Walking through the Castle in the morning, on my way to the office, I listen to a muted broadcast of familiar voices. I pass Robert and Les’s voices in the security office, turn along a short corridor and go into the kitchen. This is ostensibly to see how Paul and his team are doing. However there just might be the off- chance of a croissant as I pass by.
If I am indeed lucky, then with a squawk of delight, I head towards Pat’s temporary office. He currently shares what was (and will be again once the Estate Offices are completed) the Guides’ Room with Margery who is also lacking an office. This room is always warm and often full of people dropping in. Pat disappears for coffee for both of us and I split the croissant. He then returns to tell me of the latest leaky rooves, broken fences and damp challenges. After compiling a list of things to do, his usual reaction is to laugh. This tends to mean we are not under control at which point I collect my radio and head upstairs.
I hear Diana and the housekeeping team in the Butler’s Pantry – they have paused for their cup of tea and a biscuit having started early. I pass Paul the gardener and his team who are checking and watering the houseplants before I climb up the curving stone staircase.
First thing in the morning Geordie and I listen to the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4. Once the working day begins however I prepare to move on to Radio Highclere. The black radios are a reliable way to find people and pass on messages in a building where mobile phones simply aren’t able to function. I used to always borrow other people’s radios when I wanted to speak to someone, which I would then put down somewhere and lose to their enormous irritation. So I now have my own which, as a joke, I asked to be pink. It is a joke no longer as it duly arrived, carefully painted pink.
Tuned in to channel 2 it is soon ready to relay the conversations between JG, the Castle Manager, and Scottish Robert. They are always “passing their messages” and “giving their location”. I tend to dive in chatting which is the wrong approach and later have to return to explain I have indeed just “passed my message”. It is further complicated by the fact we have three Pauls, two Pats, and two Roberts amongst the radio team. Everyone enjoys chipping in to be helpful. Much of the time on the radio can be spent communicating with Peter, for example, at the front gate. It is wonderful how often it all goes wrong, and the office dissolves into hysterical laughter as Scottish Robert drives to the rescue and JG is still requesting a location.
I try and relate some of the latest stories over lunch and whilst Sally and the gift shop team share my humour, my husband (who does not have a radio) seems to think we should all be more professional.