Residents here decline emailed requests: Kensington Palace Gardens
December 4, 2014 2:01 PM   Subscribe

"The signs on the doors are excessively polite, and use outmoded words such as 'kindly' and 'residing'. 'Kindly do not deliver items for Mr and Mrs [...] to this address as they are no longer residing here.' But it is the doorbell etiquette that is most enraging, and instructions that 'for all collections and deliveries please press the housekeeper's button only' incite a sudden surge of anarchic rage and a desire to ring all the other bells simultaneously – summoning the chef/kitchen, the residence and the caretaker." [SLTheGuardian]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (43 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
This exchange was probably my favorite part of the article:
Outside the Israeli embassy, which is surrounded by protective green bollards, an armed police officer stops me. "Madam, what are you doing?" he asks, his gun slung across his chest. I explain that I am writing about the street.

"Do they know that you are doing this?" he asks.

He tells me the road is owned by the Crown Estate and it would be better if I went to one of the security booths to get permission to walk down the street with a notepad. I explain that I don't feel inclined to do that.

"Did you tell them what you are doing? It would be courteous to let them know. This is a private road."

I ask if he is telling me that I have to go and register with the security officials, and after some thought he decides he won't make me turn back. "I'm not telling you that you have to. I'm just saying that it would be the courteous thing to do."
It's like a mash-up of William Gibson and Evelyn Waugh.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:11 PM on December 4, 2014 [46 favorites]


Money is like snow, it tends to gather in heaps.

Wish it snow more in my house.
posted by 724A at 2:15 PM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Just makes me think of the Chris Rock interview. "If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets." The rich know that, too, and so are not eager to pull back the curtain.
posted by mstokes650 at 2:46 PM on December 4, 2014 [17 favorites]


but with the explosion of wealth generation globally in the last 20 years

Which, per Piketty, is not so much wealth generation having changed, as it is wealth concentration.
posted by dhartung at 2:47 PM on December 4, 2014 [20 favorites]


Residents here decline emailed requests

lol. The truly rich have answering services to deny emailed requests. These sound like faux-rich.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:09 PM on December 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


lol. The truly rich have answering services to deny emailed requests. These sound like faux-rich

If you read the article, you'd see it's all "assistants" and "entourages." These are definitely the very, very rich.

whilst Tamara is appreciative of her blessed life she doesn't feel talking about money is appropriate.

Translation: "I'm glad to talk to the tabloids about my billion-dollar home, but I refuse to discuss whether or not it's fair that I have so much money whilst other people have so little."

This piece was a little empty, but what can you expect? You ain't gonna get access for pieces like this.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:47 PM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


When asked what you're doing on that street, I suppose "scouting out where we'll set up the guillotine" probably wouldn't go over very well.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:50 PM on December 4, 2014 [24 favorites]


It's like a mash-up of William Gibson and Evelyn Waugh.

Add some outrageous clothing and it's Jack Vance.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:58 PM on December 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


Well, hurray for the Finnish Ambassador! At least one human lives there.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:09 PM on December 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


I have lived on "welfare"/ "benefits" on £10/day- 3 Minutes away from the US ambassador in Regents park with his 24/7 DPG armed guard. Of the flags I have managed to identify on the nearby "ambassadors street" I think I also lived close to the Ghanian and Tunisian Ambassadors. They all have very nice houses with bentleys and astons outside but I can confirm that when you walk along the public street by their neighbours, and see the 4 foot tall pile of a autumn leaves that some diplomatic slave junkie has spent all morning making into a nice pile and jump straight into it in the sight of armed british DPG police officers all that happens is they laugh and some dude in a fluroecent jacket with a leaf blower curses at you.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 4:24 PM on December 4, 2014 [13 favorites]


Because of that other thread, I now have to read all this stuff in Stewart Lee's voice, and I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
posted by sneebler at 4:29 PM on December 4, 2014


I lived in London for a few months and remember passing through this area on my runs a few times. Sure, it's a very wealthy person's area, but I don't remember it being so oppressive that armed guards were questioning us. Some of my running partners were even doing parkour off some of the bollards, if I remember correctly. I'd be interested in hearing any locals weigh in.
posted by Borborygmus at 4:30 PM on December 4, 2014


I was wondering why all the Guardian writers tend to frown in their head shots. Now I know why.
posted by Nevin at 4:40 PM on December 4, 2014


I don't remember it being so oppressive that armed guards were questioning us.

In fairness, you were running and your mates were doing running related stuff. It's easy to tell what you're doing. The journalist was walking slowly up and down the road, looking at the houses and bells in detail and making notes. Are you really surprised that she drew questions more than you did?
posted by Brockles at 5:06 PM on December 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


o_O
posted by Space Kitty at 5:08 PM on December 4, 2014


"Did you tell them what you are doing? It would be courteous to let them know. This is a private road."

If it really was a private road, couldn't security come over and throw her out? Besides the firearms, this part doesn't sound any different than the gated housing developments we have in the US.

Unless "private road" means something different in the UK.
posted by sideshow at 5:36 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


It is hard to think of another road in London protected in this way.

