IThat Sinking Feeling
It is the residents who occupy Downtrodden Abbey shortly after the turn of the twentieth century to whom we will now turn our attention.
The year is 1912—specifically, October the fifth—when word spreads that a telegramme is on its way.
“What is this ‘telegramme’ you speak of?” asks Vile, the dowager countess, who is so old that her eighth-grade science project was The Wheel. This woman’s wrinkles have wrinkles, I wanna tell you.
“We’ve been through this countless times, Countess,” responds Mrs. Used, the bitter, no-nonsense housekeeper. “The telegramme is one of the great conveniences of the modern era. A short message is written. Each character—letters and punctuation marks—is set on a printing press, and one edition of the message is produced. The page is then passed to a paid courier who—on horseback, seafaring vessel, or foot—journeys over mountain, sea, and sand. A mere three to six months later, it is delivered to the intended recipient’s doorstep. One would be hard-pressed to find a more convenient or expeditious method of communication.”
“This technology is simply out of hand,” marvels Vile. “Whatever will they think of next?”
Mrs. Used explains that there is rumour of a version in which a strapping lad dressed as a bobby sings the telegramme’s contents in celebration of a female’s birthday or impending nuptials. But it turns out that the lad is not in actuality a bobby, and shortly after announcing his arrival he begins to disrobe, accompanied by saucy harpsichord music and the screams of the other female guests.
“Oh, Mrs. Used, it sounds like you’ve been in the wine cellar again,” Vile says, wagging a gnarled finger. “Are you balmy on the crumpet, woman? I, for one, refuse to believe such hogwash prior to verifying it with the Snopes office.”
* * *
Tonight, in the parlour, a game of Charades has been organised.
Lord Crawfish and his wife, Flora, will seize any opportunity to enjoy leisure games with their three daughters. However, following a croquet accident that left one of their uncles with a head injury and an insistence on permanently thereafter wearing an unsightly pith helmet and only speaking in Latin, these activities were limited to indoor, more cerebral pursuits.
A few words about Flora Crawfish. She eats poorly, reads trashy novels, is ignorant about politics and is unsophisticated with language. When attending sporting events, she is boisterous to the point of those around her requesting Security. She could spend weeks on a beach, drinking cheap wine, reading gossip magazines, and gambling on fixed dog races (in which both the dogs and the races are fixed) at night.
If you have not surmised it, Flora Crawfish is American.
Beautiful Lady Marry—the oldest Crawfish daughter—has skin like porcelain, but rest assured that in no other way does she resemble the accoutrements of tea service. For one thing, fine china could hardly withstand the bedroom acrobatics Lady Marry simply cannot live without. It is said that she has seen more ceilings than Michelangelo.
Welcome to Downtrodden Abbey, where a battle for the deed to the property is waged between legitimate aristocrats and literal pretenders to the throne. The Crawfish family—Marry, Supple, Enid, Lady Flora, and Lord Roderick—are content wiling their days away with naughty charades and twenty-two course dinners until the sinking of the Gigantic takes down the next in line to inherit Downtrodden. Soon, cousin Isabich and her son, Atchew, the rightful heir to the Abbey, arrive to claim what's theirs. Downstairs, the servants are running amok, as crippled weakling Brace is aggressively courted by teen hottie Nana, and lady's maid "Potatoes" O'Grotten and her flamboyant sidekick, Tomaine, cause trouble at every turn. The ensuing, insufferably overwrought melodrama takes the reader upstairs and downstairs, into parlours and drawing rooms, boudoirs and bathrooms, and across every class—from the classiest to the classless—in the social pecking order of Edwardian England. Uproariously funny, with a wicked sense of humor that Downton Abbey diehards will enjoy, Gillians Fetlocks skewers your favorite characters with panache in this winning parody