High Wires and Holidays

 

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Hello Agatha dear, do come in.  The Count is a tad irascible today so I’ve left him in the East Wing with the Plumber!

Well, Mary dear I must admit I’m always very impressed with your handling of him.  Has his snoring got any better dear?  I only say that because you’re not looking as peaky as you did a couple of days ago.

Oh, thank you dear heart. Yes, I’ve got quite used to sleeping in this wing of the house – I can hardly hear him at all now!

I don’t suppose you’ve heard about Eileen?  I was talking to the lovely Mrs Margaret Mounthill –  as you know I hadn’t seen her for ages due to her gout – and she was telling me that she and Allan are moving to China.

Well, Margaret is certainly a dark horse.  I thought she was happily married!

No Mary dear, Eileen and Allan are moving to China.  I believe they go in about a month’s time.

Well, that’s further than Tuscany.  What on earth has possessed them to go such a great distance?  Have you upset her dear?

No, of course not.  But they have always loved a challenge.  This time, though, she has decided to join the Chinese State Circus.  Apparently she heard about it through her drumming club, and she’s always been nimble, as you probably recall.

Oh yes, I do remember some nifty footwork at the last WI tea dance.  So what will she be performing, dancing, clowning?  Although I can’t see her with a large red nose somehow.

No, Mary dear, she is going to combine her drumming with some kind of high wire act.

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How terribly brave and exciting.  And is Allan going to be ringmaster?  I can imagine him in a top hat and red tails.

Actually I think Allan is hoping to get a job as a Knife-Thrower.  He’s certainly shown some talent in this field.  Don’t you recall the summer fete you and the Count had in the grounds a few years ago when he won the Axe hurling event?  Of course it was total carnage and fortunately Dickie Rainworth didn’t lose a leg, but goodness he’s certainly a showman!

Now Agatha dear, I think we are both a little discombobulated by this news.  

Well, it’s all Greek to me dear!

Why don’t we have a lovely piece of this lovely Lemon Meringue that Martha baked this morning.  

Ooh, delicious.  I do hope it’s tart!

(Ignoring the comment completely) Agatha, our dear friend Eileen’s exciting plans have made me wonder about our own summer holiday.  You know we usually go away for a fortnight together, somewhere to escape the dreadful British summer.  Are you keen to do the same this year?

Won’t the Count mind?  He seems to have got used to having you around more, since he moved here permanently from Verona.

Yes, that’s as maybe.  But I do find he is under my feet a lot.  Living in different countries is one thing, living under the same roof is no way to keep a marriage going, in my opinion. Anyway, can you tear yourself away from Binkie?  He seems to have wormed his way into your affections in the last few months.

Oh Mary, (blushes) yes I must admit that the dear man has stolen my heart.  But I do have a tiny suspicion that he is only after my money.  Jonty left me well catered for, as you know dear.

What makes you think that?  He always comes across as so sincere.  And he has a bob or two himself, at least he was telling me so the other day as we had tea at Fortnum’s.  He paid.

Quite.  Well, perhaps I am worrying unnecessarily.  It’s only that the other day I caught him eyeing my diamonds, and a few small bits of silver seem to have gone missing recently.

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Come to think of it, Agatha.  I did see a silver punch bowl in the local Antique shop which looked remarkably like the one you used to have sitting on your Grand Piano.  Didn’t Binkie tell you he wanted to borrow it for a garden party?

Oh dear.  Well, I suppose I shall have to confront him over it.  What a bore!  He’s so good in the bedroom department as well, doesn’t seem to mind my thighs at all.

Well, that settles it, Agatha.  A holiday is just what the butler ordered.  So let me get in touch with my man at Harrods Travel Agency and we can whisk all our troubles away on the Cote d’Azur.

Topping idea Mary.  Looking on the bright side as always. You and I have been extremely fortunate in that we have both experienced the joys of being married to forward thinking men.  When I think of the times that my darling Jonty told me ‘Agatha darling, you are not my Mother, and I am most certainly not going to treat you as such.”  (wiping a tear away from her eye).

