In December, I was invited to the shoot with Adrian de Ferranti. I went to dinner with him the night before when I’d actually meant to be at the grand drinks party of Roger Seelig’s at Upton House in Gloucestershire. I also turned down the shoot with Robert Gibbons. Robert’s house Lawyers is up in Scotland so it would have meant jumping on a plane… something I could be doing without.
The shoot with Adrian de Ferranti was a very noble affair indeed. Adrian normally has various kings and princes to shoot so it only seemed fitting that Bully the Jack Russell and Gerald Westminster the Labrador came along too. Just between you and I, Bully has been banned from a grand total of four shoots in Somerset. For all his faults, he is rather a nimble ratter. Sadly Adrian had already killed all the rats in his barn which meant that poor old Bully had to spend most of the drives in the car. He was, however, allowed out to despatch some of the wounded runners afterwards.
It was a 200 bird day and absolutely fantastic. The food is always good at de Ferranti’s. Did you know that he owns two restaurants in London? Ziani’s and Como Lario’s. Quite often at these events, we drink Château de Ferranti which comes from his very own vineyard. His wife Christian is a saint and a jolly good hostess.
Adrian was Chairman of the Conservatives at Basingstoke. He is a big donator to the Conservative Party. He was also Master and Chairman of the local pack of hounds. Adrian used to have a pass to get into the House of Lords. As you can imagine, his peerage was very much in the bag. He would have been known as Lord Little College Green had John Major not screwed up.
The de Ferranti family descends from Ziana the Doge of Venice and were very grand patricians in Venice. Their palace near St Mark’s Square flooded and went under water. So in the 1880’s, they came to England and went into the Electrical business. All Ferrantis are good engineers and very clever. But the cleverest of them all is his son Ludo who is the mining tycoon in Tanzania. He is regularly sent to prison for being late to pay his bribes to the politicians.
Adrian and Christian have four very beautiful daughters – all of them seriously talented and… very clever. I wish he would let me take my pick. Who knows, I may still stand a chance because the Grouse Moor is looking very good and Adrian shot exceedingly well. As for the big shots from Devon, Fulford and the gang… they couldn’t hit a barn door. Except Richard Simpson who killed practically everything.
I got back to find that Maunsel had been hired for the 70th birthday party of a very successful tycoon with sixty people staying for three nights. Hosts were George and Brenda Howe and no expense was spared! It was three days of feasting with only the best wines on offer and they kept filling up my glass.
I was going to a party with Angelina on New Year’s Eve but the Howes invited me to stay for dinner at Maunsel. And what a fabulous meal it was! I very much enjoyed dancing afterwards. Once again, they kept filling my glass with different wines which was all very exciting. One of the ladies gave me her number and one gentleman wanted to rent the Grouse Moor in October. All in all – an extremely good night!
What’s worse than turning up in casual clothes to a Black Tie Dinner? Turning up as an Arabian knight to an Arabian Nights themed party…
You see, I had to put together a costume at short notice. So it’s no wonder I royally fluffed up. You see, Liz Brewer invited me to escort her to Lisa Tchenguiz’s birthday party in London and being a party in Kensington Gore, I knew that I’d have no way out of partaking in the fancy dress. I hunted high and low, all over the house to see what swords, daggers, helmets, shields and breast plates I could find. Once I’d put together a costume, it suddenly occurred to me that there was no-one to look after the dogs.
Without batting an eyelid, I booked into K & K George Hotel. Not only did they take very good care of myself and the dogs, there was parking there – thank goodness! Once I’d checked in, I hurried off to pick up Liz. I mean, she could have been mistaken for being Liz Taylor in Cleopatra. What an incredible get up, well done Liz!
As the two of us entered the house, I clocked some pretty funny looks from the press. It was to me that they weren’t at all impressed by my outfit.
Liz had pre-warned me that some of the attendees would be very rich, divorced women on the prowl. She was right. What Liz hadn’t told me was that they’d all be gorgeous too. Very tall! Some of the best looking women I have seen in a long time. I even spotted Christina Estrada who might I add, has just been given a £75million divorce settlement. Not that she needs any more to add to her fortune.
My dress code was not to their liking and I very quickly worked out that I was the poorest man in the house not counting the waiters. Everybody seemed to have two jets and a yacht or at the very least a helicopter.
One woman seemed to really like my outfit. She like all the other women, was drop dead gorgeous. When I looked into her eyes they were like big lagoons and I couldn’t help but think, If I’d been for a swim in them… I might have drowned! She had dark hair, beautiful skin and it turned out that she was an Aquarius which is my favourite. I got her name but it was unpronounceable and I cannot for the life of me remember it.
Later that evening I bumped into my new best friend, Kaz the banking billionaire. He has a big office in Dubai so of course he knows what Arabians wear… and going by the look on his face, my outfit was not appropriate.
Kaz is a serious shooting man. He took Blenheim Shoot two days, double guns and stayed in the palace for a couple of nights with his friends. He invited me shooting at Drayton in Leicestershire, a 400/500 bird day. The hospitality of the Stopford Sackville’s was tremendous. The best fun I have had for years. I am seriously going to have to invite him to the big day at my Grouse Moor this year. I hope there is some grouse, we won’t know until Ascot week when they hatch out.
Anyway… later that night I also bumped into Ceawlin Weymouth and his beautiful wife Emma. He always gives me such good advice on how to run a stately home. “Don’t trust the techies and website designers and be very careful with Chief Executives”. I once asked him on the train, “are you going up to London for the week”? And he said “no I don’t like leaving the place for more than two days”. Emma looked so calm, beautiful and intelligent.
That reminds me… I have been approached by a lady who works at Wells Fargo Banks. She is half Nigerian and very successful. I was interested to hear that she has had children and more importantly, she now wants some more. She particularly likes drinking in Claridges so we really will have to meet up there soon. I have got two jets stuck in Nigeria that have been there for thirty years so you never know, I might get them back. The last I’d heard of my HS125, it had chickens in it. So it may very well have to be valeted.
I bumped into Lisa the hostess and her boyfriend Steve Varsano. She was looking absolutely stunning and I thanked her profusely. I will definitely invite them down to Somerset for a big house party in May.
I also bumped into Nicky Cole, married to Terrance. She had a wonderful outfit on, as indeed did most people at this party… except for me.
Immediately after the party, I looked around for a taxi, as one does. I had to go through the paparazzi and they were quite aggressive and rude. Luckily, I had my Turkish sword, so they didn’t get too close.
Whilst walking along in the early hours, I could not help but notice that there were a lot of shirt lifters about. One look at my sword and they were off in a flash. Much to my horror, a policeman (probably the only one on the beat in the whole of West London) just happened to be walking along the same road. Being slightly worse for wear and carrying two one hundred and fifty year old weapons, he was bound to arrest me. As luck would have it, I had my gun slip with me. Placing the sword and the dagger in, a taxi came to my rescue and I escaped into the night.
First of all, thank you for stopping by. I am excited to announce that I finally have a blog. Yes, 2018 is very much the time to start blogging. It might be that you’ve inadvertently stumbled across this post, in which case… please do feel free to check out the ‘About’ section above. Oh and whatever you do, don’t enter Sir Ben Slade into Google!!
As of today, I hope to give you an insight into my day to day life…
In fact, I am attending rather a big party in London later, so I really must dash.
Sir Ben Slade