Friday, 30 July 2010

Every Lord needs a stately home

The aristocracy are renowned for telling the truth. OK, Lord Archer may have written the odd fictional novel. And John Prescott did once swear he'd never enter the House of Lords. But he's notorious for his swearing. Plus, he wasn't a Lord then - he is now. Have you heard him lie since? I don't think I have.


One of us now...

With this in mind, I'll tell you where I've been since April 28th. I've been searching for the woman I thought I'd call my Lady. Suzanne Alfred Akinbiyi-Beto. God's honest truth. Her email touched me on so many levels. I had to find her. I trekked through Europe, the West coast of Africa, down through Morocco and Mauritania, (where men revere a woman of a plumper nature), and through Senegal to Dakar. The home of my dear Suzanne. Except, when I finally knocked at her door, she wasn't home.

All that way and she'd gone without even leaving a note.

"You're too late my friend," said the man she'd been in care of, Pastor Dominik Nielson. "Pretty girls like Suzanne don't wait around. You own house?"

"No," I said. "What's that got to do with it?"

"She went off with man who owns house. From England, like you. Except she go to live in house; something you don't have." He chuckled loudly at my misfortune.

"But I own a title. I'm a Lord. That's got to count for something."

"Unfortunately, he was too. Lord Samuel Wooster, his name. Taken her back to place called Maid-Stone."

I couldn't believe it. Pipped to potential happiness by a fellow Lord. My new arch-nemisis. A Lord with land, and a home to call his own. I had no choice to return with a broken heart. And without a woman I thought I'd be calling Lady Ward.

The trek back was a long and depressing one, but gave me plenty of time to think about my predicament. I was a Lord, without a home. Every Lord had a home of some nature. A country pile and a city pad. More often than not a few thousand acres to go with it.

It got me thinking. I had my square foot of land. Why hadn't I built on it? It was the perfect location, amid the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands. Plenty of room to organise a hunt with chums.

When I arrived back in England, I took action. I contacted my cousin, an architect called Aliena Archer, and we set to work rectifying my situation. Well, she set to work. I just told her what I needed and let her get on with it. She didn't disappoint:




It was perfect. Exactly a square foot at the base, with room to roam towards the top. A platform to shoot game from, too, should I wish. Exactly what I needed. OK, it may not have been a conventional Edwardian, mock-Gothic, 80-room retreat, but it was better than nothing. And surely enough to lure Suzanne away from the clutches of another Lord.

I decided then and there - I'd contact her via email in the morning. Along with Lochaber County Council, the jurisdiction my square foot of land lay under. I wanted to go ahead with it. I wanted to gain planning permission, and build myself a home fit for the modern-day Lord...



Lord Samuel Wooster. Genuine arch-nemisis from now on

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Making a new friend with my title

Email received 19th April 2010:

Dear Lord Ward,

My name is Suzanne Alfred Akinbiyi-Beto, I am 25 years old girl, from Freetown City, Sierra Leone.

Actually it takes once to know a friend by one day and we will start learning each other gradually, i want us to be friends though i know distance is far but i believe that love is a bridge that can connect far distance to be closer.

My likings are: honesty, trustworthy, friendly, kind, caring, respectful, tolerance, patience, realistic person. my dislikings are liars, cheaters, self centered, disrespectful, too dominating, negative out look on life.

About my family: My late Father Alfred Akinbiyi-Beto JP - Chairman 1994-99 Freetown City Council and also Chairman, Gold and Diamond...Mineral Resources Ministry Other - businessman too.

I am presently in Dakar, Senegal under the care of Pastor Dominik Nielson, I am looking for someone who i can trust to share my burden, joy and happiness of my life with. Please I will like you to write back to me and tell me more about yourself with your picture and Phone number.

You can call me with our Rev Pastor phone number *************, please when you call tell him that you want to speak with Suzanne.

I attach my photo for you to see me, send me your photo and phone number.

