For the last two weeks, my laptop has been in the shop to be fixed. The computer detox has been very, very NICE! Extremely nice in fact. I am almost nervous that it is back, because I’m afraid that I’ll relapse into my old habits.
I am reading a fantastic book. And, I don’t think I can love this book anymore than I do. I am only 67 pages into it, and there are 700 pages more to go! The author’s use of the English language is dazzling, witty, and stunning. Look, I am a shallow girl who’s more into Perez Hilton than history. But there is something about this book and its language, not to mention its subject matter, that keeps me coming back. Like a zealot returning to the master every day for further teaching, with a highlighter in hand, I sit up right and and read this slowly. Like a lovelorn puppy, wagging her tail and begging for just a few more treats, this has become my treat and retreat at the end of the day.
Here is a passage that describes life in England, when Benjamin Franklin first visited England, circa 1726, when he was 19 years old.
“Even unintentionally, London life could be cruel. At inns and public houses, the guests ate out of a common dish; armed with their own cutlery, they speared for the choicest morsels on what occasionally turned out to be first-come, first-served basis. The Grub Street Journal reported, [Last Wednesday a gentleman met with an odd accident in helping himself to some roast chicken. He found that he had conveyed two joints of another gentleman’s finger to his plate together with the wing which he had just taken off.]
That the digit-deprived gentleman did not complain more loudly may have owed to the anesthetizing effort of the alcohol in which Londoners swam from morning till night. Like all large cities, London suffered serious problems of public sanitation, examplified perhaps most odiously, although hardly uniquely, by the Fleet River, which ran as an open sewer to the Thames. The authorities regularly railed against the popular habit of discharging human, animal and vegetable waste into the stream; that they had to do so on such a regular basis betrayed their lack of success at compelling compliance. Not until 1760s was the problem solved, or at least covered over, when the Fleet River became Fleet Street.
Partly as a health measure–to avoid drinking contaminated water–Londoners quaffed alcoholic beverages of all proofs and flavors. They drank beer with breakfast, perhaps following a dram of sherry as an eye-opener; more beer as the morning progressed, perhaps interspersed with brandy to ward off the English chills; ale with lunch,; raisin or elder wine with afternoon tea…; grape wine with dinner, followed by punch and liqueurs of one sort or another–“White and Wormwood,” “Ratafia,” “Necter and Ambrosia,” “Rosolio”–till bedtime.”