But this week actually had some research/academic stuff in it.
A few hours in A Library taking notes on stuff.
An hour doing the first look at some archives at my former place of work to see if they may be part of The Project, and they are.
Submitting a panel proposal for the Great Triennial Women's History Conference next year (yes, there is always a hell of a lead time on this, to the extent that one paper on a panel I was commentating on one time was on an entirely different region of the world than in the original proposal, because there were more, and more interesting, sources). (This was all a bit fraught, what with not getting one person's c.v. until this morning, and having to get rid of all the tracked changes, though at least I got this all done and submitted before Firefox started crashing every few minutes.)
Agreeing to review a book for a SRS publication but actually getting paid (which is just as well, because I have just been sent the book and I think it is going to be a bit of a grind to get through it).
Have received a book on UK anarchists I ordered as the result of a talk I went to last week - looking at the contents page I fear that All Ur Anarkistz B Blokez, but that may be misleading.
Tomorrow I attend a symposium upon an Organisation of Interest.
So a day or so later, I find myself in the forenoon walking in Covent Garden beside Matt Johnson, very quietly and respectable dresst – perchance I look like one that comes to search for her poor fallen sister, to bring her back to her family, and has solicit’d the help of the Runners. There is not much a-doing at this time of day.
We come to a stop outside a coffee-house that looks extreme decent and clean. This is Dolly’s, says Matt. Are you sure you want to speak to her yourself?
O, says I, I am not proud. Sure I have been most extreme fortunate but I was of the same trade.
He looks at me. Very well, then, he says, and pushes open the door.
The place is not doing a deal of trade at this hour. There are mayhap a half-dozen women scatter’d about, drinking coffee and most having breakfast to it: two of them sit together and are in low-voic’d conversation but the others all sit apart and in silence. They look up as we enter and several nod to Matt.
A woman of perhaps fifty, but as they say, well-preserv’d, comes out from behind the counter and says to Matt that perhaps he would like to step into the private parlour?
How now, Dolly, good day: 'tis not the usual matter, but indeed, perhaps we better had. It is a business that would be better of a little privacy.
She shows us into a small but very clean and nicely-appointed parlour. Well, Matt? she asks.
I put back the hood of my cloak.
Lady B-, he says, may I introduce Dolly Mutton, the proprietor of this establishment. Dolly, this is Lady B-…
That was formerly the fam’d Madame C- C-, she interposes. Indeed I am honour’d to have one that was such an ornament to the profession in my humble parlour.
O, tush, say I, you will surely know as well as I how much fate and fortune have to do with whether we end with a coronet or in the gutter.
Indeed 'tis true. Sure one may conduct one’s trade as prudent as one can, but matters will fall out as they will. But you’ll take coffee with me?
I should be delight’d.
We sit down and she brews us some coffee that is mayhap not quite as fine as Seraphine or Euphemia would prepare, but considerable better than I might have expect’d.
I daresay, says Dolly Mutton, that this will be about the little lad that was looking for you.
Indeed, says I, his parents and I are most infinite gratefull that you put him well upon his way to my house, for Town is full of perils for one so young and such a stranger to its ways.
Oh, says she, he was a nice well-brought-up little boy, very civil-manner’d. Had my own boy liv’d to such years I should have hop’d for him to be thus. 'Twas no trouble to set him upon his way –
Tho’ it must have taken you somewhat out of yours, I say. Also you provid’d him with a bun to eat, you were really most extreme kind.
She flaps her hands as one that endeavours to disclaim a compliment.
If there is any means by which we may express our gratitude…
There is a moment of silence. Matt says that perhaps we wish to talk of female matters and he will step outside and smoak his pipe a while.
If 'tis a matter of womanly ailments, says I, I can put you in the way of a consultation with the surgeon Mr H-, that is most greatly esteem’d for his skills in the matter.
Dolly laughs and says she still has her health, heaven be prais’d. But there is a thing, she continues. You are give out, Lady B-, as one that is very charitable in many good works, but that you do not go about to promote magdalene asylums.
O, I reply, I have the greatest dislike to them. Sure I think that an asylum might be a fine refuge, were there not so much spoke about penitence and sinners.
A woman after my own heart!
