‘Milla’s Diary: One’s To Do List

NOTE: This is affectionately written fiction. Any resemblance to royals, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This piece is copyright protected.

Need to know Who’s Who? Check out the first installment of ‘Milla’s Diary.

I honestly am chucking in the towel. I cannot keep up with this diary, keep up with Dear One, keep up with where Pip has gone walkabout this time and keep up with my new bullet journal all at the same time. Good heavens, even trying makes me lunge for the gin and fags cigarettes. Then there’s the dogs to think of, my grands and I haven’t caught up the Street in ages (how I loathe it when the call it “Corrie”).  Just to give you some idea what I’m up against here is my To Do List….I haven’t figured out where it goes in my bullet journal, but my dear little Filipino Kitchen Maid Personal Assistant assures me it will become clear in time. I’ve watched the video a hundred times but can’t get past circles, 6 squares, pages???? In my day, ladies kept a discreet leather-bound calendar in their purse. On it went the days the husband would be away shooting, school exeats, Pony Club Camp, Asoct, and the days one needn’t bother with that dear little device that saved the day when one wanted to play after dark. Do the even make those any more? All condoms these days. As it should be. Let the man deal with it. I digress.

 

Me. Week of 18/1/2016

  1. Collect dry cleaning (not in butler’s contract. Footman has doctor’s note)
  2. Sign official portraits for next visit to who-knows-where
  3. Shop for Grand 1’s birthday–see if Mummy’s tiara is all paste & wrap.
  4. New Spanx (maid has to give evidence in court this week–traffic accident0
  5. Make valet trim Dear One’s nose and ear hair or do it self.
  6. Bribe Press Johnny to stop Pushy promoting new grandchild’s birth. Child will be too far below the success salt to matter.
  7. Ring Pushy to see if Xmas thank you was lost in post. Ask if she’s well–looking haggard (that will keep her away till Ascot).
  8. Write fundraising appeal for horrid old school for Dear One to avoid annual fundraising letter gnash.
  9. Persuade butler to do his bloody job for dinner with Cousin G and a few of our friends. 2 Dukes and an Earl ought to be posh enough for fecking Carson. Remember to text Earl not to bring newest bit of fluff.
  10. Restock purse with Mars bars.
  11. Select Valentine’s pants for Dear One and young chaps at the off license. Remember to compliment their calendar and praise inclusion of vouchers.
  12. Find dog #1’s favorite tennis ball. Heave sofa myself to avoid Collective Bargaining dispute.
  13. Take Pip to DIY center and get guts for our loo to stop Dear One gnashing over bloody thing running all night. Note to self: Wednesday is OAP discount day. Get with Pip’s schedule lass to work out timing.
  14. Letter of apology to lady in ticket booth for Pip’s remark on what they did in 1946. Old Dear wasn’t born till ’49.
  15. Find organic, free trade, fair labor, Bob’s your uncle breath mints for Dear One.
  16. Dentist appointment for Dear One.
  17. Order in Beige Cardi selection for M-i-l real birthday. Make Dear One Choose.
  18. Order new horse coffee table book from me for M-i-l’s real birthday.
  19. Figure out Pip’s laptop. Won’t play girly films again. Ask off license boys. Tip well.
  20. Have P.M. to private tea to sooth ruffled feathers over Dear One’s latest “atrocity” letters that no one can read, but all are having cock-stands over. Let him wallow on boobs? Perhaps not.
  21. Have Mrs. P.M. to separate private tea to remind Hubs thru Her that Dear One is FUTURE MONARCH.  Skip tea, good Gin in the good silver. Ask about liquid foundation brand–looks natural. Remember  newest style Spanx, size M, promised last meeting.
  22. Text Boy to remind of Papa’s winter funk and a text or two wouldn’t go amiss. Switch off the Chopper Station Play Station for 5 minutes and text your aging father already!
  23. Text son to remind of Papa’s winter funk and a text of two wouldn’t go amiss. Put down the booze and text dear old Daddy already! Have Grands make cards for Grandpapa and post them properly. Don’t skip house name like last time–it matters to our generation.
  24. Return m-i-l’s 27 voicemails on Dear One’s mobile to say we won’t be down for shooting this weekend and make up plausible reason why. Check file for last year’s excuse.
  25. Text OTH and reminder her of big brother’s winter funk and a bawdy text or two would lighten the gloom. Remind her to use story of my ex. Bucks Dear One up no end those.
  26. Text OTH’s husband to remind OTH to listen to voicemail from One.
  27. Write update for old school newsletter.  Remember phrase “engaging in meaningful societal discourse.” Remember to thank Malawian Solicitor at the dry cleaners for the phrase and ask P.M. at tea to bump his paperwork up a few notches.Today, 3:30 pm, FORCE staff to put on Downton-ish dinner. Settle for Sainsbury’s Sole Meunière ready meal and tinned potatoes and that new Free Trade, Antiseptic, Free Range, Self-Driving Wine Dear One found on flood trip. [Note to self: Check status of tetanus jabs & Cholera jab due to flood zone purchase.] Insist on George I’s china or require powdered wigs daily.
  28. Find nightie to replace son’s Eton Cadet Force t-shirt for bedtime.
  29. Hoover front stairs (everyone has a doctor’s note).

There. Do you see what I have to juggle? The P.M. and the M-i-l have a STAFF to cope with this! Over here in the Mausoleum, it’s up to One. It’s always up-to-one. Whenever there’s a broken toilet, dog sick on the carpet or hair in Dear One’s ears it’s up to One. We wives of my generation are the descendants of the women who ruled the empire. We are descendants of Vice Reigns, Mrs. District Commissioner, Mrs. Colonel and all the rest. We pull on our girdles, slip on our pumps and keep our hair set. We are the backbone of the empire! We are Upper Class Wives! Who needs Sandhurst when you’ve been properly raised by Mummy?

Pass the gin…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Milla’s Diary: The Christmas Lunch

NOTE: This is affectionately written fiction. Any resemblance to royals, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This piece is copyright protected.

Need to know Who’s Who? Check out the first installment of ‘Milla’s Diary.

On our calendar the most dreaded day of the year not related to SWMNBN is the family Christmas lunch. I’m told it used to be much worse–they used to all congregate at Windsor for a traditional family Christmas house party. Thankfully the Mother-in-law and Pip got fed up with Cousin Pushy’s complaining about the dungeon her children’s nanny was housed in and Cousin Whoever’s ranting about how far it was to the loo in the middle of the night and then Aunt Somebody’s lumbago required a two-bar heater and….well, if you’ve ever hosted family you know. You just know.

Dear One’s brother-in-law the Equerry arrived first. He has to. No one else would know what to do if he wasn’t there to sort it all, now would they? He walked from his desk at the office of Naval Underpants Supply or where ever it is he parks his hat these days. He’s been a tad grumpy since TOTH (i.e. his wife) was given an honorary rank above his earned rank. I don’t blame him, but TOTH is both the Mother-in-law and Pip’s favorite child. So, anyhoo, he arrived and found the drinks trolley or whatever he does until we all arrive.

The Press Johnnies were out to try to get photos of the family members no one but Debrett’s knows are relatives. They come in on scooters or in taxis or walk in and get frisked and told the tour is off today. Those sorts. They have to submit a photo 24 hours in advance so they are recognized. Thank heavens we get copies– so very helpful since we only see them at Christmas and Trooping the Colour. The mother-in-law knows every dog and horse belonging to a 6th degree relative but struggles with anyone’s grandchildren but her late sister’s. Her equerry (the real one) reminds her who they are by giving the dog or horse’s name sotto voce. Works like a charm.