Is it? Really? Hint: begins with D.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 5:49 PM on December 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


this part doesn't sound any different than the gated housing developments we have in the US.

I think the difference is that private gated communities like this tend not to exist in the middle of major cities.

I think Park Avenue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan is full of a bunch of rich dumbasses who should be first in front of the firing squad, but poor schlubs like me are perfectly free to stroll there.

Even here in Los Angeles, which I think was the blueprint for American bourgeois security paranoia, the private communities are on the outskirts of town up in the hills where nobody really goes, anyway. And even most of those communities have streets that are technically open to the public, even though through traffic -- especially foot traffic -- is discouraged by any means necessary.
posted by Sara C. at 5:54 PM on December 4, 2014


whilst Tamara is appreciative of her blessed life

Whoops! Threw up a little in-- I mean, blessed my mouth a little there.
posted by Spatch at 5:55 PM on December 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


If it really was a private road, couldn't security come over and throw her out?

Yes but, that's the point. In the US, those guards would pull a Zimmerman, but a culture of extreme courtesy (by US standards) leads to the absurd conversation quoted by Doktor Zed.

And more:

"You shouldn't be walking down the road. The Crown Estate gives permission for people to walk but we can stop anyone from coming down here," a guard explains, so I leave.

Isn't that something? These are guards armed with assault rifles who don't even tell her point blank to leave. They just say they could, and so she does. The whole interaction just demonstrates the different mindsets, both on part of the guard and the reporter. Very interesting.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 6:00 PM on December 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


As a teenager driving around with friends at night because of nothing else to do, there were certain roads up into the hills where if you went there, a sheriff's department car would soon appear on your tail and follow you until you left.

I always figured they didn't have many cars on that duty and if you wanted to pull something you'd just give a couple of guys in a beater a few tens of bucks to drive around up there a few minutes before you and draw it off.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:03 PM on December 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


It is hard to think of another road in London protected in this way.

Is it? Really? Hint: begins with D.


Aargh! I'm dying here! Which one of these is it?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 6:54 PM on December 4, 2014


Aargh! I'm dying here! Which one of these is it?

'Nother hint: In the U.S., it would be Pennsylvania Avenue.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:30 PM on December 4, 2014


Is it? Really? Hint: begins with D.

The one you're thinking about isn't even comparable, you could not walk down it or even enter it, period. The traditional single policeman by the door is basically theatre for the cameras these days; the entrance to the road is fenced with iron and has a guardhouse.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:37 PM on December 4, 2014


I always figured they didn't have many cars on that duty and if you wanted to pull something you'd just give a couple of guys in a beater a few tens of bucks to drive around up there a few minutes before you and draw it off.

Here that technique has been used, and recently. Someone called in a fake shooting, which got both Sheriff Taylor and Barney roaring out there, and they just waltzed into the bank and took what they wanted, knowing they had plenty of time to get away.
posted by maxwelton at 8:16 PM on December 4, 2014


"Would you kindly" on the bells might be effective. A slave obeys after all.
posted by longbaugh at 12:50 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


What is particularly unusual about it as a private road is that it's not a cul-de-sac. Around a lot of the UK and Ireland, private roads are just a glorified version of shared driveways, so there' s little or no chance of passers-by being able to stroll around. But Kensington Palace Gardens is a very pleasant walk from Notting Hill Gate to Kensington High Street, and the occasional time I've gone through as a tourist there have always been plenty of other pedestrians enjoying the walk. I'm actually surprised they don't just keep everybody out.

I reckon the journalist is over-thinking it a bit about the security: I remember being taken aback the first time I went along the road, and then I saw the Israeli embassy and thought, "oh, right..." It would have fairly heavy security wherever in London it happened to be.
posted by Azara at 12:55 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


> If it really was a private road, couldn't security come over and throw her out? ...Unless "private road" means something different in the UK.
There are two types of private road. A private street is a privately maintained road to which the public has a right of way. If it falls into disrepair, the local authority has the right under the Highways Act to make it safe and charge residents for the work. And then there's a private road with no public right of way, that must be gated to through traffic once a year to keep its private status.
Even if there is no public right of way, it's not a crime just to be trespassing on it, though you could be sued or made subject to an injunction if you persisted. Security can ask her to leave but can only back it up with force "if it is necessary to prevent harm to others on the premises or to prevent damage to property.". Or if they ring their local cop shop and mumble something about terrorism.



posted by doiheartwentyone at 1:17 AM on December 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


Thanks, FelliniBlank and George_Spiggott! I just blanked on the name.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 1:50 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm not convinced 'kindly' is particularly outmoded, I had two emails using it yesterday and it still seems pretty commonly used to me.
posted by biffa at 2:01 AM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


'for all collections and deliveries please press the housekeeper's button only'

All other buttons release the hounds.
posted by Segundus at 3:05 AM on December 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


...Unless "private road" means something different in the UK.

As doiheartwentyone elaborated, good grief, does it ever. The whole concept of "right of way" is complicated if not downright contentious.

What the Guardian's reporter was doing in London is in the tradition of the "right to roam", with the urban landscape substituted for the typical rural one.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:53 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm not convinced 'kindly' is particularly outmoded, I had two emails using it yesterday and it still seems pretty commonly used to me.

