Lately I’ve been reading a lot of mid-century light fiction by women. Barbara Pym, of course, and also D. E. Stevenson, E. M. Delafield, Elizabeth Fair, and similar works either suggested by Amazon or discovered via Furrowed Middlebrow or Clothes in Books. Having read gobs of British fiction from an early age, I don’t generally have any difficulty over vocabulary differences (sneakers/trainers, sweater/jumper, jumper/pinafore dress, etc). But I had a glitchy moment last night when reading Wine of Honour, by Barbara Beauchamp; maybe it’s my years as a vegetarian, or where I went to college:

“[Lady Gurney] expected her children to return to her as they had left her. . . . It was a lovely picture, misted with her tears and rosy with the port Sir James would bring up from the cellar and decant for the first family gathering round the dining-room table. There would be flowers and a huge joint . . . ”

Duuuuuude. When I get out of the RAF I’m going to get so wasted with Mum and Dad.

2 thoughts on “Autre temps, autres moeurs

  1. Ha ha! I’m never going to be able to read that word correctly in a British novel again. (As it is, maybe because I’m a vegetarian myself, that particular British food term always conjures up a mental image that’s remarkably unappealing.)

  2. I teach Jeanette Winterson’s _Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit_ every year, and EVERY year I forget to explain two things from the first chapter: The pot plant that Jeanette’s mother picks up at a revival and the joints that she takes out of the oven. It is not at all unusual to have a student earnestly hypothesize that she has a drug problem….

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