I’m Watching: Gosford Park … again. Each time I see this 2001Robert Altman film I pick up another nuance of how the upper crust interacted with the servant class. This movie is particular about the details, from the counting of knives (one was ominously missing), to rotating the linens so that they wear out evenly, to paying each servant a tip for services rendered. Maggie Smith, wonderful as always, plays the always complaining “poor” aunt, Constance Trentham. In one of the last scenes in the film, Constance is seen filling envelopes with money and writing the names of the servants she’s tipping. Click here to view the trailer.
I’m listening: To Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray. This novel is filled with so many characters and so many details of Regency life that I recommend it for the serious student of the Regency era. Here is Thackeray’s description of Jos in his uniform. One can almost see Mr. Wickham in this description: ” Jos was even more splendid at Brighton than he had been at his sister’s marriage. He had brilliant under-waistcoats, any one of which would have set up a moderate buck. He sported a military frock-coat, ornamented with frogs, knobs, black buttons, and meandering embroidery. He had affected a military appearance and habits of late; and he walked with his two friends, who were of that profession, clinking his boot-spurs, swaggering prodigiously, and shooting death-glances at all the servant girls who were worthy to be slain.”
I’m reading: Aristocrats by Stella Tillyard. This historical biography of the Lennox sisters is based on true facts AND reads like a novel. Stella weaves history and biography in a way that’s accessible and informative. This novel was made into a Masterpiece Theatre film in 1999. Here is a passage regarding a Georgian lady’s attitude towards her husband’s infidelity: “Caroline approved of ‘gallantry’ for her brothers, and she was to encourage her sons’ affairs, saying that being ‘in love’ was very good for boys. But from her own husband she wanted a commitment that any affairs he might have would be confined to the level of sex with servant girls. She was not prepared to tolerate a mistress, certainly not a mistress from her own circle.”
I’m visiting Autumn Cottage Diarist. This English lady maintains a pretty garden and posts photos of her plants, pets, and the trips she takes around England. In this blog one can see the line that connects gardening techniques from days past to today’s gardens. It helps that the blog’s author is a keen observer of nature and life: “We had very heavy rain last night – but this morning, everything is washed fresh and clean. The pond, which has been gravitating towards a congested puddle, has filled up again, as I discovered when I went to check it just now. Peering into the depths, I noticed how murky it still was under the surface – and then, in front of my eyes, a pair of glittering wings sped past. “