So, I have recently been writing about mistresses in the Regency Period for Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine, and I thought I’d share a little bit of it with you for today’s Friday Fiction. (I continue apparently not to know what ‘fiction’ means.) Here am I wombling on about the difference between mistresses and prostitutes
In the Regency Period (and indeed in other eras) there was a definite difference between a ‘mistress’ and a ‘prostitute’. A mistress belonged to, or was ‘kept’ by, one specific man, whereas a prostitute would have sex with any man for money. Mistresses might be taken up by one man after another, and perhaps have the role of courtesan in between gentleman lovers; however, a mistress was by definition not a prostitute. Whilst it was expected that she would have sex with her lover whenever he required it, she would also be likely to have a social or emotional relationship with the man as well. For the mistress, it was not necessarily a bad choice, though it could have problematic outcomes not only for the lady herself but for her family. For a start, it would be considerably more difficult to marry after having been a mistress: if Darcy hadn’t forced Wickham to marry Lydia Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, it is very unlikely that anyone else would have married her – and the ill reputation would also have fallen upon her sisters. It also left a woman reliant on the gentleman in question: in Sense and Sensibility, we are shown the downward spiral of Eliza Brandon’s life after her first affair.
I have been blogging for the Huff Post again – this time about satirical political songs. I wanted to do a mix up of all the parties, but couldn’t find options so instead I’ve concentrated on Ukip, as they are apparently very easy to satirise. (I make no further comment on that…)
So, here we are.
So, I wrote my first piece for the Huffington Post blog today, so I think that really has to be today’s FF.
I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends
Hello, I’m Penelope Friday. I am a disabled mother: I’ve had a diagnosis of moderate to severe ME/CFS for 22 years, and a diagnosis of fibromyalgia for 1 day (yes, really. No thank you, in the nicest possible way, I don’t want to know what you advise for either of them). I have a very wonderful son of nine, but when he was a pre-schooler, I had a horrendous amount of trouble getting him to pre-school. I have been reminded of this recently because my car – fairly vital when you can barely walk – has unfortunately gone the way of all things mechanical. And I’m back to relying on… well, that little (or, in my case, big) bit of help from my friends.
Disclaimer: I wrote this a while back so my suggestions may be out of date 🙂
Penelope Friday offers parents five easy ways to help the environment without losing their minds!
1. Change Your Ideas On Nappies.
Okay, in a perfect world we’d all be putting our babes in reusable nappies (and doing even more loads of washing than we already are), but realistically for most of us, that’s just not going to happen. Instead of thinking, “I can’t do that, so I can’t do anything,” think again. It’s worth checking for local reusable nappy laundering services: if you’re worried about the cost, rest assured that compared to the cost of buying disposables week after week after emergency-trip-out-at-midnight-because-the-baby’s-just-pooed-in-his-last-nappy… well, put it this way, the price begins to look quite reasonable. AND the companies come to you – think ‘Tesco Direct’, the nappy version.
Unfortunately, it’s also true that not every area has a local nappy laundering company. After days of scouring the internet for any information on it, I discovered that my fine plans for reusable nappies were in tatters. No one (and frankly, I can’t entirely blame them) was willing to take away smelly nappies and replace them with beautiful, freshly laundered ones. Failing this, there’s still another option that is at least green around the edges – biodegradable disposable nappies. Not, I grant you, as great for the environment as reusable, but a darn sight more practical. ‘Nature’ nappies are not only mostly biodegradable, but also (and this is important) widely available in shops like Boots and Mothercare – places you’ll be visiting anyway. What’s more, they are not (as you are no doubt suspecting) extortionately expensive. They’re a similar price to name brand nappies, and work just as well.
Author’s Note: An excerpt from an article I wrote for Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine a few years ago. On the ever popular subject of alcohol.
“Does [Mr Allen] drink his bottle a day?” the obnoxious John Thorpe asks Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey, going on to say that “at the last party in my rooms… upon an average we cleared about five pints [of wine] a head”. Now, even taking into consideration that Thorpe invariably exaggerated everything he’d ever done, there was still a note of truth in the comment. Alcohol was known to flow freely at the universities. Drunken students are not merely a modern phenomenon!
But drinking a surfeit of alcoholic beverages was certainly not limited to students. Jane Austen herself wrote in a letter to her sister that “I believe I drank too much wine last night at Hurstbourne; I know not how else to account for the shaking of my hand to-day. You will kindly make allowance therefore for any indistinctness of writing, by attributing it to this venial error.” And as to the parties of the ton, it was positively expected that the wine should flow freely throughout the evening and into the early hours of the morning. The Prince Regent, predictably, took drinking alcohol – as he took so many other things – to excess. Indeed, he was not sober even at his own wedding, and his new wife Caroline would later claim that George was so drunk that he “passed the greatest part of his bridal night under the grate, where he fell, and where I left him”.
Even away from the upper classes, however, it was common for adults to start drinking with their breakfast. Ale was a common accompaniment to the large plates of black pudding and other meats which constituted a Regency ‘breakfast’. Indeed, small beer, a phrase used to describe the second, weaker, brewing of an ale, was even drunk by children. Whilst it was low in alcohol (approximately 0.8%), it is nevertheless difficult to imagine anyone but the most hardened drinkers nowadays starting quite so early in their libations. And even they would be unlikely to give it to their children. Of course, the dangers of drinking untreated water meant that it was actually safer to drink beer than fresh water, which may give some measure of defence to the Regency drinkers.