Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy new year, happy new decade!

As is my wont at this time of year, I've taken a complete and utter break. Please accept my apologies for PB silence over the last week. I'm currently sitting on a very comfortable sofa at my home-from-home, Stapleford Park hotel in Leicestershire having eaten and drunk my way through the festivities and am now slowly gearing myself up for 2010. Posh resolutions are being thought through.

On the brink of a whole new decade, the newspapers have been summing up and discarding the Noughties (which appear to be encapsulated by Tony Blair, Katie Price, Google and terrorism). What will the Teenies bring? David Cameron, Alexa Chung in a Barbour, the Tablet and oil wars. Perhaps.

But for now, let's concentrate on immediate revelry. If you want a posh new year, get stupidly drunk before midnight, dance a Scottish reel or two on the hour,  eat breakfast at 1am and fall asleep in the wrong bedroom, having made a pass at the wrong wife.

Pip pip! Hoorah. xxx

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A very merry Christmas from Posh Bird

Here's to a marvellous posh Christmas to you all - to include tins of Quality Street, watching The Queen, bought Christmas pud, singing Good King Wenceslas as  you line up to open your presents, midnight mass, champagne at breakfast, smoked salmon and carnage.

PB xxx

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Star Guest Blog! Novelist Josa Young on being one of the last debs

When I was 17 I popped out of 10 years of single sex boarding school, and advanced bookwormhood, to find myself blinking in the light of the deb season. It was a huge shock, and I had no idea what I was doing. I cringe when I think how absurd were my views on how to behave.

Most of the other girls were younger than me as they were either not doing A Levels, or were doing the Season at the same time. Which struck me as plain bonkers. I had done my A Levels, got straight As, and was whiling away the time between working, backpacking in Italy looking at pictures, and going up to Cambridge to read English. Naturally enough, the 'debs' delights' - a range of young men chiefly distinguished by their belief that 1950s attitudes to women, society, work and what you will were the way to go - turned up their noses at me. Which led to disagreements, as I could not for the life of me agree that I was in some way inferior to a chap with no O levels. And anyway it wasn't difficult as I am not very tall and many of them, particularly the Guards officers, towered over me.

Having done nothing but read, I had little idea how to relate to the opposite sex anyway in that strange period between the cure for syphillis and the emergence of AIDS. If one of them made a crude pass at me (there was no finesse), I would kick them smartly in the shins. I was also not used to drink at all, and found even a couple of glasses a bit of a challenge. Having had so much single-sex education, I got on much better with the girls. Which led to another difficulty. Why did  they ignore my attempts at conversation as soon as a man - any man, however plain and dull - came into the room?

The good things were visiting, dancing and staying in beautiful houses all over the country. I have a persistent memory of a ravishing hall with open fires burning in white marble fire places on each side, of flowers and marquees, of four-poster beds and grand staircases. In those days people felt it was their social duty to give house parties for complete strangers, and provided dinner and a bed for local dances. I thought I disliked grouse until quite recently, because us young were always fed on nameless game birds hacked off the bottom of the freezer - old when they went in there no doubt. And our hosts could be tetchy - I remember once asking what kind of dog as strange, liver-coloured, squat creature might be, and feeling very embarrassed by the haughty answer: 'It's a labrador, of course!'

The Season forced me to be sociable and put on a good show wherever I went. I was brought up to understand that 'being shy' was extremely rude, and that I was always to try and talk to everyone. At dinner, I was to make conversation with the people on both sides of me and not turn my back and only talk to the interesting ones. But I had no idea what to talk about - I was interested in literature and history and hopeless at flirting. I am afraid I was a terrific wallflower - the tradition of young men in your party being obliged to dance with you had evaporated. I always rushing from room to room trying to look as if I was having fun - there was always sitting on a pile of coats reading a book if things got really uncomfortable. Once the coats squawked when I sat on them, as I had sat upon a semi-naked sleeping couple.

