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by Robert Cooper

Chapter 3

I called in Mr Sheldon.

"Mr Sheldon, how long have you been working on the estate?"

"One year and four months Sir."

"Looking at you, I assume since you graduated from college". He nodded.

"Why the Braeborne Estate?"

"Parents are landlords of the Wheatsheaf"

"Mum is a bit frail and I wanted to be near at hand if anything went bad Sir"

"You obviously have a good feeling on how the estate runs?"

"Yes Sir, I think so."

"If given charge what would be your very first action?"

"Locks on the pumps, proper fuel records and a damn good clean up Sir"


"Get an engineer to inspect all machinery Some of it is old and unsafe"

"Did you hear what went on here in my office a few minutes ago?"

"No but I did hear a lot of derogatory comments about a young upstart as they left. I assumed that they were not happy.

"Well, I discharged Fields for gross negligence and accepted Seymore's early retirement application, which he had not given."

"Produce your college documentation if you feel that the estate managers job is for you. You can start tomorrow morning if you wish at the same salary as Fields was on. Find his office and tell me where it is and what state it is in."

"Edward, take me to the accounts office please. I can't wait for the accounts office manager to deign to see me, I shall go into the Lion's Den. Bring your pad."

"Is this the accounts office? It is not even as big as my dressing room. Where is the manager?"

"Here Sir" a small mousy man of about 35 appeared.


"Watson Sir"

"Mr Watson, how on earth do you manage in such a small office?"

"I was told that there was nothing else available Sir"

"Edward, you will take Mr Watson with you and find some proper office accommodation, bear in mind our conversation this morning. Once you find something that he feels is suitable I will come and look."

"Mr Watson, can you soldier on for just a few more days until we sort out something better? By the way where are your computers?"

"We don't have any Sir, I was told that we have always had hand written ledgers and that was how it had to be."

Edward saw my face and reassured Watson that he was not in trouble, just that I was 'allergic' to that expression.

"Go find a new office for Mr Watson and his staff please. I shall be terrorizing the housekeeper next."

I found the housekeeper with her gang in the master bedroom. She looked most distressed.

"Oh Sir!, how do I get rid of all this dreadful cigar smoke? These walls are yellow."

"You don't. I shall be using this room as my formal estate office once it is refurbished, most of the rooms on this floor will be redecorated and refurbished."

"Your name please,"

"Mrs Renney"

"For the time being Mrs Renney on this floor I want you to concentrate on my bedroom and private office down the end, the small sitting room and the room next to it which I hope will soon be occupied by my great friend Geoffrey Fortescue-Smythe. Mr. Geoffrey."

"Linens to be changed twice a week if rooms used, bins and laundry baskets emptied daily,."

"We do have a laundry?"

"Yes but only a small one Sir."

"Are you prepared to be my contact for all housekeeping matters?" She nodded agreement.

"There will be weekly heads of department meetings after breakfast on Monday mornings for matters to be raised but of course anything urgent can be discussed with me at any time"

"I want this Manor to run like a well oiled clock and all the staff to feel proud of 'their' Manor. In case you have not heard I have accepted Mr Seymore's application for early retirement as of the end of the month. Mr Geoffrey and I will be doing most of the Stewards job. If you have any ideas for improving things then do not hesitate to bring them up at the Monday meetings."

I found Edward with Mr Watson waiting in my office. They led me to a bright, airy and sizeable pair of room s with a doorway between.

"Will these be enough for you Mr Watson? "

His eyes gleamed behind his spectacles.

"Oh Yes indeed Sir."

"All I need now is a computer system and I will be set up for 2 1st century."

"Ask Standish to get Mrs Renney and her girls to give it a good clean, meanwhile get a measuring tape and an office equipment catalogue. List on my desk a.s.a.p. please."

"You mean proper desks and typist chairs? Not this old kitchen stuff?"

"Your office, your choice. You may expect a computer consultant sometime soon I think to discuss your requirements."

"Think also what accounting programme you would prefer, or ask the estate accountants to recommend a programme that dovetails with theirs."

"By the way do you have a person who does dictation and typing that I might borrow from time to time?"

