16 December 2009

Daily Chat 16/12/09

The only thing that really matters about today is that it is Jane Austen's birthday.  But this stuff happened, too:

Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 1497.  Parliament passed An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown in 1689.  The last recorded eruption of Mt. Fuji occurred in 1707.  The first of three major earthquakes on the New Madrid fault line in southeastern Missouri occurred in 1811.  The quake was felt as far away as Boston and New York.  And in 1997, nearly 700 Japanese children were hospitalised after an episode of Pokémon induced seizures.

Also born today:  Ludwig von Beethoven (1770-1827), George Santayana (1863-1952), Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Noel Coward (1899-1973), Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008), Philip K. Dick (1928-1982), Liv Ullman (1938), Benny Andersson (1946) and Bill Hicks (1961-1994).

It is the Day of Reconciliation in South Africa.


  1. As you know, I don't normally include deaths on the daily thread, but every now and then I'll see someone listed who I didn't realise was dead -- usually some minor American celebrity that most of you would probably not know, so I don't comment on it. Tonight I saw a name that was a blast from the past for me, but I'm sure most of you will have heard of him. Good-bye Stuart. I kind of fancied him, but he bore such an uncanny resemblance to my cousin Curt that it always felt incestuous.

  2. Hi All-- Good shout on Stuart Adamson, Montana. Another good one gone well before his time. Always enjoyed the heavy Celtic influence with these guys.

  3. Nice embellished version of the Jane pic here


    with a good recipe for rataffia cakes!

    Didn't know that Clarke and Dick shared Jane's birthday - fab.

  4. not really awake yet, Edwin, wondered how on earth you could make cakes out of raffia...

  5. Just seen Hank's comment last night in response to me saying I was more liberal than left.

    It does indeed depend on what you mean by liberal, and I wouldn't try to claim I know what "true" liberalism is and everybody else is wrong or anything like that. But to me, the "rights" culture we've got now isn't very liberal. To me, liberal is "whatever is not forbidden is permitted". Governments "giving" us a list of "rights" is (deliberately) moving towards "whatever is not permitted is forbidden", which is not something I'd recognise as liberal.

    Now, saying I'm more liberal than left does still imply I'm a bit left. Which basically means I think that if the state exists for anything, it should be to counterbalance the power of big capital and organise those things that are better done collectively. So basically, live and let live, but not every man for himself.

    And New Labour are neither liberal nor left. They're authoritarian plutocrats.

  6. Have to agree with you paddybrown on Austen: overrated,IMHO...
    By the way has anyone else noticed a newish (to me anyway) poster called ClimateCommunion, who's been popping up all over CiF? Excuse the language (what is it with this pre-emptive excuse me I'm going to be rude and you ain't going to stop me malarkey..is it like a get-out-of-jail card?)but he is a cunt.

  7. Just putting some popcorn on for the Austen debate!

    (Not bothered about the outcome: could take her or leave her myself!)

  8. No debate Dot just a clashing of senses and sensibilities and closed perceptions! Think Mark Twain conceded as much in his anti-Jane tirade.


    You could not shock her more than she shocks me;
    Beside her Joyce seems innocent as grass.
    It makes me most uncomfortable to see
    An English spinster of the middle class
    Describe the amorous effects of "brass,"
    Reveal so frankly and with such sobriety
    The economic basis of society.

  9. My dear Paddy/Alisdair,

    I am very sensible sirs, of the hardships faced when encountering Austen admirers and could say much on the subject but I am cautious of appearing forward and precipitate.

    Your anti-Austen posts have been most unconsciously done, however I hope will be of short duration. The turn of your opinion I shall never forget and rest assured sirs I hope there will be some way that will induce you to accept Austen in the pantheon of writers.

    In future, I hope we shall be always of one mind. You are determined to ruin her in the opinion of all readers, and make her the contempt of the world. Laugh as much as you choose, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion.

    Montana, do I win an Untrusted pencil?

  10. I'm pro-Jane. And yes, she does expose marriage as a form of prostitution. So I get my radfem creds in too.

  11. I'm rather of the Bronte-ian mindset:

    "Anything like warmth or enthusiasm, anything energetic, poignant, heartfelt, is utterly out of place in commending these works: all such demonstrations the authoress would have met with a well-bred sneer, would have calmly scorned as outré or extravagant. She does her business of delineating the surface of the lives of genteel English people curiously well. There is a Chinese fidelity, a miniature delicacy, in the painting. She ruffles her reader by nothing vehement, disturbs him with nothing profound. The passions are perfectly unknown to her: she rejects even a speaking acquaintance with that stormy sisterhood ... What sees keenly, speaks aptly, moves flexibly, it suits her to study: but what throbs fast and full, though hidden, what the blood rushes through, what is the unseen seat of life and the sentient target of death--this Miss Austen ignores....Jane Austen was a complete and most sensible lady, but a very incomplete and rather insensible (not senseless woman), if this is heresy--I cannot help it." (Charlotte Bronte)

    I reasonably enjoyed "Pride and Prejudice" the second time I read it (the first time left no traces in my memories), and was surprisingly delighted by finding the ur-Lady Bracknell, Lady Catherine de Bourg. I read "Emma" and made it to the end, without thinking too badly of it.

