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!