Bill's Diary 1950 (Part 1)
First edition: 2014
Publisher: EB Society
Illustrator: not illustrated
Category: Bill's Diary 1950
Type: Continuation Books
Publisher: EB Society
Illustrator: not illustrated
Category: Bill's Diary 1950
Type: Continuation Books
On This Page...
April 2nd - Sunday
On the 'phone for a while figuring out a reasonable rent for the residence. Decided some time ago to hold off selling because it could come in handy as a holiday home. Just as I cradled the receiver, Matt rang and we talked for 40 minutes at least. Besides answering some of the questions I'd asked at the meeting, he gave me a rough summary of the facts regarding background, family history, and protocol. Told him I wasn't too concerned about protocol because the boy will just be one of the family and should be no more than that. He agreed but said the instructions had been to pass on anything relevant. He also had a name – Bouvier. He's the liaison man at the embassy dealing with diplomatic affairs between the prince's country and ours.
"Search him out, Bill," said Matt, and finished by wishing me all the best for the next few weeks.
When he hung up I mulled over the proceedings. Yesterday had been busy with four meetings in all – Scottie had attended the last one that finished round 16:00, and I was glad. Not only because we hardly see him these days, but he's also arranged that we'll have access to the embassy at any hour. The privilege may not be all that essential but at the very least it means we'll have cooperation from the state and any facts we need will be obtainable from their offices whether it be here or overseas. Allie had disappeared to do some early afternoon shopping for the weekend seeing the children are coming home today so, not knowing when she'd be back, I wrote a note to tell her Matt had rung and I had gone to London. Said I'd be back whenever, and after locking up I went out to start the car. We'll have to consider whether or not the garage needs enlarging or perhaps a separate shelter could be put up for my vehicle – the drive's not a good place to leave it. The maintenance on mine is partly subsidized and of the two, my car is the sturdier, so it's better for Allie to have the garage. We've talked it over and decided we need to be a two car family, not only because I'm often called away but also because we number six souls - at present. I might actually invest in a replacement for the Austin. Allie says it was practically given to her by the Middletons when they returned briefly to settle their affairs before going to live overseas permanently - but it's getting on in years.
Set off for London with the sun shining and the passing fields looking very green but I didn't dwell on them too much seeing my thoughts were taken up with the current project – we'll have a temporary addition to the family and I wondered how the children would react. Allie will be telling them when they arrive home for the holidays. They like to be 'by themselves' during the hols as they put it and one can't blame them for the preference. A hanger-on who lives down the road is all right in their eyes but having to put up with a perfect stranger in their midst 24 hours a day might cramp their style. How will they take to a prince?
Don't think titles impress them but they'll have to muck in until things have settled down back in the prince's Ruritanian environment. He must be looked after over Easter and then he'll either go back to school or be sent home, provided it's safe for him. After deciding it would be best to take things as they unfold, I took it easy and admired the scenery until the outskirts of London appeared and noting it was 13:40, I entered the city and found myself in Hammersmith Road.
Drove towards the Albert Memorial and turning left, went up Kensington Palace Gardens and fluked a park right outside No. 11. Got out and after fending off a chap who was peddling bunches of ragged looking flowers, I sprinted up the steps of the French consulate and approached a clerk in the reception area. Asked him for Mr. or Monsieur Bouvier and after showing him my card and mentioning Matt's name, he called someone down who escorted me along the corridor to a lift. My companion, who introduced himself as Gilbert, started chatting away to me in his native language and I understood most of it because he used easy words. Basically he was informing me of a constitutional walk he'd taken along the Embankment yesterday and also –
"J'ai passé Scotland Yard."
I nodded and he seemed pleased that I understood his reference to The Yard seeing there was a connection. We went up a couple of floors and I was escorted along the passage to a door labeled hébergement étranger and after taking me in to a kind of front room and calling something out, he withdrew when a middle-aged man appeared through a curtained door. As we shook hands I noticed he had fair hair, a prominent nose and set features. He wore a red tie with polka dots, an off white shirt and a dark suit that looked French enough. I told him why I was here and, frankly, he didn't believe me. He spoke good English so I told him who I was and displayed the two forms of authorization that Matt had given me on Tuesday when we were in Scottie's office. He was pleasant enough and after studying the papers minutely for a few minutes he asked me for a number. He wanted to get personal confirmation. I gave him Matt's direct line so that he could ring up to make absolutely sure the boy was being handed over to the right person.
