The Diary of Jimmy Kent: September
Sept 21, 1920
Is that how I'm supposed to start this? I'm not really sure… I've never had a diary before since it's silly and girly, so I'm not really sure how this whole thing works. Actually, the only reason I even have this blasted thing is because I found it outside under Mr. Bates' cane (O'Brien must have hidden it from him again) and since it was such a nice shade of periwinkle, I decided to keep it. It makes me feel poetic and mysterious.
And, since life is dramatic lately, I suppose it will be nice to have something to confide in.
Not that I have anything to confide.
But, like I said, life is very dramatic. Today I lost my glove twice. And Bates told Carson I have a bad attitude which is just rude and uncalled for, since I have everything but. HE'S the rude one. And then, to top it all off, I got a scolding from Mrs. Patmore because she heard me telling Alfred that the reason he's 2nd footman is because he's so unattractive and has no personality. She shooed me away with oven mitts while Daisy and Ivy giggled in the background. I don't understand the fuss, since it's true.
Still, was very upset about the whole thing, so ended up playing angry piano in the servants' hall. Was perhaps playing a bit too loud, because Mr. Carson came storming in with Mrs. Hughes behind him, and had an absolute fit.
"WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING, JAMES? AT THIS TIME OF DAY? HAVEN'T YOU WORK TO DO?"
Mrs. Hughes stuck up for me though, so eventually he gave up and grumbled away. I tried not to smirk too much.
Love Mrs. Hughes. Is very kind and motherly and has such a soothing voice. Would love her more if she hadn't become best mates with Mr. Barrow who is a sexual predator.
You see Diary, I hate Mr. Barrow. Absolutely hate him. Hate him, hate him, hate him. From his stupid raven black hair, to his annoying moon-white pallid skin, to his ugly, shiny, under-butler shoes. Is an indecent man. And very bold. Hate him, hate him, hate him.
Is strange though.
Before, Barrow was so sweet and always smiled and paid attention to my pretty hair and kissed me in my sleep, but now he is indifferent and professional and doesn't look at me. Do not mind of course, since hate Barrow and his strange advances, even if I cannot blame him because I am a very valuable and pretty person. Is still strange, though.
I mean, sure I tried to fire him and ruin his life (but really, that was only because of that old, haggardly woman, O'Brien, and her persuasive bitch skills, and it was Alfred who called the coppers, not me) but does he really have to act like I'm just another person? I'm first footman, and he used to pay lots of attention to me. It was sort of nice…
Well. I mean. In a sex-offender sort of way.
It's just appalling that he has the AUDACITY to pretend I don't exist when he STALKED me before. But I really am happy about it. Extremely happy.
Sometimes I'll even walk past him so close that my shoulder bumps against his, just to prove to him that I am [still] not affected by his presence and am [still] in control of the situation. He never seems to pay much attention though.
Not that I care.
On second thought, Mr. Barrow probably only pretends I don't exist because he's plotting some secret mission to molest me.
Which is just horrid.
Alfred's just seen me writing in my diary.
He said, "Oi! What's that? You got a little girl's diary?" and laughed like he thought he was funny.
So I said that I can do as I please and that writing was not solely women's work. Then I told Ivy she has nice skin and walked out, being sure to walk slow to make an impact. Love complimenting Ivy whenever Alfred irritates me. Almost makes him cry because he carries a torch for her and she likes me so much better.
But what if Alfred's right? What if it is girly to have a diary? Will have to keep it hidden from now on. And will need to show that am not girly at all.
Hm. Must prove my manliness to him…
Well, Diary. I knew it. Barrow is still obsessed with me.
Right before I went up to serve dinner, he told me this:
"James. Straighten your tie."
! The creep! He was obviously looking at my neck. Probably envisioning illicit fantasies. I knew there was something going on with him. And though he doesn't actually look at me ever, I know he probably does when I'm not paying attention, cuz he's a dumb egg like that. Ugh!
Had terrible dreams last night. In one, I turned into an ugly girl and everybody was making fun of me, and I couldn't find my clothes and I was chased by the villagers into a cave of manure.
Must not turn into a girl. Must prove Alfred wrong and show everybody how masculine I am! Today. Will find a way to make it happen. Perhaps Daisy will trip and I can catch her?
Like Daisy. Is a darling, but has very bad taste.
Have decided to take matters into my own hands.
