Coffee with Mimi: Healthy obsessions

Published 6:59 pm Friday, September 6, 2019

By Mimi Becker

Contributing writer

Let’s be honest — sometimes we become obsessed. We are adults and, as adults, we might as well be adult and admit it. We are obsessed with any number of things we think we should keep quiet about.

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But, here it is: I am obsessed with “Downton Abbey.” You know, the TV show which ran for six seasons in the U.S., beginning in January 2011, with the final season beginning in January 2016.  That was a very busy period in my life and I could never consistently free up the requisite time on consecutive weeks to keep the characters and story straight.

The day after each episode, fellow teachers would dissect the events, motivations and implications of plot twists and turns and I was totally confused. I gave up trying, both to watch and to discuss. Usually, at least one teacher would comment, incredulously, “You mean you didn’t watch it?” Uh, no.

Then, wonder of wonders, there was born Amazon Prime. With one click, there was “Downton Abbey” in all its glory and all six complete seasons, in order, right on my own home TV whenever I wanted.  

I was retired and wanted it, I did. I could watch it on my own time and as many episodes as reason would allow in a row, at one sitting. I could stop and start if I needed to do an errand, stir the dinner, take out the dogs. I could replay an episode. Completely under my control.

When I become obsessed with a topic, I go all out. I hit the library for any and all books related to the time, the story, the real house, the real family. Did you know that during World War I, there were few actual hospitals which could handle the enormous flow of wounded from the French front? The Countess of Carnarvon really did turn Highclere into a hospital which she operated at her own expense. Are you with me on this?  Highclere is the real “Downton Abbey.” Lady Almina was such a skilled nurse and administrator, that often the most difficult medical cases were sent to her. Soldiers recuperated in private bedrooms with linen sheets and fresh food from the acres of gardens.   

I could go on and on. Lady Almina was an American and her fortune really did bail out the Carnarvon family, one of the times it was on the skids. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon was the recipient of the bug bite that did him in while successfully chasing his dream to find the tomb of the infamous King Tut, hence Robert’s fascination with Egyptian royalty and characters in choosing pet names.

Sadly, after six seasons, “Downton Abbey” closed its doors — and did you notice how many times the front door was actually left open while ceremonially receiving and waving farewell to visitors? And the closure of those six seasons left us hanging about Mary’s new baby, Edith’s new marriage and Carson’s illness. Julian Fellowes is no dummy and here we are, just days from the release of “Downton Abbey,” the MOVIE.  

My cell phone news feed has been teasing the scenes, the cast, the filming, for weeks.  Yes, of course, I have launched into a review of all episodes from start to finish. I am in season 4. I would be finished, but I have had to hit pause to finish a library book which was overdue and read a couple of plays. And work. 

My daughter texted to see if I wanted her to order tickets to the film’s opening day at one of those neat and expensive theatres with the comfy lounge chairs. No, can’t do it.  Already booked up. You would think I would have blocked the date out weeks ago. But, I am an adult and I do have responsibilities far more pressing than watching a movie. However the day before, a major network is airing a preview program, “Return to Downton Abbey: A Grand Event,” and, you bet, it is highlighted on my calendar. I have a 5:30 meeting. Short of needing to quash some sort of rebellion, that thing had better be wrapped up by 7. I must prepare my environment for an optimum TV viewing experience.  

Then, just a few short weeks later, on Nov. 17, the third season of “The Crown” will land on Netflix. We will have a new actress portraying Elizabeth and someone I hope I like better than the original stepping into the role of Prince Phillip. 

Did you know that Elizabeth really was in Kenya when her father died? She really was educated about the British constitution by a private tutor from Eton, when it became obvious she was the heir apparent following the untimely ascension of her father to the throne.  

There are rows of biographies of Elizabeth II in the library. Some are flattering and some aren’t. It’s good to get a cross section even, maybe especially, when obsessing. There are only two seasons of “The Crown.” That gives me about two months to prepare after all things “Downton Abbey” and before “Her Majesty,” part three, arrives just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.