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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Friday, August 18, 2006

There is beauty in the bellow of the blast

There are few things more calculated to raise Lady Bracknell's spirits than a good thunder storm.

That this is so will be partly to do, she admits, with the fact that she is constitutionally unsuited to conditions of high humidity, and therefore looks forward to storms as the harbingers of a fresher atmosphere. Younger, slenderer readers may as yet be unfamiliar with the experience of swollen ankles resulting from shifts in barometric pressure, but Lady Bracknell can assure them that, whilst they may be comic in appearance, they are No Joke.

But even as a child - in those halcyon days when her ankles did not inflate and deflate of their own accord - Lady Bracknell was so enamoured of the dramatic power of thunder storms that she would rush outside, arms spread wide and face tilted upwards, to experience them at closer quarters.

Not so the two young women who were passing Bracknell Towers when the storm broke yesterday, and who shrieked quite abominably in response to every clap of thunder.

Can any of Lady Bracknell's readers enlighten her as to the origin of this (singularly unpleasant) modern fad for shrieking at an ear-splitting pitch? Whilst it is understandable in tiny children for whom almost everything is new and exciting, it is quite unforgivable in any woman who is legally of adult status.

And yet shrieking seems - at least, it does if the female Big Brother contestants can be considered to be representative of their generation - to have been adopted for occasions as verbally undemanding as simply greeting one's friends. Has the constant exposure to noise pollution which is the very bane of our modern existence damaged young women's hearing to such an extent that a cheerfully spoken, "Hello", would be inaudible to them? Why does life need to be lived at a constant fever pitch of excitement? And is it not very tiring to one's nervous system to do so?

Lady Bracknell is aware that she herself has a very carrying voice. There is little she can do to alter that fact, but she is confident that even her worst detractors would not describe her as shrill. Her voice may not be "ever soft, gentle and low" but it is, at least, sufficiently deep that it does not cause her interlocutors to flinch. (They may flinch at what she says, but that is a different issue.)

But Lady Bracknell has digressed. (The young, slender readers who are currently admiring their neat ankles should be aware that digression is another thing which increases with age.) Back to storms.

One is unlikely to have a thunder storm without rain. Rain is, by its very nature, wetting. (Lady Bracknell's favoured rejoinder to the fretting, "But you're not carrying an umbrella: what on earth will you do if it rains?", is a clipped, "I shall get wet". To which, if she is feeling particularly truculent and/or modern, she is often tempted to append a rather discourteous, "And?".)

Getting wet in the rain is another of those mundane experiences which really does not justify a full-scale drama. Rain is such a frequent visitor to our shores that Lady Bracknell is at a loss to understand why people are so often astonished when they feel the first drops land on their heads. Unless one will have no option but to sit in wet clothes in an unheated room for several hours, there is really no peril to one's health. One is not living in Dickensian London. One will not dissolve: the human skin is remarkably impervious to water.

It is Lady Bracknell's belief that huddling in doorways will not improve one's experience of walking through the rain one whit. Unless the doorway is singularly capacious, one is almost always left dry on one side and drenched through on the other, a sensation which is considerably more unpleasant than being wet all over. No, the thing to do is to stride out briskly (or as briskly as one can manage) and get the thing over with.

Women who sport coiffures which can not withstand a shower of rain have the option of either investing in one of those transparent plastic rainhoods which independent pharmacists display next to the tins of glucose travel sweets, or changing to a less frivolous hairstyle. Better either of those alternatives, quite frankly, than shrieking like a thwarted toddler at the onset of rain.


Blogger The Goldfish said...

The young Goldfish, at the age of about eleven or twelve, was known to run the length of the Goldfish estate and back without a stitch of clothing on during a good thundestorm (a most immodest activity, the estate being rather narrow and in the middle of a terrace with only low wooden fences separating the land from that of her neighbours).

It was, however, a profound release for the frustrations of the day and if she was able to access a small plot of enclosed land for the purpose she might well do the same today (although running might be out of the question).

9:46 pm  
Blogger Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Here in Belgium rain is a regular occurrence. As a fashionista of the first order, I disdain the plastic rainhat, and prefer to fashion a stylish turban, using whatever comes to hand. You will find picture of me on my website modelling one of my creations thrown together when I got caught short in the market. On other occasions I have been known to deftly produce an exact copy of a Philip Treacy headpiece out of a Carrefour carrier bag.

8:10 am  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

Lady Bracknell raises a side-issue which has often puzzled me. Can any of her readers enlighten me as to why some small girls (this affliction deosn't appear in boys as far as I can hear) seem to communicate almost exclusively in shrill screams. No words. Their peers and parents seem to understand whatever is being communicated, so possibly these are the ones that grow up into the young women mentioned by her Ladyship? But why do they do it in infancy?

4:00 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Mr Dawson,

Lady Bracknell suspects it is because their parents permit them to. This, presumably, is less trouble than reprimanding the little darlings.

Occasional high-volume excitement in small children is expected and forgiveable: constant shrieking as an alternative to speech is not. (At least, not unless the child in question has genuine communication difficulties. But they cannot all have.)

4:09 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Lady Bracknell would like to rush to assure Ms Wayne-Bough that she certainly does not consider the plastic rain hat to be a thing of beauty, and would cheerfully crawl over broken glass rather than submit to wearing one herself.

Nevertheless, despite her loathing of the repellant objects, she considers them to represent less of a social evil than refusing to venture out in the rain at all, or throwing a tantrum should it begin to rain when one is already out and about.

4:15 pm  
Anonymous Dame Honoria Glossop said...

The Screamers could do Far Worse than follow her Ladyship's own example and acquire a magnificent example of the milliner's art.

Dame Honoria would like to recommend holding their heads under the cold tap until they stop screaming, just like nanny used to do, but this is probably not considered PC these days.

5:38 pm  

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