Babs Shyton ~ party in notorious society divorce case followed by Lucia during her sojourn for the London season. Wife of Colonel Shyton known by Babs as SP or Stinkpot.
In court Babs admitted that she had certainly written to her alleged lover,Woof-dog to say that she was in bed and very sleepy and cross, but wished that Woof-dog was thumping his tail on the hearth-rug. That was indiscreet but there was nothing incriminating about it, and as for the row of crosses which followed Bab's signature, she explained quite frankly that they indicated that she was cross. There were roars of laughter again at this, and even the judge wore a broad grin as he said that if there was any more disturbance he should clear the court.
Leading Luciaphil, Adele Brixton perceptively conjectured that poor Babs' case put it into Lucia's head that in this naughty world it gave a cachet to a woman to have the reputation of having a lover . See Colonel Shyton, Woof-dog and Hermione.
Baby talk ~ Lucia and Georgie often spoke an intimate dialect of baby-language with a peppering of Italian words; thus: "Is that 'oo, Georgino mio? Lubbly to hear your voice again. Come Sta? Is 'oo fatigato? Then 'oo shall rest."
It was used to be apologetic, "Me vewwy sowy!" playful, "Oo naughty too! " to conceal strong feelings, "She no likey gramophone at all. Nebber!" and ingratiating, "How is oo? Me vewwy well sank 'oo".
In this vein, books for example became "bookie-wookie's" , extravagant, "stravvy", business "biz biz" and very difficult, "dwefful diffy". The habit exposed Lucia and Georgie to satire, as when Elizabeth Mapp archly mimicked Lucia calling to Georgie to ignore her "belly-pelly", but they normally succeeded in rising above it.
As with easy Italian, Benson appears to feature the use of embarrassing baby talk as a means of lampooning his sometime friend, the popular novelist Marie Corelli who was guilty of using the most cloyingly childish language in conversation with men and in correspondence to the painter Arthur Severn. See Language.
Bach ~ Emmeline Lucas loved classical music. She played the piano and reserved an hour for practice every day, wholly absorbed in glorious Bach, or dainty Scarlatti or noble Beethoven.
Although it appeared Beethoven was her favourite, glorious Bach stood high in her estimation, particularly as a fellow organist , although Lucia did not quite approach Bach's virtuosity - which was acclaimed throughout Europe - even when Georgie Pillson worked the pedals.
On one famous occasion, on the Sunday morning in the church in Riseholme after the first of Olga Bracely's lively romps at Old Place, there came from the organ the short introduction to Bach's Du mein glaubiges Herz, which even Lucia had allowed to be nearly "equal" to Beethoven. And then came the voice of Olga Bracely, singing divinely charged wit the joyfulness of some heavenly child. It grew low and soft, it rang out again, it lingered and tarried, it quickened into the ultimate triumph. No singing could have been simpler, but that simplicity could only have sprung from the highest art. But now the art was wholly unconscious; it was part of the singer who but praised God as the thrushes do. She who had made gaiety last night made worship this morning.
In sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra and solo instruments, German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750) drew together and developed the Baroque to its ultimate maturity. Employing a robust contrapuntal technique, unrivalled harmonic and motivic organisation, he adapted many non-German forms and rhythms, especially those from France and Italy and produced works revered for intellectual rigour, technical excellence and sheer artistic beauty. By way of illustration only, Bach's compositions include the Brandenburg Concertos, The Well-Tempered Clavier, Mass in B Minor and St Matthew Passion as well as English and French Suites, Cello Suites and many organ works, such as the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. See Olga Bracely.
Baldwin, Stanley ~ when Georgie was concerned about questions he faced from dinner party guests over whom his wife had chosen to be her Mayoress, Lucia suggested inter alia,"Be like Mr Baldwin and say your lips are sealed."
This is a common misquotation. Rather than saying "My lips are sealed" in a speech in the House of Commons on 10th. December 1935, on the Abyssinian Crisis, which with the Hoare-Laval Pact marked a low point in the history of appeasement, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin (1867 - 1947) said, "I shall be but a short time tonight. I have seldom spoken with greater regret for my lips are not yet unsealed. Were these troubles over I would make a case, and I guarantee that not a man would go into the lobby against us." See "Wait and see."
Baptism of those of Riper Years ~ Major and Mrs Mapp-Flint had obtained a profitable summer letting of "Grebe" and rented a bungalow on low-lying land, which was flooded during a terrific south westerly gale. The Padre and Evie Bartlett had likewise rented out the Vicarage and taken a bungalow on slightly higher ground nearby which escaped the initial inundation. On hearing of their difficulty, Lucia kindly took the Mapp-Flints in at "Mallards House". On their arrival, Major Benjy remarked facetiously, if presciently, about the prospect of flooding facing the Bartletts, "I shouldn't wonder if there's more to come. The wind keeps up, and there's the highest of the spring tides to-night. Total immersion of the Padre, perhaps. Ha! Ha! Baptism of those of Riper Years"
Showing his usual hearty disdain for others, Major Benjy was making light of the flooding about to affect the Bartlett's bungalow by jokily referring to the baptismal practice of total immersion not generally followed in the Anglican Church, such as that in Tilling, and also the baptism of older persons - those of "riper years" - which featured in the Book of Common Prayer, beginning : When any such person as is of riper years and able to answer for himself is to be baptized, the Minister shall instruct such person, or cause him to be instructed, in the principles of the Christian religion, and exhort him so to prepare himself with prayers and fasting that he may receive this Holy Sacrament with repentance and faith......
Bartlett ~ the maiden name of Georgie Pillson's mother, who had been second cousin of Lady Ambermere's deceased husband. Accordingly, Georgie was of what Lady Ambermere considered quite a good family. Sometimes, when she spoke to Georgie, she said "We," implying thereby his connection to the aristocracy. Lady Ambermere and one suspects Georgie would have been horrified to think anyone might have suggested any family link with the Padre in Tilling, Kenneth Bartlett whose more lowly roots lay in Birmingham in the Midlands.
Bartlett, Evie ~ wife of Kenneth, the vicar of Tilling. Small and often compared to a mouse in terms of her voice, stature and demeanour.
A member of the higher social circle in Tilling and one of several ladies disappointed in her desire to be appointed Lady Mayoress during the term of Lucia as Mayor of Tilling.
Enjoyed a passion for that deplorable vegetable, the parsnip.
Bartlett, Kenneth ~ husband of Evie and vicar of Tilling, where he resided in Church Square. Although hailing from Birmingham and thus of Midland English stock, he affected a broad and archaic Scots, Irish brogue (after a holiday there) or spurious Elizabethan English at most times. The effect was sometimes interesting as if men of two nationalities were talking together of whom the Irishman only got a word or two in edge ways. His face was knobbly, like a chest of drawers. A keen golfer, a very competitive bridge player - particularly if playing for money - and active member of the highest echelon of Tilling society. The Padre gave up bridge for Lent." His winnings, so he said, he gave annually to charitable objects, though whether the charities he selected began at home was a point on which Miss Mapp had never quite made up her mind,'Not a penny of that the poor will ever see,' was the gist of her reflections when on disastrous days she paid him seven and nine pence"
Like many of his flock, the Padre was a fierce opponent of British Summer Time.
Appeared at Lucia's fete in aid of Tilling Hospital telling Scottish stories and also in the tableaux as executioner of Mary Queen of Scots, as played by Diva Plaistow. Miss Mapp commented "Padre, you looked too cruel as executioner, your mouth so fixed and stern. It was quite a relief when the curtain came down."
Bravely set off (at his own ruinous expense in a taxi) in search of Major Flint and Captain Puffin when it was feared that they were about to duel amidst the sand dunes. Fortunately, after an exhausting search, he discovered them safe and sound about to put on the eighteenth green.
Bravely made a desperate lunge at the table carrying Lucia and Miss Mapp out to sea on Boxing Day as it passed by. In the process slipped and fell flat in the water and was only saved from being carried away by the iron railing alongside the lowest of the submerged steps.
As he did so, lost his new umbrella, a Christmas gift from Lucia and Georgie.
Extremely fond of dressed crab. See Scottish dialect and British Summer Time.
Battersea Park ~ when Lucia had been impressed by a youth speeding past her on a bicycle in the middle of Tilling, she felt inclined to learn bicycling, "Those smart ladies of the nineties used to find it very amusing. Bicycling breakfasts in Battersea Park and all that."
Lucia was referring to a 200 acre park in Battersea in London on the south bank of the Thames opened in 1858. When known as Battersea Fields in the 1820's , it was popular for duelling and in 1864 Battersea Park hosted the first game of football played under the rules of the recently formed Football Association. In the 1890's it appears to have been the venue for the increasingly popular pastime of bicycling, about to come into vogue in Tilling some 45 years later.
Bayreuth or Baireuth ~ excited at the prospect of the impending visit to Riseholme for two nights of favourite operatic diva, Olga Bracely, Georgie Pillson remembered her marvellous appearance the previous year at Covent Garden in the part of Brunnhilde. He was mesmerised "when he saw her awake to Siegfried's kiss on the mountain top. 'Das is keine Mann', Siegfried had said , and, to be sure that was very clever of him, for she looked like some slim, beardless boy, and not in the least like those great fat fraus at Baireuth, who nobody could have mistaken for a man as they bulged and heaved even before the strings of the breast plate were cut by his sword."