    But damn me if the remembrance of those novels doesn't make me want to read "Wuthering Heights", once more, or "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" (to get some fem creds myself, if radfem creds are far beyond my reach).

    Still, my list of novels from the 19th century, one for each year published in that year, would most probably contain "Sense and Sensibilty" (haven't read it, and there seem to be only extremely few novels from the beginning of the 19th century. Can anyone else here think of good novels (not necessarily English) written 1801-1820?).

  12. Dracula was quite a bit later, but I put it on the list for 1897. Frankenstein, how could I not have thought of it! Maybe, this time, I might not skip the first part before the action gets started ...

    Thanks scherf & Dot

  13. If I can go 4 years out of the 1820 bracket (please?) then:

    The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg.

    It's a magnificent gothic condemnation of Scottish Calvinism (and religion in general). 150 years ahead of its time and seriously creepy.

    It's brilliant.

  14. Actually having looked it up I only gave the shortened title, the full title is:

    The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner: Written by Himself. With a detail of curious traditionary facts and other evidence by the editor

    Beat that!

  15. Sorry elementary was relying on my (erroneous?) knowledge that Frankenstein and Dracula came out of the same meeting.....

  16. Your Grace, it is noted for 1824. Finding novels published in 18xx becomes easier with xx>20, I found. In England, you more or less exclusively have Gothic novels before the 30s.

  17. Your Grace, I want you to meet Mr Defoe, who wrote a book called:

    The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, Etc. Who Was Born In Newgate, and During a Life of Continu'd Variety For Threescore Years, Besides Her Childhood, Was Twelve Year a Whore, Five Times a Wife [Whereof Once To Her Own Brother], Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon In Virginia, At Last Grew Rich, Liv'd Honest, and Died a Penitent. Written from her own Memorandums.

    Dotterel, the story you are probably thinking of would be "The Vampyre" (ah, that "y" is so much more aesthetically pleasing than in this word than the "i", don't you think), a short story by John William Polidori.

  18. Was thinking Le Rouge et le noir, but it turns out to be 1830.

    Ivanhoe, written 1819.

    Leonora, 1806 (Maria Edgeworth).

    Le Neveu de Rameau, 1805.

  19. Waverley, Heart of Midlothian and Ivanhoe all came out in that period.

  20. Merci, thauma. I already have a Scott for 1814, Waverley (that would be new to me, while I already have read (and was bored by) Ivanhoe).

    Leonora is on my list now, and since I was always talking about publication (and need novels for 1801-1810), 2Le Neveu de Rameau" is in, too.

    For 1830, I've given me the task of reading Paul Clifford by Bulwer-Lytton (the shit!), made immortal by its opening sentence ...

  21. Heavens....you don't visit for ages and when you do there is a reminder of a fantastic book - really good call on the James Hogg.

    Personally I enjoy Jane Austen, but nothing can beat Wuthering Heights, not even Jane Eyre. There should be a ban on TV and film adaptations of both though. In fact, there should be a ban on period dramas altogether. The very sight of some crappy chocolate box actor in an empire line dress makes me grind my teeth.

  22. Right - am really off now.

    Happy Christmaaaaaaaaaaas!!!


    Can you tell I'm excited?

  23. First 'regional/historical' novel in English, Edgeworth's 'Castle Rackrent' 1800, predates Scott's works by some 15 years. She corresponded with Scott and also visited him.

  24. Vari, I always find that the bonnets distract from the story. That's one of the pleasures of reading: You don't notice weird (that's, weird to our modern tastes) clothing.

    Philippa: Happy Christmas to you, too. You're there at the 21st, if I remember correctly? Too bad I can't, I'll be having joy and fun and seasons in the sun.

  25. Your Grace, the Confessions is astounding, as was Hogg himself: The Three Perils of Man is a a book so ahead of its time that it is only now finding its true audience with World of Warcraft buffs!

    He is also one of the great parodists of all time: Scott once knocked him back for a poem for an anthology, saying 'every herring must hang by its ain heid' - Hogg then wrote the Scott poem himself and wrote a brilliant Wordsworth poem also.


  26. Ah yes, the bonnets....don't get me started on the bonnets.....

  27. Don't knock the bunnets. Paw and Granpaw Broon wouldn't be the same without 'em.
    Oh, bonnets...

  28. Aha, will you be getting the Broons Annual for Christmas?

  29. Have received it every year from birth...

  30. elementary,

    ha ha, Moll Flanders definitely wins.