I know my dear.  The Count, I believe, says much the same thing.  Of course I don’t really understand a word he says, so I’m fortunate in that I just get on with things as I see fit.  I am rather proud of the fact that I’ve raised Bertie and Algie to be feminists.

Oh I do think you’ve succeeded there dear.  Could you freshen my cup?

Of course.  This pie is rather delicious – another slice?

Please, Mary.  I do like a tart with a nice crisp bottom.

Really, Agatha dear!

You are very touchy today, Mary dear.  I knew missing the Gong bath was a mistake.  It would have done us both such a lot of good.  Still, couldn’t be helped, after all it would have been impossible to get there after Snetter managed to crash the Lagonda!  It was just a blessing that he only reversed into the fountain and that no-one was hurt.  The whole thing has been most distressing.

Yes, but maybe you shouldn’t have let him behind the wheel.  After all Jones normally drives, and Snetter is good with a corkscrew but his driving skills leave a lot to be desired.

Yes, Mary.  But poor old Jones had a nasty swelling on his foot after that blasted cat went for his plus fours, so I had no choice.

Indeed dear.  Let’s raise our cups to our plucky friends Eileen and Allan.  I hope the Chinese are ready for them!

Cheers darlings!

Mary Berry’s Recipe:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/marys_lemon_meringue_pie_02330

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Life Love and Dirty Dishes
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Don’t let the bad stuff knock you down!

women-boxingMary dear, so lovely of you to have me over for a spot of tiffin.

It’s a delight Agatha – do come in, Martha has excelled herself today, it quite takes me back to when we were in India.

Well dear, we certainly have the weather for it.

Absolutely!  I’ve been quite in a flush all week.

At least the morning room is cooler, but I do miss my darling little punkawallah, Rajiv.  He was so discreet too.

Yes dear, but he was deaf!  And anyway, Agatha you know I never did take to that whole servant business, much too colonial imperialism for me.  I just got the Count to hose me down occasionally.

Yes, I remember you used to dry off nicely in the sun afterwards, went a bit crispy a few times though, didn’t you dear!   Anyway, Mary dear, you seem to be in a bit of a fluster, it can’t just be the heat.  So what exactly is it that you are finding so irksome?

Well, I was talking to that lovely Mrs Margaret Mounthill the other day and she got me thinking about why the bad stuff is always easier to believe?

Oh darling Margaret, I’ve not seen her since that dreadful attack of gout she had, if she’s back in society again I’ll give her a call.

Agatha, you’re missing the point.

Sorry dear, yes the bad stuff is always easier to believe.  Why do you think that is Mary?

I’m not really sure dear.  But I was thinking back to younger days and I suppose some of it is linked to one’s confidence levels but I think it is really what psychologists call ‘negative bias’.

Blog on negative bias: http://www.bloomlifedesign.com/the-bad-stuff-is-easier-to-believe-you-ever-notice-that/

Mary dear, do you think it could be that the negative stuff is hurtful and that we suffer because of it and therefore remember it more because of that injury?

You could be right Agatha, more dahl dear?

Ooh yes please dear, this is quite delicious.  Do tell Martha how wonderful it is.

Of course dear.  But I believe you may have a vague notion about all this negative bias.  I certainly remember when that nasty Albert Cummings told you you’d never work as a model due to your rather large thighs.

Goodness me, Albert Cummings!  Yes, quite a nasty little boy!   I believe he came to a sticky end down a sleazy alleyway.  I do remember it really having a negative impact on me.  All my other chums’ positive comments about my long blonde hair, tiny waist and passionate piano playing just got forgotten, buried underneath one nasty comment. Do you think that women are more prone to this negative bias that men dear?

Well that is a very interesting question Agatha dear.  But I do think it is a human frailty.

Indeed dear, but do you think it’s something to do with how we filter information?  Because, as you say, we can be told heaps of good stuff about ourselves, and the one little criticism is the thing we focus in on and remember.  

