I do honestly believe that being a Boulevardier was in my blood. And it’s about time I told you all why.
My extended family on my mother’s side were once the proud owners of several central London hotels. I say proud as I can not imagine having such a legacy and not feeling a sense of accomplishment.
I do not know which hotels exactly but the word ‘Berkeley’ is often bandied around. Whether this relates to the Berkeley Hotel, a hotel in Berkeley Square or both I do not know but I am not sure this finer detail is important at this stage. My grandfather was born in one of these hotels.
Unfortunately, or so the story goes, they were all lost as a result of gambling…
How unfortunate! I should be a hotel heir, but instead have to make do with the middle name Berkeley. Don’t get me wrong it’s not something that bothers me daily, or that I have undergone extensive therapy for but crops up sometimes in my dreams both conscious and unconscious.
I love having the middle name Berkeley. It wasn’t always that way though. As a child my uncles, on my father’s side, always made fun of it. I was called ‘Barkers Sausages’, usually accompanied by a lot of sniggering, which my cousins readily joined in with. And our family is large in number. I don’t even know if there was ever a company named thus, but I hated it as a boy. I really only started to appreciate it once I was a young adult, and then it gave me a sense of unique, and class. I also only understood the relevance when grown up. Prior to that I understood only that the eldest male in each family was given the middle name Berkeley.
I developed such a love for the name I wished it was my Christian name or even double barrelled surname. Does that make me slightly pretentious!
As a child though I lived the life of a hotel heir, which was fabulous. Not in the sense of living in palaces and having maids and butlers to attend to my every need, but with doting and generous parents who didn’t allow me to lift a finger or want for anything.
Gifts were constant, despite the fact they had little money. This was the 1970s after all. Each morning I was woken with a cup of tea in bed (this actually continued until I moved out in my 20s), and after leaving the warm of my covers and headed for the bathroom, my bed would be made. When I went downstairs breakfast was waiting, and my shoes were polished daily. I never ironed, cleaned, washed (other than myself) or made any meals expect the odd sandwich.
When I wanted to be in a school play, I was ferried to and from rehearsals. When I wanted to learn piano I had the best teacher in the locale (this is a story in itself which will appear here at some point in the future), and when I got a car it was regularly cleaned both inside and out. Some might say spoiled, but I prefer to say loved…
The downside however, is when you do head into the big bad world its rather a shock to the system. I remember ironing several shirts and a friend called in to ask if I was about to start ironing looking at the various hangers around the room exhibiting my handiwork. I confirmed that I was just finished. She roared with laughter and told me that you had to let the iron know who was boss. My first and only ever lesson in ironing ensued.
Repeat this for all other daily tasks as I gradually learned. I still to this day hate cleaning, ironing, and am incapable of fixing anything! Don’t you just throw clothes away when a button falls off!
I actually think it’s in my blood. Other memories flood back as when I was offered seafood as a child I didn’t want cockles or whelks, I only had the taste for prawns. I didn’t really take to cod but loved plaice! If it was more expensive I loved it, even before I knew or understood the differing costs. I just knew my taste buds.
I have bewailed the lack of ‘trust fund’, rather tongue in cheek, but have to confess to also being guilty of many a true word spoken in jest.
Would it be so wrong to seek out which hotels were part of my legacy, and go see if they are waiting for me to arrive? Surely a Boulevardier however displaced with a love of sherry, snowballs, Battenberg and French Fancies would be an asset to any such establishment!
And so I drift back into my dream world yet again!