July 2009 | Welcome to Ask our Butler

… dedicated to bringing a pinch of elegance, a dash of men’s style and yes, the practical service that a butler brings to a private household.

Butlers : we’re no longer just for the wealthy!

First, ‘ Butler ’ is from the Norman French word ‘bouteiller’ meaning ‘bottler’, the member of the royal household responsible for the bottles in the wine cellar. Believe it or (maybe) not, according to an old dictionary entry the term is apparently mentioned in the Bible. However, a brief ‘glance’ through Genesis has yet to reveal a reference to the Pharaoh’s cup being handed by his butler!

The most famous references must go to Jeeves, Hudson and Stevens; butlers who have all become household names in the true sense of the words. Their dedication to the cause of effective, unobtrusive service is commendable.

PG Wodehouse’s accounts of Jeeves are fascinating. But Beach was Bertie Wooster’s antecedent butler, a completely different kettle of fish (so to speak) and so must not be overlooked. If you have not yet read Wodehouse’ books, try them; they give an insight into an earlier world. You’ll realise that in today’s world Jeeves would rate as highly as any Concierge, able to fix any thing at any time.

Butlers are synonymous with single entendres. Some of Jeeves’ pronouncements are incredibly dry, and Niles , the famous butler from ‘The Nanny’ (one doesn’t have to admit that one has watched it!) has obviously studied Wodehouse’s more caustic comments. I quote; “Jeeves lugged my purple socks out of the drawer as if he were a vegetarian fishing a caterpillar out of his salad” (My Man Jeeves 1919).

Today’s butler is a master of many disciplines, an indispensable member of the household, and oft thought of as somewhat of a magician with the way things seem to happen. A butler today is just as comfortable washing and waxing the Ute, ironing a $600 dress shirt as he is serving dinner to you, me, or Her Majesty the Queen!

Periodically we’ll talk about tasks particular to men’s style such as how to properly iron a shirt, launder a shirt, polish one's shoes, buy gifts, pack a suitcase for a short visit or a long stay, set a dinner table, polish silver, detail the automobile, knot a necktie and hand-knot a bowtie, as well as a variety of many other useful topics.

Of course, we look forward to receiving your queries so please send them along to us. If I don’t immediately know the answer, I have many reference resources at hand and guarantee that an answer will be found…as long as it’s not immoral or illegal!

So, there you have it – ‘Ask our Butler ’.

On behalf of Magnums Butlers and Edward Stripe, we’re looking forward to some wonderful interaction with you in pursuit of elegance, style, practical excellence in guest service…and always, good fun.

Yours in gracious service

Mark Johnson
The Butler

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