Friday, December 30, 2011

Betty by the Numbers: Cars

via email from Betty van den Betsy:

Betty by the Numbers: Cars
Did you know this figurehead-thingie is called ‘The Spirit of Ecstasy’?
No doubt for good reason...

Well, this slice-and-dice proved something I’d kinda noticed whilst paging through the canon: as Betty aged, either she or her editor decided detailed information on our hero’s chariot was unneeded or unwanted – or else Betty lost touch with or interest in the automotive world. In the last 68 books, from 1985 on, our hero drives either a Bentley or a Rolls (sometimes called a Rolls-Royce), with the very occasional Jaguar, Daimler or Rover for back-up. Only two of those late books identify which model of Bentley, and there are no specifics on the Rolls-Royces.

That’s a long way from the early years, when every Rolls is a Silver Shadow drophead coupé, Merlin or Corniche; Rovers are Land, Range or TC 2000s; and Aston Martins, Panthers and Lamborghinis zoom across the Afsluitdijk. One notices, too, that in later years our hero is apt to explain his Rolls or Bentley by saying that he needs a big car to accommodate his large frame. In earlier years, he was apparently content to cram himself into a sporty Italian model that must have required tucking his knees into his underarms. And, incidentally, those cars were seriously ugly – check all the photo research the Founding Bettys have generously done.

Of course, in early years he also had a back-up car, to vary the ergonomics a bit. In the first three years (1969-71) and nine books she published, Betty’s menfolk average 2.1 cars each. From 1972-79, over 37 books, they average 1.7 apiece, and then from 1980-2001, 89 books, we’re down to just 1.1 vehicles per man. The most conspicuous consumer of automotive goods is Fraam der Linssen of Ring in a Teacup (1978), who kept a Panther 4.2, a Rolls-Royce Carmague, a Range Rover and a Mini. Which one do you think he passed down to Fraam Jr. sixteen years later?

The final count: of the 176 cars Betty names for her menfolk, Rolls Royce wins the checkered flag, with 58 product placements. The Bentley folks are close behind, with 50 mentions. Since 37 of these children of fortune own multiple luxury automobiles – let’s just tot up some maths here – that means 43% of perfect husbands drive Rollses and 37% drive Bentleys. Only two heroes – Jonkheer Max van Oosterwelde of Visiting Consultant (1969) and Radmer ter Bavinck of The Moon for Lavinia (1975) – drive one of each.

And what do the gentlemen drive when not in those exemplars of British automaking? Other exemplars, mostly. Ten Daimlers (typically Sovereigns) and ten Aston Martins lead the pack, with nine Jaguars almost keeping pace. Six Rovers and five Bristols make a nice showing.

I was surprised to find four Panthers on the list. That has got to be some kind of early-childhood fixation of Madame Neels’s, because no one could love that thing on first sight. The ones, twos and threes include: Mini, Jensen, Volvo, Iso Grigo, Mercedes, BMW, Citroën, Porsche, Lamborghini, Iso Lele, a shabby Fiat, Maserati, Lagonda, Ferrari and – say it with me – “The Man in the AC 428 Fastback!” I do think it impressive, and interesting, that Betty Neels had so detailed an interest in automobiles. I read once that she didn’t know how to drive (it was in a Harlequin author profile, in response to a question about what she’d do differently in her life, or something like that), yet she obviously had strong opinions on how, and in what, it ought to be done. She routinely praises her heroes for fast driving, and a few heroines in earlier books have ‘advanced driving certificates,’ as a point of pride.

Incidentally, my notes show no car named for either George Pritchard of A Summer Idyll or Duert ter Brandt of Not Once But Twice. And back here at home, I recently (under duress after a large-ish pickup truck rear-ended me) traded my old Saturn with the busted sunroof for a spanking nearly-new mini-Honda, while the Jonkheer occasionally chauffeurs me to dinner and no dancing in a socking great 13-year old vintage Corolla. We’re moving to Friesland.