I suppose he deserved top marks for caution and when he'd sorted the permissions and handed the receiver over so that I could let Matt know it was me here and that the consul man was beside me and that I was definitely at the embassy and that everything was above board and I hadn't been kidnapped by potential thugs, we hung up.
Mr. Bouvier became quite pally once he knew I was the Real McCoy and informed me that he had to be very careful seeing that up to this moment he was responsible for a Prince of the Realm. He beckoned and we passed through the rear door into a luxurious lounge with good quality fittings. Red was the predominant colour manifesting in the swanky well-padded chairs and sofa. The floor was covered in linoleum with a carpeted dais on the left. Tiny lights studded the ceiling and a breathtaking view of London was visible through a window that stretched the length of the room. Halfway down I saw a small head almost engulfed by the puffed up chair the owner was sitting in and next moment a forlorn little boy looked up at us as we approached. He stood but didn't offer his hand.
The official announced: "Prince Aloysius Gramondie Racemolie Torquinel."
I imagined a row of trumpets thrusting themselves through the curtains hanging at the windows but there was none of that. Silence prevailed. I looked at the boy who was destined to be my companion for the next week or two ... he has dark, rather shaggy, hair that tumbles round his shoulders and his eyes are literally black. His complexion is similar to that of Philip's little gypsy girl, but a shade deeper. His lashes are striking and when the girls set eyes on him they might become a little envious – they're long and quite thick. One or two lines placed near his cheeks and his slightly flattish nose would give the boy's face quite a lot of character if he was smiling but at that moment he just looked bewildered, and I understood why. It appears he's has been fully informed about the imminent danger he faces and that theoretically, his uncle's life is threatened. I'm to protect him until it's safe for the boy to go back to his country.
Bouvier went over the facts I'd already been briefed upon – the boy's father is brother to the king, imminent threats to the Prince's life due to his uncle's status, political situation in the boy's country, France and Britain's interest in maintaining the status quo, and the threat from factions that perceive a way of achieving power through the king's nephew. The present king had never accepted the revolution and had gone into a kind of exile with the backing of some furiously independent followers. Bouvier assured me of the utmost cooperation and when he'd finished and received a few more details from me, we were taken downstairs to the foyer where he shook hands with us. I asked if I could make a 'phone call and he waved me to the counter.
"Be my guest."
I dialed up and fortunately Allie was back from the village. Explained I'd be home with my charge in a couple of hours or less and she said the kids had arrived home and were asking after me. Just as I handed the receiver back to the receptionist, a foreign looking fellow with the build of a Sumo wrestler appeared. He escorted the prince and myself to the door and after I'd said 'Goodbye' to Bouvier, the bodyguard, if he was one, accompanied us to the car. The Frenchies were taking no chances and had obviously decided the official hand-over would begin the moment I left the embassy's vicinity.
Starting up, I winked at the bodyguard who saluted and watched as we pulled away from the kerb. The boy was now in my care and, sneaking a look at him sitting beside me, I couldn't help noticing that, except for the cut of his clothes and his luxurious hair, he looked like any young lad experiencing a car ride although I sensed a degree of tension that hinted of a pose. Managed to put him at his ease a little when I told him where we were going and gave him a detailed description of his soon-to-be companions. He actually summoned up some interest and started asking me questions about them. Poor little kid. He's merely a 'pawn' in the eyes of selfish people who happen to be in power. I racked my brains to find any other staff members who'd been placed in the same position but princes are few and far between where the police force is concerned. I could think only of J.J. who'd once had brief contact with a Royal. The scenario was similar – men plotting to gain power through a relative of the king, kidnap plot, Ruritanian country and the rest. Police colleagues in the northern provinces aren't sure whether to believe that J.J was assisted by some local urchins who fancied themselves as detectives but it was in the papers down here and I was given a fairly good first-person account last time we were in contact. The prince in question however hadn't been in police care as 'mine' was ... theirs had been kidnapped, found, and handed over so I don't think there'd be any hints at 'Prince-Looking-After' to be obtained from that source. The only other reference to royalty I'd found in the police files had been a person of High Renown going by the name of 'Paul Someone' over in Gateshead about a decade ago. Anyway, I've managed on my own before so I guess I'll manage this one all right with maybe a bit of help from the rest of the troupe!
