Saturday, December 15, 2007

The character and manners of a lovely woman...

... are the same everywhere, whether beside Broadway, the Thames, the Seine or the Danube.
I cannot ( being old and senile) remember who said this, but I think what he meant was that lovely women all have certain expectation in life - no matter the humbleness of their origins.
It is surely a sexist remark, but I also think it understates the cleverness of women. The most beautiful woman in the world will eventually become old and wrinkled, and then what? Perhaps all women everywhere should take heart from Pamela Churchill/Harriman etc, who, although time took it's toll, became, if anything, more important and beloved as she became older. A lesson for all of today's beauties to cultivate enduring success and fortune, not the one night shag of a foo'baller.
I was reminded of women's cleverness the other day - and also of another side.
Quite a senior manager in one of Scotland's erstwhile independent grocery chains, met, fell in love with, and married one of the check-out girls.
Nothing too extraordinary in that you might think, but he was quite senior when this happened, and had been earmarked for exalted positions.
Now quite a lot of women of such a lesser position, education and wealth in such a situation would have gone about upgrading their cars, their clothes their jewelery, their houses - and done nothing about themselves, with the result that at some point the manager would likely have been embarrassed by his wife's lack of something. If it continued, she could have ended up on the scrapheap, as so many women do. It does seem to me that men come out of these things better than women in many ways, especially where HE is still moving up.
So with great foresight, she set about improving herself. Elocution. Deportment.Clothes-sense. Cooking ( she had never done it before). Entertaining. And reading - books, newspapers, magazines.
Her husband at the start kept telling her not to be so silly - he would always love her ( she was very beautiful) - but after two years, he was promoted again, and offered a fantastic job down south. The only thing was, he was expected to host a dinner for about 50 business colleagues & their wives before leaving - something he would be very much into in his new position ( after a certain point in business, it's the entertaining that counts).
The day dawned with the husband virtually a nervous wreck.
His wife, although suffering somewhat from butterflies, had readied everything at the venue - menus, flowers, drinks - and had bought herself an extremely chic outfit, which would not be too much for the most senior wives, but would clearly place a stamp of taste on herself.
Noone at the do had met her before, and were astonished at her coolness and grace as they came in. Twice she whispered in her husband's ear as he was about to commit a faux-pas, smiled at everyone, made conversation at all levels, and bid everyone good night with a smile that made them feel that they had been not only welcome but had made a contribution as well.
The Directors noticed it, as did their wives.
The couple duly travelled south, and within six months the husband was placed immediately below the board, and when one of that august body retired, he was immediately co-opted.
Now the moral of this story is not that what she did was remarkable, although it definitely helped her husband. It's what happened when he died shortly after becoming a Director.
She was naturally heartbroken. Her grief was assuaged, however, when the Chairman approached her and asked her to take over her husband's position on the Board, with special responsibility for corporate events and entertaining, a post she held for many years.
But she never forgot where she came from and continued to spend time in the Glasgow area she grew up in. You may ask why?
Because her parents refused to be moved out.
And that was because, although they adored and approved of what she had done, they were determined she would remember her roots.She was able to show these to her children and subsequently grandchildren, who, as a result, had a seriousness and grounding that too many lack nowadays.

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