    Hogg originally published Justified Sinner anonymously such was the furore it was going to cause amongst the Church of Scotland establishment.

    The style and structure of the book is such that it has been titled one of the first modernist novels. It truly is a great read. I've read it about 5 times along with my all time favourite Scott novel, Rob Roy.


    is it Broons or Oor Wullie this year? I can't remember.

    When I lived abroad, my Mum used to always send me the annuals at Christmas.

  31. It's the Broons this year, but of late there have been q. a few 'special' annuals too, and oddities (like the Broons at War, strips for 1939-45, and Maw Broon's Cookbook...)

  32. Is it the Sunday Post that the Broons are in? I used to love it when my dad made the trip to the special newsagents to get that. A particular highlight was Francis Gay's diary. Is that still around?

  33. From last night:

    Welcome gandolfo, who I thought we’d be seeing, and welcome back littleboy/atomboy and Helen/original.

    And welcome to anyone else I’ve missed!

    Just as a matter of idle curiosity, I’m interested to know how many of our recent arrivals have looked in over here as a result of seeing Untrusted mentioned in less-than-flattering terms on CiF.

    I reckon that, in some ways, BTH and now Bru are actually doing us a sort of favour in attracting new visitors who check us out to see what all the fuss is about.

    Thanks guys, if you’re reading, although I’m sure it’s not what you were hoping to achieve…

  34. I think so. So sugary sentimental you'd need insulin afterwards.

  35. I might try and track a copy down this Sunday. It will be interesting to see if my thirteen year old self was right and the paper was teetering on the precipice of parody. For you Alisdair:


  36. Vari,

    the last time I looked at a Sunday Post is when my sadly deceased granparents used to buy it.

    It's always been a toxic mix of kailyard journalism, Paternalist Unionism and as Alisdair says, sickly sweet twee stories.

  37. I think I'm going to be a bit ill, mow, Vari...
    Oh, and the Duke is right. D.C.Thomson are notoriously right-wing, antiunions (but pro the Union). Indeed, they were Thatcherite before Thatcher.

  38. Very true, from what I recall, it makes the Sun look like something the Socialist Workers Party would produce. Without the page three lovelies of course. The Sunday Post would be more likely to feature stout ladies in cardigans.

  39. Marriage as prostitution - very interesting idea Thaum, think Biddy had a comedy stab at it once. But its one of those strange areas where for a male to put the idea forward on CiF = misogyny (clearly thinks women are all gold diggers), female poster puts it forward = radical.

  40. Welcome back, Vari, hope alls been well, havent seen you for a while round these parts.

  41. Afternoon all!
    @andysays Hi andy! well I'm quite happy to have found you guys as I find CiF at times a bit well you know.... so prompted by some provocative comments overthere I thought these on UT I'm goin' to check them out and I like what I see!
    what I want to achieve? is a bit bizarre andy, I actually have no ulterior motive apart from joining in some discussions, which having looked through some I find interesting and thought provoking and some good humour as well
    god feel that I'm a a job interview...!

  42. Weather update for Bitterweed who likes that sort of thing.
    It is snowing in Kent and my son in York tells me he is frying eggs on the bonnet of his motor.
    Soft Northerners eh?

  43. gandolfo,

    I think he meant what those talking about us on WDYWTTA wanted to achieve, rather than the newcomers. We don't really have criteria for joining here (unless you count having a Google account) we've never been able to thrash out the finer details of the initiation ceremony: pineapples or not, how much tea/booze needs to be imbibed, robes, silly handshakes etc.....

    Anyway welcome all newcomers, that ought to do for now!

  44. Of course, since we let that mustelid comment on here you have a demonstration of how low our standards really are.............

  45. Hi Jay!

    I've been shockingly busy - I've had to do proper work more or less non stop - I've gone for 3 weeks now without a lunch break and have hardly seen my children during the week. Its a very miserable state of affairs. I'm not going to ask what I've missed, for obvious reasons!

    I remember some such Bidisha article. It was good to have it confirmed that I am actually little more than a whore. Being stupid enough to get married, I did need a mightier intellect to apprise me of that particular fact.

  46. Dotterel,
    I have never seen you before in my life madam and that child is certainly not mine.

  47. I note that one of our most vociferous critics on Cif seems to have been 'disappeared'. Looks like the biter has been a bit naughty again, and has finally been bitten. He will be sadly missed by all Cif commenters, although maybe he'll turn up here again.

