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The Modern Butlers’ Journal, July 2020, Letters to the Editor

PostBoxLetters to the Editor

Congratulations on the newsletter, very well worded intro letter and the new format looks great. Good to see you keeping at the forefront. PS

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«The Butler is a profession to be respected, but, the Butler should respect another profession…that of the lawyer who should review the employment contract prior to accepting the position. As an attorney for 39 years, I can attest that the best time to discover your boss is [less-than-desirable], is before you start working for him.» WM

Ed: Thank you for the benefit of your experience, Mr. M. I agree for new-to-the-game butlers; more-experienced ones generally know what to look for in a contract but can surely benefit from legal advice, too.

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Concluding the correspondence with Alex Parker for his article on Batman’s Batman:

Alex: Did you know that a «batman» is a 19th-century word for a military officer’s valet? So the phrase «Batman’s Batman» is a double entendre that I didn’t even catch.

Ed: Yes, I did—sorry, I did not realize this was an unknown element. In the 19th and 20th centuries, army batmen provided a feeder-line for private-service valets and even butlers.

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.

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Letters to the Editor Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, June 2020, Letters to the Editor

PostBoxLetters to the Editor

 

Regarding the editorial in the May MBJ on the pandemic

«I very much agree with all you have written. It will be very interesting to hear & read from all—including governments, pharmaceutical, & tech companies, what will be said & hopefully learned with hindsight from this sorry state of affairs.» RS

Ed: Agreed—we definitely need to learn the right lessons from this experience.

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«A very timely and informative article and true in my estimation!» PS

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«Regarding your editorial in the Modern Butler’s Journal dated May 1, I thought you were 100% correct.  A mentor once told me to be doubly aware of the difference between the words ‘reason’ and ‘excuse.’. Bypass the ‘excuse’ and find the ‘reason.’  I thought you nailed it quite nicely.  I am also greatly aware of the difference between the words «conspiracy» and «agenda.»

«Name calling has now become a substitute for debate because it is easier for someone who has been caught with their hand in the cookie jar to just call you a ‘conspiracy theorist’ rather than to explain their actual ‘agenda.’

«We now have couple of compliant generations disastrously groomed for compliance in government schools:»Don’t question, simply obey,» so they do not question the numbers or when ‘trusted’ government officials, such as Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, declares the death of a toddler to be «coronavirus related,» even though the baby drowned  (we know he lied because the child’s parents were quite upset about this misrepresentation).

«Why would the governor lie about something so serious? Could it be that in his state, like so many others, when leadership operates in a world without accountability or consequences (such as creating fiscal time bombs by misappropriation of public pension monies), that telling a little fib to garner a greater share of that «stimulus» money becomes acceptable?

«CBS News was caught red-handed staging news at the Cherry Health Care Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan, by having the medical facility temporarily pull working employees from their duties to form ‘long testing lines’ in their cars in order to give the impression of the hospital being swamped when there were was actually no demand. Again, the reason we know is because some of those employees objected. ‘Let no crisis go to waste, even if you have to create a crisis.’ Thank you, Rahm Emanuel. So thank you, I very much appreciate your words.» AM

Ed: I am glad you agree with the article and love your points re: agenda, name calling, and the falsification of statistics—spot on. In the end, it is not about us individually, but everyone doing well and as you say, there is an awful lot of criminality and dishonesty going on at the moment that cuts across real solutions.

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«I have been sceptical but cautious over the Covid 19 outbreak. Our hospitals are not full but so many operations and medical procedures have been put on hold. It makes you wonder, whether other sacrifices are being made to worry about this virus, when there are thousands of viruses out there and few treatments for other ailments available, causing unnecessary deaths and suffering which can also be blamed on Covid 19. Are we at a time in our history where we are being played?  Is this virus an experiment to determine a future where we are all fodder for manipulation?

