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

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Invasion of Carstone House

I wonder if using Carstone House for civic occasions will become a regular affair. It is a very strange experience. It was akin to being occupied by a small army; and not a cheerful army at that. There was no Grand Armee bonhomie from the visiting hordes of caterers. They were grim, glum; life, it seems, had treated them unfairly. Even their uniforms were black and white. Colour would not have suited them. In they trudged through the Tradesman's Entrance at 5pm to set up for the event. Robert kept an eye on them. I asked him later if he spotted a smile from one of them at any time. He thought he had, but admitted it could have been merely the beginnings of a sneeze.

Their Dining Table (which sat 50) looked adequate for the occasion, but, unsurprisingly, they laid the table "by eye" which is something that I would never permit from our own staff. I did offer them the use of both the ruler and measuring stick (which is kept in a corner cabinet in the Dining Room) but they looked at me as if I had just escaped from a secure institution. I thought it best to make a strategic withdrawal at this stage.

The Mayors (each one in their own chauffered car) started to arrive at around 6.45pm for a drinks reception in the Great Hall. I was not on duty, but insisted that Robert (by now rescued from the cold draught of standing near an open Tradesman's Entrance) be present at all times to oversee things. The assembled throng seemed to enjoy the occasion and it carried on late into the night. Robert finally retired to bed in the early hours. It had been rather a long day for him.

One thing did annoy me however. Catering were supposed to take everything with them at the end of the night (within reason that is) from the Kitchen and service rooms that they used. I did not expect it to be spotless. Indeed I expected spots aplenty. What I did not expect was the horrified shriek from Mrs Styles as she entered the Kitchen early the next morning to start preparing breakfast. Apparently things had been left in a shocking state. Unfortunately the staff here had to spend much of the morning clearing up the mess. By then, of course, the black and white Grand Armee had trudged, grimly, far, far, away from the battlefield.

14 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear. That sounds unfortunate. Was Sir Geoffrey present at the event Mr Fielding?

Also, I followed the evening on Twitter, and you mentioned one of Miles Carstone's friends appearing, but no mention of it on the blog. What happened?

Glad to have you back!!

Andy

9:41 am  
Blogger Mr Fielding said...

Thank you for your comment Andy.

Indeed no. Sir Geoffrey was in London that day. In fact there was no member of the Carstone family present at all. It was as if the entire house had been hired for the evening by the local authority.

The only guest staying was Mr Miles' friend, an artist, who did indeed wander into the Hall unannounced at one stage of the proceedings, and proceeded to chat merrily to a certain Mayor during the drinks reception. He did not stay for the meal, and retired to the Satinwood Room, where he has set up a temporary studio for the duration of his stay.

10:14 am  
Blogger Tea and Margaritas in My Garden said...

Once again I am enthralled with your stories, Mr. Fielding. I`m so glad you`ve returned.

tea

12:57 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those slovenly workers sound as if they'd been assigned to work the reception as punishment.

People have no shame, or even common sense apparently, despite the poor job situation!
I think you should have a chat with the management of the catering co.

Hmmmm----starting to have ideas about possible future business opportunities for Fielding in his golden years. I bet you'd be a resounding success with a high-end hospitality company of your own and could retire to Spain in a thrice, to write that book we're all waiting for!

Cheers!
MissK

7:59 am  
Anonymous Stan said...

They sound like council caterers. Grimness comes with the job. It must have been terrible for a perfectionist like you Mr Fielding to witness such poor attempts at 'hospitality'.

I agree with MissK. You would be the prize of the ex-pats in Malaga or some other warm and lucrative clime!

Stan

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