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Torrent Upstairs Downstairs [Extra Quality]

Last year we saw the triumphant return after thirty-four years of the award winning and much beloved series Upstairs Downstairs to Masterpiece Classic. The original series (1974-77) focused on the Bellamy family upstairs and their household staff downstairs: all living at 165 Eaton Place, a posh townhouse in London. Last year Season 1 began in 1936, six years after the close of the original series. We were treated to only three episodes: The Fledgling; The Ladybird; and The Cuckoo. Original co-creators of the series Jean Marsh and Dame Eileen Atkins were heavily involved in the new sequel. Marsh returned as housekeeper Rose Buck and Dame Eileen Atkins as the Dowager Lady Holland was one of the stellar new characters. You can read my preview of Season 1 to catch up on the new cast and the reaction when it aired in the UK 2010.

Torrent Upstairs Downstairs

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They went there every evening about eleven o'clock, just as they would goto the club. Six or eight of them; always the same set, not fast men,but respectable tradesmen, and young men in government or some otheremploy, and they would drink their Chartreuse, and laugh with the girls,or else talk seriously with Madame Tellier, whom everybody respected, andthen they would go home at twelve o'clock! The younger men wouldsometimes stay later.It was a small, comfortable house painted yellow, at the corner of astreet behind Saint Etienne's Church, and from the windows one could seethe docks full of ships being unloaded, the big salt marsh, and, risingbeyond it, the Virgin's Hill with its old gray chapel.Madame Tellier, who came of a respectable family of peasant proprietorsin the Department of the Eure, had taken up her profession, just as shewould have become a milliner or dressmaker. The prejudice which is soviolent and deeply rooted in large towns, does not exist in the countryplaces in Normandy. The peasant says:"It is a paying-business," and he sends his daughter to keep anestablishment of this character just as he would send her to keep agirls' school.She had inherited the house from an old uncle, to whom it had belonged.Monsieur and Madame Tellier, who had formerly been innkeepers nearYvetot, had immediately sold their house, as they thought that thebusiness at Fecamp was more profitable, and they arrived one fine morningto assume the direction of the enterprise, which was declining on accountof the absence of the proprietors. They were good people enough in theirway, and soon made themselves liked by their staff and their neighbors.Monsieur died of apoplexy two years later, for as the new place kept himin idleness and without any exercise, he had grown excessively stout, andhis health had suffered. Since she had been a widow, all the frequentersof the establishment made much of her; but people said that, personally,she was quite virtuous, and even the girls in the house could notdiscover anything against her. She was tall, stout and affable, and hercomplexion, which had become pale in the dimness of her house, theshutters of which were scarcely ever opened, shone as if it had beenvarnished. She had a fringe of curly false hair, which gave her ajuvenile look, that contrasted strongly with the ripeness of her figure.She was always smiling and cheerful, and was fond of a joke, but therewas a shade of reserve about her, which her occupation had not quite madeher lose. Coarse words always shocked her, and when any young fellow whohad been badly brought up called her establishment a hard name, she wasangry and disgusted.In a word, she had a refined mind, and although she treated her women asfriends, yet she very frequently used to say that "she and they were notmade of the same stuff."Sometimes during the week she would hire a carriage and take some of hergirls into the country, where they used to enjoy themselves on the grassby the side of the little river. They were like a lot of girls let outfrom school, and would run races and play childish games. They had acold dinner on the grass, and drank cider, and went home at night with adelicious feeling of fatigue, and in the carriage they kissed Madame'Tellier as their kind mother, who was full of goodness and complaisance.The house had two entrances. At the corner there was a sort of tap-room,which sailors and the lower orders frequented at night, and she had twogirls whose special duty it was to wait on them with the assistance ofFrederic, a short, light-haired, beardless fellow, as strong as a horse.They set the half bottles of wine and the jugs of beer on the shakymarble tables before the customers, and then urged the men to drink.The three other girls--there were only five of them--formed a kind ofaristocracy, and they remained with the company on the first floor,unless they were wanted downstairs and there was nobody on the firstfloor. The