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Article on negative bias: https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200306/our-brains-negative-bias

Yes, and that reminds me of a time when I’d worked really hard on a school project and I showed Pops who loved it, told me how clever I was, and then he pointed out a small bit of paint that was smudged, so I just dismissed the whole thing as a pathetic attempt.  I cried for weeks and didn’t enter it into the science show as I thought it was no good.  Do you remember?

I do indeed dear, it was only when I came round, found it stuffed under your bed with some rather suspect looking jodhpurs, and convinced you that it was super, that you decided to bring it into school after all.

Oh Agatha dear, you are a marvel sometimes!

What’s that dear?  It was young Johnny who used to read the comics, not me.

Ah, Johnny, dear Johnny.  How is your brother?  Is he still on the stage?

Just rehearsing for Widow Twanky – such a comedown from the Old Vic.  Actually that reminds me of something the lovely Meera Syal said about bad reviews  “you will remember those sentences verbatim for the rest of your career. Strange how you never memorise the good ones.”

And actors have to endure very public criticism, don’t they dear.   I suppose it must make you thick skinned.

Indeed Mary, although apparently that delicious actor Peter Egan – remember him from Downton Abbey? – anyway he hasn’t read a single review since 1990!

I suppose avoiding criticism completely would be hard in daily life though.

Well, it would be difficult.  But I am told that we can cope with negative comments much better if they are balanced out by small but frequent compliments.  

So, we need to tell our friends and loved ones about their wonderfulness regularly.  Is it that simple Agatha?

It’s worth a try dear.  Could I have another Naan bread dear?  They really are quite delicious.

Of course Agatha, but it’s not going to help your thighs now is it!

Hardly dear, I’ve learned to love them over the years though!  Maybe in our dotage we simply don’t care what people think any more?

Well, there has got to be something positive to counteract the gammy knees and forgetfulness dear one.

Oh, we don’t do too badly, Mary dear.  Don’t forget we are going to that Sonic Blessing workshop on Sunday – remember the leggings and yoga mat.

Oh yes, I had forgotten Agatha.  Perhaps some eastern therapy will do us both a bit of good.  

Yes, and I will remember to wear a long t-shirt this time, and take my place at the back of the room.  

Bottoms up dear!

Oh.  Yes, quite – chin chin.  I thought for a moment you were referring to that rather unflattering yoga pose I got stuck in last time!  Could you freshen my cup dear?

Nothing like a lovely hot tea to cool you down.

Naan bread recipe: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/naan_86626

 

My Random Musings
My Random Musings

Such a Shame!

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Oh Mary dear, I’m so glad you’re here.

Why Agatha, what’s happened?  You’re quite worked up.  I’ll ring for Ethel and she can fetch you some camomile tea.

Oh bless you dear.  It’s just I’m feeling a little anxious today.

Oh you mean about Theresa May being our new Prime Minister?

Good grief no dear, I’m not fussed about someone who sounds like a shampoo brand being PM.  No dear, this is much more serious.tresseme

I think I’d better sit down then Agatha!  (pause)  Now, do tell me what you are talking about.  Ethel should be here with tea soon.

Well Mary, I seem to be experiencing something unpleasant.

Is it that new underwear you bought the other day?

No dear, I think I feel ashamed!

Oh, that is nasty. But whatever do you have to feel ashamed about?

Well, Mary, you know I normally don’t give a monkeys about what people think?  Well, I did hear from an old friend that people have been talking about me, and it makes me feel quite tremulous.

That’s not like you at all Agatha.  Such a stout heart, you have, so what were people saying?

Well, you know those new clever friends of Fluff Fortescue, our old neighbour in Wiltshire, well they came to tea on Wednesday – I hadn’t invited them but Fluff was insistent that we would all get on like a house on fire.  Anyway, they seemed perfectly charming, and I was poised to add them to my Christmas list when Fluff called.  She told me that they had been sniggering in the car on the way back to Salisbury about the state of my house.

