Sunday, November 16, 2014

Home at Last

The Manners of Celebrity demands, for males at least, that the person be precisely three days unshaven, the hair artfully uncombed but not quite pasty on one side (as having just arisen from disordered sleep). The shirt must be open at the collar, the suit jacket must simply be seen to be expensive, and a ragged pair of jeans must be worn beneath.

But the above is mere celebrity—painful as it must be to live that life. The real aristocracy today lives virtually at Downton Abbey. For us, of course, the obligatory study is The Manners of Downton Abbey, available for $19.99 on DVD; it only takes an hour to master the arts; it might take longer to read Downton Abbey Rules for Household Staff ($14.99) and to teach its contents to our virtual servitors.

PBS, this time of year, well ahead of Christmas, sends us shopPBS.org, its magazine, where our virtual aristocracy may be physically spruced up by buying all kinds of products. All Seasons of DA now available may be purchased alongside Christmas at Downton Abbey ($16.99), a raft of books to start our own DA Library (A Year in the Life of Downtown Abbey ($29.99), Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey (ditto), The Chronicles of Downton Abbey ($19.99), and The World of Downton Abbey (ditto)).

The newest addition to our growing collection is Downton Abbey Teas, 30 bags for $12.99. The categories are “Bates’ Brambleberry Tea,” “Mrs. Patmore’s Pudding Tea,” “Christmas Tea,” “Lady Cora’s Evening Tea,” “Grantham Breakfast Blend Tea,” and “English Rose Tea.” For a mere $77.94 (shipping may be free), we can have all six flavors.  The savvy buyer, however, may obtain a free sampler by buying Season Five first. Oh. These teas are a “PBS Exclusive”;  don’t waste time trying to buy these tea products at Kroger.

I’m personally much attracted by the Miniature Downton Abbey Snow Globe ($12.95), complete with a Downton Abbey Quote book titled Wise Words. And if you’re feeling contrarian, I’ll accept, with equal pleasure, the Miniature Downton Abbey Light-up Castle with sound track and Quote Book.

But, surprise, we aren’t even close to being done yet! There are in addition 26 other purchasable reminders that Downton Abbey is physically real. Of these the most expensive (unless that’s a typo) is Downton Abbey Fragrance ($244.99), the least expensive is a Round Jute/Polypropylene Storage Basket ($10.99). There is jewelry, lace, gloves, towels, and even a Downton Life Cotton Oven Kit (also $10.99); I could use one in making our croutons around here. The Downton Life Cotton Apron carries the following slogan: “My second HOME is Downton Abbey.” Well, they have our number at PBS. Obviously.

Finally, there is a kind of show stopper. It is a DVD, priced at $19.99. It is displayed right next to another DVD titled Secrets of the Manor House; the two are related. The show stopper is titled Secrets of Highclere Castle. What? Highclere Castle? What is that? Well, it turns out to be the actual setting of Downton Abbey, the actual physical place. It turns out to be a real location with a real lord and lady (Lord and Lady Carnarvon) who, mostly, expend their energies keeping it intact (link). And what a great achievement it was, for them, to get BBC to turn it into Downton Abbey. We’ll have to visit there, visit our second home, as soon as it becomes safe enough to fly again in the unreal world where we’re obliged to live in actuality.

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