Sep. 25th, 2016 09:33 pm
oursin: Frontispiece from C17th household manual (Accomplisht Lady)
[personal profile] oursin

As we got in latish and exhausted on Friday, no Saturday morning rolls.

However, we stayed in on Saturday evening and I cooked us dinner: roasted marrow-bones (Waitrose sells split marrowbones and they are not at all dear) with capers; and then a bozbash of onion, aubergine, okra, red and green bell peppers, chickpeas and chopped dried apricots.

Today's lunch: Plaice fillets with coriander butter, with sweet sprouting cauliflower, which I cooked according to the roasted broccoli with garlic recipe, mangetout peas stirfried with star anise, and La Ratte potatoes roasted in goosefat.

Currently in the oven: Psomi loaf, with mixed seeds rather than just sesame.

oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

Dept of, Blaming the Internet for A Phenomenon we have seen before: perchance I am being unduly cynical, but this An endless bombardment of news and gossip and images has rendered us manic information addicts. It broke me strikes me as Yet Another of those Born-Again Bloke pieces - okay, it's perhaps more often that FATHERHOOD has given them a new perspective, but I think the 'I wos a WORKAHOLIC and it was Bad for Me' is another trope in the same area.

Not to mention the My Experience is Universal, No? aspect.

Dept of, what do you mean, we? Get off the treadmill: the art of living well in the age of plenty. A) demonstrates no knowledge of the long tradition of teaching people who are not actually dying in ditches of the plague, etc, how to live better B) I have little sympathy for someone who gets his woezery on by looking at the other people who are actually working out in the gym - no, really, if you're working out, why should you be looking happy? these people are making physical efforts, why should they *SMILE DARLIN*? C) gross overgeneralisation much?

Dept of, Is this not a recurrent theme in the lives of writers and could be asked of many: How can someone who writes so perceptively about love make so many mistakes in their own life? (And do we not notice that her alleged 'trophy-lovers' are blokes who pretty much seem to have been up for anybody and put themselves about a lot?) But if true, am glad to hear that Howard's works are more likely to be available than Amis's.

Dept of, the long tradition of the British female Gothic: The author of The Railway Children and Five Children and It was familiar with the darker aspects of life - though, in spite of that header, the article does point out the distinctly uncosy elements in her children's fiction - precariousness is a constant theme whether it is father in chokey for - surely it was false accusation of embezzlement, not spying? - or general sense of abyss yawning - why The Treasure-Seekers treasure-sought, no?

And, extremely chuffed to see the very positive and exceeding copious coverage Pride of Place has latterly been getting.

oursin: Hedgehog saying bite me (Bite me hedgehog)
[personal profile] oursin

So, today we made an early start in order to catch the first train Edinburgh-York on which our tickets would be valid.

Delayed... Delayed... Delayed...

So we decided that we would get the next one -

And while we were standing on the other platform waiting, an announcement that first train had been cancelled and passengers should get the next one.

And, due to the total lack of information on which part of the platform the train would arrive at, it was clear when it finally came in (for lo, gentle readers, it too was delayed) that we would be most unlikely to get seats.

So we aimed for the next one -

And by this time I was coming to the realisation that Edinburgh Waverley approximates to my dream-railway-station of tension and anxiety, with lots of platforms in an entirely random arrangement and on different levels, trains coming in at another part of the platform, lots of rushing about, etc: though at least NOT the platform like an island between lines requiring crossing on foot...

And there were some concerns about whether we would get a seat on that next one - partner had a cold and was in some concern about having to stand all the way to York -

So we got the one after that, and we did get seats.

Seats in the carriage where there was no power going to the sockets, chiz. Also, the Food Bar was closed for staffing reasons, though they were still running a trolley service.

At York, it took us some time to locate the Left Luggage Office, but we did so eventually, and then went to the Art Gallery and the Minister, and by then we felt it was time to head for the train home.

On time. Got seats, in the quiet carriage, no less.

