Deborah Ross: My guide to living the Downton life

If you ask me...

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The Independent Online

If you ask me, the remarkable success of ITV's Downton Abbey suggests many people wish to live a Downton kind of life, but is it possible in this day and age? Can we travel back there somehow? Yes, I would say, absolutely, so long as you follow certain fixed rules, which are as follows:

* The man of the house must look nobly perplexed at all times. If your man does not look sufficiently nobly perplexed, send him to John Lewis to choose new bed linen or ask him to cut his day short and pick up the kids from school.

* A limping, trusty manservant is another must, and can be ordered from www. trustylimpingmanservant.com. Allow a week for delivery, two if you live in Scotland.

* Should your radicalised chauffeur have a pop at you, say you are "flattered" and then promptly move on. (You must never encourage a radicalised chauffeur, as it can lead to hives.)

* A golden labrador should always be seen randomly padding about the place. If you cannot run to a golden labrador, then at least put aside a drawer for fish knives, another for asparagus forks, and marvel every time you switch a light on.

* Watch your domestic staff carefully and send them back to Poland should they get too uppity. Alternatively, you may wish to have O'Neill play mean tricks on them. It will always be a matter of personal choice.

* Should your limping trusty manservant require a love interest, try www.anna.com. It does super love interests, all year round.

* You must be prepared to stop your life in its tracks every time an Aviva commercial comes along. This will prove infuriating, particularly when you are only trying to get round Asda, but you'd struggle to fund a Downton lifestyle otherwise.

* If a Turk dies on the job in your bed – and who is to say one won't? – you'd best accept it may not be that easy to put it behind you, although you can try.

* Fret about a war and particularly Matthew, who is a dish, and isn't going to marry Lavinia in a million, trillion years, although you know what? God bless them for thinking we might buy it.

* And that's it, and good luck, although a word of warning: should you happen to overhear your butler saying "Now, Rose, it's not our place to judge" then you'll know you have somehow misfired and are living the Upstairs Downstairs life, which is all very well, but not what you intended. This is just something to watch out for.

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