Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Jeeves Knows


An Englishman's Castle, always an interesting blog (though, ironically, he seems to source many of his posts from the scotsman.com news website), posted yesterday on the correct pronunciation of valet. Any fule kno that the T is not silent, except when an American is parking your car for you at a restaurant or nightclub.

Jeeves (pictured with the great Hugh Laurie, with whom idle was at prep school) is certainly the most famous valet in literary or film history. He described himself as a valet with a hard T. Enough said.

But it got me thinking about the fact that valets are pretty much a thing of the past. Even my most plutocratic and successful and landed multi millionaire friends stop at a cook and a housekeeper; a valet is unthinkable.

Which is where technology comes in. You see, if it is de trop to employ a valet because it is considered arcane and pretentious, why not modernise the concept with a robotic

house-servant? Not pretentious at all - positively 21st Century cool! The Japanese and Americans have been working on this concept for decades. By all accounts, even if the wretched mechanical thing can't mix a prairie oyster to help Bertie with his hangover, or anticipate the arrival of Aunt Agatha by a crucial five minutes, it can nonetheless be programmed to perform many other useful tasks.

I have given this quite a lot of thought over the past ten minutes; if the Americans get there first, and bearing in mind that they are incapable of correctly pronouncing the T, there is only one name for this invention, so I have decided to copyright the name:

The Silicon Valet

I thank you.

34 comments:

Philipa said...

The Silicon Valet

*groan*

Ok I did chuckle. But Idle, you cannot replace a valet, such as Jeeves, with a robot. Just as you cannot replace a good wife with a blow-up doll.

idle said...

I did not suggest replacing the valet with the robot, pip. I started from the premise that the valet no longer exists.

The underlying hint in your last sentence is that you can replace a BAD wife with a blow-up doll.

Bill Quango MP said...

The Quango seniors have an automatic hoover that cleans the ground floor of their substantial pile.
They set it off when they go out as it is quite noisy. Looks a bit like a flying saucer. It has no idea if Homer Simpson socks are appropriate for a garden party, where celebrities are present.
It does get right up to the skirting though.

Thud said...

Rather good for a wet tuesday.

Philipa said...

What is a valet? He's not just someone who sees to your laudry and polishes your shoes, as your perfect example showed. This is a man who facilitates your life in every particular. Hence my comparison. You want to 'update' that idea like replacing an excellent secretary with a Microsoft PC? (don't worry, it's a feature. This is a premium rate call.) Argh!

A robot requires some input from the user, some understanding; a user manual. Both a valet and a wife don't require such things to work perfectly.

My guess is that the rich would be happy to employ a valet like Jeeves if they existed. But deference is gone and really, you just can't get the staff.

And a good spouse is hard to find.

Bill said...

Of all the blogs I read (not that many) I have been reading An Englishman's Castle the longest. It is good stuff with posts that can be read early in the morning.

Nick Drew said...

I started from the premise that the valet no longer exists

come off it, idle, you started from the premise that you'd thought up a good pun and were determined to lay it on us

idle said...

How dare you, Nick!

I promise I read the Englishman's post first, which included the reference to the septics. It all flowed from there. I might have had to wait a year for the opportunity if I'd had the pun ready first, but no vehicle for it.

Bill, you are right. It's a morning news digest, of sorts.

Pip, you too are of course correct. You can't find a Jeeves any more. My friend Bungo (I'm not making this up) has a man at his schloss, but he's more of a butler, and there's a reason for him being there, as quite a few films have been made on the premises, and it encourages American film directors when they encounter a butler.

Elby The Beserk said...

A batman in the war. Whence that wonderful name? Similarly, my father, a devout atheist and splendid piss-taker, always called the local vicar, when encountered, "Padre". Bless him.

Is a batman in fact a valet? In no less than 200, and no more that 250, words, please, whilst I put a glass of Weston's fine Organic Cider down me, to celebrate that somehow I have managed another year on this bright blue ball; more by luck than judgement?

L's bringing fish & chips home. We'll have a right knees-up.

idle said...

Elby, I wish you a very happy birthday. If I was down Bruton way I'd insist on buying you a pint. Lil bringing home the fish & chips? She's a right little Delia, that one.

A batman was no longer really a valet when I served from 80-84. He undertook the most basic of duties shining my shoes and boots and Sam Browne, but otherwise was far more occupied when in the field, where he would dig my trench or erect my basha, cook my food and and act as the platoon runner. My man was called Pte McInroy and I'm delighted to say that he became RSM and now holds a commission as Captain McInroy doing some cushy job in the QM's dept somewhere. A really good soldier. Taught him all he knows.

apricotfox said...

Oh b***** the valet...let's hear more of Idle's move back to Mammon's domain......

The Lakelander said...

I picked up the entire boxed set of Jeeves and Wooster (Fry & Laurie) last year, having missed most of the 3 series first time round.

It has cheered up many a wet Sunday afternoon in the Lakes since then.

Amazon are offering the set for just under £12 - a bargain.

Bill said...

