Friday, 7 September 2018
Did You Know . . . .
that ‘The functions of the Mistress of the House resemble those of the general of an army or the manager of a great business concern.’
I have been dipping into 'The Housekeeping Book' of olden days and all sorts of wonderful information, instructions, prohibitions, advice to young women and new wives can be found within.
I particularly like the capitals for the Mistress of the House and the lower case used for a general and a manager, be they ever so lofty. Mind you, the Vicar of Wakefield had it that : ‘The modest virgin, the prudent wife, and the careful matron are much more serviceable in life than petticoated philosophers, blustering heroines, or virago queans’. (I looked up ‘queans’ - it means an impudent or badly behaved girl or woman, or a prostitute.) Serviceable to whom, one wonders. Independent minded women have always got short shrift from the mainstream of domestic theorists, so many of them men.
Having had little interest in new clothes for the past two years this interest was rekindled when I had a very close look inside our closets and wardrobes and chests of drawers; Beloved’s stuff has all gone now, apart from his dressing gown, a summer anorak and a couple of his favourite shirts, all items I now wear. Ditto some of his thickest and warmest socks, which will come in very usefully during the winter. However, my own clothes are sadly lacking in shine and rather shabby after years of wear and needed replacing. I get fashion catalogues and emails sent from fashion houses and department stores, all unsolicited (I may possibly have bought items in the past), so I consulted these. I hadn’t purchased new clothes for so long that I was horrified to see the prices. Nevertheless, a few tops, shirts, trousers and leggings (for the gym) arrived in due course and I admit it feels good to be wearing something that isn’t falling to pieces with age. I like the look of myself again, too.
Be that as it may, the activity of purchasing does not please one lady author, who had this to say: ‘This ranging from shop to shop has given origin to a fashionable method of killing time, which is well-known by the term “Shopping” and is literally a mean and unwarrantable amusement. I wonder if she would absolve me from blame, as I did my “Shopping” on the internet. I wish I could amble from shop to shop, all along the High Street, and take my time, browse around a bookshop, have a meal somewhere, linger over a cup of coffee and watch the world go by. I may be fancy-free and independent, but I am still accountable to Millie. Poor dear Millie, she is quite decrepit now, although her steroid medication has given her a renewed lease of a semblance of a doggie life. Her hearing is gone which makes her difficult to organise; I also think she has dementia, she does not want to let me out of her sight. Leaving her alone is a problem, there are just two houses where she knows her way around and feels safe, my friend Jay's, who is dog mad and Millie’s best friend and my other friend Ralph’s, who bosses her around in a nice way. I am having the suspicion of dementia being present because all her routines have changed, whereas before she had regular favourite bedtimes, doggie beds and toilet habits she is now all over the place. And yet, she still has a reasonable quality of life and eats well and happily, is fully continent, and appears to be happy provided I’m close. If I have to leave her alone it’s usually for no more than a couple of hours.
My leg is getting better. The swelling is now confined to the ankle and heel and even there disappearing noticeably, almost by the day. I have had all these weeks of mostly sitting and reading with the odd little Millie walk and a potter in the garden. When the summer was at its hottest I reclined gracefully and read novels, taking sips from cooling drinks. I am glad, that by living long after The Housekeeping Books’s strictures, I escaped its censure of indulging in the much decried pastime of reading novels. Apparently, young ladies were wont to indulge and could therefore not hope to achieve the heights of the housekeeping skills necessary to make a good match and thus become serviceable in life.