So once we were all gathered, we were shown to our table of gifts by order of precedence–weakest links first. Baby1 and Baby2 got a lovely reception. Dear One was very chuffed. Finally the Mother-in-law and Pip entered to a flurry of neck bows and curtsies. Then because absolutely no one gives a fig about the others, the order was given and mayhem ensued as gifts were opened. Quite a few managed to worm out of coming have other engagements worthy of an excused absence. The boy, poor lad, was away on a very miserable task. At a legitimate friend’s funeral. Granny understood–offered the tank (her limo) but he took himself and a security chap in a Range Rover. Sad when a Range Rover is fuel efficient by comparison.

Pushy managed to get most of her family there. Gossip from the maids (they always know) is that her granddaughter was born after her command. She thinks the child will be the ideal bride for Baby1. Not a chance. They were all perfectly photographed–she makes the chauffeur carry a light meter. As I was getting out of the car I heard one old dear ask if Pushy was Barbara Streisand! Dear One is still giggling. He went over and kissed the old dear, but do the press show it? NO. They replayed a photo of SWMNBN greeting some OAP at  Palace event decades before. Typical.

The fun began when Dear One opened his gift from Mummy. Once in a very great while she is spot-on with gift-giving. It was an exact copy of the first lovely German-made tin of watercolors that she and Pip had given Dear One in 1955. He was overcome. Unusually thoughtful. Pip, of course, gave him a new tie from one of [Pip’s] his own regiments. In rayon, early 1960s from the look of it. Dear One, realizing Pip had likely mistakenly done his shopping in the attic, let it go. These things happen with aging.

TOTH, of course, being the favorite, got a diamond Parurue formerly belonging to Queen Charlotte and valued and something close to the Gross Domestic Product of Canada. Her husband got the Navy’s standard Christmas rum ration and standard Senior-most officer gift. Poor chap.

The Boy was given a racehorse (which the Mother-in-law has graciously let stay at the Sandringham stud) valued only slightly less than  Sandringham itself. She’s worried. Once she goes will she be the last monarch to race horses? The boy has close to zero interest, but Granny is trying. Yummy got earrings worth about as much her engagement ring and that were made to match it, but made for Yummy herself, not for SWMNBN.

The trouble began when Edith and Randy began comparing gifts. Never good. Both got their noses completely out of joint of the “ridiculous favoritism” (their words) shown the boy. Edith does ride horses, but Randy likely can’t spell horse, so there really was no way they’d have received a racehorse now is there? Edith got a perfectly lovely Smoothie maker from Mummy and a lovely vintage BOAC DC10 pull-toy (the attic again) from Pip,  while Randy got a Landseerer from Mummy and a package of vintage Y-fronts from Pip (the attic must have been doing a  clearance sale).  The boys argued and almost came to blows. “Mummy’s boy!” “Get blowed” and worse were heard. I stepped in. It’s always up to One, isn’t it. I pulled out my phone and googled the value of the Landseerer then the BOAC toy and since the toy was in the original packaging and since Landseerer hasn’t been popular since the Prince Consort’s day, they were dead even. Peace reigned.

At last we queued for lunch. Pushy pointed out that the Boy’s abscense created an opening at the top table. Naturally she felt she, or at least one of her family deserved it. The Mother-in-law looked perplexed. Force of habit she looked to the equerry (the real one) to sort it. He pulled out a note pad and started scribbling names.

“If you would please, Ma’am….” he said, holding out his hastily received hat now holding the names.

The Mother-in-law whispered something to him and he nodded vigorously.

The Mother-in-law pulled out a slip of paper and read it aloud.

“Vice Admiral [the Equerry–the son-in-law one]” was the chosen one’s name.

Edith looked appalled. Eat with the help? They all forget that technically he’s their brother-in-law.

The others grumbled and started to look for their place cards. The mother-in-law was handed a bull horn. A tense exchange while Pip insisted on showing her how to use it. Haza, bless him, grabbed the horn and Granny fed him his lines–which he edited.

“Right you lot! Spongers below #30 to the left. The trolley will be around with your meal. Have your dinner card ready. No card, no meal. This is succession order. Repeat success order. Those of you not in succession order are at the back the table with the oilcloth–repeat the table with the oilcloth for those not in the succession. Have your dinner card ready.”

“The rest of you are in Family order. Those of you above 30, but below 12 are at the table with the cotton cloth and the household canteen china. Numbers 12 and up, plus the winner of the dinner drawing,” he nodded politely to the grinning winner, “… are at the top table with the good stuff. Move out.”

The Mother-in-law thought him such a hoot! They huddled together giggling watching Pushy give the oil cloth a dab with a personal hygiene wipe from her purse. Randy and Edith, forced to eat on mere cotton, looked angry. Meanwhile Pip and Baby 1 had helped themselves to a mountain of mashed potatoes and gravy of the trolley and were making airplane noises, swooping in, scooping some up and feeding each other.

The best was yet to come though. The Mother-in-law is a superb hostess at state dinners. With the family it’s a bit different. Cousin’s G’s wife had lost her dinner card. No she could not get a replacement. A paper plate was found and they were allow to share his meal.

The trolley emerged and the oilcloth table got their cut-price ready meals served on junior staff canteen plates with mineral water. The cottons’ trolley brought around a choice of chicken on pork with 2 veg and bread roll or the vegetarian lasagna–they were meant to have booked but none did, consequently  most were unhappy with their choices. The box of wine was brought out and each was given exactly half a glass, no refills if you did not book and pay the fee. Edith and Randy were fit to be tied. Randy’s daughter swilled openly from a flask reading “Keep Calm and Party On.” Edith’s wife swilled from a flask that read “I kissed a frog and got one.” Edith’s props children said the school dinner ladies served better and got smacked for it by Mummy who quickly apologized to the Mother-in-law for her offspring’s manners.

At the top table we lucky few got free-range organic lamb, mashed fingerling potatoes with pub-style gravy (not sure if had stout in it or was made by Heinz) minted fresh peas (organic of course), white asparagus poached in free-trade, fair labor organic white wine, Artisan granary spelt rolls with first press olive oil (butter for the oldies) a salad of mixed heirloom tomatoes on Tuscan greens with aged balsamic and pomegranate vinaigrette,  a choice of exotic artisan cheese and a choice of four wines and six deserts. It’s not like the other’s couldn’t have had this–they just needed to book in advance and pay the difference. Cousin K’s daughter and son-in-law booked for the entire family. Someone in the family learned to read at least.

Yummy, under strict orders to EAT heartily so it doesn’t get in the press that she’s pregnant again or anorexic or worse, having got down an entire asparagus spear, a crumb of artisan Stilton, a bite of lamb and a spoonful of mashed potato to please her son, pronounced herself “stuffed.” She popped a grape from the cheese tray and called it “desert.” Made us all proud. We’d never her seen her hoover up food like that before. Very impressive.

Pushy’s face when handed a cut-brand ice lolly and a sheet of kitchen roll as “afters” was priceless. Haza sent it via Snapchat to the boy and he’s framing it for Dear One for Christmas–it’ll go over the loo of course–all such do. Only place for them. Truly, though, what a hoot! Her in mink and her never-met-uber-pretentious-late-m-i-l’s diamonds (half are paste–they had money troubles a few years back) eating a purple ice lolly. I can die happy. I have truly seen it all.  Randy and Edith had to make due to with supermarket trifle–its one of Randy’s favorite things on Earth though so the favoritism thing came up again. Edith’s wife solved it by pulling out a Mars bar and snarling “here.”I was so proud. She’s coming along nicely.

At exactly 3:00 pm the National Anthem was played and all stood. When it ended the Mother-in-law handed Haza the bullhorn for dismissal right after everyone had regained their seats.

“Oilcloth, ‘shun!” He barked like an RSM. Chairs scraped and heels clicked.

“Public transport patrons and cab riders right face, march!”

They exited.