Thanks

From your lovely

Suzanne


Sunday, 11 April 2010

Making new friends

Imants had told me that there was indeed somebody that might be able to get me in for dinner at the House of Lords - his name was Jean-Francois Dor. A French events organiser for the royal family, and for judges, ministers and other members of high society; plus the vice-chairman of The Eccentric Club. Whoops. I probably should have known that. Looking him up on the Internet managed to trigger some vague memories for me, at least:



I'd sat in that very chair in The Arts Club, Mayfair, just a few nights earlier.

From what else I could recall, he'd definitely given a passionate speech about something at the Convivial Evening too, and we'd definitely talked positively about the idea of me accompanying him to one of his events. It was a minor break-through but I still rued my social deficiencies for forgetting in the first place. I decided the best policy was to send him an email to say hello once again, and to ask him when I might be able to head on down to the House. Perhaps get a feeler for how well we may or may not have got on with one another over the course of that evening.

I started to imagine what dinner at the Lords might actually be like. I visioned all the peers, sat on the wooden benches in the main room, taking a break from jeering at each other in their robes to crouch over hot dinners perched on their laps with plastic cutlery in their hands, and squabbling with one another over who got the last bread roll from the dinner lady. Then I reminded myself that in no way was the House of Lords likely to be anything like school. No, that was the House of Commons - these guys were a little maturer than that.

The thought of sitting around tables eating beef wellington, sipping red wine and talking politics with some of the most important people in the country got me pretty excited, though. It wasn't something I'd ever considered possible before I'd got my title. I realised if it were to happen, I'd probably want to brush up on a few things - politics being the first. Aside from having an active interest in repeating famous "Bushisms" in pubs, politics wasn't really my strong point. Maybe I'd need to work on my dinner etiquette too. I decided to have another look at the Debrett's website (see blog 10th Nov 2009). They'd be able to teach me a few things:


Click on the link

In his earlier email, aside from telling me about Jean-Francois, Imants had also included the name of a website I might be interested in. It was called 'The Royal Princes and Princesses Club'. He gave me the web address so I decided to check it out - it was an exclusive social networking site for members of high society. A facebook for the rich and the privileged. Presumably somewhere to hang out with people of a certain status. I couldn't believe my luck; it was almost like getting 'made' in the mafia.

I typed in my details and signed up, before having a look around the site. It was full of people with royal names, and titles. Names like Princess Karen Sue Cantrell and the Duke of Faiyum. I didn't know who either of them were, but they sounded pretty important. I went back to my own details to check that I'd included 'Lord' in my own name. I didn't want to look out of place.

I wasn't quite sure what I was meant to do on the site, so I just monitored it for a while, to see what people got up to. It was very much like facebook, from what I could see; just with a far more 'regal' feel to it. Much to my delight, it wasn't long before I had my first friend request. And then another one, and another one after that. Then I received a message from one of my new friends, and lets just say, it happened to be more than a little interesting...

Lord Christopher Ward

Monday, 22 March 2010

The Eccentrics in the News

I got back to Cornwall from the Eccentric Club late at night, having managed to find myself a train to sit and feel sorry for myself on. I parked myself in front of my computer and found a link to a BBC news feature about the Convivial Meeting:


Click on the picture to find out more

The club night appeared to have made BBC news.

I was disappointed that I hadn't been interviewed, and also that I hadn't even been notified of the news team's presence; but at the same time the story had at least solved one of the many questions I'd yet to find an answer to - there was indeed a man with a birdcage on his head present.

I decided to send my good friend Imants an email. I had to know the answer to one of the other question I had for him - Had there really been someone there who might get me into a formal dinner at the House of Lords?

Lord Christopher Ward

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Meeting a Lord, Becoming Eccentric (Part Two)

I woke up in a strange bedroom with a sore head, and looked at the time.

It was 15.27

Twenty-seven minutes past three in the afternoon?!

I looked across my shoulder and did the 'double-check of shame'. I was not alone. My heart started to pound as thoughts raced through my head, spinning like a gyroscope.

Who was that? Where was I? How the hell did I get there?

It took a second for me to register where I had been the day and night before, and then I remembered - The Eccentric Club. Or more specifically, The Arts Club in Mayfair. I'd gone to prove myself as Lord Christopher Ward. To try and improve my social status. To be the aristocrat my title required of me, and to gain contact with other Lords and build up a new social network through the Convivial Meeting I'd been invited to. I hadn't envisaged it ending up in such an unhealthy manner.

