There is a mordant Eskimo proverb that says a good butler is worth at least three wives. The only trouble being I’ve never heard of an Eskimo with a butler. Gianni Agnelli had two he couldn’t do without: Pasquale, until he reached 40, and then Bruno, until the ‘avvocato’s’ death. I inherited mine from the Agnelli household. His name is Andrew Rolleston, and he is an Aussie — along with the Kiwis, the Poles and the Germans, in my Pantheon of best people. On his first day of service I was having dinner with the mother of my children in Cadogan Square when the telephone rang. ‘No, Mr Smith,’ I heard Andrew say, ‘Mr Taki is dining and he will ring you back.’ ‘Who the hell is Smith?’ I asked him when Alexandra was out of earshot. ‘It was a lady — Francesca — and she wants you to call her…’ said Andrew. ‘We are going to get along magnificently,’ said I, and we certainly did.
Andrew packed a suitcase like no other, took care of matters like a Jewish grandmother, and deflected embarrassing situations like a Spartan shield. He was my man Jeeves for ever. My children loved him more than they cared for me. He played football with John-Taki, helped Lolly with her homework, kept the female cooks happy by servicing them well and regularly, and then one day announced that he had made his pile and wanted to return to Melbourne and buy a hotel-restaurant. If Keira Knightley or the deputy editor of the Speccie said this to me, my tears would not be as real as the ones I shed once Andrew told me it was curtains. ‘Of course I’ll stay until you find a suitable replacement,’ said Andrew while I wept and lay in my bed Marguerite Gautier-like.