Saturday, January 3, 2009


From the Oxford English Dictionary, a citation of 1615:

"Such wide-mouth'd trollops that t'would doe you good To heare their loud-loud Echoes teare the Wood."

My Irish grandmother was wont to call a certain sort of woman a.....

I've been reading the Palliser Novels. I hate ending books so a series like this can keep me happy for weeks. I've got through them all except "The Dukes Children." I enjoy Trollope so much I even read his autobiography. The novels are better. Actually, I read it because I was interested in his post office work. Let me explain that a brother in law- an ex, and now deceased brother in law- collected stamps very seriously and had a particular interest in the formation of the International Postal Union, which was what Trollope worked on. I was hoping to learn all sorts of interesting tidbits, but apparently the subject is more interesting to me than it was to him because there is almost nothing in the book about it....Excuse me, my phone's ringing.......

...Sorry that was a friend of mine, she needs advice. Let me try to get this post finished before she comes over. There is an issue about a man I assume. Perhaps the very handsome.... 

Oh well, back to Trollope.

I always find it odd, this crops up in nineteenth century fiction in general, but especially in Trollope, odd, the dance of courtship. I am particularly referring to the amount of time, both on the page and that which passes in the narrative, which is devoted to the machinations of deciding whether and when the man should declare interest in our heroine. Ferdinand Lopez of course didn't waste any time, but usually there is much complication, speculation, and negotiation with friends and family before anyone would even sit next to Lady Laura Kennedy or Violet Effingham in the drawing room. Mr Kennedy was another who didn't bother with this, or at least we are spared his agony- the pre-marital agony at least. I find myself getting very fed up with all this. I want to say to Phineas why don't you just... That's the bell, excuse me.

Sorry about that. It was as I suspected. 

This neighbor of mine is a very- a very, very -attractive young woman who is also very interesting, and very intelligent. What I usually see is friends such as this saddled with rather boring and self centered men. I assume they must be good sex, but oh- the wages of sin! I'm not talking about fire and brimstone, I'm talking about what an interesting woman has to put up for a little sexual gratification. 

She's been seeing this guy who is rather different, he is very handsome, blond, but handsome (excuse my prejudices- you've seen the picture of the "Mad Genius" so you understand.) She would have handsome men, of course, being the lithe glamour puss she is, but the difference here is that he is also very well mannered, and they do interesting things together, rowing and museums and such. Not withstanding that this is a frankly sexual arrangement there seems to be some real companionship. Of course it has only been a few weeks and now here's the problem:

He just used the "L" word she tells me! 

I say,"after three weeks! The little pup, manners or not, doesn't he have sense enough to feel the situation out, and after only three weeks, why you don't even know one another yet! Impatient bugger, what a shame!"

And I really meant that, I met him once and, fresh scrubbed as he appeared to be, he was very handsome, very sort of old fashioned good manners, manly and gentle at the same time. You can tell I'm an elderly romantic perhaps. I liked that she could have a physical relationship and also share activities and interests, they are the same age, equally employed, all very nice, except for his youthful impatience. 

You see I understand perfectly well that she couldn't think in those term yet, nor should she. A relationship has to be based on experience and knowledge of one another, and for one party to push ahead of the other is insensitive and will invariably cause the first to pull back. In this case, as I think in any case, it destroyed what may one day have become a very pleasant relationship. Three weeks! What a wet behind the ears young man.

Well, I fully support her in ending the affair.

Now, back to Trollope, I was being impatient with Phineas about declaring to Violet wasn't I. "Just ask her," I want to say, why all the pussyfooting!

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