You see, here I was, in the kind of state the 'old' me was more accustomed to - a head full of mush and a badger's tongue. Not to mention a void between the moment alcohol had clearly entered my mouth and the moment I'd woken up with a feeling of shame in a room I knew nothing about. I couldn't help but feel something must have gone wrong. In this kind of situation, it normally had.

I decided to check under the sheets. I was still wearing my suit.

I felt around in my pockets, and pulled my camera out and switched it on. I must have taken some photos at some point. I realised I could probably work out what had happened and who I was with by taking a look at them. That way I'd determine whether I should wake them up and get them to cook a late breakfast, or hastily make a run for it and never speak a word of the event to anyone ever again.
Initially, the camera told me its memory was empty, and a wash of disappointment spread through me like a knife through butter. But then out of the blue, it fired into life. I clicked on the first file and as I waited for it to load, I realised I'd have to run through them chronologically. Relive the whole thing, in order. For better or worse...


Two photos of toilets. It was a pretty shady start, I must admit. Yet, I instantly recognised them, and my memory started flooding back. Of course I recognised them, they were the most obscure gents toilets I'd ever been in. How could I forget?! Plus they were the catalyst for remembering I had actually met another Lord during my excursions. Lord Dave West, to be exact - the owner of this private members nightclub in Mayfair called Heyjo, and a born and bred Essex barrow-boy turned millionaire. I'd been introduced by Imants, my Eccentric Club mentor and guide for the day, who'd decided that acquainting a fellow title-owner and self-confessed eccentric would be beneficial for me, even though he wasn't your archetypal Lord:


The pink suit had definitely proved his eccentricity. As did the toilets and his liberal stance on life; as well as the fact that there appeared to be a phallic undertone to various things within the club. Indeed, talking to him and seeing the number of beautiful women he had working on laptops dotted around the place had also served as fair proof that being a Lord clearly must have its benefits. Plus this was where I'd had my first drink of the day bought for me. I'd go on to rue such generosity, but at the time it was a fantastic perk. More drinks were to follow too, as we left Lord West to continue running his business. He'd told me as a passing shot that I should join him on one of his 'club nights' next time I was around. I walked out thinking I'd have to hold him to that offer.



We swiftly moved on, in a cab, towards Brook Street. I remembered this being the place I felt most in awe of, as I sat and sipped brandy and white wine, bought for me in the world-famous Savile Club. I'd heard of this place before, you see - Charles Darwin, Thomas Hardy and Rudyard Kipling had once been members, among others. The idea of walking in the footsteps of such great historical figures was quite hard to fathom, especially as I was just a long-haired student nobody from Reading. There was almost something fantastical about it though; as if I'd never considered the fact that such places actually existed, and never considered that I could ever end up in them.

The club's air of tradition and history was clearly being upheld by its members, as they sat and muttered quietly to one another in Chesterfield armchairs surrounded by wood-panelled walls, huge oil paintings and racks of fine spirits. The alcohol, and Imants' guidance soon had me socialising with them easily enough though, to the point where I can vaguely recollect the 'snuff box' being shared around. Things must even have become relaxed enough for photos to be suggested:


I'd obviously begun to feel comfortable with my new surroundings. At this point, however, Imants reminded me that the Convivial Meeting was due to start reasonably soon and that he was the man presenting it, so I downed the wine he'd bought me and we stumbled towards a cab and back across Mayfair to the Arts Club. Unfortunately at this point, with more alcohol to sip on, things started to get blurry, even with the photos to aid my memory. I couldn't recall if I'd even eaten any dinner, for instance. At least the next photo reminded me that we'd obviously made it in time for the start:


Which had been at 7.47pm, on the dot. Imants greeted everyone with the motto Nil Nisi Bonum, and then there was a short fashion show and a charity auction. Visions of what had happened after this floated around my brain. I'd socialised with many people initially, including a genuine Eccentric- a man with a bird-cage on his head. I clearly remembered that. But where was the photo? I could also vaguely remembering standing next to a statue of Winston Churchill, and being invited to dine at the House of Lords with a French Duke and his friends. But there was no photo of this either? And probably no proof. I'd have to chase that up with Imants, to check that it had not been something I'd imagined.