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What’s wrong with your house, dear?

Well, I thought everything was tip top, Ethel had done some light dusting that morning and the brass door knocker had been polished by Jones the gardener, so I was totally shocked to hear that they felt it was not up to scratch!  Something about cobwebs in the architrave and grubby skirtings.  Well, I needed a long sit down and a stiff gin when Fluff revealed their concerns, I can tell you!

How dreadful.

I know.  I’m normally immune Mary dear, but since then I’ve been flitting about the house, damp cloth in one hand, magnifying glass in the other, it’s all been quite distressing.  I feel (pauses and takes a deep breath) dirty!

Well, Agatha, I think you can just stop fretting.  These people have probably got some chip on their shoulder about your status, or something.  I’m certain it’s all down to jealousy.  You are not dirty, well, certainly not since we took that trip to Turkey and had a mud bath. It was amazing where the mud seemed to end up!  Put it right out of your mind.  Here’s Ethel with your tea.  Or would you like something stronger?

No, this is lovely.  And maybe you’re right dear, they did look a little envious when I showed them my collection of silver spoons.

That’s right, chin up dear one.  Anyway, you don’t have the monopoly on shame.  Do you remember when I had the grandchildren to stay over the summer, a few years back?  Well, I felt a little itchy after they left, went to have my shampoo and set and – would you believe it – dear Claude, who was combing me out, found a hair louse!  More than one!  I can tell you,  I blushed right up to my roots, high-tailed it out of there.  I was still wearing the protective cape.  I think I alarmed a few people who were walking past.  They must have thought I was some sort of elderly superhero as I dashed along, cape flowing. But I just needed to be far away from Claude and his tutting!

Oh yes – I do remember Mary.  I think I laughed about that for a week.  Sorry dear!  

Forgiven, dear heart.  But, these feelings of shame we have, they are about something a little deeper, are they not?

What do you mean?

I mean, shame is something so many people feel.  And women feel it in complex ways.  Did you see that terrific American lady on TED?  

Mary dear I am totally confused, and, if I say so, I think you may have lost the plot a bit here.  Teddy Roosevelt died years ago.  I don’t see how you could possibly be talking to him, unless you had a seance with that fantastically bonkers woman that Mrs Herbert introduced us to?

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Agatha honestly!  I do worry about you sometimes.  No dear, a TED talk is a talk that you listen to and watch on the internet.  This one was by Brené Brown.  She talks about vulnerability and how shame is the precursor to vulnerability and that it impacts on so many aspects of women’s lives and even men’s.

https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame?language=en

Oh, I see.  Well I agree that society nowadays seems to control people through making them feel ashamed.  Women are told to Do It All, Do It Perfectly and Never Let Them See You Sweat!  It seems we have, particularly for young women and mothers, a set of unattainable expectations which put them in a strait jacket.

And men too, apparently.  But theirs is apparently Not To Be Perceived As Weak.

Oh yes, dear, it’s very confusing for the young people nowadays.  Do you think it goes back to the Catholic dogma of Original Sin?

Oh, certainly, yes Agatha, the Count was led to believe that we are born with it –  it’s had quite an impact on him and I can’t say we haven’t faced a few demons because of it.  Of course the Catholic church is not the only religion with a monopoly on shame.  Others drive the most dreadful behaviour, making families conform to certain rules about marriage, heaping shame on those who step outside those rules.

Yes, and even small feeling of shame can have huge repercussions.  I mean, young girls starving themselves to look like models.  They seem to feel they are simply not good enough as they are.

Yes, and it comes up in lots of other ways Agatha dear.  It can be shame about keeping the house clean and tidy, to shame about not being a valuable and worthy individual – or even shame because you feel you have no right to exist.  In whatever form, the symptoms of shame manifest themselves according to the individuals demons.

Do you think I feel shame from eating too many tea cakes dear?  You seem to know a lot about it, so do be blunt.