My husband, at 18 and in possession of a modest title, found himself in receipt of invitations from complete strangers at the same time - he put them in the bin having no concept of what was expected of him. I often wonder what would have happened if we had met then.

I definitely don't regret doing the Season - even a very watered down 1970s one. It was a kind of crucible where bits of me were burned away in the flames of embarrassment. And it has provided lots of material for my writing.

Josa Young's debut novel One Apple Tasted (E&T Books) is out now.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Posh Bird Is Back....with happy news

So I went to the Tower of London and I'm so damned posh I was captured. Seriously, they was all, like, this must be the new pretender to the throne and that. So I was banged up and if it hadn't been for my cunning way with a scone knife and a row of pearls I'd still be rotting under the stairs with the princes.

Well, almost.

I went to the Tower and it was really jolly good fun. Lots of armour and ravens and a simply spiffing cafe. I highly recommend it.

But in other exciting news, Posh Geezer and I are now engaged. Hurrah! We're off this morning to Chelsea Registry Office to give our Notice of Intent (so that's what people mean when they say, "...and does he have honourable intentions towards your daughter?"). Promise I'll be back in full PB flow shortly - there's lots of posh stuff to report: bow ties are back, more posh comics on the Royal Variety, a special on what the posh do for Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Posh Bird is off to the Tower of London today

Will report back on the Crown Jewels later today.
PB x

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More hot new evidence that Posh Is Back: demand for monocles

The meisters of specs at Vision Express have been confused and bewildered recently by a number of enquiries about monocles, so they are starting to sell them in London. They will cost £50 and come in a pouch, with a string to put around the wearer's neck. "It's one of those inexplicable fashion things," Vision's chief executive said last week. "We've had dozens of requests from customers in the past few months, so we thought we'd bring back the monocle on a trial basis. We're as puzzled as anyone by the interest."

Last seen on Bertie Wooster, Patrick Moore, a ventriloquist's toff dummy and a dotty duke or two, the monocle is a hapless piece of magnifying machinery. My grandmother used to have one and I could never fathom the thing - constantly falling out, you couldn't read more than a half a sentence at a time before you had to catch it and try and pop it back on. They were swiftly replaced by glasses that didn't fall off every time you moved your head or coughed and no one looked back.

Until now.

So what's happened - has the country suddenly suffered a case of one-eyed myopic syndrome? Is there a Daily Mail scare we should be aware of? Have years of squinting at iPhones, the tiny text on food labels and celebrities' cellulite in Heat magazine begun to wreak eyeball havoc?

No. Simply put - Posh Is Back. Along with double rows of pearls, Barbours and toffee noses, the monocle is the latest must-have style item.

As India Knight said about this recent phenomenon in her Sunday Times column:

I was thinking how odd this was and then I remembered that the streets of fashionable Shoreditch, east London, are littered with young people wearing Barbours, strings of pearls and — spotted last week — those über-Sloane pie-crust collars. I find it too mind-boggling to analyse — let’s just say said young people weren’t on the way back from a weekend at the ancestral pile — but it rather cheers me up. Being a Hooray may be unhelpful if you’re a politician, but out there on the street it’s never been more fashionable.

(So excited has everyone been about this monocle revival story that it has been reported everywhere from the Daily Telegraph to LA Times and the Huffington Post.) It does make me wonder though - if the trendies of east London are prepared to go back that far in time for their fashion inspiration, what else might be up for grabs? Top hats? Crinolines? Walking canes? Let's just say, I look forward to getting off the tube at Liverpool St and tangling with the Labradors.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A lovely party at the Ritz and a Royal-spotting story

I was out at the Ritz last night for their media Christmas party (I do love the Ritz - it should be naff, but isn't. They do everything beautifully, it's still the best tea in London and if you pass by soon please do pop in and gawp at their Christmas decorations. I particularly love the golden-headed deer) and there was plenty of PB spotting to be done, much to my delight.

