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

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Few Questions

Tonight I entertain Llywelyn, whilst remaining on my guard the whole time. He always has schemes and plans. I think it must be the boredom of being stuck at the Lodge Gates all day. The last time we met up for a convivial beverage after work he roped me into a nocturnal ghost hunt. I shall not make that mistake again.

Since, against all odds, and against people's better judgement, this blog seems to have been gaining in readership, I have had an influx of emails from inquiring minds. I like having feedback. They do not ask me about the mysteries of life, they do not want to know if I have a good tip for the Grand National, they reasonably ask for the small details that I may have omitted in my posts. So I shall take this opportunity to answer a few questions:

How did Lady Blanche put the fear of God into Mr Copeland?
She gave a scathing appraisal of his attire. Simple as that. There is nothing that hurts a valet more than when people deride their clothing. It strikes at a valet's very identity. It leaves them wondering whether becoming a Groom might not be a better idea. Horses rarely comment on a badly-cut waistcoat. It was a couple of years ago that Mr Copeland first encountered his most severe fashion critic. He was dressed immaculately, or so he thought. Lady Blanche took one look at him, sniffed (someone is always in trouble when Lady Blanche sniffs), made a unflattering comment about peacocks, and then proceeded to criticise everything from the bagginess of his trousers to the softness of his collar. I even believe an unflattering comment about the cut of his jib was made, before Copeland's aristocratic nemesis swept away leaving him feeling shabby, rather like Bob Cratchett after Tiny Tim had hidden the darning equipment.

Will we ever see your Pantry?
This question came up on a PG Wodehouse forum recently. I believe it SHOULD be possible to post a photograph of my pantry. Very rarely does anybody from 'Above Stairs' find themselves there. Sir Geoffrey and Lady Carstone would be unable to point out my pantry from an identification parade. It is an alien land to them. It was decided that I should make sure it is an artistic shot, just to make identification that tad bit trickier. A wide-angled lens was suggested. I shall see what I can do during the week.

What is the pattern for dinner-time at Carstone House?
A good question this. It shows keenness and interest in custom. Well done. It is all rather traditional. I bang the dinner-gong at 7.15pm which is the signal for the guests to change. I then bang it again at 8.00pm precisely to herald that 'dinner is served'. The assembled party then process into dinner. Everything will have been arranged down to the finest detail. I keep a ruler to measure the distance between cutlery, plates and glasses. Laying the table for dinner is a precise affair. A mistake, however miniscule, would be noticed, especially by me. I am a perfectionist when it comes to the Dining Table. I believe in my job I have to be. After dinner the ladies leave the gentlemen to their port; then all re-assemble afterwards. Sometimes to listen to music (Lady Carstone has a fondness for the harp. A harpist is nearly always present at a large dinner party) or to converse. If Mr Miles is host then the next bit can become rather embarrassing. He is addicted to parlour games, and after dinner he tries to coax all the guests to take part in sometimes excrutiating games of his own concoction. Personally I prefer the harp.

What WAS Barton up to, on his own, wandering around the grounds at night, all those weeks ago?
I am afraid I still do not know.

So, how DID you break the dinner gong handle?
My, is that the time? Better run.....


Blogger Tea & Margaritas in My Garden said...

Yes, please do show your pantry, even in the most obscure ways if neccessary. This part of your audience would love to see pictures of anything that won`t get you in troubles.
Thank you for visiting my blog and I think the London answer must fit you very well.
I once watched a program showing how the Queens table was set for some occasion she was giving. Very precise.
So very interesting to here about your life and experiences there, mr. fielding. Such a very different world than mine.

2:26 am  
Blogger Mr Fielding said...

I shall endeavour to photograph my humble workplace this week. Ill health has precluded me from doing so over the last few days.

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