For his entire career, he looked after others and kept other people's households running smoothly. He never had the time to start up his own home, what with the demands on his time. So involved was he in the lives of his clients that he never took the time to create his own life.
At the age of 85, Mr. Gray has outlived his relatives, or at least those he might have kept in touch with. Now living on his old age pension in London, he is quite thoroughly alone.
Surely, Mr. Gray thought, there are others just like him. Others who went into service when that was the best job an Irish immigrant could find, others who threw thremselves into their work and lost the links to those they left behind. To find them, Mr. Gray took out adverts in London newspapers, seeking the solitary who would rather not spend another Christmas alone.
|Mr. Gray's advert|
Until the newspapers and the BBC picked up his query, he received one reply, and that from a person who had someplace else to go and would not be joining him after all.
He is willing to prepare a nice Christmas lunch for any guest who would like to share a holiday meal with someone like themselves, someone who is alone and in need of a bit of company on a holiday that is all about family and friends getting together. Given his experience as a butler, it's a reasonable assumption that Mr. Gray could prepare a respectable repast. It's also possible that he has a lifetime's worth of stories to share, a trove of juicy gossip from below stairs. No names will be named, of course. A good butler keeps secrets.
It would be grand if a few other singles could take up his offer of gathering at the hotel in Sutton, to offer each other a bit of companionship for a few hours of the day.
The Irish Post, London's voice of the Irish, is accepting Christmas cards and will send them along to Mr. Gray, who hasn't received a card in ages.