But: the power seemed to be working, but the plug at our seat was bunged up somehow so that one could not, actually, plug a plug into the socket.

However, home agen nao.

the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

'Tis of course not enough to reconcile with Lord D- in private, as his conduct at my soirée is doubtless gossipt upon and there may even be allusions in those low sheets that go record, or entire invent, scandals in Society.

We therefore go perform his apology and my forgiveness one fine day in the Park at the fashionable hour, where 'twill be markt: indeed I daresay those who observe Lord D- being driven in a fine open carriage with Lady D- and Miss S-, along a line that will take him exceeding close to where I ride my lovely Jezzie-girl, are watching with extreme interest to see whether there are cuts direct deliver’d.

'Tis all done quite theatrickal - Lord D- comes down from the carriage and stands at my knee, makes a very deep leg, holds up his hands, and is seen expressing contrition. I lean down and shake his hand - he then kisses mine very respectfull. I go make exceeding pleasant to the ladies, and I confide that the on-dit will soon be circulating that Lord D- has quite proper made apology for his coarse conduct at Lady B-'s soirée, and she has been most gracious pleas’d to accept it.

'Tis also put about that his abrupt departure was due to the extreme sudden onset of one of his megrims, that may render him temporary almost incapable of speech.

Next morn comes Miss S-, all smiles, and says, she does not know what I said to her brother-in-law, but Dora looks a deal happyer, they are to go to the play some time with Her Grace – provid’d 'tis not some vulgar matter that is perform'd – and he has contract’d with Mrs D- that when 'tis able to leave its mama, Dora may have a puppy from the litter late sir’d by Mrs D-'s fine fellow.

Well, says I, I hope 'tis better conduct’d than Miss R-'s little Puggsiekins, but I daresay Mrs D- will be entire happy to advize upon bringing it to a genteel mode of behaviour, for she wrought an entire revolution upon Puggsiekins.

Miss S- laughs. Also, he confides that a little light reading, even novels in moderation, cannot be harmfull if consider’d as recreation from heavier duties.

And, she goes on, he has receiv’d invitations to the Contessa di S-'s ridotto in the Neapolitan style, and confides that since she show’d so gracious towards him when he was in those parts about the Grand Tour, 'twould be most incivil to refuse.

I smile upon her and say, all falls out most excellent. But, my dear, look what I have for you here. I show her the parcel of her copies of her pretty volume of poetry.

She bites her lip and then is about opening the parcel.

O, she says, o, indeed this quite exceeds. She takes up a copy and turns it about in her hands, opens it, looks thro’ it, and says, Lady B-, do you have a pen and ink to hand, I should wish to inscribe this to you.

Which she does with a very pretty little poem compos’d quite impromptu.

The criticks, says I, go receive it very kindly.

She puts her hands to her mouth. The criticks -?

Mr P-, that writes under the name of Aristarchus, will never entirely praise the works of a modern, but has been pleas’d to remark that the prosodic facility that led criticks to rightly suppose the Vengefull Spirit no work from Mr W- Y-'s hand, is also demonstrat’d in the other works from this new acolyte of the muses. While it receives quite the accolade from Deacon Brodie. And there are others go praise the work and puzzle over who the author might be; and goes sell extreme well, the circulating libraries go purchase more copies, 'tis so in demand.

O, she says, o.

Dear Miss S-, sure I do not know what you might do with a crown of bay-leaves, or I would have gone about to have one made.

She goes sob a little upon my shoulder. I pat her, and desire her to sit down and take a little coffee, also I see there are some fine apple turnovers Euphemia has sent up.

After she has gone, quite wreath’d in smiles, I go turn to the correspondence that lies upon my desk.

I do not sit there long, however, as Hector says Lady W- comes to call.

I rise up and greet Susannah and say I daresay she does not feel like coffee - perchance a little tea?

