Deborah Ross: 10 vital lessons for us all from Downton Abbey

If you ask me...

If you ask me, although it is most distressing that we must all wait a year for a second series of ITV's Downton Abbey, it has, at least, left us with much to tide us over. Indeed, you may even say it has provided an instruction manual for life. Here, I believe, are the top 10 lessons everyone should have taken away with them:

1. Always look down on stepping out of the bath, particularly if you suspect your lady's maid is of a Machiavellian disposition.

2. In other situations – if your lady's maid were to eat a banana, say – keep a close eye on what she does with the skin.

3. If you must shag a Turkish diplomat to death (and who among us can say we never have?) do so in his bed at his residence and make a point of putting these arrangements firmly in place. This will save all manner of complications later on.

4. Should your cufflinks go missing, or wine from your cellar, although all the evidence will point to Bates, the culprit will not be Bates. Don't waste your time on detective work. I repeat: it will not be Bates. In fact, any crime, wherever, whenever, however, will not be Bates, even though it might look as if it is.

5. Further to the above, if you can take the rap for someone else, then do so because, in the end, you will not only earn applause for it, but also a significant female following. This stands even if you are slightly creepy, a bit fat and have a limp.

6. The phrase "I'm sorry. I've had Diamond saddled and he's waiting for me" isn't just useful for rebuffing unwanted suitors of the kind who were once in Cold Feet. It works just as well on telephone cold-callers and those boys who come to the door and want to sell you tea towels.

7. Of course you must get a telephone installed. Haven't you yet realised the Archduke's death changes everything?

8. Ensure your cook has Bupa cover, particularly if she has started ricocheting off door jambs and is banging into things generally.

9. Don't feel abashed if you hadn't spotted that one of your maids secretly yearns to be a secretary and keeps one of those clunky old manual typewriters hidden on top of her wardrobe. Some maids can secretly type very, very quietly. It's a gift they are born with, probably.

10. Accept Matthew. He is nice, and a dish.

Next week: how to make your own entail using everyday household objects, half a lemon and two AA batteries

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