  48. Of course it isn't stoaty: I said the site's standards were low, not that mine were!

  49. Dotterel,
    That was quick, you bastard.

  50. Hi dotterel! ok all clear glad no need for robes etc. by mustelid i assume you mean Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera!!!
    Weather report from rome for those interested clear blue skies but bloody cold well at least for me it is!

  51. "I've been shockingly busy - I've had to do proper work more or less non stop - I've gone for 3 weeks now without a lunch break"

    In the skiving heartlands of CiF thats a pretty chilling comment, my lunches (CiF/UT time) usually last from 10.30 till 2 these days, often longer. Whats it all in aid of, and when will normality resume? We're all here for you, Vari, we have all come face to face with Work at some point and we know its traumas.

    "It was good to have it confirmed that I am actually little more than a whore."

    On the good side tho you're not alone, its actually all married women, biddy says so. She also explained that "most women" are misogynists. So you, Vari, are pretty much a misogynist whore according to Bidisha. Sisterly unity at its most touching ;)


    "we've never been able to thrash out the finer details of the initiation ceremony: pineapples or not,"

    Pineapples were incorporated into the charter at least 2 months ago. The whole ceremony may not be sorted yet but thats definitely in. Only M&S pineapples tho, naturally.

    I see Atomboys back, hopefully he'll stick around for a bit.

  52. gandolfo

    Actually I meant that Mustela erminea but I see what you're getting at!

  53. Gotta stick up (a bit) for DC Thomson - paternalistic and anti-union sure, but no more anti-union than the modern New Statesman!

    I know two women who learned their trade at DCT and they both said that the firm helped them out at crisis points in their lives. I can say the same for a similar Scottish company in the 80s; if an employee was in trouble of any kind, discreet offers of aid would be made, especially if the crisis was a bereavement.

    The bosses doing this were all men of course - worse, they were usually freemasons and Rangers supporters - but they regarded themselves as having obligations modern employers shrug their shoulders at.

    DCT was also home to a weird mix of surrealist writers and artists - Dudley Watkins the most famous of course.

  54. Oh I love Austen. But must say cannot get along with Emma and not mad keen on Mansfield Park. But I really like Persuasion and Northanger Abbey and do love Pride and Prejudice - sorry. I read Dracula and found it a bit boring in places. But Wuthering Heights is magnificent.

    Welcome Atomboy and Original.

    And Hank - we should organise a sort of Midlands / Yorks meet at some point. I am sure Deano said he would be up for meeting somewhere after the new Year and I think BB may have said as much too. Not sure. Then there are three of us in Sheff too. We could pick somewhere easy-ish for all to get to.

    MsChin- yes it has been a bit of a bad month or two for meeting up as we have all been under the weather to some extent.

  55. Thanks for the vote of sympathy Jay - takes having to work your arse off to make you realise how much you skive sometimes!

    Paternalistic, anti-union freemasons I have no issue with. Rangers fans - thats a different kettle of fish......

  56. Hi Vari & newbies! o/

    Back to w*rk ... *grumble*

  57. princess: Considering Dracula, I've always felt that Stoker didn't know what to do with the Count after the men found out he infected Mina. (Ahem, is that a spoiler? If so, do not read the sentence preceding these brackets.) The worst fear of The Victorian Man has become reality - not being able to preserve and protect a woman's purity (from foreign influences, one might add).

    "Now, where do I go from this powerful scene?" Stoker asked himself. "Ooh, I think I got it! The chase him across Europe and kill him in a fight. Yeah, and one of the heroes dies, that makes it even more powerful!"

    A bit like Voldemort in the Harry Potter books: Great entrance in book 4, but showing himself to suck at being an Evil Overlord. The perfect place for someone like him in a Nefarious Organization would be the place of Oddjob, i.e. unkillable henchman, but not the mastermind, no, not at all ...

  58. Gandolfo, Dot,
    So as not to drive you two into a frenzy of Googling I will leave this place and check the spelling on me blog.
    Pearls before wossnames!

  59. Edwin,

    ''Freemasons and Rangers supporters''?

    I hadn't realised Strathclyde Police were allowed to moonlight as DC Thomson executives.

  60. Ach Your Grace Strathclyde Police are now as multicultural as Private Eye's Neasden police force - or so they say!

    Bak to Jane -

    “[I]t was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, base-ball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books. . .'

    This is apparently the first fictional reference to baseball. Not a lot of people know that!

  61. Stoaty, who's Googling?

  62. Ah, that explains my indifference towards Jane Austen: I'm not really interested in sports writers ...

  63. Elementary - I think you are quite right. I do like the film Nosferatu though and I love the Herzog version - very, very weird and dreamlike and I found it creepy as well as melancholy. And the recent Let The Right One In was a good vampire tale.