«The online Media appear to be part of a government propaganda scheme to control and manipulate thought process, to prevent sceptics from being aired and to block or ban any negative connotations that we maybe are being duped and that unless the government continues to curb our activities, we will question what it was all about because it was not as severe as it was first prescribed. The question is, are the death rates being exaggerated to puff up the seriousness of the pandemic? Are normal deaths being put down as Covid-19 and why have death rates been rising so quickly lately, when curves were meant to be falling? The rate of infection only shows that more testing is taking place, whereas, I had a cough for 6 weeks and no test was available, only critical workers could be tested, so it makes sense that anyone around sick people if unprotected would be more vulnerable.

«It is not completely clear if there is a global scam taking place: there is certainly a virus but we have no clarity on how severe it is. No one that we know has died from it, a great number of hospital wards are almost empty, hospital car parks are virtually empty, no visitors allowed, no one allowed to go in and visit their family members… something does not quite add up. What I find to be a problem is the complete lack of questioning and investigation into what this virus is, where it has come from, what the history of it is, whether it is man-made, or whether market practices that have existed for thousands of years have suddenly mutated a virus and this has spread globally. 

«Our whole way of life has been compromised as the governments scurry around either finding out the truth or covering up the truth but keeping most of whatever they find away from public scrutiny.  If you have ever knowingly felt lied to, you will know that you have smelt a rat. If you can feel or sense a global cover up, you realise the governments are working together and sensationalising this pandemic as an opportunity to take tighter controls on populations, or use it for political gain to prop up controls and position themselves so they come out of this as a government who have appeared capable and caring, but have in fact been made stronger by taking a total grip on control mechanisms despite the plight of its people.

«There are ‘conspiracy theories everywhere, but one person I have enjoyed listening to is a former BBC reporter called David Icke, who has now been banned and all his media removed from YouTube and Facebook; he is being erased but has raised the questions and it is strange to see which government bodies have been influencing the ban on people like him. 

«Another person you would enjoy listening to is Delores Cahill, who is a genetic scientist of virus mutations and she has a wealth of experience and advise which has been ignored. She basically asks the same questions as David Icke but also provides the answers through her own work, see https://youtu.be/Avc6_ftzk3w [Ed note: The link demonstrates the censorship by YouTube that the writer is complaining about]

«Is there is a global cover-up and are the lockdowns completely unnecessary? We may well all have had the virus and are now just being controlled and manipulated. We must stand together and we must ask the questions, otherwise future generations will think we are just muppets while our friends and families have been scared and intimated and made financially dependent upon the government and in debt for many years to come. No one has won but the massive financial institutes who are behind our governments. Kind regards and massively sceptical.» WF

Ed: Thanks very much for having the courage to look at this pandemic subject and share your own research and views. You are quite right to be skeptical and have spotted the areas which do not add up. This whole travesty is actually part of an agenda and not a valid medical emergency, no more than the flu or a car accident are, and certainly it does not make sense to collapse the entire world economy and civil and human rights over it. Where something does not make sense, it bears closer inspection.

On a personal level, it is better to boost the immune systems with vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D, A, etc.—natural versions, not the petrochemical versions from pharmaceutical companies—so you do not catch the virus in the first place. And even if you did, the likelihood is almost zero that anyone below retirement age will experience more than mild symptoms at the most—probably none—unless they have an underlying condition, such as a lung or heart condition and are taking statins.

Update: Although anyone questioning the official narrative has been disappeared from YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and the Google search engine and also villified to put other people off them, they are available on other platforms that are starting to spring up. My upcoming paper on the subject will be published in a week or two and will provide many links to other voices and a wealth of fascinating information so readers can have access and make up their own mind.

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Continuing the correspondence with Alex Parker for his article on Batman’s Batman:

Alex: Here’s my piece–thanks a lot, again, for your help. https://ordinary-times.com/2019/08/03/all-in-for-alfred/

Ed: Excellent writing, Alex, well-constructed and delivered. You have taught me as much about Batman’s provenance and raison d’etre as I may have opened the doors into the world of butling for you. One question: What does “schamus” mean? I could not find it anywhere. A pleasure working with you, and thanks for the quotes and link. Wishing you continued success as a writer.

Alex: Not surprising that you couldn’t find «schamus,» because it’s supposed to be shamus. Glad you pointed that out, I’ll change it. It means a detective, not sure where it comes from originally, I think of it as a term from old detective novels. Thanks so much for your praise, I really appreciate it. Was fun putting this together, it’s an idea I’ve had for a long time, but I learned some surprising things.