One good story. A really rather posh woman, in a brilliant sequinned jacket (the pavements of London are lined with sequins this season) told of how she had some very smart New Yorkers staying with her last weekend, so decided to take them out to her favourite Chelsea restaurant. She booked the table late on Saturday morning and grimaced but bore it when told they could have a table at 7pm but would have to be out by 9.15pm. However, when she got there, a few minutes before her guests at 7pm, she discovered her table was in Siberia. "Simply the worst table ever and I kicked up SUCH a fuss. You've never known such a stinker. I even reduced myself to telling them that I knew the owner etc etc. It didn't work. We were stuck with the table."

But when they got there, squeezing to their table on the outer edges of social acceptability they found themselves thigh-by-thigh with Prince William and his girlfriend Kate 'Waity-Katy' Middleton. Their table was in fact in between Wills and Kate on one side, their bodyguards on the other.

This was pretty exciting for my posh acquaintance ("I tell you what, that man has the HOTS for her! I've never seen a man burning up for a girl like that!") but even more so for the New Yorkers who promptly started squealing: "Oh my gawd. I just CANNOT WAIT to go back and tell the Upper East Siders that even at the WORST table in a restaurant, you get to sit RIGHT NEXT TO ROYALTY!!"

PS And I now know Will's pet name for Kate. And no, I'm not going to tell you. But it's very sweet. They're a real life genuine couple as our New Yawk friends would say.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What time is lunch? And tales of a wicked grandmother

Yesterday, PB had a delightful friend over to lunch. She had been a (much younger) friend of my grandmother's and we had lost touch for several years and are only just recently reunited. Now in her early 70s - although she could easily pass for ten years younger - I was so excited to see her and be reminded of my grandmother, who was wicked in the best possible sense (and sometimes in the worst).

Before I digress, my friend told me that she had had an etiquette panic sparked by me saying to come for lunch at '12.30 for 1pm'. The polite thing, of course, is to always arrive 10 minutes later than the specified time - but this built-in vagueness threw her off course. And did I mean that at 12.30 there would be champagne before lunch? So although she was coming to my tiny flat, she suddenly feared there would be a chic crowd downing Ruinart. The real question in her mind was - did that mean she needed to wear her pearls? In the end she compromised, arriving at 12.40pm and with pearl earrings on. Such are the beautiful manners of her generation.

All of which brought to mind my grandmother, Kate - my mother's mother - who I don't think was especially posh (upper middle, probably) but was always immaculately, beautifully dressed and had the crystal-clear diction of the war generation. (When, as one funnyman put it, they seemed to ration vowels as well as eggs: "Do come up to the hice for tea" etc.) Kate was 40 when she had my mother, so even when I was little she was really pretty old and not at all grandmotherly. I used to like staying with her because she would feed me cigarettes and whisky and tell me wild stories, such as the man who would insist on bringing a tiger to her nightclub ("until it went for a waiter and I really couldn't have it anymore"). She married three times and in between had an endless stream of lovers. She often recounted how she would tell her husband she was off to get some bread for breakfast, pop to see her lover for half an hour and then come home saying, "sorry darling, the queue at the baker's was just so long".

Funnily enough, although a stickler for manners, I doubt she had much sense of time and I can't imagine her worrying about ten minutes here or there. If she turned up to a party, that would be the right time to appear (actually, I seem to remember that 'arrive late, leave early' was her maxim) whereupon she would sit in the corner and wait to be feted. This worked until she was 80, her shapely legs still beautifully stockinged and in heels, glass of avocaat in one hand, cig in the other. "Put another record on, darling."

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Wonder of Whiffling - joyous English words

I've lifted some posh-appropriate words from 'The Wonder of Whiffling and other extraordinary words in the English language' by my good friend Adam Jacot de Boinod. Adam takes us on a tour around the language of the British Isles, finding words you always wished existed but never knew...Here are some words that Posh Bird wishes she had known when describing the less pleasant members of her species.

