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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Need to advertise for a butler?

Even in these straitened times, it seems there are folks who need a discreet place where they can announce they are anxious to hire a lady's maid, and expect to get a sensible reply.
Well, if you belong to that select set, Georgina Pattinson of the BBC News has glad tidings for you. A 124-year-old magazine is exactly what you want.
This is The Lady, first published in 1885, and positively refusing to age. It was originally launched "to deal with the many subjects in which Ladies are interested, in a manner at once fully and completely, yet not tiresome: to provide information without dullness and entertainment without vulgarity," and continues to cling to this dignified stance. It is the place to advertise for a nanny, and expect to get Mary Poppins.
Set demurely amongst recipes for such nostalgic items as homemade chutney, pleas for domestic help look positively Edwardian. The current issue features advertisements ranging from a request for applications from couples who are willing to look after "a large estate," to cordon bleu school graduates who are willing to shift their culinary skills from Gloucestershire to W11, London, at their employer's whim. For the adventurous minded, there is the advertisement for a housekeeper in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, though there is the stern requirement that she "must be able to organise and prepare for large banquets."
Stella Gibbons, author of the hilarious Cold Comfort Farm, was a regular contributor, and that sniffish arbiter of social manners, Nancy Mitford, was another -- but that was back in the days when the magazine was priced at sixpence. Now, it costs a more modern sum -- and yes, it has a website.

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