Ed: Thanks, Alex. Now that you mention it, the word rings a very, very distant bell that I cannot locate precisely, but I have heard it somewhere before. Its etymology is quite telling for Pennyworth:

«Police officer, detective,» 1920, apparently first in The Shamus, a detective story published that year by Harry J. Loose (1880-1943), a Chicago police detective and crime writer; the book was marketed as «a true tale of thiefdom and an expose of the real system in crime.» The word is said to be probably from Yiddish shames, literally «sexton of a synagogue» («a potent personage only next in influence to the President»,  Israel Zangwill), from Hebrew shamash, «servant;» influenced by the Celtic Seamus, James, as a typical name for an Irish policeman.»

Alex: Huh, that’s funny. It does sound like it’s a word that could either be Yiddish or Irish, that’s probably why I thought it had «sch» in it.

Ed: Well spotted! So, another mystery bites the dust, my dear Watson….er Jeeves….er Pennyworth.

Alex: “Indeed, Sir!”

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.

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The Modern Butlers’ Journal, May 2020, Letters to the Editor

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«I am surprised to find two things that need correcting in the latest edition of your always excellent newsletter: Ivor Spencer was made an MBE by the Queen, not knighted. Had he he been knighted, he would be known as Sir Ivor, not Sir Spencer as you wrote. I do hope you are keeping active, fit and well during these ‘horror movie’ times. Warmest regards,» RE

Ed: Thanks for pointing out these errors. I see we have a common misconception in the profession that Mr. Spencer was knighted as an MBE and therefore entitled to the appellation: «Sir Ivor Spencer.» In fact, it takes being knighted to earn that appellation, and CBEs, OBEs, and MBEs are awards, not knighthoods. I trust you, too, are doing well in your slice of paradise.

Continuing the correspondence with Alex Parker for his article on Batman’s Batman:

«It reminds me of something my therapist told me about the ‘third place’: You have work, and family as two places that bring with them a lot of complications and baggage, so humans seek a third group for support that is non-judgmental and somewhat disconnected, like church or support groups. Butlers are a mix of work and family but maybe also help perform that third-place role.

«As for Alfred, it really depends on the writer, but he’s often portrayed as a wise, sage advisor, kind of a Watson, who’s also melancholy, having seen the Wayne parents murdered and watching their son risk his life in his Batman quest. If you’re interested, I’d definitely recommend the Dark Knight trilogy of movies by Christopher Nolan. Michael Caine is often heartbreaking in the role, playing this mix of loyalty to Bruce Wayne (Batman’s alter ego) and worry about his self-destructive behavior.» Thanks again! I’ll let you know when I publish.

Ed: I can see you are deep into the whys and wherefores—nice work.

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.

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Letters to the Editor Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, April 2020, Letters to the Editor

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«Another great newsletter and I enjoyed the answer on ‘Continuing the correspondence with Alex’ with some great insights/history on the profession.

«I wish I had sent you this Bar Butler photo earlier as it would have paired well with the BBQ Butler you mentioned. I saw the Bar Butler in our local supermarket in Mosselbay, South Africa.» RM

Ed: Glad you liked the interchange with the author about Batman’s butler—it was a fun conversation, and at the end of the series, we’ll link to his article. Bar Butler is another first, so thanks for that—he will be appearing in the next MBJ—thanks for your contribution. 

Continuing the correspondence with Alex Parker for his article on Batman’s Batman:

Thanks again for your help. And don’t worry about stealing my thunder with the newsletter—we’ve covered a lot of interesting ground and unfortunately there’s a lot that probably won’t fit into my piece. But I’m glad to have learned a lot anyways. I’m hoping to post my piece tomorrow. One thing that occurs to me while writing is that with a butler, in some sense what you’re getting is a family member, without some of the complications that come with family. As you say, with a butler you want someone who knows you completely, but I assume also isn’t going to judge you or try to influence your behavior. This is relevant, since Alfred doesn’t always approve of his employer dressing up like a crazed bat and putting his life in danger. I’m wondering if this is part of the thousand-year-old ethic that you describe—let me know if you have thoughts.

