School to teach Jeeves a lesson

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ONE IS not entirely sure what Jeeves would have made of it. An arched eyebrow perhaps, or a short bout of discrete throat-clearing. Or perhaps, as the Lady Apsley School for Butlers yesterday showed off its first graduates, Jeeves might have ventured, in a moment of uncharacteristic indiscretion, that butlers are born and not made.

But Lady Apsley and her business partner, Michael Shaw, a former under- butler at Buckingham Palace, believe that while certain qualities are inborn, a whole range of skills can be taught - for pounds 3,000.

The first three graduates of the school yesterday served champagne at Lady Apsley's residence in the Cotswolds near Cirencester Park. David, 48, is a former lorry driver who now works as a chauffeur for an "extremely wealthy person" in the North-west; Robert, 51, trained waiters at a college in Stratford-upon-Avon; and Julian, 34, was a sales manager in a Cornish car dealers.

They have been taught how to buff up a pair of expensive leather shoes, how to lay a table for dinner and how to behave when they encounter the lady of the house in flagrante delicto.

David, who will return to his super rich employer with his new skills, relishes his work: "It's something that most people would only experience if they won the lottery," he said. Julian has a job as a butler in the United States and Robert is waiting for something to turn up.

Former comprehensive pupil Michael Shaw, who runs the school with Lady Apsley, says all kinds of people could become butlers. "We would even take on extroverts, provided they knew when to shut up."