Posh mannerisms:
bespawl (Tudor-Stuart) to bespatter with saliva
sirkenton (Ayrshire) one who is very careful to avoid pain or cold and keeps near the fire
smell-feast (1519) one who haunts good tables, a greedy sponger
slapsauce (1573) a person who enjoys eating fine food, a glutton
yaffle (1788) to eat or drink especially noisily or greedily
admiral of the narrow seas (17C) a drunkard who vomits over his neighbour
stalko (1802) a man who has nothing to do and no fortune to support him but who styles himself as a squire

For describing the looks of a toff:
stridewallops (Yorkshire) a tall, long-legged girl
endormorphic (1888) being short but powerful
simous (1634) having a very flat nose or with the end turned up
mimp (1786) to speak in a prissy manner, usually with pursed lips

What they wear:
prick-me-dainty (1529) one that is finicky about dress; a dandy (of either sex)
galligaskins (1577) loose breeches
excruciators (19C) very tight, pointed shoes [what woman doesn't have a pair of these?]
caxon (1756) a worn-out wig

Thursday, December 10, 2009

STAR GUEST BLOG! Lucy Pridden, posh fashion and shopping journo, on the return of the Barbour

Wax Lyrical

I had my first fashion epiphany on the Kings Road aged 12.  It was the Eighties and Sloane Rangers ruled.  I was in town for the Feathers Ball - the highlight of the teenage Sloane’s social calendar.  It was Saturday afternoon and my best friend and I were dolled up to cruise the King’s Road in stripe shirts with the collar turned up, frosted lipstick from Boots 17 and our pièce de résistance, brand spanking new Barbour jackets.

Twenty-something years later and I am again considering purchasing a waxed jacket for fashion purposes.  There is nothing wrong with my original – it is still going strong and looks pleasingly worn in – perfect for country life, but it wouldn’t cut it on the Kings Road anymore.  You see, even Barbour have had a makeover.  Alexa Chung wore a Barbour Bedale jacket at Glastonbury and suddenly every fashionista worth her salt is after one – despite the fact that by and large the nearest thing to the real countryside they have experienced is a muddy field at the aforementioned music fest.

This time the rules are different – the jackets are fitted and worn in the style of Belstaff biker jackets and like Hunter wellies, which were also an integral part of the original Sloane wardrobe  – black has usurped green as the colour of choice.  You should wear your jacket undone over a vintage tea dress or tightly belted with skinny jeans, big shades and an even bigger bag and remember to give boot cut jeans, cashmere and flat shoes a wide berth unless you want to look like a Euro.

Barbour isn’t the only purveyor of these fashionable jackets, but they are the original and still the best.  One word of warning before you rush off to buy yours – wear a ‘fashion’ Barbour in the country at your peril – locals will brand you a nouveau, if you are not mistaken for a Russian or a WAG.

For stockist details visit

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Posh Bird at Cliveden

Last night I was whisked away for a surprise by Posh Geezer to Cliveden. One of Britain's most beautiful stately homes, it now belongs to the National Trust and von Essen hotels but gained infamy as the setting for the Profumo Scandal. It was given by William Waldorf Astor to his son and daughter-in-law, Nancy Astor, for their wedding present in 1906. Nancy became famous as a society hostess and as one of the country's first women MPs when she successfully won her husband's seat after he was forced to give it up on gaining a place in the House of Lords. They gave the house to the National Trust in 1942 but she lived there until her death in 1964.

It is astonishingly beautiful - there are dining rooms of a grandeur matched only by the interiors of a Venetian palazzo. We were hugely lucky to be staying in what was Lady Astor's bedroom - a vast, high-ceilinged room with 8 tall windows and a terrace big enough for a birthday party. White panels hid the doors to the wardrobe and bathroom. There was a plump sofa, a white, ornately carved tall mantelpiece and the bed...Oh! Them were the days. The most comfortable I've ever slept in - one sort of sank in and was firmly held all at once. No modern duvet nonsense either - just soft white sheets, pure merino wool blankets and a heavy cover.

