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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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

Friday, September 15, 2006

A Butler Intervenes

Wendy has agreed to stay at Carstone after a last minute change of heart. It was obvious that she did not wish to go. The situation continued to deteriorate in the days after the Servant's Ball. Her spirits remained low (dancing with me will do that to you) and she made plans to return home to her family (near Norwich, I believe), and plot her next career move from there. One evening last week (Wednesday I think) I was enjoying a cup of tea with Mrs Berry in the Housekeeper's Room, and the topic was touched upon. It was decided, I am not sure exactly how, that I would intervene. I can't remember agreeing to do it, but Mrs Berry assured me that I had. I cannot help thinking that Mrs Berry is a fully trained hypnotist. Her powers are a wonder to behold. In any case, I am to head off to Home Farm tomorrow to have a chat with the young man who has broken Wendy's heart.

In the past the young male workers on Home Farm were always looked at with suspicion. I am not sure exactly why farm hands were seen as a continuous threat to the honour and decency of any passing woman. Perhaps it had something to do with haystacks. The Laundry Maids, in particular, were seen to be at risk. The Laundry building was (in fact, still is, but is no longer used for its original purpose) situated close to the farm boundaries, but cunningly it faced away from the farm, and was walled in. The Laundry Maids, it was thus assumed, were safe in their fortress, and could not be gazed at by any old hobbledehoy that tended the fields. The farm hands were thwarted. Innocence and decency reigned supreme. The Housekeeper could rest easy at night.

Housekeepers have always had a keen interest (some say obsession) with separating the Male and Female servants. In the attics of Carstone, through the Green Baize Door, are the servant's bedrooms. The male servants sleep in the one wing, the female in another; in the middle is a huge, leather bound door, which the Housekeeper would lock at night with a most imposing key. It is no longer locked at night. We tend to trust people a little more these days. We are here to work, and I frown at anything that disrupts the smooth running of Carstone House. The personal and professional should be kept in separate and secure boxes. Nevertheless, love does not obey rules set down by butlers or housekeepers. I have even heard it rebel against the wishes of a House Steward.

Attempting to sort out the love affairs of House Maids was certainly not in my original job description. I only hope the Farm Hand doesn't set the dogs loose on me.