Monday, February 11, 2008

Home - Day One

Recently, I left New York on a 6pm flight to Manchester arriving at 5:40am. No big surprise that there was no one else at the airport. Thankfully I was met by Jan Walker, who runs 'Allinspired'. This is a great service which finds houses and runs them for absent owners. Jan is a one of a kind, dedicated helper with a passion for pleasing people. She found Michaels’ Nook Cottage for me, makes sure it’s stocked with all the right goodies and is cleaned and ready to use every time I, or my friends, rock up. She’s also got all the right contacts for the Lake District in her Rolodex and can get anything made, fixed or designed by the best of the best overnight. This is a woman who makes absentee expatriate living a dream come true.

So I was in a high state of excitement as Ben, Clarissa, her mother Patrizia and, most important of all, eight-week old granddaughter Stella were waiting at the Cottage. It was my first sighting and worth every second of the waiting. She’s everything you could hope for. 4 kilos of joy. Big open blue eyes, beautiful features, a lovely temperament and already showing signs of independence and curiosity.

The day passed with several thousand handlings of Stella and almost as many photographs, all of which were immediately posted on Ringo for all Stella fans to see. Ben had her dressed in a lovely outfit I bought from Agatha Ruiz De La Prada in New York, and this does not go unnoticed, by me anyway.

The dinner that night was at Andy’s crazy Jumble Room where Stella was the star of the show. Making a grand entrance to oohs and aahs, she then slept soundly through the mayhem, getting her first taste of John Prine and Robert Earl Keen. Patrizia, eating her first ever serving of mushy peas, dealt to the experience with great nobility.

If the rest of the day had continued that way I would have put it up there as one of the best in my life. Unfortunately, there was a set of calamities you don’t want to hear about involving me, the bathroom and a world of pain.

By the next morning I was still very fragile. Fortunately, it was only an hour’s drive into Lancaster to give a one-hour opening speech to the State Boarding School Association. This was a big event in my old school’s calendar. They are one of the founder members of the Association and I was being touted as a stimulating start to the two-day conference. It is moments like this when CEOs have to suck it up and be troopers; the show, as the voice in my head repeatedly told me, must go on. This was also Stella’s public debut and her first attendance at one of her grandfather’s speeches. Teach ‘em young is what I say.

In the end I arrived at the conference at 1:55pm with the introductions in full swing. I was able to get through the speech and take few Q&A's. Stella was the ultimate diversionary tactic but at the end of the speech I was wiped out. I was due for a meeting with Bob Skinstad on Esportif’s future but had to postpone that to the following day. All I was fit for was to be poured back into the car and headed back home. A dinner that evening with the State Boarding School had to be cancelled and I clambered back into a bed made up with fresh sheets thanks to Miracle Worker, Jan Walker. Not the best day I’ve spent in Paradise.


Susan Plunkett said...

Aside from designer labels et al this is just *such* a grandfather's spiel. LOL Happy days..happy days (in the main).

I'm sorry about the bathroom accident. It would take a lot to lead you to feel pour worthy. Take a look at Stephen Fry's arm breakage and his 10 metal screws. (Sent you the link) A large companion *ouch*!

Suzanne Tongue said...

Warmest congratulations, Kevin! And now you are forever part of the Italian community. Paolo Ettorre must be very proud indeed.

J said...

Good to read your enjoying your holiday back in the UK and 'up North'.

Hope you'll be visiting Liverpool, European Capital of Culture 2008! :)

Historically also part of Lancashire but forever bitter / lighthearted rival of Manchester, ha ha.

One of the great things that happens when people return 'home' (place of birth) and then back to their adopted home city, is that people always comment on how much stronger your accent has become and that you've started using all your old 'local' phrases again unconsciously!

Kevin Roberts said...

Well Susan, all I can say is that being a grandfather has convinced me more than ever that we are emotional beings and that love is the most powerful connection in the world.

Suzanne - I’m sure he’s looking down on us, smiling. I was in the Bulgari Nubar the other night and a beautiful 22 year old Italian girl came up to me, teary eyed and embraced me. I met her 5 years ago – she was 14 and a child – at Paolo’s house. She still remembered…

J - There is no place like home, especially if it’s part of the Red Rose.

Carlo said...

Warmest congratulations!
I'm on Ben's wavelengths; on the 3rd of March my daughter Sofa was born!!!
Hope 2 C U soon in Milan.