Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Snooze, shorthand and addressing a duke.

1. It's Nick's first day back at work after his week off. He hits the snooze button and goes in late.

2. Reading back my shorthand.

3. I went to a lunch party for literary ladies on Monday, and everyone was full of the new Sunday night costume drama, Downton Abbey -- except me, because I hadn't seen it. Now that it's not football night, we can sit down to watch the scheming would-be heiresses and ambitious staff slug it out in a stunning country house. We are completely entranced. I felt bad about inflicting it on Nick; but he gets very caught up, and at the end he says the writer Julian Fellowes Got It Right because he is properly posh. "He knows how people would address a Duke."*

* Say the Duke of Westminster is your landlord. If by some chance he came round to collect the rent, you might want to show some deference and address him as "Your grace" -- "Sorry about all the sheets, your Grace. We could really do with a new washing machine. One with a condensing dryer."

If, however, he was just popping in for a coffee, you would be meeting him on equal terms, in which case, you call him "Duke". "Milk and sugar, Duke?"


  1. A good reason to call a chile Duke if ever there was one!

  2. Now I know. I noticed they were calling him duke and thought it seemed a bit odd. Though I'm sure come to think I've read or seen things where people were calling each other 'baron' and 'marquesa' and things like that... Clever Nick to know such things, he must be proper posh too.

    Poor old Robert Timmins has fallen on hard times though, hasn't he?

  3. Nick used to edit a newsletter for a pro-monarchy organisation (it's a loooong and complicated story), so he knows all sorts of nobby stuff. If we ever go to tea with the queen, I'll be following his lead, let me tell you.

    Dreadful about Mr Timmins -- you'd have thought that daughter of his would put him up in her post office.

  4. Strange you wrote this I saw a tv report on the sale at Chatsworth and the reporter was calling the Duke of Devonshire Duke which I thought was odd as I always thought it was Your Grace. However I don't see how she saw herself as on an equal footing just because the Cavandish's are having an attic sale?

  5. I think the important thing to remember when dealing with dukes is that they put their trousers on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us.

    Like I've said -- if you want something from a duke, or he's your boss, defer like crazy. But otherwise, you're on an equal footing.

  6. What you mean they don't have a valet to put them on for them?

    Speaking of which and as Nick is clearly a mine of such information we were wondering about them pronouncing valet as valett, saying the 't'. Is this proper too?

  7. I thought the valets just laid the trousers out, rather than actually put them on...

    The Independent has some discussion about the pronunciation of valet here but I'll ask Nick for his comment when he brings my tea up.

  8. Nick says it's "vallit."

    And then do you know what he said as he was going back downstairs?

    He said: "Husband. That's how it's pronounced."


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