“Wasteful private car drivers, right face, march.” They did, but a wife forgot her purse and scurried back to disapproving looks. At the door each was handed a souvenier of the day– a new framed photo (plastic) of Pip and the M-i-l and a voucher for 50p off the summer tour.

“Next lot–on your feet cotton!” Same drill only they received silver plated frames on their photos and an entire pound off the tour entry fee.

“Now, the rest of us–at ease.”

Haza had us all laughing imitating Pushy eating her ice lolly and making rude remarks to her husband (who looked like he taken quaaludes before coming).

As he kissed Pip goodbye Dear One shouted into his better ear “Nice try, Papa. I’m not taking another of your regiments. And this one amalgamated with the Lowland Hussars in ’71. Next year shop at a store, not the attic.”

Pip looked at him and said very seriously, “We’ll discuss your maths and Latin scores after dinner.”

Afterward, Dear One, sentimantal thing that he is, kissed his mother and thanked sweetly her for the lovely gift.

“It was in the with the toys they sent round for me to choose from–for the babies. When I saw it I remembered you and Papa painting that Christmas and how Mummy and [her sister] praised your efforts. You’ve always done so nicely at painting.”

The Garter didn’t mean as much. He blubbed all the way over to the Masoleum. They won’t be around much longer. He knows that. Both are desperately trying to pass on their patronages to keep the organizations they’ve represented from going under in many cases. Yummy, soft touch that she is, gained one before lunch. Pip was so pleased. We forget just how old and frail they both really are. Next Christmas could be the first without one or both. I’m glad we had a good giggle today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milla’s Diary: Road Trip With the In-laws

NOTE: This is affectionately written fiction. Any resemblance to royals, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This piece is copyright protected.

Need to know Who’s Who? Check out the first installment of ‘Milla’s Diary.

 

Never have I been so GLAD to be home. And by home I mean MY home, my bolt-hole in the country. Just me and the dogs. Not even up to the Grands yet. One of the PR Johnnies had the brilliant idea of a joint visit by Dear One, Me, the Mother-in-law and Pip to that lovely vacation spot, Malta. Knackering doesn’t begin to describe the ordeal. Not even on the pitch, if you see what I mean? Good golly Miss Molly, indeed. I’ve got the scars to prove it.

Where to begin? I suppose that would be with Dear One’s speech. As I always say about Dear One’s speeches, cue the scary music and clutch the drapes. Yes, one of those speeches. Climate change… I KNOW, I KNOW! More spider letter stories. More SWMNBN would cry a river over it (after first alerting the press and forcing the boys to go along, but that’s for another day). Draft one I vetted in the bath. Alone. Had to climb out and fetch my spectacles. Dear One’s governess, who taught him “a proper hand” as Queen Mary would have said, was previously employed by Aunt M who was more Royal than anyone we know (although Pushy tries to out-do-her and we all know Pushy would still be sweeping up an Aussie hair salon if Aunt M was still alive! But I’m digressing….) So, his handwriting is difficult to read for anyone born after 1834. The spectacles helped…just.

Draft one featured such helpful suggestions as mandating that all buildings be covered in green plants to suck up the air pollution and that non-organic washing powder be banned. Now, I’ve taken a turn or two at the old twin-tub and I can tell you that any washing powder worth its salt has masses, simply masses, of lovely chemicals swimming in it. How else would they get the smell of men’s underarms out? I nixed that. The greenery thing was solved with a paper clip and photo of his old Gan-Gan hacking savagely at the lovely Ivy on Badminton House during the war. Enough Said. Anyway, who believes all those things they read on Facebook? I may not have any more A levels than SWMNBN (well, one didn’t in my day. Nanny dined out on “No man with a trust fund and a country house marries a bluestocking”), but as I understand it “Pronouncements” of the sort Dear One loves to make are best done with scientific research to back them up. Well, enough on the speech. It was long, boring and except for that line I slipped in after he and the mother-in-law were asleep, completely unmemorable and unquoted. It’s always up to One, isn’t it? A wife’s duty. But, I’m getting ahead of the story.

The speech was for part two of this little voyage. Since the M-i-l and Pip together are equal to two centuries or so of eating cold creamed chicken and drinking awful champagne in toast of nothing, a great deal of fuss was made over them. Well, they’re OLD and, let’s face it, they’ve put in the time. There was the now predictable re-enactment of a supposedly “iconic” photo. If you ask me (and no one did) they looked like they were quarreling over whether he had or had not chatted up a nubile young blond at the polo club the night before. Soldiers may have more fun, but sailors have the world as their playing field after all. Turns out they had been rowing only it was over the underpants she’d brought out for him. Not the right brand. Typical of men, isn’t it? Can’t be bothered to just tell the valet.

We settled in to our joint accommodation–though believe me, THEY got the honeymoon suite and we got the staff accommodation. You’d think people their age would nod off over their Bovril at 7:30 after a dinner of soft fish and mushy peas, but no! First it was the telly blaring full volume and the M-i-l shrieking over it about some joke that would be misunderstood in the tabloids and Pip firing back that he couldn’t hear the Sports over her caterwauling. Once that part of the air was cleared, it was “shake, rattle and roll” time as they knocked back all their evening pills and argued over the ledger they keep for them. Next came a long period of giggling then a loud [let’s just say a window was hastily opened] then a long period that was exceptionally audible to those of us in the rabbit hutch next door.

There was the usual “how did we turn out that” lament on Dear One, the usual hours of praise for the OTH (had they only stopped with her!) then a jab at how funny it was to see her husband, The Equerry, upstaged by his wife (this is considered funny because he EARNED his admiral’s rank and she was given hers so it looks like we’re all about equality in the forces, which of course we aren’t. Who dreams of a daughter going to Sandhurst except to pin the bars on the fiance? I ask you!)

But then it got really good. Both were now sleepy and half over the line into needing dementia-care. For the life of them they couldn’t recall why they’d had Edith! Dear One giggled excitedly. Randy, well that was simple enough–a lovely weekend alone when the M-i-l’s maid forgot to pack that little item all women of the era were expected to have, but Edith? Why? Then they got down to the reason they were trying to recall why he exists. Turns out the annoying little gnat tried to pawn the props children off on the parents so he and the wife could frolic somewhere alone. Not on. Pip didn’t even recall Edith being married. Had those “supposed” children made it to Paris Match like that Monaco chappie’s bastards? Dear One SO enjoyed all of this. Then they took on Andy and “the tramp” who turns out not to be the ex- but the current bit of fluff with dodgy friends. More fun for Dear One. Something about no barge pole being long enough? Must have been the hearing it thru the wall, but I didn’t quite get it all. Then the M-i-l made a snort and a rude comment on Randy’s “barge pole” and the giggling began anew. What a hoot! Dear One was absolutely jubilant as he wallowed on my boobs.

So, we began the next day riding high. We put up with the screaming over the telly at the breakfast table. Every day is truly brand new to Pip–he forgets everything in his sleep, poor thing. He’s such a lamb. As Pip was dripping the eggy off the toast soldier onto his clean shirt and tie, the Mother-in-law made a gesture with her head and Pip, for once, found the “mute” button on the first try.

“Darling…” She began ominously, aiming her patented smile at Dear One. “Darling, you will remember that Mummy has worked very, very hard to keep all these little colonial whosits in line all these years, won’t you?”

“Of course Mummy, but they prefer ‘Independent Nations‘ now a days.”

“Of course they do!” She gave a hoot of laughter.

“We must be sensitive on this one Mummy…” Dear One said, brandishing the butter knife.

“Of course we must!” This came out in a peel of fun laughter. But then her face changed. It was like a seismic shift. Pip squirmed a bit, as though needing the loo (probably did poor old dear, they get like that, don’t they? men.) Those fabled blue eyes fixed on those of her first born and she spoke in her “don’t-give-me any s*-t you-little-worm-I’m-still-your -sovereign-and-what’s-more-I’m-your-Mother” tone. I couldn’t help it, I sat up even straighter, though I doubt old lady Grantham in her prime could have sat more vertical.