    I read a book called The Historian which is a take on Dracula - it didn't get brilliant reviews but I quite liked it. I love frightening myself and I love gothic horror. But I have to say that the ITV adaptation of A Woman In Black was a step too far for me and genuinely terrified me for months. It still creeps me out - but I love the book it still gives me such a chill when reading it. God I won't sleep tonight now. Best read some Austen!

  64. princess: I guess the Nosferatu pictures pretty much confirm my point: They are better for conflating the Count's demise with his sucking dry the leading lady.

    I have heard only terrifying things about The Woman in Black, never seen it yet. Have to do some time. Till then, I'm reading The Woman in White (coincidentally, this really *is* the book I'm reading at the moment.)

  65. Elementary - I have never read The Woman in White. Is it good? You could read the book of The Woman in Black - it is actually a very short book it can be read in an afternoon. But it is scary. Well I think it is. The TV version cannot be seen anymore - unless you can get hold of a copy on Ebay or Amazon although I think it might be up on YouTube. I cant ever watch it again - it really freaked me out. What a wuss!

    Oh and my sister has just informed me that The Historian did get good reviews in many places - so I don't know where I got that from?

  66. The Woman in Black has been adapted as a play, which shall be absolutely terrifying; I would like to watch that.

    The Woman in White is a good read, the villain is simply wonderful, what grates me quite a bit are the many many iterations of "women are/do/feel" stuff, as "although women can resist wealth, looks or manners in a man, no woman can resist a man's tongue when he knows how to use it." Which refers, of course, to male eloquence, not cunnilingus.

  67. It may well refer to male eloquence, but applies equally to both....

  68. Speaking of things that freak you out. Has anyone seen 'Synecdoche, New York'? The newish Charlie Kaufman film?

    It's about a theatre director (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who keeps thinking he's dying. He's then given an enormous budget to come up with a new play and it gets weirder from there...

    It left me for a few days with an undefinable, vague, uneasy feeling, something films don't normally do.

    Something else that stayed with me for a while was that Christopher Eccleston play about the second coming of Jesus. Anyone remember that? For some reason it really creeped me out and I'm not easily disturbed!

  69. "The Woman in White is a good read, the villain is simply wonderful, what grates me quite a bit are the many many iterations of "women are/do/feel" stuff, as "although women can resist wealth, looks or manners in a man, no woman can resist a man's tongue when he knows how to use it." Which refers, of course, to male eloquence,"

    I have berated some female Ciffers in wonderfully eloquent terms and have never got so much as a phone number out of it.

  70. 'Ah, that explains my indifference towards Jane Austen: I'm not really interested in sports writers ...'

    She was the Chicklit Young of her day!

  71. The Woman is White is brilliant, as is The Moonstone.

    Haven't heard of her black sister, though - I'll have to look into that when I have a mo.

  72. Er, Jay, it just might be that 'berating' part that makes it all fall down....

    That or they've heard about your scurrilous views on ROG.

  73. Wybourne, that Eccleston drama was amazing. Freaked me out, too, not least because it was filmed in all to familiar locations, while I was living away from them.

  74. "That or they've heard about your scurrilous views on ROG."

    Looks like the Irish management finally agree with me though ;)

  75. Funny how the Graun (Observer?) named him in the Team of the Weekend....

  76. I am struggling through Thomas Mann's 'Lotte in Wiemar, The beloved returns'
    Now there's a wordy bugger.

  77. ''Which refers, of course, to male eloquence, not cunnilingus.'' Damn!

    I will still give it a read I think - despite the lack of cunnilingus. I need something good to read at the moment.

    Thauma - I really cannot recommend the book enough. It is dead creepy. The story is actually pretty grim and it is quite depressing in a way but Susan Hill manages to build up such a sense of dread. Anyway that is enough from me on The Woman in Black - anyone would think I get royalties.

  78. Has anyone read any of the Millenium trilogy? I know it's desperately contemporary for this discussion, but I've been quite gripped, and a little spooked by the one and three quarters I've read so far.

  79. princesschipchops
    For something good to read, try "Fermentation" by Angelica Jacob. A strange novella about desire during pregnancy. Original, at least.

  80. A bit outside the 1801 - 20 period but RL Stevenson and Hugh Walpole both got me reading avidly when I was young.

    Currently reading a beautiful book by Tahar Ben Jelloun, called Leaving Tangier, about a young Morrocan's attempts to flee his country to Spain - I have a feeling it won't have a happy ending.

  81. This comment has been removed by the author.

  82. Stoaty

    If you're having trouble with Lotte try Thomas Mann's, The Holy Sinner - its a wonderful book - quite short too and definitely not a struggle to read. Info about it here:

    The Holy Sinner

    Lets hope the link works this time.

  83. Jay - I'm divorced! Does this make me a reformed whore do you think? Sort of seen the error of my ways? ;)

    This is of course precisely what Jane Austen's novels are all about. A subtle and piercing (hat pins anyone?)critique of the position of middle class women at the time. After all it is Emma that she has saying "A woman with her own fortune has no need to marry except for love" or something like that.

