Saturday, 30 June 2012

The more things change, the more they stay the same (2)


I have now completed my reading of Bill Bryson’s “At Home – A Short History of Private Life”  (Anchor Books 2010).
Bryson is an American author who has chosen to live in Great Britain.  He loves the British Isles, and writes with fondness and wit about British Life,

Disclaimer – I once met Mr. Bryson at a recording of a B.B.C. radio programme. in London.

In “At Home – A Short History of Private Life” Mr. Bryson writes about the house in which he and his wife live in (it’s in Norfolk U.K.) and the historical antecedents of its various rooms.  It’s a great read.

In his chapter on “The Drawing Room” Bryson tells us that at one time (in middle class homes), all the furniture would be placed around the wall of the room.  This (in the days before electric light) made it easier for folks to walk though the room without tripping against furniture.

When guests arrived the custom was to arrange the chairs in a circle or semi-circle, rather, as Bryson notes “like the story time in an elementary school”

According to Bryson, Horace Walpole

 ( see \http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horace_Walpole )

endured 4 ½ hours of conversation in such a circle.

Walpole declared “We wore out the Wind and the Weather, the Opera and the Play.....and every topic that would do in a formal circle”.

God bless you Horace Walpole.  It’s just the same in retiree communities in Florida these days.


plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

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