Standing on the Red Main river between the Franconian Jura and Fichtelgebirge Mountains, Bayreuth in northern Bavaria, is famed for its annual festival at which the operas of Richard Wagner are presented.
Beau Nash ~ See Nash, Beau.
Beaucourt, Dora (Mrs.) ~ guest at certain society parties during Lucia's London season, who had just astounded the world by her scandalous volume of purely imaginary reminiscences.
Beethoven ~ Emmeline Lucas loved classical music. She played the piano and reserved an hour for practice every day, wholly absorbed in glorious Bach, or dainty Scarlatti or noble Beethoven, whose picture hung above her Steinway Grand. The latter, perhaps, was her favourite composer and no opportunity was missed to give full vent - preferably whilst silhouetted dramatically in profile - to the exquisite pathos of the first movements of the "Moonlight Sonata" (rather than the succeeding two movements, which "went" much faster.)
Hugely influential German composer and pianist, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827) bestrode the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in western music. His career divided into three periods. Early on he was influenced by Mozart and Haydn and produced the first and second symphonies, six string quartets and twelve or so piano sonatas. The Middle or Heroic period saw his increasing deafness and included six symphonies and three piano concerti, the Triple concerto, violin concerto, five string quartets several piano sonatas - including Lucia's beloved Moonlight, the Kreutzer violin concerto and his only opera Fidelio. Beginning around 1815, his intensely personal and intellectually profound Late period included the String Quartet Op. 131, the Ninth Symphony and Missa Solemnis. Overall, his works included nine symphonies, seven concerti, two masses and one opera. Sonatas included 32 for the piano, 10 for violin and 5 for cello, plus one for French horn and numerous lieder. Significant chamber music comprised 16 string quartets, 5 string quintets, 7 for piano trio and many for wind instruments. See "Fidelio" and "Moonlight Sonata"
"Beethoven's Days of Boyhood" ~ volume of biography ordered for Lucia by Georgie at her request from Ye Signe of Ye Daffodille on the Green in Riseholme - when Lucia was too overcome by its proximity on the shelf to the the very thin volume of her late husband's severely limited edition of "Pensieri Persi" to venture over the threshold of the shop. Kept prominently in the music room in "The Hurst" lying on the table with a paper knife stuck between its leaves.
Beethoven expression ~ facial demeanour to be worn in Riseholme and Tilling when listening to Lucia's rendition of the slow movement from the Moonlight Sonata. With head tilted to one side it was intended to connote rapt concentration, sensitivity, uplift and enjoyment - invariably to be followed by a lengthy sigh.
Beethoven's famous Fifth Symphony ~ keen amateur pianists Lucia and Georgie Pillson enjoyed the works of Mozart, Scarlatti and particularly Beethoven. They were both familiar with Beethoven's famous Fifth Symphony, as arranged for four hands on the piano, and played it with ravishing sensibility. Lucia always maintained "That glorious work contains the Key to the Master's soul." On one occasion, perhaps slightly tongue in cheek, Georgie remarked to Lucia, "You can play bits of the Moonlight by yourself. You've often said it was another key to Beethoven's soul."
After enjoying one such melodious half hour with the Fifth, Lucia was apt to remark to Georgie," Caro, how it takes one out of all petty carpings and schemings! How all our smallnesses are swallowed up in that broad cosmic splendour! And how beautifully you played dear. Inspired! I almost stopped in order to listen to you."
Beethoven's "Sonata in A flat" ~ although Lucia was principally devoted to the slow movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, she also knew by heart the funeral march from Beethoven's Sonata in A flat and considered being found at the piano playing it during her protracted mourning following the death of her husband Pepino.
"Before the swallow dared and took the winds" ~ Perdita's garden at Lucia's home in Riseholme, "The Hurst" was gay in spring with those flowers (and no others) on which Perdita doted. There were violet's dim, and primroses and daffodils, which came before the the swallow dared and took the winds (usually of April) with beauty...
As might be expected, this is a quotation from a speech by Perdita in Act 4, Scene iv of Shakespeare's "The Winters Tale"
Now, my fair'st friend,
I would I had some flowers o' the spring that might
Become your time of day; and yours, and yours,
That wear upon your virgin branches yet
Your maidenheads growing: O Proserpina,
For the flowers now, that frighted thou let'st fall
From Dis's waggon! daffodils,
That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty; violets dim,
But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes
Or Cytherea's breath; pale primroses
That die unmarried, ere they can behold
Bight Phoebus in his strength--a malady
Most incident to maids; bold oxlips and
The crown imperial; lilies of all kinds,
The flower-de-luce being one! O, these I lack,
To make you garlands of, and my sweet friend,
To strew him o'er and o'er!
Beggar maid ~ role somewhat implausibly played by Lucia in tableaux, opposite Georgie's equally improbable King Cophetua.
"Behold, how good and a joyful thing it is, brethren, to dwell together in unity.." ~ the unhappy estrangement between Elizabeth Mapp and Lucia over their bitter, if ultimately fruitless, struggle in the local elections (exacerbated by Quaint Irene's public demonstration in favour of Lucia, "Friend of the Poor" and against its Foe Mrs Mapp-Flint) had wrecked the social gaieties of Tilling. The Padre's sermon, though composed with the best intentions, perhaps retarded reconciliation, for he preached on the text "Behold, how good and a joyful thing it is, brethren, to dwell together in unity.." and his allusions to the sad dissensions which arose from the clash of ambitions, highly honourable in themselves, were unmistakable. Both protagonists considered his discourse to be in the worst possible taste, and Elizabeth entirely refused to recognise him or Evie when they next met, which was another wedge driven into Tilling.....
The text in question corresponds with Psalm 133.1 in the King James Bible Ecce, quam bonum! "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! "
Belshazzar's Feast ~ Lucia was more than a little discommoded to learn that Olga Bracely had acquired a permanent home at Old Place in Riseholme and, privately, her thoughts turned immediately to the possible damage to her own social dominance. She thought of Belshazzar's Feast and the writing of doom on the wall which she was Daniel enough to interpret herself, "Thy kingdom is divided,"it said "and given to the Bracely's or the Shuttleworths."
Described in the book of Daniel, the Babylonian king Belshazzar profaned the sacred vessels of the enslaved Israelites. As prophesied by the writing on the wall and interpreted by Daniel, Belshazzar was killed and succeeded by Darius the Mede. To Lucia, Olga's new ways including romps, the gramophone and cigarettes threatened her previously unchallenged dominance in the village.
Benares ~ when Lucia returned to Riseholme from a visit to London, she found that, in her absence. her neighbour Daisy Quantock had "gained" a mysterious draped and turbaned guest with a tropical complexion and a black beard. Noting his robe of saffron yellow, violently green girdle, hitched up for ease of walking, short pink socks and red slippers, she surmised correctly that he was of Indian extraction. She knew there were some Indian princes in London: perhaps it was one of them , in which case it would be necessary to read up Benares or Delhi in the Encyclopaedia without loss of time.
It was subsequently suggested that the Guru was of extraordinary sanctity and came from Benares. He was later known to be a dishonest and bibulous curry cook from Bedford Street in London.
Known as the city of lights, the holy city of India, the religious capital of India or the city of temples, Benares, or Varanasi, stands on the banks of the holy River Ganges in Uttar Pradesh. One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, it is venerated by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. As well as being a cultural and religious centre, it is a major seat of learning with four universities. See Delhi, Guru and Yoga
Benjamin Flint, Major Retd. ~ a long-time resident of Tilling after retirement from the army where he spent many happy years in India. Claimed he was called Sporting Benjy in his regiment. Much affected by the time serving the Raj, his home was filled with moth-eaten tiger skins and other memorabilia. Often asserted he had seen a good deal of shikarri in his time - although not everyone was sure precisely what shikarri entailed. It emerged it was Hindi for big game hunting.
His speech was peppered with phrases in Hindustani and the Major was wont to summon his breakfast porridge with a roar of Quai Hai. The Major cultivated a dashing and risky image, assuming a haughty, pompous and gallant manner with the ladies (or fairies). He certainly had a lock of hair in a small gold specimen case on his watch chain, and had been seen to kiss it when, rather carelessly, he thought he was unobserved.
In his normal bluff mode, his conversation was marked by loud pshawings and sniffs at "nonsense and balderdash," many thumpings on the table to emphasise an argument, constant references to his war wound, prodigious swipes at golf and intolerance of any who believed in ghosts, microbes or vegetarianism. He was not a subtle man.
He enjoyed golf and a wager with his old friend and neighbour Captain Puffin with whom he often argued relentlessly over the niceties of play.
Sometimes disagreements grew out of hand, particularly when fuelled by liquor, and on one occasion brought about a phantom duel which did not take place since both protagonists took flight to catch the London train only to meet at the station and settle their differences.