That would be delightfull, she says, sitting down beside the fire. Well, my dear C-, I see you have brought Lord D- to heel.

Why, says I, I confide he is a young fellow of excellent intentions, but sure his papa can have give him no model of correct ton, and then he got into the hands of some strict Evangelickals, and this matter of his megrim attacks

Indeed, says Susannah with her crook’d smile, have heard tales of Lord P- rushing pell-mell from dinner tables about a sick cow. But on the matter of dinner tables, dear C-, that agreeable fellow Captain C- comes to Town for a little while – must go have physicians groan over him again, visit the War Office, &C – will come with us to the Contessa’s ridotto - and we purpose to hold a little dinner-party while he is here, and should greatly desire your company.

My dear Susannah, I hope you do not go match-make! Indeed he is an agreeable fellow, but I confide that I should not do well in Nova Scotia.

Indeed not! But I am greatly reliev’d that the crocodile has decampt to Tunbridge Wells, for I was in some suspicion that Mrs D- K- was casting her nets at him. So I wish to take him around where he can observe ladies of better ton, and provide somewhat in the way of comparisons to her charms.

Why, says I, 'twould be entire delightfull to think her at Halifax, but sure one would like a more agreeable bride for Captain C-.

'Tis so: sure she has shown better-conduct’d than one fear’d, but one must have doubts whether 'twill last.

We then go talk ridotto costumes. I am mind’d towards going as a Dresden shepherdess - do I have Sir V- P- trailing about after me baaing, I should have a crook to keep him off. Sir B- W-, says Susannah, takes a notion that they should go as ancestors of his: there are memorial brasses in the parish church that depict 'em, exceeding quaint.

We discuss a few further matters of interest, and she takes her leave.

I return to my correspondence.

As 'tis a fine bright afternoon, tho’ somewhat chill, 'tis a fine occasion for me to take Lady N- a little drive in the Park in my extreme comfortable carriage at the fashionable hour, for I daresay she would desire to see Society parading itself as well as the Serpentine Lake, the cows and sheep, &C.

I put in a deal of extra cushions before we drive round to N- House.

I have previous sent a little note by Timothy proposing the matter, and Lady N- is ready in suitable wear when I arrive. A footman lifts her into the carriage – tho’ she says, as we drive off, she is not entire paralys’d, can walk a little &C but that she becomes most extreme fatigu’d very shortly.

O, she says in a little while, this is indeed most exceeding comfortable, even upon cobbles. She looks about out of the window with an expression of delight. O, 'tis the same bustling streets - Sure she is like a young woman just come to Town as she gazes upon the passing scene - Has been so long, says she. Is ever so entire done up by the time they reach Town cannot bear to move even to glance out of the window.

My dear Lady N-! says I. Sure the science and craft of making carriages keeps pace with, even outreaches, the fine improvements in roads.

O, sighs Lady N-, in our grandfathers’ day they built carriages to last.

Aye, says I, because otherwise they would have been shook to pieces. But I confide this of mine is as well-made and will last as long.

She sighs again. And then says, perchance when U- returns, he can persuade his father.

We reach the park and she hangs upon the strap so that she may go gaze very thoroughly out at the passing show. O, the fine lake! O, the sheep! O, Lady B-, I do not know who even a quarter of these people are, I live so out of Society. Look at those fine riders.

Her pale thin face quite lights up.

Lady N-, says I, I perceive that you quite greatly enjoy this little excursion, but I am afear’d of overtiring you. We may come again another day, do you like.

That would be most exceeding kind, Lady B-, for I know how many demands there are upon your time.

O, pooh, says I, one may always find time for a friend.

She invites me to come take tea when we return to N- House, but I think 'twill somewhat overdo her, and say, perchance some other time?

I go home and sit beside the fine fire, and gaze about my pretty parlour. Look at my china cabinet and mind me that the charming Dresden shepherdess was Sir B- W-'s gift those many years since: but I daresay he will have quite forgot.

