Tag Archives: Jane Austen

Old Fashioned Statement

Hello, you absolute delight of a human being!  How’s your Tuesday going so far?

Everybody’s a bit of a sucker for nostalgia, aren’t they?  We can all get a bit misty-eyed thinking about the past, whether it’s an event from childhood or a night out from last week.  Even if we weren’t actually around for them, we think very fondly of times gone by.  (For example, I would love to have been running around with the beautiful and damned darlings of the inter-war era, tearing up London with a cut-glass accent and wearing devastating dresses.  I was born a mere eighty-nine years too late to be part of that crew.  So close.)  

Times change and people change with them.  Technology, education, culture, language (and basically everything else you can think of) all transform unrecognisably in a few short years.  In general this progress is an excellent thing, but have we left anything of value behind?  Have the fads of fashion left us bereft?  Aren’t there traditions and ideas which might benefit us in the present day?  We can’t ask Doc Brown for a lift to the past, but here are a few old-fashioned practices I think we ought to resurrect:

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  • Wearing Hats

The first thing I should say about this one is that most hats don’t suit me, and yet I think we ought to bring them back as standard clothing items.  Hats add a level of respect and formality to greetings.  For example: men tipping their hats to ladies, which is just a nice greeting, or people removing their hats as a sign of respect when they enter someone’s home.  Hats also have the Sunglasses Effect – which I explained in this post – everyone looks dashing in the right hat.  (It’s just unfortunate for me that my ‘right hat’ is basically a bonnet.  Whatever, I can deal with that.)  When society wore hats all the time we all just looked a lot smarter and cooler, in my humble opinion.

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  • Writing Letters

We don’t really need letters anymore, if we’re honest.  Emails and Facebook messages can take forever if you’ve got a lot to say, texting is very straightforward and, if you’re feeling super old-fashioned, you can always pick up your mobile cellular telephonic device and give someone a ring.  We should bring letter-writing back for two reasons: firstly, the time it takes to hand-write and the money it costs to post letters shows a level of courtesy and attention which means much more than simply pressing “send”.  Secondly, if we can’t use a backspace key then we might think more carefully about what we say and how we say it.  If you want to make someone feel special, send them a letter.

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  • Dancing

You know when you’re watching a period drama or something similar, and everyone starts dancing in a very complicated-looking pattern without a second’s hesitation?  Someone from the sofa always says “but how do they all know the steps?”  Because that was a massive part of British culture in the Regency period, basically.  All children were brought up learning dozens of dance steps, because dancing was where it was at.  Flirting, favour, showing off how ‘accomplished’ you were, making friends, spurning enemies and holding pleasant conversation all happened on the dance floor of Austen’s time, and all of that social exertion was accompanied by lightly beneficial physical exercise.  Why don’t we do that anymore?  What a brilliant way to bring people together for a boogie, without resorting to deafeningly loud music and Jägerbombs.  

There are loads of other brilliant old-fashioned things that we could bring back if we wanted to.  For instance, I have a friend who always wears a pocket watch, and another who favours the cigarette holder.  This insanely talented friend even makes vintage clothing.  Whatever it may be, I hope that something from the past makes your present day life more enjoyable.  

I’m off to buy a bonnet.  Have a gorgeous day.

 

“I’m Not Crying, It’s Just Been Raining On My Face”

Good morning, you stunning human being!  Did you have a good weekend?

Despite our best intentions and keenest hopes, we often find that life is more like an extreme sport than a walk in the park.  We can have a perfectly logical daily routine, an absolutely sensible diet and sleeping pattern, an eminently sensible wardrobe and a fairly rational outlook.  It doesn’t mean diddly: life is just going to do whatever the heck it feels like.

Inevitably, this leads to some great highs and some debilitating lows.  When the lows hit, sometimes we need to cry.  A lot of us dislike crying because it feels like a failure to cope (or even just an aesthetically displeasing transformation of our features), but it’s a necessary part of life.  Some of us cry more often than others, but it does happen to all of us, and that’s absolutely fine.  Here are a few ways to accept our inevitable face-leaks:

Separate the Symptoms
Sometimes we cry because of one specifically sad thing, but a lot of the time it’s because there are several contributory factors.  For example, I freely admit that when I’m overtired I tend to cry at the drop of a hat (or cafetière, most likely).  If you feel the need to have a bit of a sniffle, think about why that might be: did you drink a lot of alcohol last night?  Have you been sleeping properly?  When was the last time you ate something?  The purpose behind this is not to undermine your own feelings, but to recognise that the impulse to cry can be alleviated a bit by identifying and resolving the physical factors, which are often much easier to fix than emotional ones.

