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, July 20, 2006

And So We Swelter


And so it continues: relentless, overbearing, causing discomfort to everybody, people hide from it under hats that cover their faces: I am of course referring to the questioning that our little visitor Amy inflicts on all in her path.

Perhaps I AM being a little unfair.

Her questions were lively and showed interest. Despite informing her of the more unpleasant duties of a scullery maid, she still seemed keen on being one. You must admire her spirit. Despite Miss Roberts spending a good hour showing Amy some of Lady Carstone's finest dresses, and extolling the perks and privileges of being Lady's Maid to one of the British aristocracy's finest, Amy still steadfastly maintained that it would be much more fun to gut fish, pluck game, clean vegetables, peel potatoes, and wash-up in the scullery. The youth of today!

Things seem quiet now Amy has departed. I am rather relieved that everybody has left. I'm not sure what to make of 'Remus' and his clan. I like things to be orderly. I like to know a little about the guests of Carstone, otherwise how can I best ensure that their stay will be a pleasant one? I can only assume that they were poetical or bohemian people in nature. Although I find it hard to imagine Remus writing anything TOO sensitive. His handshake was a little too excessively firm. You can tell a lot about a man from his handshake. I suppose their dark secret (everything about them, except Amy, seemed dark and brooding) will come out eventually.

Not happy with myself. Spotted a bit that I missed while decorating. That is not like me. I am usually most thorough about everything. It must be the weather.

It has been sweltering at Carstone today. Apparently we could hit the highest temperature since records began. Barton was having problems keeping the lawns nice and green. He has been forbidden to use the sprinklers, and the hosepipe is frowned upon, when it comes to the lawns. This worries Barton. To me, everything still seemed immaculate, but, for a perfectionist like Barton, these are hard times. I left him near the Summerhouse with a furrowed brow. He had explained, in great detail, all the problems that this constant sunshine causes for him. The weather and Barton seem to have a love-hate relationship. At the moment the weather is being rather too 'clingy' and Barton would prefer a cooling off period.

Inside the house things were scarcely much better. I asked both footmen to help me stockcheck the cellars (always my refuge when it gets TOO hot), this allowed them to stay blissfully cool for an hour. I sent Robert, the Hall Boy, out in the gardens to help Barton. There was nothing really for him to do in the House, and I thought he might find a cool spot outside somewhere. I also spotted something which really amused me. I took a quick trip to the garages to ask the chauffeur Mr Reynolds something, and he showed me the quite remarkable shield that he places on the windscreen of Sir Geoffrey's car to help keep the interior (especially the steering wheel it seems) of said vehicle cool when unoccupied in blazing sunshine. I have seen these things before, of course, but nothing like this: it was gilded. I thought that seemed rather extravagant, and must have been custom made. Reynolds explained to me that it was a gift from Mr Miles. Everything then made sense. Mr Miles does like gold-leaf. I am sure he would like to gild the driveway, as was once done at one of Britain's stately homes in the 1930s to honour a particularly eccentric visitor.

Today sees the return of Sir Geoffrey. How reassuring that will be. Normality and tradition shall reign supreme once more.

8 Comments:

Anonymous An Egg said...

Greetings from across the pond. You have acquired another avid follower, directed here by the urgings of a fellow Wodehousian. Your posts are like a welcome breeze on a hot summer day (and I hope you receive more than a few of those as well). As for your delightful writing style and content, I'm sure Wodehouse would approve.

1:15 am  
Blogger Mr Fielding said...

I am delighted to have acquired you. What kind words. I am starting to believe that the readers of PG Wodehouse are the most gentle and generous spirited of literature's clans.

Would my random, and sometimes nonsensical jottings have elicited such a warm response from fans of, say, Charles Dickens?

I think not.

A special breed, indeed.

Many thanks.

3:35 pm  
Blogger Tea & Margaritas in My Garden said...

Well, I have to disagree with you there dear mr fielding. I am a fan of Charles Dickens :) Not on any certain day though mind. Only when the time is right and I`m in the mood to get my head wrapped around that era. But I have most of his collection waiting to be finished.
I agree with the egg, your writing style is entertaining and delightful!

12:16 am  
Blogger Mr Fielding said...

Thank you Tea & Margaritas (an interesting combination that). I have nothing against Mr Dickens myself.

In fact, I always read 'A Christmas Carol' every single Christmas time, and have almost finished reading his complete works myself (except his 'journalist phase'). Not in one sitting of course.

I agree. It is a question of mood.

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