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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Name:
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

Sunday, July 30, 2006

In Praise of the Pince-Nez

Woke at 6.45am to begin another day. Climbed out of bed and stubbed my toe on the Chamber Pot; they are not used anymore, I assure you, but Sir Geoffrey Carstone is so in love with tradition that he insists each room has one; one of his little quirks, perhaps. Then, while shaving, I spotted in the mirror ANOTHER small part of the wall that I had missed while re-decorating last week. That really is intolerable. I have no idea why my attention was wandering so badly. I am usually so thorough. Perhaps it was the thought of Lady Blanche's arrival.

Things got no better as the day wore on. I popped a cufflink on the floor of the Dining Room, and as I was rummaging around on all fours looking for it, Sir Geoffrey came in, and presumed that I had lost a contact-lens. He proceeded to give me a ten minute lecture on the evils of the contact lens. I did not like to halt him when in full flow, so I listened politely, hoping to learn something. The contact lens, according to him, was to blame for much of the problems in the world today. He had been bullied, a few years ago, by Lady Carstone into trying contacts because he kept misplacing his spectacles. The experience appears to have been an unpleasant one for the noble baronet. He is much happier with the older method. He is extremely fond of the pince-nez. That may seem rather old fashioned to some, but that is exactly how Sir Geoffrey likes it. He spoke for another ten minutes on the merits of the pince-nez, and seemed to put its invention right up there with the telephone. I assurred him that I would never wear contact lenses again. In fact, I have NEVER worn contact lenses. I have a pair of reading glasses, but that is it. Finally found cufflink under a side-table.

Problems in the Servant's Hall. Wendy in tears. Probably love trouble. She was being comforted by Mrs Berry. The sobs were really rather wracking. The old Jacobean beams were shaking. The two footmen were standing around looking worried but slightly uncomfortable. I overheard one of them say to the other: "She will be okay after a Mrs Berry special in Pug's Parlour." Mrs Berry is indeed a wonderful person to talk to. She is the one that most rush to when in need of advice or simply a friendly ear. I am sure that is exactly what Wendy needs. However, I do frown at the term 'Pug's Parlour'. I know, traditionally, the lower servants in many large British houses have referred to the Housekeeper's Room in this way, but I have never liked it.

Having problems with the Tradesmen's Entrance door. It may need a new lock. Couldn't open it properly this morning. We all had to enter and exit via the Housekeeper's Scullery Door. Very inconvenient.

One person who seemed very happy today was Mr Barton. The rain has improved his mood immensely. He was whistling to himself while tending the flower beds in the Cedar Garden and called out to me: "Good morning Fielding! Didn't Harmison and Panesar bowl beautifully in the Test Match!" I am not used to such friendliness from Barton. I usually only get plant lectures from him, and moans about the younger gardening staff. I was quite taken aback. At least he has his priorities right. Harmison and Panesar did indeed bowl beautifully.

Day ended with an invitation for drinks with Llywelyn in a few nights time. Mindful of what happened the last time, I shall be very cautious in my conversation.

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Poor Wendy. Love eh? It causes problems for the lowest and the highest of us all.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never mind Wendy! Priorities, priorities, what about the Tradesman's Entrance door!

Do not be diverted from your role in life Fielding!

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Never fear, Anonymous, the Tradesman's Entrance door has been fixed. You may now rest easy in your bed.

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