Agatha don’t be ridiculous!  (Pause) You always do have a tendency to be melodramatic! Eating too many tea cakes is merely a guilty pleasure.  Guilt is very much a different thing; it is more about feeling bad about something you have done.  Shame is deeper, its about feeling bad about who you are. 

So then Mary dear, what can be done about it all?

We have to empathise dear.  Don’t you remember when your Archie graduated and met Stephen Fry?  Didn’t you tell me that Mr Fry talked about being kind to each other, that kindness was the most important thing.  Well that’s what we must be, we must question everything that we do – from parenting and the norms we offer our children, to what our expectations of people are, and to challenge some of these ridiculous expectations that the media gives us to conform to body shape, jobs, the state of our homes, perfect hair, that sort of thing.  

That doesn’t sound like it can be done in an afternoon dear?

Absolutely not Agatha, but kindness may lead to people show some vulnerability, even if it is about not being able to cope with the traumas of the day.  So if we ask for help, and are listened to with empathy and support, this can instigate change and I think that’s a good thing isn’t it?

Of course it is Mary.  Another tea cake?

Ooh I can’t resist – these are that lovely silver fox, Paul Hollywood’s recipe aren’t they?

Yes Mary – don’t forget, lashings of butter!

Teacakes

Life Love and Dirty Dishes

 

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BDW

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Mary dear, lovely to see you – cook’s in a bit of a tiz this week as I asked her to prepare an apple pie for us.  She called me a BDW!   Now just what do you think that means?  Is it a car darling?  I don’t think I’ve ever been compared to a car before….

Oh Agatha dear, do sit down you are getting quite unnecessary.  I believe a BDW is one of those Bloody Difficult Women that have been in the press this week.

Have they dear?

Oh yes, Ken Clarke put his foot in it again…

Seems to me he’s constantly walking in it dear, but let’s move on shall we?

Not until he’s wiped if off his shoe, dear one.  We don’t want it through the house!

Quite Mary!  Anyway, he’s said that Theresa May is a BDW which seems a good thing.

Does it dear?  I know I can also be difficult, particularly with the servants, but one has to if one is going to run a tight ship.

Absolutely!  I don’t think Ken was being derogatory, just stating that there is a type of woman who gets things done come hell or high water.

A bit like the unsinkable Molly Brown then dear?

Oh my goodness yes.  And do you remember my Aunt Fenella?  When she was being interviewed by the local rag about what she attributed her long life to, said “Well getting off the Titanic helped!”  Bravo for her I say and yes, she was a BMW.

No dear, not BMW, a BDW!  Anyway I do think the world needs them – my sister is one you know?

Oh goodness yes, Celophina’s certainly one – always coming round and whizzing about tidying the whole place for you and telling you to get your life in order and by the time she leaves 15 minutes later, it is.  And that time she supposedly “rescued” that swan.  I’m sure she only did that so she could claim compensation from Her Majesty!
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Bless her Agatha, yes!  It’s infuriating really as we can never find anything after one of her tidying episodes.  She always winds up putting everything in the oddest places.  I remember I found our guest, Dr Fitzwilliam, stuffed in the broom cupboard once.  We thought he’s gone home, but Celophina had tidied him away as she thought he was the children’s old mannequins – you know ‘penny for the guy’ type of thing!  Poor man he was quite discombobulated; turned out he’d been there for 5 days!

My word!  Wasn’t he the chap who knew Mary Seacole?

I do believe you’re right dear.  How apposite.

What’s that Mary dear?  More apple pie?

Oh yes please Agatha. But I do believe that a new statue of Mary Seacole has just been unveiled at Guys/St Thomas’s Hospital.  Now, she most definitely was a BDW.

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Quite dear.  Wonderful woman.  She was one of our greatest unsung heroes.  A black homeopathic nurse who took herself off to the front line during the Crimean War and just got on with the business of saving lives.  She was quite a star at the time – I seem to remember that she had tea with Great Aunt Winifred at one time, but I may be wrong.