They shared bibulous evenings over drinks, alternating between each other's homes. This behaviour met with disapproval from their neighbour Miss Elizabeth Mapp who underwent a distressingly frank exchange with Captain Puffin in the foggy street late at night.
The ensuing froideur between Miss Mapp and Puffin never really evaporated, but Major Benjamin capitulated entirely and apologised. From this point Miss Mapps' affection for the man only she called Major Benjy or Benjy boy grew.
When Miss Mapp was swept away to sea after the deluge at Grebe, Major Flint found he was the beneficiary under her will and shockingly set about spending some of his anticipated wealth on a car and wine with unseemly haste - as well as moving into "Mallards" after failing to let it.
This episode perhaps best typified his selfish and insensitive inclinations. On the evening Miss Mapp and Lucia had been swept out to sea by the flood, his main contribution to the discussion amongst a gathering of concerned friends, thinking, as usual, of himself, was to exclaim," Thank God I live on a hill." He even declined to bear any part of the cost of the memorial cenotaph erected by Georgie Pillson in memory of Miss Mapp and Mrs Lucas. Generally, his behaviour did not compare well to that of Georgie, who comported himself admirably.
Naturally an explosion ensued upon Miss Mapp's miraculous deliverance which only abated after lengthy self-abasement by the Major. Thus weakened (reputationally and financially), Major Benjy stood little chance of resisting Miss Mapp's manoeuvres towards matrimony.
With a certain inevitability, the Major married Elizabeth and they honeymooned in Monte Carlo.
Losses incurred in unwise continued speculation in Siriami shares and general lack of funds ultimately induced the Mapp-Flints to exchange Mallards for Grebe and a cash sum.
After marriage, Major Benjy required cunning to continue to imbibe to the extent he preferred, but managed this on many occasions. Sometimes intoxication led to embarrassment, as when found with his hand upon Lucia's knee after too much wine over dinner or when induced to visit the local newspaper to horse whip its editor for publishing a less-than-flattering photograph of his good lady wife and instead joined the culprit for a good many drinks and extended an invitation to luncheon.
Major Benjy considered Lucia a fine looking woman but did not admire some of Mr Georgie's less-than-manly ways. Although he hypocritically stated that he wished to be associated with Algernon Wyse's statement that Georgie Pillson had endeared himself to Tilling and would be missed, Major Benjy was contemptuous of Georgie's sketches, needlework - and his yachting cap, which he had pronounced to be only fit for a popinjay. He later sarcastically characterised Georgie as Mistress Milliner Michael-Angelo.
Contessa Amelia de Faraglione was enormously amused by Major Benjy's numerous very human frailties, calling him my flirt, a pink walrus and the Lothario of the tiger skins.
Many in Tilling felt quiet sympathy towards Major Benjy for what his married life entailed. They recognised that it was his wife, and not he, who devised stunts such as the feigned pregnacy. Lucia remarked, "As for poor Major Benjy, I'm sure he was putty in her hands and did just what she told him. How terribly a year's marriage has aged him, has it not?" to which Georgie replied, "I should have been dead long ago."
The Major enjoyed nothing more than a good dinner, a great deal to drink and a few rubbers of bridge and was entirely in thrall to his good lady wife, whom he considered one of the fairies, God bless 'em. See Shikarri.
Benjy boy ~ affectionate name used by Elizabeth Mapp-Flint for her new husband, even (and perhaps, particularly) in company: a development of her earlier invention, Major Benjy. See Girlie and Diane de Poictiers.
Benjy's riding whip ~ the leather crop with a silver top engraved with BF, the initials of Benjamin Flint. By repute, the crop was Major Flint's most cherished relic since he claimed to have smacked an Indian tiger over the face with it whilst he picked up his gun with which to shoot the unfortunate creature.
Major Flint had impetuously taken the whip with him with which to chastise Mr Connell, the Editor of the Hampshire Argus for publishing a less-than-flattering snap of his good lady wife, taken by Quaint Irene Coles.
As it happened, the Major swiftly more than overcame his differences with Mr Connell over a good many drinks and returned for lunch with his his newest friend, absent-mindedly leaving the precious crop behind. Ever dutiful, Elizabeth Mapp Flint recovered the crop from the offices, but mislaid it on the way home at Diva Plaistow's tea shop. It emerged that Diva's dog Paddy had triturated or swallowed all of the crop, other than the engraved silver top. Other than the silver cap, no murderer could have disposed of the corpse with greater skill. The incriminating top was subsequently buried in the garden at Wasters only to be accidentally discovered by Georgie Pillson when showing Diva how to plant bulbs.
Georgie carried the top about with him for some time, but later accidentally dropped it onto the desk in the morning room at Mallards House. During an evening at Mallards House, Elizabeth Mapp-Flint, sharp-eyed and proprietorial as ever, immediately recognised the top, pocketed it and took it home. Then she arranged for a facsimile of the crop to be created with the original silver top and to the astonishment of those in-the-know arranged for Benjamin to use the crop for dramatic effect in his colourful lecture on shooting tigers in India.
To top her, Lucia secretly had a further facsimile of the crop made and then arranged for it to be discovered behind a cupboard at Diva's tea shop. Again, those in-the-know in Tilling enjoyed Elizabeth Mapp's discomfiture following the discovery. Their pleasure was increased by the fact that they did not comment upon it. Later, however, when playing bridge at the Mapp-Flints, Lucia did look long and earnestly at Benjy's tiger-whip, which now hung in its old place among bead aprons and Malayan creases, saying, 'Is that the one he broke at his interesting lecture dear Elizabeth, or the one he lost at Diva's tea rooms?' Evie continued to squeak in a disconcerting manner during the whole of the next hand.....
Best sort of Claude, the ~ when Olga Bracely and her new husband Mr Shuttleworth first met Georgie Pillson in Riseholme, she admitted without embarassment that she came from "an orphan school at Brixton, and I would much prefer the gutter. That's all about my early life just now, because I am keeping it for my memoirs, which I shall write when my voice becomes a little more like a steam-whistle. But don't tell Lady Ambermere, for she would have a fit, but say you happen to know that I belong to the Surrey Bracely's. So I do. Brixton is on the Surrey side . Oh my dear, look at the sun! It's behaving like the best sort of Claude. Heile Sonne!
As sometimes happens with Benson, the only person who definitely knows the full meaning of this reference is the author himself. Olga's remark that the sun is "behaving like the best sort of Claude" appears to be a painterly reference. The question is: which painter?
In this period, one might have expected a fashionable and modern young performer such as Olga Bracely to be conversant with, and possibly an admirer of, an artist such as Claude Monet (1840-1926), the founder of French impressionist painting, which focused upon capturing and expressing one's perceptions before nature. Monet is recognised as an exponent of plein-air landscape painting and for his mastery of colour and light and the depiction of sun and water, notably on the Thames.
A strong case can also be made for Claude Lorrain (born Gellee, c.1600/1604 - 1682) who was traditionally referred to just as "Claude." This very fact sways one in his favour, since if Olga had meant the French impressionist, perhaps she would have been more likely to refer to "the best sort of Monet"?
The seventeenth century Claude was a painter, draughtsman and engraver, noted particularly for his landscape paintings. Of international reknown, he was commissioned by many eminent patrons, including the French ambassador in Rome, the King of Spain, Cardinal Bentivoglio and Pope Urban VIII. No lesser authority than John Constable called Claude, "the most perfect lanscape painter the world ever saw."
In making this entry, I am pleased to acknowledge with gratitute the constructive contribution of several fellow Mapp and Lucia aficionados on-line, including Geoffrey Thompson, Hayley Anderton and Alistair Kerr.
Bibelots ~ treasured precious objects inherited years ago and kept by Georgie Pillson in a glass-topped case and cleaned regularly and personally only by him. They included a gold Louis XVI snuff box, miniature by Karl Huth, silver toy porringer of the time of Queen Anne, a piece of Bow china and an enamelled cigarette- case by Faberge. It was generally understood that he had inherited them (though the inheritance had passed to him through the medium of curiosity shops) and there were several pieces of considerable value among them.
Sadly, certain of the bibelots were stolen by the fleeing guru prior to his exposure as a dishonest curry cook. The observant Mrs Weston noted that the missing snuff box, cigarette case and Bow china were replaced by a rat-tail spoon, a bit of Worcester china, a different cigarette case and a bead bag.
Bicycle picnics ~ Lucia and Georgie learned to ride bicycles late in life and set quite a trend amongst their circle in Tilling. That summer the Wyses, Bartletts and Diva Plaistow all joined in the craze, leaving only the stubborn Elizabeth Mapp-Flint unconverted to the joys of cycling (and because of his wife, Major Benjy too - though he had dabbled discretely in private).
