes well that’s quite enough about my debating skills. We’re orf to Rome next weekend so sort it out.”

Angels and Demons

Having summoned the man servant to dress me, I pottered off down the stairs to the library humming to myself. This could be fun! I had already mentally selected what I knew to be the primary tourist guide of Rome for the cognoscenti. Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons: Special Illustrated Collectors edition. I knew exactly where it was and was already salivating at a morning planning our trip.


Following lunch I made a few calls. One was to our BA concierge booking the flights. Slightly disappointed. No first class available, only Club. Oh well I suppose we’ll manage. The last call was to an old Don Bosco chum. (It’s a Salesian school thing.) He had a villa in Rome which sounded more than suitable as a base camp for our adventures.

Let me tell you a bit about sightseeing around Rome. Firstly take some Valium with you as the Italians walk so so slowly. They say they walk a lot but it’s only because it takes so bloody long for them to get anywhere. The Valium will calm your nerves and relax your back muscles as they struggle to cope with the snail-like pace. It will also be of benefit when you sprain your ankle on the ridiculously uncared-for cobble stones or non existent pavement.

Trevi selfie

TreviThis is us at the Trevi Fountain. There a lot of people here trying to flog you crap or take photos of you. Obviously not needed with my superior photography skills.

If you like Italian food you’ve come to the right place. But don’t hope for some respite with a cheeky Mexican or whatever. There is NOTHING to eat but Italian food. Also, don’t eat eggs or cheese for a week beforehand as every meal contains both it would appear.

Rome is a lot older than it appears. The new stuff like St. Peter’s Basillica is five hundred years old and they nicked a lot of it from the old stuff to make it. The old stuff is really really old. As much as two thousand years old. But mostly these are now ruins. They may have the assets but they don’t know how to display them. Not like us Brits who can turn a muddy farm into a theme park. These guys can’t even show you how the Coliseum would have looked. I expected a model at least. But no. Anyway, there is so much of this archeological gold all over the place it would be impossible to do it all. Which probably explains why there are no new buildings. As soon as you dug a hole in the ground. Wham! Yet another bleeding temple discovered and bang goes your building project.

Pedestrian crossings require a leap of faith as they do not stop they drive around you. At least you probably won’t be hurt as the cars are either tiny battery powered things or soft-bonneted BMWs. Long gone are the Maseratis, the Italian government used to own 37,000 of them but now they drive BMWs. Finally the Germans won.

Drawing RoomLibraryOur arrival at Villa Spalletti Travelli was greeted with the usual fanfare you would expect for someone with blue blood like Lady S. The Italian green carpet was laid out and we were given a right royal welcome. The place felt a bit like a smaller version of home. Nice. The open bar was a nice touch but I don’t think my Italian chum realized how much damage an Englishman could do when given such an opportunity. I regarded it as a challenge and decided to put my back into it.

Back to the matter in hand. It was the day of the visit to the Vatican. Lady S hadn’t used the ‘V’ word since she first revealed her plan to me but I knew a lot of background work had taken place. MeOur cover story was that we were a couple of tourists with a private guide taking in the delights of the Vatican museum then Michelangelo’s neck busting effort of painting a ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. I couldn’t see what the fuss was all about personally. I’d have fired our decorator if he took that long. Five years! Don’t take the piss. And finally the awesome St. Peter’s Basilica. It was at this point that I began wondering when the main action of the day would occur. As if on cue a flunky appeared from some huge glass doors. An odd chap, orange and blue striped jacket with matching bloomers and a black beret. Actually not a bad idea for my next golfing outfit but I digress. Apparently he’s from the Swiss army. Haven’t they heard of camouflage? He gestured lady S to follow.

She just had time to whisper to me “wait here…. not sure when I will be back” before she was whisked away through the glass doors. Watching her disappear I settled myself in for a long wait by finding my page in Angels and Demons. I was just getting to the juicy point where anti-matter was putting the Vatican in grave danger. Apt I thought.

I could see through the glass doors over the top of my book. Lady S was standing confidently waiting, the beautiful marble room framing her perfectly. Chicly dressed, elegantly poised, parcel in hand. Where did that come from? Then a greeting. A slim-framed man dressed all in white. Confident. Ernest. A huddled conversation. Nods of agreement. A shaking of hands. The white figured man backed away with a wave. The guards re-assembled and the doors opened again. And that was that! She walked back towards me. No parcel. What on earth?

“Was that the man ? ” I asked. “What happened?”

She increased her pace while saying “Come on. Let’s get out of here.. I’ll tell you all in the taxi.”

Well this was mysterious. I was expecting some more intense. A long meeting. Arguments made. Fingers pointing. But no.

“Come on dear, was it good or bad?”

“Oh good…… Verŷ good actually.”

I had mixed emotions. Obviously something good had happened but what? More than just a discussion. An agreement. Had she converted the Pope to her sect thereby instigating probably the greatest schism the Roman Catholic church had seen? What else could it be? I looked towards her.