Here’s what I drove on my birthday weekend, though – that’s not us in the car – through a sunshiny rural autumn Saturday. Life could be worse.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Re.: Don’ts for Bettys

via email:
Don't rush out of the house...Even if it’s only the expected perfunctory peck. If it is omitted Neels Heroines are cast in the pit of deepest gloom.
Don't keep her in cotton-wool. Neels Heroes don’t do that. So much so, that sometimes, after being rescued, or after giving aid during an emergency Neels Heroines wish for a little cosseting and comforting when they receive none at all.
Don't scowl or look severe. Ha!
Don't say she needn't stay up for you. Neels Heroes do that a lot and they are especially good at upsetting their wives when said wives have stayed up or happen to be awake when they get home late at night.

4. A woman whose perfume is too loud for her looks. We’ll get back to this next week. Philomena’s Miracle CGB #3: " You're wearing the wrong kind of perfume - much too sophisticated for you...did you choose it?"
7. Who worries about getting her hair wet in the rain. Neels Heroines, as a rule, don’t. (Which doesn’t mean that they like to be seen with their hair in a mess by handsome RDDs.)

3. Who can get gorgeously dressed in 15 minutes flat. I hate it when our Aramintas are given a ridiculous amount of time to get ready for an outing. In one of the books I have read lately the girl was given 10 minutes: and she rushed over to her room in the nurses’ home, had a shower, dressed, did her hair, rushed back down and arrived with a minute to spare! ( Let’s say: 2 min. to her room, 2 min. back down, 1 min. „to spare“. That leaves her with 5 minutes in which to get undressed, showered and dressed and do something to her hair...???)

'Ten minutes?' She almost smiled, imagining what Joyce would have said if he had put that same question to her. ... All the same she used her ten minutes to good effect, showering and making up her face nicely and re-doing her hair into ... (The Hasty Marriage)

'I can't possibly go out with you in this.' She waved a hand at her coat. 'Well, of course you can't. I'll drive you to your lodgings and wait while you tidy yourself. You can have ten minutes; I've booked a table for half past eight. ... (The Fateful Bargain)

6. Who’s a great dancer. I do believe they are all pretty nimble on the dance floor. "Gyrating“ has been mentioned more than once. "He danced well. Eugenia, for all her size, was a good dancer too and followed him ... " (Heidelberg Wedding)

7. Who’s a big eater. It was vexing of him to observe as he handed her a plate: 'How nice to find a girl who eats properly and doesn't nibble at various diets.' He sat down again and helped himself to toast. 'No weight problems?' he wanted to know, kindly. (Pineapple Girl)

Re.: 10. Who would spend her last few bucks on perfume. Hopefully mine.
Just how much exactly is a few bucks?
Does he mean to say his perfume is cheap???

Betty Anonymous

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Don'ts for Betty

The Founding Bettys had wonderful Christmases with their families.  At Casa van Voorhees, I gifted the Mijnheer a tiny little tome I picked up at Restoration Hardware--a reprint of Don'ts For Husbands by Blanche Ebutt. Though published in 1913, I found echos of the world of Betty.  Here are some highlights:

Don't stoop, even if your work is desk-work.  Your wife wants to see you straight and broad-chested.

Don't rush out of the house in such a hurry that you haven't time to kiss your wife 'goodbye'.  She will grieve over the omission all day.

Don't keep her in cotton-wool.  She isn't wax--she's a woman.

Don't scowl or look severe.  Cultivate a pleasant expression if Nature hasn't blessed you with one.

Don't begin your married life by expecting too much.  If you expect little, you will be saved a good deal of disappointment.

Don't try to be a Sultan.  This is the West; you can't shut your wife away from other men.  Don't insult her by trying to.

Don't object to your wife going out with another man if you can't take her yourself--as long as you know and approve of the man.

Don't say she needn't stay up for you.  You know quite well that she can't sleep until you are safe at home.

Don't encourage her to be hysterical.  You need not be unkind but you can firmly refuse to pity her.

Don't say, "That's not in my line," when your wife asks your advice about the children.  It ought to be in your line.
And for our male Bettys (Betty Ross, at least), I offer Bill Blass on the right kind of woman.  In the spirit of the New Year, let us all resolve to be the sort of woman to admit we read cheap novels.

