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, December 07, 2006

It Arrives

The computer arrived at 4.15pm yesterday. Despite being directed, by both telephone and by Llywelyn at the Lodge Gates, to deposit this dubious (in my eyes) gift at the Tradesman's Entrance to the rear of the house, the delivery men had other ideas. Obviously presuming that the directions were more of a guideline than a rule they veered adventurously off their set path and drove around the turning-circle right to the Entrance Porch and rang the front door bell. I am sure Lenin would have done the same had he chosen to enter the delivery business rather than politics. Unfortunately, Sir Geoffrey Carstone, baronet and unwitting computer owner, happened to be peering out of the Drawing Room window at the time and spotted the offending vehicle. I was serving his afternoon tea (slightly earlier than is normal) and witnessed his ears prick up like a spaniel at the sound of the van's engine.

"He appears to have gotten lost." Sir Geoffrey pointed out to me.

Then the front door bell rang and I left to answer it. The delivery man, looking less like Lenin than I had imagined, asked me to sign his paper, and then unceremoniously dumped the box on the newly polished floor of the Entrance Hall. It cannot have done either the floor or the computer any good whatsoever. I asked him to take the box around to the Tradesman's Entrance where there would be somebody waiting for him. He looked at me as if I had asked him to scale Mount Everest before dinner. With much muttering he eventually picked the box back up and getting into his van (did it have the hammer and sickle on the side? I didn't spot it but it is possible) he drove around the side of the House. Rarely have I seen a van driven in such a huffy way. If Lenin had driven vans, he would have driven them in this way.

I don't think Sir Geoffrey realised the package was for him. When I returned to the Drawing Room he was engrossed in a book about horses. Somehow I can never imagine him to be engrossed in a book about computers. I am sure Lady Carstone knows what she is doing, but I have the gravest of grave doubts about this.

I'm not sure how she knew, but within minutes of the box, and the delivery man's muddy feet touching the floor of the Entrance Hall, there was Rhiannon, polishing it again. Perhaps she has some kind of radar. She really is very thorough in her work. Not as dreamy or as absent minded as Wendy, the other Housemaid; Rhiannon takes any dirt or dust as a personal insult to her professional skills. One day she will make an excellent Housekeeper. Unfortunately she knows this, and I have often seen her looking with envy at Mrs Berry, and stroking the armchair near the fire of the Housekeeper's Room. Ambition, I daresay, is a good thing. I do not think we will have a coup any time soon. She will not seize the keys to the Spice Cupboard and barricade herself in the Housekeeper's Scullery.

The Christmas tree is ordered. I went to the village this morning to purchase a few additional decorations. The lady behind the counter attempted to point me towards a whole batch of discounted tinsel. My expression changed her mind about her sale tactics. On leaving the shop I noticed a pound coin gleaming on the pavement in front of me. I picked it up. If finding a penny brings you good luck, then finding a pound can only be a good thing, I thought to myself. As I turned to head home, I spotted, coming out of Mr Wilkins' Confectionary Shop, two little girls, one of which was in floods of tears. I politely inquired as to the matter, and her less-tearful friend told me that she had lost some money. I happily re-united the tearful party of the first part, with her lost pound coin. Her face brightened up, she thanked me, and they both dashed back into the Confectionary shop. Tragedy on the scale of Macbeth had been averted.


Blogger UKBob said...

I'm very pleased to read that you stuck to your guns with regard to the computer being delivered to the back door, to my mind there is far to much slackness around these days. If your master can't take to his new computer maybe I can do a deal with him, perhaps swap him some books for it or something. If on the other hand he surprises you and does like it maybe he can be pursuaded to start a weblog!! If so let me know as I'm sure it would be very interesting to read.

1:40 pm  
Anonymous Augustine Mulliner said...

Dash it! UKBob beat me to it: I was going to say the same thing about Sir G. starting a blog. It would be fun, your feudal overlord describing the adventures of the domestic staff from his point of view!

8:21 pm  
Anonymous Brenda said...

You made that little girl very happy it would seem. Less happy will be Sir G. when he receives his birthday present tomorrow! Can't wait to hear about his reaction.

PLEASE try to write as much as possible Fielding. Carstone House is a fascinating place, as are the people in it. I've even taken a shine to Rhiannon, who seems commendably fastidious.

9:11 pm  
Blogger Mr Fielding said...

A quite mind-boggling idea Bob and Augustine! Sir Geoffrey Carstone blogging? Well, anything is possible I suppose. I can imagine it now: a rant about the 'Servant Problem' when I bring him his cup of tea five minutes late (not that I ever do I should add).

We shall see what he thinks of the computer. Breakfast has just finished and Lady Carstone has ushered him into the Drawing Room for present and card opening. I shall listen out for the shrieks!

9:22 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second (or even third or fourth) the idea put forward by ukbob and the rev.mulliner: I think a Sir G blog would be wonderful, but you should also pressgang more of the Carstone clan to blog.

I want to read about Barton's goings-on in the garden, Rhiannon's tips of how to polish a floor and overthrow a Housekeeper, Mr Copeland's day of valeting, Mrs Berry's version of events, and I'd certainly love to hear from Llywelyn the Lodge Keeper!

To bring Carstone House fully online, Fielding, that is your mission!

10:14 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yes! That would be something if Sir starting blogging. Glad you were able to stop the tears of the little girl. And I agree about hearing more about Carstone House. It will be interesting to find out what Sir G. thinks of his gift!


11:10 am  

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