Despite being alone, I enjoyed seeing this photo. It looked very much like I'd fitted in, even if I couldn't remember it. Brandy and quiet contemplation. It was the kind of thing I'd gone there in search of. Yet within the photos that followed, things got a little bit strange again:


There was a wizard present. Why hadn't I remembered that?


And somebody drawing caricatures? I was wondering what had happened to mine.


Had I won an award for something? I certainly didn't remember that. I couldn't see that I'd brought it with me, from scouting the bedroom I was in. I decided that maybe I'd left it behind. I wondered what it was for. Most eccentric? I had a long way to go yet. Flicking to the next photo had me soon forget about the award, in any case, as it sprung up a question or two:


Uh-oh.

There was something rather ominous about this particular photo. Something that made me bolt right up in bed. Who was this? And at what point had we gotten so friendly? My heart was skipping away, yet again.

Next to me, the body started to move, and then stir. The person in the bed was waking up. What had I done? Was this photo what I thought it was? Was it the preparation for what was about to come?! Just as I began panicking and trying to find means for excuses, I accidentally pushed a button and scrolled to the next photo on the camera:


Everything became clear.

The man on the left of this picture was James Goff - my best friend from back home in Reading. Of course it was! He'd sent me a text message half-way through the evening; I remembered now. He'd been working in the centre of London and had sneaked into the Arts Club, at which point I'd ticked him off but Imants had okayed it, so we'd sat in Chesterfield armchairs and chewed the fat deep into the morning, as if it had been something we'd need to savour. People had come and sat with us as I now recalled, and we'd spent much of what was left of the time drinking more brandy and trying to get the wizard to teach us how to disappear.

Clearly James was the body lying next to me in this bed. I leaned over and now I noticed his shoes and suit scattered across the floor. I'd been so stupid to have feared the worst.

"James," I whispered. The body only managed a grumble back. It was a grumble I recognised however, allowing me to officially breathe a huge sigh of relief. That photo was clearly far more innocent than it looked. If anything it was proving what fun the event had been. Perhaps I hadn't ruined my first chance to masquerade as a Lord after all. There was still an issue that needed sorting, however.

"Any ideas where we are mate?" I asked him. "Is this your place?"

"Nope. No idea," he said, as he rolled himself over to show his tire-beaten face. "Hadn't you better be getting your train though?"

My train? Of course, my goddamn train home! I scrambled back under the sheet, and reached into my pocket once again. I pulled the tickets from my wallet and there in front of me was the 'something that had gone wrong':

London Paddington to Truro - 15.35

I looked at my watch.

15.37

I'd missed my train home. Fifty quid down the drain. A while to wait for the next one.

How had I managed to lose my way so much? Was this how every Eccentric Club meeting ended? I wanted to get in touch with Imants and find out what had really happened. Find out if I'd dreamt meeting that bird cage, and the French Duke. I put my camera back in my pocket, before James and I got up and sneaked away from the house we knew nothing about...

Lord Christopher Ward

Friday, 5 March 2010

Meeting a Lord, becoming Eccentric (Part One)

I was finally on my way to The Eccentric Club.

Initially, I was feeling down about failing the simple challenge I'd been set prior to the trip; however my dark mood about not being able to get hold of a suave green tweed suit for the day was soon lightened by a conversation between two young gentlemen sat behind me on the London-bound train.

You see, if you're ever unsure about the tolerance levels of your close-proximity audience when discussing loudly and in-depth about an intimate experience you had with a lady or man the night before, well - just change the names of body parts to items of fruit. Its so obvious. A sure-fire winner. It's almost guaranteed people will be none the wiser as to what you're talking about. Although, if you do want to make sure you're being 100% discreet, perhaps you shouldn't use bananas and melons as the fruit examples. It didn't take me too long to figure out what that was all about, if I'm honest. Pineapples, though? I haven't got a clue. Talk about pineapples all you want. Still trying to work out exactly what that might represent, in actual fact...



Got an idea?

