Monday, April 19, 2010

A Kiss for Julie - Discussion Thread

Slim Sid. Lovely name. I do wonder what he thought he could pinch in a doctor's office?? A doctor's office is not like a business that might have a petty cash drawer. Perhaps that's why it was so easy to get in..."easy as kiss me hand"...but still, what's he planning on stealing? I'm sorry, but a Waterman pen, a picture frame and some loose change just don't seem like a big enough incentive to commit larceny to me.

Evidently the British have much finer distinctions about meal designations than we Yanks. A midday meal here in the States is generally called "lunch" - no matter what you have on your plate. Julie goes off for her midday meal without telling the Professor...and he asks her if she's had her lunch. In glacial tones she informs him that, "it's not lunch, it's midday dinner." That evening she goes home and instead of "dinner" or "supper"...she has "that unfashionable meal, high tea" - at 6:30pm. We are treated to a detailed menu of high tea at the Beckworth's (which sounds suspiciously like what I would call "dinner"):

  • macaroni cheese (or other cooked dish)
  • bread and butter and cheese (or sandwiches)
  • jam and scones
  • a large pot of tea

I used to think "high tea" meant that the meal was extra fancy. Silly me. I finally figured it out a year or two ago - but for those of you who haven't, here's the omniscient Wikipedia:

High tea
High tea (also known as meat tea) is an early evening meal, typically eaten between 5pm and 6pm. It would substitute for both afternoon tea and the evening meal. It is now largely replaced by a later evening meal.

High Tea would usually consist of cold meats, eggs or fish, cakes and sandwiches.

On farms or other working class environments, high tea would be the traditional, substantial meal eaten by the workers immediately after nightfall, and would combine afternoon tea with the main evening meal...

In recent years, high tea has become a term for elaborate afternoon tea, though this is American usage and mainly unrecognised in Britain. This usage is disfavoured by etiquette advisors, such as Miss Manners...
According to this article, the van der Stevejincks have been having "high tea" (sans tea) for decades.

Betty Neels was getting more than a bit long in the tooth when A Kiss for Julie was published. She would have been roughly 86 years old when she wrote this book, which explains her many references to bathrooms. Here are three samples from the book - each one refers to the bathroom/restroom with a different name:

page 53 - "as long as there's a loo"

page 59 - "The cloakroom was luxurious, full of mirrors and pale pink washbasins and with a shelf of toiletries. One could, she supposed, if one had time, shampoo one's hair, give oneself a manicure, try out a variety of lipsticks...."

page 83 - In the ladies' Esme observed, 'He's sweet, isn't he? And so old-fashioned - I mean, the way he said "tidy yourselves": anyone else would say going to the loo!

'I would have felt very uncomfortable if he had said that,' said her mother, 'and I think he knew that.'

It's rather charming that Simon tells everyone that he loves and is going to marry Julie...and she doesn't have a clue...He tells his man Blossom, his entire family AND Luscombe - who informs Mrs. Beckworth. It was rather like he was still in college and just had to tell all his roommates.