Who could possibly improve upon the paragraph by EFB capturing the pleasures of bicycle picnics that long warm summer in Sussex in the mid 1930's : As the days grew longer and the weather warmer, picnic parties were arranged to points of interest within easy distance, a castle, a church or a Martello Tower, and they ate sandwiches and drank from their thermos flasks in ruined dungeons or on tombstones or by the edge of a moat. The party, by reason of the various rates of progress which each found comfortable, could not start together, if they were to arrive fairly simultaneously, and Susan on her tricycle was always the first to leave Tilling, and Diva followed. There was some competition for the honour of being the last to leave: Lucia, with the cachet of furious riding to her credit, waited till she thought the Padre must have started, while he was sure that his normal pace was faster than hers. In consequence, they usually both arrived very late and very hot. They all wondered how they could ever have confined their physical exercise within the radius of pedestrianism, and pitied Elizabeth for the pride that debarred her from joining in these pleasant excursions."
Bicycling ~ Lucia first developed a lust for speed following a near-miss with a boy cycling past her in the street in Tilling at break-neck pace. Lucia and then Georgie began to learn to bicycle in the quiet lanes outside Tilling. The phase was not without its mishaps and Lucia had two collisions with the same roadside tar pot - each costing her half a crown in compensation.
Lucia and Georgie soon progressed to practising on the wider expanses of the beach and ultimately acquired new bicycles and rode in public. Their bicycles were nickel plated, belled and braked and, as befitted the Mayor, Lucia's tool-bag behind the saddle bore the Borough Arms of Tilling.
The couple's cycling debut caused quite a stir in Tilling particularly when Lucia allowed - indeed encouraged -herself to be charged and brought before the Tilling Magistrates on a charge of cycling dangerously fast in Landgate Street.
She was understood to have ridden at 20 MPH although subsequently this was commonly exaggerated to 30 MPH. Lucia stood down from the bench whilst her case was heard and did not ask for time to pay her fine of twenty shillings.
The case featured with a photograph in the Hampshire Argus but, although Lucia had instructed Mrs Simpson to inform the Central News Agency, the trial was not reported in the national or international press.
Many others from Tilling's elite joined in the cycling craze which combined well with summer outings and picnics.
Susan Wyse favoured a jaunty tricycle, whilst her husband Algernon could ride using only one hand, leaving the other free to raise his hat courteously to passing friends.
The insane, canary-keeping widow of a Baronet, who was Elizabeth Mapp-Flint's tenant at "Grebe" rode a tricycle.
Only Elizabeth Mapp Flint despised the fad, although she claimed to have learned to ride a bicycle in ten minutes whilst a girl. Mrs Mapp-Flint was greatly upset when the Padre suggested that this was remarkable for in those days there was only those great high machines which you rode straddle.
Birmingham Gazette ~ Midland newspaper . It photographed Georgie in his costume as Drake in the Elizabethan Pageant in Riseholme.
"Birthday of her life had come, The" ~ Diva Plaistow had been vexed with Elizabeth Mapp over various issues, including being teased over coal and food hoarding and the application of cut-out chintz roses to garments. It was fortuitous that after Diva had unlatched it, Susan Poppit had accidentally unleashed an avalanche of hoarded foodstuffs from the faux book case cupboard in the Garden Room at "Mallards," during a bridge party hosted by Miss Mapp. "Diva crammed the last jumble into her mouth and disposed of it with the utmost rapidity. The birthday of her life had come , as Miss Rossetti had said."
This reference is to the poem, "A Birthday" by English romantic, devotional and children's poet Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830 -1894), who was described by critic, Basil de Selincourt as, "all but our greatest woman poet..probably in the first twelve of the masters of English verse."
My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.
Raise me a dais of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.
Biscuit-colour ~ when Lucia moved into "Mallards House" redecorations included the dining room - previously painted with Miss Mapp's favourite tint "biscuit-colour." The walls were now "of apple green, and instead of being profusely hung with Elizabeth's best watercolours, there was nothing on them but a sconce or two for electric light."
Bismarck ~ when it belatedly emerged that Elizabeth Mapp had let "Mallards" to Lucia without the benefit of garden produce (save for flowers for the house) Diva Plaistow was particularly indignant, saying to Lucia, "So like Elizabeth. I asked if she gave you garden produce and she said she wasn't going to dig up her potatoes and carry them away. Well of course, I thought that she meant she did give it to you. So like her. Bismarck, wasn't it, who told the truth in order to deceive?" Diva appears to be paraphrasing a well-known quotation by Otto von Bismarck,"When you want to fool the world, tell the truth."
On another occasion, there was a general nervousness in Tilling over the choice of Lucia's Mayoress pending its announcement. Elizabeth Mapp-Flint, distraught with anxiety, even thought Diva Plaistow had been chosen. What made this even more probable was that Diva had so emphatically denied to Evie that she could be induced to accept the post. It was like poor Diva to think that anybody would believe such a monstrous statement; it only convinced Elizabeth that she was telling a thumping lie, in order to conceal something. Probably she thought she was being Bismarckian, but that was an error. Bismarck had said that to tell the truth was a useful trick for a diplomatist, because others would conclude that he was not. But he had never said that telling lies would induce others to think that he was telling the truth.
German statesman, "Iron Chancellor", Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck (1815 - 1898) was the Prime Minister of Prussia (1862 -1890) who oversaw German unification. In 1867 he became Chancellor of the North German Confederation and in 1871 of the German Empire, until 1890. To achieve unification, he applied the Prussian model on the whole of Germany with a well-trained bureaucracy, some progressive social policies and a strong monarchy, but his anti-Catholic and anti-Socialist legislation left a divisive legacy.
His diplomacy of realpolitik cleverly used balance of power diplomacy, which sustained and improved the position of his united Germany. It also became synonymous with unscrupulous dealings where truth seemed invariably to be the first casualty. How unlike life in our own dear Tilling.
Black-letter volumes ~ The famous smoking parlour at “The Hurst” in Riseholme had rushes on the floor, a dresser ranged with pewter tankards, and leaded lattice windows of glass so antique that it was practically impossible to see out of them. Here though in the rest of the house Lucia had, for convenience sake, allowed the installation of electric light, there was no such concession made and sconces on the walls held dim iron lamps, so that only those of the most acute vision were able to read. Even to them, reading was difficult , for the bookstand on the table contained nothing but a few crabbed black-letter volumes dating from not later than the early seventeenth century, and you had to be in a fantastically Elizabethan frame of mind to be at ease there.
As the name suggests, black letter volumes were written or printed in black letters. Also known as Gothic script, Gothic minuscule, Old English or Textura, it was used in Europe from the mid twelfth to seventeenth centuries – and in German until the twentieth.
Blake ~ After carrying out substantial refurbishments and redecoration following her acquisition of "Mallards House," Lucia held a house-warming party for her friends in Tilling. Upon entering the garden room, Algernon Wyse exclaimed "Genius! Artistic genius! Never did I appreciate the beautiful proportions of this room before; it was smothered - ah, Mrs Mapp-Flint! such a pleasure, and a lovely costume if I might say so. That poem of Blake's "Tiger, tiger burning bright." I am writing to my sister Amelia today and I must crave your permission to tell her about it. How she scolds me if I do not describe to her the latest fashions of the ladies of Tilling."
The line quoted by Sinor Sapiente (to Italianate Lucia ) and Monsieur Sage (To Francophile Mrs Mapp-Flint) is from "The Tyger" from "Songs of Experience," written in 1794 by Romantic poet, painter and printmaker, William Blake (1757-1827.)
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
One of Blake's best known and most anthologized poems, most anythologies have - unlike Benson - kept the already slightly archaic spelling of "tyger" used by Blake. Some authorities suggest that "The Tyger" presents a duality between aesthetic beauty and primal ferocity. It seems unlikely that Mr Wyse was alluding to any duality in his compliment to Mrs Mapp-Flint on her imaginative and frugal use of an off-cut of an aged tiger skin rug to trim her venerable green skirt.
Blavatski, Madame ~ Daisy Quantock thrillingly noted that the rooms of her medium Princess Popoffski at her flat , in a quiet side-street off Charing Cross Road, were dimly lit by oil lamps that stood in front of shrines containing images of the great spiritual guides from Moses down to Madame Blavatsky.
Controversial theosophist, traveller and prolific writer Helena Petrovna Blavatsky/Blavatski (nee von Hahn) (1831 - 1891) set up the Theosophical Society with Colonel H.S.Olcott with the stated purpose "to form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour."
Editor of "The Theosophist" magazine for a time, Madame Blavatsky influenced spiritualism and related fields. Some of her views were shared by Christian Gnostics. Many critics were, to say the least, sceptical of her views and, sometimes, without support from documentation, denounced her as a fraud, charlatan, spy, racist, smoker of cannabis, plagiarist - and much else besides. On the other hand, some admitted that the cosmogony and anthropogenesis in her "The Secret Doctrine"contained elements not found in any other philosophy.
Some recent Fortean studies have concluded that her earlier condemnation was unjust. Benson however seems morbidly sceptical of her bona fides and is intentionally sarcastic in describing the shrines set up by what we eventually learn was a fraudulent medium of great spiritual guides from Moses down (very much "down") to the oft-ridiculed Madame Blavatsky. See Princess Popoffski, Daisy Quantock, Gnostic, Rosicrucian and Cabalistic.
Blitton ~ town nearby Riseholme. Location of its fire-station.