Lakelander

Thanks for the tip. I love the series and put it in the same bracket as dads Army and Frasier, my funniest programmes of all.

Idle

I fear we are the same age. I was meant to go to the RMA the year you went there; I went to Oxford instead and reckon Sandhurst at that age would have done me far more good.

Re Valets. I know it is not the same thing but my father had a lovely batman during the war; he used to wake him with suitably dulcet tones and a cup of tea to go on his bomber missions. We are all one world.

Scrobs... said...

Iders, please add extra sensory perception to your post, as Mrs S and I were discussing this very subject yesterday evening, and I'd been out all day and not seen your piece!

When her parents were in Singapore (RAF), and other points east, they had an amah, who used to do all the housework, and hated both her and her sister. Apparently though she did all the washing, ironing and cleaning. Her dad had a batman, who did the tasks you described, and apparently he was drawn from a local source when they moved back to the UK.

My dad had a servant during the war in Nigeria, but I never knew him because I hadn't been born, and as he spent most of his time over there, and left in 1945, I don't ever recall him talking about having a batman here.

But what we were wanting to know, (this after several views of the inside of an empty glass), was what ever happened to these people later if they came from public life - nobody seemed to keep in touch with them, although you seem to have presumably because the man is still there (all thanks to you no doubt...)!!

BTW, you've saved me getting up early and researching all this, because I was going to do a post on the subject this week!

Calfy said...

I must apologise for my unwritten thoughts, which were almost exactly the same as Nick Drew's comment, word for word (and yet laud your facilitation of that premise which you did not start from).

Savonarola said...

OT Mr Idle. Your hedge fund friend could certainly employ a valet or two. And good luck and well done to him. I have been very happy with my association with a trio ex GT and Baring who set up in offices near the Thames in the mid 90's. On the strength of their returns I could probably buy a time share in one of these robots you are promoting.

idle said...

I think I know the people you refer to, savo. I was at Barings during the debacle and for a few years afterwards.

idle said...

"that premise FROM which you did not start", calfy.

And you a governess to the scions of a landed Derbyshire family, or somesuch.

Bill said...

I think Churchill once had something to say about prepositional contortions.

Philipa said...

Idle, Vin Diesel starred in a film called 'The Pacifier', he played a special kind of nanny. I'd like one of those please.

lilith said...

Were you Idle? So was my brother! I think he wrote software so you could all work out your bonuses but I'm not really too sure what he did.

lilith said...

Please make allowances for Calfy's grammar Idle, she is in France where they do things differently.

Scrobs... said...

"Differently" Lils...?

Like the Frenchman who was so exhausted by his wedding ceremony and thereafter, that he went to sleep as soon as his feet touched the pillow...?

Coat flies off hook onto back and escapes asap...

Scrobs... said...

As I mentioned to Mr Englishman's Castle Iders, who can forget Lady Constance de Coverlet on ISIRTA...?

I certainly can't...

She said 'T' at the end I swear it!

Calfy said...

Please excuse me Idle! I was so worried about the grammar of my convoluted sentence that I knew it must contain an error. I lament my mother's and my (mine?) ignorance in matters of grammatical niceties. Her grammatical education ended at a very tender age, and I am an autodidact.

The Lakelander said...

As you know, Idle, my father spent WW2 in the Gordon Highlanders, in India.

His batman was a Pathan and, according to my father, was excellent at his job.

At the end of the war, when my father was getting ready to ship back home, he asked his batman what he would be doing with hiimself.

The batman's answer was "I will go back to fighting the British."

The poor chap obviously didn't realise that Scotland is part of Britain.

For the time being at least.

idle said...

Perhaps he did know, lakes, but put his independence ambitions on hold while the Commonwealth unified to deal with the Nazis and the Japs. Honourable.

Both my grandfathers were NW Frontier Force cavalrymen, and thought very highly of Pathans.

Savonarola said...

Pathans are made of the right stuff to be fast bowlers.

Nick Drew said...

Calfy, we know we are right but we must keep our own counsel pending the next poesy compo

idle said...

Nick, there will be a poesy compo coming shortly, no doubt inspired by the Speccy's brave decision to publish a list of the 40 Poems You Should Know.

http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/5245043/the-spectators-40-poems-you-should-know.thtml

Reverend Modo said...

When mother died she left me Miss Keetley, her Lady's Maid. Miss Keetley now 103, still does the job very much to my liking. It has never occurred to me to ask her what her plans for the future might be.

idle said...

The least you can do, Revd Modo, is to start putting aside some savings for her retirement.

Reverend Modo said...

I believe there is a farm in devises where retired lady's maids can spend there autumn and winter years. I did enquire after breakfast this morning, but as Miss Keetley brought the coal up from the cellar she expressed the desire to die in harness, and I feel that she is old enough to know her own mind. Besides she hasn't been out of doors since 1944.

Vinogirl said...

I knew the valet to Edward John Stanley, the 18th Earl of Derby, quite well in the mid 80's...so valets are alive and well somewhere.