“Come on girl, spit it out!”

“He’s bought us out.”

“He’s what? He’s bought the Sect? I thought he just wanted to discuss you business plan?”

“Yes but he changed his mind and decided to buy us out thereby removing competition and allowing control of those wo-persons who are not comfortable with current society. AKA members of my sect.”

“Won’t it cause ructions with your members? I was particularly thinking of two key ones: Lady BSM and Lady Bennoir. They’ll be angry with you won’t they?”

“Not when they see the size of the cheque for their share of the sale….    Don’t ask how much… but you can buy that yacht you’ve been hankering after and I can buy a ballroom just for the Lippizaners.”

Well the old girl had done it! I was very impressed and remained silent for the rest of the taxi journey.

I was hoping I might be introduced to the Papa being a catholic an all. Maybe given a chance to break the ice. Perhaps with a couple of jokes selected from my vast repertoire, I had a couple of corkers lined up; one from Billy Connolly about the Pope and the other about the Falkland War. May be another time. So what will she do next with her spare time now that the sect was of her hands….

Urinal etiquette in a drag bar

As a recent recruit to Lady S’ sect Lady Bennoir was keen to impress and cement her position at the top table. One morning while we were sipping our first Cosmopolitan of the day she leaned over and said, a bit presumptuously I thought, “Sarah hev you considered expanding the sect’s search for poor people to the Americas?” I looked over to Lady S who was absentmindedly stirring her Cosmo with an olive stick.

Lady B continued, “One has contacts in Florida don’t ye know. Apparently they are tewibbly gullible folk who are more then heppy to cough up their hard-earned for a good cause?”

The olive stick stopped turning and Lady S looked up, “Red Indians?” she queried. I jumped but steadied myself with the thought that aristocrats don’t need to worry about political correctness.

“Noew, not just them Sarah but Deigos, Spics, Chinkies and Krauts too.”

I nearly choked on my olive. “Ladies, ladies we can’t go round using these pejorative terms willy-nilly.  It’s not the done thing anymore!”

They turned round as one and looked at me askance. Lady S admonished. “Don’t be so silly dear, johnny foreigner doesn’t mind being called these names, they know their place. Enyway. Lady Bennoir, one’s most intrigued. Do continue? Will it be difficult to organise?”

“Ebsolutely not m’lady. Egg jelly it’s all tewibbly simple these days. Ay’ll sort it out end get meh pipple to talk to your pipple.”

“Marvellous” says I, “any one care for another cocktail?”

And I thought nothing more of it until Lady S cornered me in the library one morning months later reading my favourite edition of Viz. I was In the middle of a particularly poignant article about the trials and tribulations of overweight Geordie ladettes, whose view of promiscuity was unusually err roman,  when the dear wife walked in and started talking to me. Such is the power of said magazine that her words were muted until one word caught. I looked up over my Dior reading glasses at the tweed-skirted brogue-shoed love of my life with a contented smile. ‘ What did you say my love?’

‘I said we’re orf…..’

‘Orf? Where to?’ I politely enquired.

“Why Florida of.course, you remember silly! It’s only for a month. Us, the Bennoirs and a clutch of acolytes.’, more of which later.

Resistance was futile so a few weeks later we arrived at Miami airport and made our way to our lodgings. Well I say lodgings but really they were a pair of splendiferous apartments nestled high up tall ocean-side complexes on an island called Marco. DSCF5987Naturally Lady B offered the state room to Lady S saying that her contacts would expect her to be prima Donna and the suite was appropriate for someone of Lady S’ social stature.

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“Aym sure you know best, lady Bennoir. Now take us to our rooms were jolly tired. We’ve got some planning to do in the morning.”

The next few days were spent searching for natives ripe for indoctrination. This involved at least one boat trip searching through the Everglades,

Lady S & B planning their recruitment strategy

Lady S & B planning their recruitment strategy

had to stop of for a big fat lunch of course, and several trips to the shops. Or malls as our cousins call them. Curiously it also involved significant amount of shopping for clothes.

Now, men, you will understand me when I talk about going into ‘shopping mode’. This occurs approximately 45 minutes after entering the first clothes shop at which point you slip into a catatonic state standing still staring into the middle distance eyes unfocused. Approx 45 minutes after that when you have nearly given up the will to live your wife comes out of the changing room AGAIN and asks what’s the matter…

Lord Bennoir and one fancied we might slope off for a snifter or two but we got caught and were forced to spend the rest of the afternoon giving out leaflets. A bit humiliating really handing out pro-lesbian, anti nuke anti whaling feminist Trotskyist invitations to join a matriarchal quasi religious sect to sceptical Americans but you get used to it. We did manage to get some golf in but the Bald Eagle watching us was a bit off-putting.

After ten days of this Lord Bennoir, or the old count as some people call him, felt that we needed a break from the exhausting schedule of golf, sun bathing, eating and drinking that Marco Island in Florida presents you when you are not being bullied by your wife.