But I have consider’d over it and I cannot suppose that one might obtain interest for some asylum where those that had not been as fortunate as we in our profession, but had not either dy’d in the gutter before their thirtieth year, or found some man to marry or at least set them up in a good establishment, might find shelter when they became too sick or too old to pursue the profession, and not be constantly preacht over. 'Twould alas be considered a most immoral undertaking.
Indeed I suppose you would not be able to get up a publick subscription list! But I have had in mind that I have this fine house here, that at present I let out as lodgings – for there are those that prefer not to sleep where they work - but could I afford it, could instead shelter some of those that have been unfortunate.
O, says I, let me think upon this. I confide that it could be manag’d: and sure, were they sick rather than old or tir’d one might also contrive medical attendance. But it is this that you would desire as reward? Nothing for yourself?
’Twixt my own prudence and the generosity of certain patrons I am well-provid’d-for, able to support myself – as long as I keep my health – there is nothing in particular I require. But this – this I have much thought of.
I will go about it, I say. I am entire sure that the F-s are most dispos’d to be generous and also I confide would have very sound notions on how to manage the money so that it did not of a sudden run out.
We look at one another as those who are extreme pleas’d at a morning’s work.
Well, says Dolly, I had better get back out there, tho’ 'tis quite the slack time of day. I shall let Matt Johnson know that we have ceas’d chattering over the feminine mysteries and that he may escort you home.
He walks back with me, and I comment on what a very fine woman Dolly Mutton is, I am most immense prepossesst.
He sees me to my door, and begs that, is there ever any way he may be of service, that I will call upon him.
Oh, but indeed I shall, say I. And should there ever be any matter in which I may assist you, tho’ sure that is very unlikely, do you call upon me.
(Sure in days gone by I daresay I should have made a more forthright offer: but these days I must conduct myself more befitting my rank. 'Tis somewhat tiresome.)
in the afternoon I mind me that Society is returning to Town and that I should be about thinking on soirées. I therefore sit down and write little notes to the devot’d ladies and Mr G- D- on the subject, and also to Mrs O’C- about holding banque at the card-table.
From my recent visit to the cellar it seems entirely well-provid’d at present.
I determine to go talk to Euphemia about the matter of supper tables and whether there is anything she would need to be going about in the matter of spices &C with this in prospect. As I recollect, the K-'s business has some interest in that direction.
As I come outside the kitchen door, that stands slightly ajar, I hear two voices.
Tibby says to Euphemia that sure she will dress her hair for her while she is in the house.
Euphemia replies that she is gratefull even tho' no doubt she will get chidden for vanity and desiring to lure fellows on, when indeed, 'tis nothing of the kind.
O, says Tibby, I confide that men suppose that women are always thinking of them and never dress but to aim at their seduction. She laughs. When we were down at Q- I was dressing Her Grace quite entirely for the wives of the electors, because they were most eager to see a Duchess in the very crack of Town fashion.
She goes on to say that she cannot imagine how there can be any objection to Thomas: certainly there are those among the M- House menservants that she would hoist a storm warning over if not fly the quarantine flag, but he always behaves perfectly proper.
And do you walk out with any, Tibby?
There is a sniff quite exact like Docket and I can suppose that Tibby tosses her head in disdain. Let us, she says, go into the sitting room for I daresay you will not want hairs floating about in the kitchen.
I mind that I should not be eavesdropping, and go upstairs, deferring my convoking with Euphemia until some more suitable time.
Found via Twitter: The Women Men Don’t See: Feminist Science Fiction’s Past and Present Future but my grumbles at it will not go into that format.
Regular readers of the hedjog will already be aware that there are few things that get the spikes bristling more than people 'discovering/rediscovering' something and either a) it was not lost/forgotten in the first place (Saki is so not a neglected writer) or b) getting stuff RONG.
(That noise you hear is the peeves getting agitated.)
We note that perchance the author of that piece has not read anything by Alice Sheldon under the Racoona Sheldon rather than James Tiptree pseudonym, for I cannot imagine why anyone would describe those works as 'more romantic' - The Screwfly Solution'???
Also, I may be one of Naomi Mitchison's greatest fangirls, but I would not say that Memoirs of a Spacewoman (1962) was 'one of the earliest space-faring books by a woman' (so much for Leigh Brackett, Andre Norton, C L Moore, etc etc). Also I'm trying to think what episode contains 'hot plant sex' (if anyone can identify this, answers in comments please).