salon de Jupiter, where the tradesmen used to meet, waspapered in blue, and embellished with a large drawing representing Ledaand the swan. The room was reached by a winding staircase, through anarrow door opening on the street, and above this door a lantern inclosedin wire, such as one still sees in some towns, at the foot of the shrineof some saint, burned all night long.The house, which was old and damp, smelled slightly of mildew. At timesthere was an odor of eau de Cologne in the passages, or sometimes from ahalf-open door downstairs the noisy mirth of the common men sitting anddrinking rose to the first floor, much to the disgust of the gentlemenwho were there. Madame Tellier, who was on friendly terms with hercustomers, did not leave the room, and took much interest in what wasgoing on in the town, and they regularly told her all the news. Herserious conversation was a change from the ceaseless chatter of the threewomen; it was a rest from the obscene jokes of those stout individualswho every evening indulged in the commonplace debauchery of drinking aglass of liqueur in company with common women.The names of the girls on the first floor were Fernande, Raphaele, andRosa, the Jade. As the staff was limited, madame had endeavored thateach member of it should be a pattern, an epitome of the feminine type,so that every customer might find as nearly as possible the realizationof his ideal. Fernande represented the handsome blonde; she was verytall, rather fat, and lazy; a country girl, who could not get rid of herfreckles, and whose short, light, almost colorless, tow-like hair, likecombed-out hemp, barely covered her head.Raphaele, who came from Marseilles, played the indispensable part of thehandsome Jewess, and was thin, with high cheekbones, which were coveredwith rouge, and black hair covered with pomatum, which curled on herforehead. Her eyes would have been handsome, if the right one had nothad a speck in it. Her Roman nose came down over a square jaw, where twofalse upper teeth contrasted strangely with the bad color of the rest.Rosa was a little roll of fat, nearly all body, with very short legs, andfrom morning till night she sang songs, which were alternately risque orsentimental, in a harsh voice; told silly, interminable tales, and onlystopped talking in order to eat, and left off eating in order to talk;she was never still, and was active as a squirrel, in spite of herembonpoint and her short legs; her laugh, which was a torrent of shrillcries, resounded here and there, ceaselessly, in a bedroom, in the loft,in the cafe, everywhere, and all about nothing.The two women on the ground floor, Lodise, who was nicknamed La Cocotte,and Flora, whom they called Balancoise, because she limped a little, theformer always dressed as the Goddess of Liberty, with a tri-colored sash,and the other as a Spanish woman, with a string of copper coins in hercarroty hair, which jingled at every uneven step, looked like cooksdressed up for the carnival. They were like all other women of the lowerorders, neither uglier nor better looking than they usually are.They looked just like servants at an inn, and were generally called "thetwo pumps."A jealous peace, which was, however, very rarely disturbed, reigned amongthese five women, thanks to Madame Tellier's conciliatory wisdom, and toher constant good humor, and the establishment, which was the only one ofthe kind in the little town, was very much frequented. Madame Tellierhad succeeded in giving it such a respectable appearance, she was soamiable and obliging to everybody, her good heart was so well known, thatshe was treated with a certain amount of consideration. The regularcustomers spent money on her, and were delighted when she was especiallyfriendly toward them, and when they met during the day, they would say:"Until this evening, you know where," just as men say: "At the club,after dinner." In a word, Madame Tellier's house was somewhere to go to,and they very rarely missed their daily meetings there.One evening toward the end of May, the first arrival, Monsieur Poulin,who was a timber merchant, and had been mayor, found the door shut. Thelantern behind the grating was not alight; there was not a sound in thehouse; everything seemed dead. He knocked, gently at first, but thenmore loudly, but nobody answered the door. Then he went slowly up thestreet, and when he got to the market place he met Monsieur Duvert, thegunmaker, who was going to the same place, so they went back together,but did not meet with any better success. But suddenly they heard a loudnoise, close to them, and on going round the house, they saw a number ofEnglish and French sailors, who were hammering at the closed shutters ofthe taproom with their fists.The two tradesmen immediately made their escape, but a low "Pst!" stoppedthem; it was Monsieur Tournevau, the fish curer, who had recognized them,and was trying to attract their attention. They told him what hadhappened, and