I am in some confidence I have now contriv’d somewhat to the benefit of Lady D- and Agnes S-; but sure there are still a deal of matters that I could be about. Now, C-, says I to myself, you should go about to discover does Agnes S- desire a husband before you go consider who might suit her – for she is well enough provid’d for that I daresay, unless there is some testamentary condition, she may prefer the single life, mayhap a pretty cottage, not too far from Town, where she might write her poems in peace. Sure you would not care to be thought like Lady J- in going manage others’ business will-they nill-they.

I know not how one may come at resolving the problems of the ladies in the Earl of N-'s family, but will go consider over it.

Comes Celeste with tea, and says there will be fresh macaroons exceeding shortly.

I smile. Sure I am quite spoil’d by my good people.

And this e’en come my darlings for triangle and a nice little supper.

I look upon Sir Z- R-'s fine portrait of me in my Indian rubies, and think how I should never have thought when it was paint’d to find myself in the condition I am in now.

oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

The statue of John Knox in the courtyard of the Divinity School has one arm raised and looks as if he is about to give someone (?Calvin) a high-five.

I may not have looked at the Naomi Mitchison papers, but the Mitchison fangirl in me was well chuffed to see a really great portrait of her in later life in the National Portrait Gallery (no postcard, chiz), and that she merits an engraved flagstone in Makars' Court image under cut )

And so does Dorothy Dunnett )

(But did not spot one for Lewis Grassic Gibbon.)

In the Wohl Museum of Pathology at Surgeon's Hall, there is the skeleton of a monkey's foot pickled in spirits and behind glass: we consider that this is the safest place for a Monkey's Paw and it should stay there.

Opportunity misst in their display about Edinburgh and medical women: wot no James Barry?

The more sceptical approach to the tale of Greyfriars Bobby was not in evidence...

And, more Monet haystacks in the National Gallery! - I am quite pursued around by them.

(no subject)

Sep. 22nd, 2016 03:50 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] jenett, [personal profile] matociquala, and [personal profile] nanila!

A receipt for youthfull follies

Sep. 22nd, 2016 08:45 am
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

But, alas, I cannot go be a member of the family forever and once matters are in order in my own pretty house I must return there.

I am render’d almost tearfull the night afore my departure when I go be Flora’s sleepy wombatt, and am tempt’d to be quite excessive in my demonstration of affection. But I think 'twould frighten her, and desist.

I am not the only one is tearfull: my darling Eliza goes sob somewhat immoderate while we are together in my fine reserv’d chamber. Dearest, says I, I am not going to the antipodes or Ultima Thule, I am not even going into Surrey or Shropshire. Shall be in my pretty house near the Park – 'tis no distance.

Josiah and I sit up and put our arms around her and kiss and stroke her.

Indeed I am a foolish creature, she says, wiping her eyes upon the sheet, but 'tis so pleasant when our dearest third may be entire part of the family.

'Tis so, says I, but indeed, I think did we spend too much time in this happy state there might come to be gossip. 'Tis a shocking world.

We sigh. And then I think we all take a mind to distract one another from these heavy thoughts, and become most exceeding entangl’d.

But indeed, 'tis hard to leave, especial when my naughty darling clings at my skirts and pouts. I promise that she may come with her sisters for a chocolate party very soon.

But also 'tis agreeable to return to my own pretty house, to be greet’d by Hector at the door, to go into my pretty parlour – even do I sigh a little at the accumulation of letters and cards - and to be among my own good people. Dorcas comes report upon the state of housekeeping. Euphemia comes all smiles at the thought of the ice-house to consider culinary matters.

Indeed I must be about arranging another drawing-room meeting.

I am sat at my desk about my correspondence when comes Hector with a card upon a tray, very ceremonious.

I take the card and perceive 'tis Lord D- come call upon me, most extreme expeditious upon my return home.