We had drinks and a vicious game of Scrabble in the Great Hall (where the 1908 portrait of Lady Astor by John Singer Sargent hangs) and then a delicious supper in a long red dining room.

All totally heavenly and totally posh. It was a different world in which the very rich and powerful were entertained there 100 years ago. But as Cliveden even then had a reputation for excellent staff, good food and general spoilingness; and as the feeling even now is of staying at someone's house, I think the only difference now is that the guests write a cheque when they leave.

PS You know it's a truly posh hotel not by the liveried staff or the linen napkins, but because they welcome dogs. Woof to that, I say.

Posh Bird in the Evening Standard

In case you didn't find a scrappy copy on the tube last night, the Posh Bird blog was plugged and I was quoted in the Evening Standard Diary:

TOP HATS off to writer Jessica Fellowes. Her blog, Posh Bird in London, is an excellent read for beleaguered Etonian future Cabinet ministers and anyone else concerned about Gordon Brown’s personal attacks on Dave Cameron.
Hot topics include “are posh people thinner?” and jaunts in castles. Jessica is the former deputy editor of Country Life and niece of very posh writer Julian Fellowes who has brought posh to Hollywood famously in the form of Gosford Park.
“There’s a class nerve out there, and I’m hitting on it,” says Jessica. “As something of a posh bird myself, with antennae on alert, it’s become increasingly clear to me that Posh Is Back. With the Tories aiming for victory next year, the posh have started coming out again, braying for the first time in over decade. Posh style is in — mounted antlers on our walls, Barbour jackets on Hoxton trendies. You can even spot the Hermes scarf knotted around the heads of women under the age of 75.”
Apropos the class war, she asks: “The question is: can [Gordon] Brown rally the country to fight? Or will we declare ourselves conscientious objectors now we’re all middle-class?”

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Posh Bird answers your dilemmas

I've had some posh queries recently (see below). What fun. Please feel free to post any of your posh agonies here and I'll ease your worries in the manner of Nanny - with a hot flannel and caution to buck up soon.

Dear Jessica, please can you solve a problem for me. I think I am posh, take yesterday, for example, I cycled from Lina's Italian Deli in Soho to Harrods in pursuit of a white truffle for a 'food happening' (dinner parties, I feel are declasse) I'm holding on Monday. I was delighted to be one of the eight lucky Londoners who got hold of one, despite it being £81 and basically a mushroom. However, my boyfriend says no matter what ridiculous things I do I cannot ever be posh because I went to a comprehensive (although this was many years ago). I would be grateful if you could solve this matter once and for all. Am I posh? Yours, hb xx.

Dear Am I Posh, now that many posh families have lost their fortunes to older sons who snorted it up their nose/crashed it into a tree/married a whore, several posh people go to comprehensives. So this may not hold you back. However, I fear that use of the word 'declasse', spending more than £80 on a mushroom (do you KNOW how much horse feed you can get for that?) and, worst of all, engaging in a 'food happening' may render you Upper Middle at best. Aspirational at worst. I suggest you cook shepherd's pie for a 'kitchen supper with friends' forthwith and you may regain some poshness. Yours, PB xx

dear posh bird. could you please clarify the status of brown sauce in bacon sandwiches and also whether marmite should be kept in the fridge or not. also could you please confirm exactly how many vegetables should be served with roasted meats, or is that just a roast? or roast lunch? who knows? i feel one of those christmas stocking books in the offing miss fellowes....

