Ups and Downtons – My Imaginary Life in Downton Abbey
With Downton Abbey debuting its latest season on PBS this month, I am excited to return to Lord Grantham and the family and see the upstairs/downstairs drama that lies ahead. Will Lady Mary’s new bob bring forth an army of suitors, or will she finally decide on the two contestants left over from last season? Will Lady Edith really give her illegitimate daughter to the local farmer to raise, and does he have a good lawyer to enforce child support? And, after the near sex scene in the finale of season 4, will Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes do more than just hold hands at the beach? Oooohhh, that’s like 50 Shades of Grey for this gang.
Though I am generally not given to fantasy of any kind, the return of DA inspired me to think about actually living on the estate. I wonder if my life would be like this…
I am Lady Tina Knowes Best, and I live in Downton Abbey in 2015. Here is an account of my life so you will understand that being titled and wealthy for generations is no picnic. I find it quite taxing at times.
The first sound I hear in the morning is my ladies maid, Hilda, who awakens me gently with a friendly, “Are you awake, Milady?” I am, of course, but it is her job to open my eyes. I cannot be expected to do everything for myself. And I find it ironic that “Milady” sounds so close to “malady.”
We exchange pleasantries, discussing the key issues of the day, such as what will I wear, where and with whom shall I dine, and what taxing chores await me. She helps me dress, carefully buttoning, zipping, and cajoling me into my Milady Spanx. Again, I cannot be expected to do everything for myself.
This day we select a riding outfit, complete with boots, hat and something that looks appropriate in the back of the convertible. Sometimes I even get to drive it. They say you need something called a license, but I’m not sure what that is or how one goes about getting one so I haven’t bothered. Mostly the staff chauffeurs me around. I’ll go to the local village, stop by to visit one of the many local charities I support, or occasionally venture to a store – arranged in advance, of course – to see what cute little numbers I need to supplement my wardrobe. We change clothes on the estate many times in one day, you know, so that 30% off at Kingdom Kohl’s comes in handy. There are day outfits, evening outfits, many black ensembles for when we are in mourning (which is very often, it seems) and the clothes we wear for dinner.
Believe me, the staff has it easy compared to those of us who own the estate. The head of the staff, Mr. Butler, is tough but fair. The staff gets to wear uniforms, they live in the house rent-free, eat their meals at no cost, and get to call us “Milady” or “Your Lordship,” while we have to decide what to wear every day and actually remember their names. And every few years they change – not the names, the people – so we have to learn new names. I find this very taxing. It’s not that we don’t look at them as individuals or have a relationship with them. Some family members in the past have even run off and married staff, though they nearly always died as a result, which tells us what a bad idea that can be. I try to ask about them. For instance, once Hilda’s predecessor – What’shername – came in to wake me and I noticed when she opened my eyes that she was on crutches. I was concerned and immediately asked, “How are you going to take care of me while you are hopping around on those things?”
Things have changed here over the years. My grandfather, Lord Knowes, came close to losing the estate due to his mismanagement of the finances, so we retained the services of a prominent local firm, Dewey Cheetum and Howe, to advise us on how to capitalize on the property. The galling thing is that we now have to allow tourists to visit. They come in, mouths agape, and want to engage us in conversation. I mean, really, what could I possibly say to a woman from someplace called New Jersey? Most have hair bigger than my hats! We are unfailingly polite and attempt to address them as a group, providing some historical background and insights, while they are only interested in the location of the restrooms, snacks and an on-site gift shop. I keep waiting for them to leave me a gift, but no one has yet done so.
The house itself is very large, so every day I am forced to deal with the difficult decision of where I should sit. There’s the drawing room, the library, the sitting room, the parlor, the conservatory. Once I caught a visiting educator, Professor Plumb, in there with a lead pipe. I still don’t know what he was planning. So I have to decide where to sit in my finery and which book Hilda should fetch from the shelf while I ring for tea. If you don’t drink tea, you are drummed out of the family. There’s the little-discussed incident with my cousin, Heaven Knowes, who took to something called a diet and refused to drink tea. She’s now living in some foreign land called Brooklyn, where she works as a barrister or a barrista or something that brings great shame to the family just because she works and doesn’t drink tea.
We live together as a family. My father, Hugh Knowes, is the Lord of the Manor. My mother is Mother Knowes. My younger sister is more progressive. Her name is Beyonce Knowes, though she is not related to some singer from the United States. My late husband, Mr. Best (that's why I am Lady Tina Knowes Best), lived with us for a while, but he had an unfortunate accident when his meat was not cut finely enough and he choked on a rather large hunk of it. We dismissed but graciously did not hang the servant responsible for this transgression because, truth be known, I probably would have poisoned the annoying SOB anyway. He wanted to move off the estate and start a business, but that sounded too much like work, and I found just the thought of it far too taxing.
Every now and then we have a large soiree here and invite the toniest of the tony people. Sometimes we even watch the Tony Awards. I particularly like that Neil Patrick Harris, mostly because he has three names and that makes him sound like a Noble. At most of these parties we stand around and hold cocktails and discuss our money. I have many suitors, but have found them unsuitable for a long-term relationship after enduring nearly 18 months with my husband, so I remain unattached. I am working on an appropriate ad for richpeopleonestates.com, but am having trouble describing my many fabulous attributes in the allotted space. Besides, I find the whole process too taxing. My requirements will be hard to match for anyone, I fear, so it looks like Hilda will be my constant companion, changing the channels and treating me like the lady I am for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, feel free to come by and visit the estate (please bring beaucoup bucks), visit us on Twitter @richbitch or like our Facebook Page: Facebook/UpsandDowntons. And I’ll ring for tea. And little cakes. And if we don’t have any, someone will whip them right up. I don’t like to wait. I find that too taxing.