What to Say To Your Friend Who Can’t See You Because She’s Spending the Weekend with Julian Fellowes

Life Choices

SG Buckley
2 min readApr 24, 2022


Photo by Greg Willson on Unsplash

My first feeling upon hearing my friend was spending the weekend at the house of Downton Abbey’s creator was pique, then jealousy, then, well, curiosity.

How is it that my dear friend, an ex-reporting rival of a similar class, would be shooting clay pigeons and drinking champagne (a guess from having seen Fellowes’ Gosford Park) while I would be carting a child back and forth to playdates in Surrey?

It’s true she’s more charming than I, and a better conversationalist. But it could also be that she’s made better professional choices, resulting in greater social mobility.

Way too soon, I left a top newspaper to trail a boyfriend. Ever since, I’ve been piecing together freelance assignments. Although I am happily married to that boyfriend, and there’s a kid around here somewhere on an iPhone, professionally (and social mobility-wise) I blew it.

My friend stuck with reporting. She went on to become a White House correspondent, travelling on Air Force One, and then editor of the weekend edition of the UK’s most prestigious newspaper. Sure those things would have been swell but there are other things. Right now I just can’t think of any.

If I’m honest, I had an opening. I met Fellowes at a birthday party for my friend’s husband. She thoughtfully sat me next to him, whispering that it could be a great chance to discuss writing.

So there I was, beside the man behind one of my all-time favorite TV shows, and what did I say to him? Zip! Not a thing.

I mean, what do you say to someone like that?

I didn’t want to come off as a groupie. And clearly, he wouldn’t be interested in me. While I had a zillion questions, they seemed banal or inappropriate:

How did you get the idea for Downton Abbey?

Does Michelle Dockery have a pulse?

Instead, I turned away and chatted with the woman on my right. So pathetic.

Back to the weekend. What did I say to my friend when she declined my invite because she was spending the weekend with Julian Fellowes?

Of course you are! Have fun.



SG Buckley

Writer, editor, parent. Former staffer at Quartz, WSJ and Inc. magazine.