Aloysius fell asleep for part of the journey. I think the stress is playing up with him – his parents are overseas, he's a hunted boy and now he was going to live with strangers. I could only hope the kids would be kind to him. Bouvier had instructed that his real position should be kept quiet for the time being and I think that's a wise move. I decided to christen him 'Blumenthal' after one of Lois's ancestors then after thinking some more, decided upon Gustavus Barmilevo. It was reasonably foreign sounding but had no connections with anyone that I knew of.
As we sped past Oakley, Aloysius (or Gustavus) woke up and I explained about his new name. He'd slept well and I was glad because he didn't seem so tense now and was into asking me all kinds of questions. I told him to remember his new moniker and that we'd be home in a short while. He lay back in his seat looking much brighter. Stopped once to get us a drink. The prince insisted on paying and I decided to let him in case His Highness might be offended – one never knows. His upbringing and culture might expect it of him but and I'll probably need to relieve him of any extra cash he has and insist he makes do with the same pocket money the others get. Passed Basingstoke and just after 17:00 we pulled up in front of the second homestead.
The kids were waiting outside for my arrival and it was grand to see them again. Got out to greet one and all and was almost bowled over by Lucy-Ann's hug. As she gets older her embraces are becoming more and more life threatening but I managed to survive and shake hands with the others. Kiki recognized me all right and swooped down to my shoulder for a pat whilst greeting me in her practiced way – how does she remember my name and use it so appropriately? Just as Allie came out, Aloysius, who was still in the car, coughed to let us know he was present and waiting to establish his Royal Presence. I told him to come out and the boy emerged to be greeted with silence and stares. At eleven he's the baby of the family and whether or not he'll be accepted by the others is up to him. I could imagine the girls wanting to mother him a bit because of his looks although at the moment he exuded such a foreign presence, no one was quite sure how to act. He stood to attention, and after taking them all in, made a beeline for my dear wife and when she held out her hand he bowed, and kissed it. Allie couldn't help smiling and gave me a sidelong glance that said, "I didn't know he cared!" Gus said a few words to her then moved to the second oldest female and took hold of her hand but Dinah pulled it away with a squeal of horror ... at least it sounded like that. Lucy-Ann wasn't having any of it either.
I told our visitor we just shake hands over here – males and females, then introduced Gustavus Barmilevo to the family and he shook hands with Jack and Philip who looked at him rather disconcertingly. I think they were wary of his distinctly authoritative manner – they don't like to be pushed around and Gus had that 'air' about him. He received a shock when Kiki was introduced because, being a bird, she's not familiar with our habit of putting people we consider better than us onto pedestals. She gave him a "blidding finger," - at least that's how he said it. Kiki's talons dug into him and caused blood to run but Gus's initial horror at his wound was replaced with awe when he realized Jack had a talking bird.
"Fetch the doctor," Kiki squawked.
Kiki spiks all right. She spiks very well indeed so Gus might be entertained during his stay. Unfortunately he got on Jack's bad side when he 'ordered' that Kiki be confined to a cage, and there were mutterings within the ranks. If he rubs up against the children too much I might have to take him somewhere else because the last thing we need is a spoilt holiday – the kids have worked hard and deserve a happy and peaceful break. Allie took Gus inside to get a bandage while the others helped bring in the luggage. Kiki seemed quite delighted I was back and displayed her affection blatantly. Glad we have her in the family. A rather bewildered Gus rejoined me and was a little reluctant to leave my side but the kids cajoled him away and took it in mind to educate him somewhat. I heard Lucy-Ann chatting away as she did a bit of early packing and explaining very clearly what she was doing and where we would be going and answering his questions. He seemed to become quite interested in learning more about a typical English family although I'm not sure if we're 'typical.'