Anyway, a short tube ride from Paddington and I had reached Mayfair at around 2pm, an area of London I instantly became in awe of. It was the first time I'd seen The Ritz, for one thing. It was so iconic. Even though it was covered in scaffolding and surrounded by builders talking about England captain John Terry's 'disgraceful behaviour, of late', among other things.

The business men and women looked sharply dressed everywhere I walked, too (although I didn't see anyone wearing a green tweed suit), and there was a hustle and bustle 'money talks' feel to the place that I had never really seen before. I felt like I probably didn't belong, if I'm honest; yet I knew as a newfangled Lord I had to try my best to fit in. I started to swagger in the grey suit I was sporting, and took my phone from my pocket before shouting 'Get me New York!' into it whilst waiting at a busy zebra crossing. No doubt people got the impression I was slightly insane, but I didn't care. It was my way of helping me get a grip on the place.

Imants Von Wenden, the Eccentric Club Secretary, had kindly agreed to show me around in the afternoon, prior to the Convivial Meeting in the evening. I was due to meet him at The Arts Club on Dover Street, the current location that the Eccentric Club called 'home'. As I walked towards my destination, I couldn't help feel a touch of nerves. What would happen if I wasn't accepted? Would Imants question my Lordship like the girl from the Savile Row tailors did? I told myself to stop being ridiculous, remembering The Eccentric Club's motto:

Nil Nisi Bonum - 'Say nothing of others but good'.

If this wasn't proof that I was likely to be accepted, I wasn't sure what would be. Plus the club had an ample selection of Lords as members, past and present. I would just be another person to share a debate and a Cuban cigar with, no doubt. A top hat and a moustache might have helped the look I was sporting, though. Added a little more eccentricity, perhaps. I still rued the fact that I hadn't slicked my shaggy long hair back, at the very least.

I decided to ignore my disposition and took a deep breath as I reached the steps up to the Arts Club's polished wooden facade. Through the windows I could just about see the end of a chequered marble floor, and an understated but elegant spiralling staircase attached to a wall covered in classic paintings, just beyond it. You could sense the club's feeling of tradition and heritage from this view alone. I walked up the steps and through the doors and announced myself to the lady stood guarding the reception. She took my coat and told me to head on upstairs to the dining room, and that Imants was expecting me. My swagger returned as I walked through the hallway. She didn't even raise an eyebrow at my appearance. Clearly I had more of a respectable air than I had actually given myself credit for. I began the ascent up the carpeted stairs and towards my host; closing in on what was due to be an afternoon and evening unlike anything I'd experienced before...

Lord Christopher Ward

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

A First Taste of Rejection and Failure

"You know, we'd love to do it for you, we really would. It's just..."

I could sense there was a hammer blow being readied, as I sat outside my student flat, phone squished against my ear, awaiting the verdict of the girl's unnaturally straight-laced voice at the end of the line.

"Please, go on," I said.

"It's just, you're not a real Lord, are you?"

It was more crushing than I could ever imagine. Not a real Lord? In what sense was I not a real Lord? I sat in silence for a second; my face reddening and warming despite the cold air. I hadn't yet experienced anyone questioning my status since I had started out. I needed to know what she meant by not real. Of course I was real.

"I'm sorry, I don't understand," I said, trying to stay calm. I had my deeds. I knew the score.

"Well we hadn't actually heard of you prior to your email, so we checked Debrett's and they didn't have you listed...We assumed this was some kind of joke, sir."
I reminded her it was Lord, not Sir, and that it wasn't a joke. Why would she assume it was a joke, anyway?

"I am a real Lord, I'll have you know. I recently purchased some land in Lochaber, Scotland. One square foot. I may not be in Debrett's just yet, but I will be, soon enough." The comment sounded more than a little desperate, in retrospect. It was all I could think of saying, at that point.

"That's all well and good, but we always use Debrett's as a guide to the peerage..."

Damn Debrett's - I should have known. I had been wondering how significant not yet having my name on the 'list' would end up being, and now it was clear - it was extremely significant. Especially when you were trying to get a green suit made for you overnight by a bespoke tailor on Savile Row.

"We'd be happy to offer you a pre-cut black suit if you came in tomorrow, but as far as green is concerned, there's absolutely no chance. We'd have to make it from scratch, and well, you're just not important enough for us spend all night doing it..."


