For about a week I’ve enjoyed a brilliant TV series on Netflix dubbed, Downton Abbey. It’s head and shoulders above anything I’ve viewed in a very long time. Everything seemed to be authentic and pertinent to the historic period in Great Britain shortly before the First World War. Before the war, the countryside elite society was enjoying a fairy tale dream. In 1914, the dream was shattered into a million pieces, and like Humpty Dumpty, all the king’s horses and all the king’s mean couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again. The dream was gone forever—even to this very day.
Downton Abbey is an outstanding story which brilliantly exposes the snobbery and machinations of a disappearing class system of an English elite family—Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, his wife Lady Sybil Branson and three daughters. It was fascinating to watch the interaction of the traditional and strict hierarchy of the servants of the Crawley estate. The British period drama television series depicts in impeccable details the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era. The servants’ positions were: the Lady’s Maid, the House Keeper, the Valet, the 2nd Footmen, the 1st Footmen, the Chauffeur, and so forth. Everything had to be done in such a way close to perfection—decorating the flowers on the tables, the polishing of the silverware, the undusting of the glass chandeliers, the hunting ceremonies, the serving of the wine, the dressing of the members of the family and other daily chores of the mansion. Absolutely amazing if you ask me.
Highclere Castle located in Hampshire in the historical County of Yorkshire plays a critical role in the production of this drama. It’s regal structure and ample gardens is so impressive that it competes with the main characters of the television series. Highclere Castle was used for interior and exterior filming of Downtown Abbey.
When I was viewing one of the episodes of the series, I heard the following idiom which I think has crossed the pond to the United States. One of the main characters commented, “She is barking up the wrong tree.” This expression was new to me, so I immediately looked it up and unveiled the linguistic mystery.
If you’re barking up the wrong tree, you’re looking for something in the wrong place or going about something in the wrong way, believing the wrong explanation for something, or to be wrong about the reason for something or the way to achieve something. The following examples should further clarify the meaning of the idiom:
- He had nothing to do with the robbery—the cops are really barking up the wrong tree this time.
- She thinks it’ll solve the problem, but I reckon she’s barking up the wrong tree.
- The police think the drugs are being brought in by a Colombian cartel, but they’re barking up the wrong tree. They should be looking much closer to home.
- She’s barking up the wrong tree if she’s interested in David. Doesn’t she know he’s gay?
What’s the origin of this popular idiom? Metaphorical, from the image of a dog barking up a tree in which he thinks another animal has taken refuge in order to escape it.
If you think you grasped the meaning of the idiom, I have a small quiz for you. Hope you get it right. Here we go.
The police think the murderer is hiding in the forest, but they’re barking up the wrong tree. He is
- in a different tree
- in a different forest
- not in a forest
One last thing before I lay this post to rest. If you have a Netflix subscription, and a sensitivity towards history, I kindly encourage you to view Downton Abbey. I assure you, you will be enraptured. Good Day.