January 14th, 2005



Meh.*. I was meant to be meeting jane_the_23rd at lunchtime to go and see Vanity Fair. Alas, last night I had a scary fit of wheezing, ie my half-arsed version of an asthma attack. Despite being the only member of my family who isn't actually an asthmatic, I still manage to aquire a minor chest infection every couple of years, and it looks like I have done so again. I woke up at about half past four and because my breathing was so shallow and ragged, I couldn't actually get back to sleep again. And I didn't want to wake up P because he was getting up at half past five anyway in order to finish one of his dreadful plinky-plonks, so I lay there staring at the ceiling wondering if I had some terrible lung disease and feeling more and more panicky, in that horrible very-early-morning way. Finally P woke up, and was appalled that I hadn't woken him sooner. He calmed me down a bit, but I couldn't get to sleep until about half past seven, and I woke at ten feeling slightly less wheezy but still, not up to going into town in the rain and sitting in a cinema where I could annoy my fellow cinema-goers with my hacking consumptive coughs. So here I am, writing this in bed like a Victorian invalid. Well, a Victorian invalid with a laptop. Hmmm. Anyway! I shan't be a lonely waif for too long, as daegaer and barsine are coming over later to watch Lord Peter DVDs (huzzah!), but right now, I'm feeling a bit fragile. Cough.

*As my new icon says - more Hogarth! This is the miserable bride in the first painting in the Marriage a la Mode sequence, on which I wrote many a showy essay in my youth. She cheers up quite a bit in the later paintings in the sequence, but only because she's become a gambling addict and is having loads of affairs. Also, her husband has bought a child prostitute who has the pox. Ah, the 18th century! What larks!
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fat pony like thunder

notes from the invalid's couch

You know what's really, really funny (and sort of in keeping with my current 18th century theme)? Jane Austen's juvenilia. I got the urge to read it last night, and while I remembered it being funny, I'd forgotten how laugh-out-loud hilarious a lot of it is. Of course, as my edition is a late '80s Penguin classic (which also contains some of Charlotte Bronte's early writings), it doesn't say this in the blurb. No, it says "Jane Austen exhibits a merciless wit as she lampoons human vanities and vices." Which isn't quite as appealing as it should be, considering how good the jokes are.

I'm very glad that when Penguin Classics underwent a total redesign a couple of years ago, they redid all the blurbs. It's always really annoyed me that "classics" were sold as books you were going to study, not read for pleasure, with dry-as-dust blurbs which didn't actually give any real indication of the plot. Penguin didn't dumb anything down when they revamped the imprint, but they start presenting the books as books you might actually read because you wanted to, not just because you had to write an essay on them, and they actually started warning you that the introduction might contain enormous spoilers - previously it was assumed that you wouldn't care if you were spoiled, because of course you weren't reading it for the plot. Alas, the Juvenilia of Jane Austen is currently out of print, but when Penguin reissue it next year, I hope they'll give it the triumphant blurb it deserves. They can keep the old cover, though, because I really like it.
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    my own wheezing breaths