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, April 11, 2007

Tales From The Summerhouse

It looms over me. Every year it seems to grow ever more daunting. While snow flakes fall and the weather is crisp all is well. The hill does not seem so steep, the majestic beauty of the surroundings seem comforting. But when the sun comes out and the butterflies resume their fluttering in its warm rays, a touch of concern marks my brow. Sir Geoffrey and Lady Carstone, or of late, Mr Thomas and Mr Miles, at this time of year begin thinking of spending time in the Summerhouse. The Summerhouse was built by Sir William Carstone in the mid-Victorian period. He chose the tallest hill of Carstone Park, to give his guests the most breathtaking of views as they sipped their tea, twiddled their parasols, and stroked their moustaches and sideburns while discussing the latest actions taken by the Government of Lord Palmerston.

It has always been steep, I presume; after all, the hill was the site of an Iron Age fort. It seems to get steeper as the years wear on. It is the sort of hill that makes a marauding invader take one look and decide to maraude elsewhere. Somewhere flatter. Somewhere like Holland. Or Norfolk. But the British have always been fond of views, and of drinking tea, and the Summerhouse at Carstone provides ample opportunity for both pastimes. The hill provides the view, and I provide the tea; and therein lies the rub. It really is quite a trek; especially on a hot day like today. Also, I seem to have a certain magnetism that attracts wasps and other flying terrors. They usually hide behind trees and ambush me as I am half-way up the hill. Attempting to swat away a wasp while carrying a box of crockery is not an easy thing.

Then there are holes.

A couple of years ago I sprained my ankle rather badly when I lost my footing up there. Whether the hole I plunged into was made by a rabbit in league with the wasps, or whether the rabbit was acting unilaterally is uncertain; what was certain was the pain. I was eventually rescued by the then 2nd Footman, Michael (he has since left Carstone and now works in a hotel where presumably there are less holes), but a state of war has existed between me and the denizens of the hill ever since.

This morning, after breakfast, Sir Geoffrey asked me to 'prepare the Summerhouse'. I shall, with a heavy heart be taking the Hallboy, Mr Cromwell, and perhaps Simon (if he can be spared from the House), with me, as I begin the ascent shortly after luncheon.

No doubt the wasps are already whispering to the rabbits in anticipation.

8 Comments:

Blogger Heartthoughts said...

Sigh...you have refreshed this reader with more eloquent prose. I thank you!

7:50 pm  
Anonymous Aunt Agatha said...

Stiff upper lip, man.

8:08 pm  
Anonymous Augustine Mulliner said...

Mmm. Please allow me to broach a possibly sensitive subject, Fielding: is your embonpoint anything like Mr Beach's, by any chance?

8:14 pm  
Blogger Mr Fielding said...

To be totally honest, Augustine, I have never been described as 'svelte', less so in recent years.

The hill seemed awfully steep today and I know I shall be aching in the morning.

Such are the duties that I am honoured to perform.

Honour can be tiring sometimes.

9:48 pm  
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