As in "would you kindly?" I'd be a bit cautious if I were you...
posted by effbot at 5:27 AM on December 5, 2014


Related (also s/l Guardian article): George Monbiot in the paper two days ago: We are starting to learn who owns Britain:
The Westminster government claims to champion an entrepreneurial society of wealth creators and hardworking families, but the real rewards and incentives are for rent. The power and majesty of the state protects the patrimonial class. A looped and windowed democratic cloak barely covers the corrupt old body of the nation. Here peaceful protesters can still be arrested under the 1361 Justices of the Peace Act. Here the Royal Mines Act 1424 gives the crown the right to all the gold and silver in Scotland. Here the Remembrancer of the City of London sits behind the Speaker’s chair in the House of Commons to protect the entitlements of a corporation that pre-dates the Norman conquest. This is an essentially feudal nation.

It’s no coincidence that the two most regressive forms of taxation in the UK – council tax banding and the payment of farm subsidies – both favour major owners of property. The capping of council tax bands ensures that the owners of £100m flats in London pay less than the owners of £200,000 houses in Blackburn. Farm subsidies, which remain limitless as a result of the Westminster government’s lobbying, ensure that every household in Britain hands £245 a year to the richest people in the land. The single farm payment system, under which landowners are paid by the hectare, is a reinstatement of a medieval levy called feudal aid, a tax the vassals had to pay to their lords.
posted by Sonny Jim at 5:29 AM on December 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


One was a 'colleagues kindly stepping in' which I guess is not the same thing we are talking about, the other was 'we kindly ask you to decide', which I think is the same usage being described in the article.
posted by biffa at 6:15 AM on December 5, 2014


'Kindly' as an adjective is either genuine or passive-aggressive, depending on context. 'Kindly' as an imperative is plain rude, to me.

"Please do not..." - polite request to refrain
"Kindly do not..." - fuck you, stop it

it's basically bless your heart
posted by corvine at 7:16 AM on December 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


("would you kindly" was a reference to the famous plot element in the game Bioshock.)
posted by effbot at 8:10 AM on December 5, 2014


Did anyone else read this and have the takeaway 'wow, the finns are fucking awesome'?

Because I did.
Huhtaniemi moved here from his relatively modest 150sq m apartment on the outskirts of Helsinki in 2010. He likes to keep the vast building full of visiting jazz musicians and students and artists, and feels a responsibility to ensure that it is used to the maximum as a working space. He and his wife have a flat at the top of the house (which seems enormous but which he describes as the smallest on the street). Despite appreciating this is a remarkable building, he lists a number of disadvantages of living on London's most expensive street.
Any Finns want to weigh in? Is this surprising or unsurprising behavior?
posted by el io at 8:26 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Kindly do not..." - fuck you, stop it

Add this along with "It would be courteous to" to the translation crib for standard British polite phrases, such as "With the greatest respect", "I'm sure it's my fault", and "I only have a few minor comments".
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:55 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Did anyone else read this and have the takeaway 'wow, the finns are fucking awesome'?

Not only was he the only person apparently willing to even talk to her, he was like HEY COME OVER FOR BREAKFAST IT'LL BE RAD, I'm so delighted.

less delighted by "herring breakfast" but whatevs
posted by poffin boffin at 12:46 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


'Kindly' as an adjective is either genuine or passive-aggressive, depending on context. 'Kindly' as an imperative is plain rude, to me.

I'm reminded of the bit in "Yes, Minister", where Bernard explains the humorous in-joke expansions of the top Civil Service Honours:

CMG: "Call Me God"
KCMG: "Kindly Call Me God"
GCMG: "God Calls Me God"

Add this along with "It would be courteous to" to the translation crib for standard British polite phrases, such as "With the greatest respect", "I'm sure it's my fault", and "I only have a few minor comments".

The list is unattributed but it strongly resembles things Antony Jay (also a "Yes, Minister" co-creator) has written on the subject.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:59 PM on December 5, 2014


In fact the one about "that is a very brave proposal" occurs in so many words in an episode of "Yes, Minister":
If you want to be really sure that the minister doesn't accept it, you must say that the decision is courageous. "Contraversial" just means it will cost him votes. "Courageous" means it will cost him the election."
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:07 PM on December 5, 2014


Any Finns want to weigh in? Is this surprising or unsurprising behavior?

Reading this, feeling a bit more patriotic than usual, I thought "Ooh, I'm a Finn. I am Fully Qualified to weigh in. How nice."
Aaaand the I realized I don't really understand what you're asking. Pekka Huhtaniemi comes across as a reasonable person, doing his job. Is that unusual for an ambassador?
I'm not really familiar with any Finnish diplomats because a) I haven't taken an interest and b) none of them have cocked up so royally as to warrant any headlines. I assume them to be reasonably reasonable people.
So, in conclusion, as a (possibly slightly dense and definitely uninformed-on-ambassadors) Finn, I must declare Mr.Huhtaniemi's behavior unsurprising. My dog agrees, my cats don't care.
Thank you for your time.
posted by haapsane at 3:09 PM on December 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


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