And, to veer off into a non sequitur, I remind the Bettys to add your suggestions to the Best of Betty post that Betty Debbie tossed up!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Upcoming Reprise

Monday, January 2nd.
Philomena's Miracle
Croquet on the lawn, hero drives a Maserati and needs lessons in how to pay compliments to an Araminta of low esteem.

Monday, December 26, 2011

When May Follows - Reprise

Dear Betty,
I  do love a girl with confidence and Katrina Bennett shows herself to advantage...and so does Betty Keira!  This is a gem of a review. My favorite part of this book is the rescue at sea (or possibly the washing up scene), my favorite part of the review is the letter written to 'Teacher of Social Mores to Dutch Young Men'...
What's your favorite part?
Betty Debbie

When May Follows was chosen to be reviewed this week because it is May. That's the kind of judgment and wisdom it takes to be a Grand High Poobah Arbiter of Everything here at The Uncrushable Jersey Dress. That's why they pay us the big bucks.

Professor Baron Raf van Tellerinck, 38, is very lucky he has a short first name. That's what Alice Bennett must be thinking to herself as she meets him at her party. Like the skilled surgeon that she isn't, she wields a very blunt scalpel and hacks away at The Unnecessarys like a cancerous mole. ("I shall call you Raf.") Like another certain Mrs. Bennett, she flags down her three daughters to meet the dashing stranger. What a fine thing for our girls!
Two of them are short--cute, but short--but the third (and oldest) sister is an Amazon. "Five feet ten inches and what's known as a large lady, no one believes I'm one of the family..." I personally don't greet new people with my figures ("5'3", size 6 on a good day but 8 when I'm bloated.") but Katrina Bennett (27, Ward Sister on Men's Medical at Benedict's) can see Raf's faint surprise.
They chat for a bit about the weather and the seasons and he quotes a bit of poetry. Here is some of it:
O, To be in England Now that April 's there, And whoever wakes in England Sees, some morning, unaware, That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf, While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough In England—now! And after April, when May follows, And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!

It's a darling one of Browning's--stuffed with longing for spring in England--but actually not that relevant to the story. Bummer. Unless you read it as an allegory for all that is bright and wonderful about Kate getting even better when May follows in which case...Betty you magnificent genius!
Katrina returns to her hospital duties in London soon following. Here we see our splendid Amazon actually dress down a subordinate (quite rare in Neelsdom--but the girl deserved it), negotiate hospital beer rations (I will never get used to Betty allowing mythical patients to drink beer in hospital), and cope admirably with slipped ligatures. Well, not too admirably. She'd really like some help as the blood is pooling rather quickly out of the bandage...Enter Raf (rhymes with strafe or laugh?). He's a surgeon!
She meets him at Honorary Uncle Ben's and then (like our heroes always do) he asks her to attend The King and I in front of a benignly ignorant observer who takes her consent for granted and asks helpful questions like, "Going all tarted up?" (yes, he does!). She agrees--only to ask, with charming frankness, "Am I to come all tarted up?" (All this tarting tempts to say in a very Inigo Montoya fashion, "I do not think that means what you think it means.")
In the mean time, Katrina has accepted (in a moment she already bitterly regrets) a date with Jack "Brighton" Bentall. He's short (!), takes her to Chinese (!) food (if you can call it that!), and bores her into a stupor that she rouses out of like she's been splashed with cold water. Bettys, I give you the Jack "Brighton" Bentall: Anatomy of a Proposition:
Everybody else does it these days...
  • ...and getting married seems a bit silly...
  • ...until I've reached the top...
  • ...and you're not all that keen on it, are you?
  • You can't be--you must have had plenty of chances, but after all, you are twenty-seven.
I think he hit all the high points, class. He first isolates his test subject as a freak of nature, devalues cherished institutions and aspirations, peacocks about his career prospects, follows with a flourish of understanding as to the short-term nature of her interest and then...reminds her of her advanced age! That'll get them every time.
Instead of insulting his age, bald spot, lack of inches, pretensions to sophistication, choice of eatery for the grand seduction (and I like Chinese food), etc. etc., she tells him that she's just accepted a The Gulf...she's resigning sorry.
He's predictably sulky and moody and punitive--just the sort of man for whom sexual harassment legislation was created. Still, she said The Gulf and she's got to quit her job or be plagued by this small (and I do not refer to his size) man indefinitely.
Raf corners her in an office. "Would you consider marrying me?" Hmm. Sand storms and heat stroke or...a lifetime supply of pannekoeken? Class? (Bounces on seat. Raises hand. "Me, me, pick me!")
She dithers the merest bit and capitulates without ever knowing why. He hasn't said he loves her. He's been quite frank about needing companionship but has been 'Neels-explicit' ("...take our time getting to know each other...") about conjugal relations.