Ed: Thanks, Alex, you have nailed it nicely. In fact, this quotation from Somerset Maugham might be of interest: 

“American women expect to find in their husbands a perfection that English women only hope to find in their butlers.” 

In a way, in the best of circumstances, a butler is like man’s best friend: Always loving, always eager to see you, neither judgmental nor argumentative, ready to leap to your defense, and loyal to the end. Not being a Batman afficionado, I can only surmise that Mr. Pennyworth fits this descriptor.

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.

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Letters to the Editor Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, March 2020, Letters to the Editor

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«I can relate to your wise message and I am grateful for the insight. Thank you. This definitely should be the tone for 2020. I believe it is only fair that people be given a chance: When I started as a Guest Relations Officer here, the news was not well received by some. But I proved myself to be more-than-capable in the following months. When I was then given the opportunity to become the first butler, the idea was sadly almost dismissed. Now, after throwing myself into self-development, I can say with pride that I have progressed much further.» MY

Ed: You are most welcome. Congratulations on your persistence and for pushing through despite the naysayers to show that anything is possible for anyone who sets their mind to it! May you continue to grow!

Continuing the correspondence with Alex Parker for his article on Batman’s Batman:

«Another random question: Do you know why butlers are so associated with England? Maybe it’s just because of the U.S./U.K. connection, but it’s not like there aren’t servants in other cultures.»

Ed: Another good question and one that requires more than a couple of sentences to explore. 

Modern butling traces its history back to the English peasants who were brought into the castles to provide personal service to their Lords and Ladies 1,100 years ago. The line of service has continued and developed unbroken since. 

The French might have been contenders, but the French Revolution put paid to the idea of servants. The Germans were not a nation, and so their household managers/butlers did not develop into a recognized body of professionals. The Russians and Chinese of old have had estates managers, but they also had communist revolutions that cut across that sort of position and relationship. 

The Americans have only just started as a culture (relatively speaking), and household service after the revolution I believe was mostly by indentured service or slaves—hardly something to aspire to for an individual. 

The Ancient Greeks and Romans did not have butlers per se, but slaves with limited functions that did not relate to managing properties, only to the alcoholic-serving aspect of the butler job description. Any real household managers probably disappeared with the Roman Empire.

The Indians did have butlers (a very large mausoleum was built outside New Delhi by a prince for his butler, in the 1500s I believe) but they, again, were not considered a professional body, just lowly servants, and they subsequently fell under the shadow of the British butler during the British Empire days in India. 

So why British butlers? In part, because the British ruled America, and even though the British were eventually persuaded to leave, they were still considered by the wealthy in the US to be the points of reference for all things wealthy. British butlers were highly sought after as a necessary part of demonstrating one’s wealth by the NY elite 150 years ago. Part of this would be down to the existence of the British Royal family and nobility—again, perhaps the only unbroken line in the world with considerable and continued influence around the world.

I am sure an Italian maggiordomo or Spanish majordomo might consider themselves to be contenders for the original butlers, especially those who served the Venetian bankers, etc., but the fact is that their numbers and reputation have never been as great as that of the British butler. And while their royal lineages may or may not be broken, their countries have long since lost their global influence.

If you look at literature, it is usually English literature that has spoken of butlers, whether such as ES Turner or PJ Wodehouse, or Kazuo Ishiguro (Remains of the Day), or court cases that occasionally include butlers (the ones that come to mind are a murdering 19th Century butler, and one from the 18th Century, I believe, where the outcome of a divorce case involving nobility depended on what the butler had seen through the keyhole). And of course, there is Downton Abbey and every movie and TV series ever made in the USA, that always harkens back to the butler as an English artifact!

All roads point to Great Britain when it comes to butlers, it seems.

One last point: You speak of servants: The British butler was considered merely a servant until modern times, but the culture he built was based upon dignity and self-worth, maybe the result of the Magna Carter, signed in the early days of the butler’s existence (1215). Employers did not want to lose a good butler, so as the centuries advanced and the butlers became increasingly indispensable, employers treated their butlers well — generally, thereby reinforcing the dignity, position, and reputation of the butler. 