Blue Birdie ~ the late blue budgerigar or parakeet of Susan Wyse which tragically fluttered off its mortal coil when accidentally sat upon by its mistress. Mrs Wyse assuaged her considerable grief by having Blue Birdie stuffed to adorn her ample bosom or dress her hat.
Unfortunately, its undignified death was compounded when, in a careless moment, it fell into a raspberry souffle at lunch at Mallards House and henceforth was seen out and about in Tilling with red plumage.
The demise of Blue Birdie affected Susan Wyse badly; she focused all her energies upon seances at Starling Cottage - wearing a voluminous white shift. Here Blue Birdie prompted automatic writing. In consequence Susan's hitherto keen appreciation of the comforts and interests of life, her fur coat, her Royce, her shopping and her bridge were all tasteless to her.
Her concerned husband Algernon was worried that Susan would become unhinged if it continued. To bring matters to a head he removed the corpse of Blue Birdie from its ebony -or possibly ebonite - shrine with white satin curtains - and Lucia filed it in one of her Mayoral black japanned tin boxes labelled "Museum".
Once the corpse had been removed Susan was eventually persuaded by Lucia that Blue Birdie had departed to the other side and at last found peace.
The corpse of Blue Birdie, thus locked its Mayoral tin box, was found, badly decomposed and reeking of disinfectant and decay, to the horror of Lucia's secretary Mrs. Simpson. By an unfortunate coincidence, this macabre discovery took place just as Susan Wyse arrived at Mallards House. With Blue Birdie cremating on the fire in the morning room, the smell of burnt feathers permeating the house and the odd blue feather floating down to settle upon the carpet, Lucia swiftly led Mrs Wyse into the garden and successfully distracted her with conversation. Blue Birdie made no further re-appearances in Tilling in bodily or spirit form. See Necromancy.
Blue Train, The ~ when Pepino had been ill with pneumonia and was convalescing at home at "The Hurst" in Riseholme, Lucia decided it would be appropriate to sell 25, Brompton Square and most of its contents. She set about persuading Pepino to do so, martialling her arguments and producing rows of figures to show that they were living beyond their means. She quoted (or invented) something the Prime Minister has said about the probability of an increase in income-tax: she assumed that they would go to the Riviera for certain, and was appalled at the price of tickets, in the Blue Train, and of the tariff at hotels.
Colloquially referred to as "The Blue Train" (le train bleu) because of its dark-blue sleeping cars, the luxury Calais-Mediterranee Express was the preferred night train of the rich and famous between Calais and the French Riviera between 1922 and the oubreak of the Second World War.
Blumenthal piano ~ an antique piano less fine than claimed by Miss Mapp left in Mallards during Lucia's initial summer let. Not being to the standard required by Lucia, it was -to the intense irritation of Elizabeth Mapp - promptly removed to the telephone room during her initial stay and a better instrument hired-in from Brighton.
Bluthner ~ Mrs Poppit was excited to acquire a new upright Bluthner piano. Elizabeth Mapp saw it being transported in a sack from Tilling station on an open trolly.
The manufacturing company, Bluthner (formerly Julius Bluthner Pianofortefabrik GmbH) was founded in Leipzig in 1853. By 1900, Bluthner was the largest piano maufacturer in Germany, producing five thousand instruments each year. Pianos were made in several sizes, with grands from five to nine feet and verticals or uprights such as Susan Poppit's.
Boaler ~ servant of Lucia and Pepino in Riseholme.
Bodleian Library ~ Elizabeth Mapp-Flint was depressed by the report in the "Hastings Chronicle" following the service of dedication of the newly refurbished organ in Tilling church funded by Lucia. The Bishop's address about the munificent citizeness was given very fully, and there was as well a whole column almost entirely about Lucia. With qualms of nausea Elizabeth read about Mrs Lucas's beautiful family home that dated from the reign of Queen Anne, its panelled parlours, its garden room containing its positively Bodleian library and rare specimens of Samian ware which she found in the excavations in her old-world garden....
Second only in size to the British library and one of the oldest libraries in Europe, the Bodleian Library is the main research library for the University of Oxford. The Library occupies a group of five buildings near Broad Street ranging in date from the late medieval period to the twentieth century plus associated faculty and other libraries around the university.
Bohemian ~ when Olga Bracely had moved to Riseholme, Lucia labelled her as "rather common" but retained a certain respect for her professional career, given that that professional career was to be thrown down as a carpet for her own feet. But after all, if Olga was a bit Bohemian in her way of life, as exhibited by the absence of calling cards, Lucia was perfectly ready to overlook that, confident in the refining influence of Riseholme and to go to Olga's informal party the next day.
First appearing in the English language in the 19th century to describe the non-traditional lifestyles of some marginalised and impoverished artists such as writers, musicians and actors, the term “Bohemian” connotes an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of the like-minded people with few permanent ties, sometimes involving creative or artistic pursuits.
Bolshevism, spirit of ~ the desire to throw off all authority and act independently. This manifested itself at intervals in both Riseholme and Tilling, as when Georgie Pillson dared to invite Olga Bracely to luncheon and to bring her to Lucia's garden party only after a lengthy game of post-prandial croquet had been concluded. He felt rather like one who, when revolutionary ideas are in the air , had concealed a revolver in his pocket. He did not formulate to himself precisely what he was going to do with it, but it gave him a sense of power to know that it was there.
Daisy Quantock dared to try to "run" the guru before he was mercilessly annexed by Lucia. In Tilling, although Miss Mapp's social dictatorship among the ladies in her circle had long been paramount, every now and then signs of rebellious upheavals showed themselves. Though there was no question of her being the social queen of Tilling, Miss Mapp sometimes felt that there were ugly Bolshevistic symptoms in the air - particularly when she was being subjected to Quaint Irene Coles' dreadful gift of mimicry. Subsequently, Miss Mapp's numerous attempts to overthrow the new rule of Lucia speak for themselves.
Bonstetter, Professor ~ renowned psychoanalyst. Lucia attended a lecture by him on psycho-analysis in the black drawing room at Sophie Alingsby's house. She learned curiously that if you dreamed about boiled rabbit, it meant that sometime in early childhood you had been kissed by a poacher in a railway-carriage and had forgotten all about it! Lucia was pronouncing to the distinguished company at the weekend party held by Adele Brixton at her country house on the lecture she had just attended with Sophie Allingsby and the significance of dreaming of boiled rabbit when she looked around to realise that one of the men in the room to whom she had not paid much attention was Professor Bonstetter himself. Despite the faux pas, to the delight of Luciaphils such as her hostess, Lucia sailed blithely on chatting to the Professor, as though her gaffe had never occurred.
Boon ~ sulky, monosyllabic and somewhat bovine butler of Susan Poppit. Made excellent -and very alcoholic - redcurrant fool.
Bore, the Severn ~ see the Severn Bore
Borgia, Lucretia or Lucrezia ~ when Olga Bracely was guest of honour at dinner at "Mallards House" the guests vied to catch her attention in sparkling conversation. Algernon Wyse chipped in (though he was unlikely to use such an expression) and with an eye on Olga told Lucia that his sister the Contessa di Faraglione was a passionate student of the age of Lucrezia Borgia.
Benson sometimes applied the term "Lucretian" when Lucia was being particularly canny, devious or just too clever for words. When Lucia wished to avoid being found out as far from fluent in la bella lingua during the visit of Contessa Amelia di Faraglione, she ordered Georgie safely off to Folkstone and entered into purdah with feigned influenza, "From the window of her bedroom next morning Lucia saw Georgie and Cadman and Foljambe set off for Folkstone, and it was with a Lucretian sense of pleasure in her own coming tranquillity that she contemplated the commotion and general upset of plans which was shortly to descend on Tilling. "
The illegitimate daughter of Rodrigo Borgia, who later became Pope Alexander VI, Lucrezia Borgia (1480 - 1519) was the sister of Cesare, Giovanni and Gioffre Borgia. Something of a femme fatale, Lucrezia played a full part in the ruthless and Machiavellian realpolitik of Renaissance Italy - held by some to be a model for Tilling of the mid-1930s.
Botticelli ~ when Lucia looked at Quaint Irene's very striking sketch of Venus rising from the sea, she noted "a nude, well nourished, putty coloured female, mottled with green shadows balanced on an oyster shell, while a prize fighter, representing the wind and sprawling across the sky, propelled her with puffed cheeks up a river towards a red-roofed town on the shore which presented Tilling with Pre-Raphaelite fidelity."
When Lucia reasonably remarked "Dear Me! Quite Botticellian!", Irene screamed "What? Darling how can you compare my deep bosomed Venus, fit to be the mother of heroes, with Botticelli's anaemic flapper?" After a vigorous discussion, she then tore it across and promised to turn her wondrous Helenic goddess into a Victorian mother.
The work of Italian painter of the Florentine school, Sandro Botticelli or Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi (1445 -1510) was thought to represent the linear grace of Early Rennaissance painting, as reflected in The Birth of Venus and Primavera. See Picture of the Year, Art Club Exhibition and Quaint Irene Coles.