Today at breakfast, Alfred teased me in front of everybody, after Carson and Mrs. Hughes left.
"Where's your little journal, Miss Jimmy?"
The hall boys laughed, and I debated on throwing my porridge on his pants.
"I think it's nice that Jimmy has a journal. More boys should be like him," Ivy smiled, giving me the eye. She's a pretty gal, but she's terribly clingy and very silly. Still though, I smiled in return and winked, because you got to have the right people playing for your team. And I knew my hair looked nice today.
"Well, I'm glad I'm not like him," Alfred mumbled.
"That's enough, Alfred. I suggest you get started with your day," Mr. Barrow suddenly clipped from his seat, his voice simultaneously cold and smooth.
There he was again, practically THROWING himself at me from across the table.
I will not stand for his advances. You'd think after almost getting FIRED, he would learn to control himself.
Indignantly, I left the table without another word, being sure to not look at Mr. Barrow, and sending chill vibes his way.
Still though. Things are getting out of hand. I need to do something. And soon.
But what do real men do?
(not that I'm not a real man. I'm very manly.)
Have taken the first steps of proving my masculinity.
Today I ate raw meat. In front of all the girls, and Alfred, too!
Alfred said he didn't think I could do it, so I took a pinch—a large pinch—out of Daisy's mixing bowl, and ATE IT in front of them ALL. I didn't even flinch!
Well, at least on the outside. On the inside I was absolutely dying because it was horrid and cold and slimy and I just wanted to spit.
Alfred "hmph"ed and looked away, Ivy giggled and said, "Jimmy, you'll do anything, won't you?" and Daisy looked at me with either severe judgment or awe. I prefer to think the latter.
Unfortunately, as everybody was fawning over my testosteronely ways, Mrs. Patmore thumped in, screeching.
"WHAT did I just see you do?!" She grabbed my hands, inspecting them, then scrutinized my face for signs of guilt. I must have looked terrified because she is very scary, large, and red. One time I saw her beat Molesley with a pan because he smudged her pudding.
"I"—I began, unsure of where to go from there.
"He took some raw meat from Daisy's bowl and ate it," Alfred finished without a blink.
My jaw dropped at his treachery.
"That's what I thought! What you thinkin, you bloomin idiot? Eating RAW meat?!"
"Well you what?! Thought you'd get your grubby hands in His Lordship's dinner? Get yourself sick with who knows what?"
"My, er, hand slipped. It must've grabbed some meat, and"—
"Oh? Well you better run outta here before MY hand slips and I chop off one of your sneaky little fingers!" she boomed, and I left as quickly as I could.
She continued to shout at me even as I was in the other room, and now it seems that I'm banned from the kitchen. At least, for the rest of the week.
It's not fair, because I just had a tiny bit of red meat, and don't all men do that? We can't be blamed for following our instincts.
Was worth it, though. Even if I do feel a little sick….
Am most definitely sick. Cannot wait until I go to bed.
Why did I do this?
Some scullery maids just came up to me.
Said, "Jimmy? We saw how you ate that meat raw. How did you do it? I can't believe you dared cross Mrs. Patmore, she's terrifying! Are you sick? That was so brave of you," and on and on.
Told them that I was used to doing such things, and that it was all part of being a man.
Hm. Must do this again.
Bloody Hell! I just remembered I'm banned from the kitchen! How will I eat raw meat and prove how strong I am to everybody?
I'll ask Ivy to knick me some.
Ivy has stolen the meat and given it to me. I ate it in front of everybody again, but felt so sick after eating it that I needed to run to the bathroom.
Now Alfred can't stop laughing.
Am never doing this again.
Overheard Alfred making fun of me to impress the maids. They were giggling because they're uneducated.
Not long after, heard Mr. Barrow say, "That's enough Alfred. You lot should all be upstairs. On you go."
It didn't sound mean, but it felt cold. He has such a way of speaking that is authoritative and calm at the same time… Not like Carson who booms orders and tuts and is curt. Mr. Barrow is very smooth, almost intimidating at times. He never used to be before.
Not that it matters.
The point is, he obviously only joined the conversation because it was about me. It's the only explanation, since he hasn't said anything to, or rather at, me in days. And he can't have forgotten about me.
Why does he keep acting like I don't exist?
I'm first footman!
Mr. Barrow made more advances on me today.
