April Foolishness

Posted by on Apr 4, 2014



E-pistle 1026   4/26/14  Small towns and contact books.  


Have any of the saint’s faithful correspondents experience of living in a small community? By that, I mean a small town or village that’s reasonably remote from a good-sized city, not a hippie commune (though news of THAT might be interesting, too).  The thought came to me at the weekend when we biked through two very small (and attractive) rural towns near here. Harrisburg, population 3,600, was a finalist in a recent All-American Towns roundup. It has the attributes: river frontage on the impressive Willamette River, parks, pioneer downtown plus a wildly popular parade and a couple of civic festivals. There’s even an occupied osprey nest on the bridge as you enter town, an avian welcome to Harrisbird.  Its local neighbour, Brownsville (those pioneers knew how to name their towns!) has a population of only about 1,700 but its impressive downtown caught the eyes of film makers when they shot ‘Stand By Me’ and movie buffs occasionally drop by to look at locations, which disturbs the cats who sleep in the middle of the streets.


Both towns have some attractive Victorian houses of the picket-fence-and-front-porch style, both places have withstood the blight of fast-food outlets and both are set in beautiful rural surroundings. They’re each 15  – 20 miles distant from bigger cities and largely depend on farming for their economies. Grass seed farms, claimed to be the world’s best, make up much of the agriculture, so it’s hardly a noisy environment as even the sheep are fitted with silencers.


But each time we’ve been there, the places were utterly empty of activity. Harrisburg has a handful of stores and farm equipment suppliers, plus one cafe; Brownsville is better served with several cafes, but only one of them bothers to open on Sundays. (And we missed the Easter Egg Hunt, which they held on Saturday).


Now, I’m not planning to move to one of these places, but I wonder what it would be like to have constant calm, peace and quiet.  We’ve never experienced that, always having lived in or on the outskirts of large cities (think London, Manchester, West Palm Beach, San Jose).  Our present city is small enough that we can be downtown, car parked and in our seats at the performing arts centre within ten minutes of leaving home. But it’s also large enough at about 250k population to have big-city facilities. What’s it like to live without them?  I’m interested to hear how you feel about small-town living, especially if you’ve transited from one extreme to another.    Drop me a note, please, with anecdotes or opinions. Bless you! 



Another thing I was curious about, since our daughter Claire mentioned her experiments with them, was drones, those mini-helo’s that provide such wonderful pics (remember the views of Niagara from above?) Here’s an informative video, six minutes long, plugging a particular model, but it seems a typical example, and it’s a good, clear explanation.   The gadgets can cost as little as $100, but you can spend lots more. The featured one linked below is about $1500, or what I spent on my first computer printer (a ‘daisywheel’ which produced ‘letter quality’ docs a bit slower than I can type).


High-flying Kevin Cosgrove read last week’s Bob Hope story, and confirms my low opinion of the English-born tightwad billionaire.  Here’s KC: “I went to interview him for the BBC at the Burbank joint – a place he also rented out for corporate parties cos he obviously needed the money. After a similarly boring conversation to yours we were saying our goodbyes at the door. There was a coffee table piled high with copies of his latest book reminiscing about his golf experiences “Confessions of a Hooker”. Great title, awful man.  He handed me a book, pointed out a few photos with famous friends, then took it back with these parting words “Goes on sale next week. You should buy one”. Turned around and went off presumably to count his money.”


Roger Tregear risks the Wrath of Blondes with this tale: “A blonde  hurried into the emergency room late one night with the tip of  her index finger shot off. ‘How did this happen?’ the emergency  room doctor asked her. ‘Well, I was trying to commit  suicide,’ the blonde replied.   ‘What?’ sputtered the doctor.  ‘You tried to commit suicide by shooting off your finger?’  ‘No, silly’ the blonde said. ‘First I put the gun to my  chest, &  then I thought, ‘I just paid $6,000.00 for these  implants… I’m not shooting myself in the chest.’  

‘So then?’ asked the doctor. ‘Then I put the gun in  my mouth, & I thought, ‘I just paid $3,000..00 to get my  teeth straightened. I’m not shooting myself in the mouth.’  ‘So then?’ 

‘Then I put the gun to my ear, and I  thought: ‘This is going to make a loud noise. So I put my finger  in my other ear before I pulled the trigger.”  


