Class conscious

I watched Gosford Park in Muswell Hill alongside a lot of drippy liberals, alternately swooning, despite themselves, at the beauty of the Thirties country-house setting, and bristling whenever any of the toffs asked the servants to do something without saying "please" - which was all the time.

It set me thinking about my own relations with "servants". When I was a young lad, and my mother had just died, York social services sent us a home help, a lovely woman whom I will call Mrs Hunter. She was meant to take the load off my father's shoulders, but in practice he would fly around the house maniacally tidying up before she arrived, crying: "Mrs Hunter's coming, and look at the state of this place!" When she turned up, there was very little left for her to do.

In my first year at university, I had a scout who came with the staircase on which my room was located. This lovely man - I will call him Mr Hunter - popped in every morning at 9am to clean, and took all sorts of decadence in his stride.

One night, I went to bed completely drunk, and, in the instant before lapsing into unconsciousness, splattered vomit all about the white wooden panels around my bed. I woke up at 11am the next morning, staring fascinatedly at this vast Jackson Pollock painting that I had created, which extended all the way up to the ceiling. Then, in a panic, I thought of Mr Hunter . . . Had he been in? There was no sign that he had, and, as I swabbed down my room, I prayed that he had taken the day off.

The following morning he turned up as usual at 9am. As usual, he chatted pleasantly as he picked up my filthy boxer shorts, swept out the surely - to him - rather suspect contents of my ashtray, and flushed my lavatory (after a very discreet inspection), before spraying blue frothy stuff into it.

Just as he was leaving, he turned and said gravely: "You seemed a little out of sorts yesterday, sir, so I decided to let you sleep in." "Thank you very much, Mr Hunter," I said, thus proving that I would never have been invited to Gosford Park.