Was heading up to dinner with the fish, when my coattails got stuck on the corner of the table. So Barrow UNSTUCK me. Just took his hands and fondled my fabric, and didn't even blink an eye.
I nearly blushed, but thankfully nobody saw.
I bet it's because of what Alfred was saying. He thinks I'm weak.
Must prove him wrong! Him and his prying hands.
Had an absolutely atrocious day. More horrible than you could possibly imagine, Diary.
It all started because I decided to take a different approach to my problems. Instead of eating raw meat, I decided to do the next manliest thing: chopping wood.
However. I am a footman, and all wood-related issues are strictly below my stature, so I had a bit of a conundrum on my hands. After much deliberation, I decided that I could chop just one piece of wood, carry it in while I wore an old jacket (so I wouldn't get my clothes dirty), and walk slowly enough to show others, but quickly enough to avoid Mr. Carson.
So, as soon as I woke up, I snuck out to the woodshed in the back, and began my project.
Well. Turns out, chopping wood is exceptionally difficult. I couldn't get the blasted thing to split—not even a crack—so decided to try to smash it to bits.
Did not work. Instead, my hand was pierced with a sliver as long as my finger. Did not cry at the pain, but did get a woodchip in my eye, so teared up the tiniest bit due to the physical irritation.
At that point, was so in despair that did not notice Alfred who had just come outside to get the morning paper. It was much later than I had thought.
He peered at me—tiny, squinting black eyes under greased, orange potato hair.
"Are you…crying?" He sounded repulsed.
Was appalled at such a notion, so wiped the sweat off of my face (because that's ALL it was—sweat) and stood up as tall as I could.
"No! I'm not bloody crying! I'm chopping wood!"
He looked at my pathetic attempts surrounding me: chipped logs, half-cracked twigs, and splinters.
"Are you talking about that lot back there…?" He nodded to something behind me.
And glory behold, there was a huge, tidy stack of beautifully chopped firewood! I sent up a prayer of thanks and was just about to flex my muscles, when Alfred began to laugh. He laughed! Right in my face!
"You're chopping wood? That's the work of hall boys! You're no first footman! Ohhh, Carson will love to hear about this," he guffawed, head thrown back.
Felt heat in my cheeks, and didn't know what to say. I suppose it was a slightly strange situation. "I'm taking initiative," I said icily, and grabbed a log off the stack and stormed into the servants' hall, right past that oaf.
Momentarily felt triumphant. Until I realized I walked into the servants' breakfast.
And the hall boys.
And Mr. Barrow.
And worst of all, I'd forgotten my jacket. So the dirty wood was all over my uniform.
It. Was. A. Nightmare.
"James," Carson spluttered, taking the scene in, "What is the meaning of this? What are you doing with that log? And in your livery?"
Everybody waited for an answer. Including me.
"Well. I. You see, there was…" I had absolutely NO clue how to explain myself, and the hall boys were just staring at me with accusing eyes (I don't know why, you'd think they'd be happy of someone else doing their chores) and I was starting to feel woodchips in my eyes again, when suddenly—
"Ah, James. Did you discover what that noise was?" Mr. Barrow's icy blue eyes hit me for the first time in months.
Oh God. What was he talking about?
I stared blankly.
"Noise? What noise?" Carson frowned, looking from Barrow, to me, and back again.
I couldn't form words.
"James?" Mrs. Hughes prompted.
All eyes on me.
"Nothing to worry about, Mr. Carson," Barrow supplied. "Some creature was making a ruckus outside, and I told James to handle the situation. Seems to have gotten him into a spot of trouble, but I trust it's nothing to worry about." He lied easily, smiling at the ends of his sentences.
I was lost for words. Why was he doing this?
"But I just—" Alfred began (he'd snuck in about five seconds previous, the bastard).
"Alfred, this is not your place," Barrow finished, with finality. O'Brien shot him a death glare but kept quiet. (she's been oddly quiet lately…)
Carson looked to me, and I composed myself enough to suggest I had a clue about what Barrow was talking about.
"Is this true, James?"
I nodded. "Yes, sir. Was just a…." I sneaked a quick glance at Barrow, who was firmly looking past my shoulder, "…a stray cat, sir. It was making a bit of a mess, so I shooed it away. It was a stubborn little thing, so it all turned a bit cat-and-mouse, but sh-she's gone now, and…" I didn't know how to finish. I didn't even know what I was saying, but I was sure I was blushing and everybody was still staring, and Barrow still wasn't but had that infuriating serene display of control soaked in his features. Here I was, looking a fool and he wasn't even blinking an eye!