    I adore Jane Austen, she wrote about what she knew and did it excellently - the narrow confining world of middle class women in the early 19th century. Her heroes are lovely too - so a feminist but not a radical one I think. I spent my teens being serially in love with all her heroes especially Mr Darcy and Mr Knightly!

    Of course if we consider how these gent;emen made a living (slavery etc) - different story. But women were not usually included in discussions of such matters.

    Servants didn't feature much either...

  84. Thanks Sheff, I'll give it a go. Loved 'The magic mountain'

  85. Can I use this forum as a joke tester?
    This one is in experimental stage, so I'll express it that way:

    Aim: To stop being poor.

    Apparatus: Mouth

    Method: find pimp, give head.

    Results: Met Jim Morrison and his band, Mick Jagger and his band, John Lennon and his band.

    Pimp got angry.

    Conclusion: I was only supposed to blow The bloody Doors off.


    Tell me if it's already been done and be honest, is it worth working on?

  86. During a decade in which Napoleon was effectively engaging, if not transforming, Europe, Jane Austen composed a novel in which the most important events are the fact that a man changes his manners and a young lady changes her mind.

    (Tony Tanner)

  87. From today's Graun:

    When the former French justice minister Rachida Dati was ousted from the heady world of Paris politics and sent to work as an MEP, critics joked that the drab landscape of Brussels would be unlikely to suit her penchant for flashbulbs and glamour.

    Six months into her stint at the European parliament, the naysayers may have been proved right. The 44-year-old member of Nicolas Sarkozy's rightwing UMP party has been caught on camera apparently complaining about her job and warning that her first term in office was likely to be a struggle.

    "I can't stand it any more," Dati was heard saying in a conversation with a friend on her mobile phone in Strasbourg. "I think something's going to snap before I finish my term."

    Hang on - I'm very confused. I thought Brussels was the centre of the modish, artistic and cultured intelligentsia. Are they saying that Paris - fucking Paris - might possibly be higher in the ranks? I mean, who's ever heard of Paris as a cultural centre?

    Sheesh, bloody Graun....

  88. Yeah, okay, Scherfig, and how far do you think a young lady of the times would have got writing about the Napoleonic wars? Women! ... having opinions! on war? What's the world coming to?

  89. Scherf,
    Napoleon makes a footprint in history.
    "a man changes his manners and a young lady changes her mind"
    Is the past, present and future.
    So "ner!"

  90. Actually, thauma, Tanner is very sympathetic to Austen. He studied her work closely for many years, and wrote a biography of her in the 80's.
    However, that quote of his sums Austen up for me. {Incidentally, I believe Jane had two brothers who fought in the Navy during the Napoleonic wars, and ended up as admirals.}

  91. habib,

    not much needing fixed with that joke, it's a good un.

    I have a great start to a joke, but I'll be damned if I can write the rest of it, anyone help?:

    ''Jill Dando, a dildo and Dido walk into a pub.''

    You must admit for a joke opening it holds immense potential.

  92. Women! ... having opinions!

    Who mentioned Maria Edgeworth earlier?

  93. Now, Scherfig, it's obviously just a patriarchal construct that war is more important than manners.

    Actually I mean that half-seriously. Obviously Austen would have been concerned about her brothers' fate, but it would have been impossible for her to write about that sort of thing. So instead, she satirised (gently, I grant you - but gentle satire is often much more effective than outright vitriol) the things that were within her sphere.

    I do prefer 'Wuthering Heights' and the other Brönte sisters, though.

  94. scherf

    Thats true enough - but I agree with Thauma and we do also need relief from the horrors from time to time. Even if Austen's plots are the 18th century equivalent of Mills and Boon her prose is so elegant and her humour so subtle that both are worth the the time taken to read in my humble etc....although I will admit I much prefered the Brontes in my youth and only came to JA much later on.

    Lets hope nobody tells Bru...

  95. Off the bat
    ''Jill Dando, a dildo and Dido walk into a pub.''
    They ask for a stiff drink, lubrication and a brandy name rum remix.

  96. thauma, the things that you say were impossible for Austen to write about were written about fairly uncompromisingly by Edgeworth more than a decade before.

  97. Interesting juxtaposition of conversations - Jane Austin and blow job jokes - only on the UT....

  98. Evening all

    Reading back:

    Something else that stayed with me for a while was that Christopher Eccleston play about the second coming of Jesus. Anyone remember that? For some reason it really creeped me out and I'm not easily disturbed!

    You lot..