Dangling participles:  Fulsome apols to Jimmy Leggett, who I said wore a kilt when motorcycling and felt unusual breezes as a result. The exact phrase was: “when Kilty Jim rides his motorbike, it gets a bit windy around the Trossachs.” This was of course a geographical reference to a range of Scottish hills, but Mr Leggett says: “Lies, I tell you…I only wear the kilt when parachuting!”

 Confessions of Candy (Neville, that is).  Mrs N read of our bike ride last week and responded: “I tried to resist my bicycle story but  could not. I am weak.  Decades ago my friend’s older sister taught me to ride a two-wheeler and of course I was thrilled. It was the olden days when horse and buggies had just been replaced with motor cars. We had a drive way which consisted of two concrete strips with gravel and grass in the middle. It had a tiny incline. I was doing pretty well and Mr. Ritchie (aka Mr. McGregor) came out and I proudly called out to him, “Watch! Watch! I can ride a bike!” I got on and was doing splendidly, beaming in pride, watching his admiration and then his alarm as I ran straight into his tree.”   Congratulations to my brother Don Bannister, who turns 80 this weekend. Don served on submarines and corvettes and even the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious during his not-so-illustrious Royal Navy career, and to prove it, he has salt all over his collar. He says that all the nice girls love a sailor, but he isn’t so interested in the nice girls, just the bad ones. HBD, matelot!


Yes, there IS a him/her difference. Freddie Wehner tells of the husband who was involved in an accident. He texted his wife: “Darling, I got hit by a car outside the office. Paula brought me to the hospital. They have been doing tests and taking X-rays. The blow to my head, though very powerful, will not have any serious or lasting injury.  But I have three broken ribs, a broken arm, a compound fracture in the left leg, and they may have to amputate the right foot. ”    The wife responded:  “Who’s Paula?”


Today, I watched a man dismantle a tree. It was ours, a curly willow that had branches like corkscrews and it originally came home in the front seat of my car (the sunroof was open so it could look around) but the ingrate grew to 45 tall feet and used its sheddings to clog my house gutters, to steal light from the vegetable beds and generally to indulge in arboreal misbehaviour. Jennie forgave it, as she is soft hearted around plants, but as Gutter Cleaner #1, I disliked it. Two months ago, an ice storm so loaded the thing with frozen rain that a dozen or more branches snapped, but perversely hung on by their green willowy skin, dangling and threatening like Damocles‘ sword. We called for the tree medics, who were getting ludicrously rich off Mother Nature’s whims, and they deigned to show up for $1000, only eight weeks later. So  I watched a man climb the several trunks of this willow, lop them off with a chain saw and lower them with ropes. Another man handled the rigging, the smallest man of the trio of “tree surgeons” carried the severed limbs away and threw them over the fence because my neighbour wanted the wood for fuel. It looked effortless, and it was, until I found that I had to manhandle the ‘brush’ – a laughable term for all the massive leafy branches, some of them as thick as Schwarzenegger’s thighs and multiple times longer, and drag or carry them uphill to my trailer to be hauled to the garden debris recycling centre. The ‘surgical’ recipients of my cash worked for about 90 minutes. I worked like an abused  donkey  all day long and I still have maybe a couple more trailer loads to go. I hope the ibuprophin kicks in, and maybe, just maybe it won’t be raining again tomorrow. 


Tonight, fed, watered and wiped down with clean straw, I grunted to Jennie that the job, thank goodness, was about done. She said thoughtfully that she could probably grow another curly willow from a cutting. The divorce papers will be filed in a matter of hours. 


Rien/plus ca change:   A contacts book is a working journalist’s bible,  and needs updating, though I have to admit that mine simply got bits ex’ed out or overwritten, but a thoughtful friend whose career involved research wrote a wonderful entry on FBook, which I’ve stolen and reproduce here. I am not naming the writer, as this does undermine his/her rep for phenomenal memory, with the confession that there’s a crib sheet at work…. However, here’s an insight to a tidy mind: “Just redid my old address book. A good glimpse at where I was and where I am now. People that died were eliminated first. People that were important at the time but I now have no reason to contact in the future are eliminated. Ran across people that I should touch again but somehow have drifted away. Bumped off spouses’ names of the divorced. Added children’s names. There are names that I have been carrying over because I don’t want to lose them…just in case. Alphabetical listings were changed for those that reverted to their maiden names. Some addresses have never changed and some people-like myself- are always changing addresses. Needed more space for those that have added second houses. There are some names with no addresses or contact info that I have to look up. Married children of friends now get their own entry. New neighbors added, old neighbors are gone. Names of grandchildren are added in the book so people will think I know them off the top of my head when I converse. There are dots for people that have returned Christmas cards although I’ve read not to expect something back just because you do a gesture from your heart. If I lost this book, I lose my life.”   And, says the saint, life is not a constant, and this is a good way to gain a measure of it.