"I need a few confidential letters typed, preferably today."

"I will send George up to your private office as soon as he has finished the summary he is on."

"Make sure he gets some official notepaper from Seymore I wish him to type up termination papers for Chef and Mr. Field and acceptance of retirement application from Mr. Seymore"

Back in my office I said to Edward "That went well I thought? He positively drooled at the new office furniture and computers. I think we have a convert there, add him to the list with Mrs Renney and Sheldon."

The house phone rang, It was Seymore telling me that the quad had arrived. I went and inspected it and authorised the invoice to be paid.

I went back to my office and called Geoff.

"Are you busy this weekend? I am in a bit of a hole and need your advice…. Right, I will send a car for you, should be there at about 4,00. casual clothes and wash kit only."

"Edward, you got that? Car, not the limo, to school, 4.00 driver knows the way, collect Geoffrey Fortescue-Smythe and bring him back here. Meanwhile we take the Land Rover and meet your parents and Joseph, please call them and say we are on our way.

The meeting went well and both Mr and Mrs Lang and Joseph agreed to join us. Mrs Lang asked if Seymore was still there.

I said "yes but he is 'retiring' at the end of the month and the previous chef had already been terminated for cause".

I also warned her that an industrial kitchen cleaning crew had already been hired to go though the kitchens like a tornado to get the place cleaned up starting Monday but she was welcome to come in and interview the remaining staff and impress on them our standards.

Mr Lang agreed to take charge of the stables and fuel stores with Joseph as his deputy. He also agreed to see if he could find any of the previous stable staff.

On our return to the Manor we found Geoff already there. He had already had a falling out with Seymore and been thoroughly insulted. I found Seymore in his office half way down a bottle of scotch.

I told him firmly that I will not have my friends insulted and suggested that he take himself off somewhere else as his continued presence in the Manor was no longer required. All further contact would be via the Estate solicitors.

So ended Friday, good results mainly. Everybody now knew that though I was only 16¾ I was not afraid to make tough decisions and only had the well being of the Estate in mind.

Geoff and I sat over a bottle of wine and I brought him up to date with my week.

And so to bed and practice fitting the bits together again.

Edward woke us at 6.00 and was not at all put out to find us in bed together.

He put out the clothes we requested and I told him of the days programme

"Call Bank to block Seymore and Fields authorisation and add Geoff, Sheldon and Watson, and of course myself. My signature and one other to validate".

"Get George to type up confirmation letters. Use my lap-top, I shall bring back a printer later this morning."

"Shopping for boots and anoraks. I needed more heavy jeans, lumberjack shirts and jerseys."

"Find cheque books for Estate accounts and Manor accounts. (Perhaps Mr. Watson has them.)"

Visit kitchens

Look through Seymore's office.

Look through Field's office. (where is it?)

Check what vehicles we have. Perhaps another quad for Geoff?

Talk to Geoff about his future.

Talk about Tutors and education in general.

Profit and Loss statements for last 5 years from the accountants.(George to type up requests for me to sign.)

I need to tell George that I would sign official letters "James Levitt, Earl of Braeborne". I would phone the Bank after breakfast, then Geoff and I would do the offices and seek the cheque books. (Found the Manor cheque book in Seymore's office, Mr Watson had the Estate cheque book.)

Edward to find the heating thermostat and let me know the setting. 75 F. Had it turned down to 68 F. Just a few degrees but already a big saving on energy for a place this size.

We were off to town in the Range Rover shortly after breakfast.

Visit to Outdoor Pursuits Shop for some excellent winter clothes and boots for Geoff and myself.

I also bought a decent anorak for Edward as he would often be out and about with us as our private secretary.

Crash Helmets for use with the quads.

Visit to a branch of a well known computer store for a laser printer with 2 paper trays (one for headed paper, the other for copy paper) and all the necessary parts and consumables together with a couple of packs of A4 paper for my private office. I decided I could not wait for the new installation. I paid for all this on my personal debit card making sure I had all the receipts for Mr. Watson to refund my account.

Grabbed a burger for lunch, then back to the Manor.

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