“Don’t cause a cock-up with your silly speech. Just say things that please both sides but mean nothing. Otherwise….” She paused for effect. “I’ve had a lovely offer on Sandringham.” She said this with a thoughtful flounce of her head that nearly unsettled her George III wig.

Dear One’s ears released smoke. The mother-in-law gave a very smug look. Pip asked what happened to the redhead he slept with last night. I reached for a pear. Dear One, though, tried again. Before he spoke I knew, I just knew (well, a wife DOES, doesn’t she?) I kicked him furiously under the table, but no! No, he just HAD to fight back! I swear he’d have been transferred to Eton in a heart beat if he’d just said he found the Prison Camp School “unbecoming,” but  NO! he had to whinge on and on. Same problem here, but at a nuclear level, if you see.

He tried to be strong, to speak menacingly. For once he did not use that bad-gangster-movie-side-of-his-mouth-speech. “You know Mummy, ” he began trying to sound like he was about to win, “I’ve been on to the P.M. and that new labor chap–the one with Parka who won’t bow? hmmm?” Smugness makes him do the hmmm-thing. Not good. “Well, the Prince Regent papers are awaiting your signature and the Great Seal. All done up. Ready the moment I tell them you are ga-ga. They know Papa is a loon, it’s only a matter of time.”

“Oh, you’ve been “on” to the PM have you? Good to know. Then I’m sure he’s let you know that my incapacity must be certified by three doctors, the Archbishops or Canterbury and York, two Commonwealth Heads of County–COUNTRY–” She said this to make him squirm “and a Corgi to be identified later. Also a contingent of fell ponies and the chap who winds the clocks, so good luck.” She paused then went on in a very sweet voice. “Now, about Sandringham. I understand they want to put in a shopping mall and a new housing estate. Frightful waste to keep it all for us. Lovely money, too.” She gave an ominous chuckle.

“Mummy, you wouldn’t dare…..”His knuckles turned white as he clutched the butter knife still.

“Oh wouldn’t I? Worked for Uncle David, blackmail. So, you’ll be rewriting the speech and I will personally approve it. I’m tired of all the “drama”” (she made quote fingers, pulled a face and used a funny voice) “of your so-called speeches. If you want to be King you’ll learn to say nothing. The Boy does it fairly well–he’s young, he’ll learn, but you, have had DECADES and ignored me. Yes, ignored me. So kiss the shooting bye-bye, no more playing Bertie and Alice on weekends, no more having minions carry bathwater up to your room in tall copper jugs. A lovely new housing estate–vinyl siding, cheap windows, the works. I bet they’ll put in a Poundland too. And street parking as well. In fact I think the grouse reserve is slated to become a multi-story car park.”

Dear One sat down hard, gasping. I feared he’d need CPR, but I was a bit drunk when I learned and my mobile was in the bedroom. The Mother-in-law high-fived Pip, he passed more wind and we crept quietly to our room, tails between our legs,  to prepare for the day. I snuggled him in the Proper Pooh blanket and got out the tasteless organic biscuits, then got out the iPad and engaged Skype. Just what he needed. “Hello Yummy darling? Is Baby 1 available for Grandpapa? Yes, we’ll hold….”

Technology. Seeing that little face, gumming the same biscuit. So sweet. A wife’s work is never done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Milla’s Diary: Tea with the Mother-in-law

NOTE: This is affectionately written fiction. Any resemblance to royals, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This piece is copyright protected.

Need to know Who’s Who? Check out the first installment of ‘Milla’s Diary.

Now where was I? First let me just say that Esteban (my lamb of a life coach) was spot on with the bullet journaling idea!! Spot on, I tell you. I jot down what needs to be done in this dear little bespoke leather journal, then as I go I can doodle, add photos, memorabilia, you name it. I’m SCADS more productive! It fits perfectly in my Barbour pocket with the fags cigarettes, spare dog lead and phone. I keep great-granny’s little flask in the other pocket. I did tell Dear One the journal was my p.r. person’s idea–told him all the Lady Clerks were required to show their bullet-ed items each day. He swallowed it. Amazing. After he left me that little reminder of a packet of coffee and a truly proper you-know-what bottle with hose (exactly the sort my nanny threatened to employ of we didn’t promptly do our “duty” after breakfast) I really feared he would make sure Esteban was gone for good. So what if SWMNBN thought “colonic irrigation” with coffee (of all things! At least tea would have been British) was a good plan. It’s not like Esteban told her to do it. Why should I pay for her ridiculous cures? I need this life coaching right now. Especially after this week.Oh yes, this week!

Thursday after lunch, The Paige of The Presence came round with a heavy embossed envelope requesting we join the Mother-in-law for tea. It was made out in proper copperplate, by hand, and used our formal Scottish titles. All of this to have tea with my husband’s parents! I ask you! And yet they all scoff when they read in the press that they’re out of touch.

Well its not like we could say “no, thanks we’re nackered” or anything, is it? So we braced ourselves and got ready.

Getting Dear One ready for the off is a career in itself. Wives of my era know this and were well prepared for it by Mummy, Nanny and Daddy’s valet. One watches and learns, doesn’t one?  Dear One’s valet is of course unavailable so that left dressing him up to yours truly. Its always up to One, isn’t it? The wife always gets stuck with the heavy lifting.

I found Grandpapa’s Hunting Balmoral tartan and the nubbly stockings that go with it. Then I dug out the correct tweed jacket, the appropriate shirt, the tie from the appropriate Scottish regiment. But I forgot the silly flashes. You know–those little flag-things that hang down on the top of the stockings? NO Flashes??? GNASH!! No flashes???  World Ends. Film on telly at eleven! Truly world stopping. I got him back in this world all snuggled in the big chair with the Proper Pooh blanket and a really stiff drink. Then in my best “Don’t-you-even-think-of-arguing-with-Mummy-at-the -Supermarket-till” voice I informed him that the flashes would be found and he would be able to carry on. Honestly. What wives must endure. The dogs hid under the piano and I wanted ever so badly to join them. I stuffed his foot into the shoe and to show there were no hard feelings, I sang the little shoe-tying song that Nanny Whosits always used. Anything harkening back to the very dear and still-longed for nursery and Nanny soothes. It’s all cozy, you see. Cozy is good for Dear One.

At last we were on our way. Me in a tea-gown appropriate for a matron in approximately 1955, but possibly a tad daring for the Mother-in-law in 2015, Dear One kitted out down to the flashes and stout shoes. The drive up there was enlivened with a shrewish rant from yours truly on “do-not-talk-out-the-side-of-your-mouth-like-a-gangster-they-can’t-hear-OR-understand-you-please-darling” and a rebuttal in the tried and true husbandly key of “don’t-bloody-tell-me-what-to-bloody-do.” Marital bliss at 65+.

The table was laid out for Edward VII with scrummy smoked salmon sandwiches, fresh oatcakes, enough clotted cream to float a battleship, potted prawns, fruitcake with heather honey and who knows what all. Of course, having clad myself in head-to-toe Spanx to carry off the dress, I had to impersonate Yummy and eat air. So while the M-in-l, Pip and Dear One chomped happily on all matter of goodies, I twiddled a sandwich around and popped a single grape. I’d have stashed some sandwiches for later in my purse, but the corgis were on duty. Greedy little things, the corgis. Sniff out “poachers” any time. I eyed Dear One’s sporran and wondered if he’d slip some in it, but a corgi bite in that region would not be conducive to the evenings jocularity now would it?

