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

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Small Companion

The week-end proved to be far quieter than I thought it would be. Miss Gemma's party left early on Sunday morning, and Mr Miles' group kept themselves largely to themselves. I'm not entirely sure about their background, and they seemed to remain a mystery to all in the Servant's Hall. They never used the bell pull to summon a servant and they never seemed to want anything. They just kept themselves in their rooms doing goodness knows what.

I did have a lasting encounter with one of them, however. I had not been informed that she was among the party, and I had not detected her on arrival, presumably on account of her tiny size. Yesterday morning as I was unlocking the front door, Mr Miles bounded down the staircase, and called out to me. He asked me if I wouldn't mind showing one of the guests the servant's areas of the house, and outlining my duties to them. With some surprise (which I did not betray) I agreed. Little did I know at the time that I had just agreed to spend much of my day babysitting.

The 'guest' happened to be a little girl named Amy, aged roughly nine years old (I am not very good at estimating the age of people. I invariably cause offence when asked to do so.). Actually I was informed, several times throughout the course of the day, that she was actually nine and a quarter. This fraction seemed to be very important to her. I admired her precision. She seemed very interested in service and, as instructed, I gave her a tour of 'Below Stairs.' She had all the impetuousness and curiosity of youth, and peppered me with questions. In fact she followed me around like a puppy. Wherever I went, she was not far behind. I thought I had left her with Mrs Berry in the Housekeeper's Room but when replacing the notepaper on a desk in the Morning Room I felt eyes upon me. Sure enough, there she was gazing up at me, her brain obviously buzzing with more questions.

My favourite moment of the day came in the Entrance Hall, when Amy asked me:

Who answers the front door?
I answer the front door.

What if you are busy?
If I am unavailable, the 1st Footman will answer the door.

What if he is busy?
The 2nd Footman will do it.

What about The Scullery Maid? (we had a long discussion about scullery maids earier)
Certainly not. You can't have servants like the Hall Boy or Scullery Maid answering the front door. Imagine a scullery maid with bits of potato peel, and bits of fish on her hands and apron, answering the front door of Sir Geoffrey's house. A Scullery Maid answering the door? Where would it all end?

"It would end up on the door handle." She replied with grave sincerity.

There wasn't much I could say in response to that.


Blogger Mr Fielding said...

My once beautiful blog is looking rather plain, ordinary, and, dare I say it, dull, at the moment.

For the second consecutive post I am having real trouble in uploading images. I had a rather artistic representation of a door knob to illustrate this post, but, stubbornly, my computer refuses to recognise it.

This is a problem that I really must look into.

Apologies to all.

12:14 pm  
Anonymous Vladimir Brusiloff said...

Amy would appear to be the granddaughter or possibly great-granddaughter of Miss Peggy Mainwaring who flagged down Bertie Wooster and Jeeves on the road from Brighton to London. This is how Jeeves tells it:

"Jolly creatures, small girls, Jeeves," he remarked, after a pause.

"Extremely so, sir."

"Of course, I can imagine some fellows finding them a bit exhausting in -er-"

"En masse, sir?"

"That's the word. A bit exhausting en masse."

"I must confess, sir, that that is how they used to strike me. In my younger days, at the outset of my career, sir, I was at one time page-boy in a school for young ladies."

"No, really? I never knew that before. I say, Jeeves -er- did the -er- dear little souls *giggle* much in your day?"

"Practically without cessation, sir."

"Makes a fellow feel a bit of an ass, what? I shouldn't wonder if they usedn't to stare at you from time to time, too, eh?"

"At the school where I was employed, sir, the young ladies had a regular game which they were accustomed to play when a male visitor arrived. They would stare fixedly at him and giggle and there was a small prize for the one who made him blush first."

"Oh no, I say, Jeeves, not really?"

"Yes, sir. They derived great enjoyment from the pastime."

"I'd no idea small girls were such demons."

"More deadly than the male, sir."

-- Bertie Changes His Mind

12:57 am  
Blogger Mr Fielding said...

Small girls can indeed be demons. They seem to communicate in giggles. I have noticed this. It is a whole new language, and as baffling to me as esperanto.

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