Boucher, Jacob Colonel ~ resident of Riseholme. After some clever matchmaking by Olga Bracely, married his friend and neighbour, Mrs Weston - at about the time his manservant Atkinson married Mrs Weston's maid, Elizabeth.
Military in bearing, somewhat brusque in manner and limited vocabulary with much use of Haw hum, By Jove, old man and the occasional Pshaw! Faugh ! and even Tush! Known to hate Georgie's embroidery and generally had nothing stronger than a mild tolerance for Georgie and rather enjoyed snubbing him. Served in Egypt, where he was taken ill.
Read the "Daily Mirror", one copy of which was stolen from his hall by Robert Quantock to prevent him seeing the court report upon the conviction of fraudulent medium known as Princess Popoffski.
Owner of two bulldogs which he often exercised on the Green, with much throwing of sticks into the ducking pond. The bulldogs attended yoga classes with him at "The Hurst" and they lay and snorted exactly as if they were doing breathing exercises too. Was obliged to give one bulldog away to his brother, since it always growled so frightfully at Mrs Boucher.
Boucher, Mrs Jane ~ see Mrs Jane Weston
Bourdon ~ Lucia and Georgie were in Tilling church practising the slow movement of the "Moonlight Sonata" which they were to perform during the recital which formed part of the service of dedication of the organ, newly refurbished at Lucia's expense. Lucia uncoupled the pedals and substituted the bourdon: Elijah and the Witch of Endor rattled in their leaded frames in the stained glass window above. The bourdon is a 16 foot organ stop of the stopped diapason type. See Elijah, Witch of Endor, Diapason, Vox humana and Cor anglais.
Bow ~ Georgie Pillson's bibelots were treasured objects inherited years ago and kept in a glass-topped case and cleaned regularly and personally only by him. They included a gold Louis XVI snuff box, miniature by Karl Huth, silver toy porringer of the time of Queen Anne, a piece of Bow china and an enamelled cigarette-case by Faberge. It was generally understood that he had inherited them (though the inheritance had passed to him through the medium of curiosity shops) and there were several pieces of considerable value among them.
The Bow Porcelain factory operated at the New Canton works on the Essex side of the river Lea close to Bow Bridge in what is now Newham in London. It operated between 1747 and 1764 and is described as "an emulative rival of Chelsea in the manufacture of early soft-paste porcelain" which imitated some Chelsea figures and adopted the newly-invented technique of transfer printing from Battersea enamels. The quality of Bow's product was notoriously uneven. The warm creamy body of Bow porcelains is glassy and the glaze tends towards ivory. The high point of the Bow Works was in about 1758 when there were ninety painters out of three hundred employees. The business was broken up in the early 1760s and what remained of the Bow factory was sold and moulds and toools transferred to Derby in 1776. We do not have further details of the form taken by Georgie's piece of Bow china. See Bibelots.
"Bow drawn at a venture, a" ~ Georgie Pillson was enduring an awkward encounter with Lucia when, at the behest of the well-intentioned Olga Bracely, he had gone to "The Hurst" to invote the Lucases to dinner at Christmas in an attempt to rebuild social bridges that had virtually collapsed in recent weeks, as Lucia had become increasingly vexed that she was about to be usurped by Olga as the leader of Riseholme society. Lucia felt excluded form the recent spiritualist activity, resented Olga's closeness to the engaged Mrs Weston and Colonel Boucher and despised Signor Cortese, the Italian composer of "Lucretia."
Sarcastically Lucia remarked"What a full life you lead , Georgie! I suppose you have no time for your painting now.
This was not a bow drawn at a venture, for she had seen Georgie coming out of "Old Place" with his paint box and drawing board...."
This phrase means to make a random remark which may hit the truth and, as so often with Benson, is taken from the King James Bible, 1 Kings 22:34: "A certain man drew a bow at a venture and smote the King of Israel between the joints of the harness: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded."
Boyikins ~ whilst Elizabeth Mapp-Flint was still feigning pregnancy, before it was generally understood that the pretence was, in Lucia's immortal phrase, only "a wind egg," she began to let it be known that it would be necessary to let "Mallards" for "a long, long time."
Asked by Georgie Pillson where they were going, Elizabeth replied, "Don't know yet. Anywhere. A great wrench, but there's so much to be grateful for. I must be getting home. My boyikins will scold me if don't rest before lunch."
This saccharine diminutive of "boy" was typical of the pet names applied in public by Elizabeth in the wake of her marriage to Benjamin Flint. The sentence was intended to infer her "interesting condition," the expectant father's touching concern for her welfare and her naive and girlish regard for her spouse, no element of which remotely resembled the truth.
Boxing Day 1930 ~ memorable day upon which Miss Mapp and Lucia were swept out to sea on an upturned kitchen table when the sea defences were breached and a flood engulfed Grebe.
Boy, small red-haired ~ disguise adopted by operatic prima donna Olga Bracely when she wished to sing incognito, for example in church in Riseholme or amongst the carol singers at Georgie's Christmas dinner party. On each occasion, Lucia referred to "the small red haired boy who nearly deafens me" and expressed the vehement wish that his voice would "crack soon."
Brace Mrs. ~ wife of the doctor in Tilling (other than Mr Dobbie, that is). Though Mrs Brace was not strictly in society, Miss Mapp waived all social distinctions and spoke to her when trying to obtain details of the sad passing of Captain Puffin.
Bracely, Olga (Mrs Shuttleworth) ~ a famous prima donna of the opera for whom Signor Cortese wrote his new work Lucretia (sometimes Lucrezia). Celebrated in a caricature by Herbert Alton, exhibited at the Rutland Gallery in London at the same time as those of Lucia and Pepino. Tall and boyish in figure with an unspoiled and vivacious personality.
Olga Bracely was in fact her stage and maiden name since she was recently married to Mr Shuttleworth - a cousin of the late Lord Ambermere and whom Georgie, for once rebellious, allowed Lucia incorrectly to address as Mr Bracely. Confusingly, referred to as Charlie by Lady Ambermere and Georgie by his wife.
Olga leased Old Place in Riseholme and soon became firm platonic friends with Georgie Pillson, who admired her as an artist and adored her as a person. Georgie's first impression of her on meeting was that she was "tall and lovely and welcoming, and held out a most cordial hand."
She acquired Old Place secretly as a surprise for her husband using her devoted friend Georgie to oversee repairs, decoration and furnishing. As Olga predicted, her husband was delighted with Old Place and gave it to his wife as a gift.
Olga freely admitted that she came out of an orphan school in Brixton but would much have preferred the gutter. She suggested that Georgie keep this from the snobbish Lady Ambermere, but tell her she belonged to the Surrey Bracely's - which was after-all correct, since Brixton is on the Surrey side. Georgie let this slip to Lucia, who feeling threatened by her natural and unspoiled charm, jealous or simply snobbish went so far as labelling Olga as "rather common." Lucia did not approve of Olga's failure to have calling cards printed.
Olga entered into social life in Riseholme after making her belated debut at Lucia's garden party. She arrived late, having felt obliged to finish a post-prandial game of croquet with Georgie, just as many guests were leaving disappointed, but saved the day by performing the Salutation of Brunnhilde to her own accompaniment - after finding Lucia's efforts as accompanist not quite up to scratch.
Her many new friends enjoyed Olga's informal romps at New Place, which featured children's games. Although several neighbours attempted to reciprocate with their own romps, they lacked the necessary joie de vivre to carry them off at all plausibly. The Sunday morning after the first of ther romps for her neighbours, Olga performed Bach's Du mein glaubige Herz exquisitely in Riseholme church.
Olga grew fond of Colonel Boucher and Jane Weston and cleverly acted as matchmaker prior to their marriage. Seeing that her friendship with the devoted Georgie was causing a rift between him and Lucia, Olga persuaded Georgie to bring Lucia back into the heart of his circle. Showing great maturity and kindness, she also dutifully took more of a secondary role in life in the village to allow Lucia to bask in "centre stage."
Olga was obliged to leave Riseholme to present Lucretia in America for four months and then in Australia. When asked to accompany her as her guest, Georgie touchingly declared he was unable to take up Olga's invitation: Because I adore you.
On Olga's return to the country following her tour, Georgie found her as enchanting as ever -particularly when contrasted with Lucia who had grown even more self-obsessed as Mayor of Tilling. By this time Olga had been widowed, but had lost none of her former charm and vivacity.
She invited Georgie and Lucia to her box for a gala performance in London of Lucretia and entertained them at Old Place in Riseholme. Olga made a strong impression upon the residents of Tilling when visiting Mallards House and the ladies of Tilling were inspired by her glamorous appearance to try to improve their own maquillage or make-up.
A degree of discussion arose when Olga apparently spent the night at "Mallards House" alone with Georgie, whereas Lucia had in fact returned herself from an abortive vist to Sheffield Castle in plenty of time to chaperone her husband. Both Olga and Georgie were entirely inocent of any impropriety in deed, word and even thought.
Georgie attended her house party in Le Touquet, although his visit was made less enjoyable by the unwelcome attentions of the barbophilic Poppy, Duchess of Sheffield.
