Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Gospel According to St Patrick

Laura has a new post over at Sarsaparilla making the excellent point that instead of huffing and faffing about the Patrick White sting in Saturday's Australian (of which I've been doing more than my fair share), lovers of White should instead put our literary money where our mouths are and go back to the important stuff, viz White's novels themselves. Laura has proposed a Patrick White Reading Circle and has already been overwhelmed by expressions of interest.

I feel sufficiently inspired by this to join in her Take Back the White movement and start a Patrick White Corner here, a small regular space for the old curmudgeon's own unique voice. Here, then, is the reading for today, from the source of the original hoax, The Eye of the Storm. I don't quite know why I remember this bit so clearly, but my guess is that most women, at least -- and I mean women of any age, in any time -- will shiver at it just a little.


'After receiving her mother's cheque Dorothy had considered splurging some of it on an important dress: an armature to intimidate any possible adversary, and to warn off what could be worse, an importunate admirer. But on sending for a statement almost immediately after paying the money into the bank, she thought she could not bring herself to reduce such a lovely round sum; she would make do with her trusty Patou black, enlivened with a jewel or two ...

On the night, then, it was the Patou black, of such an urbane simplicity it had often ended by scaring the scornful into a bewildered reassessment of their own canons of taste. And the diamonds; everyone must bow to those: their fire too unequivocally real, their setting a collusion between class and aesthetics. These were some of the jewels the colonial girl had been clever enough to prise out of her husband's family by knowing too much. If they had been more than a paltry fraction of the realisable de Lascabanes assets, and if she had not detested all forms of thuggery, Dorothy Hunter might have seen herself as a kind of female Ned Kelly.

She was standing at the dressing-table mirror massaging the lobes of her ears before loading them with moody de Lascanbanes pearls encrusted with minor de Lascabanes diamonds. The earrings made her suffer regularly, but it was all in the game ...'


3 comments:

Ampersand Duck said...

Oh, those earrings make my earlobes ache just looking at them.

He was so astute, wasn't he?

KLG said...

That was the best image I could find for what I thought they might look like. Fitting the description, dated OTT European -- and yet, like, serious jewellery.

I can think of 18th century equivalents and 21st century equivalents of this calculating, anxious, memory-riddled woman-getting-ready-to-go-out scenario, in movies as well as books.

There's a pic of PW in drag (lipstick, pearls and cloche) at a fancy-dress New Year party somewhere in Europe when he was 14, so he obviously knew it from inside, so to speak. There's lots of lovely lush drag stuff in The Twyborn Affair.

Paul Smith said...

This pair of amazing earrings makes my earlobes ache just looking at them:) I'm in love with these earrings. Thanks a lot! Proficient best editing services - edit-ing.services are provided and supplied by the most experienced and competent people!