I sigh. I daresay he decides he will go explain himself and perchance ensure that I am truly a penitent magdalene. Sure I should like to refuse to admit him, but I mind that I should desire to maintain, is't possible, some diplomatick relation for the benefit of Miss S- and the unfortunate Lady D-.

You may admit him, says I, but you need not go desire tea of Euphemia.

Comes in Lord D-, makes a leg, catches sight of the fine portrait by Sir Z- R- of Madame C- C- in her fine rubies, blushes a little, hems a little, and then says he confides that he owes me an apology for his very insulting behaviour at my soirée.

O, says I, seating myself and motioning him to a chair, I confide that the drama of Mr H- being sent for very urgent for Lady J- quite overlay’d the incident in everyone’s minds.

He clasps his hands in his lap and looks down upon them. Alas, he says, 'twas a matter of my own guilty conscience, that suppos’d some matter I desir’d to conceal was known and that there was mocking allusion to it.

Can I not look at a fellow and encourage him, quite without words, to speak on and disclose the inwardness of his heart, I shall have lost all my wont’d skills. I wait in silence.

Some few years ago, he begins, I was upon the Grand Tour, and in the course of my travels, went to Naples. I mind, he goes on, that this must have been about the time that you marry’d the late Marquess – for there were several remarkt to me that I must regret not having the opportunity to go visit him at his fine villa and see his collection of antiquities -

(Sure I am hard put not to laugh at the thought of Lord D- and the dear late Marquess’ antiquities, that mostly concern’d the worship of the generative principle, or show’d fellows very admiring of one another’s manly charms.)

- but I met that kindly old lady the Contessa di S- while I was there, and got in with a set of young fellows –

He pauses. Sure I was an unregenerate soul then, he says with a groan. They introduc’d me to this very renown’d courtesan of the place, that would wear the charming garb of the local peasantry but made up in silks and satins and sewn with jewels, and dy’d her hair yellow, and was altogether exceeding alluring. And I was a foolish sinner and fell.

He falls silent again.

And then on the voyage home, he continues, it seem’d to me that, that I had contract’d some - ailment - from her –

(I do not enquire whether he has heard of that usefull invention the baudruche, for I confide he had not.)

- so upon my return to Town I went at once to Mr H-, that is so well-reput’d in the management of such troubles. And told me 'twas no such heavy matter as I suppos’d, but a phthiriasis, that is caus’d by a certain louse that most particular infests those parts, for which he went treat me.

But, I suppos’d he had been about gossiping upon me, and went to confront him, at which he became so irate that I fear’d he would go throw me bodily out of his house.

Sure, says I, you are lucky he did not go about to challenge you or mayhap bring a suit for slander for the imputation.

- But I have repent’d, and been sav’d, and 'tis all behind me now –

Except, perchance, says I very gentle, that you had rather Lady D- did not know?

He blushes.

But because I was out of the country when you marry’d the late Marquess –

Excellent fellow that he was, says I.

- 'twas somewhat of a shock to me when I learnt what you had been before your marriage. And then there were those at my dinner-party gave themselves out most taken aback that I should have a woman of your antecedents at my table, and behav’d, I freely admit, in poor ton and somewhat unChristian. Indeed, one cannot but mind of the Pharisees, that are so spoken against in the Gospels: but, indeed, that gave me to suppose that you were about serving me the like.

But sure, you are widely given out a fine philanthropist, receiv’d in the best society, present’d at Court, and will have quite renounc’d that life, repent’d your sins –

Lord D-, says I somewhat frosty, I do not think the condition of my soul any of your business.

He casts down his eyes and says sure a sinner such as himself should not impertinently intrude upon others’ spiritual condition.

I am pleas’d to hear that, says I, for I was of the opinion that you do entire the like towards your wife.

He looks at me entire shockt.

Lord D-, says I, it does you most entire credit that you perceive that you have been in error and go apologize: shows you not stiff-neckt and obdurate. But has seem’d to me that altho’ 'tis clear that Lady D- loves you exceedingly, she is also frighten’d of you.

