Monday, May 11, 2009

How to Run a Stately Home

A little gem of a book, picked up at the BookFest.
Sure, the cover design is woeful, and the pen drawings as illustrations are a little weird (this was published in 1971 after all), but very enjoyable nonetheless.
John, Duke of Bedford, lives in Woburn Abbey. In this book he tries to explain why he has the Home open, and provides some tips to others who are interested in doing the same.
Of course, this is no business guide - but a gently humourous insight into what the public really wants. He has written it in collaboration with George Mikes (of How to Be an Alien fame), and I sense quite a bit of Mikes' style coming through.
Here's an excerpt so you get a feel for his language and turn of phrase. This section comes after quite a few paragraphs explaining the importance of loos.
"Very well, you may say impatiently, your advice has sunk in. Loos are important. All right, they are most important. But do you mean to say that nothing else really matters?
No I do not. While loos must come first, they would not take you far without teas and car-parks.
A Stately Home with excellent loos, good teas served at a reasonable price, and sufficient car-parks (near the loos and the tea-rooms) will prosper. If you provide these three commodities, then - according to my computer - 87.3 per cent of your visitors will not notice if you have no house at all."

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