    "You are becoming gods.
    There's a new master of creation, and it's you!
    You've unraveled DNA,
    And at the same time you're cultivating bacteria strong enough to kill every living thing.
    You think you're ready for that much power?
    You Lot,
    You Lot!
    Cheeky bastards.
    You're running around science like kids with guns, creating a new world, while the world you've got is stinking,
    Hands up,
    Hands up, anyone who thinks you've got it right.
    Yeah, there's always one.
    I can see you.
    If you want the position of God, then take the responsibility!"

  99. .....still should keep rexmundi happy :-))

  100. sheff, no problems with the 'relief from horrors' bit. We can all use that. But I think we should accept that Austen chose to write what she wrote, rather than that she was forced or restricted. I just think that she's awfully overrated.

  101. OK, Scherf, I admit to being very rusty on the Edgeworth and she doesn't come up often in conversation. However, I'd guess she came from a different milieu. (I'd look it up and construct a fab counter-argument, but I'm too feckin lazy.)

    Much as the Bröntes did: daughters (and feckless son) of a not-very-well-off, violent and alcoholic minister, as I recall. Very different from Jane's background.

    You might as well ask a miner's daughter to write something praising Thatcher.

    And Sheff is right too: it's just beautifully written. Darling. ;-)

  102. habib,

    not bad. I was thinking more along the lines of something with 'D' alliteration but again, inspiration completely escapes me.


    thanks for nothing. It was me 'the second coming' gave the creeps to. And it's starting all over again.....

  103. thauma, Edgeworth was Anglo-Irish aristocracy. Much better off than the Austens. She even lived in Brussels for a while!

  104. I agree she chose what she wrote scherf and she didn't exactly strain against the status quo - but the lives of bourgeoise women like her were very constrained for the the most part and the Maria Edgeworths of the time were rare.

    Being an outspoken woman with radical ideas was quite a socially dangerous business a fact Mary Wollstonecraft would testify to.

  105. Anglo-Irish, you say? (As were the Bröntes, of course.) Well, obviously she had some superior blood!

    Dunno about the Brussels bit though ... glad to hear that hadn't corrupted her.

    Oh, missed the 'aristocracy' - well, it's always been easier for the aristocracy to spout unpopular opinions than it has been for the middle classes. They've got nothing to lose, whereas the middle classes are essentially insecure and think they have everything to lose.

  106. Being an outspoken woman with radical ideas was quite a socially dangerous business

    Indeed. I would just prefer that due credit was given to those rare women who dared to speak out rather than praise showered on those who did not.

  107. Soz, Your Grace - I thought you'd like it! :(

    There was a good programme on tv about 3 weeks ago on Mary Woollstencraft, Sheff, and I am buggered if I can remember what channel it was on. Poor woman - she died a very sad death.

  108. Scherf

    I would just prefer that due credit was given to those rare women who dared to speak out rather than praise showered on those who did not.

    Well, fair enough, and you are right there.

    However radicalism is easily dismissed - and suppressed - by the ruling classes and I suggest that a slow drip-drip of insiders undermining the prevailing orthodoxy can often be more effective than outright rebellion.

    However both are necessary, and the brave ones are the radicals.

  109. I'm thinking of making a comeback on Cif under the nom-de-guerre BiteTheHandAgain. How long d'you reckon I'd last?

  110. BB - she died a sad death, but her writings live on and her daughter wrote Frankenstein. :-)

    Seem to recall I wrote paper in uni on how the Monster was symbolic of men's fears of liberated women.... Crazy students!

    Actually, now I think about it a bit more, I think I *read* papers like that and decided it was more likely to be fear of industrialisation.

  111. I'm thinking of making a comeback on Cif under the nom-de-guerre BiteTheHandAgain

    how about "chewmynails"

  112. Hank, you would be a worthy successor to the now defunct Bitey. (If you can do the archive stuff, of course.)

  113. Along with Mary Wollstonecraft you can add Olympe de Gouges.

    During the French Revolution she wrote 'Declaration of the rights of Woman and the French Citizen', but unfortunately came up against the Committee of Public Safety and was guillotined in 1793.

  114. Hank - how about LaMainMordant? (The Biting Hand, if my French hasn't completely deserted me, which it may well have done.)

  115. 'it was more likely to be fear of industrialisation.'

    And with one leap of literary theory, we're right back to LOTR! Hooray! Those fuckin' orcs, eh? What are they like?

  116. 3p4,

    why not come back as a CiF nom de guerre megamix? Something like BiteanyMountain or MovetheHand?

  117. scherf
    I would just prefer that due credit was given to those rare women who dared to speak out rather than praise showered on those who did not.

    I won't argue with that and whilst I enjoy JA I agree that the absolute obsession some people have for her is a bit over the top.


    I thought you were alreafy out there on cif as rockmystud or some such.. or am I completely wrong as usual?

