Every week I go over to one of my closest friend's family's house to watch Upstairs, Downstairs. I first saw the show six years ago when it first came on DVD. I wanted to watch it after Richard Rodriguez did a essay on the show after Rachel Gurney who played Lady Marjorie died.
I love British TV shows. I lived in London when I was twenty and I remember many people being stunned there were only four TV stations at the time. Four! It was shocking. Mostly I watched American shows, and The Darling Buds Of May. It starred Catherine Zehta-Jones. Whatever happened to her again? I forget.
But I love british shows because when they tape outside in London, I am there again. I am near Charing Cross Road near all the bookstores, or Leceister Square where I saw at least sixteen plays. With Upstairs Downstairs it is around the area where I lived, so that itself is a treat. I love how it shows how people lived back then-to showing a old fashioned vaccum cleaner, making a seven course meal when the king comes to dinner, or-a shocking event! The daughter Elizabeth decides to live with her boyfriend rather than marry him. I watched the show around the same time I watched The Sopranos, and I wondered what Tony Soprano and Mr. Hudson would've thought of each other. I don't think they would've had tea anytime soon.
But it is one episode of Upstairs Downstairs that touched me, and here is why (warning, spoilers)
Lady Marjorie decided to go visit Elizabeth who is now living in New York City. She brings with her her maid, Miss Roberts. The ship they go on is the Titantic. You pretty much know that Lady Marjorie is doomed (Rachel Gurney, afraid of being typecast, asked to leave)
Of course Lady Marjorie died, and everyone is devestated. Miss Roberts somehow makes her way back to London and tells the story about what happened. They were told to go out on the deck and wait for the rescue boats. There was no doubt they would be rescued; Lady Marjorie was gentry. However, a child was crying and Lady Marjorie asked her why, and she found out the child lost her mother. Lady Marjorie took the child's hand and said they would find her together. She was never seen again.
Why this meant so much to me is I saw this episode three days before the first anniversary of 9/11. There were times that I found myself tearing up not because of Lady Marjorie, but that once again, people died for no understandable reason at all.
One of the last scenes is Miss Roberts, near a nervous breakdown, refuses to give up Lady Marjorie's jewelry box. Hazel the new secretary, coaxes Miss Roberts to put it down. Finally they open it up to reveal a tiara, necklaces. Miss Roberts bursts into tears and says: "My lady, my lady, I tried so hard to save you."
This is when I just burst into tears. I was reminded of that line in Anne Lamott's All New People when one of the characters says: "One hundred years? All new people."
Cheerio. I'm off for a spot of tea.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries