LETTERS FROM LONDON
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
5 February 2012
THE TROUBLE WITH JULIAN

"Hi Mom."
“Mom? Mummy. Who is this woman?”
“She’s my mother of course.”
“Hey, doll. How’re ya doin’? Nice digs you’ve got for yerself here.”
“Indeed.”

Surgically enhanced, cheery/chirpy 77 year old Shirley MacLaine will play
Lady Grantham’s mother in the third series (holding your collective breaths as
well as your popcorn?) of
Downton Abbey.

Gareth Neame, one of the show's producers on the purpose of adding the
American actress as Cora’s mother, Martha Levinson, widow of dry good
millionaire, Levi Zeigler Leiter, from Maryland: her character will be "a
wonderful combatant for Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess and we are excited
at the prospect of Shirley MacLaine playing her"
.
So now we know. How clever.... embroidered, imported silk handbags at dawn.
Hmmm. So Lord Fellowes has added a Jewish element...where could this be
going? An undisclosed source revealed that there will be ‘floods of Americans’
joining the British cast. Well. It was always an American series anyway, wasn’t
it....

Ratings for the second series shown in the US have topped the first series by
nearly 30%; 4.2m tiara parties. The programme has won 4 Emmys and a
Golden Globe but that hasn’t deterred British historian Simon Schama (who has
lived in the US for more than 30 years) from expressing his terms of
endearment. He described the show as a "steaming, silvered tureen of
snobbery". Or British actor, author, comedian, poet, playwright, screenwriter,
journalist, television presenter, film director, a director of Norwich City Football
Club and avid twitterer, Stephen Frye who weighed in with a confession that
every reference to
Downton Abbey  makes him "puke". Sweet charity, that’s a
bit harsh. No afternoon tea with Lord Fellowes at Highclere Castle then.

BBC have stepped up their game with the second series of their revived
massive 70’s hit
Upstairs Downstairs. Upstairs attracted 7.5 million while
Downton pulled in 9million viewers on Boxing Day a year ago. A ‘steamy’ posh
lesbian affair will be the attraction. Oh dear. Oh dear. Referencing Virginia
Woolf and Vita Sackville West or merely an obvious ratings move. Will we be
force fed historical inaccuracies which are so clearly highlighted in
Downton:
language, clothing, upstairs-downstairs relationships – all so annoying and so
wrong.

Co-writer/actress Dame Eileen Atkins (Lady Holland) has quit due to ‘concerns
about the scripts for the new series while co-writer/actress Jean Marsh (Rose)
said Upstairs had been in the works 3 years before
Downton: ‘It might be a
coincidence and I might be the queen of Belgium.’ Now this
will confuse
American audiences.


IT'S THE BRAND, STUPID  

From top to bottom, head to toe they shop until they drop - hopefully dropping
at Heathrow so that they can be carried onto the plane on their way home to
China, Russia, the Middle East, Brazil, Nigeria, India.

With London named the shopping capital of Europe November last,
obsessive/compulsive consumers of particularly British brands searching for
the latest, the finest, the pricey-ist tax-free luxury items make regular visits that
have risen by 30% in the past year and is set to increase next year.

Gold, furs, bling, handbags, shoes, watches, flats/houses worth millions. Those
from the Middle East shop in summer, Nigerians and Brazilians all year, the
Chinese at Chinese New Year, the Russians in January or any time the BRIC
et al need a spending fix.

No stop offs at the V&A, St Paul's, Westminster Abbey, the Tate Modern, the
London Eye, ad inf. Taxies straight to Burberry, Mulberry, Prada, Chanel, Dior,
Gucci and all the usual luxury brands.

Louis Vuittons stuffed with an average of at least £1700 to splash out.
Selfridges offers a Mandarin speaking staff and accepts a Chinese debit card,
Debenhams has signage in Hausa, Nigeria's main language. The 110,000
shopping Chinese is forecast to double in a few years. Surely we can expect
Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne to enthusiastically welcome the
shoppers personally. "Xie xie...spasiba...E se...." "What's he saying?" "I
haven't a clue, but he is bowing a lot." "Isn't that what they call irony here?"

Multi-millionaire, fabric/wallpaper heir, baronetcy heir, house 'flipping' GO has
been spending a bit on the side as well.
The Telegraph has reported that he
had spent £32,651 of our money on 'maintenance works' at 11 Downing Street
and his flat next door. Tut tut Georgie.

We can all sleep better in our homeless shelters now that the indulgent
extravagant attention-seekers flaunting their flash London purchases have
saved the economy.                                 
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