“Come on chaps we need a break from all this. Ones organised a few days down at Key West. Found an Island for rent just orf the harbour. Should be spiffing. I’ll take the Bentley and you take the Royce, it’s about a 4 hour drive.”

I was a bit taken aback at this as our man Edwards normally drives. But as he wasn’t with us for this trip I was left with no choice. Down in the garage my initial inspection of the Car revealed a serious problem. “Jim, old chap? They’ve put the steering wheel and pedals on the wrong side. Didn’t you spot it when you bought it?”

He looked at me rather oddly, “that’s because they also drive on the wrong side of the road, you old duffer!”

Cripes! thinks I; how the hell am I going to manage? Turns out that this side of the pond the roads are so wide and they drive so slow, that I managed fairly well. If I say so myself. There were a few hairy moments when i drove on the hard shoulder as I forgot the car was to the right of me not the left. But Lady S was in the passenger seat directing operations so all was safe. Never sat in the front seat of a car in her life much less actually driven one. But details like that don’t get in the way of the aristocracy.  And anyway it was only a Mexican road-side fruit seller.

It’s worth mentioning at this stage that the count comes from much humbler stock than his sophisticated and illustrious wife who, having ensured he made his fortune flogging old lorries to the ‘Ay Rabs’, pulled a few strings and got him some ermine. That and a heap of elecution lessons bring us to where we are today,  a dapper chap with a carefully constructed demeanour and a penchant for cravats. Think of Jim as an English Tony Curtis. From Befnall Green to Oakley Green.

We finally got down the keys to Key West. And made our way by private, of course, ferry to the island retreat. DSCF5936But, unbeknownst to moi Key West has a huge gay community; so it was with a light heart that I padded after the entourage ready for a quiet evening downtown. How wrong could I be.

Lady S Insisted on not walking “we may want to recruit poor people but one doesn’t want to mix with them!” so we got a rick-shaw instead. Trouble was he was an ex-Vietnam vet pilot who liked playing the theme tune to Apocolypse Now whilst cycling at about 100mph resulting in a rather disheveled arrival at out destination. Sloppy Joes. IMG_0144After the fifth round of cocktails everything was getting a bit blurry so Jim chipped in that ‘wouldn’t it be a fab idea to go and watch a drag show’.

Well I must say! Chaps like moi who have no trouble with their sexuality take this kind of challenge in the stride. Quick as you like we bunged the waitress a 100 buck tip and legged it over the road to ‘La Cage Aux Folles’. Moi, Jim, Lady B and Lady S. Having a great time amongst the flora and fauna of a hedonistic place. Although young Jim was taking more than a healthy interest in one young ‘lady’. I made a mental note to inform him about ‘Lady Boys’ but thought it would be much more fun if I waited until tomorrow. Anyway. It was about this time that the body was telling one that the 5 cocktails and various beers ingested were ready to depart. Which leads me to the nub of my story. Urinal etiquette in a drag bar.

Now chaps will know there is a certain etiquette when using the urinals. It goes something like this. On approach take an early assessment. How many urinals? Two or less it doesn’t matter. Three? Don’t pick the middle one. Four or more it doesn’t matter. Unless someone else is already there in which case, never pick a urinal next to someone when another one is free. On no account should you look sideways or, heaven forfend, glance at your neighbour’s appendage. At all times you should look straight ahead. Those advert spots must be worth fortunes. If there is a perv in the urinals he will stand at a corner urinal, flop it out, and stare at the other guests. On no account should you return the stare or ‘check him out’. On finishing don’t mess about, be workman like, remember to rezip and move briskly on to the basins. Where the non-working classes will proceed to wash their hands.

These are normal rules which us chaps are familiar with but does it translate to a drag bar in a gay town? Maybe but on no account do what I did and bottle it, use the traps and forget to lock the door properly. The result of which, when the wide door slowly opens, is to reveal to three of Key West’s finest a sight to behold. Yours truly, trousers round his ankles, arse out, peeing. “Cooo-ee!”

Ooh-err!

Oh, Vienna

Well it’s been a while hasn’t it? I’ve been too busy to write recently as had quite a bit of work on. Inconvenient really. Gets in the way of ones holidays. By the way if you enjoy reading my musings click the follow button on the bottom right of your screen. Feel free to share on facey B too.

Anyway, back to what I wanted to tell you about: Vienna. Lady S wanted to catch up with a long estranged branch of her family, The Habsbergs. Uh oh! I thought, this has the ring of disaster about it but, pathetically, the best I could manage was that I couldn’t possibly miss the next show of X-Factor. She was having none of it.

“Don’t talk rot, of course you’re coming. Who would pay the bills and tip the staff? And any way you like Strictly not X-Factor. Now be a dear and ask Edwards to book the plane and a hotel. Nothing crappy mind!”

Curses! I had no choice. So I beetled off to find the butler. He’s a wonder you know. Just two hours later he’d booked us club class BA to Vienna, they don’t do 1st class, what is the world coming to, and a nice room in the best hotel in town – The Grand Wien.

