Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Sunday, 22 June 2014
How to make friends and influence people
In all the excitement of the Summer Solstice, I almost forgot that the Bath Boules competition is on this weekend.
We go to Queen Square every year just to wander around amongst the in-crowd, occasionally chatting to friends we run into. Not having a garden and Bath being very short on decent outside venues, I enjoy lolling around people-watching whilst I have a couple of drinks. I only ever played the game one year, as the team were friends of mine and had lost a player to alcohol abuse. They start playing at about 10.00 am...
The event has never quite been the same since Miles Kington died. Being a pretty well-known, humorous journo, he was very well-connected and usually brought at least one of the Monty Python team with him. One year he brought Joanna Lumley and Terry Jones. See above photo for proof.
I never got to meet any of them because - for some reason - Miles didn't like me very much. It's a long story, but I have known his wife for years before he married her, and she's still pretty friendly on the rare occasions I see her, as I probably will today.
I am sure it will be exactly the same as last year, with Jo shouting at the teams to 'Hurry up!' and J.P. shouting obscenities in his 'Allo Allo' accent. The Francis hotel on one side of the square, had to install double-glazing because of the little Frenchman's langauge. I once blanched to hear him shout out through the Tannoy speakers, "Ah! here comes Miss *****! The most fuckable woman in Bath! Just look at her boobies!"
He used to run the famous and now defunct Beaujolais restaurant - defunct because he wanted to retire and nobody wanted to pay the £1million asking price to keep it going. I cannot think of any kinder things to say about him, so let's move on.
Aside from raising money for charity, the Boules event is also a great opportunity for networking amongst the participating estate agents, restaurateurs, solicitors, bar owners, etc. and there is a tent dedicated to a well-known Champagne maker, but not so well known by me that I can remember its name. Oh, I just have - it's Veuve Clicquot. Lots of bright yellow involved.
Even I have done a little business there, when I have bumped into old clients who I only ever saw at this venue, once a year. I might have scuppered the last deal though, when I walked up to a famous clothes-shop owner who I had worked for a few years earlier.
He owns a large, country farmhouse near Bath which is also famous for being a dwelling of Sir Frances Drake (I think), and an equally famous exterior designer come gardener - a husband and wife team - had made a complete pig's arse of their formerly pleasant garden by building a mock ruined abbey and an inappropriate extension to the ancient walls of the original.
They asked me to come in and tone-down the glaringly bright, new stonework (I am also an expert at the application of colour to new stone, having spent so many years amongst antique dealers), and this I did quite successfully.
The owner said, "We must get you to come up and tone down some more stone for us."
"Yes," I said, "I would be happy to come round and chuck some shit at your walls."
"We can do that ourselves," was his response. He describes himself as a 'farmer' when being interviewed. I haven't seen him since.
The Bell Inn (which I believe I may have mentioned here before) used to field a team every year, but since the affable Donovan left for France, it has all fallen apart with regard to Boules. They are trying to resurrect the cricket team, though. Donovan, being Jamaican born, was very keen on cricket.