...OK, so she didn't actually say that last bit. She did say something along those lines, though. I just didn't happen to be listening because I was thinking about how it was now official -I'd failed the challenge Imants had set me. I'd let the whole of The Eccentric Club down. Or at least that's how I felt. Would they still want me in? I wasn't to know. I definitely knew I wouldn't be wearing a green suit to tomorrow night's Convivial Meeting, however.

"So there's no chance..."

"Not unless you suddenly tell me you're the Prime Minister or something. There's just not enough time otherwise, I'm sorry."

I told her I was the Prime Minister, but she chuckled to herself before breathing awkwardly down the line and waiting for me to speak. It was still a No. I decided to accept my fate and thanked her for her time, informing her I wouldn't be needing the black suit. What use would it be if it wasn't green? I already had a perfectly good grey one to take with me in any case, I didn't see the point. I looked up into the sky as spots of rain started to fall. I felt so damn dejected.

You see, up until that point, everything had been going swimmingly. I hadn't had much by way of reply from any of the Savile Row tailors I had emailed, but it hadn't mattered, because I'd been contacted by a suit shop in Redruth, Cornwall, who had told me they could get me a green suit made of tweed. I would have bitten their hands off if they hadn't been declaring this to me over the phone. Instead I decided to accept their offer, before hanging up and yelling whoops of delight down the aisle of the bus I was sitting on.

At the time, I didn't give it much consideration, because I'd been so excited I hadn't taken note of the date. It was to be shipped down from a manufacturer in Hertfordshire and arrive for collection on the 27th January. No sweat, I told myself. What could possibly go wrong? It was only the day before I was due to head over to London. There wasn't likely to be any problems, right? Plus they had given me a discount price for the rental of the clothing and offered to throw a tweed flatcap in, half price, if I was interested. At the risk of looking too much like a Guy Ritchie-wannabee, I turned the cap down and opted for just the jacket and trousers.

Over the following days I couldn't get a particularly striking image out of my head - me walking down Dover Street in Mayfair, looking country-dapper in my tweed suit jacket and trousers. There was no way this wouldn't help me fit in with The Eccentric Club. Plus it wasn't too overbearing for the first visit, which would make me feel less self-conscious at the event. I almost imagined myself as a slightly greener version of this rather dashing young man:



Aside from also not being a Chinese boy in New York, of course. But you get the idea - I was preparing myself to look good. The day of collection arrived without me even thinking of getting in touch with the Savile Row tailors once again, to give myself a back-up plan.

The problem was, the hours ticked by. I rang the shop over and over. The suit had yet to arrive. It wasn't an issue though, their deliveries were always late. As long as I was patient I would get my suit, and then I could head over to Redruth to pick it up.

Then, I received the phone call I had been dreading, around 4pm.

"I'm so sorry sir, our delivery has arrived. There appears to have been some kind of error..."

My tweed suit just didn't show up. They told me it would probably arrive the next day, but it dawned on me that I had to get a 7.23am train from Truro, and there was no chance of it being there by then and I couldn't change the tickets, I didn't have the budget. I pleaded with the shop for something else, but it was no use. With limited stock they could provide me with hunting gear, but that was it. Plus hunting gear wasn't available to rent. I'd have to spend hundreds and hundreds of pounds, just to end up looking like a turkey hunting turkey. If I was intent on wearing something green, I'd need to wait until the delivery the next afternoon.

I was distraught by this. The excitement of the green suit wasn't going to materialise. I cursed myself for having no foresight; I should have given myself another option to fall back on. I frantically rang around tailors and suit suppliers in Cornwall and London, but most of them were shut by now or just dismissed me as a lunatic; or even worse a fraud, like the lady on the phone. That was the nail in the coffin. The kick in the teeth. There was just no way I would be able to get what I wanted in such a short space of time. I'd be going to The Eccentric Club the following morning looking as dull as ditchwater, with some dishwater thrown in.

Lord Christopher Ward

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

An email to the tailors on Savile Row

From:
Lord Christopher Ward
To:
**********************

Good day.

