Saturday, 2 July 2011
Mrs Gaskell - finished!
"...always excepting the times when ladies with beautiful hair came in, when he was like the cat that turned into a lady, who jumped out of bed and ran after a mouse. It did not signify what we were talking about or how agreeable I was; if a particular kind of reddish brown, crepe wavy hair came in, he was away in a moment, struggling for an introduction to the owner of the said head of hair. He is not as mad as a March hare, but hair-mad."
There is also a lovely description of the possible origin of the word 'scrattling' by one of Mrs Gaskell's daughters (maybe Stella Gibbons knew about this and so included it in Cold Comfort Farm).
"Some cousins of Mama's very often had an old lady staying with them who was most inquisitive and if the cousins had been out of the room or were away from her for some time, on their return this old lady would make a point of saying "Well Mary and what have you been doing?" Mary told her, but in time this grew very tiresome, so they determined to invent a word which was to mean anything they chose. So the next time the old lady asked her Everlasting question of "Well Mary and what have you been doing?" "Oh," said Mary, "I have been scrattling". The old lady never liked to betray her ignorance of this word so she said, "Oh, scrattling have you and a very nice employment it is for you."
The second half of the book definitely redeemed it in my view and I am glad I decided to stick with it and finish it.