Friday 26 December 2008

Have you ever been one or have you ever hired one?

I hope everyone had a good Holiday. I'm still in festive mode. Over the next week, while I spend some time with family, I will repost some of my earlier Lilly's Life experiences. Pour yourself a drink and enjoy.

I read that Robin Williams divorced his.

And that Ethan Hawke had a baby with his.

Then we all know that Jude Law slept with his.

And apparently Bruce Willis & Demi Moore had four at once.

Remember Maxwell Sheffield finally relented and married his.

No, I don't have any proof that Eliot Spitzer did that with his.

Although I do know Matt Lattanzi left Olivia Newton John for theirs.

And Michael Jackson has definitely taken up with his.

Poor Madonna & Victoria Beckham had to stop theirs from telling all.

Then there was was Britney Spears who got nude in front of hers.

And even I was someones just for a while.
What am I talking about?

NANNIES of course.
Most celebrities have at least three nannies per child - one for weekdays, one for weeknights and a third for weekends and trips.

I was a Nanny in London many years ago. I wanted the job so that I could save some money to travel. It paid well and you were able to 'live in' for free. I had no previous experience with children but this was in the days when you didn't need any qualifications. You just had to say you liked children.

I applied for a job at Nannies of Kensington and was offered a position with a Lebanese millionaire and his wife. They lived in Prince Consort Lane near the Royal Albert Hall in the most luxurious apartments I had ever laid eyes on. Gold, marble, ornate and spacious.

I remember my interview with the family as if it was yesterday. I pressed the door bell and the door slowly opened. I looked down a long marble corridor and there was a man wearing an ornate purple caftan standing at the end of the hall. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or run at that point. It was such a long walk and he stood there watching my every step.

He was the Master and his wife, who appeared some time later, was the Madame.

This was what I had to call them. Master and Madame.

Madame was at least 20 years younger than the Master. Beautiful. From top to toe.

They had four children, three boys and a girl. They ranged in ages from four to eleven.

With every child the Master presented Madame with a new fur coat and diamonds. Something she took great delight in telling me over and over again.

There were body guards, cooks, housekeepers and drivers.

I was the fourth nanny in so many weeks, the children told me with wicked grins on their faces. And I still remember those gorgeous faces.

The children were only allowed to see their parents once per day at 7pm (to say goodnight). They would literally meet in the middle in an adjoining living area between the parents' and childrens' apartments. They ate separately.

I am not sure what the Master did for a living as this was not a subject discussed with the live in help. It was however 'something' that required bodyguards for all his family. If I took the children out we were always accompanied by a bodyguard and a driver.

The Madame shopped on a full time basis. I remember she came home crying one day because her skirts were apparently the wrong length. She made her full time seamstress immediately start adjusting all the clothes in her substantial wardrobe.

Being the Nanny did not entail much other than supervising homework and meals, playing some indoor games, taking the children to the dentist and doctor and carrying out special assignments requested by their mother. For instance, I was asked to keep an eye on the ten year old girl and question her about who she was mixing with at school and report back. She also had to be kept away from her brothers as much as possible. I took the children on outings but not to the usual children's haunts. The children were not allowed to associate with other children outside school hours so we often took them to Harrods Department store to buy them whatever toys they wanted. Money was never an object. They would spend hours there. Playing among the if it was an adventure park. A scene that drew many raised eyebrows from other shoppers.

The Nigerian cook and I were often alone in the house for at least and hour or two during the day. The Master and Madame had bought her to the UK under the guise of sending her to school. She was made to work for her keep but was desperate to escape. Except, the Master had her passport. We tried to contact a missionary she knew who lived in Scotland but we had no luck.

We did have fun together though. We would go into the Master and Madame's apartment and try on Madame’s fur coats and eat caviar. It was all cloak and dagger fun but we always feared getting caught. They had the biggest custom made bed I have ever seen in my life – it was large enough for the inhabitants of a small nation to sleep in. It was the kind of luxury that I do not ever think I will see again. Nor would I want to.

