Who wouldn't love the concept of a manservant who took care of all the nitty-gritties of daily existence?
For a single bachelor living in Mumbai, I sure would love to have some extra time on my hands during the weekends, not to mention evenings after office on weekdays. Clothes to be washed, put out to dry and then ironed, meals to be prepared, dusting the house... I could clearly do with some help.
And if one is getting help after all, why not in style?
Why not have someone who not only ensures the book-shelf is always neatly arranged but also knows how to stir up a perfect Long Island Iced Tea as you come back home after a long day at the office? One who is there not only to offer a word of advice when requested but also to take care of the work on Saturday and Sunday mornings so that you can get happily sloshed the evening before.
Now, I haven't had the privilege of watching a live butler / valet (What's the difference? Read on...) in action but here are the three best fictional ones I have come across:
3. J.A.R.V.I.S. - At no. 3 is the artificial intelligence system which serves Tony Stark in the Iron Man films. JARVIS stands for Just Another Rather Very Intelligent System. Of course, the original Jarvis is Edwin Jarvis, manservant to Tony Stark and who later serves members of the Avengers Initiative (not to mention, also has a mildly romantic relationship with Peter "Spiderman" Parker's aunt, May Parker).
What I really liked about the film version of JARVIS was the spunk that the character has, the slight sarcasm in it's words as it serves Tony Stark with the coolest looking gadgets.
2. Alfred Pennyworth - Losing out the top spot very closely is "Batman's batman", Alfred Pennyworth. The man the Dark Knight trusts is obviously no ordinary mortal. Not only is he the caretaker of Wayne Towers but also keeps everything running smoothly in the Batcave in the absence of Batman and Robin.
A father-figure to Bruce Wayne, Alfred's continued jibes at him for not eating, sleeping and resting enough is the perfect wry-smile earner in a series which would be even more sombre were the Dark Knight left to fend for himself. An ex-actor, a military man, a self-taught surgical man and often the voice of reason to the various young boys who donned the mantle of Robin over the years, Alfred is the champion at home Batman cannot do without.
(Trivia: In the Pre-Crisis Batman series, Alfred's father's name is revealed to be Jarvis, a hat-tip to the very same gentleman at no. 3 on my list)
1. Reginald Jeeves - Now, there's a man! He's not a butler, but a valet, i.e. he serves a man and not a household. However, were the need to serve a family arise, as Bertie puts it, "he can buttle with the best of them."
Personally, no other fictional character has accounted for as many hold-your-stomach-laughing-bouts as Jeeves has. The inherent quality of being unperturbed by whatever Bertram Wooster throws at him is bound to charm even the coldest reader. The ability to out-think the cleverest machinations of an entire generation of cheats, scoundrels and aunts makes this man an enigma.
It is argued it must be all the fish that he consumes that gives him the legendary problem solving brains that he has. But wouldn't you kill for a valet who knows the recipe for the perfect get-me-up drink when you're suffering from a terrible hangover? What would you not do for a saviour who rescues you when you're stranded on an island and an angry goose is hell-bent on attacking you?
As the caption in the picture above reads, if everyone had a valet like Jeeves, there would be no wars. But just in case there is a war, I know I want Jeeves on my side.