I recently became a Lord and was subsequently invited to an open evening at The Eccentric Club in Mayfair on the 28th January. Unfortunately, the dress code I have been given for the evening is 'green suit', something I confess to not being in ownership of. It is also something I confess to not really wanting to purchase either, so I was wondering if you had any green suits in stock that I might be able to 'borrow' for an evening's dining? If you don't, would you perhaps be willing to make me one for the function, on merely a one night loan? Please let me know your thoughts, either way.

Thanks
Lord C. Ward

Monday, 25 January 2010

The Green Suit

So - it turned out Imants Von Wenden of The Eccentric Club hadn’t been winding me up. I really had been cordially invited to attend an evening in the company of fellow Lords at The Arts Club in Mayfair.

With his confirmation finally assured, I wanted to begin planning the finer details of my trip straight away Рwhere I would stay, who I planned to talk to, what my approach would be, what I would need to do to push for membership Рit had been a few years since I had been to London, and as shameful as it sounds, the thought excited me in the way a holiday to France used to excite me as a small child. It was so horribly clich̩; yet a trip to London actually felt like a big deal. Comparing the number of visits in recent years, it was probably more foreign to me than a trip to France, too.

The whole experience was likely to be quite different for me in any case, so I felt I could justify needing some time to prepare. Unfortunately, I didn’t get such a luxury, because in the email I had previously sent Imants requesting clarification of the invite, I had made the mistake of querying exactly what I should be expected to wear for the occasion (The Eccentric Club website pictures a man with a birdcage on his head; I didn’t want to turn up looking underdressed). Anyway, in a fashion I would soon become accustomed to when exchanging emails with the wonderfully enigmatic Eccentric Club secretary, I received the following, rather off-the-cuff response:

“ One of the organisers of this party wondered whether you would be prepared to come all dressed in green [suit, probably] or change at the club into green, perhaps? We’ll explain everything about that peculiar request when we meet. If you would rather be in a more traditional attire, we most certainly will understand.”

I was completely thrown off guard. I had no idea where to start with this request. A green suit. Who owns a green suit? I gave it some thought, but could only think of leprechauns as an obvious example; or Tiger Woods receiving his green jacket for winning The Masters golf championship at Augusta, for some reason. I was pretty sure that turning up as either a leprechaun or a golf champion wasn’t exactly what Imants was after, though. Plus it wasn’t a great time to be replicating Tiger Wood’s style, let’s face it. I decided to trawl through the internet for inspiration, instead. The first image I came across was this rather fetching example:


Feel free to photoshop my face onto this one if you like.

I felt it probably wasn’t wise to attend dressed as a 1970’s Harlem pimp either, though. Eccentricity or no eccentricity, going dressed like this was probably going to be a bit much for most people to stomach at 7.47pm - just after dinnertime. I decided to investigate the possibility of finding a normal suit that just happened to be green, instead. This would allow me to blend in subtly with those around me, whilst not failing in my attempts to achieve the goal I had been set.
It was depressingly slim pickings. There just aren’t many respectable green suits out there. Plus, when I did find decent suits that were definitely green, they were always unbearably expensive; it began to feel ridiculous. I thought about emailing Imants to tell him there was no chance of me adhering to his request, but then an idea suddenly popped into my head. A Luke Skywalker moment, if you like. Use the title, Chris. Use the title. I gathered together the email addresses of all the top tailors in and around Savile Row, and set about putting a few ‘feelers’ out, courtesy of Lord Christopher Ward...

Monday, 18 January 2010

With Status Comes Great Responsibility

The same day I sent my email to Imants von Wenden (club secretary of The Eccentric Club) requesting clarification that I really had been invited to attend their club, I received a slightly bizarre letter in the post:


Click on the picture to enlarge

It appeared that somebody had donated my vital organs to the National Health Service (once I'm dead, obviously) without my knowing. Anyway, at first I passed it off as a lame attempt at a prank from one of my wonderfully resourceful friends. It's the kind of thing my friends like to do, so it made perfect sense. Then, speaking to one of my university coursemates about the obscurity of the letter, I was reminded that organ donation can't be officiated without some kind of signature of recognition being given from the person in question.