Unfortunately 'the fun' ended when it became apparent that I was in a 'strange kind of set up' where you really were a servant and on call all the time. There was no time on your own and there was always someone watching. More importantly, the Master kept demanding me to give him my passport and I kept making excuses. He said he needed to take the children to France and I would need to come with them. He started to give me money on the quiet ‘for doing a good job with the children’. Then one night I woke up with a start to find him standing over my bed. He didn't say anything but was just staring at me. Even a young naive me knew it was time to fly the gilded cage. Quickly.

I literally waited for a moment when no-one was round. I grabbed my suitcase and ran. I always felt a little guilt that I had to leave the cook behind. She wouldn't come with me as she had a bigger fear that she would be sent back to Nigeria.

We all live such different and often bizarre lives. For all the money in the world though who would want a life where you are meeting your children in the same room for 20 minutes every day? Give me the cook and the cleaner but you can keep the Nanny (not literally as some celebrities have done).

I wonder what happened to those children....and how many nannies came after me. I, myself, went on to stickier pursuits, selling ice creams at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre.... but that's a whole other story.


  1. Wow! That was some experience being a nanny. Hmmmm I had four nannies and now it's very hard to find a good one now.

    I love how you started with the this and that thing kinda entices to read on and find out what it and that is :)

  2. compelling reading...

    Right now I am wondering how horrible it makes me to think perhaps that 20mins at 7pm and shopping all day is a pretty sweet deal?

  3. @earthlingorgeous - it was an experience - have had lots of bizarre experiences come to think about it - you will read about them here in due course. Thanks for dropping by.

    @ Kelley - not horrible at all. The thought is appealing until you have to do it day in day out. Whatever it is. A day a week would be ok though, limitless budget.....of course.

  4. your story got me hooked and I read it till the end.. you've go quite an interesting experience..your smart in not giving your passport and getting out of the house, it must have been scary.:)

    by the way, came through link referral.

  5. What A READ! You have lived some life Lilly. I was blown away reading this story. You could write a book about your adventures. It is compelling reading and very well written....AND I am so glad, with all my heart, that you DIDN'T give the "master" your passport...thank God...AND that you knew to get out of there. Have you ever thought of writing a book? Seriously. Thinking of you lots. Robin

  6. I was thinking what rainforestrobin said. Great writing, I usually don't read long posts until the end, but I was captivated.

  7. Thanks for visiting ladies (lalaine, rainforest robin and gigibelts)

    Not sure I could write a book but I have had a lot of strange experiences in my life. I guess thats what living is all about. The Nanny one was strange and a bit scary at the time but funny on reflection. Thanks for the feedback and please visit again.

  8. what an interesting experience I agree how sad for those children.
    I would never have a nanny .
    You have me intrigued I have lived such a sheltered life.LOL

  9. Wow. That story had me hooked. What an interesting but somewhat creepy experience. It's amazing how different the extremely wealthy live. Seems to me they miss out a lot on the important things in life. I cannot understand only letting your own children see you once a day for 20 minutes. Why bother having children at all?

    How long did you work there? You could probably write a book on that one job alone. It would make a very compelling story.

  10. Hi Michelle, I stayed there for nearly six months and saw all I needed to see. I think wealth just brings complications and a normal family life is difficult to have when you have so many staff. There were so many other things too. One day, who knows I may write it all down. I was too scary though in the end. It was the end of my nannying too.

  11. Wow what a great story, in that you are a great story teller. The story is kind of sad in a way. Glad you made it out safely!
    Keep up the good writing!

  12. Ah, you are such a delight! I love your tales! They're fun, interesting, entertaining and gives me a wonderful look at who you are! Hope you've had a great holiday! Things are okay here although the lousy weather kept my son and daughter from coming for Christmas! My son, Adam, had planned such a fun holiday and the weather messed that up royally. Now we're aiming for Mother's Day! Great! except damnit, that's over five months away! Ah, well, whatever! Hope you had a great holiday! Thanks for the late night fun! And happy holidays!

