Saturday, September 23, 2017

Duchesses Becoming Maids: A Short Essay

By T. H. Enerdly

In 1889, Crown Prince of Austria Rudolph committed suicide together with his mistress, Baroness Mary Vetsera, an event known as the Mayerling incident, Mayerling being the Imperial hunting Lodge, the scene of the incident.

A few years ago, while reading an account of this incident in the book A Nervous Splendor by Frederick Morton, I chanced upon the following interesting observation about the Baroness:

“She knew it wouldn't do to arrive at costume balls as a Bourbon princess (accountants' wives were known to do that). Instead she’d come as a saucy chambermaid (the favorite disguise of duchesses).”

If one occasionally writes lady-to-maid stories as I do, one's interest cannot help but be piqued by a quote such as the one above. I immediately began researching duchesses who liked to wear chambermaid costumes…but found nothing. Every year or so since I first read the quote, I've tried to find more information, but have been disappointed every time.

Recently, I've tried a different approach. I decided to search for an image of a duchess wearing a chambermaid costume. Much to my delight, I found such an image on Pinterest, the one accompanying this essay. The Pinterest posting did not contain much information: Merely a couple of sentences that identified the subject as Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna and noted that she was wearing a masquerade costume, probably “chambermaid.”

My first thought, when viewing the image, was that it must be difficult to dance a waltz while holding a lit candlestick. But, with the image, I now more or less had confirmation that duchesses sometimes wore chambermaid outfits to costume balls. This was a place where I could start some actual research.

There is an article about Elena in the Wikipedia. She is described as having had a “grand manner” and a rather nasty temper, which, by the way, are not ideal character traits, either for a unmarried Grand Duchess or a maid. She is reputed to have had an offer of marriage, later withdrawn, from Archduke Ferdinand, the fellow whose assassination sparked World War I, an event some historians believe was a knock-on effect set in motion by the suicide of Crown Prince Rudolph. Failure to marry the Archduke probably was wonderful for Elena’s longevity, given that the man who assassinated Ferdinand also killed the latter’s wife. Elena ended up marrying Prince Nicholas of Greece, her only suitor, presumably because other potential suitors were unenthusiastic about her “grand manner” and temper.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Story: Alison’s Attitude Adjustment. Part 2.

by Charles Ryder
Suddenly the door opened and a woman entered. She was tall for a Chinese woman and carried herself with a confidence that only the rich and powerful have. She was beautifully and expensively dressed in a Western style trouser suit. Her hair and make-up were perfectly done, she simply oozed sophistication. Alison assumed that this was Yang Xe, Mi’s mother. The second person to enter the room was Mi herself. Like her mother she was beautifully dressed in a clearly expensive dark blue silk blouse and demure knee-length skirt. Her schoolgirl haircut had been replaced with a more sophisticated style, which along with her black high-heels made her look about six inches taller than Alison remembered. The third and final person to enter the room was her Governess, Miss Zhao, dressed in her customary black garb.
“You may make your obedience, girl.” Said Miss Zhao.
Alison had been well trained as to what she should do when she first met her new Mistress. Slowly she sank to her knees and pressed her forehead to the floor.
“Madam Yang and Mistress Yang, my name is Alison Templeman-Davies. I hereby accept the fact that I am your property. I am yours to do with as I wish. I truly regret my behaviour towards you Mistress Yang, and with your help I will endeavour to make amends for it. I hope you will accept me as your slave.”

Friday, September 15, 2017

Story: Alison’s Attitude Adjustment. Part 1.

by Charles Ryder
Alison Templeman-Davies was woken from her fitful sleep at 6am by the jarring note of her bedside alarm. Without thinking she immediately roused herself and stumbled across to the washbasin in her tiny room. She washed and quickly brushed her teeth. In the one wardrobe that contained all her clothes she extracted the cheap nylon uniform and slipped it over her head. She pulled her one pair of black leather flats from under her bed and pushed her feet into them. She brushed her blonde hair and bound it into a pony tail using an elastic band. She grimaced at herself in the reflection of the cracked little mirror. She pulled and tugged at her black polyester dress but no matter what she did it was still too small and too tight. She checked that the white collar was properly fastened and that the white cuffs of her dress weren’t too grimy. She reached over for her frilly white apron and tied it around her waist in a big bow. The final and most demeaning touch was to pin her little black and white cap to her lacklustre hair. Finally Alison Templeman-Davies, eldest daughter of millionaire businessman Ronald Templeman-Davies, was ready for work.
She scurried down the corridor in order to get to her place in the kitchen by 6.45. There were already five other girls in the huge room. Nobody spoke to her; nobody even paid her the slightest attention. The other servant girls never spoke to her in fact. That was partly because they were uneducated girls from the country but also because they didn’t speak any English. Alison couldn’t converse in Chinese either so their chances for any sort of interaction were limited. Through the clouds of steam she could see her immediate superior, Miss Chang, gesticulating to her. She hurried over to her and bowed as she was required to do.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Story: Daphne and the White Apron. Part 5.

by Monica Graz

During the next few hours, Lita realized the hard way what serious housework means. She also realized how easy her job was in the Arnellos family house where she had to practically take care of an empty place. They started their cleaning from the bedrooms in the 1st floor. She instantly understood that cleaning the four occupied and heavily used bedrooms was a different story altogether. After they finished the master bedroom and its adjoining luxurious bathroom they had to tackle the children’s bedrooms. As expected they were very messy. Clothes thrown on the carpeted floor, wet towels on the bed, dirty knickers and bras hanging at the back of a chair. Lita was surprised and appalled. She could never believe that people can be that messy.

As they were working together Rosie started explaining about the family. “This is Akilah’s room, her name means ‘clever’ in Arabic. She is their oldest child; she has just turned 16 some weeks ago. She is really clever and very good at school but very arrogant and messy as you can see from her room,” she started saying as they were stripping the bed to change the sheets.

“Wow Rosie,” Lita answered, “I never saw such a messy room.” And immediately smiled secretly thinking that really and truly that was her first real maid’s job outside the Arnellos residence, but she couldn’t really reveal that to Rosie, could she!

Rosie who was quite clever picked something because she said, “Probably you never worked before in a house with teenage children. Believe me they are usually that messy.”

Monday, September 4, 2017

What I'm up to

Dear readers,

I wanted to apologise for the recent lack of updates and my departure from the self-imposed 1 post/2days schedule. I do hope to return with a lot more lady-to-maid content in coming days and weeks.

I must admit that I've been hit with a rather severe case of writer's block which derailed some of my abmitious publishing plans. Also, a number of my regular writers (no doubt during a secret meeting) decided to take long summer breaks at the same time.

Please do not worry. I don't think the well's dried up and there is a lot more where it came from. I do have a number of posts planned already and now it's only a matter of sitting down and writing them. Please watch this space for more stories and other lady-to-maid related content, including movie reviews and a rather long history of a traditional maid's uniform that I've been working on for a long time now.

As always, I really welcome your suggestions and submissions.