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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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

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

'The Chat': A Concerned Master

Sir Geoffrey has returned from Italy with a furrowed brow. This had nothing to do with the climate, the food, or the hotel arrangements. They were very acceptable. No, the fly in his ointment, the bug on his pasta, the exploding bottle in his wine cellar, was caused by a visit to a castle in a town quite close to his hotel.

On the third day of the Carstone progress around the rim of Lake Garda, the happy party visited the splendid town of Malcesine. A beautiful spot, to be sure. An important place whose dramatic towering 13th century Scaglieri castle once played host to Goethe, who dropped in there to rest his weary head, in the year 1786. Unfortunately for Goethe, the local populace, unused to German poets dropping in on them in such a flighty manner, took him to be a spy and threatened him in a very un-poetical way. He managed to charm them and all was well, but the poor chap could be expected to have been unsettled by the whole affair. The castle at Malcesine left Sir Geoffrey in a similar unsettled condition. He wasn't taken to be a spy. Surely, they thought, a spy would be more adept at fitting in with his surroundings. A spy might have had a slightly better grasp of Italian, for a start. No, it was not the people, as such, that upset the noble baronet, but the castle itself, and what had become of it.

The castle has been restored, Sir Geoffrey explained to me, but many of the rooms have been modernised and stuffed with glass cases. It has become a museum. Upon entering what Sir Geoffrey took to have been a banqueting hall at one time, he found a modern wood floor, and the place full of glass cases with stuffed animals looking back at him. The animals looked bored by it all. Another castle nearby had a similar theme: a once beautiful bedroom had been converted into a museum to fishing. Of interest, no doubt, to fishermen, but an historical shame nonetheless.

In short, Sir Geoffrey explained, before asking for a whisky to settle his nerves, the once grand, bustling castles, had become dead, soulless places. Would Carstone House become one of those one day? That was what worried him. He did not want modern pine panelling put in his Italian Drawing Room, and the place stuffed to the gills with glass cases explaining the fascinating history of the local basket-weaving profession. He could not bear the thought of dear old Carstone becoming lifeless.

There are hidden depths to Sir Geoffrey Carstone. I got him his drink and left him to his thoughts, but not before reassuring him that there was little chance, at present, of the castle becoming a local attraction for basket weavers, taxidermists, or the makers of glass cases. He nodded in relieved agreement, but did concede, however, that he would allow one large glass case to be made for Carstone, on the understanding that Lady Blanche could be stuffed and put in it. As soon as possible. The thought seemed to cheer him up no end.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Maureen said...

It sounds as though they have ruined a wonderful building.I hate to see stuffed animals.It's like a graveyard in the local pub with dead things on walls and in glass cabinets .

12:55 pm  
Anonymous Stan said...

Yes, I agree with Maureen. They seem to have ruined that castle. Sucked all the life out of it. I hate it when they do that. The building becomes just a shell then.

May it never happen to Carstone.

Although, having read about her, I would probably pay the odd shilling to see the infamous Lady Blanche in a glass case.

11:33 pm  
Blogger Tierrie said...

I was a bit scared that the "chat" would be about the blog. Fortunately, its just about stuffing dead animals and the legacy of him and his peers.

Phew, much to my eternal amusement, the diaries continue!

11:21 pm  
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