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

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Mr Forrester's Nocturnal Tour

At 10pm I walked, with a heavy heart, to the Banqueting Hall to meet Mr Miles and Mr Forrester. To my surprise I found only Mr Forrester there. He explained that Mr Miles had felt rather unwell and had retired to bed. The plan for me to accompany him around the House remained the same. I began the short tour in the Library. I was not exactly certain what was expected of me, so I merely opened the Library door for Mr Forrester, and waited in the doorway as he entered, looking around him constantly, with a keen interest, like a cat in an aviary. He approached one of the bookshelves yet seemed rather disappointed with the contents. Obviously Mr Forrester was not a collector of First Editions. Perhaps the absence in Sir Geoffrey's collection of anything by Aleister Crowley or Madam Blavatsky troubled him somewhat.

He explained to me that he was about to publish a volume of 'esoteric poetry with primary focus on the occult and mysticism'. I nodded. He seemed to be examining the shelves looking for the place where his book will one day rest. I am sure Mr Dickens would be delighted to learn that some of his First Editions will be in such exalted literary company. But, perhaps, Mr Forrester converses with Mr Dickens most evenings, and his plan has already received approval.

Next, we went into the Italian Drawing Room. Something seemed to stir inside Mr Forrester and he proclaimed in hushed tones that it was his 'firm belief' that the painting on the ceiling 'at one time hung upon the walls.' This seemed a rather startling suggestion. One would have thought that all that plaster would have looked out of place hanging on a wall. It would also have needed a rather immense frame. I confided to Mr Forrester that in every probability he was incorrect in his proclamation. At this he looked at me sharply, as if I had kicked his cat and enjoyed it, and snapped "I would need a second opinion!" It is likely that if he digs further into this topic he will find many opinions in agreement with my own.

This continued throughout much of the House. We would enter a room, Mr Forrester would peer around him, sometimes close his eyes, as if deep in concentration, and then nod to me when his meditations were at an end. Nothing remarkable had occurred until we reached the Bell's Passage. Here, he suddenly stopped me, and grabbed my wrist. "There is a lady here!" he almost hissed.

"Indeed, sir?" I replied.

"Yes, a lady, quite young, she is in a hurry to get somewhere."
"Perhaps she is answering a call, sir?" I thought considering the fact that above our heads were 39 bells, and that Mr Forrester might have missed them, that I would lend a hand here.

"Yessss!" the excitable psychic whispered. "She is desperate to answer the call. She fears for her job."

Well, the ghostly servant would of course be quite correct in her assumption that her status of employment would be jeopardised by a laxity in answering a call. Ignoring a ringing bell is not a good pastime for those who wish to keep their jobs in establishments such as this. So far, I was finding Mr Forrester to be rather vague, and my temples were starting to ache. I was starting to wonder how long all this would go on for. Time seemed to drag. Perhaps his psychic abilities had stopped it?

Finally, after visiting room after room (Carstone seemed larger than it usually is) Mr Forrester informed me that he felt drained and desired to be shown to his bedroom. After conducting him there, I was dismissed, but not before he told me of an elderly spirit that was following me around the house. He intimated that this spirit was very proud of me and the way I was dressed. "She is an ex-Housekeeper here!" he confidently informed me. "She follows you everywhere. I saw her next to you in the Library, in the Entrance Hall, the Drawing Room, and she was peering at you as you were putting the port on the table after dinner."

I bid Mr Forrester good night and headed back downstairs to ensure that all windows and doors were tightly locked.

As I listened to the familiar clunk while turning the large key in the main lock of the Front Door (always a satisfying sound) I reflected on this rather strange character that was settling down to sleep in the Green Bedroom in the North Tower and of the many pronouncements he had made over the past hour and a half. One bothered me more than any other: A Housekeeper who strayed into the Dining Room when the gentlemen of the house were having port? I went to bed firmly believing that standards of service in the Spirit World were really rather tardy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Forrester sounds a bit of a fraud to me. You definitely need to settle down in your old chair next to the fire and relax and forget about his psychic visions.


9:18 pm  
Anonymous Sir Walter Quintin said...

Sir, I find your “blog” deplorable. A truer fallacy could not be found on the condition and state of a profession such as you proclaim to inhabit. The vagaries and incongruities, in your trite and utterly ignorant summation of a butler’s post, demonstrate no tangible knowledge or awareness of any kind to the noble station called butler. I implore your readership to ignore these fictions- and quite poorly written and imagined fictions they are- and I wish to state that a more untrue account of a butler’s happenings could not be found. A charlatan is what you are Sir. As for your readership, I wish to offer my apologies, for a cozener has perpetrated a ruse upon thee. Inquirers, or advice seekers wishing to contact an indubitable butler should be directed summarily to Sir Quintin, at Walterquintin@hotmail.com I bid you a gracious good bye.

4:35 am  
Blogger Mr Fielding said...

My dear "Sir Quintin", a couple of points:

(a) If your name is Walter Quintin as your email address suggests, then surely it should be "Sir Walter" and not "Sir Quintin". A minor point perhaps.

(b) There is nothing ignorant in my knowledge of the 'noble station called butler' I assure you. I am who I say I am.

(c) "quite poorly written". This comment is a fair one, although many of my readers seem to have quite enjoyed my jottings, I have never claimed to be a good writer, indeed from my very first post I asked for mercy and gentleness from the reader.

(d) "I bid you a gracious goodbye.": There is nothing gracious in spam, sir. I shall leave this message on the blog because you are entitled to your opinion, but the 14 or so identical messages will be removed. There is always a chance that somebody might find yout thoughts interesting upon the first read, but the 14th time they appear is testing the patience of even the most dedicated reader.

(e) I miss the poster who called me a dog. He had spirit.

10:53 am  
Anonymous Tim said...

What an outrageous post 'Sir Quintin'. I do not think I shall take up your offer of 'advice from an indubitable butler', especially one with such a turgid writing style, who obviously has not a single clue about the British aristocracy and the make-up of a British country house.

I am a bit of a Fielding fan and do not wish you to spoil the extremely enjoyable experience of frequently dipping into the wonderful world of Carstone House.

Be off with you, sir!

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