Splendid dinner this evening - partly because it was 'Welcome Home' day for the children, but also because Allie's meals are legendary and top class. It's good to see that Dinah's often in the kitchen helping her mother because it means that if I'm ever alone with the kids, we'll continue getting good chow. Allie and I were filled in on all the things that had happened at school ... Lucy-Ann's taken up chess, the boys are in the second cricket team and scoring like 'Billy-o' – according to them. Kiki has her fans and has appeared twice in the school newsletter– once when she kept trying to peck out the tassels on the nylon cord round several of the boy's shorts in the gym, and again when she was used as the model for a short series of bird management articles by her master. Jack's brought home some copies so I'll read through them when time permits. Gus missed the meal having being popped into bed early by Allie who thought he could do with an early night seeing it was his first in strange surroundings. After coffee and biscuits it was packing time and we worked far into the night. Wanted everything ready so that we can jump into the car tomorrow without having to worry about anything. Allie and I fell into bed after a good hot bath and very grateful we were to the boys who said they'd get up early tomorrow and have theirbaths because they hadn't wanted to use up all the hot water. There go some jolly nice lads.
After a few minutes of looking round for the right clothes to take, Allie gave me time off. Told me she'd take care of the packing if I wanted to do some paperwork in the study. I did, so a constructive half hour passed by as I made a few calls to the office and gave Colin on the night desk a few notes to route Pete's way. Colin welcomed the interruption seeing it was a quiet evening so I filled him in on my life and times. Made him wish his hols were due but they're not for another couple of months. Rang off and finished up a report while listening to strange sounds that one hears when others are about – Gus seemingly annoyed with Kiki, Allie berating Jack for something, Jack berating Gus, shouts, someone crying ... Gus probably. Kiki again, kids all laughing, someone yelling out "Gussy." I think the prince is going to be an undignified 'Gussy' from now on! It's a lively house all right. Allie brought me in a cuppa, a roll, and a kiss in that order then went to join the kids for supper seeing I wanted to get the desk completely cleared. Finished up and just as I was walking down the passage to join the others there were sounds of "Help" being shouted from above.
My initial thought was, 'Not already! We've only just got here.'
Rushing upstairs and entering the spare room I found Gus sitting up looking terrified. He said there was something under the bed so I conducted an examination seeing we couldn't afford to have some assassin waiting to squeeze himself out and pounce on the little prince. Naturally there was nothing untoward and in my report it will go down as 'dreaming!' Took his supper tray and settled him down after saying I'd examined the underneath of his bed with all my policeman skills and there was nothing at all there. (22:50)
After breakfast Allie took care of the girls and I supervised the boys. We didn't need to get off all that early so Allie and I made sure everything needed was packed up then the boys and I checked the house to make sure all windows were shut and everything was turned off. I re-checked Gussy's bag then got him and the boys downstairs where the usual before-holiday commotion was active and loud. Philip had locked the shed after immobilizing Allie's car and Edna, who'd arrived in a very timely fashion, would further check the house itself. Without any further ado, orders were explicit – "Load your stuff, no fooling about, and we'll be off in ten minutes." The kids were eventually herded out and everyone piled into the car with Lucy-Ann somehow managing to squeeze herself in between Allie and myself; then with everyone waving frantically to the char we were off to Brockton with Jack, our official map-reader, yelling out directions. Kiki flapped about at first but settled down after a few cackles and 'Popping of Weasels,' to begin nibbling at Lucy-Ann's hair ribbon until ordered to cease and desist by Allie. I'd said that anyone playing up will be 'dumped' and there's no reason the bird shouldn't be included.
The car was serviced last week so it was quite a smooth ride even with so many passengers. Gus or 'Gussy' complained a bit – he was more used to be the only passenger in a saloon car but he'll probably have to put up with a few more discomforts in the very near future. A row almost started up between Phil and Di but the threat of being 'dumped' out on the road held up and we moved on through the various villages and past open farmland. Gussy wanted us to detour at one point so that he could get a closer look at Highclere Castle but as we'd visited the place at Easter, I told him that if it's open to visitors on our way back, we could call in.
Flew past Tredington and Stratford-upon-Avon making good time by my calculations. The kids with their usual inventiveness started up an observation game in which Gussy joined in quite enthusiastically although he wasn't all that good at it. When he was pulled up for cheating or not knowing the proper rules or whatever, we heard Philip talking and then he or Jack did something that made everyone laugh – and Gussy joined in surprisingly. I think he has the ability to get on with the others provided he tones his haughtiness down a little although that's something, which might be difficult for a Royal Personage. He even praised Kiki at one stage when she said something appropriate that seemed to fit in with what was being discussed.
"What does that mean," asked Dinah.
"That parrot. She is quite clever."