All of a sudden the letter seemed slightly surreal. I didn't recall signing off my organs for donation at any point in the recent past? It seemed like a pretty big decision to make too, so I felt confident I would remember it, if I had indeed signed something. Staring at the piece of paper, I felt bemused. Who would have gone to the expense of masquerading as me, just to pull a prank like this? It wasn't even that funny. Its not like they would have been there to see me open the letter, either. It seemed kind of pointless.

That's when it hit me. My title was in front of my name on the envelope and on the donation card, just before my address. Suddenly, it all made sense. The NHS obviously considered me someone of 'high stock' now I was officially a Lord. Clearly, it was the law for someone of my stature to pass their organs onto somebody else when I die. I was a Lord for God's sake. Of course it was the law. Initially I was annoyed that I hadn't even been notified about it, but then I thought about the lucky person that would one day get to be part-Lord too, and that made me feel better about myself. It appeared that finally I had something to offer the world. Even if it was to be random pieces of my insides.

Lord Christopher Ward

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Merry Christmas and an Eccentric New Year



Over the Christmas period, things finally started to take off. My title was beginning to get me somewhere. First of all, the Eccentric Club responded to my email positively, suggesting I might be worthy of membership at their distinguished outfit. Then their club secretary, the magnificently named Imants von Wenden, kindly decided to give me the contact details for some other members of the organisation who might be considered potential associates. I couldn't quite believe my luck - I was now in possession of some genuine connections.

Despite this, I initially held off from emailing anyone straight away. It just didn't feel right; as if there was something tangible missing. Something set in stone that could give me a reason to get in touch with them.

Then, on the 21st December, that something arrived, via an email that read as follows:

Invitation to The Eccentric Club, Mayfair- 28th Jan 2010.
From:
The Eccentric Club
To:
ci_ward@yahoo.co.uk

The Eccentric Club Invitation:

You are being cordially invited by the Committee of The Eccentric Club (following a recommendation by one of our members) to join our monthly Open Convivial Meeting on the 28th of January 2010, Thursday, at 7.47pm. The meeting will take place at the Arts Club, 40 Dover Street, Mayfair, London W1S 4NP (nearest underground station - "Green Park").

Our Monthly Open Convivial Party is designed as a joyful and merry evening, full of entertaining conversations, drinks and nibbles, performances by the Club members and the surprise guests, and the unique opportunity to get acquainted with the existing members of the Club.

Fun goes hand in hand with social networking here - come and rub your shoulders with the world’s leading artists, fashion designers and performers, lawyers and politicians, members of the aristocracy and the eccentric inventors. But this is not just another networking club – as all our guests are carefully selected by the organisers and privately invited to attend.

Entrance is free, but is a subject to our Confirmed Guest List. A full cash bar will be in operation for the guests. Dress code: smart/casual or smart/eccentric. Ties & scarves: black or eccentric (in their colours/design).Please announce yourself to the Porter upon your arrival as a guest of the Eccentric Club.We are looking forward to seeing you with us, for more information please consult the following websites: http://www.eccentricclub.co.uk/
http://www.theartsclub.co.uk/

Please confirm your attendance of the event by email as soon as possible.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Best regards,

I v W / Club Secretary

As if this wasn't enough, the very same day I received a Christmas card sealed in a golden-lined envelope, confirming the meeting and wishing me a Merry Christmas:

I was finding this slightly hard to fathom. The Eccentric Club was actually inviting me into their club. OK, so it wasn't membership, but it was the next best thing. It was an opportunity to finally meet some other Lords that I now shared something in common with - recognition by The Eccentrics. After all, the invite had stated that it had been by recommendation. I had to confirm with the club secretary that this was really true. That they really were inviting me to mingle with aristocracy. I turned on my laptop and started to think about all the things I would need to do, prior to jumping on a train and heading to London at the end of the month.

Lord Christopher Ward

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About Me

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For those of you who are new to knowing me, I am Lord Christopher Ward. Second in line to the internet throne, third in line at the post office on a Wednesday morning. Currently a student studying Professional Writing in Falmouth, Cornwall, I envisage a world where I can surf, write, and use my title to get me free stuff. Just don't ask me how I got here; my memory is warped from time to time.