Monthly Archives: July 2013
When I visit an antique store, I’m immediately drawn to the shelves of old books, with their cracked bindings and musty pages, looking for a gem. Usually the search is fruitless, but every once in a while, I hit a vein of gold.
When my eye landed on this petite volume published in 1891, my first thought was “Doh! That would have been the perfect blog title!”
I was also delighted that the anonymous author used the pen name “Jenny Wren,” an endearing nickname from my childhood (along with Jenny Penny, Jenny Web, and Jenny LaMonster–okay, the latter not so endearing, but clever nonetheless, I must admit). So I snatched it up and was soon thoroughly caught up in its twelve humorous essays on everything from love to afternoon tea to Christmas.
The subtitle of the book is “Sister of that ‘Idle Fellow'”. Later I learned that Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Girl was published in response to an earlier book by Jerome K. Jerome titled “Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow.” Later still, I learned that that the entirety of Lazy Thoughts can be read online here. My copy was published in New York, although the author is clearly British from her use of words like “shillings” and “sixpence.”
Since normally on Mondays I post about the workplace, here’s an excerpt from Lazy Thoughts from a chapter titled “On Bills”:
“Bills, bills, bills! Detestable sound! Obnoxious word! Why were such things ever invented? Why are they sent to destroy our peace of mind? . . .
“How is it that bills mount up so quickly? You buy a little ribbon, a few pairs of gloves, some handkerchiefs–mere items in fact, and yet when quarter day* comes round you are presented with a bill a yard long, which as your next installment of money is fully mortgaged, is calculated to fill you with anything but extreme joy. . . .
“It is astonishing how few paths there are open for poverty-stricken ladies to make a little money, especially when your object is to keep your difficulties a secret from your mankind. I tried every imaginable way without success. . .
“I can paint rather well. Many and many a shop I went into, carrying specimens of my talent, and asking the owners if they would employe me to decorate their tambourines, bellows, etc. But no, they all had their own especial artists and were quite suited. It is such a dreadfully humiliating business. . . .
“Some bills are still unpaid. Quarter day is coming round again, so I expect there will be some more soon. Alas! I am an unlucky being, born under an unlucky star.”
(*From Wikipedia: In British and Irish tradition, the quarter days were the four dates in each year on which servants were hired, and rents were due. The significance of quarter days is now limited, although leasehold payments and rents for land and premises in England are often still due on the old English quarter days.)
How’s your bank account looking these days?