  13. Wow! That sounds like something out of a novel! But, really, who could make that kind of stuff up? Sooo glad you kept your passport and knew when it was time to get out of there!

  14. Ewwww... he was standing over you??? So glad you got out of there!!!

    Maybe you should google the Cooks name...
    Great story.

  15. That is so sad with the cook. I feel so bad for her. I know stuff like that happens since you hear about it all the time on the news.

    Great story, but deeply sad.

  16. I can see why that book you are writing is going to sell like hotcakes. What a life you're having! Merry Christmas!

  17. Why is so much of this familiar to me? :)

    No I wasn't a nanny but my friend in London was and we'd meet at coffee shops and she'd dish all the latest. I went to an apartment in Regents Park with her once; I can't even describe it. Strange lives...

  18. Lilly,

    I have many terrible stories of people who went to work in the Middle East, and had their passports taken away and kept with the employers. I am just so glad you left when you did.

    And the less said about 20 minutes at 7 p.m the better. I only hope that the parents dont end up getting similar time from their children when they themselves are 60 or 70.

    I cant wait to hear the ice-cream stories now.....

  19. Great post! You have made some experience! You really should write a book!

  20. Lilly, I think nannies would have some fabulous stories about how the other half lives. I have also heard of young females who get their passports taken and that is the end of them. Glad you got out but it must have been an experience when you were younger. I wonder whatever became of that family and those children. I cannot imagine they would ever have been able to keep a nanny either. I enjoyed this post very much.

  21. Hi Lily,
    What a rivetting post and what an interesting and exciting life ! My only'adventure' is a hitch-hiking story and it pales by comparison.
    Love to Des. I hope Father Christmas fulfilled all his wishes !

  22. Terrific story, Lilly -- riveting!

  23. what strange lives some people lead... I have to ask, hours in a toy store... what were YOU doing to kill time while those kids ran amok?

  24. OMG! That is an incredible story. You are lucky to get out when you did!!!

  25. Wow! What a story! I just can't imagine seeing your children once a day for a few minutes. Why on earth did those people even have children? I'd love to know what happened to those kids, but I'm guessing they are probably living proof that money does not buy happiness.

    Great story, Lilly!

  26. what a sad lonely life huh? I wonder deep down if that wife was really truly happy. it sounds more like power and control than anything and people were puppets. I cant imagine a Mother not longing to see her children more. Can you imagine shopping all the time???? I mean how much MORE does one need or want? I wonder what would have happenned had you kicked him in his royal balls when you found him at your bed?

  27. What a fascinating story! More, more more!

  28. what a story, Lilly, and fraught with some danger too! It's amazing, the lives of some people.

  29. Wow! Oh. My. God!!! That's like a strange movie!!

  30. Sounds like there'a a book in there waiting to be written. I'm not sure if I'm glad my life is boring or not now...

  31. Hi Lilly! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas
    OOOH, your story sounds a bit scarey! I can't imagine folks living like that and I'm so glad you fled! I love your stories!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  32. What an amazing story...It was quite an adventure but I think you got out just in time! I can't imagine why people like that even bother to have kids. I babysitter now and then ...but I wouldnever want a a housekeeper is a whole other of those I'd LOVE!!!!

  33. You've had such adventures!!! You need to write a book!!

    I'm not jealous, just really happy for you and happy that your share your stories with us!!

    I've missed you!

  34. Thanks for your comments. Autralians tend to travel from a young age I guess because we are stuck on this big island far away from other countries. This story was about one of my first overseas adventures and it was truly an adventure. I guess when the guy said to call him Master it should have been a big red flag waving in my face. As a girl from the country I was oblivious to the obvious dangers it seems. Anyway I lived to tell this and other stories from that first trip. As for the question about what I did when the kids were playing with toys I stood around and looked embarassed...and pretended I wasnt really with them. It was bizarre to say the least...

