Lord Downer of Adelaide Hills has expressed to tenants on his estates his “deep and inconsolable” grief at this year’s lack of traditional Christmas offerings caused by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
His Lordship called media representatives to a news conference at his family seat Pout House to outline his “sadness and disappointment” at the pandemic-induced absence of gifts under the Pout House Christmas tree this year. (main picture)
“The attendance of tenants for the giving of gifts has been a feature of the Pout House calendar since it was started by the first Lord Downer, the Earl of Hahndorf, when he settled here in the 1840s,” His Lordship explained.
“Every Lord Downer has noted the importance of gift-giving at this time of year as a veritable obligation between those of us in the upper classes and our lessers.
“So it was a tremendous disappointment to be told that no gifts would be forthcoming from tenants to me this year, supposedly because they had all been hit hard financially by pandemic lockdowns and border closures and had no spare money to buy me presents.
“I find this excuse ……,” His Lordship began, before pausing and quivering with barely suppressed rage…“inexcusable,” he finally declared. “Damn their eyes man. Odds bodkins! Do they not have any respect for tradition, let alone me as one of their betters?
“I have been truly blue-deviled all week since hearing the news,” he wailed before teetering on his leather Oxonians, prompting a young and muscled under-butler dressed only in light muslin breeches and sporting a well-oiled torso to rush to His Lordship’s side and offer a vial of smelling salts.
Lord Downer, placing a firm arm around the young man, took a stiffening draught of the salts.
Once steadied, though not loosening his grip on the under-butler, His Lordship announced that he had ordered his estate managers to visit tenants – “and to be sure to carry their best swagger sticks” – to express his displeasure at the lack of festive offerings.
His Lordship said as further punishment the traditional luncheon following Christmas gift-giving had been cancelled.
“Let that be a lesson to those ungrateful jollocks and wagtails,” he said. “I know just how much they loved to attend the luncheon where they were roped off at a distance and allowed to watch me and my family eat 11 courses of wild fowl, tame duck, boiled beef, barrel cod, and tansey pudding.
“They shall miss our usual end-of-luncheon game where those at table threw mutton bones at the watching tenants. Only once the dogs had finished with them, of course.”
His Lordship then declared the news conference to be at an end and reporters were ushered away but not before spying His Lordship taking a sprig of mistletoe from his pocket and holding it above his and the under-butler’s head.