At about this time Olga began to work upon Signor Cortese's new opera composed for her, Diane de Poictiers. See Bach, the best sort of Claude
Brahms ~ on the evening on which Lucia introduced Georgie to a print of Vandyk's protrait of Gelasius, his bearded doppelganger, she and Georgie gave themselves a holiday from and did not tackle that dwefful diffy Brahms. Lucia called him "Wonderful Brahms" and adopted a phrase of Walter Pater confirming that the soul with all its maladies had entered into his music. A German, Johannes Brahms (1833 - 1897) was one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. He was a virtuoso pianist and composed for piano, chamber ensembles, orchestra and voice. Many of his works are staples of the modern concert repertoire. See Pater, Walter.
Brangaene ~ Lucia called upon Georgie urgently at "Mallards Cottage." Georgie was in his dressing gown at breakfast with his hair still wet from the application of hair dye. Lucia was vexed that her termination of the excavations at "Mallards House" following her discovery of the "Spencer tile" and Apollinaris bottle had been followed by an article in the "Hastings Chronicle" exaggerating her archaeological, cultural and social achievements in a manner that she knew would enrage Elizabeth Mapp-Flint. As they spoke, they noted Elizabeth already at the door of "Mallards House" with a paper in her hand, trying to get in. Lucia was concerned that she should not - as she might pop out into the garden and see there was no excavation at all.
Georgie said to Lucia in the manner of Brangaene warning Isolde,"She's still arguing. She's on the top step now....Oh it's all right. Grosvenor shut the door in her face...."
In the second Act of Richard Wagner's opera, "Tristan and Isolde" (which was completed in 1859 and premiered in Munich in 1865) Isolde is in Cornwall and loves Tristan although she is wedded to the aged King Mark, who has gone hunting. Brangaene, Isolde's attendant, warns her mistress that Melot, a jealous friend of Tristan will betray them.
Notwithstanding this warning, Isolde runs into the garden to meet Tristan, where they engage in a rapturous love duet, rejoicing that instead of dying they have lived for such inexpressible joy. Continuing to sing of their love in metaphysical terms, Tristan and Isolde pay no heed to Brangaene's warning cries from the battlement. After this, Kurvenal also warns his master and Isolde of the betrayal and King Mark and Melot enter and discover the goings-on. After a fight with Melot, Tristan is seriously wounded.
Although the events that morning were dramatic and feelings were running high, they did not really approach the fever pitch apparent in Wagner's opera. Rather than mortal conflict, the only result of this "stand-off" was that Elizabeth Mapp-Flint failed to gain admittance to "Mallards Cottage" by the front door, but instead inventively thrust her head through a ground floor window so as to better interrogate Georgie Pillson. Though nerves may have been shredded, no blood was spilled that morning in Tilling. See "Tristan und Isolde. "
Breakfast ~ term invariably applied by Algernon Wyse, in his absurd affected fashion - to allude to luncheon, especially when his sister, the Contessa Amelia di Faraglione was staying with him. This nomenclature may have been the refined habit in his celebrated family, the Wyses of Whitchurch.
Bridge ~ a favourite pastime in both Riseholme and particularly Tilling. Bridge was the mainstay of much social life and the chief intellectual pursuit. All semblance of manners was invariably thrown to the winds by the ladies of Tilling when once bridge began; primeval hatred took their place. The winners of any hand were exasperatingly condescending to the losers and the losers correspondingly bitter and tremulous.
Lucia was a relatively late converts to cards, which whilst she resided in Riseholme, came next to crossword puzzles in her index of inanities and which she despised as only fit for those who had not the intelligence to talk or listen. After the death of her husband Pepino's Aunt Amy however and anticipating the forthcoming London season, Lucia borrowed Georgie's manual on Auction Bridge and came to regard the pursuit more favourably.
Considerable debate took place over particular conventions, such as majority-calling, rising to arguments over revocations, scores and winnings claimed or owed. The war between Contract and Auction ended with the extermination of the latter, since Contract gave so much more scope for violent differences of opinion about honour tricks, declarations and doublings and strong twos and takings-out, which added enjoyable spleen and savagery to the game.
Schools of thought followed included Culbertson, no club, two clubs and Leeway - which neither its exponent Diva Plaistow, nor anyone else, understood. Lucia relied largely on psychic bids.
Tilling did not take kindly to the imposition of rules from any central authority - as evidenced by its only partial adherence to British Summer Time. Miss Mapp witheringly remarked: "I don't know by what right the Portland Club tells us how to play bridge. Tilling might just as well tell the Portland Club to eat salt with gooseberry tart, and for my part I shall continue to play the game I prefer."
Typically, Tilling rebelled en masse when Lucia felt that, as Mayor, she could not in conscience play for money. Tilling decided it preferred to play for modest stakes and continued to do so without Lucia until Worship's view of the issue had reverted. See British Summer Time and Tishbites.
Brinton ~ town nearby Riseholme. Excellent fresh fish suppliers to whom Mrs Weston sent her cook every week since she did not like the look of the successor to Henry Luton's mother.
Brinton String Quartet ~ awful string quartet that played in the lounge of the Royal Hotel in Brinton after dinner. Aptly described as doleful fiddlers. Embarrassingly mistaken by Lucia for the world-renowned Spanish Quartet at a party of Olga Bracely.
British Museum ~ noting Lucia had not arrived at home in Riseholme with her maid in the fly following her return by rail from London, Georgie Pillson guessed erroneously that oblivious to the passage of time she had spent her last half hour in contemplation of the Greek bronzes at the British Museum.
Established in 1753, largely based upon the collections of the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane, the British Museum first opened to the public in Montagu House in Bloomsbury in 1759, on the site of the current museum building. Its collections comprise more than seven million items illustrating the development of human culture across the globe. Controversial objects in the collection include the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon in Athens.
British Summer Time ~ introduced as a wartime measure in 1916, British Summer Time was set one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time for a period set by Parliament each year. Between 1930 and 1938, for example, it ran from a date in April to a date in October, providing an extra hour of daylight in the evening and one of the chronic dissensions of Tilling.
With certain exceptions, such as Major Flint and Captain Puffin, most of Tilling, including prominent figures such as Miss Mapp, Diva Plaistow and the Padre, utterly refused (except when going by train) to alter their watches because Mr Lloyd George told them so.
Typically, Quaint Irene was flippant on the subject and said that any old time would do for her. The Poppits followed convention, and Mrs Poppit, in naming the hour for a party to the stalwarts, wrote "4.30 (your 3.30)". The King, after all, had invited her to be decorated with her MBE at a particular hour, summer time, and what was good enough for the King was good enough for Mrs Poppit.
The strength of feeling on the issue locally was illustrated by the following remarks by the vicar, Kenneth Bartlett: "We feel keenly, I know, about summer-time in Tilling, though we shall all be reconciled over that next Sunday, when real time, 'God's time', as I am venturing to call it in my sermon, comes in again." (Chapter 6 "Miss Mapp" ~ p.132 Black Swan edition)
In his biography of Fred, Brian Masters comments that he once again plundered the antics of Marie Corelli to provide some of his material. It was Corelli who grandly ignored daylight saving time and kept her grandfather clock permanently adjusted to 'God's time', thus causing guests to arrive or leave early or late. Benson uses this as an eccentricity of many Tilling residents, but notes they make exceptions when it comes to catching trains... He reports that Corelli turned up at Stratford-upon- Avon station to welcome Mark Twain at a time God would have considered one hour too early....
Brixton, Adele Lady ~ member of Lucia's social circle in London; a leading and perhaps the most perceptive Luciaphil. An insightful student of human nature and behaviour and particularly that of Lucia . She knew instantly that Lucia's affair with Stephen Merriall was contrived for effect as a stunt or glory.
A cousin of Aggie Sandeman. A lean, intelligent American of large fortune who found she got on better without her husband. As Lord Brixton preferred living in America and she in England, satisfactory arrangements were easily made .
Occasionally she had to see relatives in America and he selected such periods for visiting family in England. Lady Brixton confirmed we blow kisses to each other from the decks of Atlantic liners going in opposite directions, if it's calm and if it's rough, we're sick into the same ocean.
Held a glittering weekend house party towards the end of the season at her immense country home in Essex attended by the Prime Minister, Greatorex the pianist, Professor Bonstetter the psycho-analyst, the Italian ambassador and other members of Lucia's social circle, including Marcia Whitby, Tony Limpsfied, and Stephen Merriall.
The weekend was eventful for Lucia who managed to secure an invitation to lunch at Chequers, play Stravinski for his most accomplished interpreter, discuss Mussolini with the Italian ambassador, share her views on psycho-analysis with Professor Bonstetter and voice her opinions upon the controversial Shyton divorce case in the presence of Archie Singleton, Babs' brother. Regularly attended the opera and concerts, but the only tune she really liked was "Land of Hope and Glory" (the words of which were written by Fred Benson's brother, Arthur.)
Lucia also contrived to walk entirely innocently but uninvited into the bedroom of her faux lover Steven Merriall to their mutual horror and embarrassment.
