Letters to the Editor Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, January 2021, Letters to the Editor

PostBoxLetters to the Editor

“Thank you for always advocating for the highest quality of education when it comes to being a butler. It has been a pleasure reading your informative and quality newsletter since 2011. The literature has always been useful to me in private domestic service, utilizing every tidbit to the best of my abilities. I was saddened and shocked after reading this article [about SABA]—you are a man of great integrity, thank you for being conscientious in this matter. Truthfully, my standard of service accelerated once I began to intertwine all of the helpful advice that your experts and you so unselfishly included in the newsletter.” DS

Ed: Thank you for the kind words; we do the little we do precisely for people like you who are earnest and serious about the profession and being of service.

“While reading your piece on SABA, and quite rightly [written], it’s a disgrace and does nothing for the profession that you and I have worked so hard for. Hopefully, it will be sorted out with them closing down. It is a shame for all those who have spent time and money and for the many who have been treated so badly.” RF

Ed: Yes, the current SABA is a blot on the profession—it did not used to be under former ownership and management—and let us hope that the interested parties come to their senses and look at the effects they are creating and their responsibilities to the profession and their students instead of their pocketbooks and preening in the mirror of social media the whole time.

“Thank you for all the work you do to promote integrity, honour, and reliability in the profession. These actions are deplorable, but not unexpected. It is a shame that your efforts to clean up the profession have made you a target. I am confident that the IIMB community is full of succesful, happy alumni that will support you and speak in defense of your efforts and your programs. The truth will out—we can’t all be wrong! In a newspaper article published over a decade ago, I advised prospective students of any butler school to contact past pupils and clients to hear their feedback before investing in a course. This remains sound advice.” FM

Ed: Agreed on students doing their due diligence. On the other matter, I am not inclined to defend myself or the Institute, as our being targeted is just an example of a classic misdirector—the issue is between SABA and its unhappy students; it makes as much sense to target us as for the Australian army to launch an attack against Iceland because New Zealand objected to something about Australia. It takes a special kind of desperation and moral compass to make that kind of “logic” work.

“Thankfully, there are true and dedicated professionals in this wonderful industry, who, like me, are passionate about upholding the standards in both butler service and butler education. Professionals who have actually worked as a butler for many years, and then chosen to offer their training without false claims to celebrity status or background. Professionals who uphold the very principles of being a butler: honest, decent, ethical, moral, attentive. There are many very good butler training schools in the world, but none as shameful as SABA. Over the years, I have tried to disregard any stories or gossip about SABA, but now I am angry at the damage it is doing to our industry. I shudder at the many times I have both heard and read about this joint action case, it seems more reminiscent of times in history where tyranny was rampant, rather than having happened in the 21st Century. It is both shocking and unacceptable! Not forgetting or discounting the many other students who were hoodwinked and conned into parting with their hard-earned money in the pursuit of their dream, Lin Yang and the others behind this joint action case, brave enough to take a stand against this sort of behaviour and treatment, need all the support they can get so that we may be rid of this blemish on the butler profession. I look forward to us all being able to congratulate them on the successful outcome of this case.” JI

Ed: Wonderful sentiments, thank you. As the old adage goes, the truth will win in the end. It is always encouraging to know that the vast majority follow an ethical path and add positive elements to the mutual, forward drive. I also applaud the brave individuals, led particularly by Ms. Yang Lin, who at great personal sacrifice, have said “Here and no further!” Here’s to a 2021 filled with good news for the profession.

“May I please be subscribed to the wonderful and informative newsletter, always lovely to share and learn from fellow butlers and experiences of the trade. Thank you for all the years and a better more prosperous 2021” AJS

“I have seen a video about the Biltmore Estate, the former Vanderbilt family’s manor house, in North Carolina—which, by the way, was the location of the movie Being There—in which the Chief Curator says that at the time the house was running, the end of 19th century, the Head Housekeeper, rather than the Butler, was the head of the house. Are you aware of that? It might be the case that in those early days of properly staffed luxury houses in America, the owners did not know yet the correct hierarchy of formal households although they had visited England and its stately homes for sure.”  GL

Ed: I understand your concern. Co-incidentally, I was at the Biltmore estate two weeks ago and sat through several videos, none of which seemed to mention a butler. They had about two-dozen private household staff and many, many more working the farms, gardens, and factories created to build the Estate. The Mr. died early on and the lady of the house ran the estate, so may have just had an old-fashioned, limited-duties butler for alcohol and food service, answering the door, etc. Upper class Americans at the time were not yet so conversant with butlers, who only became de rigeur in NYC a few years later. Up to that time, they probably did have housekeepers managing the estate interiors and domestic staff, as well as many footmen in livery for the sake of show. Check E.S. Turner’s What the Butler Saw which does include a chapter (19) on butlers in America and which even quotes from the lives of the Vanderbilt’s on Long Island and from New York society, where the imported British butlers were slowly beginning to educate the newly wealthy in America at the very time that the Biltmore estate was being built and opened in North Carolina. As impressive as the buildings and grounds are, the Biltmore Estate is more of note not as a model for domestic service but as a center for modern agricultural practices, equipment, and techniques that helped boost agricultural production in time to meet the needs of the populace in the 20th century. The family still owns and runs the estate, but no word on if they have a modern butler to help manage their personal lives.

The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and superior service expertise of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, updated with modern people skills, and adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts & cruise ships around the world.