Other cultures have perhaps not been so appreciative or respectful of those who managed their homes, and so contributed to those professions not being desirable ones, according them little value. Painting with a broad brush, but we are looking at thousands of years of cultures on planet Earth, so there will be exceptions, but I believe my ideas may have some merit overall.

Of course, being a great fan of the Merchant and Ivory movie, Remains of the Day, I paraphrase Mr. Stevens, the butler, who says that he does not believe the “Continentals” have the necessary reserve to be great butlers. “Continentals” being those excitable Europeans. He is obviously painting with a very broad brush, and it is not true that culture straightjackets a man (or these days, woman), but this does give an idea of the British butler considering himself to be at the top of the pecking order when it comes to the butler world. When you run an Empire the size of the British Empire—the largest the world has ever known—you can afford to be “sneery” and look down your nose at other butlers and even cultures; but these days, of course, good butlers exist in all nationalities, cultures, and in both genders (I believe it is politically correct but scientifically dubious to say “all genders”). Good butlers are considered so based on merit, their understanding of the mindset and goals of the butler, and their ability and drive to live up to the standards of a butler.

However, as we continue to make known the history of the profession, it was the British Butler who developed and promulgated by an unbroken apprenticeship line, the better values and attitudes of the butler. It is these we take, at the Institute, and meld with the requirements of the modern butler around the world. The goal being not just to serve the wealthy, but to imbue all service industries with the same solicitousness: The IRS, for instance, the police, immigration officials, etc. No reason they should not provide caring service, too. But however widespread the butler service style may become, across industries and countries, the genus will always be the British Butler.

And so, in the end, it will not be the mighty British Navy but the lowly British Butler that continues that great slogan, «Rule Britannia, Britannia Rules the Waves!” (Joke)

This is my off-at-hand answer to your question.

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.

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Letters to the Editor Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, February 2020, Letters to the Editor

PostBoxContinuing the correspondence with Alex Parker for his article on Batman’s Batman:

«The show is more about the fantasy version of MI6 that is known to most Americans—James Bond, etc.—than the reality. If you don’t mind my asking, what was your experience with intelligence analysis? Not a big deal, just would be a nice detail for the story–you’re a real-life Alfred!»

Ed: I’ll take that as a compliment. I agree on your analysis about the fantasy version of MI6. To answer your question, I analyzed a stream of information for a client in order to identify trouble spots, or conversely, good spots, and then provided an analysis of those spots with recommendations where needed. This was in the early ‘80s and I did it for four years before moving over to being a butler in England and then the US.

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.

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Letters to the Editor Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, January 2020, Letters to the Editor

PostBoxContinuing the letters with Alex Parker for his article on Batman’s Batman:

«I thought of one more question, sorry to keep bugging you. Part of why I’m writing this is because a TV show Pennyworth is soon to premiere and it’s about Alfred’s days as an MI6 agent. You said that all of your prior work helped prepare you for the butler profession—I’m curious how being an intelligence analyst helped.»

Ed: Good question. I am neither vouching for MI6 nor its ability to analyze situations correctly—their use of logic and investigative technology is very weak when it comes to a) evaluating data and b) using that analysis to analyze situations and so divine exactly what is going on and c) then work out how to handle the issue uncovered. I have had one instance in my personal life that resulted in considerable grief because of their inability to analyze situations correctly. I am sure that they have enjoyed successes within their definition of success, but the overall statistics for the British Empire are pretty poor: It went from being the largest empire in the world to struggling to maintain Great Britain as a unit. As MI6 was formed over a century ago, I would say it has presided over that monumental contraction. I am not commenting on the rightness or wrongness of the British Empire, only that MI6 was given a task and has failed at it singularly—and all for lack of an understanding of their own subject: Intelligence analysis.

Suffice to say, with regard to your question, if one could analyze information properly and reach correct conclusions and thus take the correct actions that actually resolved the situations, it would stand one in good stead in any position—certainly for an intelligence analyst who was later to become a valet/butler tasked with making right decisions more often than wrong ones for the employer.

