I was 7 years old when Charles and Diana tied the knot. I remember it perfectly because my neighbor friend Susanna and I got all dressed up for the occasion. We put on some garish black dresses from the “dress-up” bin and strutted about in some of my moms high heels. Never before and never since has a seven-year old looked finer in black sequins. It was pretty much the most exciting thing to happen in my life to that point. I had “Royal Wedding Fever”. I had Charles and Diana paper dolls, I started talking with a royal british accent, and I do believe I asked my mom for crumpets on more than one occasion. This was my introduction to british people.
Thirty-some years later I find myself again obsessed with Brits. This time it is the PBS series ‘Downton Abbey’. There is a reason everyone is talking about it – it is awesome. But there is more to it than glittery gowns, hot guys and intrigue. There are a few nuggets of knowledge to glean from this well costumed show.
- Do not trust anyone who smokes cigarettes – The only people who smoke on this show are vile, evil, rat like people. They speak in muddled tones as smoke oozes from their mouths while hatching various plots and nasty schemes. Tomas and O’Brien have most of their scenes shot in an alleyway or creeping around corners, and everyone knows people who do that are up to no good.
- When you are old and rich you can say whatever you want – The Dowager Countess is such a badass. She can deliver an “ooo!” or an “ahh!” with just the right roll of the eyes, just the right inflection to make just about anybody feel like an asshole. And she is usually right. I mean let’s face it, electricity is pretty fucking scary.
- British food wasn’t always shit – I love food and watching this show makes me hungry. Not since the days of my beloved ‘Beverly Hills 90210’ have I seen so much food on a table. (Next time you watch that show, please notice how much food is prepared vs the amount of people to be fed. It’s like Mrs. Walsh was cooking for the cast of Gone With The Wind, rather than a family of four.) They are always eating, or talking about eating, or getting ready to eat, or cooking, or talking about cooking. And the food looks and sounds yummy! I do believe that the brits actually had tasty cuisine prior to the war, and after the war they just settled for jellied eel.
- Staring can be just as useful as yelling – These days people do a lot of yelling. There are people screaming on TV from Maury Povich to Real Housewives of Wherever to The Biggest Loser. But if there is one thing I have learned from my refined friends down on The Abbey it is this – a glare is worth a thousand screams. These folks have mastered the art of making someone squirm just by looking at them. Or not looking at them as the case may be. And we always know just exactly what the stare means. Bates to Tomas “Your ass is grass, bitch.” Edith to Lady Mary “I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.” Carson to his bottle of wine “My precious. MY PRECIOUS!”
- Mom will always be there – The next time I screw a traveling diplomat to death in my bedroom, I hope my mom is near by to help me take care of the body.