  118. Duke - mm, yes, the French had one of the earliest women's movements although sadly they were one of the last in the West to actually get the vote. It's a very interesting history, most of which I've forgotten. But I've got the textbooks lying around here somewhere....

    I seem to remember that the Commune was a rather free-love sort of thing, although the leader turned out to be a bit creepy and exploitative, as most commune leaders do.

  119. Scherf - laughing too hard now to continue this conversation!

    I can back up my point though!!! he he he ... maybe not tonight.

  120. scherf
    we're right back to LOTR!
    You LOTRers are incorrigable!

  121. MordLaMain?

    Is Bitey "defunct"? Zapped?

  122. Sheff - 'tis true, but I am afraid that Scherf has demolished any argument I might have made for the time being. But never mind, I shall go underground and consult the Palantír and emerge stronger than ever....

  123. I quite like Bitethecarpet and Bitethepillow, myself, but have to give credit to 2 UTers for them.

  124. @sheff - not guilty, m'lady. It's been many months since I've ventured an opinion over there.

    Am interested in Duke's megamix idea though - TheMountainWaltz maybe.

  125. BB

    buffalo bill is defunct

    I'm not sure about Bitey, but I heard a rumour to that effect.

  126. Back from seeing our youngest singing Cohen's Hallelujah (an amended version!) in Gaelic - fab.

    Jane Austen's novels are war novels; the reason for much of the pairing antics is that many of the eligible young men are off fighting, and it is easy for modern readers to misinterpret the soldiers and sailors that appear amid the bonnets.

    I've seen (for example) Captain Benwick derided as a wimp because he likes romantic poetry (likes it too much thinks the wonderful Anne) but no contemporary could have lost sight of the fact that as a frigate captain Benwick commands a highly complex war machine, and is part of Britain's first line of defence. Benwick is many things, but in his day job he is a killer of men.

    Lady Dalrymple assumes that Wentworth is Irish because of his easy grace (Jane had a thing for the Celts) but whether English, Welsh, Irish or Scottish, such officers were, in Jane's eyes (with two brothers in service) the best men in the land.

    I love the ending of the BBC Persuasion which closes with Anne on Wentworth's warship - Persuasion becomes a Patrick O'Brian novel!

    Right closing down night guys.

  127. Edwin, interesting point. So the more vacuous women in Austen pursuing the soldiers and sailors are an obvious type to contemporary readers: ie those who ignore what said military men are actually up to?

    Anyway, meant to do a linky to buffalo bill.

  128. BB
    bitey may be defunct but we now have rexmundi filling in for him. Seems there's always a new nutter waiting in the wings.

    Right off for a good read so 'night all.

  129. 'Night Sheff! Am off too, so same to everyone else....

  130. Edwin - your youngest's efforts sound fab! Any recordings?

  131. thauma

    I think it was the gear...18th century military uniforms were wonderfully flattering to the manly shape.

  132. Mm, the comments in bth's profile do seem to have been vaporised.

    And yes, time for book & bed, as an early start tomorrow. With snow forecast, it could be a long day.

    Night all.

  133. rexmundi's an odd little chap, sheff. And I do worry about the reputation and prestige of this place if he's to take Bitey's mantle as sniper-in-chief.

    BTH was a rottweiler, rex is a poodle.

    Surely we deserve better.

  134. I'm gonna have to hit the sack too guys. Tired as f00k

    Nighty night xx

  135. If everybody else has gone to sleep, can I play music again?

  136. Knock yourself out, habib, but keep the noise down. I've swapped the wine for Benylin tonight and need a good kip (-;

  137. Night, Helen, that was beautiful.
    Radio's boring, whereas people here only post music that means something to them.
    Here's one from my old friend Billy.

  138. Only 1am.
    I've found a new challenge - a song for each of the top five most viewed articles in The Guardian.

  139. 1. The fairytale farce of the monarchy (392)
    2. Why care who Jesus was? (371)
    3. These videogames are not art. They are extreme pornography (330)
    4. Mr Obama, here's your Copenhagen speech (136) 5. Copenhagen: the sound of silence (93)

    Now that's tough

  140. These videogames are not art. They are extreme pornography

  141. Mr Obama, here's your Copenhagen speech.

  142. Hey, habib - the night is... well, pretty oldish, actually. Here's some musical punctuation for you...





  143. peterjjackson,
    Liked the idea and music of "The Talking Drum", played it three times, so far, but you really should tell people they have time to think for a bit, before it gets going.

    "Dead Hearts". Knocked me out. Going for a smoke, just to think about the music, never mind the visual artistry.

  144. Ah yes, perhaps that should have come with a slow-start warning - I guess I'm used to it.

    And the entire Dead Man's Bones project is worth checking out. Not bad for a couple of actors...

    Dead Man's Bones