Babysitting comes with great responsibility.

Lehman.  I can’t seem to escape the constant harking on the significance of the failure of Lehman. There is even a play about the Lehman Brothers running at the National.  It was unpredictable; get over it.  Still I am really quite glad of the diversion provided by Prinz Beyonce who we (or at least Thomas) are babysitting.

You may recall that we met Beyonce’s parents, Prinz Charlz and Queenisha, when I had my unfortunate accident with a kitchen knife and ended up in the local hospital.  Prinz had suffered a similar wound. His however had come from a contretemps with his main business rivals, the Sydneham Crew.

Since then Thomas, Queenisha and Beyonce had started having regular tea dates while Prinz Charlz was otherwise engaged with building his growing business empire.  Two-year old Beyonce turned out to be a technical genius and helped Thomas work out how to get onto Sky Sports. So they spent a lot of the time following Tiger Wood’s futile attempts to make a comeback. He had been a big hero for Queenisha, who had worked hard to forgive his transgressions.

Then it all went bad for Prinz. He had, Queenisha explained, over-invested in the cigarette transport business: his main customers had either returned to East Europe given the Brexit farrago or taken to vaping. The warehouses of cartons were all financed with hot money from Russia.

On top of this Queenisha discovered he was very active online playing the stock market with ever more elaborate strategies. He had a huge following from other investors on social media, posting pictures of high-end cars, private jets and such like that he claimed he could afford due to his investing prowess.  He was a social media poster boy for poor-boy-made-good.

In reality he had been accumulating loses which he hid under different accounts or just avoided crystalising.  His situation finally became untenable when his shorting of Tesla stock collapsed, after Elon Musk tweeted that he had a buyer to go private.

The first thing Queenisha knew of all this, was when the bailiffs turned up at 6:00am on a balmy Monday morning last month. At least they left the stroller and cot, but the 55” Samsung smart TV, Nespresso machine and much else was summarily removed. She can’t afford her apartment anymore and Prinz has disappeared with their car to avoid the loan sharks. She is also keen for a change of address as she fears they may come after her too.

So while Queenisha is out searching for a new flat, we have Beyonce. She is the most darling little girl and quite the star with the other residents of our retirement complex. She has been getting their smart TVs to work and showing them how to use the iPads, gifted to them by their hopeful offspring.

Beyonce has also shown a remarkable talent for online card games. She and Thomas have developed a whole new strategy for poker, which they call “upending the pre-flop”. I have no idea what that means but they have become famed “cash game grinders”. The way they are going, Queenisha could get her smart TV and Nespresso machine back in no time.

Ettie Kett
Ms Ettie Kett provides advice on modern manners. Please send your requests for advice to

Dear Ettie

When ever I draw attention to social inequality I am accused of being chippy by wealthier friends and colleagues. What do they mean? Am I guilty of being bad mannered?
Bemused of Balham

Dear Bemused

Thank you for your letter. The origin of “a chip on the shoulder” which gives rise to the word “chippy” lies in the US in the 19th century. Young men itching for a fight would place wood chips on their shoulders for potential adversaries to knock off. Chipiness is linked to hostility and envy and is almost always used by the privileged toward those lower on the social scale.

It seems to me, that the accusation of chipiness is being used to silence you. Your friends and colleagues sound tedious and snooty. Make some new ones.

Yours sincerely

Ms Ettie Kett

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