Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Flashback to 2008

I found this post as a draft from way back in 2008... I'd even forgotten I'd written it, until I came upon it when I set about deleting posts that were marked "draft" but had no content. Don't ask me why - a virtual tidy-up of my website is the best reason I can offer. Anyway, it seemed a shame to waste a nearly completed post, so I've decided to publish it. 
A couple of days back, Pete and I went to a “Cheese and wine” fund-raising do for a local Royal British Legion branch, of which my boss is an enthusiastic and long-time member. He had invited us to attend and because I’ve been helping him with designing posters and so on, it seemed like it would be quite interesting. (Plus I wanted to match a few faces to the people with whom I’d been corresponding and/or talking on the phone.)

Pretty much to be expected was that most of the members were at least 50-plus, and some well into their 70s and 80s. The meeting/function/party (can't think of the correct word) was held in the rose garden of a large manor house. The sprawling three-storey manor house, the very large formal gardens surrounding and the estate with 1000 acres were all inherited by the nephew of the family whose successive generations had been in unbroken ownership of the mansion for over 300 years.

The gardens were breathtakingly gorgeous, and the rose garden, with its immaculate lawns, was a perfect venue. You could almost see royalty (or the upper crust, anyway) getting married there and having a posh reception with people in fancy clothes wandering around the paths with canes and parasols and hats and bonnets… or hang on, perhaps I’m imagining the wrong century?

Anyway, the members - there were a few of them who probably weren’t seriously posh, and again a few who weren’t seriously loaded, but on the whole, you could tell those few very easily apart from the posh and the loaded. Not that the latter were dressed much differently from the former, but there was a certain something that even I could discern that set the posh ‘uns apart from the hoi polloi. I’m not terribly good at recognising upper class accents as different from a neutral, “clean” one - any regional accent has to be really pronounced (Liverpudlian, Glaswegian, Yorkshire, etc) and either easy or grating on the ear for me to recognise it.

This time it wasnt just the accents that made me realise at once that I was in the company of the Seriously Loaded... it was just a certain style, perhaps. I could NOT stop looking at a lady, probably in her late 50s, slender, with very blonde hair tucked under an Alice band, who, when she sat, sat very erect with a silk shawl wrapped stylishly around her shoulders. You could tell she was Class with a capital C. She was perfectly friendly as far as I could tell, and she took part cheerfully in everything that was going on. The reason I couldnt stop looking at her was because I was trying to work out what it was that set her apart. I dont think I managed to pinpoint it, even with every instinct yelling "posh" "loaded" "wealthy" "classy" and other such adjectives at me.

I wonder if that sort of poise and demeanour is something one can learn, and if so, where I could go to learn it. I bet the Queen could make a mint by giving out a few tips on behaviour and deportment...


'Ema said...

It's been 3 years - did you figure it out? :)

Shammi said...

Ema: What are you saying, eh? That my virtual housekeeping is shoddy too? Is that what you're hinting at? Are you saying I should have noticed this draft sooner, or that I WOULD have noticed it sooner if I had started tidying up sooner?

Ask me if I feel guilty. (Answer: No.)


Anu said...

Better late than never. I like your careful descriptions. When are you writing a book?

Shammi said...

Anu: Seriously, I moan and groan about not getting any ideas for writing blog posts, and you want a BOOK? :D

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

I think it has to be bred into you at a really young age. Hard to learn later on.