“The hotel is right next to the State Opera and as it has such a remarkable resemblance to your country residence I thought it would be most suitable sir” Edwards oiled.Belvedere PalaceNow the Habsbergs were quite well to-do in previous times and if their palace was anything to go by they certainly seemed to have a few bob. We tootled up to The Hofberg with Lady S beadily hoping to catch the eye of one of her rellies. But they’d left! Sold up. Even the family silver! And trust me I’m talking about a lot of silver, enough for eight hundred place settings. I shuddered at the thought of the food bills. Such was their need they had even set up a shop in the basement vaults to flog it. Apparently something or another had kicked off in 1914 after one of the uncles got stabbed in a fight in Sarajevo. Well, after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, by 1918 the whole bloody lot had gone tits up and they’d lost all their money and influence. Lady S was not amused.

“How irresponsible” she said “people at our level should know how to keep their finances under control. Quite disgraceful.”

StatueHere’s one of Lady S eyeing up a statue and wondering was it right for the gardens back in Berkshire.

We spent the afternoon kicking our heels a bit looking around the Christmas markets. Think alpine hutlets flogging Christmas nic-nacs, hotdogs which I resisted, and gluhwien which I didn’t. Charming but a tad crowded with foreigners. They get everywhere.

Back in the hotel suite we reviewed our plans for the evening. Room in Hotel WienToddle down to the State Opera in our finest, a glass or two of champers, pop into the box and settle down to watch Tosca. Lady S was hopping with excitement about this. So much so in fact that she commandeered my iPad to find out the plot. Of all the cheek!

Tosca, you will be pleased to hear, has a pretty simple plot. Rich woman is jealous of her lover, he gets caught up with the wrong people, she unknowingly betrays him to the local police chief who has a secret passion for her. OperaAuditoriumHe offs the competition and tries to force himself on her – what a cad – she jumps off a cliff. End of. So with this in mind we readied ourself for the great event. It’s a good job I checked with the concierge about which bow tie colours were acceptable with dinner suits as apparently they don’t dress up any more. Lady S would have felt a bit self-conscious in the tiara and I would have looked like a right tosser. Nevertheless, it’s quite a swanky place and gives a fantastic sense of occasion…. So what did I think? Tosca! Tosca! What were you to me? Colours, lights, sound, costumes…. beautiful singing, stunning orchestra…. beautiful building, the gamut of human emotions…. you were WONDERFUL darling. You play with the heart strings of humankind you cheeky temptress! Never leave me…….. ‘Woah!’ you’re think to yourself, ‘he’s gone a bit floral hasn’t he?’ Well I am mimicking that Italian geezer Bruno from Strictly but it was really really good. Actually I wanted to stand up and shout “EIGHT!” but thought that wouldn’t go down too well. Three points for you though: all opera’s are in italian – so not a la mode darling, all opera’s have basically the same plot – so don’t worry to much about choosing one, and make sure you have a front row seat – otherwise you’ll spend half the performance looking at the back of Mrs Brady Old Lady’s head whhile she waves her hands about. You wouldn’t believe how someone that small could take up so much space. Anyway, after giving her a proper dressing down at half time about how selfish she was being and her bursting into tears and the other occupants of our box tutting at me, she finally moved over a bit and I could see the show. Sorted.

Next morning we were at a riding school.

“Why would we want to go to a riding school and watch horrible children learning to ride horses. I don’t even like the damn things. Horses, I mean.”

With a slight narrowing of her eyes Lady S said “it’s not children darling. It’s a performance. With horses…. Just wait – you will be impressed.”

And impressed I was.Spanish Riding School Vienna The Spanish Riding School has been located in the Kaiser’s (Emperor) palace for over five hundred years in a grand baroque hall complete with marble columns and huge chandeliers, a bit like our ballroom BUT with sand on the floor. No ordinairy sand mind, waxed sand so it doesn’t make dust or hurt the poor horses hooves. It is home to a troop of the finest Lippizan stallions and their riders who put on the most fantastic show of classical dressage you could imagine. Watching them walking sideways or doing stylised jumps or standing on the hind legs was incredible. LipizzanerThe riders are able to do this without stirrups and seemingly with out any movement. Only in Austria. Putting it in time to music such as – I believe it was – Mozart’s Greatest Hits Vol 2, and in that building, it was just something else. Which was a good job given the price they charge. It takes about twelve years to train the stallions to do this and so the show included watching some four year old beginners. They obviously take it seriously as they were quite nervous. One black horse – they only become white when they reach eight years – was so nervous he farted loudly and was so surprised that he reared up and nearly threw his rider. I laughed so much my eyes watered. Well worth going to watch. Lady S was so delighted by the stallions she asked me how I would feel if we remodelled the ballroom. It was already half way there she said it would just need the floor removed. Inwardly I was thinking about the hugely expensive parquet flooring and how I would have to buy-off the listed building chappie again. Outwardly I said “But darling, where would we practice our ballroom dancing? No more argentianian tangos, no more quick steps? Is that what you really want?” She looked at me thoughfully and smiled. I’ll save the dancing story for another time but suffice to say every time we danced my super smooth moves and graceful poise fair swept her off her feet. It was too big a price.

