I may be breaking some rules (again) by posting this short video because it was produced not by me but by the British Broadcasting Corporation - around 16 or so years ago.
Shortly before we decided to move to Scotland I read a piece in The Times about Alan Parkes. It told how this 65 year old man had left South Africa where he had lived for twenty or more years.
Alan had set up a flower shop business in S.Africa and was successful. However, when he reached 65 he wanted to return to England and retire. The plan was good, except that the ruling government then banned him from taking the money from the sale of his business out of the country!
He arrived in London virtually penniless. He was a well-educated man, a student of architecture amongst other things and an ex-army officer during WW2. He decided to put an advert in a London newspaper offering his services as a butler! He had no experience as one although when he was a child his family had their own butler - so he knew what the job entailed.
He was offered three positions. He took one of them and remained as butler in that same house until his death, aged 84 a few years ago. The 'Times' diary article gave this brief outline of his return to London for 'retirement'.
I was most impressed by the article and wrote to Alan, via The Times newspaper, and told him of my impending plans to decamp from England and go to work for an Earl in Scotland. He wrote back and we became friends via the telephone and letters.
After my arrival in Scotland, having settled in OK, I invited Alan to spend a week or so with us in the east wing of Mellerstain. He was 80-ish at the time. He said he'd love to come for a few days as he had never been to this area of Scotland.
He arrived at Berwick railway station and we picked him up in the car for the 30 mile trip back to Mellerstain. His stay was really enjoyable for all of us. He was one of nature's real gentlemen.
During his stay he told us of his various experiences and employers as a butler. He also had a video tape of a short article on BBC television which I managed to copy onto a blank tape. I have now been able to rip that video onto my hard drive and this is shown below.
The BBC had heard of Alan Parkes being butler at a lovely old house on the banks of the river Thames. The house was being sold, and one of the conditions of the seller was that the new owner would employ Alan as butler. And so they did.
I was greatly saddened when Alan's daughter rang me one evening to say that Alan had been ill for a week or so and had died suddenly. She said that her Dad had often told her of his visit to Mellerstain and of our brief friendship. Pancreatic cancer killed this lovely old chap. Thankfully he had only a short period of illness before he passed away.
I hope you enjoy this little item, and hope also that the BBC doesn't object to my sharing it.