Would you have replied with anything substantially different?

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.

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Letters to the Editor Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, December 2019, Letters to the Editor

PostBoxLetters to the Editor

«I wish to express a huge thank you to both Modern Butlers and Mr. Herman! Thank you for having Mr. Herman in your monthly Journal. I’m a house manager taking care of a huge estate in Beverly Hills that has more silver and brass in it than any other house I have ever taken care of. I was at my wits end dealing with all this silver, I knew I needed to be able to appreciate it more and have some affinity for it. I contacted Jeff for a pep talk about how to go about taking care of all these precious metals.  He was so gracious with his time. I was just amazed at all his help. His website is a huge resource everyone should know about. Mr. Herman saved me from watching hundreds of hours of You Tube videos that might have contained wrong directions. I got straight, precise and exact information I needed from Mr. Herman. He helped me to preserve the silver and is making me look good at doing my job.» KW 

Ed: Thank you so much for the feedback—we always appreciate hearing how the MBJ has been of use and I will make sure that Mr. Herman receives the good news, although I am sure you expressed it to him in person :-). We very much appreciate him, too!

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[A LinkedIn correspondence] «We need good trainers and consultants such as Steven Ferry, Chris Anthony, Neil Shorthouse, FIH Roy Cheng in Malaysia.»  DS

Ed: As with Neil, I thank you for the kind words, David.  Also, your words «…big luxury brands and names are struggling due to leaders often hiding behind the desks and not checking on standards» are spot on.

This, in my view, is in part due to the amalgamations of brands that have occurred into super chains and the focus on the bottom line as investors have taken over ownership over hoteliers. 

To counteract this, we have formed dna-qa.com as a complete revolutionizing of the approach to QA, including the introduction of emotional and guest engagement skills. I believe these points, plus the need for proper training that you mention, to be critical.

And if we are to be honest and recognize the elephant in the room, the increasing lack of a hiring pool as dropping educational and moral standards push those coming into the workforce away from the notion of work and service. This is a huge issue that we, as a profession, can overcome in part by making hospitality more appealing, but which really requires a systemic change in education as a whole and in moral standards in particular. There are solutions for these two issues, too, but they have yet to gain widespread traction. It all starts with recognizing that these properly stated problems do exist, though.

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Continuing the letters with Alex Parker for his article on Batman’s Batman:

«I’m also interested in the cultural image of a butler–the way it was this universally known figure of wealth and status at the turn of the 20th century, at least going back to Jeeves from P.G. Wodehouse. (Who, I learned from Wikipedia, was actually a valet.) So when they created this comic book character in the 1940s who was a rich playboy, it just seemed obvious that they’d need a butler character. These days, though, you don’t see it often in books or movies, at least that I can think of. Even though, as you point out, the profession has been growing since the 70s. If you have thoughts on this, please let me know.

Ed: Butlers serving playboys or single adventurers is not a recent phenomenon. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Passepartout  for instance. They are a valet, housekeeper, butler, confident, driver, cook etc. rolled into one. They are variations of butlers managing estates and households, and these go back a thousand years in England—their reputation based on being of service to royalty, nobility, and the extremely wealthy and powerful, who need a discreet and effective right hand man they can trust to manage their personal affairs and act as sounding boards and even advisors, while offering no attitude, or need on the part of the employer to deal with their off-at-hand opinions or vexations. 

Would you have replied with anything substantially different?

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.

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The Modern Butlers’ Journal, November 2019, Letters to the Editor

PostBoxLetters to the Editor

«I thoroughly enjoy your monthly newsletter and I look forward to each new issue – congratulations on a job well done, it’s truly a wonderful resource for all of us.» JG

Ed: Comments such as these make it all worthwhile, thank you.

# # #

«I always learn so much from your newsletter and am so grateful for its existence. I was saddened by the gossiping backbiters that exist in our field. The ‘too little too late”’ [mentioned in the last issue] was not lost on my perceptions of an undutiful human being.