The engagement, while short, has a few interesting moments.
  • She gets the idea that he's not telling her something about his debt-to-asset ratio. If father were alive, he'd sit down with the RDD, ask some pointed questions about prospects and intentions and that would be that. Sure he runs a great, socking Bentley but what does that mean?
  • She's teasing him about his 'girlfriends' and when he agrees that he has had plenty, she frowningly takes the comb she had been putting into her hair out and jabs it in again anyhow. "That comb looked very nice where it was before, why didn't you leave it there?" He took it gently out again and slid it expertly into its original place, then bent to kiss her cheek...He's tipped his hand. This intimate little interplay is the Rich Dutch Doctor equivalent of putting his proposal on the Jumbo-tron at a Knicks game. He's in love with her and she doesn't know it.
  • He gives her her engagement (Government Issue Heirloom Sapphire/Diamond) ring in the hospital consultant's room and asks (with what I image to be very rehearsed casualness) if she'd like to seal the deal with a kiss. She flings her arms around his neck very spontaneously while he (the Kiss Solicitor!) is...terse and perfunctory. But don't judge the man. He was contracting a love-on-one-side marriage and was unprepared for the amount of self-control needed to persuade her that nobody loved anybody--especially when she kissed like that!
She is married in a leghorn hat (Foghorn Leghorn is in my head too) in a little chapel in the Abbey where her father worked. Jake (with Brittania of Brittania All At Sea) is the Best Man.
The honeymoon is when things start to go South (no North, as they are in Scotland) for Katrina. Raf is lecturing for the first week and she's a bit lonely and probably wondering why he wanted companionship so much when she never sees him. She asks if she might attend one of his lectures and he snubs her ("My dear girl, whatever for? You'll be bored to tears in half an hour."). And he's right. After all, it's not as though she has spent the bulk of her adult life in the medical field, treating those same conditions he would discuss..........erm. But give him a break. He is actually saying, "Darling, there is not a prayer that I could keep my mind on end-to-end anastomosis while you're in the room. I'd tell the fellows to use the wrong suture stitch and then hundreds would die all because of your legs."
She feels hurt out of all proportion and in a delightful bit of retaliation spends his money (she still doesn't know how much he has) on ugly shoes and the kind of trouser suit that women negotiate nuclear non-proliferation treaties in. Of course, real pay-back would have been to make him take her to dinner in them but she caves and tells him all about her revenge. Duly chastened, he promises to let her come to a lecture sometime. His eyes gleam.
They drive to Holland after spending the night in his London flat. (What? He has a London flat? Sheesh. Now you tell me.) He lives 'on the fringe' of a village. Surely that's specific enough. Well, actually, he probably owns half the village and lives in the baronial seat, past the high wrought iron gates and up the sanded drive.
"It can't be.."
"Yes, it is."
Dang it. He's probably stinking rich too...With time she adjusts herself admirably to this rather sudden reversal of fortune.
Nanny and Caspel (the butler) and his wife all belong to Raf's childhood escape from Nazis. He's an orphan, you see, and utterly without close relatives of any kind. (My maternal comfort-o-meter is off the charts.)
If things are a little distant between Raf and Katrina, they're still pleasant. She becomes accustomed to driving on the right because, if you'll forgive a little personal Betty Keira cultural imperialism, that's the way Providence intended people to drive.
He takes her out for the day by the sea when he spots a yacht heading dangerously for a channel. Nothing for it but to shuck the shoes and head into the drink. Thank heavens, Katrina can swim--not that she gets any thanks for it. His only response to her swimming hundreds of meters into choppy seas (in a gorgeous nautical number), providing traction while he splints a leg and comforting a wailing toddler is to say, "You're wet--it suits you." Let's not get into an argument about whether it was his job to thank her since they shared equally in the rescue (I am inclined to think that his opinion of women was quite high since he didn't automatically assume she would be useless in an emergency--gratitude might have been condescending about her abilities). But every general has to deal with troop morale and with some positive reinforcement she would happily have charged the hill again--especially as she has just had a dawning realization on the yacht deck!
Now Katrina has a goal--whereas before she was aimless about what constituted satisfactory happiness in her marriage.
But every Eden has its viper. Raf returns one day with Beyke (the Dutch equivalent of Tammy)--an old friend lately returned from the States (and quarantine, presumably, to get the America stink off her). Suddenly green-eyed jealousy makes for a very tempestuous home life. Faked headaches, real headaches, pettishness...Not Katrina's finest hour but Raf isn't helping out at all. On the night of her very first dinner party (in her new adopted country where she knows servants and only ONE other couple), he walks in barely on time with Beyke on his arm.
I know, I know, it's part of a grand plan he has to make her jealous but he's not really thought out how awful this is. First dinner party! Doesn't speak Dutch! Doesn't know anyone! Nerves stretched to infinity! Now is not the time to teach her that she loves you. And don't you dare laugh that she's getting tight on the whisky.
To top it off, he takes Beyke home (while Kate does the dishes and a horrified Caspel looks on), doesn't compliment her on her appearance and (when he shoos Caspel off and picks up a dishrag) tells her that there was no reason for the evening to be a failure since she's a 'capable girl and... had plenty of help'. Breathe deeply, my Bettys, while I compose a letter:

Dear Teacher of Social Mores to Dutch Young Men,
Sir, you have failed. There are few Commandments of Husbanding that are entirely unbreakable but the failure to bite when one's spouse is fishing for compliments is the foremost. This, and other rules such as Outfit Noticing, Wrinkle Non-noticing and Open-handedness, should be leading the curriculum. All else is gravy,
Betty Keira

Grand High Poobah Arbiter of Everything
Happily, Raf responds with some pretty heated words of his own. Yes, I said happily.
When they go away for a weekend to his farm in Friesland (I tell you, getting a list of his properties is like wringing blood from a stone.) she is determined to have it out with him:

Why didn't you tell me about Beyke/Tammy!
Do you love me?
You probably have a tattoo of her on your chest!
No, seriously, do you love me even a little?
She doesn't stink like America too much anymore--we could divorce!
It would make all the difference in the world if you said you love me...
Well, I don't!

He actually is pretty persistent about getting her to be honest with him but she's afraid that if she is, he'll be a slave to duty and stick with her--even though his heart belongs to, Beyke.

Maybe his lectures in Austria will help him sort out...BAM!...a plane crash. (Don't mind the screams of the dead...) It's Raf's flight number and Katrina is frantic. She rushes to the airport and is nosed off the road by...his Bentley. This doesn't seem the time to bring up the obvious safety hazards of a great, socking Bentley pushing a teeny, tiny Mini off into the grass verge, but may I point out that airbags didn't become standard for luxury cars until 1987. A Mini is not a luxury car.
Raf you're not dead! I love you!
See, I told you that would fix everything!
The End

Rating: I can't say that the title rang a bell so I won't pretend that it's super memorable but I like it quite well (and, no, I am not damning with faint praise). It's not first tier material but a solid, solid boeuf en croute. It's got a plane crash and implied carnage, for pity's sake, that Betty doesn't let us dwell even a minute on. She wasn't the kind of author to waste precious ink on giving her gentle readers a brow pucker for the 100 or so strangers who have just perished on an Alpine pass just so that Raf and Kate could kiss in romantic dishevelment. And I love her for it.

Food: cheese sandwiches (not warmed over?), lots and lots of what I call 'Italics food' (wherein all potatoes are Pommes and all chicken is Poulet--for instance pommes de terre Berny and poulard Imperatrice) cavier, Welsh rarebit, apricot brulee

Fashion: Sapphire silk jersey dress, amber and brown organza with balloon sleeves (which only ever looks right on Amazons--us Aramintas had better watch how often we invite comparisons to balloons), a brown marabou stole (which seems fussy), Raynes shoes, a tawny cotton voile, her wedding outfit includes a leghorn hat and a thick slub silk dress (seeing slub silk before I die is now on my bucket list), and he wears a heavy signet ring just like pre-corpulent Marlon Brando!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Best of Betty 2011...