Jack was pleased to hear this; obviously Kiki could get through to anyone in time. Just as the boys were ribbing Dinah about a letter she'd received from Jeremy, Lucy-Ann asked if she could buy us all ices. It had been officially stipulated that the loser of the game was to shout the treat. We were leaving Redditch but it was no problem at all seeing I felt like 0ne myself and so did my darling wife so when we spotted a van I pulled up and Gussy, not Lucy-Ann, jumped out to get the goods. He was either feeling very generous, or perhaps he was starving, but whatever it was our eyes went out on stalks when the boy produced a roll of notes that would have probably contained more wages than I get in a week. He then proceeded to pay for seven ice creams (Kiki would share Jack's). He distributed them and when Allie looked at me in amazement I resolved again to persuade Gussy that his wealth needs to be looked after by someone responsible – namely an adult such as Allie or myself. Gussy's loot certainly impressed the kids and I could see them all imagining what they could do with funds such as he possessed. I had to let on that the boy's family was quite well off and then left it at that. We hadn't gone much further when Gussy interrupted us saying he felt crook. That was all we needed and I after I'd stopped abruptly to let him out for some fresh air, Allie got out as well and, putting her arm around the patient, she spoke very encouragingly to our car-sick prince whereupon Gussy perked up and climbed back in.
We were held up by some road works on entering Bromsgrove so the decision was to stop there for refreshments seeing it was just before 13:00. We found a cozy little teahouse in Kidderminster Road just down from a parish church and as it was holiday time, we let the kids order what they liked and regretted it when they followed up their egg salad and chips with an enormous plate of chocolate éclairs. Gussy's reasonably used to English meals but I don't think his school allows such freedoms so he got stuck in. Kiki had her share of course and sat on the back of Jack's chair with half an éclair in her claws, nibbling away to entertain an elderly couple who were the only other patrons.
Finished our break and were on the road again in an hour and a half, heading North once more whereby at 17:30 we entered the little village of 'Brockton' or 'Little Brockton' although Jack had pointed out the map reference was 'Brockleton' - presumably a more modern spelling. The boys are keen to see a few badgers and they should be lucky seeing 'Brock' supposedly means 'badger.' Drove to the centre and were redirected to the crossroads where there was a Post Office but were told we'd be lucky if it was still open. Fortunately it was and I was able to wire off a message to Pete indicating our address for the next several days and also mentioning where the Miller file was. He'll work on it in my absence. Rejoined the clan and then drove through the rather empty street and onto a narrow dirt road with Allie reading out the address of a farm I'd written down in my notebook. Found it all right and as the owners had been notified in advance, the feeling was that we wouldn't be interrupting anything.
A Mrs. Ellis gave us a very warm reception and after introductions we were led into a dining rom that opened out from the kitchen where a spread of gargantuan proportions was laid out waiting to be attacked by seven hungry souls including Kiki. Mrs. Ellis smiled away at one and all and told us we could say grace and get stuck in.
We did, and what a meal it was – a whole fresh ham for starters from which only a couple of slices were missing. Allie asked if it had been cooked especially for us and was quite relieved when Mrs. Ellis said that it had been cooked today seeing there were some members of the family visiting tomorrow. A large pie was also on the menu, with plenty of bread and butter, and jam to follow and also an enormous fruitcake that was reduced considerably once we'd all had several slices (that includes Kiki). It was delicious. Allie's collecting recipes and I nudged her.
"Get this one."
She whispered in my ear saying it might be a family secret but I insisted that she obtain it at all costs, or else!
"Or else what?" she asked me innocently with her big eyes searching my face.
"Never you mind ... there are lots of 'or else's' I can fall back on."
Allie smiled at me and said she'd try ... maybe!
Kiki was making her presence known of course but that was expected. Mrs. Ellis told us her aunt had a parrot although not as good a talker as Kiki was and I could understand that because I haven't come across any bird with a vocabulary as large as our little family member. Gussy showed his rather 'foreign' tastes by practically issuing a Royal Command for pig meat with cream sloshed on it! Allie stepped in and countered his command but a further command was issued whereby I put the Commander in his place. Poor old Gussy subsided although he was puzzled why he couldn't have what he wanted. He'll learn.
