...of Julia McMenemy, Guest Relations Officer.
One of the many great things about being the Guest Relations Officer at the Royal Over-Seas League is the public nature of my position. As one of the more visible members of the ROSL team, I’ve gotten to know many of you very well in the year or so I have been at the club, and it is often the catch-ups and pleasantries I exchange with members that that form the highlight of my day.
For those of you who do not know me, you may well find yourselves wondering what exactly a Guest Relations Officer does. The short answer is: a lot! In any one day I may find myself dealing with membership inquiries, selling items from the ROSL shop, answering phones, or even booking theatre tickets. However, my favourite part of the job are the show-arounds of the London clubhouse I conduct with new and prospective members alike.
Those of you who frequent the clubhouse may well have seen me doing one of these tours. I usually start in the Central Lounge and proceed to work my way through all of the club’s function rooms and dining facilities before doing a ‘grand reveal’ of the Drawing Room at the very end. It’s always a delight seeing jaws drop as the grandeur and beauty of the room hits prospective members for the first time.
As a former history student, the great joy about working in a building with as much history as Over-Seas House is the many quirks and eccentricities to be found in every corner. A favourite story of mine is how the Duke of York Bar got its name. Without giving too much away, it involves a scandal in Georgian England and an untimely death!
Show-arounds are also particularly fun when prospective members are able to tell me something about the clubhouse I don’t already know. Once, whilst walking around the Hall of India and Pakistan with a couple considering membership, I was taken aback when they suddenly exclaimed that they recognised the name of one of the room’s benefactors listed on the wall.
The Nizam of Hyderabad, whose name features at the very top of the list, was once the richest man in the world. Every year on his birthday, they told me, he would weigh himself, buy his weight in diamonds, and then subsequently distribute the diamonds to the inhabitants of Hyderabad as gifts. With wealth like that it is little wonder he could afford to contribute towards the construction of such a magnificent room!