Lord Downer of Adelaide Hills has embarked on a “know your place” tour of the federal electorate of Mayo that consists almost entirely of his family’s ancestral lands.
“Peasants can be revolting and I’m afraid mine have been of late,” Lord Downer told media summoned to record his departure from the 212-year-old Georgian-styled Pout House that overlooks Adelaide on the family’s home estate.
“I’m afraid there needs to be some straight talking done to ensure my vassals, serfs and peasants are reminded of their place in a civilised society and to make sure certain unruly behaviour of recent times is never, ever repeated.”
Lord Downer (pictured above) was referring to the recent Super Saturday by-elections which saw Rebekha Sharkie re-elected to the seat at the expense of Lord Downer’s daughter Georgina.
Lord Downer said he understood completely why, at an earlier election when his daughter had not been quite ready to claim her ancestral seat, the peasants of Mayo had turned to one of their own. “They are, after all, commoners and I understand Ms Sharkie is also very, very common.”
Lord Downer said that although privilege and power came naturally by birthright to families like his, the Downers had never taken their leadership role for granted. And that was why Lady Downer had been absent for some years, honing her diplomatic skills at the highest of levels, practising as a very senior partner in arguably Australia’s best law firm and entrenching herself as a national media celebrity on ABC News Breakfast ‘what the papers say’.
“But my goodness me,” Lord Downer said as he sprinkled a good measure of snuff on the back of his right hand and breathed it in. “Lady Georgina returned to claim the family seat as is her right and our peasants did this to us! What were they thinking? The poor girl is still shattered and cries herself to sleep most afternoons. She has been begging me to set things to right. And on this tour, I damned well will.
“The Downers basically shaped the Australia we know today. And that’s only because of a rigid class system where each and every level of society knows their place and respects their betters. I’ll be putting my people back in their place with a firm but fair hand.”
Lord Downer said he was unsure what punishment he would mete out to the vassals that farmed his lands and the serfs and peasants who laboured there or in Downer cottage industries in the hamlets and villages of Mayo.
“It’s been a tough year for everybody and with the upkeep costs of Pout House, including the recent half-yearly change of all wallpapers and floor coverings in the main manor for summer, I’ve already had to cut back to 10 per cent the amount of produce they can keep for sale or for their own consumption from their quarter-acre blocks. I’m reluctant to cut that back further; the Downers have always been strict but fair.”
As Lord Downer was about to leave, one of the scribes asked him to provide a bit of detail about his “sedan chair”.
“Sedan chair!” Lord Downer pouted. “Sedan chair! I’ll have you know, dear boy, that this is an original palanquin, given to my great uncle Horace for services rendered when he was aide de camp to the Viceroy of India in the late 19th Century.”
With that, Lord Downer waved his scented ‘kerchief and six of his strongest estate lads, bare-chested and dressed in identical and very tight mulberry-coloured shorts, hoisted the former long-term Member for Mayo aloft.
As Lord Downer bobbled his way down the majestic, poplar-lined driveway with scores of estate staff applauding his passing on the promise of an evening meal, he called back: “My principality beckons!”
“Poncipality, more likely,” one journalist was heard to mutter under his breath.