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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Return of the mice

After reading At Home -- A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson, I decided that perhaps the mouse traps ought to be dusted off and put down in the basement again. The result = 3 dead mice.
It is a matter of checking and re baiting but mice can get anywhere...and do.
At Home is a brilliant book full of lovely factoids. I had already read a lot of his research books and knew one or two things he quotes makes for a good story but not totally accurate. For example, the oft quoted story about schoolgirls being strapped to make their waists 13 inches in diameter. That is smaller than a mayonnaise jar and Dorothy Langley Moore back in the 1940s proved that it didn't happen. Her theory was that people exaggerated and that clever cuts can make things look small. She also had one of the largest collections of dresses from the period.  When she did her book in the 1940s, she found that at times, she did have to take the waist in. Best guess for Judith Flanders was that the periodical where the story is taken from served as a cover for S& M bondage types. According to Flanders there are two types of letters in Beeton's periodical -- one sort deals with tight lacing, spanking etc and the other dealt with more normal aspects.
It should be remember that Scarlet OHara was created by a woman living in the 20th century and who never had her waist cinched or indeed knew people  who were currently wearing a corset and crinoline. 
It is a bit like saying that everyone wears 10 inch high heels today.

1 comment:

Rachel Lyndhurst said...

Good riddance to the rodents. Unspeakable things ...

Best,

Rach.
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