Thursday, 14 October 2010

Sign of the times..

I read with merriment that a new series of the costume drama Downton Abbey has been commissioned.

 The first episode of the series in September, starring Dame Maggie Smith, actually attracted an average audience of 8.8 million people, not that I'm at all surprised, what a fabulous and long awaited Sunday night treat.

Written and created by Oscar-winning Julian Fellowes the story is set in the year 1912 and follows the life of an aristocratic family who are living in a rapidly changing society, it lets us in to the servants downstairs, and their dedication and hard work, but also their concerns and ambitions, which is really quite moving.

Why is it that every time I watch something like this I wish I was there, there's something about the way things were conducted and dealt with that I really love, the romance, the scandal, the elegance, well that was if you were rich.
Those were the days just before the horrors of World War One, and when there was a class system that was unsympathetic and rigid, when 'downstairs' never reached the 'upstairs', where you stayed at the level you were born to, hmm, but wasn't there respect, and good behaviour?.. no actually, It was fear and surrender.

If you weren't lucky enough to be born into aristocracy your life as a woman during the Edwardian era was restricted by more than just tight corsets, no decent education, employment prospects rather grim, years of childbearing due to no contraception, and marriage whether happy or not, and an age also when women often died in childbirth, when TB, rheumatic fever, diphtheria and scarlet fever were commonplace.

The rights we have gained as women in the past century are unquestionable, but in many ways we have exchanged one set of shackles for another. I for one think that our role has rather lost it's charm and in our quest to "have it all", we are burdened with competing pressures to work, manage the home, raise children and look young and beautiful, the result being that the family foundations has lost it's ever so important role, I for one despair over this, I also wonder how without this nurturing structure, kids of today are supposed to become socially conscious, without the marrow of family values running through their bones.

Without a sense of belonging, the gang mentality takes it's victims, as everyone wants to be 'a part of' and where family has stepped down, this terrible wish to cluster into territorial and bullying groups becomes apparent, it always did and it always will.

How I got onto this when I started on about 'Downton Abbey' is really typical of how my mind seems to work, I am one minute feeling rather pleasant about something or somewhere, and I am whooshed along by a sudden gust of emotion, or even enlightenment.. sign of the times maybe?, but is it the century that I find myself living in or just human nature? you decide....

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