A really early start on the Sunday as the Vienna Boys Choir started at 09.15 sharp. Not even time for a spot of brekky! But the real shock was realising this was actually as part of a catholic mass! Boys ChoirNow some of you may be surprised to know that I am actually a left-footer: not practicing, of course, as had more than my fair share of it catholic school. In fact I’ve spent the last 32 years studiously avoiding the roman candle rituals and have – when forced – only succumbed to the Arch Bishop of Canterbury’s version. Despite this I sat down with a good heart and composed myself. It was actually rather good! Shame it wasn’t in English but the latin was really nice to hear. Not sure about the chanting though. The boys, on the other hand, were fantastic. About twenty little eight year olds. Tiny. Boy they could sing.

Anyway. After all that contemplation I was in need of a snifter so we found a local watering hole for a quick schnapps and coffee. They make a good coffee in Vienna. None of your starbucks rubbish and if you like cake you’ve come to the right place. But if you are feeling a bit stingy you can simply lounge about in the cafe for a few hours nursing a single cup. It’s the done thing darling.

The afternoon was spent going to the museum quarter. We plumped for their museum of modern art Mumok. A big mistake. It was shit. Of the seven floors 5 were dedicated to Mr Dan Flavin’s flourescent light show. Huge empty rooms with a few coloured tubes sticking out at odd angles. When he met the curator he must have laughed all the way to the bank! Lady S was not amused. Avoid.

For our last full day we had a big lunch lined up so decided to do a final bit of culture in the morning. Karls Kirche ALady S had heard that Karls Kirche (church) had a dome similar to that in our chapel back home. Better still they were remodelling it so she was hoping for some choice tips. Now when I say it was big I mean bloody huge. 150ft elevator ride up scaffolding then another 50ft climb to inside the dome. At the very top of which is a little room with spectacular views of Vienna. Which is all well and good but when the scaffolding is creaking and moving you’ve got more important things on your mind. Like “how do I get off this damn thing!” But you have to make allowances for are germanic cousins: they are good engineers. Karls Kirche domed ceiling.Here you can see Lady S eying up some of the detail paintwork. It’s five hundred years old and quite amazing to be so close to. Apparently, she muttered to me, “it’s better than ours. But don’t tell anyone.”

For lunch we went to a posh restaurant called the Steirereck in the state park. Two Michelin stars and the best in Vienna. Well where else would we go? We got off to a spectacular start of our 5 course meal with Char (it’s a fish) in beeswax. Could be interesting I thought. But I wasn’t expecting the waiter to come out with a behive tray and a jar of molten beeswax. DSCF5474“Velcome sir. ‘Ere we ‘ave zee Char feesh. Ve vill cook it at your table by zimply pouring zee beeswax over zee feesh and waiting ten minutes to break it out. Like Zo!” And with that he poured the beeswax over my fish and left it! You don’t believe me do you? It’s a nice touch providing a card telling you what each dish consists of. Some are so obscure you couldn’t possibly remember it. And so it went on. Dish after dish of really fascinating beautifully prepared food. DSCF5480After desert they offerred us chocolates with our coffee. Not just any old chocolate. Jewellery chocolate. Served from a jewellery counter. The presentation capped a truly splendid meal. And the price I hear you ask? Not as much as you might think. Lunch for two a bottle and half of delicious Austrian wine all for the price of half of one Rolling Stones ticket. As we strolled back through the park arm in arm. Lady S whispered to me “Do you think we could get Edwards to cook like that? I’ve kept all the cards?” You’ve got to laugh.

Our last morning was spent tootling about the shops; I had a look at the Ferrari show room, they were a bit snooty; Lady S had a look at jewellery, they weren’t. It’s the blue blood; it shows. Neither of us had our credit cards with us. Phew.

Having paid our bill and climbed into the back of the BMW saloon on our way to the airport. The driver neatly summed up Vienna. “Zank you for wisiting our beautiful city of Wien our journey to the airport should take approximately 18 minutes.”

I need say no more. If you are looking for a nice, sophisticated and cultured city break you will do no better than Vienna.

My best man and his beloved Reliant Robin

A post on my old school facebook page caught my eye this morning. Lady S and I are enjoying a well earned rest from the rigours of our job; at a luxury resort in Cyprus. Thus giving me the rare opportunity to catch up on the lives of my fellow inmates of Salesian School Chertsey, whilst sipping on my banana daiquiri.

For those of you fortunate enough to not know the school; it sported a motley collection of drunks, perverts, sadists, in-denial homosexuals, mysogenists and general neer do wells. And I’m talking about the teachers. In fact most of our more ‘colourful’ betters were priests and brothers of the catholic order of Salesians. Enough said.