he was all the more annoyed, as he was a married man andfather of a family, and only went on Saturdays. That was his regularevening, and now he should be deprived of this dissipation for the wholeweek.The three men went as far as the quay together, and on the way they metyoung Monsieur Philippe, the banker's son, who frequented the placeregularly, and Monsieur Pinipesse, the collector, and they all returnedto the Rue aux Juifs together, to make a last attempt. But theexasperated sailors were besieging the house, throwing stones at theshutters, and shouting, and the five first-floor customers went away asquickly as possible, and walked aimlessly about the streets.Presently they met Monsieur Dupuis, the insurance agent, and thenMonsieur Vasse, the Judge of the Tribunal of Commerce, and they took along walk, going to the pier first of all, where they sat down in a rowon the granite parapet and watched the rising tide, and when thepromenaders had sat there for some time, Monsieur Tournevau said:"This is not very amusing!""Decidedly not," Monsieur Pinipesse replied, and they started off to walkagain.After going through the street alongside the hill, they returned over thewooden bridge which crosses the Retenue, passed close to the railway, andcame out again on the market place, when, suddenly, a quarrel arosebetween Monsieur Pinipesse, the collector, and Monsieur Tournevau aboutan edible mushroom which one of them declared he had found in theneighborhood.As they were out of temper already from having nothing to do, they wouldvery probably have come to blows, if the others had not interfered.Monsieur Pinipesse went off furious, and soon another altercation arosebetween the ex-mayor, Monsieur Poulin, and Monsieur Dupuis, the insuranceagent, on the subject of the tax collector's salary and the profits whichhe might make. Insulting remarks were freely passing between them, whena torrent of formidable cries was heard, and the body of sailors, whowere tired of waiting so long outside a closed house, came into thesquare. They were walking arm in arm, two and two, and formed a longprocession, and were shouting furiously. The townsmen hid themselves ina doorway, and the yelling crew disappeared in the direction of theabbey. For a long time they still heard the noise, which diminished likea storm in the distance, and then silence was restored. Monsieur Poulinand Monsieur Dupuis, who were angry with each other, went in differentdirections, without wishing each other good-by.The other four set off again, and instinctively went in the direction ofMadame Tellier's establishment, which was still closed, silent,impenetrable. A quiet, but obstinate drunken man was knocking at thedoor of the lower room, antd then stopped and called Frederic, in a lowvoice, but finding that he got no answer, he sat down on the doorstep,and waited the course of events.The others were just going to retire, when the noisy band of sailorsreappeared at the end of the street. The French sailors were shoutingthe "Marseillaise," and the Englishmen "Rule Britannia." There was ageneral lurching against the wall, and then the drunken fellows went ontheir way toward the quay, where a fight broke out between the twonations, in the course of which an Englishman had his arm broken and aFrenchman his nose split.The drunken man who had waited outside the door, was crying by that time,as drunken men and children cry when they are vexed, and the others wentaway. By degrees, calm was restored in the noisy town; here and there,at moments, the distant sound of voices could be heard, and then diedaway in the distance.One man only was still wandering about, Monsieur Tournevau, the fishcurer, who was annoyed at having to wait until the following Saturday,and he hoped something would turn up, he did not know what; but he wasexasperated at the police for thus allowing an establishment of suchpublic utility, which they had under their control, to be closed.He went back to it and examined the walls, trying to find out somereason, and on the shutter he saw a notice stuck up. He struck a waxmatch and read the following, in a large, uneven hand: "Closed on accountof the Confirmation."Then he went away, as he saw it was useless to remain, and left thedrunken man lying on the pavement fast asleep, outside that inhospitabledoor.The next day, all the regular customers, one after the other, found somereason for going through the street, with a bundle of papers under theirarm to keep them in countenance, and with a furtive glance they all readthat mysterious notice:"Closed on account of the Confirmation."PART IIMadame Tellier had a brother, who was a carpenter in their native place,Virville, in the Department of Eure. When she still kept the inn atYvetot, she had stood godmother to that brother's daughter, who hadreceived the name of Constance--Constance Rivet; she herself being aRivet on her father's side. The carpenter, who knew that his sister wasin a good