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, August 15, 2007

An Artistic Soul

The repairs to Mr Miles' gondola have been completed. The eccentricities of the heir to Carstone would be enough to make any father pull out the few remaining hairs on his head. Sir Geoffrey wears hats quite a bit these days. I have seen, on a week-end (when the son and heir often visits the ancestral home) Mr Miles entertain a party for lunch and then, dressed in full Venetian gondolier's uniform (complete with black trousers and striped shirt), take them to the lake, and row them to the small island in the centre for cocktails. Several times I have been deposited (in a normal rowing boat from the boathouse. Gondolas seem rather precarious to me. I believe they belong only in Venice for a reason) on the island, as an advance party, to prepare to serve the drinks. One gets used to such quirks.

Mr Miles telephoned this morning to inform us that he will be visiting Carstone this week-end. His career as a portrait painter has had a rather bumpy beginning. He is bringing with him his latest commission. Perhaps that is how he now drums up business: be painted by Mr Miles Carstone and get a free week-end at Carstone House into the bargain! He is to use a large room in the attics which at one time used to be the Footman's Sitting Room (those were in the days, before the Second World War, when there were four footmen here, who would, if there was a party larger than six for dinner, wear full livery, complete with breeches, buckled shoes and powdered wigs) so I must ensure that everything is set out for him.

Lady Carstone seems rather down. Perhaps she misses Lake Garda. Usually a very vibrant personality, she barely said a word at breakfast this morning. Sir Geoffrey was, in sharp contrast, in most loquacious form. When I informed him about the gondola, he told me a story of when that 'blasted extravagance' (as he calls it) first needed re-gilding. Without his son's knowledge the baronet ordered that it be painted gold rather than gilded. This money-saving plan came unravelled when after only a few months in lake water, the gold paint started to go green. I remember that very well.


Anonymous Tim said...

Yes, sometimes when gold coloured paint is used instead of genuine gold-leaf, time will turn it a rather dull, unpleasant shade of green. Yuck!

10:34 am  
Anonymous Maureen said...

Cutting corners doesn't always save money.

9:58 am  
Anonymous Stephen Ewen said...

Mr. Fielding, would you kindly send me an email? I'd like to request your assistance on a matter related to http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Butler. Just click on the link for my name, above, and my email address is in a box on the left. Thank you.

7:23 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hurrah! Our dear Mr. Fielding is back with us & in finer form, I think, than ever!
The care and feeding of darling baby has kept me so busy, I had forgotten to perform my regular checks to the diary. What a nice suprise to see you returned after your hiatus.
As 'Tea' wrote, my thoughts have been with you, too.
Thank you, Mr. Fielding, for being such a warm, charming light in the window :D

Miss K

2:16 am  
Blogger Tea & Margaritas in My Garden said...

So enjoy catching up with your stories Mr. Fielding. It`s been awhile since I`ve been back but am looking forward to hearing much more!


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Do you know one of the best portuguese writers ever: CRISTÓVÃO DE AGUIAR?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has Mr. Fielding decided to stop posting?

6:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering the same thing myself, as I've greatly enjoyed reading his blog.

5:05 pm  
Blogger Sue said...

As a new reader, I certainly hope note.

4:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alas, where are you, Mr. Fielding? I miss reading your blog!


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