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, March 15, 2007

Hitting The Bottle

Mr Forrester left at half past eight this morning in order to catch his train back to London. He left behind a package he desired be passed on to Mr Miles, who remains ill in bed with a strain of influenza. I check on Mr Miles at regular intervals and have taken him a hot water bottle. This brought back vivid memories of my first day as a footman here. An elderly aunt of Sir Geoffrey's had fallen ill and the first interaction I had with the family 'above stairs' was the taking up of a hot water bottle to her room. Of course, that bottle was not a modern, rubber affair, like the one I just took up to Mr Miles: Sir Geoffrey's Great-Aunt received from a nervous, tentative footman, (whose white-tie was a little erratically tied) an earthenware 'bed warmer' complete with cork stopper. How times have changed in the hot water bottle department.

I am as discreet as possible as butler of Carstone House, but I shall now reveal a secret that if the News of The World ever found out, would be plastered sensationally on their front page on Sunday. 'Tis a dark secret........

Every hot water bottle owned by Sir Geoffrey Carstone has a cover with his family crest and motto upon it.

In fact practically every piece of linen, and certainly every piece of stationery in the house, also has the Carstone family crest upon it, so perhaps my exclusive is not quite as sensational as tabloid editors would have hoped.

I said I was discreet...

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, there is something uniquely dignified and prideful about you - in the nicest possible way, of course. These are, unfortunately, dying traits in the majority of people today, so it is somewhat a nostalgic experience reading this diary.

I was wondering, though, how you came to have your first post at Carstone House. Was it what you had almost always intended? Was it what was expected of you? Or, if you will forgive the rather unforgiving phrase, just something that you fell into?

10:03 am  
Blogger Mr Fielding said...

Thank you for your kind comments. There are times when I feel like a little like the last Tyrannesaurus Rex must have felt when he looked around for somebody to play bridge with only to find his chums dropping like, well, like a soon-to-be-extinct species.

Carstone House used to be a very large employer in this county. Almost every aspect of the immediate surrounding areas, the political scene, the social scene, the agricultural scene, revolved around Carstone. To a certain extent it still does, but on a much smaller scale. The world has changed so rapidly.

I wish I could regale you with a tale of how the finger of fate pointed towards the towers of Carstone House. Perhaps I encountered a gypsy lady on a deserted country lane, who, with a bony finger pointed straight at me, shrieked of pantries and green baize doors as being an inevitable and unavoidable part of my future.

Sadly not.

I merely applied for a post here through an advertisement in the local newspaper. It is true that my grandfather was in service, and my father worked on the estate, so perhaps it was inevitable that I would follow in their footsteps.

It was not a boyhood ambition to be a butler. My boyhood ambition was to score a century at Lords in a Test Match against Australia. Now, however, I could imagine myself in no other role, in no other place.

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