Tales From The Pantry: A Butler's Diary

From the pantry of an historic country house comes the ongoing diary of its butler, Mr Dean Fielding. I shall be giving you a glimpse of the family I serve and of the lives both 'Below Stairs' and 'Above'. I hope you follow my jottings daily.

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Location: United Kingdom

Have been butler here for over 15 years. Having previously, and unusually for these days, worked my way up from footman to under-butler to my current post. You can now follow me on Twitter via: http://www.twitter.com/butlerfielding

Saturday, April 01, 2006

'Above Stairs': The Family

I must apologise in advance, in the old days of service, it was quite conceivable that a butler from Something Castle might leave his post tempted by a better offer (possibly even the ultimate appointment, "Steward" at one of this nation's large country houses) from Thingummy Towers. Many in service moved about a bit. I never really have. I started at Carstone from a rather young age and have worked my way up the ranks to my current position. As such, I have a certain affection for the place, its traditions, and the family whose ancestral home this is. Perhaps I will sometimes portray them sympathetically (even fondly) when a more objective soul would pass criticism. I am biased, I am a "Carstone man", and am rather proud of it.

My Master is a man easy to admire. Sir Geoffrey Carstone is a British gentleman from the old school. His age hovers around the 56 mark. I am not always certain that the 21st century suits him very well. In fact, I think he also frowned a bit at the 20th century. Even the 19th might have received a stern glare from him. He is very old fashioned in taste, and has a distrust of modern gadgets. He is a very popular man however in the neighbourhood, and he is seen as a friendly philanthropist. He is certainly generous and amiable. He takes an interest in all estate matters, and claims that only by 'being useful' will he avoid that damning verdict that society sometimes passes on members of the old aristocracy these days: 'obsolete'.

My Master's wife, Elizabeth, Lady Carstone is, in some ways, the direct opposite of her husband. She thrives on modern technology and certain aspects of modernity. She certainly knows her way around a computer, and if anybody is going to discover this blog and blow the gaff, then it will be her. She is about four years younger than My Master (I blush to mention a lady's age) and has a keen interest in the arts, both older and (to the shudder of Sir Geoffrey) modern. Artists often find their way to Carstone for 'cultural evenings' at which Lady Carstone excels, and My Master tries to avoid like the plague.

This strange, but ultimately successful union between two such diverse characters, has produced the following issue: (They all visit Carstone regularly. Sometimes My Master is pleased about this, other times he is not.)

Mr Miles Carstone The next baronet, and heir to Carstone. Tall, thin, and with rather eccentric ideas about life. Again, I do not wish to pass judgement, and nothing surprises me, but, I must say I am surprised by many of the things that Mr Miles does. He celebrated his 31st birthday last year but we are still waiting for his youthful impulses to lessen. His circle of friends are artistic and poetical, and Mr Miles himself has dabbled in verse. He is currently attempting to make a success of a career as a portrait artist, with so far mixed results.

Mr Thomas Carstone is only a year younger than his brother and (if I may be allowed to give an opinion on this rather sensitive matter) would have made a far more stable heir to Carstone. He has a passion for history, the law (for that is his profession), and politics. Tall, and athletic in build, he is a fine cricketer (and wonderful to talk to on the subject) He has also many times extracted his elder brother from various scrapes. If the family ever has a crisis, then Mr Thomas is immediately called for.

Miss Gemma Carstone Well, I shall start by praising her for her lively mind, spellbinding beauty, and puckish sense of humour. A moment is never dull when Miss Gemma is around. Her brother Thomas tries to be a stabling influence on her, but she is wilful and spirited and listens only to her heart. If anything, she has a wilder circle of friends than Mr Miles, and these have caused great concern to Sir Geoffery and Lady Carstone. She is unmarried but not for the want of suitors. She can be as unpredictable as her eldest brother. Perhaps age, or the wise guidance of Mr Thomas, will temper their excesses soon. Since I have seen all of the younger Carstone clan grow up from the Nursery I am very fond of all of them.


Anonymous Augustine Mulliner said...

Is your master a baronet??? If there is one thing life (and the perusal of the works of PG Wodehouse) teaches us, it is that Baronets Are Bad! Watch out, Fielding, is my advice.

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Blogger jude said...

I believe it to be simply charming that you are a Wodehouse-perusing butler in the flesh.
May many a good sherry come your way!

7:34 pm  
Blogger Mr Fielding said...

Yes, Mulliner, my master is indeed a baronet. He had always been a most excellent employer but I shall heed your warning, perhaps, one day, he might turn rotten!

Thank you Jude. I shall be updating my diay later today. I have simply been rushed off my feet since the family arrived back from London.

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