«My contracts are very clear about confidentiality. I suppose it is an ethical character flaw to put an employer in a scandalous light. Are these colleagues looking for a small payout, notoriety maybe? I am not sure. Who would want to hire someone who wasn’t a trustworthy individual to their last principal?

«Though I prefer to put my principals in a positive light, I would and I have had to report abuses that I have encountered and witnessed. I am skilled enough to know I can find another position—which I have done because of sexual harassment, but I don’t sue, I leave.» DS

Ed: Many thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts in support of the key qualities of private service professionals

# # #

Continuing the letters with Alex Parker for his article on Batman’s Batman:

«I see Alfred as kind of the quintessential or stereotypical British butler—he is always uniformed, polite, reserved, seems to work full-time to attend to every household need, lives on-premise, and is essentially a member of the family. Do butlers like this still exist in North America, or the world? If not, how has the role changed?

Ed: Yes, butlers definitely still exist who are quintessential butlers—or in America, they are generally called Household or Estate Managers. The role requires that one have this attitude and approach, otherwise one cannot be of real service and also be accepted in the family as a resident alien—I just came up with that term, being one myself as a Green Card holder before I became an American citizen, but it has some applicability in the domestic environment—and perhaps also in the world of Batman.

Would you have replied with anything substantially different?

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.

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Letters to the Editor Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, October 2019, Letters to the Editor

PostBoxLetters to the Editor

«Might I use your Code of Ethics as a basis for Service Learning at our college’s Humanities Department? It works so well for our Service Excellence commitment.» EMV

Ed: «Of course, we wish you success with the implementation.»

«Thank you so much—we are not butlers, but we serve as well!» EMV

Continuing the exchange with Alex Parker, who was seeking information for an article he was writing about the new lead character in the Batman movies—the butler:

«Just from the little Internet research I’ve done, I’ve read that the profession has grown in recent decades as the number of wealthy households has increased, but the role has become more technical, almost more like being a computer engineer. Am I understanding this correctly, and do you have any further thoughts on this?»

The editor’s response:

«The role has grown in numbers, having almost disappeared in the 1970s. Various new waves of the wealthy have been created over the last half century (dotcom, Arabs, Russians, Chinese, techies, et al), all of whom have seen butlers as (a) an expected status symbol and (b) a necessity if they are not to end up running their own estates and having to personally deal with staff the whole time—better to hire a butler to take care of these matters and focus on the great games to which great wealth opens doors. Having strangers in large houses to care for them is a given, so it makes sense to hire those who are attentive, intelligent, and trustworthy, whom you can count upon to be there for you because they are loyal and know you inside out—no explaining to do, they present things you want without your having to ask for them.

«And yes, as technology has grown in our lives, so too has the butler’s role required that he or she be able to manage complex technical systems and gadgets. Does that make them system or computer engineers? Not at all. Anyone thinking so should persuade their butler to take a leave for a month and bring in a computer engineer to be the butler: Both parties will be glad when the month is up. I have trained extremely intelligent computer geeks to interact with CEOs of transnational companies. The training was very successful, but their being butlers at the beginning of the course was a complete non-starter—they know how to communicate with bits and bytes (more than I do, to be sure), but talking to real people? Oh no!

«A butler is first and foremost a private-service professional who knows how to manage a house and the principals, guests, staff and vendors in and around it. He has secondary skill sets, which vary depending on the needs of the employer, and these can include chauffeur, chef, golf partner (who knows how to lose by a small margin), and these days, an operator of certain digital systems and equipment.

«However, when you have techies who know a lot about bits and bytes, commanding billions of dollars, they sometimes make the mistake of transposing their work environment and technology into their private house. They seem to have no idea that a house is a home, not an extension of their technical systems. No amount of AI robots and software can substitute for live, intelligent, and genuine butlers. Make their job easier? Yes—where the technology is not buggy and a distraction. But homes are meant to be warm and welcoming, not clinical and business-like. Anyone pushing this AI angle as the great breakthrough in our lives that will do away with the bother generated by humans might want to review the movie Cast Away and the hopeful but hopelessly inadequate relationship between Tom Hanks as the lead character (Chuck Noland) and his one-and-only companion, Wilson.»

Would you have replied with anything substantially different?

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.