Fine joke from Ken Potter, who takes time off from golf to tell us about a very cranky old woman arrested for shoplifting a can of peaches. “In court, she was defiant and told the judge ‘I was hungry. It was just a stupid can of peaches.” Said the magistrate:”How many peaches were in that can?” “Nine,” she said, “but what do you care?”  Patiently, he explained: “Ma’am, I care because I’m going to give you one day in jail for each peach: nine days.”  Before the judge could drop his gavel, the woman’s long-suffering husband raised his hand. “Your honour,” he said, “she also stole a can of peas.”





E-asterpistle 1025  Riding asses           Posted 4/19/14 



Last Sunday was Palm Sunday, when Christ is reported to have ridden his ass into Jerusalem, and three of us, an un-Holy Trinity,  celebrated the glorious sunshine by riding our asses into Junction City, Oregon. Unlike Christ, we stopped at a Bi-Mart there so Jennie and Rachel could use the facilities, but there was a certain kinship in the day.


We gloried in the Oregon scenery, a sacrament of wildlife and views of the snowy Three Sisters 100 miles away. We passed several thousand – literally, we estimated them at 3,000 – Canada geese grazing and occasionally lifting off in noisy, honking clouds. We viewed a bald eagle that in turn was watching a lake, and spotted his mate drowsing in the next tree, half-hidden in foliage. We fed fig bars to goats, rode past flocks of sheep, dozens of horses, a dog called Sparky and 33.7  miles of fruit orchards, pastures and blossom-loaded copses of trees, passing all of them on near-empty roads. I lost a dollar to Rachel, as I’d promised her that much for every car we saw on a certain five-mile stretch. We were 150 yards from the end of it when a car turned in towards us.  I never paid up, as I charged her $1 for guiding duties, but she beat me in the sprint to a horse paddock, so we both had a win, of sorts.


We three rode back in weather good enough to give Rachel an odd-shaped sunburn, rolling along steadily at 17/18 mph with a pleasant northerly tailwind, and I reflected that nearly 60 Easters ago, I rode out to Rostherne Mere, Cheshire on my brand-new, royal blue Stallard in my new Louison Bobet cycling shoes (no cleats on them yet, I had to mark the soles so I could align the things). I met several other young boys who admired my bike and I told them proudly that I was going to get shoe plates to go with my pedals’ toeclips and straps and I was going to join a cycling club. That was one prophecy I got right, eh, Graham Lawrence?   (TG Lawrence was our racing club hero and is still competing at some age even older than mine).


That day in 1957 was chilly and overcast, but I was warmed with cycling ambition. Last Palm Sunday was just as bright, and we  rode very close to a hamlet called Cheshire. This time, although my ambition was less, the warmth came not from the sunshine but in the simple act of cycling and in sharing the day with my wife and one of my two splendid daughters. Ironically, and to close the circle, Rachel didn’t ride in cleated shoes.  She has a dickey knee and won’t yet fasten herself in. Jennie and I marked the day by handing over to her a Great Britain national cycling team jersey that once belonged to Jason Queally, who was both an Olympic and a World champion. He’s from Lancashire, and that was where Rachel was born, too. 