Anyway, it would seem that despite their best efforts “the class of 80” has turned out to be a pretty nice bunch of people. The group postings have evolved into a gently humorous reflection of life as a teenager in the seventies, with a tendancy to spark new memories and recollections along the way. And it was one of these that got me thinking about the events leading up to my wedding back in ’84.

The post in question was about the crappy old cars that were part of our lives back then and I was reminded of my best mate’s, and soon to be best man’s, car – a Reliant Robin. 3 wheels and 650 ccs of pure motoring pleasure to the enthusiast. 20120922-163427.jpg

“Wolfie”, who modeled himself on Citizen Smith but was formerly a punk rocker called Andy Littlecott, had grown long wispy biker hair and a serious pair of sideburns. His main mode of transport was his BSA Bantam but, like many bikers reluctant to get a shed license, he also owned a Robin. At this point in time he was also petrified as his destiny awaited him in the form of the best man’s speech. Not known for his public speaking, this was a daunting task for the poor lad. Especially as I had already addressed the question of his hair and it’s compatibility with a morning suit and top hat. ‘Andy mate?’, I asked, ‘it would be nice if, twenty years later, we looked at our wedding photos and didn’t wonder who the hobo was pretending to be our best man. Any chance you’ll get a hair cut?’ His assurances of smartness were genuine and, we felt in the circumstances, reasonable.
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Six weeks to go and all that remained was the question of our transport to the wedding. Obviously, the Bantam was out which left the Robin. “it’ll be fine!” Wolfie said, “I’ll make sure it’s working properly and nice and clean and everything! Don’t worry!” Which did nothing whatsoever to alleviate my concerns, but I had no choice. “Okay”, I said slowly, “but you better be right or Lady S will have a bot fit.”

Three days before the glorious event Wolfie rings up mysteriously, “I’ve had a bit of a problem with the Robin, but don’t worry it’ll be fixed before Saturday.”

“What the hell are you talking about Andy?”, I said.

“Well I haven’t hit anything and I should be able to make good the damage by Saturday. Bye” and hurriedly hung up.

Jesus I thought, what will my darling betrothed say? Lady S, being possessed of considerably bluer blood than myself had the great and good coming to the event and was not in a mood for potential embarrassment. Or as she put it, “All you’ve got to do is get yourself to the wedding sober and presentable so don’t f**k it up!

Come the glorious day I’m a bit more than the average groom’s nervous, waiting for my carriage to arrive. At the appointed hour I hear to my relief the familiar putt putt putt of the Robin’s lawn mower engine as it crunches down the parent’s drive. A pair of mirror shades grin out of the driver’s window at me.

“What the f**k have you done to your car Wolfie it’s all stuck together with packing tape!”

It transpires that Wolfie has been minding his own business driving the Robin down a leafy avenue in Virginia Water at about 40 mph – almost its top speed – when suddenly a car pulled out in front of him on his side. Unable to brake, Robin brakes were almost optional, he was forced to swerve onto the other side of the road. Now any one who has watched Top Gear will know how Robins perform under these conditions for those of you who haven’t I give you The Robin’s party trick. The car, well I call it a car, rolled unto its right side and slid down the road towards the oncoming car. Wolfie, keen to remain cool at all times, managed to right the car by bouncing off a grass verge narrowly avoiding the oncoming car but such was his angular momentum he rolled the car on to the left hand side too. Fortunately the other grass bank leapt up to meet the body work and the car miraculously righted itself without hitting either car.

“I can’t believe it”, he said, “I’ve managed to completely f**k the Robin by missing two cars and they didn’t even stop! The bastards have rubbed my door handles off!”

“Never mind your door handles, how am I supposed to get in the car?” I asked.

“Through the window of course! We’ve got to get some petrol so you can practice at the station. It’ll be fine.”

You can imagine the amusement I managed to generate for the inevitable crowd that greeted me at the petrol station as I struggled to get out of the window of a Robin – with the doors held on by brown packing tape – in my morning suit and top hat.

“You’re not going to a wedding in that pile of shit are you mate?” some wit called out. Yes I am I thought, mine. I was livid.

“Right Andy”, I said, “we’re gonna have to get there early. Park round the back of the pub and make sure no one sees us. If Lady S finds out we’re f**king dead!”

It was one of the longest journeys of my life but Andy, like any good best man, kept his cool and got me there on time. A couple of large sharpeners and a cheeky Rothmans sorted out my nerves and I was ready for the event.

It was a lovely ceremony and as my beautiful wife to be glided up to meet me at the alter she looked at me quizzically, “are you alright my darling?” she asked “you look a little flustered? Any problems getting here?”

I’m looking over at Lady S sipping her glass of bubbly in the fading sun and wonder what would have happened had I answered her.

It’s not for us to reason why.

Norfolk: The Broads : The final frontier

Gravel crunches on the drive as the three car cavalcade quietly disappears into the early morning mists surrounding Windsor. The first car pauses. A rear window purrs open and a beautiful woman’s face looks back to the house. “Don’t forget to tell him to feed the dogs and put the bleeding bin out!”.