We were introduced to another person whom I don't think any of us had noticed – Mrs. Ellis's Great-Aunt Naomi of ninety-plus years who was sitting over by the fire in a large comfy chair that almost enveloped her. Wrinkled as anything and with faded eyes she gave us a faint smile before resuming work on her bundle of knitting. She looked a bit like a witch with a large nose and shawl wrapped round her head. I wondered what she thought of us all – four kids, a foreign-looking boy, and a very talkative parrot. The children were finally sufficed and Philip let out a notch on his belt. Allie frowned at him while I surveyed the room with its ornaments on the mantelpiece and sideboard with plates on their edges and more crockery in the cupboard, which could be seen through the glass-fronted doors. This was the place to come home to after a day out in the fields – cozy, with plenty of character. Hadn't seen Mrs. Ellis's husband anywhere so maybe he was still out in the fields or perhaps in the village. Someone had been sent to prepare our cottage, and food had also been supplied so we were all set. We got ready to leave and after a few instructions had been given to us, we went out into the night air where light from the farmhouse shone out onto the courtyard. Mrs. Ellis wished us luck and bid goodbye as we piled into the car and set off once again feeling very full and contented.
Had to go back the way we'd come and take a left turn that took us over a very narrow stream and into a kind of yard where I found a place to park the car. Through the dusk we perceived an attractive cottage of character. Lovely garden, stout door, and the upper windows thrusting partly through the rather dilapidated thatched roof had window boxes as far as I could make out in the dimness. The boys immediately bagged the room overlooking the courtyard as I was digging into my pocket for the key Mrs. Ellis had handed over. Kiki had to play King of the Castle and she flew up to perch briefly on the chimney pot before swooping down and flying through the open door to land on Jack's shoulder as he and the rest surged up the old wooden staircase to explore their new surroundings. I looked at Allie who was taking off her jacket and asked if she thought the place was to our taste.
"If you're with me, I can live anywhere," she said.
She was imitating a scene we'd watched in the movie last week and I can recall writing down that we'd laughed like anything because it was pure ham. I carried on in like manner:
"Then kiss me and show you care."
"But what if Gregory came in?"
"You mean ... you mean ... there's someone else?"
"Only ..." and she started giggling.
"To hell with Gregory, it's our lives that matter."
The children clattering down the stairs broke up our embrace and Allie went to inspect the kitchen.
"Fun place," said Dinah. "The upper corridor is uneven and narrow and quite spooky."
"I'd be scared to walk down it in the dark," said Lucy-Ann; " ... and don't you get any ideas," she added when she saw Philip and Jack looking as if they were both thinking the same thing.
Suppose I'd have to put my foot down if there was anyone creeping around with a sheet over them at the dead of night, but it'd be interesting. Allie came out of the kitchen looking very happy. There was plenty of food and the place was spick and span so now the order went out for the girls to get started on the unpacking. When Gussy heard that he was to sleep with the boys he protested somewhat and I ended up taking him away from the others and laying down the law. Poor kid. I didn't want to upset him too much although he could hardly have me executed, but relations between Britain and his home state MUST be preserved as well as possible. They probably need us more than we need them but we DO want the advantages they can offer us so unless the boy goes right off his head, I can but try to keep him in an amicable mood. One thing was not to be allowed however - no matter what inherent power he possesses, it must not be allowed to intrude on the rest of the family, therefore Allie's and my word has to be 'law.'
I told him he had to understand we were living in a cottage and not in a twenty-room castle... Even I, as head of the house, had to sleep with someone so we're all mucking in. That may have been taken the wrong way but he actually knew from his school life what 'mucking in' meant and once the boy saw there'd be no compromising, he adopted a more relaxed attitude. I think Gussy wants and needs someone in his life who's firm and unyielding.
Went to bed fairly soon because we were tired. Allie's brought along the beautiful clothes container that Tassie the gypsy girl had made with her very own hands and presented to us for our wedding. It's definitely a work of art.
"It's rumoured she might become head girl," Allie commented.
Tassie had made great strides and had settled in well at her school but I couldn't quite see her as head of the school.
"She still has that slight shyness about her," I said. "It adds to her cuteness, but it might stand in the way when it comes to making decisions and being top dog in a crowd of girls."
"That's exactly what I thought," Allie said. "Maybe she'll surprise us in a year or so but I think it'd be a pity if she lost her particular appeal. I'm only going on what I heard - apparently someone suggested joint head-girls."
I didn't know all that much about the politics of girls' schools and I certainly hadn't heard of 'joint head-girls' before today.
"It happened once," said Allie.