The mother-in-law asked politely after the dogs, of course, then asked if the Grands were still alive. I gave the appreciated mono-syllabic response to that last one and get a one hour reply on the fabulousness of Dear One’s little niece and nephew and his even smaller great-nieces–all children of the Most Favored Ones. Well, most-favored by the mother-in-law AFTER darling Randy, of course. Dear One grumbled something barely audible about the Boy and Haza never getting such grandparental enthusiasm, then whinged under his breath about Dear Little Edith but by then Pip had reawakened and was, as usual these days, a bit out of kilter.

“Put on that American shooting channel….” Pip said around a mouthful of curried egg mayonnaise sandwich.

“Which shooting?” The Mother-in-law asked, thinking he meant a crime.

Off they went, right into row mode, which is their S.O.P. until finally it was established that Pip wanted the American cable channel that showed deer stalking tips.

“Hunting.” Dear One said calmly. “The Hunting Network.”

Now Pip and the M-in-law joined forces for their favorite sport of all: bullying their eldest child.

“Are you deaf as well as thick? Hunting is with horses. That’s a different network.”

“Would yo listen to him–Mr America now. Well, good to know that zillion-pound education went to some use.”

They giggled and high-fived each other.

I finally got them back on solid ground by saying a corgi looked ready to have a seizure. Oh lord! Wrong thing to say.

The mother-in-law opened her handbag and did something within it (yes, she does, in fact, carry it at home–like that thingy the oldies buy off telly for when they’ve fallen and can’t get up). The RED ALERT was sounded. I believe fighter jets may have been activated and missiles armed. I expected to hear the Boy’s Med-Evac chopper overhead.

“MILLA….” Dear One hissed. “Now you’ve pissed in the pot old thing.”

A medical team swarmed the room. A minder herded the non-seizure-looking-corgis off to a designated safe-room. Pip glared at his watch–timing it all. A chap with a briefcase arrived and conferred with the mother-in-law over a hastily-produced stack of papers. STAND DOWN was called. Seems the corgi had a Do Not Resuscitate order due to being the equivalent in people years of 109.

“Well, good to have a drill. Whose for drinks?” The mother-in-law asked, brightening visibly.

“Too right….” Said Pip, hauling himself up to ring for the drink’s tray.

I snagged a fast salmon sandwich and forced it down. Those Spanx Johnnies know their stuff alright! No room for that sandwich let alone a chaser.

As the drinkies arrived so did the Emergency Vet–a very nice looking young man with great abs. The mother-in-law fanned herself. Smart neck bow, quick apology–seems he’d been in the stable seeing to the Mother-in-law’s favorite Fell Pony. Long, very detailed description of an abscess followed. Pip went back to sleep. Dear One sneaked out to the Loo and I bolted down my first drink and mixed us all seconds–in my case a triple. Why add more tonic I always say–just adds unnecessary calories.

Sometime later the Mother-in-law looked up, discovered we were still there and asked “Have you a card for  dinner?”

“Of course not Mummy….” Dear One replied.

“Well then, you must at least stay to join us on Skype–we’re catching up with Edith and his family. The children love it.”

“No Mummy, I’m afraid I’ve got an engagement and we’d better step on it.”

In the car I took Dear One’s hand and said “that was close–we were almost trapped into dinner with them. Remember last year? Mushy fish and broth?”

Editor’s note: Unbeknownst to Dear One and ‘Milla, once they were out of sight, the Mother-in-law took Pip’s hand and said: “That was close! We were almost stuck with them at dinner.”

“Sod that…the chicken should be here any minute and I’ve ordered that Judi Dench film you’ve wanted to see and there’s Chunky Monkey for afters….”

“Another drink?”

“Oh yes, after our eldest, just give me the bottle.”

“We’ll share…” She said as the footman brought in a red and white bucket of fried chicken and a carton with mashed potatoes, biscuits, gravy and coleslaw.

‘Milla’s Diary: The Land of the Thistle, circa Autumn 2015

NOTE: This is affectionately written fiction. Any resemblance to royals, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This piece is copyright protected.

Coo-ee!

Been binge-watching Indian Summers while Dear One is away on the Royal Round. Love that calling! Coo-ee! The colonial version of  s’up! Like a colonial hoodie bashing down the street. Ah the old days……

To bring you up to date, we’re still marooned up here enjoying the bracing Autumn weather in the last few days of our holiday. Overall it’s been quite the letdown this year. It’s really only Esteban (my life coach) who has made it all endurable. Well, that and gin of course! Dear One officially banned Esteban, but who does he think he is? No self-respecting wife would “obey” that sort of thing. We obey things that matter–such as sending out a team of flunkies to scour the countryside for a bottle of Dubonnet in case the Mother-in-law shows up. (Note to self: Ring Julian Fellows to see where they purchase it for the set of Downton Abbey or if they use a fake.) No one drinks it anymore. Difficult to buy on the open market.

Anyway, Esteban and I were Skyp-inig on the desktop. He’s such a lamb! And that Hibernian massage method his Cambodian Johnny uses is to. die. for! Let me tell you. When that little man arrived,he was a gift from God. My back feels simply BRILLIANT now! I went for the deluxe package: soothing music of an era I can understand, candles that smell like roasting grouse and the dogs were allowed to snuggle with me. So that Dear One won’t come apart at the seams I did have him massage me thru my sheerest cotton nightie. What bliss! He warms his hands first, then, pours the wine–wine is a huge factor in the success of this type massage. Who knew Cambodia even grew grapes? Must order a case or two and have the Filipino kitchen made print up new labels attesting to their Fair Trade Status  even though they’re probably from chemically fertilized near-slave grown grapes in a communist country. Never mind all that, I always say. Good wine is good wine!

I’m getting old, mind wanders. So, as I was saying, Esteban and I were Skyping and he was relating to me a wonderful way to visualize success in relationships. Dear One and I get along swimmingly most of the time–in part because of our swimming in the tub together on a regular basis. So good for stress-reduction. Esteban thinks it’s crucial that one visualize one’s self saving the significant other from disasters. Imagine, say, he’s taken the Land Rover over the cliff and needs extracting. Rather than create the fuss of calling the Boy and his Air Ambulance I should visualize myself repelling down the cliff, freeing Dear One, and helping him back up the top. That sort of thing. Well, I ask you? Haven’t I been there, done that, got the t-shirt and the death threats? So, while he was nattering on this on the desktop I was catching up the Street on the iPad–had my hair arranged to hide an earbud. Multi-tasking. Mummies perfected it once nannies left the scene. So very useful. Well, I caught a bit of him expounding on underwater rescue and the kiss of life and how that can rev things up and thought it worth a try.

Dear One was off playing navy for real, and I must say the trip was a grind for him. I do wish he’d be sensible and let the Cambodian chappie have a go, but no! That would get in the press. It would become a bromacce or more, yada yada yada. So I suggested a plunge in the tub with yours truly. Offer accepted. His valet is currently on strike over his holiday living accommodations–let’s just say they’re not the sort of door Carson would darken and leave it at that, shall we? So that left one to play valet. It’s always up to one. Just as we were getting to the fun bits Dear One’s mobile blared the national anthem. The Batphone, one might say.

Dear One hurriedly answered, “Good evening Mummy, what a lovely surprise having you ring…”

Those were the only words he got in poor lamb! Soon the color drained from his face and then he was miming “drink” with great ferocity. Sadly I could hear it all. The Mother-in-law in force Pip gale screaming down her mobile about “treachery” and “no concern” and “never helpful in your life….” and “jealous.” He mimed “smoke” and I lit a fag cigarette and gave it to him. That’s a first…..

It was “jealous” that set him over the edge. He was wrung out, you see. Knackered. Un-Caffeinated. Non-alcoholic. Overly-tired. Probably hungry (it’s the uniform–they cost a mint and its getting tight). And freezing since his shirt, socks and undershirt were in a heap on the floor. Plus we’d planned our usual post-Navy visit review of our own little bath-time submarine fleet and bang went that! Well at last I heard words I never thought I’d hear. And even though uttered in that side-of-the-mouth-gangster way, they still stopped my heart: “Now. See. Here. Mummy.”