The tall figure by the house nodds silently at the closing car window as it continues on down the drive. A young man’s voice could be heard drifting from the house. “Edwards. where’s my breakfast?” The tall figure turns replying “Apologies Master Henry-yoof, right away sir”…..

Three hours later in a nondescript village five miles north east of the provincial town of Norwich three dark windowed cars glide briskly through. Not stopping for the red lights, they turn un-noticed into a shaded marina and park up. The cars doors open and several heavy-set people, too quick for their size to be ordinary, spread out and start foraging.

The car window purrs down, the upper class face appears again. “Has one arrived?”

The Marina crew speak in muffled tones to the shadowy team as they start loading the boat.

Romany 2Named the Romany 2, it was once a sleek, smart looking white hulled boat. Now, twenty years later, it had lost much of its allure, but the unmistakable burble of powerful v8 engines indicated a high performance machine. The elegant lady is escorted aboard and, without a backward glance, goes below decks. Once the boat had been provisioned and the luggage stowed the mooring lines were quietly slipped and the boat glided away.

Chapter 2

I bet you never guessed… It’s only me. Heraldo! With Lady S and two other famillies. We’re on holiday! Ouch, sorry, just had a bit of feed back. Not holiday. Stupid me.

We’re on a heart reach, out hug mission. Wow! To seek out new civilisations, to boldly go where no wo-person has gone before…….. Our mission: to save poor people from their miserable existence and to convert them into her quasi-religious/post-apocalyptic/pro-earth/proto-lesbian sect. The lower levels of the sect, of course…

It was pleasing to note that Lady S’ entourage was more than happy for us to take the only 1st class cabin. But, to be fair, she would have comandeered it anyway. Lady BSM did make a small comment under her breath but was quickly ushered away by the others. After another hour of loading the prodigious quantities of food required to required to keep The Sexton, Master George and Master Johnny fed for a week, we finally departed.

I’m the good looking one on the left.

Driving the boat is wee Robbie, his little eyes bright with excitement as he quickly transfers his chauffeuring skills to a new medium. He bought the pirate hat himself without the approval of his lovely wife Lady Barton St. Mary. Big mistake. Obviously I had to keep a fairly close eye on him to start with…

When Robbie was taking his afternoon nap Penny, the vicar’s daughter, regularly took the wheel. It has proved an invaluable tool for her to work our her aggression – caused by her challenging social work role. Unfortunately this scared off many river craft who couldn’t afford the damage waiver insurance and – after one particular incident where a 10ft steel girder appeared from nowhere to ram us – gave most of her crew whiplash. Being stoic folk we didn’t say anything. We didn’t dare.

Yet more searchingWe spent most of the week trying to find suitable candidates for the cause, its amazing how much ground you can cover with the aid of a boat. But try as we might we couldn’t find anyone.

Village half-witsEventually we found a pair of local half-wits in a pub but, despite their obviously low iq’s, they mostly had all their own teeth so didn’t meet the definition.

That evening’s meal was a sombre affair. It’s silence was only broken by the Sexton gnawing away at a lamb leg and making a smacking sucking kind of noise on finding a juicy bit. It was clear from Lady S’ and Lady BSM’s body language that their was a problem. Raising your eyes to the ceiling then deeply sighing whilst rolling the head forward to look at the floor and dropping your shoulders can only mean one thing in anyone’s book.

‘Clearly, the quest is not working. Where are all the poor people?’ Lady S wrung her hands. ‘What is one to do about it?’

‘Oh fack it’ Lady BSM starts, ‘this is all bollocks, lets go down the pub and get pissed!’. Well you could have heard a pin drop. Realising the enormity of the consequences of her out burst were she not to nip it in the bud immediately. And not wanting to upset her old school friend, she blurted out ‘Oh! er.. why don’t you use my man instead? Get him to search up river with you, maybe you’ll find some recruits there?’. Which was a bit harsh on old Rob as he gave up his chauffering role way back when he married her. ‘We can stay in tonight if you prefer?’

‘Ok’, said Lady S reaching for the gin bottle, ‘But he’d better be bloody good! or I’m gonna get the hump!’ Fortunately he didn’t cause a scene as he was unaware of his fate that evening. Encumbered, as he was, with iTunes earbuds stuck in each ear and faintly humming to his latest drum and bass track he’d downloaded.

It wasn’t until the next morning that, on learning what was about to happen, he tried to make his escape. But to no avail.
Lady S saw him from the first class lounge. She jumped up and ran out on to the main deck. Reaching down, she grabbed a knapsack, tucked her bowie knife in her mouth, said, ‘don’t worry about me I maybe gone a while’ then jumped in! I looked up from a particularly interesting article in the Times, in part because water had splashed on it, and mumbled ‘oh, well take care then.’

exploring the tributariesBut she couldn’t hear me as she was climbing aboard the dinghy issuing instructions to the shocked Rob. As the pair disappeared around the corner it became clear to the remainder of the company we would have to fend for ourselves. Lady BSM called up from the galley ‘Champagne any one? …..Where’s Lady S?’