Sly Freddie Wehner offers medical advice: “A new study shows that women with large bottoms live longer than men who mention it.”  My neighbour’s son Iao is off to Oregon State U (where Rachel works) in the fall, studying things agricultural as it’s a top uni in that discipline. He’s asking for an exemption from the usual rule that freshmen must live on campus for the first year. He asks to live off-campus because he wants to take his cat with him. I hope he didn’t use the cat’s name and tell the university authorities he wanted to bring his Binkie. (memo to non-USA readers – ‘binkie’ is American for a child’s pacifier, or dummy, as we called it).  John Garton sends from his southern mansion a brief vid of his corkscrew, with an explanation of its workings.. click here for amusement:  https://www.youtube.com/embed/wSuH9u0kvhU?rel=0     Crunch Time: Graham and Zeeta Timmins visited the Fess Parker winery (remember TV’s Davy Crockett?) in SoCal and brought the saint a bottle of FP wine, complete with mini coonskin cap (which the dog ate the next day). Last weekend, GT informed me, was Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, and  Fess’ winery suggested a $28 bottle of their best 2011 Syrah with that snack food. The French contemptuously call a GCS with ham,  a ‘Croque Monsieur’ meaning something like  ”Mister Crunchy.’ 


That Scots photogger Jimmy Leggett is braver or dafter than you’d think. He just forwarded some snaps of actor John Goodman on his 1989 wedding day  including one where Jim’s standing between the bride and groom. The caption: ‘First man to come between Goodman and his bride Anna Beth.”  I suppose wearing a kilt makes you look a bit like a bridesmaid, but Jim makes an ugly one. And, when Kilty Jim rides his motorbike, it gets a bit windy around the Trossachs.


Best Advice of the Week: “Stop posting your woes on FaceBook and just go to the pub like the rest of us.” 


House shopping? Ken Potter sent pics of Bob Hope‘s house in Palm Springs, on offer for $50 million. The place is big enough to host 300 people for dinner, was designed to look like a volcano, has a giant golf visor to shade the acres of patio, boasts six bedrooms, 10 bathrooms and three half-bathrooms in its 24,000 square feet. There’s the usual  indoor and outdoor pools, a pond, putting greens and a tennis court. I once went to interview Hope at his Burbank mansion, which was grand enough, all walled garden and lawns, but surrounded by a sort of industrial area. No, the interview was useless. He was a truly dull and boring man who occasionally broke into a polished, rehearsed comic bit. Later I found he was a mean-spirited person, too, turning his back on a girl the couple adopted and refusing even to meet her daughter, his granddaughter. I saw her when she was living in a garage, on welfare, in Walnut Creek, ailing and bitter.


There have been various theories about the disappearance of flight MH 370, including supernatural intervention, a midair black hole and a hijack to Pakistan for the Taliban. This now comes from Clay Reid, whose commercial pilot friend says : “An observation: a retired 3-star USAF general said (on Fox News) on 18th of March that Boeing received its last ‘ping’ from the Malaysian 777, while on the ground in western Pakistan, in Taliban-controlled area, near the Afghanistan border.  While flying today between Paris and New Delhi (LFPG-VIDP), we were going to fly right over that area. When talking with Kabul Control, we were told to “OFFSET COURSE 10 NAUTICAL MILES TO THE NORTH, TO AVOID MILITARY AREA”.  Having flown this part of the world for the last 3.5 yrs, i have NEVER been asked to offset that much in that area, EVEN WHILE THE WAR WAS GOING ON.”  


The pal reasons that the disappearance is the result of a deliberate criminal act, and points out that Lt-General Tom McInerneyhas stated unequivocally that the missing B-777 is ‘on the ground in western Pakistan in a Taliban-controlled area’. He said that he had information from Boeing that the last “ping” from the aircraft had been when the aircraft was on the ground in Pakistan.”


Best letter to The Times this week: “Sir: Wednesday’s paper did not have a picture of the Duchess of Cambridge. I do hope she is all right.” Gerald Vinestock, Lancaster.


Late, sad news: my long-ago colleague from junior journalist days in Lancashire, Neil Marr has slipped away after a brief and unwinnable battle with cancer. Son Sandy  thanked the medical team at the Centre Hospitalier Princesse Grace in southern France for their supportive care, and added that “even in his later days, when (Neil) was unable to travel beyond his beloved terrace, he formed so many strong friendships through social media.” Scotsman Neil worked at the Nat Enq’s London bureau and founded a publishing company in  France with his beloved Skovia Grassi, who survives him. Condolences from us all. 





