I love January. Despite polar temperatures here in the great, white north it is a good time to set a few goals clean out some closets and drawers and review finances.
Because of the cold, it’s also a great time to settle inside and watch and rewatch some of my favourite Netflix shows. Sadly, Netflix offers up a lot of content that I can’t watch beyond about 10 minutes because they’re awful. Bad story, bad acting, the works. And so I revisit the old reliables: yes, another round of Downton Abbey, The Crown series 1 – again- and series 2 (now watching it again, too). Like rereading Jane Austen, the more I watch these excellent series the more I find to be gained on closer inspection, and much for the great woman to learn thanks to the female focus in both series.
So let’s take a few positive lessons from the women at Downton and Buckingham Palace. This may take a while (more like a series of posts) so bear with me – hopefully, it will be both fun and informative. First up, the heiress apparent.
Lady Mary Crowley
How can we not begin with Lady Mary and her ‘I’m-so-freakin-bored-by-you’ voice. What does she do that the rest of us should emulate?
- First and foremost, she’s really nice to Anna her ladies’ maid. Rather than take a strip off Anna she saves her venom for her peers, like her sister, mother, friends and of course, the men in her life. Someone in a position of power and authority who lords it over those with less power and status is abominable. We’ve all witnessed the woman who can’t thank the waiter, takes a piece out of the sales assistant in a loud voice, finding every opportunity to be rude and dismissive over those they perceive as beneath them. Lady Mary throws her weight against those who can take it, and throw it right back. This is a key factor in maintaining Mary’s likeability because otherwise we wouldn’t give a crap about her. She also does nice things for Anna like giving her access to her doctor, her house (wedding night in the Abbey!) and time off when she needs it (and Anna spent a lot of time in and around prisons). Mary is a great employer.
What else does Mary do well?
2. She doesn’t rush for anyone. Slow and steady is the way she enters a room – good posture, commanding, not to be rushed.
3. Lady Mary never gets drunk – that would diminish her verbal capacity to take anyone down a notch at a moment’s notice – message there – stay in control of your sensibilities and you have control of the room.
4. Importantly, she never breaks down in public. She has terrific falling apart scenes in private but never in front of the family at large or the household. She reserves emotional collapse for her grandmother, Carson, sometimes with Anna but she keeps it together everywhere else. She never uses crying to elicit attention or sympathy, and she does not lose her temper in public. She may say things that cause even her to feel a twinge of regret. Though, who’re we kidding – she doesn’t regret much other than having her way with the Turk made tricky by him dying in her bed. That was a low point.
5. She can cook one signature dish – scrambled eggs. If you recall the episode where the new piglets almost die for lack of water and Mary and that attractive government inspector (who also happens to be heir to something or other and so one of her kind) spend all night in evening clothes restoring the piglets to life. Then they head to the Downton kitchen for a snack and what does our Mary do but whip up some scrambled eggs served with a decent glass of red wine. Talk about style. And, dear friends, you do not need more than the ability to scramble an egg because that works pretty much any time of the day or night.
6. Finally, Lady Mary does embrace work. She takes on the managing of the estate and certainly doesn’t need that useless wimp Tom (more on him in the next post).
I welcome your views on Lady Mary. What have I missed? I’m so interested to know what you think her strengths are as we all know her weaknesses.
Next up, Sybille. I’ll skip Edith for now because she is so delightfully complex. And I have a bone to pick with Sybille, as much as I love her.