Monday, November 09, 2015

Frocks


I just finished binge-watching Season 5 of Downton Abbey.

It's addictive, like Belgian chocolate. A secret public indulgence.

And like good chocolate, once you savour it all down and lick the lips, the memory is gone.

It's a fleeting "feels", Downton Abbey, for it's basically a more classy form of soap opera: plotlines (plot?!)push the credibility metre all the way to the top of the forehead.

Sure and it's all about the frocks. They're gorgeous. And endless in their variety and detail and fit. I was an excellent dressmaker in my time so I appreciate a good cut and fabric and draping and fine stitching and French seams and pleats. So the frocks please me on many levels.

I had an aunt who worked in such a great house. Life below stairs was a form of slavery. Long days, pitiful wages and one half-day a week off where she would sometimes catch a bus and visit us in the great metropolis of Cork. Nothing like the gadding about and free weekends of the servants in DA. But as she said to me, there was no time to spend those wages so she could save them. She wore uniforms and was fed quite well at the Hall where she worked so she had no overhead. I loved her stories about the guests who stayed and their conversations about travelling and hunting and balls.

There was an old beat-up piano off the kitchen in the bowels and here she taught herself to play. Her bedroom was in the attic dormitory where the rest of the servants slept. You always needed a hot water bottle she told me and there was hardly any privacy. And you had to watch your "things". I'm sure her tale of life below stairs was the reality of so many servant's lives.

But I suspend my disbelief and indulge myself and gaze with admiration on all those delicious frocks.

21 comments:

  1. Me too, with the clothing of the wealthy women. Isn't it fabulous! I'd watch for that if nothing else, but there is plenty more to please the eye too, so I'm hooked.

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    1. Yes, the furnishings and the best actor of all - Isis. And the dame is caustic and sharp. Oddly gripping. But oh the frocks.

      XO
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    2. And I always perceive Cora as slightly drunk, she never sounds sober, does she? LOL

      XO
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    3. Ha Ha! I never thought of that, but she does have her own way of speaking, and now ... I'll never think of her sober again!

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  2. Don't you just LOVE the term "binge watching". I've done a lot of it since all these new shows are available on HBO and Netflix. I must get a life!! LOL LOL LOL

    xo

    Jo

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    1. Literally Jo, though I have to confess to binge knitting while I do so :) But you should see me staggering away like a drunk when I finally drag my arse off to bed, LOL.
      XO
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  3. I get your point about those frocks but all of those women look so skinny---those dresses would never work for me----LOL!

    I'm having the binge problem with a Binchy book at present...

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    1. It is the corset effect. Thank goodness we no longer have to suffer them.

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    2. I know they're close to cadaverous E - like all those size 0 models. There should be a law. A terrible influence on impressionable young girls.
      Which Binchy book? I find her a bit of mixed bag. I did meet her and thought she was wonderful. A huge heart.

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    3. Apparently only the housekeeper was still in the corset when the series reached the twenties according to the documentary which is a nice plus on the DVD. But boy are they ever skinny, these women, even Cora.

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  4. It's fascinating, watching these programs and seeing the reactions to them. I agree, there is a lot to be said for suspending disbelief, and going with the flow, for a limited time at least.

    The ones I'd like to see again are from the BBC in the 70's and 80's, like "Danger UXB", etc.

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    1. Do you remember Life on Mars SFM? A brilliant series, 80s I think, maybe 90s. A cop show with a twist. Also that Patrick MdGoohan one, very creepy.

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  5. I've never seen Downton Abbey, and I don't binge-watch anything either, but Jenny and I are working our way through Breaking Bad one savoured episode at a time! No beautiful frocks in that, just workaday casual clothing....

    From what I can gather, life in those grand houses was a pretty grim contrast between the leisurely opulence of the owners and the endless toil and sweat of the servants below stairs.

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  6. Oh I envy you watching Breaking Bad for the first time Nick. One of the best character development series EVER. I did love it.

    Yes life there was nothing like DA. The upstairs didn't give a whit about the downstairs trials and tribulations and often servants were give a more "suitable" name and worked dawn to way beyond dusk running around with hot water bottles and lighting fires in bedrooms and laying out m'Lady's night things, etc.
    XO
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  7. Breaking Bad was one of my all time favorites!

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    1. Terrific wasn't it? That and The Wire 2 of the best USian series of all time.

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  8. As you know, I don't watch TV and so am not in touch with soaps. But your story about your aunt interests me. I hope that you will write again to tell us about what eventually happened to her.

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    1. I feature her in one of my books and also a short story, I'll try and find the story it was published in ATGB a while ago :)
      I found it here
      http://www.timegoesby.net/elderstorytelling/2009/12/one-queer-turn.html
      name are changed to protect the guilty :)
      XO
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  9. You know, I have not seen a single episode of this show.

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  10. Has anyone noticed that the new fall/winter clothes are all very much influenced by the 1920s a la DA? I haven't bought any, highly impractical for mucking about with a broom and mop and cleaning out the cat's litter box, but I do love looking at them. Mrs. Trudeau wore a 20's style cloche hat to the Memorial Day Ceremonies on Parliament Hill. I rarely pay any attention to clothes at all but I swear my shirts have holes in the elbows and my jeans are in tatters. I desperately need to go clothes shopping, which I *hate*, as it takes so much energy. But I look like a hobo's wife soon and I have no lady's maid. .

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