Three days later we heard the unmistakeable sound of oars slowly making their way to our boat. ‘Cooeee’ Lady S called out, ‘we’re back!’ Rob was ashen faced and appeared to have lost about three stone from all the rowing, but from the sounds of it their deeper exploration of the tributaries of the river Bure had paid off. ‘We’ve found some recruits’, Lady S cheerfully announced, ‘we can all relax now. I’m sending them their uniforms and welcome packs next week. Let’s have a pissup.’ And so we did. And the rest of our time on the Broads passed restfully and peacefully. Thank gawd.

With the mission over and the largely undamaged boat returned to it’s owners, and the remaining booze stowed in the boot of the Bentley, Lady S and I sat back into the Connolly leather as the car whisked us away. I glanced over at her. Incongruously she wearing her camouflage trousers and headband and khaki sleeveless vest, glistening in the early evening light. ‘Did you enjoy your trip to the Norfolk Broads darling?’ I asked. She looked back and smiled. With a winsome look she said, ‘Of course my dear, it’s the land of the dykes, why wouldn’t I be?’

Enuf said.

Bicester Village: A Warning

Men: on no account let yourself be persuaded to visit Bicester Shopping Village. It will cost you.

If you are press-ganged to go here are a few tips.

As you walk down the mall don’t be concerned by the other-worldly feeling you are getting. As Lady S said to me, ‘Where have all the bloody chinks come from?’ And she’s not wrong. I reckon at least 50% of the customers were oriental. In fact so many visit Bicester now that the shops employ Chinese people. Good at speaking Mandarin….. but presumably not so good at cooking Mandarin.

This situation is not without its chances for humour though.

I narrowly escaped from parting with 600 quid on a Prada handbag by saying to the chinese shopping assistant it was almost identical to the one on Lady S’ shoulder.  The assistant burst into giggles saying  ‘you berry funny man’ and they both had a good belly laugh at how stupid and ignorant I was. Sufficiently so, in fact, for me to distract the wife from reaching for her Amex card by pointing excitedly at nothing outside and whisking her away. So who’s stupid eh?

The best bet is to walk briskly down the centre of the mall firmly gripping your good lady wife’s hand aiming for the BOSE shop. Do NOT look to either side. With a bit of luck you will get past the shoe shops. You might even make it past some of the handbag shops. By way of example of the risks you are taking visiting this place, I happened to glance at the frosted glass figurine in Lalique…. £2,950 reduced from £4,000 quid! No shortage of our little yellow friends queuing to buy them either!

And then in the Mulberry store a chinese chinese man is asking the english chinese lady assistant in english ‘why the handbags were so much more expensive in Engrand than China’ and then assistant patiently explaining ‘that in Engrand, despite being made in China, we are, in fact, selling the original products not the fake,cheap chinese ones. A concept which was completely foreign to him and very funny to watch.

If you see this sign, run away. I allowed Lady S to drag me in there to look at a few shoes. Yes I know, foolish. Extremely foolish. I nonchanlantly picked up a ladies crock-skin loafer thinking it might be a good suggestion and peered at the price. I had in my mind 80 quid or so. The numbers swam in and out of focus. I could read 2,320 reduced to 1,250.

‘Oh’, I said showing Lady S ‘these must be from Italy still in Lira or something’.

She looked at the price ‘Don’t be silly dear thats in pounds’.

‘F**k me they know how to charge!’ I blurted out. Which caused a bit of a stir in the shop and a sharp glance from the memsahib so had to make a rapid exit.

But then we met the scotsman.

We were standing at Charles Tyrwhitt’s counter. I was feeling patriotic so had my union jack pair of socks in my hand when I heard the chinese shop manager say ‘I’m berry soory sir but I’m not sure a scottish money £20 note is legal tender in England.’

Then a thick, loud glaswegian accent says ‘Are ye winding me up laddie?’

Chineseman, ‘Oh not at all sir it’s just that I’m not sure sure that this is real money’.

The glaswegian, who is now right next to me and Lady S, shouts ‘Don’t take the piss out of me Jimmy. 

At which point I burst out laughing which, to be fair, didn’t really help diplomatic relations.

‘It’s not you sir, it me. What with Scotland in the euro and everything I’ll have to check with my manager.

‘Stop talking like that or I’ll think you’re stupid! Of course it’s real money it’s even better than the english!’

‘Oh no it’s not’, I piped with a big grin, ‘We’ve had all the oil’.

On reflection, this was not the wisest thing to have said to a 6 foot tall purple-faced glaswegian. But then as many of you will know ‘wise’ and ‘Gerald’ are two words that don’t often go in the same sentence. To say he was angry was an understatement but, with a bit of intervention from Lady S, the store manager managed to placate his hairy-arsed customer and prevent him from lumping me.

I fairly skipped out of the shop with glee.

Hey ho! Every cloud….