Well! My knees trembled and my heart raced. I took a slug of gin straight from the bottle then passed it off to him. He gulped, swallowed and returned to his hind legs.

“You know Whitehall is very ‘on’ about the Prince Regent idea…”

Total. Silence.

Dear One looked smug. Mary Crawley smug. He preened. He pumped his fist. He threw me a kiss.

He fell to his knees as the tirade began.

“Don’t you ever talk to your……”

He wilted. He went to the fetal position. He protected his head. He rejected another puff of my fag cigarette

The phone switched off. He got to his hands and knees, then to his feet.

“Fresh shirt, I think, darling. I’m due at Mummy’s in ten minutes. You can drive…..”

Turns out in the course of one little review of a ship he managed to insult Randy, besmirch his do-nothing daughters and cast “aspersions” –that was the word, “aspersions” on Edith. And I ducked out to watch the Street! I missed all the fun. So, not only was the Mother-in-law against him, but Pip too since little Edith’s honor was involved, too.

Dear One managed to do up his own buttons while I hauled on Spanx, stockings and modest evening attire. Don’t want to face today’s version of Old Lady Grantham in trainers, wool socks, jeans and an Eton Cricket jumper left behind by my son. Wouldn’t be conducive. We roared up the hill in a geriatric Land Rover that maxed out at approximately 22 miles per hour. Flunkeys were out waiting for us, but happily with out the Queen Victoria-era torches the Mother-in-law usually employs on night tme maneuvers. Had to make due with the solar lights.

We were silently conducted to THE PRESENCE. I was greeted with air kisses, a polite inquiry as to the dogs’ health and sent over to the drinks tray to serve myself. Another first. No footman. I guess tearing a strip off the Heir is not done in the presence of the Help anymore.

Once the question of when Dear One would be granted power was established as the very day after hell freezes solid, it was Pip’s turn. Only, poor dear, his brain box had signed off for the night and he took Dear One’s hand and said “How did you come here, by train or by car?”

The Mother-in-law rolled her eyes. Dear One fought a giggle. The Mother-in-law gave a hoot of laughter. Pip let rip a room-clearer and I dashed for the window. The corgis growled.

“Drink, darling?” The Mother-in-law asked, taking Pip’s hand tenderly,  pretending not to notice the aroma. Dear One signaled to me and mixed a drink and brought it to Pip. He set it aside absently, looked at the Mother-in-Law and said, “Marigold, dear, it’s been too long.”

Need to know Who’s Who? Check out the first installment of ‘Milla’s Diary.

‘Milla’s Diary: Scotland the Brave!

15 September 2015

Egads I’ve forgotten to update this again, but today I simply must process everything that’s happened.Esteban, my new life coach, thinks journaling is simply a MUST for everyone with a life as stressful as mine. I didn’t tell him I found putting it on paper only stresses me more, because he is such a lamb.

So, here I am, marooned with Dear One at our lovely grim abode in Scotland. Esteban has been focusing on de-cluttering the mind, body, soul and spirit. What a hoot!. But where to start? We decided a little practice with normal, everyday household clutter–the type the staff cannot deal with. So, after setting off a round of fireworks worthy of Guy Fawkes, the Rugby World Cup Victory AND the Platinum Jubilee (a very touchy subject, I might add), I got with it. Dear One, you see, adores cozy and cozy means a bit of well–arranged clutter. Think Queen Alexandra and all those photos and bric-a-brac and whatnot. Dear One adores such things. But as I pressed the issue further–for you simply can’t imagine any place less like a haven–a true bolt-hole from the world–than our sitting room in Scotland, it became apparent that Dear One was simply not on board with this one. Silly me, I asked why.

“Why on Earth a clear-out? Darling it’s our holiday. You know I detest things like clear-outs. Was this from those….[he struggled for a p.c. term but failed] old bats at the pub?” Before I could even begin to bridle at this let alone concoct an answer he muttered out the side of his mouth in his bad-gangster-film way, “Thought I didn’t know?” Then looked rather smug. He returned to the point. “Well? I’m waiting for my answer?'”
When he gets a mood like this I secretly pray–on my ancient knees pray I mean–that the Mother-in-law sees her 110th year. Well, as a wife I am duty-bound to answer. That’s my upbringing you see. Nanny was all about “Duty.” As was my school and of course Mummy and Papa. They lived for it. The duty of the cocktail hour of course! So I looked him straight in the eye and said “My Life Coach–Esteban Pal…..”

Before I could continue the fireworks began. A true “Grandpapa’s Gnash.” Merciful Heaven! You’d think I’d posted a video on Youtube of him playing navy in the tub! It was difficult to make out what he was saying. Not only was he ranting, he was doing it in German-accented, side mouth, bad-film- gangster speak. The highlights I caught were “daft” and “ridiculous” and “colonic irrigation” and “Zodiac [mumble mumble” and “SWMNBN”

Well I never. Truly. The output of venom was up there with a black mamba.  There he was all dressed up in his Lord Grantham tweeds, nubbly stockings, cashmere sweater peaking out below his Regiment of Scotland tie and above the Lord of Isles tartan and I was hearing abuse worthy of a character down the “Street.”

Now Mummy taught me many things–always wear a girdle, keep condoms in your purse to avoid a tricky outcome, don’t lose Great-Granny’s flask from the King we may need it for the school fees and, most important of all, don’t allow one’s husband to treat one like the Help. It isn’t on. Never. Not even if you are the longest serving Heir to the Throne.

So once his little wobbly had run its course–and as a Mummy, Granny and former Army wife I’ve done my day of wobblies, let me tell you, I poured myself a new drink, took a long, long swallow, lit a fag cigarette and did what had to be done. One does–doesn’t one? Doing what must be done is the British way. Like settling Kenya. It’s one thing to have my dear girls down the pub abused but to be compared to SWMNBN when I’m merely trying–as that girl always was–to PLEASE HIM and so I hired darling Esteban to help with that. As I said, I did what had to be done. I picked up the Batphone and began to dial the Castle. As he stood watching I said quietly as the ancient rotary dial hooked up the string and tapped the Page of the Presence on the shoulder or whatever phones did in 1925 or whenever this was installed.

“I’m phoning Her Majesty–you dear Mama….”

Soldiers have a very colorful way of describing scenes like this. Something done in one’s pants? Can’t recall it all.

He lunged for the phone and clicked it off just before the ring.

“Now, darling, a clear-out! Why what a lovely way to spend a day or two….” He said, pulling off both the tweed jacket and the sweater and rolling up his sleeves to help.

“I thought so…”

Well, after a nice slosh of his favorite tipple we got down to business. We started with the dressing room I still cannot use. In addition to a lorry-load of items heading for the local tip (including enough gin bottles to open a recycyling plant) we found these gems:

Sanitary towels circa 1933 (How on Earth did they cope??)

A marriage manual published in the late 1880s inscribed “To darling M, this should set things right. Love G.”  (Dear One is so sweet-he blushed when he realized who G and M were.)

A cache of snapshots taken of people on safari doing things that would scare Rhinos and, if published, would make poor Haza’s little poker game in Vegas seem tame. Vintage late 20s. Dear One was appalled to recognize his grandfather (oh don’t worry, he was on the sidelines in silk jammies, cigarette in hand) pointing at his grandmother as she chased a chinless type around with a feather on a stick.

A pair of men’s drawers from the early 20th century–these had hearts embroidered on them. So fun.

4 pairs of forgotten Y-fronts with the school name tags of another HRH who is now an OAP.

