Agatha and Mary’s Grand Day Out


Oh Mary dear, do come in.  I was just thinking about our wonderful day out at the fabulous V&A Museum.

Yes dear one, it was rather splendid and that carrot cake was heavenly.  There was so much to see, that my head is still spinning with it all.  And of course, one can’t forget the train journey – no delays, plenty of seats and on time!  Miraculous my dear.

Indeed so dear, here have a cup of Assam to soothe yourself.  Ethel has made some wonderful little macarons for us – the raspberry and vanilla are just quite delicious.

Oh thank you Agatha.  The “Undressed” exhibition is quite a revelation. You know I did find it quite fascinating to see Fanny Harvey Fleetwood Raper’s corset on display.    I seem to remember dear Mama talking about Fanny in very hushed tones.  

Ah, Mary dear, yes and I don’t believe it was for her absolutely tiny waist.  In those days 18 inches was quite normal.  That corset would barely fit around my arm, let alone my waist.  And the whalebone and steel reinforcements!  It makes me wince to remember how constricting they were.  And how was it even possible to breathe?


Well, as we know, sometimes women did pass out.  And they suffered spinal deformities in pursuit of the perfect shape. But I do remember Mother getting quite agitated over the new softer elastic corsets.  She always used to say that going out without proper reinforcement  was like two pigs fighting in a blanket!

Mary dear, I think it’s quite dependent on the size of one’s endowment – As you well know we’ve had some near misses with you, particularly when you have unleashed your upper regions during our belly dancing events.   I personally couldn’t imagine what would happen if we didn’t have some sort of device to ‘divide and conquer’ so to speak.

And of course, as we saw in the Undressed exhibition, female emancipation started to loosen women’s stays and some quite unusual garments were born.

Oh yes, I absolutely loved the Dinner Pyjamas.  The black velvet with embellishments was just divine.  One could totally imagine wearing those of an evening.  With Gin and Tonic and elegant canapes with friends.

Or on one’s tod – with Gin and Tonic in front of the television.

Super darling.  But I was a little perturbed by the fact that this was a one-piece garment. Difficulties arise when one needs to use the bathroom after a couple of gins.

Oh but dear one, don’t you remember, they were open at the crotch?

That sounds rather unpleasant dear.  One can only imagine…..

Quite, dear, one should perhaps gloss over the small details.  However, the attention to detail and the quality of the work at the exhibition was just mesmerising.

Indeed dear – just like the medieval embroidery, although I would have liked to know how the actual garments were constructed after all the work was done.  The weight alone of the gold thread must be quite something and then you have the heavy fabrics they used in those days.  The clergy who wore these lavish garments must have been immensely strong.  Either that or they shrunk an inch at the end of each wearing.

Quite so dear, quite so, but I did like the fact that when they were due to be replaced, they were used as altar covers – quite ingenious and a fantastic way of recycling a garment.

Talking of that dear one, do you like my bag?

Well I must say dear, I do.  Although it’s rather bohemian.   Are you going through a mid-life image crisis dear?

Agatha!  You and I both know that those days are well and truly behind us.  No, I was inspired by a charming cloth bag we saw in the V&A shop and happened to be visiting Fenella Hart-Worthing at her charity shop and found this lovely little mini skirt.  I thought it would make an excellent small bag and decided that I may be able to make some and let Fenella sell them at her charity shop.


What a splendid idea Mary.  Your needlepoint is just what it used to be and the colours are quite lovely.  It’s charming.

Thank you Agatha dear.  I am rather pleased with it and of course, the beauty is that it is already lined and has pockets – all I really needed to do was a little bit of re-styling and finding a means of adding a strap.  It’s kept me busy while the Count has been keeping himself in the West Wing on his top secret project.

Ooh, what’s that about dear?

I’m not entirely sure dear one, but it’s something to do with his cousin in America and the new president and his attitude towards women and non-nationals.

Well my dear, I think that will take at least 4 years to resolve.  All we can do as women is stand together and be strong.  And, whilst we’re on the subject I do find it a tad ironic that a film about Jackie Kennedy is just being released.

Yes indeed dear, we will have to see what the new first lady does, but she has a very hard act to follow.

Indeed dear she does, but all of this does rather make one think of the lovely William Golding.

How so Agatha dear?

Well, I know we haven’t seen him here for years, Papa used to be very fond of him you know.

Agatha, really dear – he’s been dead some  13 years!

That would explain why he hasn’t been round for dinner then Mary dear!  What a shame, he was so very forward thinking… his view on women was quite exceptional.


Yes indeed, and wouldn’t the world be a better place if more thought in the same way.

Quite.  Another macaron dear?


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