Downton maven Fran Carpentier sought out the Downton Abbey Tea Truck when it arrived in the Village yesterday. (The truck, emblazoned with a giant photo of Highclere Castle, will be visiting several Manhattan neighborhoods through Friday, handing out free tea and biscuits; here’s the schedule.)
Really, tea from a truck? Fran notes that, as Mrs. Hughes would say, fans are in for “a wee bit of a disappointment . . . one uniformed maid serving English Rose tea in—your worst fear realized!—a tall Styrofoam-like cup complete with a black plastic lid with a slit for sipping! The spice biscuit came in a cellophane ‘coffee packet’ with sugar and artificial sweetener.” Fran attributes this blunder to the influence of Cora’s brazen mother, Mrs. Levinson/Shirley MacLaine—the take-charge dame who, when Downton’s stove broke down, had the upper-crust guests picnicking all over the mansion on victuals from Downton’s larder. She would take the practical route.
But, ah, there was Nathan the Footman. “For the ladies (and for any men who march to the same drummer as Thomas), the Tea Truck did offer a heartbreaker of a footman (a real cutie who could give Jimmy a run for his money any day).”
Fran returned to her un-Downtonian digs and pulled out her treasured DVD set of Downton Abbey/Season One. (Seasons Two and Three would be for other nights.) “But first, even before I revved up the DVD player, I took hold of the now-empty yet somehow treasured Styrofoam cup and its accessories and artfully rearranged them atop a swath of wine-colored velvet, trying hard to create a tableau with some semblance of art and grace.”