Dear Wants A Christmas Stocking Book - brown sauce is not posh although one feels it should be. It's one of those things that, like racing on the telly, white bread and gin, is a taste shared by both the working and upper classes. Marmite is kept in the cupboard. Roast lunch (never dinner) traditionally was served with a few overly crunchy potatoes and overly boiled carrots. But now posh food is all about Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and serving organic produce straight from the garden (or Waitrose). Butternut squash, parsnips, cabbage fried with bacon, roasted garlic and all other manner of exoticisms that my grandfather wouldn't have recognised are positively de rigeur. PB x

The life of Lady Maureen Fellowes, 1917-2009

Yesterday was my step-grandmother's funeral. Born in 1917 the eldest child of the fourth Earl of Gainsborough, she is the last of an era. I adored her. She had the silliest giggle, talked about people in history as if they were friends and was so undomesticated she once tried to cut a raw egg in half when told to separate the yolk from the whites.

Maureen was married by Cardinal Hume to my grandfather, Peregrine Launcelot Fellowes, in 1982. My own beloved grandmother had died just a couple of years before, but Maureen, while never grandmotherly in the baking-cakes sense, was quick to make my sister and I feel part of her family. She was very small, and quite round by the time we knew her, but would gamely come to Ireland and come for trips on our motor boat, clambering in and out like a child on a rock climbing exercise. She much preferred getting the number 19 bus in Chelsea to see her hairdresser, where she would chat merrily away to whoever she found sitting next to her. But her favourite place in her later years was a comfortable armchair by the fire, where she would sit and regale me with the tales of her youth.

Think of the parties that populated F Scott Fitzgerald and Evelyn Waugh's novels (to whom she once sat next to at dinner and didn't like very much) and the chinless wonders of PG Wodehouse - and that was her life. (She married very late for her generation - about the age of 27, because she was having too much fun in the meantime.) She would tell me of going to three balls in a night, and finishing off with a Chinese supper at the 100 Club at 4am. She would go to fabulous house parties at the biggest stately homes around England ("where I'd always have the best room and be able to take my own maid, because I'd always be the grandest there").

Completely uneducated, she was nevertheless absolutely fluent in French and Spanish (the latter because of an adored Spanish grandmother who couldn't speak English) and had a passion for the opera, theatre and history. (I got the highest mark in the school for European History in my A'level papers, which I put down entirely to having spent a week with her before the exams when she told me all the stories as if history were a particularly racy novel.)

Maureen's two daughters never went to school either, because she much preferred to have them at home where they could all have fun. The youngest was still having her silk stockings put on her legs by her own lady's maid when she was 18 years old.

Of course, I suppose one must say that we are glad such privilege is over now. But Maureen was never silly. She was almost defined by her Catholicism (although never pious and quicker than anyone to point out the church's faults) and throughout her life did a lot of work for charity, particularly local hospitals, where she would visit the patients to chat to them, encouraging her daughters to do the same regularly. She was huge fun, loving and all for the family. Had she been born in a terraced house in Manchester, she would have been exactly the same, only with a northern accent. I shall miss her hugely.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Posh in the news: Gordon Brown launches his class war

Gordon Brown, a desperate PM, fighting an opposition with no policies to attack, has made what can only be his last-ditch attempt to win favour with voters who despise him for his leadership qualities, fake smile and bad spelling. At least, he pleads, I'm not a toff. We're not over-privileged ponces in top hats trying to fight a war on the playing fields of Eton (which is where he accuses Cameron of drawing up his economic policy).

Matthew Parris, as always, writes perceptively on Brown's latest tactics in The Times - recalling the crude attack in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election, when Labour sent on to the streets 'toffs' in top hats. He warns that the Conservatives must not rise to the bait - but also concedes that it could be a successful point scorer.

This was responded to the next day by Minette Marin - 'Toff-baiting, the dangerous sport that will hurt you too'. She raises an interesting question - one that will be discussed at length over the next few months:

The only important question here is whether toffs — any toffs, of any party — are fit to represent us politically. Those who suggest not have to explain why. Is it that toffs have no right to represent us because of their class guilt or our class hatred? Or is it that they are not capable of representing us, because they are too limited by their background? Is there something about being rich, highly educated and well travelled that makes them unfit for office?