Forget Where You’re From
I don’t mean to stereotype, but I think one of the reasons that a lot of us struggle with crying is because we think it contradicts who we are: if we’re British, for example, we’re supposed to have a stiff upper lip.  Quite a few guys I know don’t like crying because they think it makes them seem unmanly, and several of my friends (male and female) think that by crying in front of people we are undermining years of establishing ourselves as “strong” or “good at coping”.  Sod that.  You’re a human being and you have tear glands.  Give yourself a break.

Choose Wisely
Crying can be embarrassing, impractical and downright irritating (especially if you don’t have any tissues to hand).  One thing that we can control is our audience.  If you’re the kind of person who needs to be by themselves to cry, so be it.  As long as you actually do make time to have a good wail, then go for your life.  But if you know that you’d be better off with a friend by your side, don’t feel bad about that.  It might not feel like your finest moment, but letting your friends look after you when you’re sad is actually a really lovely thing to do.  They don’t want you to be upset, obviously – but if you are going to be upset, it’s a privilege and a sign of how much you trust them when you let loved ones help you.

Join the Greats
Everyone you love, respect and admire has cried at some point.  Winston Churchill, Jane Austen, William Shakespeare and Mother Teresa all cried.  Heck, even the amazing Liam Neeson has been known to shed a tear.  Don’t feel bad about being a crier – you’re in excellent company.

Find Something Funny
Even though it sounds unlikely, there are all sorts of ways to make yourself laugh when you want to cry.  For example, my siblings and I tend to pull out this classic Friends line:

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This song is also excellent for making someone giggle when they’re crying.  Making yourself (or someone you love) laugh whilst weeping is brilliant.  It may not solve the underlying problem, but it’s good to remind yourself that stuff is still funny.

Have a gorgeous Monday.

A Realistic Romance Recipe

One Day - Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess

Hello and happy Wednesday!  You’re looking lovely today, if I may say so.

Not for the first time, my inspiration for a blog post has come from an episode of How I Met Your Mother.  If you’re not a fan, don’t worry – I’m only using a tiny snippet.  Two of the characters are discussing what it takes to make a relationship materialise, and one of them claims that chemistry is the key ingredient, and that “if you have chemistry, you only need one other thing: timing, but timing’s a bitch.”

Chemistry between two people is obviously very important in romantic situations, and timing is clearly essential (and also a bit of a bitch).  But relationships are very rarely that simple, and I think we need a few more bits and pieces to make the blasted things work:

Referees

As in people who provide references, not the football people.  I’m not suggesting that we turn the pursuit of a relationship into some kind of emotional job hunt, but it can be much easier to let your guard down with someone if a mutual friend will vouch for their behaviour.  Lots of people meet their significant others through friends or family, and I think that they start relationships with a very clear advantage.  If you meet someone in a bar and they make a great first impression then that’s lovely, but it’s a massive bonus if someone you trust can tell you for certain that this person has no criminal record, is good with kids and usually remembers to return phone calls.

Confidence

As Dexter says to Emma in One Day, “You’re gorgeous, you old hag, and if I could give you just one gift ever for the rest of your life it would be this: confidence. It would be the gift of confidence. Either that or a scented candle.”  Confidence covers all sorts of things, including the belief that you are a lovable person, the ability to look (and more importantly feel) good in your own clothes, and the willingness to start a conversation.  You might have unbelievably strong chemistry with someone and the timing may be perfect, but if all you can do is mumble into your shoes then your would-be romance will go nowhere incredibly rapidly.

Communication

This one is the most difficult (especially for us Brits), and annoyingly it is also the most important.  Nothing will work between two people unless they communicate.  (I’m starting to feel uncomfortable even typing this bit, to be honest.)  We don’t like talking about our feelings, do we?  Oh, sure, over a drink with our friends or in a post-break up rant, absolutely.  But with the person we want to go out with?  Good heavens, no.  It can’t be done!  We’re supposed to tell each other where we stand, how we feel and make sure that no one is being led on or getting confused?  What a ridiculous notion.

Communication issues are the reason that Jane Austen novels are longer than two pages, why Bridget Jones takes so long to get Mark Darcy, and they make up the basic plot line of every rom-com film ever made.  If the characters told each other the truth earlier on in these stories, they would be happier much sooner.  Sure, the films would be rubbish and the books would be abysmal, but you are not a character in a story.  You’re a real person, and no one is going to write your happy ending unless you flipping get on with it.

Besides, you deserve to be happy.  You’re a legend.

Have a superb Wednesday.