Crisis at the manor…
As the Sun rose over the manor, two tall figures strolled around the gardens – Simon, lord of the manor, and his butler William.
Lord Simon: …yes, I’m afraid the head gardener was taken ill last night. They aren’t sure what it is yet but it could be quite serious.
William: Oh that’s such a shame. The garden had been doing so well – I remember when you won all those awards last year. It was such a great project.
S: Well, actually things hadn’t been going so well recently anyway. We had a lovely layout set out, but some of the flowers just didn’t bloom for whatever reason, while others just didn’t grow in the way we wanted them to. It was quite a surprise many of them were the same flowers as last year but this year they just didn’t appear.
W: Did you try getting some new ones in?
S: I’m afraid I just don’t have enough money at the moment. I spent a lot of money refurbishing the house – you know, painting the rooms, new portraits, new feathers in the pillows, that sort of thing. Plus I’ve got to leave a certain amount in the pot for grouse season. So I decided to leave it for this year. It’s not like it makes a big difference anyway…
W: What about the villagers? Won’t they say something about it not being up to the same standard as last year? Some of them have worked hard on it.
S: Well, it’s not really their garden, is it? They should be grateful that we have a garden for them to look at to begin with.
W: Are you going to tell them about the head gardener?
S: The assistant head gardener will take over for now. I doubt they will take much notice.
W: Isn’t he the incompetent one? Won’t they notice this?
S: Well, yes, he isn’t the best but again, it will not make much difference – this year’s display is already struggling. If they notice the head gardener isn’t around, tell them that he has a minor illness or something. They won’t know any different – they don’t understand these trivial matters. That’s why we usually don’t tell them anything about what I do here – I don’t speak to them myself because they couldn’t possibly understand what I’d be talking about.
W: Quite. But what about your plans for next year? You need to be making preparations now, and if the head gardener is going to be away for a while, who sorts that out?
S: Another year written off is no great loss. There are some good gardeners out there that I could speak to but they would just cost more money, and besides, I’ve got some more rooms that need decorating anyway. I’ve won some prizes and I’m happy with that – I don’t need any more.
W: I see. Any particular preference for the rooms?
S: Yes, I think I’ll go for a cream one this time. We haven’t got a cream room – went for yellow and pale blue rooms last year.
W: So you really think the villagers will be happy?
S: Well, they are just villagers, aren’t they? What does it matter what they think? They do complain about minor things, but if I just ignore them they stop complaining eventually. Ultimately, they don’t know how to run a manor and I do. You know, sometimes I just wish they would sod off, and that I could just have the manor to myself. But then I realise that I’d have to cook the rabbits and wash all the dishes myself, which would leave me with no time for riding my horses and shooting deer.
W: Yes, they are a necessary evil. How is organising the hunt going?
S: Not bad. A few of the usual party have decided not to come. They might be planning their own hunt – I’m not sure. Relations haven’t been so good since we had that bust-up over which direction to take the hunt. You remember that, don’t you?
W: Yes, they wanted to keep chasing that fox with the black eye to the east but you…
S: Yes, it was getting late and cold, and I had some good wine in the house brought in especially for the occasion. I was happy writing off a few chickens for that.
W: Indeed. Have you ever wondered…I’m sorry to keep returning to this, but have you wondered what might happen if the villagers all got together and made an offer to buy the manor off y…?
S: BUY THE MANOR?! Don’t be so daft, William. Don’t they realise I have been born to run this manor? They wouldn’t understand how to run a manor. I have experience. I have an education. I have money. I have a god-given right to own this place, and I can do what I want with it. It’s mine. I am simply cleverer than them, which is why they are peasants.
W: But what if they all left tomorrow?
S: It would still be mine. All the buildings will still be mine. All the land will still be mine…
W: But the people wouldn’t.
S: Are you suggesting the manor is the people rather than the buildings, William? I am most disappointed in you. You see, this is why you’re a butler and I’m the lord – you just don’t understand how it works…
W: Indeed, yes, sir. So what is it you want me to tell them about the head gardener again, sir?…