Adele could be outspoken, even to Lucia. When discussing life in Riseholme, Lucia remarked, "If I find it at all dull, caro, I shall be as Adele once said, a bloody fool. Dear Adele, she has always that little vein of coarseness. "
Her stay illuminated the weekend for assembled avid Luciaphils, but was terminated when Lucia received news of Pepino's deteriorating health and returned early to his bedside at The Hurst in Riseholme.
Initially leased The Hurst for three months, whilst Lucia rented "Mallards" and fell in love with Riseholme. She affirmed life was no longer worth living without a house there. She wished to purchase unfurnished The Hurst, failing which the house belonging to round red little Mrs Quantock would do. Subsequently purchased The Hurst when Lucia departed from Riseholme to make her home in Tilling. After buying The Hurst Lady Brixton built a swimming pool in the pleached alley in the garden and held mixed bathing parties. At about this time Lady Brixton's brother Colonel Cresswell purchased the neighbouring property of Georgie Pillson on his relocation to Tilling. See "So very little longer", Luciaphils.
Broadwood ~ maker of Lady Ambermere's piano at The Hall, "always considered a remarkably fine instrument."
Brocklebank, Mrs ~ whilst Lucia was in seclusion feigning influenza to avoid revealing lack of fluent Italian during the visit to Tilling of Contessa Amelia di Fariglione, Georgie hid his own shortcomings in la bella lingua by a week's holiday in an hotel in Folkestone.
During his stay there he met the Brocklebank family, an English father, Italian mother and girl with a pig tail. The mother was teaching the child Italian and set her little themes on which to write. When requested by Mrs Brocklebank to suggest a subject, Georgie brilliantly said "Let her write a letter to an Italian countess whom she has never seen before and say how she regretted having to put off her musical party to which she had asked the Countess and her brother because she had caught influenza. She was so sorry not to meet her, and she was afraid that as the countess was only staying a week in the place, she would not have the pleasure of seeing her at all."
Lucia was able to use the draft which she transcribed in her own hand and had delivered to the luncheon (or rather breakfast) table at Starling Cottage just as the start of the meal. The countess was overwhelmed by the beauty and authenticity of Lucia's written Italian and thus was Lucia's linguistic reputation not only saved, but enhanced.
The letter also served to defuse Miss Mapp's disclosure of just having seen Lucia energetically skipping in the secret garden at Mallards, for since Lucia was now a proven Italianophone she had no need to feign illness to avoid conversation with the contessa.
25 Brompton Square ~ grand London home of Philip Lucas's late Aunt Amy (who once bit him during a visit to her in hospital ). The freehold house with its large music room was bequeathed to Mr Lucas and occupied for a season by Lucia prior to its eventual sale. Located virtually opposite a townhouse rented by diva, Olga Bracely.
42A Brompton Square ~ house taken by Olga Bracely during her London debut in the title role as Lucretia at Covent Garden. A smaller house vitually opposite Lucia and Pepino's more imposing 25 Brompton Square.
Bronte's wedding, Charlotte ~ see Charlotte Bronte's wedding
Browning ~ Robert Browning (1812-1889) was a Victorian poet and playwright, considered a master of dramatic verse and especially dramatic monologues. As well as being a literary figure, Browning was a romantic icon, famed for his relationship with Elizabeth Barrett-Browning. His poems included "The Lost Mistress" quoted by Benson in the context of Lucia's counterfeit flirtation with her faux lover Stephen Merriall in front of Adele Brixton after luncheon. See "So very little longer," Adele Brixton and Hermione.
Browning Society ~ when Georgie Pillson urgently wished to secure a letting of "Mallards Cottage" for August and September on the morning when he was due to leave Tilling and return to Riseholme, he found he was unable to contact Isabel Poppit, who was somewhere amidst the sand dunes, enjoying her sun bath.
Georgie and Lucia called instead on Isabel's recently re-married mother, Susan Wyse, who said, "Dear Isabel. My daughter. Out in the dunes all morning! What if a tramp came along? I say to her. But no use: she calls it the Browning Society, and she must not miss a meeting. So quick and clever! Browning, not the poet, but the action of the sun."
Georgie replied dryly , "Most amusing. With regard to 'Mallards Cottage - '"...... See Isabel Poppit and Browning.
Brunnhilde ~ favourite role of Lucia in tableaux, generally found to be uplifting, though Lucia's interpretation was not quite so acclaimed as the operatic role of the same name in which local prima donna, Olga Bracely also excelled. She performed the Salutation of Brunnhilde to her own accompaniment at Lucia's garden party at "The Hurst." Georgie often spoke to Lucia of that superb moment when Olga as Brunnhilde awoke and hailed the sun ("Heile Sonne"). Much later, when discussing arrangements for her impending wedding with Georgie, Lucia took a couple of turns up and down the garden room. She waved her arms like Brunnhilde awakening on the mountain top.
With a chequered history which, according to some authorities, included fratricide, a long battle between brothers and dealings with the Huns, Brunnhilde (or Brynhildr) was a shield maiden and Valkyrie in Norse mythology and in the Nibelungenlied in Richard Wagner's opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen.
Bumpus's buildings ~ when Lucia was Mayor of Tilling, she took her responsibilities very seriously. With a view to investigating the lighting of the streets, she took Georgie out for walks after dinner on dark and even rainy eveings. One night in a downpour Lucia, who never caught cold, agreed that "It is a little wet. I'll go and look at that alley by Bumpus's buildings another night, for there's a Memorandum on Town Development plans waiting for me, which I haven't mastered. Something about residential zones and industrial zones, Georgie. I mustn't permit a manufactory to be opened in a residential zone: for instance, I could never set up a brewery or a blacksmith's forge in the garden at Mallards....
This appears to be the only mention made by Benson of Bumpus's buildings and the reader is not advised whether the Mayor of Tilling returned to view its adjacent alley when the weather was more clement.
In his biography Brian Masters mentions that Fred wrote to Hutchinson complaining that several of his friends (a standard euphemism for oneself in author's parlance) had been unable to find "Lucia in London" in the shops, that Bumpus (a bookshop in Baker Street, now no more) had ordered a mere twenty-five copies and not restocked, and worst of all, that he had seen no advertisements anywhere.
Burlington House ~ when Quaint Irene's satirical portrait of the Mapp-Flints in Victorian garb had been exhibited to great acclaim at the Royal Academy Exhibition, Elizabeth Mapp-Flint was thrilled to be the centre of attention and excitedly proposed to go to the ruinous expense of sending a telegram of congratulation to the artist, remarking "I think Burlington House, London would find her now."
Originally a private Palladian mansion, Burlington House is on Piccadilly in London. Famed as a venue for periodic, high profile exhibitions, its main building at the northern end of the courtyard is the home of the Royal Academy. Its two wings house the Geological, Linnean and Royal Astronomical Societies, the Society of Antiquaries of London and the Royal Society of Chemistry. See Royal Academy, Picture of the Year
Burma Corporation ~ company in whose shares Lucia invested from the proceeds of the sale of her stock in Siriami .
Burning Ghaut ~ when leaving the home of Daisy Quantock in Riseholme shortly after the arrival of the Indian Guru, Georgie Pillson engaged in fanciful thoughts regarding the Guru's native city of Benares.
Georgie's last backward glance as he went out of the front door revealed her standing on one leg again, which reminded him of a print of a uniped fakir in Benares. If the stream that flowed into the Avon could be construed into the Ganges, and the garden into the burning ghaut, and the swooping swallows into the kites, and the neat parlour-maid who showed him out into a Brahmin, and the Chinese gong that was so prominent an object in the hall into a piece of Benares brassware, he could almost have fancied himself as standing on the brink of the sacred river.
Based on the Hindi "ghat" (or steps), the term "ghaut" refers to a series of steps leading down to water, often a holy river, such as the stairs in Benares or Varanasi to access the Ganges. A "burning ghaut" is a level spot or funeral pyre at the top of a river ghaut, often on a levee or raised bank, on which Hindus cremate their dead. The term is used in the writings of Rudyard Kipling. See Ganges, Guru and Rudyard Kipling.
Busy indoors ~ phrase employed by Georgie to indicate that he was not available for any form of social engagement. On these solitary evenings, Georgie attended with rapt concentration to the sensitive and very personal business of dying his hair and later his Van Dyk goatee to the required delicate auburn hue.
This occurred about once a month when "even an invitation from his Queen" (Lucia not Mary one would suggest) would interrupt the business in hand. A faint suspicion of what Georgie was busy indoors about had long ago become public property in Riseholme -and later in Tilling, where powers of inductive reasoning were if anything even stronger. Although none of Georgie's friends talked about the nature of his engagements to anyone else, everybody else knew. Georgie's business indoors, in fact, was a perfect secret, simply because everybody was quite sure what it was.
On other, more intermittent, occasions the phrase was used to describe other residents of Tilling, such as when Diva Plaistow was absorbed in cutting out chintz roses from old curtains to adorn her day wear.
Butt, Clara, Dame ~ see Clara Butt, Dame