I do believe you’re right dear, but then it all got horribly political and then the government got involved and changed the curriculum so little Bertie and Algie were taught about Florence Nightingale instead.

Well it seems at last that Mary is taking pride of place and quite right it is too dear and I am totally delighted to see that, finally, we have immortalised the very first black woman in this way here in the UK.

You would certainly need to be a BDW if you’re on the front line dealing with the suffering soldiers on that scale,  Agatha dear.

I do think it’s a tad peculiar though, Mary, that the male version of a BDW would be … well… a man!

Oh not that old chestnut again, dear.  We need to accept that women just have to be stronger, more determined, better jugglers than our male counterparts just to sit at the same table.

Oh but it were different Mary!  I mean, my niece Lucy, she complained just last week of being upbraided by her male boss for not being “assertive” I think was the term he used.  He made it clear that she needed to behave more like her male colleagues to get on.  It was all I could do to stop her ordering some testosterone on the internet and injecting herself!

Now, we wouldn’t want that at all, just imagine the side effects (shudders).  No, I think it’s perfectly possible for gals to be successful just by being themselves.  No need to “man up” as they say.

I agree, dear.  That’s all rather 1980s now anyway. But they need to stand up for themselves more.  Just think dear – Companies are having to publish the gender pay gaps, and there will be no surprises to find out how far behind women are at work on equal pay – still!

Is the gender pay gap like the Cheddar gorge?

No, it’s much larger dear.  Another slice of apple pie?

Oh yes please Mary dear.  But don’t you think that a lot of companies won’t do that, you know small businesses who like to keep women at a certain level because they are only women and they fulfill a traditional role in business?

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Oh now don’t get agitated Mary dear, you know it sets you off and really dear I think that’s a topic for another conversation when we have the strength to deal with it.  Sometimes you can be quite exhausting!

Well Agatha, I must admit I am quite fatigued.  The dear Count had me up till the wee hours with his snoring.

But Mary dear, how many times have I told you, just move into the room next door.

But Agatha , I moved to the East wing and he still kept me awake!

Have you tried the gardener’s cottage?  I hear he is quite a young lad…

(Blushing) Now now, you know what happened when we had that charismatic Mr Lawrence stay with us….

(Blushing even more) Another cup of tea dear?

Apple pie recipe: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/maryhenrysproperappl_67463

Life Love and Dirty Dishes

Sartorial

GGAuntBarnaby (1)

Well, Agatha, I must say last week’s drinking took a while to recover from!

What do you mean, Mary?  You seemed fine when you left.  The Dundee cake soaked up most of it, surely?

You were passed out on the chaise longue when I left dear – so you can’t possibly remember the state I was in.  It took me fifteen minutes just to put my hat on in the hallway and even then Ethel had to take it off and turn it around!  Honestly darling I thought I was statement dressing, but your servant clearly had another agenda!

Oh, well.  Perhaps we should stick to tea today!  But you do remind me of a time when everyone wore hats, ladies and gents alike and anyone passing the cenotaph would take them off as a mark of respect as they walked passed.  Those were the days when people knew how to dress – we had none of those dreadful American monstrosities – baseball caps!

Quite dear, and don’t know about you but we were fortunate enough to live in a time when anyone who was vaguely ‘eccentric’ I think they used to say, could dress in anything they wanted.  It reminds me of great Aunt Barnie.  She was quite the snappy dapper dresser.

Oh yes, I do remember her.  Wasn’t she the actressy one, who wore velvet jackets and bow ties and no makeup in the 1920’s?  It was quite shocking back then, but there again she had the personality to carry it off.

It was, Agatha, the family didn’t quite understand her I seem to remember.  I loved her, of course.  She didn’t care what anyone else thought.  And she wasn’t the only lady dressing in a masculine fashion.  Do you remember Dorothy Lawrence, she fought as a chap at the Somme.  It was quite scandalous at the time.  She dearly wanted to be a reporter and smuggled herself out to the front line dressed as a Tommy.