position, did not lose sight of her, although they did not meetoften, for they were both kept at home by their occupations, and lived along way from each other. But as the girl was twelve years old, andgoing to be confirmed, he seized that opportunity to write to his sister,asking her to come and be present at the ceremony. Their old parentswere dead, and as she could not well refuse her goddaughter, she acceptedthe invitation. Her brother, whose name was Joseph, hoped that by dintof showing his sister attention, she might be induced to make her will inthe girl's favor, as she had no children of her own.His sister's occupation did not trouble his scruples in the least, and,besides, nobody knew anything about it at Virville. When they spoke ofher, they only said: "Madame Tellier is living at Fecamp," which mightmean that she was living on her own private income. It was quite twentyleagues from Fecamp to Virville, and for a peasant, twenty leagues onland is as long a journey as crossing the ocean would be to city people.The people at Virville had never been further than Rouen, and nothingattracted the people from Fecamp to a village of five hundred houses inthe middle of a plain, and situated in another department; at any rate,nothing was known about her business.But the Confirmation was coming on, and Madame Tellier was in greatembarrassment. She had no substitute, and did not at all care to leaveher house, even for a day; for all the rivalries between the girlsupstairs and those downstairs would infallibly break out. No doubtFrederic would get drunk, and when he was in that state, he would knockanybody down for a mere word. At last, however, she made up her mind totake them all with her, with the exception of the man, to whom she gave aholiday until the next day but one.When she asked her brother, he made no objection, but undertook to putthem all up for a night, and so on Saturday morning the eight-o'clockexpress carried off Madame Tellier and her companions in a second-classcarriage. As far as Beuzeville they were alone, and chattered likemagpies, but at that station a couple got in. The man, an old peasant,dressed in a blue blouse with a turned-down collar, wide sleeves tight atthe wrist, ornamented with white embroidery, wearing an old high hat withlong nap, held an enormous green umbrella in one hand, and a large basketin the other, from which the heads of three frightened ducks protruded.The woman, who sat up stiffly in her rustic finery, had a face like afowl, with a nose that was as pointed as a bill. She sat down oppositeher husband and did not stir, as she was startled at finding herself insuch smart company.There was certainly an array of striking colors in the carriage. MadameTellier was dressed in blue silk from head to foot, and had on a dazzlingred imitation French cashmere shawl. Fernande was puffing in a Scotchplaid dress, of which her companions had laced the bodice as tight asthey could, forcing up her full bust, that was continually heaving up anddown. Raphaele, with a bonnet covered with feathers, so that it lookedlike a bird's nest, had on a lilac dress with gold spots on it, and therewas something Oriental about it that suited her Jewish face. Rosa had ona pink skirt with largo flounces, and looked like a very fat child, anobese dwarf; while the two Pumps looked as if they had cut their dressesout of old flowered curtains dating from the Restoration.As soon as they were no longer alone in the compartment, the ladies puton staid looks, and began to talk of subjects which might give others ahigh opinion of them. But at Bolbeck a gentleman with light whiskers, agold chain, and wearing two or three rings, got in, and put severalparcels wrapped in oilcloth on the rack over his head. He lookedinclined for a joke, and seemed a good-hearted fellow."Are you ladies changing your quarters?" he said, and that questionembarrassed them all considerably. Madame Tellier, however, quicklyregained her composure, and said sharply, to avenge the honor of hercorps:"I think you might try and be polite!"He excused himself, and said: "I beg your pardon, I ought to have saidyour nunnery."She could not think of a retort, so, perhaps thinking she had saidenough, madame gave him a dignified bow and compressed her lips.Then the gentleman, who was sitting between Rosa and the old peasant,began to wink knowingly at the ducks whose heads were sticking out of thebasket, and when he felt that he had fixed the attention of his public,he began to tickle them under the bills and spoke funnily to them to makethe company smile."We have left our little pond, quack! quack! to make the acquaintanceof the little spit, qu-ack! qu-ack!"The unfortunate creatures turned their necks away, to avoid his caresses,and made desperate efforts to get out of their wicker prison, and then,suddenly, all at once, uttered the most lamentable quacks of distress.The women explod


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