13 issues of Horse and Hound

An absolutely antique package of “French Letters” with a note around them reading “To darling G, these should set things right, Love M” and dated August 1905) (How on Earth did they….? Like gum boots they were!)

5 issues of Tatler from the 50’s.

17 Novels including Barbara Cartland, Zane Gray and Agatha Christie

A signed photo of Anthony Eden with the face cut out.

A stash of historic railway time tables.

A Parcheesi set which caused Dear One a moment of outrage–Granny said it had “suddenly gone missing” back in ’55.

Some very frothy lingerie with a tellingly-large waist, circa 1930s which caused me to strip off and model it. Funny, his Granny looked much larger in photos of the era….

A recipe for fish pie written on the back of a series of ladies calling cards, circa 1920-something. I must say this did sound scrummy.

A netball inscribed to The Duchess of Kent.

Photos of various dogs, horses and a man sunbathing in the nude–Coldstream I’d say from the height and jaw.

2 pairs of string underpants of the sort they used to give out at Sandhurst with the service number tapes of another HRH who is now an OAP.

A flask reading “Darling Ma’am…always Harry”

A considerable stash of betting slips of all eras–fascinating!

A letter from TOTH to her Granny detailing a truly hilarious party she attended with my ex back in the day. Sadly he was still dining out on that trick years later.

A letter that made me shriek with laughter–a ribald story about Sainted Uncle Dickie and Noel Coward that Dear One said was certainly not true. I didn’t push it–just put it away for later.

But while all of that was often hilarious, it was very poignant to find another Diary–the cheap sort one buys at the newsagents or down the market stalls, one kept from the winter of 1952 until the Spring of 1954. Dear One sat down hard on the bed when he recognized the handwriting. His Granny. How he misses her! His true Mummy if you must know–the son she had so desperately wanted. One entry in particular I want to have framed for him–too sweet:

“16 February 1952. Windsor. It’s done. Of course poor Bertie is in the hallway of the chapel–nothing ready for him, but he’s fine there. So utterly wretched. David came and I saw him briefly. What would life have been like if our fathers had persuaded him? Oh it doesn’t matter. Bertie is gone and all the little rat David can do is try to wrest more money from everyone. The only thing that let me keep going was darling Charles. Sweet little boy. How Bertie adored him. How we wished he was ours. The two can’t be bothered about him–he’s nothing like P so of course they aren’t interested. But oh! how Bertie adored his grandson–the son of his heart.”

He cried. I let him, freshened his drink, then stroked what’s left of his hair in the tender way that always soothes him. We agreed it was lovely and it pleased him to bits.

“Now,” he said once the tears were dried, the diary put aside and another stiff drink knocked back. “About this life coach chappy–he’s not on. Got it, darling. Not. On. This. Voyage. Need I repeat it?”

We were of and running again!

‘Milla’s Diary a day out for Pip and more

NOTE: This is affectionately written fiction. Any resemblance to royals, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This piece is copyright protected.

Need to know Who’s Who? Check out the first installment of ‘Milla’s Diary.

29 July 2015

Well, “that” month is nearly over and you know what that leaves…..Scotland. [Cue the scary organ music]. July is SWMNBN [She Who Must Not Be Named] birthday and, of course, their wedding anniversary. In case you missed the ceaseless press coverage of this anniversary it would have been 34 years ago today. I need hardly add that Dear One has been a widower since ’97, but that’s beside the fact to the press.

Dear One is locked in the study with what he insists on still calling the “Hi-Fi” blaring a recording of the music from their big day. A bit jarring for one, but a wife must just carry on, I always say. I’m sure the photo albums are on his desk, the hankie is out of the drawer—the hankie she sent him to carry in the wedding—it lives in a desk drawer in a special box. So sweet that he’s kept it. I heard him talking to the Boy earlier—so cute when Baby 1 joined in. He’ll speak to Haza too—always does talk with both boys on the anniversary. He had a bit of weepy last night, tossed and turned, finally got up and went downstairs. Found him asleep under the Boy’s old favorite “movie” blanket. The dogs were on guard, of course. They know. Of course they do.

While he’s in need of Oprah, I’m in need of one of those professional organizers. Though as a one-time Army wife I must say I’m fairly good at the whole pack-kit-move-camp-pass-the-gin-Bob’s-your-uncle businesses. There’s all the usual “musts”—the proper Pooh blanket, the complete works of Sir Laurens Van Der Post, Uncle Dickie’s photo, Granny’s photo, the albums, the navy—the one for the bathtub, of course, not the real one and all the rest.

Then there’s my kit to pack—an extra case of gin, extra cartons of fags cigarettes, Mummy’s old wooly combinations, Mummy’s best girdle—we eat in Scotland. Like pigs. Eat all the time. A carton of novels to read, the iPad loaded with more and with new photos of the Grands, the dog blankets and dog toys. It takes a village indeed. But this isn’t the village of Grantham so it’s up to one, isnt’t it? Always up to one.

Yesterday I ran up to the Palace to break Pip out for a little airing. He’s been on lock-down since the “Take the F-ing picture,” comment. A man 104 years old, sitting for his 9 millionth group photo can get a bit tetchy. But do they make allowance? Of course not. World headline! Old man swears! Film at 11! He says much worse to the Mother-in-law, I can tell you! So up to the palace I went and simply followed the blare of the telly to find him. He’s got these marvelous little hearing aids, but won’t use them—doesn’t need them, he thinks. His telly’s in the Southwest corner on the second floor. I came in at the Northeast on the first floor and had no trouble locating him. Or course none of the staff could hear me—they all had ear buds in. Can’t blame them. I understand a grievance has been filed over the noise. Potential hearing loss. Lots of solicitors bustling around the staff canteen these days.

Off we went incognito to the OAP deal of the day. He does so love these! A quick stop at Pound Land for a few jollies–horse hoof slippers for the Mother-n-law, massage oil for one of his keepers, and a bag of Smarties for me—so sweet. Can’t smoke at OAP do-s so I’m covered. The cinema was running “In Which We Serve”—a true favorite with that crowd, but a detail I’d neglected to mention. You should have heard the language. I must say even I was shocked. He wasn’t even going to get out of the car. Finally he spotted a youngish old doll and made a bee line, nearly flattening a man with a walking frame in the process. Turns out he was the husband. Pip, a gentleman to the core, apologized and helped him up, then jollied him along as they swapped gas and laughed till they dripped…literally in the other man’s case. Once in the cinema they mostly all nodded off. I got a tear in my eye at the end—one does, it is such an emotional film. Makes one deeply proud to be British. It took most of the song to get them on their feet for the national anthem after though—explains the playing of two full verses.

On the queue for the gents though Pip was “outed” by a carer and mayhem ensued. One old girl had a selfie stick and phone with large buttons so they were on it for an hour or two snapping photos, texting numbers—like kids at a club. What a hoot! Pip kissed the ladies—well except for the one with the dodgy blue-ish wig. It was crooked. He started to giggle and to stop himself he buried his face in another old girl’s mop. Said she smelled of mothballs and Bovril. Not very conducive to romance in his opinion. But he came up trumps when another old thing took a swan dive down the steps. Got the security Johnny trailing him (incognito of course) to carry the poor thing to a bench, then sat patting her hand calling “Melba? Melba? Can you hear me, deary?” She finally came up with a snort saying “I’m Doris—for the hundredth time, Alf, my name is Doris.” Ever the gentleman, he just smiled and said in his sweet voice, “I do beg your pardon, Dorothy….” And they laughed like it was the funniest line ever.

Back home, the Mother-in-law was dressed for the Royal Round and had her “Defender of the Realm” face on. Pip can almost always get around that one. She can’t help it. She simply loves him and can’t stay mad at him. He pulled out all the stops—kissed her warmly, held the gas in and presented her with the Hoof slippers. She shrieked with laughter and immediately put them on. After a 15 minute argument over which button to push on both phones, a footman snapped a photo, forwarded it to Haza and the OTH [the One True Heir—their only daughter] and peace reigned.