Also, and this may be Just Me (maybe also arkessian), but I knew nearly all of those authors before
they were cool they were published by the Women's Press.
Not to mention, that was very much not the beginning and end of great sf by women. See this that I compiled some years ago (and that's only up to 2000): The massive mega consolidated SF mistressworks list.
Also, sf films and sf books are very different beasts, and films have tended to go the 'spectacular visual effects' &/or 'shoot 'em up in space' route, or else robots or dystopia.
Final note: in one of the bios of Mitchison it's recounted how some film-makers wanted to make a movie of the 'Butterfly Planet' episode in Memoirs - but they couldn't quite get why it was an all-woman expedition and that seems to have been a sticking point.
Because I think it's a much longer trend, having been reading blurbs for several decades and marked the tendency to position books/writers in terms of the NEW [whoever] or being the 'love-child of [one writer] and [another writer]', not to mention seen a lot of very derivative works which were presumably buying into this desire for the familiar.
[L]ament about one of the more damaging trends in contemporary book publishing — “the decision on the part of most large publishers to allow their sales staff a say in which novels get published and which don’t.” Parks quotes an editor who says that whenever he pitches a new novel at editorial meetings, someone from the sales staff invariably asks, “But what other book is it like?” As Parks puts it, “Only when a novel could be presented as having a reassuring resemblance to something already commercially successful was it likely to overcome the veto of the sales staff.”
Is there anything new or unusual about that?
In other book/reading related questions, a listserv I am on has been addressing the question of having to stop or at least pause in reading a novel because of one's intense empathy with whatever is happening on the page.
And I wasn't sure that I've experienced this - though there have been times when I've paused because of the way something is written -
But then I realised that when I re-read Angus Wilson's Late Call my inclination is always to skip the prologue because it's so painful and go straight past that childhood trauma to Sylvia in old age.
I go to R- House to make sure that the east wing is now fit for my darlings and their dearest offspring to inhabit.
Sandy remarks that matters are already improv’d now that certain members of the household have been pension’d, and others discharg’d and replac’d. There are no longer those who heark back to the days of G-'s father as some Golden Age, which, he adds, he cannot believe they were, for report gives him out a drunken lecher.
But on an entirely different matter, he says, as we go in and out of rooms, I confide that Matt Johnson has found your kindly old lady. Might I bring him to see you this e’en? – he is in court all day bearing testimony against wrongdoers.
Why, says I, that would be quite convenable, and does anyone see, I can always say that I am asking the Bow Street Runners can they find anything out to the discredit of Miss R-, as a private commission.
Indeed your fine comedy is playing out: G- goes about to display her upon his arm at various places of resort where I daresay you were seen with him in former times, but where he would not venture to take Dowager Lady B-. He says that she is an amuzing young woman and they have fine conversations upon the theatre - but that she must, he confides, suppose that he is indeed an incognito dramatist, for she hints at plays that might be written that would suit her.
I laugh. Oh, perchance he could make notes, and pass them to me? I am not Mr P-, I am not proud, and I will take suggestions for wherever I might direct my pen next.
Is The Fateful Philtre therefore ready to be shown to Mr J-?
Oh, to my mind 'tis, but he would not be Mr J- did he not have some suggestions for very telling business to convey to the author.
Sandy laughs. Sure you know Mr J- very well!
I have known him a very long time, says I (but perhaps I should not tell Sandy that I gave Mr J- that thing that is suppos’d to be a maiden’s carefully guard’d treasure when I was but a foolish young creature: and very pleasant the occasion was for both of us).
I look at the nursery windows and confide that neither Quintus nor Flora will be able to get thro’ the bars that now cross the windows, and fall to their doom.
(I mind me of Mr de C-'s recommendation of a lady that paints charming miniature portraits, and wonder would she be the one from whom we might commission a painting of my precious darling Flora.)
Sandy remarks, rather gloomy, that he supposes that all my other friends may go whistle do I have Mrs F- in Town.
O, both my dearest F-s! I cry, which is perchance not wise, and indeed there is a certain hint of dour Calvinistickal glare comes across Sandy’s face, before he says, Forgive me, dearest C-, I am a wretch’d jealous fellow that would desire to keep you as an exclusive confidante and fears you will be quite entire taken up with the F-s.
