While I am certain I have mentioned this little delight before, I am chasing away the blues of being both childless and Markless today (It’s dutiful Daddy, take your son to McDonalds day), with a gentle titter at the wit and humour of E.M.Delafield.
Oh how I love the Diary of a Provincial Lady, if only because in it’s dear, silly 1930’s housekeeping heroine we have moment after moment of cringing recognition, and occasionally in her chaos find hope and joy for the domestic dementia that possesses us all from time to time…
The book begins:
"November 7th: Plant the indoor bulbs. Just as I am in the middle of them, Lady Boxe calls. I say, untruthfully, how nice to see her and beg her to sit down while I just finish the bulbs. Lady. B. makes determined attempt to sit down in her armchair where I have already placed two bulb-bowls and the bag of charcoal, is headed off just in time and takes the sofa.
Do I know, she asks, how very late it is for indoor bulbs? September, really, or even October, is the time. Do I know that the only really reliable firm for hyacinths is Somebody of Haarlem? Cannot catch the name of the firm which is Dutch, but reply Yes, I do know, but think it my duty to buy Empire products. feel at the time and still think, that his is an excellent reply. Unfortunately Vicky comes into the drawing-room later and says "O Mummie, are those the bulbs we got at Woolworths?"
Lady B. stays to tea. (Mem. : Bread-and-butter too thick. Speak to Ethel.) We talk some more about bulbs, the Dutch School of Painting, our Vicar’s wife, sciatica and All Quiet On The Western Front.
(Query: Is it possible to cultivate the art of conversation when living in the country all year round?)
And goes on to regale us with all manner of housekeeping traumas, minor disasters, constant niggles about the state of the household accounts and the utter, somehow, compulsive weariness of being in possession of a reticitent husband and "gleefully troublesome" kids.
Trust me, you’ll love it.