[DWJ] Sacking the maids...

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Wed May 16 18:59:56 EDT 2007

>Minnow wrote:
>> Fascinating.  Can you dig up a source for this?  I doubt very much indeed
>> that even the British, who are known to be mentally defective to such a
>> degree that it's surprising that they still know how to breathe, would set
>> up an hereditary post to warn people that paint in a particular place was
>> wet, so there must be some other explanation, and I'd love to know what it
>> was.

and Mark wrote:

>I'm quite sure of it, it was in the news at the time.  There was a
>flurry of tabloid journalism about the guy who was being sacked, and
>interviews about how he felt, what he was going to do next (they found
>him another post in the civil service, IIRC), etc.  I will try to see if
>any of it made the net.  It was during the very earliest phase of the
>web, if I recall correctly, so it might not be in a web news archive.

and then

>I have been Googling an hour, without success.  I will continue to work
>on it.  I'm quite sure though, that it is more than apocryphal, I
>remember seeing the man in his ridiculous uniform, and the small,
>unassuming back stair he stood by.  I'm sure he felt a bit ridiculous at
>first upon assuming the post, but one can even get used to hanging, if
>one hangs long enough.

Curiouser and curiouser.

It's not that I am doubting your word, it's that I am having trouble
working out what this could possibly have been.  But please don't allow it
to take up too much of your time!

The bit that makes me wonder most is the "hereditary" part.  It is not
possible to force anyone into a job, even in the employment of the
monarchy, and frankly, I do not see anyone taking over from his father in a
completely futile and utterly boring job.  And I don't think there are any
hereditary members of the Royal Household anyhow.

There's also "another job in the civil service": the royal household and
the civil service aren't the same thing.  In any case the "ridiculous
uniform" implies two things: not royal household, who don't on the whole
have silly uniforms for everyday wear and only do the "flunkey" bit indoors
when HM is entertaining, and not civil service, ditto and they don't do the
"flunkey" bit at all.  Dress-up is for the Forces when they are parading or
loitering in little huts outside for the tourists, and for members of the
few organisations who have particular, peculiar garb as part of their
office when they appear in public.

Might it be that this was a thing that happened once a year, or during the
State Opening of Parliament, and was the privilege of a particular peer
(that being about the only hereditary thing that used to be left)?  Or
something to do with the Chelsea Pensioners or the Yeomen of the Guard?
The latter two wouldn't be exactly hereditary, but they would be inheritive
in a way, I suppose: "It is the honour of the Chelsea Pensioners to provide
the Guard of the Privy Stair on the anniversary of the failed attempt to
abduct the Princess Royal...", that sort of thing.

Do you have any *location* for this?  I suppose that the choices would be
Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and St. James's Palace (and that's
Clarence House really, if it's a royal residence that's in question).  Does
any of them ring a bell?  I don't *think* any of the others are royal
palaces, and the other two big important official royal residences aren't
palaces, they are castles (Windsor and Balmoral, and Balmoral isn't all
that official, it's more where they go to try to get some peace and quiet).
Queen Victoria's beloved Osborne House is now a convalescent home, so it
can't be there...

(It occurs to me that maybe this was exactly what DWJ had in mind when she
was writing CF, and if she were asked she'd say "Oh, yes, the Guard of the
Privy Stair at X...")


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