Belfast Telegraph

Tory toff’s household tips are utterly bonkers

By Frances Burscough

Would you take money-saving advice from a Tory toff who lives in a multi-million pound mansion? No, neither would I. In fact, no normal pleb would. Nevertheless this hasn't stopped Baroness Rawlings, the outspoken aristocrat, from pontificating to the masses from one of her ivory towers.

 This month, the 75-year-old whose time is divided between two houses — a 13-bedroom pile in a 38-acre estate near Sandringham, and the House of Lords at Westminster — has taken to the pages of Tatler magazine to pass on some of her handy household tips. As you can imagine, it makes for hilarious reading. Here are just a few, so I hope you have a pen and paper handy. I've translated and paraphrased from the original Snooty and added explanations in brackets for commoners.

  • Worried about what to do with the leftover crusts from one's Melba toast? (Melba toast = that thin crunchy toast usually only served in posh hotels and golf clubs with curly butter. Can be made at home but lord only knows how. Damned fiddly, one would imagine. Ask your cook to show you.) Try recycling them the following morning to dip in one's chucky egg. You can call them “melba soldiers”, what? Phnaarr phnarrr.
  • When entertaining guests, never serve plated meals as a fait accompli. This is wasteful. Save your staff's time and energy by presenting food items, such as lobster, on platters from which one's guests simply help themselves to the required portion, thus avoiding waste. Alternatively, good old-fashioned silver service is the other obvious solution!
  • This may be radical, but it's certainly worth considering: re-use one's linen napkins from breakfast at luncheon! Simply turn over the chucky egg/melba soldier stains to the underside and start again. Saves staff's time and energy in both the kitchen and the laundry as long as they promise to “keep mum” about your dirty little secret, what?
  • Does your 17-bedroom mansion sometimes feel a little chilly? If so, don't turn up the central heating or throw a few more peasants/logs on the fire — that would be uneconomical! Instead try her solution. Simply fill the en suite bath with boiling water and allow the steam to warm your room instead!
  • And now for her ladyship's top tip of them all: isn't it such a bore when you've spent months planning a garden party to curry favour and show willing with the local hoi polloi, only to find the weather on the day rather inclement? Here's her solution. Save literally ££££s on the cost of a marquee and/or gazebo by purchasing instead 200+ Panama hats for the guests to wear! (Panama hats = invented by the Incas of South America rather a long time ago; woven using an indigenous fibrous plant; became popular with explorers in the nineteenth century due to their lightweight sun-reflecting qualities; still worn today by public school toffs and cricket umpires; can be imported into UK, prices starting at around £75.)

 If it rains, they simply come indoors and shelter with their Pimms in one of your reception halls. If it's fine, they can each wear a hat to protect them from the sun and provide shade for their cucumber sandwiches. What's more, personalise each, and then these can double up as leaving gifts when they go back to their own hovels. Sorry, homes.

 So there you have it. A five point plan which succinctly and brilliantly illustrates how the other half lives and how far out of touch some of our politicians are. If women are from Venus and Men are from Mars, aristocrats must come from a galaxy far, far away.

But — bless — she meant well, didn't she? So in the same spirit, I have thought up a suggestion of my own to share with the Bonkers Baroness. It'll be about as practical and as useful as hers are:

  • Aristocrats: save ££££s on multiple Panama hat purchases by simply erecting one gigantic helium-filled Panama above one's lawn, which will hover there like a mothership. Not only will this provide hours of welcome shade for your garden party guests, but it ... errr ... could also be used instead of carriages to transport guests home afterwards! Yes, what a corking idea! One hasn't quite finalised the prototype design yet, but one's grounds staff are working on it ...

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