Frighten’d? he cries, my dear Theodora, that I would do anything for?

She is a very young woman, says I, and entire devot’d to you, but indeed is in the greatest terror of your disapproval because of the very many matters that you are extreme strict about.

Consider, says I, she is a very young woman, rais’d in the provinces, come to Town for the first time, and finds that there are a deal of metropolitan pleasures that you take a great dislike for, that she would desire to at least taste and judge for herself. She shows a serious interest in philanthropick matters, 'tis very pretty in her, and sure I do not think she would go entire wild after pleasure did she go occasional to the theatre – there could be no objection whatsoever should she be in the M- box under the eye of Her Grace – or even a little jaunt to Ranelagh or Vauxhall in suitable company.

Also, says I, I cannot suppose the reading of novels - in moderation, and provid’d does not distract from duties - to be at all deleterious. Indeed I surmize do you put such limits upon so many forms of innocent recreation, it may lead to most undesirable results.

I think, he says, of how easily I was led astray.

O come, says I, a young fellow, away from home upon the Grand Tour, new acquaintances, temptations – 'tis an entire receipt for youthfull follies. But a young wife, that is entire devot’d to her husband, that goes about in the company of other ladies that are in good Society in Town, where indeed one must be conscious that one’s doings are markt and may be gossipt upon: sure there are many entertainments that she may enjoy without the slightest hint of danger.

Indeed, he says in a considering tone, Her Grace of M- is everywhere consider’d an excellent serious young woman, entire devot’d to her husband, in quite the best of ton –

Entirely! says I. 'Tis not a set in which there is high play, or flirtations; you are more like to find her turning out a bluestocking.

Well, he says, I will go consider over these thoughts. For sure I have seen some little matters in Theodora’s behaviour, that I had suppos’d due to her condition, but very like 'tis as you say, that the fault is in me. I should go open my heart to her –

And 'twould do no harm, says I, did you allude, without details, to your own youthfull follies.

He bites his lip, and then says, you are so very kind, Lady B-, when I have behav’d so ill to you.

O, says I, there are those that have done a deal worse, and yet turn’d out excellent creatures in the end. I confide so may you.

He kisses my hand very fervent, and says that he hopes that I will continue to receive Theodora.

How not? says I. And sure I will come call.

Wednesday is north of the Border

Sep. 21st, 2016 04:54 pm
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Kij Johnson, The Dream Quest of Vellitt Boe (2016): v good, and I thought one of those books that really does pay off in the denouement, and middle-aged female scholar protag - but perhaps admiration rather than love?

I also (long train journey) finished the thesis on early C20th woman middlebrow writer, and it's probably not fair to say, but I wanted more about her and perhaps fewer detailed plot summaries of the works, because it was an EngLit thesis, and I am all about the rediscovery and renewed appreciation of writers who have somewhat fallen off the radar, and at least it didn't do that really annoying thing that the bio of Pamela Hansford Johnson did, which was to be coyly 'no spoiler' about how her novels denoued.

On the go

Hanya Yanagihara, The People in the Trees (2013) - which I am a substantial way through, but didn't want to haul a partly-read trade paperback away with me. Very well-written, but requires the reader to spend a lot of time inside the mind of a fairly noxious medical scientist. (Also, think is based on true story of an anthropologist who studied New Guinea? - cannot recall exact details).

Sharon Lee and Steven Miller, Trade Secret (2013), which suffers from being the sequel to another of their books I read sufficiently long ago that I recall very little about it, and tangential to the main sequence of their Liaden Universe books. Feeling somewhat meh about it at the moment.

Up next

Not sure.

There will shortly be a brief hiatus

Sep. 21st, 2016 04:24 pm
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Your amanuensis wishes to inform you, gentle readers, that there will shortly be an intermission, but that 'tis anticipat'd that normal service will be resum'd as soon as possible.


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September 2016


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