"I see," said Mr. Carson, eyeing my filthy livery with near-fury. "And did you throw yourself on the ground?" The attitude soaked into every word.
I merely bowed my head in shame.
"We have some spare uniforms in the wardrobe, Mr. Carson," Anna offered kindly. Was touched. She may be married to a rude old man, but I suppose Anna is rather nice.
"Very good, Anna," Mrs. Hughes smiled, "Now let's finish our breakfast, shall we?" She shot a glance at Carson. I could hug that woman.
Mr. Carson sighed and nodded and I began to hurry away, log still in tow. But before settling back to his breakfast, he looked up once more, brows still furrowed. "May I just ask-" I halted, fearing what was coming next, "—why you're carrying a log?" Insane amounts of judgment.
A valid question.
"Well." I paused, hoping Barrow would fill in this minor detail. He didn't. "Well, I…need it."
"For what exactly?"
Even Mrs. Hughes looked confused.
I stared. Oh God. It was all going to fall apart. They were going to find out I was just doing this to look like a man, and they'll laugh at me, and I'll be even less manly than before, and I'll be the laughing stock of the house, and—
"He got a rather bad splinter. I suspect he's bringing it to show Dr. Clarkson." Barrow sounded a little less enthused about needing to fill in all the cracks for me. It's not my fault we're not all con artists.
"Why would he need the log to show Dr. Clarkson? Surely he need not go at all. It's just a splinter!" Mrs. Hughes nearly laughed.
I felt my face redden. Thanks, Barrow. Thanks.
"Well, you know our Jimmy. Always better to be safe than sorry."Our Jimmy? "And it is a bit of a nasty one," Barrow added, nodding to my injured hand. I awkwardly procured the evidence. (It really is an awful splinter. It impaled my whole palm, and if I'm not careful, I could most certainly get an infection. … Perhaps I should bring the log to Dr. Clarkson? Just to be sure it doesn't carry some sort of plague on it? Not to suggest that I am a worry wart, as they all most rudely implied…)
At this point Carson looked tired of the whole affair, so I just made my exit as swiftly as I possibly could.
"Well that was convenient," came a bitchy voice. O'Brien.
So I ran to my room, slammed my door, cleaned my hand, and the rest of the day was an absolute horror. Daisy and Ivy ignored me, and I swear Alfred was laughing at one point.
And don't get me started on Barrow. What does he think he's playing at? I don't need his help!
Am so embarrassed I could die.
Am keeping the log though. Just in case my hand gets infected and an analysis of the wood needs to be done. Just in case.
Oh Lord. Oh my Lord, Diary.
Yesterday. Yesterday when Barrow knew about the sliver in my hand. He couldn't have seen it, it was hidden by the log I was carrying.
Oh my Lord.
Diary. If he couldn't have seen it, how did he know I had it?
I'll tell you.
HE WAS WATCHING ME.
Oh my Lord.
This means he saw me crying!
Correction. Not crying. I meant: he saw my physical response to the woodchips caught in my eye.
Still, it reflects badly!
What must he think of me?!
Not that I care. Because he has no room to talk.
Being a weird sort and all.
He saw me failing to chop wood!
He must think I'm weak!
That's why he covered for me!
I'm in despair.
But how long was he watching me?
What does this mean?
I don't know how I'm going to face today.
The past couple of days have been boring, Diary. Everything's the same as always. Barrow is still ignoring me. Which is comical really, because I now know he watches me, and even though he doesn't know I know, he should still act like he knows he watches me. Because he does know, since he does it. So acting like I don't exist, when he is actually secretly stalking me with his eyes is downright rude.
But, all in all, I guess nobody really dwelled on the firewood incident. Which is good and bad.
Good because it was a disaster.
Bad because Alfred still keeps calling me a girl.
In short, I must continue to prove myself. But the trick is subtlety. I was trying too hard with the horrid firewood incident.
I need to do something subtle.
Yes. This is my goal. Next month will the month of change. I will be a better, stronger, manlier me.
I will call it: OCTOBER: THE MONTH OF CHANGE.
Oh, and tomorrow I'm going to confront Mr. Barrow about the splinter and ask if he was watching me.