Well, peace reigned for THEM, I should say. I’d have killed for the royal round today. Instead I’ve got the packing to get on with. The butler got a physician to certify that his back or his adenoids or whatever can’t cope with packing for Scotland so it was one and the Filipino kitchen maid plus the nice young chappie from the off-license to tackle the lot. The off-license boy brought samples, such a lamb. A bit dicey as I got him to sign the confidentiality documents, but he was really fairly good-natured about it. Said something about one photo paying for public [private] school for his son, but we can work that out another time, I’m sure.

As we got on with sorting kilts, jumpers, stockings and all the rest I came across a stash of photos I’d never seen. I bolted for the downstairs loo—you know, the one in which the handle must be rattled a certain way to stop it running? That’s the one. Here were photos, wrapped in a pair of shooting socks as old as I am (Dear One has a lot of Grandpapa’s things) photos of a Granny stroking Uncle David’s brow, his head pillowed in her ample lap, a sweet little terrier at her feet and a slight man stalking off away from them. The other photos were just of Uncle Dickie, Uncle G and Uncle K and some pretty boys from days gone by. Nothing news-worthy. I slipped the photo of Granny and Uncle David into the off-license chap’s pocket and got on with sorting Dear One’s pants for the trip. It should pay for a second-tier school at least.

‘Milla’s Diary Christening Edition: the Good Old Broad is Back!!

NOTE: This is affectionately written fiction. Any resemblance to royals, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This piece is copyright protected.

9 July 2015

Good heavens, how long have I let this little diary lapse! So much has happened. I really must get back to “journaling.” Esteban, my Life Coach [isn’t THAT a hoot!] says it is so important! Right up there with Spanx, I gather. Where to begin….well, I suppose Baby 2 would be the appropriate place, but honestly we wet her head a bit too much and I don’t recall many details! I’ll skip to the Christening.

First let me be sure to record that Dear One is soooooo very chuffed to have a granddaughter. He’s simply mad about her. Sweetest thing ever with her. Why he’s even had a replica of the Proper Pooh Blanket made by one of those micro-businesses he so loves. He personally selected the softest of fabrics for it, testing each sweetly against his face. Such a lamb. He is, truly.

Sorry, needed to light a fag cigarette and refresh my gin–no need for more tonic yet… Now as I was saying, the Christening of Baby 2. It was not our best day. Dear One insisted on driving us himself and that should say all that is necessary. In his new hybrid. I was all for hopping in the back with the security chappies–that Gavin is quite dishy–but NO! No. No. No. He would insist on driving. If his Father can still drive at 114 or whatever Pip is these days then so can Dear One. Dear God. I clutched the dashboard most of the way Let’s just say an eco-friendly hybrid lacks the pick-up of his other dear little car–the Astin Martin. I felt him heading into one of Grandpapa’s Gnashes the second he started to overtake an articulated lorry but couldn’t. Then I got the giggles. Reminded me of bedtime last night. His “throttle” wasn’t really in full working order. I laughed. He got angry. I laughed more. He snarled. He yelled. Finally he pulled over.

Now, any husband pulling over is a stunt no self-respecting wife will put up with (unless its to wee–getting older is hell on men, isn’t it?) He fired both barrels in my directions, but I laughed more because, bless him, his ears wiggled. Well, you can imagine the rest. Now, pulling over is not something security chaps endorse. If in danger, put your foot down. Except the lawn tractor my ex- has could go from 0-10 in about 2 minutes; Dear One’s new car takes about an hour and a half. With guns pulled they approached the door and motioned for me to open my door. (It was “Plan Everest”–one of our security routines, I recognized it instantly from the confused look on Digby’s face. He never remembers “Plan Everest.” But he’s such a lamb.)

As we were very behind schedule we transferred to the Range Rover and the driver went straight to warp speed. Once at the Big House we settled into our rooms and I could hear Dear One starting a soon-to-be-filed grievance over “hostile working condition,” with his valet. Seems the Beatrix Potter pants were forgotten. Dear One was so looking forward to them, though I thought it a missed opportunity that Dear Squirrel Nutkin was placed at the waistband–so much cuter in the right region if you see?

We all finally gathered at the door ready for the off. Pip and The Mother-in-law were in fine form. She, patting his back and shouting loud enough for all of Norway to hear “Let’s just get to the Church shall we….I’m sure they’ve got it set up on the video…..” He muttered something profane and then more about Randy’s Christening being years ago as she all but shoved him into the car while rolling her eyes. Poor lamb, he does get the brain box out of the right gear from time-to-time. Though if you ask me (and no one did) it was dreadfully unfair to make him miss the cricket.

As you’ve no doubt seen, The Boy, Yummy and Baby walked to the Church with Yummy pushing baby in Randy and Edith’s old pram while the Boy kept a death grip on Baby who wasn’t really thrilled with the whole idea. He loves Pip and they’d planned on the cricket. Plus the outfit. Oh dear, the outfit. He was good as gold at the Trooping the Colour, but the clothing had been promised as a one off. As he stood there in one of those appalling pairs of diaper-pants and a vest, the Boy and Yummy pleaded with him. Nanny gave her sternest look. Dear One had a go. Nothing doing. Who reasons with a toddler, I ask you? I told him if he’d do it I had a Mars bar in my purse. He’s the Boy’s child. He made a counter offer. Mars bar and Guitar Hero. I thought that was pushing it. Manners are manners. Mars bar or no deal. He threw a wobbly. Boy Caved. Mars bar and Guitar Hero. Baby looked unimpressed. “Mars bar, a full tin of un-organic pasta hoops for dinner and Guitar Hero.” Baby countered again. “But, Guitar Hero with Grandpa…” Now, this was the tricky bit–real spanner hurled into the works. When Pip, for that is “Grandpa” (Dear One, naturally, is Grandpapa) is in this world and not his own he adores Baby and loves to play “Satisfaction” on Guitar Hero as well. (He’s quite good at it too….though TOTH is better). By this time Yummy was ready to scream and cut in. “Final deal: Mars bar after, tin of hoops for dinner and Guitar Hero with Grandpa IF HE’S AWAKE. If not–straight to bed, no stuffed corgis and a bedtime lecture on Duty from Granny.”  I thought she was a tad smug. On went the proper romper suit and out the door went Baby but not before Yummy shot the Boy a crucifying look.

They trooped up the road, the Boy looking ready to bolt, Yummy looking magnificent as always and Baby 2 crying her lungs out–she’s never ridden in a proper pram–just one of those fold-up jobs. It sways like a carriage. At least she didn’t sick up her feed. Mrs. “Doors To Manual” and her other daughter kept a fairly low profile. The future Duke was funny and gracious as always, though I did think he went over the top in his appreciation of dear Haza. Though it would be easier if Daughter 2 was Haza’s pick. Only one lot of tradespeople, as Dear One calls them, to be worked into the family.

When finally the whole deal was over Baby, never one to stand on ceremony, started to approach Granny–he did us all proud inside; a perfect neck bow with no prompting aside from Nanny in the wings miming it all. So advanced for his age. We’re all terribly proud. Sadly as the words “Can we go….” came out we had to make a distraction so it wouldn’t be in the press. Happily, the Mother-in-law bent down to hear him and his words were drowned out by all the professional cameras and oohs and ahhhs from onlookers. Baby 2 was all but forgotten.

Back at the big house as Dear One shook his head at the sight of his 173 year old father playing Guitar Hero with Baby–they shared the Mars bar, so sweet. He had tears in his eyes. SWMNBN would have loved that moment.

New to ‘Milla’s Diary? Check out the very first Installment here which includes a link to the series “Who’s Who.”