A fundamental aversion to embrace responsibilities is prevalent in Farthing Hall forcing me to contemplate whether the handsome salary increases I sanctioned just prior to the Millennium were made in error. Indeed, I once again find myself recalling my dear Papa’s perspective: service is a calling, he frequently asserted, and the standards of anyone who prioritises financial gain or personal values over their station will eventually plummet to depths more usually associated with the lower classes.
To be specific, I have been compelled to begin the New Year with the rather distasteful yet, under the circumstances, wholly obligatory, act of dismissing the Under Butler.
His ethics were called into question during our recent Gosworthy-Pringle Gala Dinner. All was progressing to plan: my hors d’oeuvres selection – initially frowned upon by Cook in a quite unnecessary burst of culinary uncertainty – were much enjoyed, if not commended, by guests whilst the temperature of my welcoming Manzanilla Pasada sherry remained faultless.
Yet, despite such accomplishments, I will be forever tainted with the discomfiture of witnessing Baronetess Beauchamp Beauford-Beaumont. As she took her place at the mahogany dining table my parents commissioned during the second month of their honeymoon tour of The Continent, I was on the point of sharing my utilisation of smilax fern amongst the flower arrangements when I noted her gaze drawn to a tarnished bouillon spoon.
Composure never left her visage. I would expect no less. My own horror at the public appearance of flawed silver cutlery, however, ruined my pleasure of this annual occasion.
The following morning I summoned said Under Butler. He proffered various excuses, as one might expect: the pantry boy had distracted him by seeking help to locate the condiments; a smear on his lower livery required urgent attention.
The more he vocally floundered, the more I resolved that Farthing Hall would benefit from his absence. Indeed, I have always found the act of grovelling rather unsettling so I somewhat generously offered to provide a reference – modest, of course - then sent him on his way.
The fact that the Staff for the Aristocracy Agency remained closed until well into the New Year caused me some irritation. (Do they truly believe employment issues plunge into dormancy during the holiday season?) I left several succinct messages on their answering machine which I followed up with a hand written letter. At least they troubled to call me immediately upon reopening for business.
The Agency is forwarding to me the personal details of a brace of worthy candidates.
Meantime, I have set aside next week for interviews. Fosdyke, our septuagenarian Butler, is keen to oversee the appointments, as is part of his remit. However, in order to avoid any further mishaps, I have notified him of my intention to personally decide the final appointment.