On Sunday evening during my second visit with the new baby and her parents, we got organized enough to watch “Downton Abbey” live. I went to bed thinking we were living in Downtown (Anchorage) Abbey! Downton might have dozens more rooms and a grand aspect, but it shelters its occupants no better than the little red house so covered with snow.
Downtown Abbey is the home of furred nobles Lord Cromwell, Cardinal Wolsey (feline), and the Ladies Cora and Megan (canine), and the new baby – Lady Baby. Also home to the staff of course – the new father plays butler, valet, chauffeur, and Daisy all in one. The new mother has head housekeeper duties, we all revolve around her. I was often Mrs. Patmore, the cook, but also attended with pleasure the Lady Baby as her lady’s maid (the good one).
We tidy, we take the lords and ladies to their appointments, do the laundry, and provide food. Except for Lady Baby, the butler mostly does the feeding – administering pills to Lady Megan, and carrying Cardinal Wolsey to his dish, for fear Lord Cromwell will reach it first. We at Downtown are as attuned to our employers as the staff at Downton, but we’re a stripped down version – no bad characters. Nobody has time to stand outside the house looking sneaky and hatching plots!
Days at Downtown were full. Once this visit the staff sat down together for a meal (usually the Lady Baby requires an attendant). Occasionally we even set the table (but do not use a ruler to measure the proper alignment of the silver).
In the evening Cromwell and Wolsey compromise their dignity by running skirmishes in circles around the house. Ladies Cora and Megan doze on the couch, but stay ever alert to the opening of the treat drawer or the chopping of a carrot. Lady Baby sleeps through it all, rocking in one pair of arms or another. Sometimes she’s wrapped on the front of Mr. Carson in a Moby carrier while he works on a document in his lap.
A few of the dealings between employers and staff are a little irregular for Masterpiece: one night Lord Cromwell and Lady Cora both slept with me – the three of us in a row. And in an unlikely activity for Downton’s staff, part of the Downtown staff had brief ski outings on the weekend, while I stayed with the Lady Baby. A thrill for all!
A favorite relationship in “Downton Abbey” is between the real Lady Cora and her mother-in-law, the Dowager Countess. The two women are allies in the story and in the family. And I loved it the other night when Lord Grantham said: “All our lives are lived around our children.”