"Yes. Mind you they were sisters and highly regarded. Seeing Tassie gets on so well with her monitor there was a suggestion they could both rule the roost fairly well - one supplying what the other lacks! I think the reason Christine was mentioned in dispatches is that her older sibling was head girl of the school a few years back."
"Well, I wish her luck!" (23.28)
Slept in the first morning and the girls brought breakfast into us so things are looking pretty good - unless they're warming us up for some outlandish request. Don't think so though because they're pretty free to do what they like. Everyone's been making plans - Allie's thinking she might spend a day up at Telford where Irene lives. Been to the village with the kids to get a paper and one or two necessities that the Cunninghams use regularly which Emily and Mrs. Ellis wouldn't have known about. Kiki's settled in well – she usually takes her time to get familiarized and shuts up a bit until she's satisfied things are to her expectations. Gussy gets on peoples' nerves now and again but if his bossiness becomes too noticeable, he's usually jumped on from a height - especially by the boys if his demands begin to grate. He even had an altercation with Kiki that, according to Allie, ended up with Dinah jumping on him when he threw a book or something at the bird. Unfortunately, he hadn't realized that Kiki is 'One of the Gang' and is therefore defended from outsiders.
The char won't put up with any of Gussy's moods and when she goes for him, Allie and I don't like to interfere because Gumpy's quite a treasure and tends to work beyond her stated duties. I told Allie I'll have another talk with the prince but haven't got round to it yet because his manner makes me think I might need to take him away for a while – just him and me. Dinah's temper has surfaced again and combining that with Gussy's attitude doesn't bode well. The girl doesn't realize that she actually banged a crown prince's head on the floor and no matter how deserved it was, we can't really allow that to occur on a continuing basis. I think Dinah was lucky she wasn't in Tauri-Hessia because behaviour like that would probably have got her clapped in irons. Actually, the threat of having to pig it with me in some hotel room might cool Gussy down a bit but then again it might not, because I hear Kiki's giving him a bit of stick in her own individualistic way. (22.55)
Nothing outstanding happened today but after lunch I took Gussy into the study and told him that I might have to take him away for a few days because his attitude of superiority was getting on some peoples' nerves. He sat on the easy chair and took in what I had to say about the kids being a little ... "... just a little ..." fed up. He wasn't sure if I meant it at first and then looked quite horrified when he saw that I did. I asked him how he got on at his school and he said that he got good reports and although he didn't have all that many close friends, there were one or two boys he liked and had even been invited to their homes. I knew of his academic record, having been briefed by the embassy when the arrangement had been put forward that I should take him into the fold. It was good. He also provided me with the answer I was seeking.
When I quizzed him as to whether he ordered the other boys around he said that it wasn't possible because the school had rules and one was that the housemaster was in charge at all times and was the only person allowed to give orders. Gussy is quite receptive to being interviewed, or maybe it's my skill at getting to the truth because he told me that he'd once ordered a couple of younger boys to clean his shoes and had been come down on very hard when they had reported him. The housemaster had pulled the boy up and threatened to take him before the Principal and this was one person of whom Gussy was much in awe. The Principal was 'Head' of the institution. Gussy's father was a 'Head' of a country, and Gussy had been taught at an early age that a 'Head' was to be looked up to, and obeyed.
"Don't you look on me as a head?" I asked him. "I'm head of this family."
He hadn't seen me in that light. He liked me and respected me but his Bohemian heritage hadn't allowed him to consider that I was to be obeyed as a 'Head.' At least that's what I gathered
Gussy looked nervous and as I gazed at him, he bowed his head and said he was sorry. His upbringing had instilled a 'superiority' manner into him and in his eyes I was just a workingman.
"A peasant?" I asked him.
He wasn't sure what I meant but looking up at me, he said in rather a noble manner.
"I have learnt something and I am sorry. You are very kind ... not like the others who taunt me."
"They wouldn't taunt you if you'd just treat them as you would like to be treated," I said.
Gussy understood and said, "I will do my very best, but please could you give me time?"
"We'll see how you go," and we shook hands, as it seemed the right thing to do.
I told the kids of our talk later on and added that the prince would be trying to behave a little better.
Jack said, "OK, but we'll still give him anything he gives us, Bill," and I left it at that. I rather hoped they would, if only to make Gussy understand that he'd reap what he sowed. (23.10)