Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jo-Jo and the Chambermaid

In 1910 it seems that a husband was legally responsible for the slanderous words uttered by his wife, which is why Mr J found himself as a defendant in a slander case brought at Glamorgan Assizes by a former employee of his Llandrindod hotel.

The plaintiff, 25 year old Miss L, owed her French surname not to Paris but to her Jersey born father. Infact she was from Brynmelin in Swansea. Mary, the hotel management insisted on calling her Edith, had something of a chequered past, having been dismissed from previous posts for dishonesty. Still Mr J, a prominent Liberal politician in the county, had given the girl a second chance, although, no doubt, his wife kept a watchful eye on the new recruit.

One permanent resident of the hotel was the talented Mr B. He had previously been engaged to Mr J's daughter but she had tragically died. A favourite of the maids who christened him Jo-Jo, the young but sickly Mr B was manager of the town's Electric Light Company and chairman of its Steam Laundry Company.

One evening Mrs J suspected that Mr B was entertaining Miss L in his room and barged in, conducting a search by looking under the bed and in the wardrobe. Finding nothing Mrs J went to look for Miss L, only to catch a glimpse of the errant maid leaving the room she had just examined. Accusations were levelled and the maid dismissed from her employment. This it was that led the blameless Mr J and his accusatory spouse to be sat in Cardiff while the hotel's dirty washing was displayed before a courtroom audience populated, the papers sniggered, by a large number of ministers of religion.

Yes, said one witness, a couple of the maids at the hotel, let's call it Hill Breeze, did spend time in guests' rooms of an evening. Maggie and Hetty and Polly gave evidence that favoured their mistress, while Miss L's employment history was dissected by the hotel owners' counsel, the MP for Carmarthenshire East and the MP for Anglesey - I did mention that Mr J was a prominent local Liberal. Mind you the maid (a labourer's daughter, so hardly wealthy) was represented by a KC. It makes one think that there may have been some political skulduggery afoot.

Indeed it was the maid's counsel who won the day, producing a medical certificate which confirmed that Miss L was ........ well the newspapers didn't spell it out. In the light of this revelation Mrs J was forced to concede that her suspicions must have been ill-founded. Verdict £100 and costs to the plaintiff.


Anonymous said...

Do I detect the basis of a forth coming Llandod costume drama?

radnorian said...

Of course Llandod is something of a costume drama as it is.

I've always thought, well for the last 5 minutes anyway, that it would be a good setting for an Agatha Christie story ... Miss Marple at the Manor Nursing Home perhaps or Captain Hastings pranging his Hispano-Suiza and getting it fixed at one of the town's art deco garages.

.communist said...

I thought Jo-Jo was a loner from Tuscon, Arizona who knew it couldn't last?

Do I get minus ten points for that like Alan Davies on QI?

radnorian said...

Now if you'd told us something interesting - that the billiard room marker at the Glen Usk Hotel in the 1911 census was called Max Keiser for example then you might have qualified for a free pork pie but as it is, yes, minus 10 points