Downton Abbey is very interesting. I’m using it as a manual on how to conduct my life. I’m starting a GoFundMe so that I can further my lowly ambition to be a dead, rich Edwardian. Two hundred thousand acres in England are not cheap. Please give generously.
I discovered I belonged to this elite group of dead people the other day. I was watching a PBS show about Downton Abbey, and learned about the many ways I’m just like these people.
1. In Downton Abbey, the Appearance of Gravel is Most Important
The PBS documentary talked about the importance of raking the gravel in the front of the manor house. I was excited to see this, because I do this, too!
Granted, the gravel is in the backyard, and I do it to rake up the dog poop, but it makes the backyard look positively manor-ish. Minus just about everything a manor house has. Like a big manor.
2. In Downton Abbey, Changing Clothes is Necessary for a Good Life
The ladies of Downton Abbey change clothes. A lot. So do I.
The ladies change out of their drop-drawer PJs to have breakfast. This is good. The servants don’t need to be seeing THAT.
Then the ladies change into their ‘morning clothes’ to call on someone whom they hope won’t be home. They will later go out to ride and they will have to change into Edwardian riding gear, which involves special skirts that won’t fly up over their heads in a strong wind.
After their ride, they change into luncheon clothing. After lunch, they change into something that will carry them until dinner, and then they change into dinner clothes.
I change clothes just about as often. Maybe not for the same reasons, but I can prove I’m high class. I wear certain clothes for workouts. (These are generally the same clothes I wore to sleep in, unless I’m going to the pool.) Afterward, I have to change into clothing that’s clean and sweat free. I probably shouldn’t sweat if I’m a proper Edwardian lady.
You could tell who were the male Edwardian aristocrats by the number and kind of hats they wore. If you saw them in a top hat, strolling the grounds of the manor, that’s a dead giveaway.
American aristocrats wear baseball hats backwards.
On to the rest of my day’s clothing: If it’s winter in the desert, it’s going to be cold in the morning, so I need to wear sweatpants and a sweatshirt.
By ten or so, it’s already too warm for the sweatpants, so I have to change into my bleach splattered tee shirt again, which may, or may not, be the one I worked out in. It’s probably the shirt I slept in. Hopefully, the wash is done by then.
It’s going to get cold again in about three hours, so I have to change back into my sweatshirt and sweatpants. I, however, don’t need a maid to help me.
And they said Americans were spoiled. Not.
Sometimes, like the aristocrats in the show, I do need help changing. Not because my clothes have 150 buttons the size of atoms up the back, but because I’m exhausted at this point.
3. The Downton Abbey Edwardians Had Lots of ‘Help’ and Didn’t Like to Fire Them
In one episode, the master of the manor was giving his son a lecture about why he shouldn’t fire some of the servants as he was thinking of doing. The son was ‘new school’, and wanted to conserve finances. (That’s aristocrat talk for saving money.)
His dad, the lord of the manor, told him not to do it. If you don’t fire the servants, this proves you take your responsibilities as a benefactor to the community very seriously. “What will they do?” he asks his son. “We’re the only ones who provide employment.”
This touched my heart so much, that I immediately fired all 100 of my servants in order not to have to worry about their futures.
4. Dining and Dancing at Downton Abbey
The chief duty of an Edwardian girl was to put up her hair when she ‘became a woman’, lengthen her skirt, go out dining and dancing, and announce to the world she was ready to marry. This happened whether she was ready or not.
Long hair was a sign of virginity, so when she put it up , it was symbolic of her readiness to get married, after which she could let it all hang down with the gardener in the potting shed.
I like to keep society guessing, so sometimes my hair will be up, sometimes down.
When I really want my fellow Edwardians to wonder about me, I cut it real short.
5. Edwardians Ate A Lot of Good Food
Caviar, truffles, snipe, partridge, oysters, quail, ptarmigan (white grouse), pressed beef, ham, tongue, chicken, galantines, lobster, melons, peaches, nectarines and specially imported jams and biscuits were the kinds of things our aristocratic ancestors liked to eat. Well, so do I!
Granted, I’ve never had truffles, snipe, or ptarmigan, and I have no clue what galantines are, unless they’re a sort of frigate (which doesn’t seem likely, as eating a boat was not an Edwardian thing) but I eat lots of chicken, which is closely related to things with a silent ‘p’ in the spelling.
And if I could have raw oysters every day, I would.
6. “You’re Dead to Me!” at Downton Abbey
If you were an aristocratic Edwardian and did something wrong – like, oh maybe, you refused to eat your ptarmigan the night before at dinner and had cottage cheese with canned peaches instead- your friends and acquaintances ‘cut’ you.
This doesn’t mean they did that psychological thing of sitting in their rooms cutting themselves, or you, with knives. Instead, they just wouldn’t invite you places.
Since going to dinners, sitting ramrod straight while having inane conversations about how many grouse were bagged that day with people whose voices sounded as if they were strained through a food processor, was what women had to do all the time, I’d probably go out of my way to be cut.
Otherwise, I cut people all the time. If I don’t like you, I will not invite you to my next dinner party of snipe wrapped in melon. Or vice versa.
Of course, I’ve fired all the servants, so you’d have been expected to help clean up, anyway.