So Trump’s valet has tested positive for coronavirus. Wait, the president has a valet?
He has five, in fact, to see to his every need. It all sounds a bit Jeeves and Wooster
Team work: Donald Trump has five valets, one of whom has tested postive for Covid-19. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty
News broke this week that Covid-19 has infiltrated the White House itself. Given the current state of the world, that’s not so surprising, but what was news – to me at least – was that one of those who tested positive for coronavirus was “one of President Trump’s personal valets”. That’s right. One of a team of valets. A team of five, in fact. Two “office valets” and three “residence valets”.
I thought the only valets in business these days were the chaps at the garage who clean your car. Or the few who still attend members of royalty who prefer not to have to squeeze their own toothpaste on to their toothbrush, as was the infamous task of a valet attending Prince Charles.
The dictionary definition of a valet is a “male servant who attends a gentleman’s clothes, dressing, grooming etc”. It’s the language of PG Wodehouse – of Jeeves and Bertie Wooster – and of Downton Abbey. A servant, one would think, whether male or female, surely belongs to a bygone lexicon.
But apparently not: it turns out that president Trump has five servants. (Trivia question: if you have five servants, does this make you a gentleman five times over?) So what do they do? These former military men are, presumably, as adept at handling a shotgun as a shoehorn. They bring the president his food and drinks, and will thus be well acquainted with the menu from McDonald’s. They really do shine his shoes. They work in rotation, so one is always nearby in case the president needs a Diet Coke, or a comb, or a phone charger, ensuring his Twitter account is always fired up.
The valets deliver the daily newspapers the president enjoys so much to read. They do his laundry. His ironing. Lay out his clothes. They travel with him when he travels. They reportedly haven’t been wearing masks so far, as the president doesn’t like to wear one himself, but that is likely to change now that one of the five has tested positive.
We don’t know the names of any of these valets, but given their access to the American president, and the personal nature of their duties, they must see a lot of extremely interesting things. We’ve had all sorts of memoirs coming out of the White House during the Trump presidency from those working in the West Wing. The one I’m most looking forward to is What the Valet Saw.