E-pistle 1024 Washing away sins    posted Apr 5 2014
Forget Athens, forget Rio. If you’re near the small town of Much Wenlock in mid-July, do drop in on the Olympics. They’re on from July 12- 21st and will be as hotly contested as ever, though I don’t think that quoits, the blindfold wheelbarrow race and the pig race will be up for Olympic medals (or a silver inkstand) this year, as they were in 1850.
Much Wenlock is in Shropshire, a lovely part of central/western England and was the home of Dr William Penny Brookes, a firm believer in physical activity for health both moral and intellectual and a man with knowledge of the ancient Greeks and their Olympics. He was, too, a magistrate and dedicated God-botherer who believed that running, jumping and the like would keep people out of the pubs, so in 1841 he formed the Much Wenlock Society for the Promulgation of Physical Culture. 
Things developed, and in 1850, at the first Wenlock Olympics, competitors marched in parade through the town to the racecourse where Brookes’ Olympian Games included events like cricket and football, running and jumping. There was even an old women’s race with a pound of tea for first prize.  News spread and in 1851 the expanded games saw  ‘Badger of Wolverhampton’ come second in the half-mile foot race; ‘Mainwaring of Birmingham’  was victorious at ‘leaping in distance’ and Poyner of Albrighton came home winner of  three events. No news if anyone  survived the medieval tilting tournament. 
Winners got laurel wreaths and medals inscribed with the image of Nike, goddess of victory, and by 1859  competitors came from as far away as London to compete for a silver medal sent by the King of Greece. The next year, the organisation split from the Agricultural Reading Society and became the Wenlock Olympian Society, a name by which it is still known. 
Brookes in 1890 liaised with Baron de Pierre Coubertin, who went on to found the IOC in 1894 and staged the first international revival of the Olympics two years later, but the Wenlock games, the first modern Olympics,  have continued to this day. Some of the old ladies are still hoping for a revival of their race, as they’d like a cuppa. 
The WOS withstood an attempt by Britain’s ruling athletics body , the AAA, to restrict British sport to ‘amateurs and gentlemen,’ i.e. Oxbridge and public school athletes, and forced the AAA to open its doors ‘to every grade of man.’  My own grandfather, winner of a foot race that paid him five guineas, was deemed a ‘professional’ athlete as he’d raced for money and under the old AAA rules was ineligible for such events as national championships or the Olympics.  Shamateurism continued almost to my own bike racing days, and I was among the last of the ‘sponsored amateurs’  receiving cash for wins as a first-category racer riding for Witcomb Cycles in London.   Until about 1950, athletes could only accept equipment as prizes, or forfeit their amateur status. A decade later I did once, as a 17 year old, win five guineas – just like granddad – as prize in a 100-mile time trial, but the usual awards were bike parts for road races and cutlery or tea pots at track events.  But no tea.
Moving on… Chats with friends reveal that we all share the same surprising and unwelcome experience of finding that you’re not as fit, as strong, as smart as once you were. I’ll be 70 in a few months, and that’s not really an age I’d ever contemplated having to deal with. Mentally, I think I’m still, oh, about 28. I wasn’t that sharp then, either.  But, if I look truth in the eye and acknowledge matters, I’m getting older. I wince every time I put on my socks, something that’s been happening for a decade or so, but which previously I put down to aches from the previous day’s efforts, say, cutting down a tree, or hauling something heavy, or (in my mind) heroics in some sports contest, like ,er, needlework. It used to be that every wince was a sign you’d played your proper role as a front row forward, hadn’t opted out early, done the donkey work. Now, I know why it’s called work, asn I’m the donkey. 
Oh yes, I can still look active, but I’m now reluctant to climb a long ladder and,say,  hack at the top of a tree, hoping that the bloody thing I’ve just dismembered won’t smack me in the face, like that vicious hazelnut did the last time. You might call it learning…
I’ve learned that it’s easier to hook the Landrover up to the trailer full of garden rubbish  before I drag the thing up the small slope onto the level rather than gruntingly doing it with manpower. Use the mechanical horsepower first, do the drag, then hop out and hook it up properly on the level.  Learning Curve 1, Bannister 0.  Equally, I’ve found that spending two or three hours lying on a concrete floor messing with the underside of a car makes me a) cold and b) stiff, with sometimes a sleep penalty, too. So there’s a pleasure lost.