Next up: Janice Turner admits to a small crush on Zac Goldsmith. And why not, when she has this to say about Etonian charm?

When an Eton education truly takes, it bestows an aura of otherworldliness, an appearance of getting what you want without pushing, being above the scramble and petty change-counting of commerce, Conservatism as nostalgia, Conservatism that actually wants to conserve something.

But she ends on a depressing note. Recently, she met at a dinner party a woman who had just been accepted onto the Tory party's candidate list. Lives in Notting Hill, weekends in Oxfordshire. That sorta thing. 

So why did she get into politics, I asked. I thought my question was neutral: it was perceived as hostile. She shrugged, told me that she’d voted Blair in ’97: “Now the parties are all the same,” she said. “We all agree on everything, don’t we? Who gets in now, it doesn’t really matter.” And I suppose to her it doesn’t. To those like her it never will.

In other words - those who are in it, are in it to win it. Sigh. I do fervently hope not. (Go back, my friend, and read Marinette Marin's column on why we shouldn't write all toffs off, tempting though it is.)

Still - even the Observer, who one might think would be up for a quick game of stab-the-posh are deriding him. See Henry Porter, who cautions that a rallying call for class warfare is only ever going to miss the point. "As a nation we've always been more interested in character."

And a major Focus spread: Resurgent Brown ready to declare class war on Tories

(By the way - interesting stat - key in 'posh' to the Guardian search engine and get 8505 results. And not all of them derisory.)

Haven't got round to checking News of the World yet but what's the odds on them running an article shortly on Posh Totty in the House of Commons? Pretty good, I'd say. What, what?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Posh Bird on Facebook

Find me here for a Posh Bird agony aunt session and some marvellous responses to Posh Bird dilemmas.

Posh Bird on Facebook

Posh Bird in a castle

Yes! A real live castle! Very posh. I was, they were. No one said 'toilet' and and we sat in the yellow drawing room of the East Wing. (I love drawing rooms, despite the fact that nothing in them is drawn, except for the curtains). There were two teams of staff - East Wing and West Wing. Sometimes the staff cross over. No one mentioned whether this caused any bipolar mental difficulty. But you suspect that it might.

There were home-made mince pies, head bakers, head chefs, a live-in archivist and an assistant household manager. There seemed to be more assistants than heads, in fact. There were christmas trees - 57 of them! - and as many sets of lights. "No more candles on the trees, except when it's just family." They all had posh names and a completely posh love of lowbrow culture ("all I want is a xmas special of Strictly Come Dancing").

I can't tell you any more because I'm writing it up as a big feature but I just thought I'd give a little castle-licious taster.

Tonight I'll be staying with posh people in East Angular. More on that tomorrow.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Are posh people thinner?

Zoe Williams writing in today's Guardian praises Delia Smith for her retro-style. Slightly too formal wear and never licking a spoon or using 'just a bit' of something. Quite right, too (Nigella's last series, which involved her going to the fridge in the middle of the night to eat cold custard straight from the bowl bordered on the obscene).

Then this:

She mentions the fact that double cream is highly calorific, and therefore should only be used as a special treat (it has become very unfashionable to admit that some food is more fattening than other food. I suspect this is a snob thing; that rich people don't do it because they are kept thin by, I don't know, horseriding, bone structure, inadequate central heating . . . If rich people don't do it, then it is not posh, and the rest of us shouldn't do it).

Again, it's someone confusing 'posh' with 'snob' but I don't mind. It's quite funny here. It's also alluding to the idea that we all would rather be seen to be doing what posh people do.

I do actually think that people were a bit thinner in the old days partly because their houses were so much colder, especially those who lived in draughty country houses. I.e. the posh.

