WEDNESDAY 22nd DECEMBER 1999: Xmas Cards and Royalty
We receive our second Christmas card of the year from Sarah Ferguson. I think we must be on the "parents of friends of Eugenie" list, and on the supporters of her charity (Children in Crisis) list. Sarah tends to use her own photographs as thank you or Christmas cards. They are usually interesting, although my total lack of artistic skill means I can't comment on whether they are "good" photographs, and they come with a message scrawled on the back in her large, individual handwriting. I am probably a republican by inclination, but I have a lot of time for Sarah; not that I suppose she worries about my opinion! We are not particularly "friends" but Sarah has always been very genuine, pleasant and usually entertaining when we have had contact with her.
When Jane was laid up with double pneumonia a couple of years ago, Sarah sent a huge bunch of flowers with a note apologising she hadn't realised sooner that she was ill. We are not exactly people who are ever likely to be "useful" to her, so I do believe she does these things because she is a genuinely good person, even if sometimes a little too trusting of people and, in the past, naive. She and Prince Andrew* attend most school functions and are very unpretentious, sitting on forms or perching on tables like the rest of us when the hall gets crowded. I have beaten him in the Father's Race, even if he is a much better golfer than me. (Mind you, as Eugenie's detective said to me, "we would all play off a six handicap if we had as much time as him to practice!" But actually, that isn't true; most of us, including me, will never be off six even if we played every day. Andrew must have some real talent.)
Most importantly, I think Sarah and Andrew have done a tremendous job in bringing up their daughters so well in difficult circumstances; they both seem nice, normal and well-balanced as any parent could hope for.
W (my right hand man) and his team hold their Christmas lunch at the Azzuri Italian cafe near Chapel Market, 10 minutes up the road from our office. Someone had the bright idea of organising it for 3pm. This has many advantages. We get a good deal from the cafe because they can do their normal lunch business first (they don't open in the evening), and people can put in almost a full day's work first without having to worry about drinking then trying to work, which is the usual problem of a lunchtime event. But it is also better than an evening get together because no one is worrying about last trains home.
It is a really enjoyable meal with good home cooked food, plenty of drinkable Italian red, and some excellent music put together by Sarah with her new CD Rewriter. (I didn't know you could get these with a top-end PC now; I want one.) They are a very good bunch of people, with quite a few relative youngsters I have helped to recruit, and there is an excellent team spirit- Sambuca I think it is!
*2019 comment - OK, Andrew always seemed a reasonable man to me, even if clearly he was rarely the brightest guy in the room. and I stick by my comments about their performance as parents.