The agency notice said: “Housekeeper required by three eccentric gentlemen running ancient hostelry in Northern beauty spot. Select clientele. Robust English cooking – no fancy foreign cuisines! Immaculate references required.”
At first sight, I doubted whether the position would suit me. Accustomed as I am to serving the gentry, and in a few instances the aristocracy, the vision of being marooned with three quirky characters in the middle of nowhere, expected to do heaven knows what, was unappealing.
However, I decided to take a chance and journeyed to the Burrow, where I was welcomed by Master Ben Trovato, a jaunty young man who proudly showed me his cherished Snug Bar which he said was the focal point of the establishment, and - more hesitantly – by the smartly uniformed, sonorous Beadle, who gave me to understand that he ruled the roost at Anticant’s behest. “Not in my kitchen you don’t”, I muttered to myself.
I was then ushered into the presence of Anticant – a benign elderly cove clad in a flowery quilted dressing-gown and a smoking cap [although he doesn’t smoke], and surrounded by piles of books and several marmalade cats. At his feet reclined the biggest St. Bernard dog I have ever seen, its neck encircled not only by a collar bearing a brandy barrel but also by a rope of pearls. “This is Wooffie”, said Anticant. “He carries out numerous missions of mercy both in the snow and on other occasions, and must be kept well fed daily with prime rump steak.” “As long as it’s not MY prime rump…” I reflected.
Having satisfied Anticant and Ben as to the genuineness of my references, I was given a tour of the Burrow and decided that it was a charming old place although in need of some renovation, especially in the great kitchen, where there is an open spit fire and an ancient cast-iron range dating back to the days of good Queen Victoria. However, as there was more modern equipment in the smaller kitchen, I decided that I would give the post a month’s trial.
I have now been here three days, and so far, so good. But, just as a precaution, I have pinned up the following notice:
“NO BEADLE-BOSSING IN THE KITCHEN