But there are compensations that come with age. I do better at Jeopardy now, with more memories in the library; I can be a cranky old man  and use my age as a defence. I can boast inaccurately  (aka lie – Ed.) about my past without fear of contradiction. Yes, I did run a six-second 100 metres and yes, I was runner-up in the Mr Universe contest, before it got wide publicity, which is why you can’t find my name in the records.  But given all that, it’s still a bit of a shock to think you may be mortal, dying even, in 30 or 40 more years  (110? Nah, Ed.) 
So, with all this cheap philosophy to ponder, what epiphany told you you’re no longer 25? What has advancing age and galloping decrepitude stolen? What do you most miss? Answers on a postcard, please to Rusting Gently, Oregon and we’ll start a theme.
Wrongful Washing Away: I’ve always considered religion a dangerous thing and as a onetime altar boy (retired, fed up) knew that baptisms were the most contentious of all religious ceremonies. Cold water on a squalling baby is not the best way to calm it. There’s always the danger (reported, but not personally witnessed) that a nervous dad might drop the baba in the font or (witnessed) that the baptisee would produce a terrible smell and the priest would whisper quickly for more incense. It’s not good to have tbe subject of a religious ceremony being the one who doesn’t want it. 
So it was hardly a surprise when pastor Maurigro Cervantes, luminary of the Jesus Christ Light of the Sky church in Santa Maria, California got a baptism wrong last week. The rev and his cousin Benito, who was acting as his acolyte, waded out into the Pacific with a 25 years old baptismal candidate who wanted to have his sins washed away. The pity was that Benito was also washed away when the three of them were swamped by a couple of large waves.  All went under, the pastor and his new church member surfaced, but  Benito has vanished. He was still missing 48 hours later and is presumed deceased. 
“He was the only one unable to self-rescue,” said the county fire chief. “The surf at that spot can be very dangerous, and there are warnings posted.”
Entrant #2 in Things Go Wrong  category is the Irish bomber blown up by his own device. Police say he planted a bomb in a Volvo in Long Lane, Dublin this week, but it went off too soon and blew up in his face. The man had forgotten about clocks going forward for summertime, and had not re-set his wristwatch to synchronise with the bomb’s timer.  (Daylight Savings Time in Ireland began on Sunday Mar 31st)   Dubliners  commenting on the episode included a fellow who said:”I suppose they picked him because there was no chance of this gobshite blowing his own brains out,”  and another who wrote:  “Spring Forward, Fall Back.  Which is probably what he did when it went off.”
Graham Timmins sent me a pics of animals squashed into improbable resting places (sample above) and yes, we’ve all seen things like that. Our large cat loves to squash into undersized jigsaw box lids (and sometimes delivers an errant piece onto my desk, carried there courtesy of his furry bottom.  Just saying.
Big Guns:   the saint circulated this pic of the German sprint cycling team . Joe Mullins thought they were ‘lovely lasses,’ while Graham Lawrence, who’s seen at least Robert Vorstermann (centre) in action on the Manchester velodrome, says “Those legs look bigger in the flesh,” and adds that Vorstermann  can hardly walk.
A&E News:  John Mulrooney, my long-ago colleague at the Eccles Journal, later at the Cambridge Evening News and Santa Cruz boardwalk bar, is returning from the UK next week after several months there with his mum and twin sisters. Mrs Mulrooney passed away last month, John’s returning to California.  Lucky escape #1:  Stuart Timmins, a Lancashire Road Club member, knocked off his bike by a passing car which didn’t stop. When the cops caught him, the 80+ years old driver said he thought he’d run over a brick or something, no he didn’t look in his mirror to check, and the cops nodded, OK, fine. He has to do a driving course as punishment, that’s all. Stuart, bike ruined, ribs etc battered, is indignant. Lucky Escape #2:  for Susie Silvestri, who totalled her car in a T-bone accident with some uninsured, unlicensed illiterate who can’t read a ‘Stop’ sign. Susie suffered huge bruising and a broken arm which needed three procedures to set. Her wire terrier Mister Biscuits (who’s had two hip replacements recently) was battered by the airbags but survived intact. Daughter Frankie Silvestri’s dog Cooper, also in the car, was unperturbed, as was Frankie. That’s because she didn’t know. She was just at that time arriving in Capetown to begin several months as an intern in a refugee-assistance project and was not yet informed. Papa Will Silvestri has had to be treated for shock, for exposure to housework Susie’s unfit to do. He reacted well, though, calling in the cavalry from California. Lonnie from Napa, a well-known hitman, was due to arrive on Friday to act as nurse, cook and chauffeur.