Hell in a tall hat (18.2021)

Any week I don’t get my post out an a Sunday I feel disappointed in myself. Especially when I didn’t spend Sunday engaged in anything else more important – unless jigsaw making and gardening and reading count as more important?

Actually gardening felt quite important as the spring weeds have also sprung and are growing vigourously. It doesn’t help that I was not terribly engaged with the garden last year, despite all those months of lockdown when I had pretty much nothing else to do but gardening, but last year as far as gardening goes I was struck by a sense of ennui or lassitude (lockdown has brought about a need for bringing these old words back into use again).

Speaking of old fashioned words, I enjoyed this article about these dating ads from the 1880s – pure gold. If you were ever interested in writing historical fiction and looking for some inspiration? These ads provide a rich source of inspiration. I’ve copied some gems below for your entertainment.

A gentlemen, of no occupation, height 6ft 3in, red hair, black eyes, rather thin and always wears a high hat wishes to correspond with a tall and good-looking young lady with a small income …

(A high hat, always? Maybe he needs to meet this next lady…)

A nice young girl, aged 20, considered by her male friends good-looking, with a very nice figure, wishes to correspond with a gentleman in the medical profession. He must be tall, have a moustache, and always wear a tall hat.

(Did “tall hat” mean something else back then?)

And if you thought women in those days were shy retiring creatures, Dolly and Cis show that they very much knew what they wanted.

Dolly wishes to correspond with a gentleman, with a view to matrimony. Would not object to being an old man’s darling instead of a young man’s slave…

Cis, cheeky, good figure, fair, aged 22, wishes to correspond with a dark gentleman, who must be jolly, good tempered and willing to let Cis have her own way.

Sweetheart, aged 20, medium height, dark brown hair, blue eyes, good tempered, loving disposition, would like to correspond with gentleman, aged 21–40, either dark or fair, any height from 5 feet 8 inches to 6 feet , 1 1/2 inch; milksops, cork legs and beards objected to…

I had another day in the office this week to keep up practice at commuting. But it’s really not a productive use of a day so I might give it a while before I go in again. I’ve gotten used to working from home in my comfortable tracksuit pants. Having to get dressed up and commute is such a drag!

And it’s been reported that this primarily home based work model is going to be more popular going forward, with most office-based companies expecting their staff to be working from home 2-3 days a week. I don’t mind splitting my time between home and work. In the beginning I missed people, I remember clearly feeling lost, but I’m over that now.

For now the trains have been very quiet on my recent commutes, but it will be interesting to see how much this changes from June 21 when restrictions on meeting up inside are lifted and home working is no longer required.

And at a time when in the UK we can see positive things ahead, there is all kinds of Covid hell raining down in so many countries – I can’t even begin to understand what is going on in India, Brazil, Venezuela or any other country that’s not important enough to make the news feeds. And there must be many countries where there are too many sick people and not enough equipment or drugs or hospital beds to help them. It’s around 30 days until I get my second vaccination and I am grateful for that. I’m grateful for the scientists who put this vaccine together, for the NHS who is vaccinating me for free, and for all the people who organised this mass vaccine programme at such short notice yet – so it seems – with enormous efficiency.

This week the UK had a day when only one person died of Covid. This is a huge change from mid-January when more than 1800 people died in one day.

I’ve finished two books this week – the first one, Bloc Life by Peter Molloy, about various aspects of life in East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania, was novel research and helped put more pieces together in my head. I also finished The Spanish Ambassador’s suitcase: stories from the diplomatic bag by Matthew Parris and Andrew Bryson. This was a compilation of excerpts from diplomatic despatches sent back by Embassy staff over the past 60 years or so. The story about the Turkmen stallion gifted to John Major was particularly funny.

Adventures in fermenting went overboard this week with 4 litres of tepache (a drink made of fermented Mexican pineapple skin – don’t knock it until you try it) and three bottles of ginger beer in the cupboard and carbonating. I topped up my ginger bug to re-ferment and made a fermented drink using the ginger beer bug but with fruit instead of ginger. Summer fruit fizz will be ready sometime next week. And as I also received some milk kefir grains in the post, I started to experiment with dairy ferments. Fizzy cheese-scented milk doesn’t sound appealing but I’m persisting and focussing on the improved gut health this should provide.

London mayoral elections this week, and the first time I’ve voted with a mask on. And I had to bring my own pencil. But I voted. Elections had been delayed a year, as this time last year the idea of having a steady flow of strangers in a small room was not possible. Another sign that we are making progress. But who to vote for in a sea of faces (and really, there were a large number of candidates) from mainstream parties to independents to single issue parties to one candidate whose manifesto was to abolish the role of London mayor altogether! Not to forget Count Binface, intergalactic space warrior. Maybe this is the kind of leadership London needs?

I’ve started a course on the Circular Economy this week. Because I don’t have enough going on in my life right now! Reuse, recycle, repurpose, repair – cycle products back and back through the economy again and again. It seems to be a good course but heavy to pick up and focus on at the end of the day. And it means I’m doing that and not writing. It’s tricky because I want to learn more about this subject (and it’s also useful for work purposes), but I also want to write, but I don’t want to fill my days up with activity. I also want some time for langour.

I hope you find some time this week for a spot of languishing/lassitude/ennui in between all those other tasks competing for your attention.

2 thoughts on “Hell in a tall hat (18.2021)”

  1. Those 1880 dating ads are the BEST find. I must do something with them…not sure yet though. Honestly, things haven’t really changed, have they?
    As ZZ top sang, “every girl’s crazy about a sharp-dressed man” = tall hat
    Or tall hats could have been the eggplant emoji of the 1800’s… who’s to say?
    Glad you are well and busy! xo

    Liked by 1 person

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