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Article:   http://goo.gl/E1uXEG

I do indeed remember her.  It was a scandal that the whole thing was hushed up.  Apparently she wrote a book about her experiences and the military at the time refused to allow publication, she died in an asylum, poor thing.

Indeed, dear.  She suffered for her gender, we should be celebrating this type of courage, not hushing it up.

Of course there was also James Barry, that successful British Army surgeon who served in India and Cape Town and rose to the rank of Inspector General in charge of military hospitals.  Apparently the only way she (Margaret Ann Bulkley) could get into medical school was to dress as a man.  Tragic really, you know, that you’d have to go to such extremes.  Still, it was only when she died that everyone found out the truth.

Article:  http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/people/jamesbarry

Goodness my dear, but what is so shocking is that women still have to disguise themselves as men, Mary.

I know Agatha it is truly dreadful.  Don’t you remember when we tried to out-do Miss Snetter, our dorm mistress, when we borrowed Jack and Algie’s country plus fours and used charcoal to pain moustaches on our faces?

Of good grief Mary – that’s too painful to remember.  The tweed chafed so much I couldn’t sit down for days!  I had to ask Suzie Braithwaite if I could use her cold cream – it’s was all just a bit of a nightmare, but I seem to remember you got off rather lightly as your Pa’pa made a donation to the Cecil Locke Library?

Ah, yes (embarrassed and blushing)…. More tea dear?  And perhaps a slice of Victoria?

It’s no use trying to change the subject Agatha, but since you mentioned it, yes please.  (Pause.)  But truly, don’t you think that it is simply appalling that even in this day and age women feel that they have to take on the identity of a man to earn respect and standing?

I do indeed Mary.  Look at our beloved JK Rowling, writing as a man – Robert Galbraith – to ensure her work was taken seriously.

Yes, and of course the famous and talented Mary Ann Evans who wrote as George Eliot.  Of course back then it was frowned upon for women to write professionally, and just think of the loss to our culture if she had bowed to the pressure and just taken up needlepoint and playing the harpsichord!

Absolutely Mary dear.  Take Marlene Dietrich for example, you couldn’t imagine her sitting at home with needle and thread counting the stitches till she had to go to bed now could you?

No Agatha, indeed not.  Didn’t she cause an outrage when she dressed in a gentlemen’s tuxedo when she played Mademoiselle Amy Jolly in that film ‘Morocco’?

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Yes dear.  I don’t know who were more outraged; the men who went to see it or the men who simply heard about it or the men that pretended to be outraged for the sake of being outraged!  As far as I recall I don’t believe any of our female friends were at all phased; we just wanted to know where we could get a tux, but I guess it took Angelina Jolie to really bring it into the modern world.

Article:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/culture/story/20140710-smoking-hot-the-womans-tuxedo

Quite, Mary dear.  Wasn’t she in Mad Men or am I getting her confused with that lovely girl Christina Hendricks?

Yes Agatha, you are.  But don’t you think that all that dress in the 1950’s was the cause of the female liberation movement of the 60’s?

Oh, without a doubt dear.  That, and the fact that the 50’s saw the birth of the housewife.  All those men back from the war without jobs and therefore nothing to do, just sitting at home going crazy with all sorts of things going on in their heads.  What was the government to do apart from create the role of the housewife which meant that the men could carry on being men and the women, who’d kept the nation functioning during the war could go home and put their feet up and wear impossibly uncomfortable lingerie to boot.

Well Mary, I must say I’ve not seen you so agitated for days.  Have another cup of tea to calm your nerves.  You’ll be getting all unnecessary and the Count just won’t know what to do with you!

Sorry Agatha, but what is it the young people say?  (Pause) Is ‘Pants’ the right expression dear?

Speak for yourself Mary, you know I have trouble in that department due to the size of my thighs!

Sorry Agatha dear.  More cake?

Article:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/recipes/6010999/Victoria-Sponge-recipe.html

3 Little Buttons
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