Oh, my dear, you are ever my good friend, and I am in considerable supposition that my dear F-s will find that there are many that desire their company and will issue invitations and come call &C. I daresay I shall be quite Dido forsaken among the ruins of Carthage.
It is not recorded of Dido that she was constantly call’d upon, invited everywhere, besought to hold fine soirées, &C.
Indeed, I shall endeavour not to be Dido: for, that would go well with our present comedy, there is a another pretty little song by Purcell quite entire different from the Lament, in the person of a woman deceiv’d that declares that she will herself prove as false and inconstant as her fickle lover - sure I think I shall see can Miss McK- perform it when next I give a soirée.
Sandy smiles most charming. Sure I look forward to the advent of the F-s myself – aside from the benefit to our domestick arrangements, I always find Mr F- most extreme conversable upon a range of matters.
Indeed he greatly enjoys your conversations.
We thus part upon renew’d terms of amiability, and he will bring Matt Johnson this e’en to visit.
Therefore when I get home I go about to go with Hector into the cellar to see what we have in the way of brandy, also cigars, for I wish to show hospitable.
Hector is very much in a mood to grumble about followers, what with Thomas, and some fellow that offer’d to share his hymn-book with Prue one Sunday at chapel and took advantage so far as to walk her home.
Let us remember, Hector, says I, that the vile seducing wretch that got one of the household with child was one that was given out a gentleman and a man of science and came with recommendations from several of my circle. And went most sneaking and underhand about the entire matter rather than walking out &C in proper form.
But Hector continues to voice deep suspicion. Sure the business puts him in an extreme bad mood.
It is somewhat late in the evening when Sandy brings Matt Johnson to my door, late enough that I am in some concern that they will not come.
I hear voices outside the parlour door, as Matt Johnson greets Hector with reminiscence of some old acquaintanceship over the pugilistick art.
They are shown in. Matt Johnson is a burly fellow that may be forty or so but in condition and looks quite up to the task of apprehending dangerous rogues. He snatches off his hat and makes a somewhat awkward leg. I curtesy and say that I am most gratefull that he has turned out to see me at an hour when sure I daresay he would prefer to be resting from his endeavours against crime; will he take some brandy? And should he care for one, help himself to a cigar. I add that I do not think I need to exhort Mr MacD- to take one. (For Sandy is already about lighting one.)
Matt Johnson says brandy would be most acceptable and he has heard much of the very fine wines and brandy that I serve.
O, says I, perchance I should not say too much of where they come from before an officer of the law.
He laughs and says that he does not poach upon the grounds of the Revenue officers. He looks at me most admiring but exceeding respectfull, which is extreme pleasing to me. He then says, it is given out by some that Lady B-'s looks are entire due to paint, but indeed he cannot detect any traces.
And sure, I say, one that is a Bow Street Runner must be most acute in detection.
I see Sandy begin to glare in a dour and Calvinistickal fashion at this flirtatious badinage. I kick him in the ankle.
We exchange a little general conversation and there are compliments upon the excellence of the brandy and the cigars.
So, I say at length, after having received some most fascinating revelations of matters lying behind certain recent scandals, I understand, Mr Johnson, that you have been able to find the lady who was so very kind to Josh F- of late.
Indeed, he says, it did not take a deal of trouble. He has many usefull contacts in the coaching companies, and it turns out that it was a woman already known to him, one Dolly Mutton that keeps lodgings for women and runs a coffee-house in the vicinity of Covent Garden.
Covent Garden? says I.
Oh, he says, her days in that profession are entirely passt, her lodging house is quite entirely reputable – at least, no-one practices their trade upon the premises – and indeed her knowledge of what goes on in that locality is most superior and she has upon occasion act’d as an informant, in particular in cases of fellows that lay violent hands upon women.
Why, says I, I should greatly desire to meet her and find out was there any little thing that I, or Josh’s gratefull parents, might do for her.
Sandy looks exceeding shockt.
Matt Johnson replies that she can be found serving coffee most mornings and he would gladly take me there, tho’, he adds, I should suggest you might dress somewhat unobtrusive –
Indeed I can contrive that, says I. More brandy?