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(A continuation of our previous musings on Jane Austen’s eavesdroppings culled from her position beneath the floor of Winchester Cathedral.)Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait b...

I see that there are to be seasonal floral displays in various churches in the Hampshire region, including St Cross.  The last word on flower arranging was probably given by Alan Bennett in his Talking Heads 1 monologue, Bed Among the Lentils, about Mrs Shrubsole and the precise placement of a fir cone in her floral arrangement, Forest Murmurs.

Nevertheless, again I can imagine Jane Austen tuning into covert cathedral discussions conducted while masked by arrangements of Venus Fly Traps and burgeoning bocage.

Flower Arranger 1:

I daresay floral occupations are always desirable in girls of your girth, as a means of affording you fresh air and more exercise than you would normally take.  A passion for agapanthus may be deemed somewhat amateurish, but Alan Titchmarsh may yet attend and then, who can tell where your newfound skills may lead?

Arranger 2:

Ah Pansy, you enquired as to when my grand passion first surfaced, so to speak.  It developed gradually, but particularly after my first visit to my paramour’s enormous estate in Eastleigh.  That is, East-leigh, as in “count-ee”; not as in “beastly.”

He is, sadly, a fit and extremely healthy older man, notwithstanding his vast cache of stocks and shares and general lack of penetration.  I could endeavour to live with him, however minimal his funds, providing that I should have access to them all.  I would prefer Winchester, but a villa in Sandbanks would, of course, be preferable and might prove an initial rung on the property ladder.

Arranger1:

Yes, it would be wrong to marry for money, but foolhardy to marry without it.

Jane Austen:

How I would love to expose those furtive rummagers in designer handbags who rapidly switch off their mobiles before the bidding prayers, lest their lovers interrupt their devotions, or who use their fumbling as an avoidance technique when the offertory bags circulate.

At some of the local school services, one often hears some young prodigy, called Alethea or otherwise, make a smug, sententious remark to her doting mater. Through over- attention, the chit’s natural self-confidence has been honed into haughty assurance.  Catherine Morland’s conviction still stands-ie/ that there is a violent and uncertain life which lurks under the veneer of society.

I am constantly privy to rehearsals of accomplishments and marvels of female students who all play musical instruments, achieve A*s and who compete in equine sports at the highest level.  Yet, I have never heard a young lady spoken of, for the first time, without her being lauded to the Empyrean.  Yet, deficiency of nature is often little assisted by education or society.  A greater influence seems to be perpetrated by the expectation of property, usually acquired through trade, or, dare I suggest, a lottery ticket.

Nowadays, such nouveaux positively display themselves in society magazines, besporting themselves at various charitable functions of questionable taste.  Their double-barrelled nomenclatures can scarcely be fitted into the copy without a prodigious profligacy of paper and ink.

Other self-appointed, knowledgeable women offer their medical knowledge to others, whether invited to, or not.  They remind me of Lady Catherine de Burgh:

Ah, yes, my experience of the lifelong care of my valetudinarian husband has led me to recommend Echinacea during the winter months and Glucosamine throughout the year.

Their nerves command a high respect, as they have evidently been old friends with whom they have been intimately acquainted for a number of years.  Truly these are women whom one cannot regard with too much deference.

And so we must leave Jane at the moment as she is a little fatigued by this peroration , but she promises to continue to amuse us on the morrow.

© Candia Dixon Stuart and Candiacomesclean.wordpress.com, 2012

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