Think I'll turn the thermostat down today and then I can have scones with cream and jam for tea. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Posh Christmas Countdown

I see from peering into windows in Snotty Hill (residence of PB) that some people have already started to put up their Christmas decorations. Unless they are garnishing the public wing of their stately home – cf. Castle Howard, Blenheim Palace, Chatsworth – this is absolutely not posh. Ditto fairy light and neon Santa extravaganzas on the front of your house (not even done at Buckingham Palace - but wouldn't it be wonderful if they did?).

Of course, for children, this can be maddening. We weren't allowed to put our Christmas tree up until Christmas Eve when I was growing up and I can remember thinking that this was a devastatingly long time to wait. Particularly then as one suffered a sort of festive, tinselled overload - an explosion of glitter and presents that was too much for a small child to handle. I'd end up so overexcited that I wouldn't be able to eat a single scrap of the Christmas dinner. One year, my naughty uncle gave me a champagne cocktail before the dinner. I'd deliberately starved myself all day so that I could really tuck in.

I don't need to spell out the effect of a brandy soaked sugar cube in a glass of champagne on an eight-year-old's empty stomach, do I? I slept throughout the whole thing and woke up in time for my mother to give me a five pence she'd rescued from the pudding.

The only thing right now the posh are doing for Christmas is opening an advent calendar (preferably chocolate and cheap - this is when we miss Woolworth's). Some misguided souls will have had photos of the children taken for their cards but I'm afraid this is deeply non-U. The Royals do it. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Posh Bird in Soho - a party, a pop-up club and a bed at Groucho's

Posh Bird had quite the Soho night out last weekend. My father worked there in the 80s when it was still a proper sexshop dive (there was a sign on the buzzer below his office, which said, "busty, blonde model" which I remembered thinking, even at the age of 10, was a rather odd way to get modelling jobs). Then in the 90s it got trendy as the film companies and advertising agencies got richer. I used to hang out at Madame JoJos's, Soho House, the Boardwalk, the Limelight and Raw (strictly speaking off Tottenham Court Road but cool enough to be almost Soho). Late night coffees in Bar Italia and early morning breakfasts on Old Compton St were de rigeur.

But in the Noughties, the mainstream crowds moved in and I rarely would go there on a weekend night. During the week is still fine - cocktails upstairs at Quo Vadis (since the divine Sam and Eddie Hart took over), a bit of music at Ronnie Scott's, a meeting at Soho House or catching the flicks at the Curzon Soho. But weekends are reserved for the coked up bridge 'n' tunnel crowds. Not for me.

Still, I had a happy occasion to be in the area this time - for a friend's wedding party. Posh Geezer and I tottered off to the Union Street club, which I like a lot. It's not too poncey, with red glossy walls and a relaxed atmosphere. Afterwards, we popped into the amazing pop-up members club at House of St Barnabas, which was set up by Quintessentially's Ben Eliot. Every single rug, glass, oil painting, cushion and fork has been begged, borrowed and stolen by the very clever and extremely fun interior designer Russell Sage. It's got the air of an impromptu party in a half-abandoned house. Lots of people are going to miss it when it closes on December 21st.

Finally we rocked up to the Groucho, where we were staying for the night. I'd been very kindly asked by the PR if I wanted to try out their club rooms. I have to admit that the room itself is a little basic if you're used to 5 star country hotels (what, moi?) but not if you're used to squeezing into central Manhattan. The bed is comfy, there's a decent bath, a big telly, an iPod base plugged into the speakers and the service is truly impeccable. I was a difficult PB, demanding chips, batteries (for my radio, don't be naughty), an A4 envelope and tea. It's not really meant to be providing full room service, but they did. And for £135 a night, I don't think you'll find much cheaper or better in deepest central London. You even get the joyous Soho atmosphere: lagered-up shouting until the early hours. At 6am, I took a peek outside. The washed down streets reflected the street lamps and a neon sign glowed - 'Sex Shop Basement'. Ahh. Familiar comforts.