It’s raining today where I live and it rained so much yesterday that when you ask someone for the time water pours out of their sleeve when they look at their watch. There are glum expressions all around me, but I am actually fond of rain. I think the reason must be my childhood memories from South-East Asia. The way the earth suddenly surrendered up its smells, but even more than that the sound of the rain falling on the bamboo umbrellas everybody had. Being under your own umbrella and listening to the rain beating down was like having your own wonderful sky-drum.
Because of this I was very much attracted to this set of pictures on Flickr all about umbrellas. If you are not lucky enough to have rain falling where you are today, you can always watch the pictures to the accompaniment of this soundtrack.
click on picture to enlarge
It took me a long time to write this out following the curves of the staircase and it will probably take you quite a long time to read it. But when you've finished climbing the stairs will never seem easy again.
From : The Butler’s Guide to Clothes Care, Managing the Table, Running the Home and Other Graces by Stanley Ager and Fiona St. Aubyn
On party nights two matched footmen stood ready to open the doors leading to the reception rooms. They were both six feet tall, wore identical liveries and had similar features. So that the guests would have no trouble acknowledging them, whoever stood on the left was called John and the other was addressed as James, regardless of their real names.
You never heard a footman actually close a door, it was done so quietly and discreetly. I open and close a door the same way today. The trick is to release the door handle only once. Most people open a door, let go of the handle again and shut the door. But after I have opened the door, I keep the handle turned until I have passed through the doorway. Then,without releasing the catch, I take hold of the handle in my other hand. I hold it in the same position until I have gently closed the door and the catch is ready to click into place.
(next week- How to climb the stairs).
John (quietly coming through the door in the picture above) and James can be hired from http://www.JohnandJames.com. On odd days of the month John answers, on even days James.