  35. What an amazing experience! When I graduated from high school, I thought I might like to try being a Nanny, but never got up the nerve to actually do it. It seems like a very demanding job.
    I am so glad you got out of there safely, though. What a freaky experience.

  36. I worked as a maid for American families in the Philippines. I guess it's different from being a nanny to the very wealthy people. I did all the housework and also the care of the children while the lady bosses went shopping, to the salon, or when they went to play bingo or bridge games.

    I'm glad you got out of that place before your Master took advantage of you.

    Happy New Year!

  37. You know, people are always thinking about what they lack, and how nice it would be to have everything.
    Seems what's most important is missed by your eyes as it passes by each day.
    Indeed, love family and friends are what count the most. Holidays are a reminder of that for me.

    Lilly, it's a good thing you DID wake up that night. Maybe it was a gentle nudge from above.

  38. Hello Sitsa! How are you doing today? I hope you had a great Christmas :)


  39. What an eye opener to how other people live. About half my life time ago I was a nanny to a wealthy Jewish family. As part of the deal I had to dress in a Laura Ashley pinafore all the time. Obviously they had a need for me to look the part.

  40. Those poor children. Prisoners in a castle. And good for you for getting out, Lilly. I have a chill after reading about your experience.

  41. Ha - you reminded me of my experience as a "nanny" for an old lady with dementia. I lived in the attic apartment of her mansion on Summit Avenue in St. Paul MN during my college years. Oh, good times. Hope you had a great and wonderful Christmas.

  42. Unbelievable!!!

    You were living out the Lebanese version of The Sound of Music!

    I guess I understand why men get all weird with massive affluence...what where do those WOMEN come from?

    I'm sure you read the Nanny Diaries.

    GREAT POST!!!!

  43. That is so bazaar!!! and sad for the children! Why do they even have kids?

  44. That story was riveting. I think the way you introduced it was unique! With that hook, the rest of your story was good! Wow, quite an interesting tale about your life.

  45. That was one of the most interesting posts I have read in a long time. What an experience you had at this place as a nanny! I think life experiences are wonderful and something to look back on in our old age. The children were poor even though the family was rich. They did not know the love and attention of a mother and father.

  46. It sounds like The Sound of Music meets Flowers in the Attic!

    It's a good thing you knew about your Nigerian friend's struggles to get her passport back! Otherwise, you may have innocently handed it over!

    Do you have a Follow Me button? I keep missing your posts! :(

  47. Hey Lilly

    Wow it sounds like quite the job! And the end upset me for you, I am so glad you got outta there!
    I can tell you with 100% surety that there is no way I would give up my time with my kids for any amount of money. I took a huge cut in pay to work from a home office so I could be here for my kids and be with them, so my answer is from experience.

  48. No amount of money can buy family happiness with those kinds of behaviours. Sick and sad.

    Glad you got out before anything bad happened. I wonder how many vulnerable people he took advantage of.

    Glad you are taking time out. I am combining blogging and cricket watching. Excellent.

  49. Wow....this is SUCH a clever blog. Maybe I need to become a nanny...

  50. That is some story Lilly! Good for you to have the sense to know to get out when you did.

    Hope you are having a happy holiday season and wishing you a fabulous 2009!

    Lori Lynn

  51. chanced upon your blog from Quackster's . really like your style :)

    love and greetings from India

  52. I am called Nanny, not grandma...! WINK...

    I think you GOT OUT...ESCAPED if you will, by the hardest, but in the knick of time, NO DOUBT !

    As humans, we are strange, strange lot, aren't we?

  53. OH MY STARS! That was SO interesting! My goodness your blog is fascinating!

    Oh - that is my amethyst pshmina I am wearing in the San Marco layout. ;)

  54. That is quite a story Lilly. You were wise not to get caught up in that prison of affluence.

    I have had enough contact with the very rich, to know that it takes a very special person to accumulate and live with extreme riches, without being or becoming essentially corrupt.

    Fantastic story.


  55. Hand's down, that was the most fascinating post that I've read today. Wow.


Thanks for your comments.