As 2011 is winding down, we here at The Uncrushable Jersey Dress thought it would be the perfect time to reflect on all the fun we've had this past year.  With that in mind, we thought it would be way easier awesome to have our readers in nominate "The Best of Betty 2011".

Maisy held her breath as the nominations for
Best Supporting Sluice Room Attendent were called.

And the categories are:

Best Review by Betty Keira
Best Review by Betty Debbie
Best Guest Post
Best Tarted-Up Picture
Best Culinary Attempt
Best Life After Betty
Favorite Betty Themes, Memes or Tropes
Best Book You Read this Year (Not necessarily Neels) and Why (feel free to elaborate).
Best Anything Else You Can Think of...

There are no real rules, just tell us what you liked this year - even if it's only tangentially associated with Betty. 

While you're giving it some thought, here's a little Christmas present from Betty Magdalen (December 2010).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Betty by the Numbers: Ages

via email:
Betty by the Numbers: Ages
by Betty van den Betsy

The Unequal Marriage, by Vasili Pukirev, 1862
Wikipedia claims that average age at first marriage in the UK, as of 2005, was 31 for men and 29 for women, and in the Netherlands, as of some year later than 2000, also 31 for men but 28 for women. However, in 1963 the UK’s averages were 22 for women and 23 for men – so perhaps Betty’s heroines weren’t completely bonkers when they started getting nervous about being single at 27.

The UK’s Office for National Statistics reports that 26% of 1995 brides married younger men (7% married men more than six years younger), a significant increase from 15% in 1963. Germany’s Max Planck Institute, studying Danish marriages, found that a man married to a woman seven to nine years younger than he is 11% less likely to die prematurely than a man married to a woman his own age; a man whose wife is 15 to 17 years younger has a 20% lower chance of premature death. However, the younger wife is more likely to die young – and women married to younger men (seven to nine years younger) have even higher odds of premature death. Final serious-science note: University of Colorado researchers found that in most marriages where husband and wife are significantly different ages, in either direction, both spouses are likely to have lower earnings – though the women make up for that by working more hours.

Does any of this sound conclusive to you?

We certainly know how Betty felt on age difference in marriage: husbands should be at least seven years older than their wives. That’s the age difference for four of her marriages; the widest gap is the 18 years between Mary Jane’s 22 and Fabian’s 40 in Winter of Change (1975), and the most common is in the ten to thirteen-year range.

Betty specified the exact ages of 91% (123) of her heroines, from Polly Talbot’s 20 (Polly, 1984) to Julia Mitchell’s 30 (At the End of the Day, 1985). Just over 80% of them range from 23 to 27, with the greatest number, 25, clocking in at the high end of the range, at 27 years young, and the second-largest number, 22, coming in at the low end, having recently celebrated birthday 23.

On the men’s side, the youngster is 29-year old Ivo of The Fifth Day of Christmas (1971). Thirteen of them claim 40 years in their dishes, but most – 37, or 36% of the 103 men with specified ages – are 35 or 36, with another 36 heroes aged 37, 38 or 39. They’re all too young for me, according to the Planck people – or at least, they would be if I were Danish. Certainly some heroes have prior marriages behind them, but on the whole Betty seems to believe that an ideal husband is mid- to late-thirties, and he should marry a woman in her mid-twenties. May I confess I think 20 year-old Polly awfully young to be marrying?

Of those 102 marriages where I can arrive at an exact figure, because she gives the hero’s age instead of waffling about with a “well into his thirties”, the median age difference is 12 years. (The one marriage where we get the hero’s age (34) but not the heroine’s is Amabel’s and Oliver’s in Always and Forever (2001).) The majority, 56%, are in the 10-13 years-difference segment of the canon’s 7-18 year range

On a personal note, the Jonkheer is just over six years older than I, so I’d best wrap this up and get looking for a younger model, according to the Planck people – or an older one, if Betty’s recipe is right.

Tony Curtis, born 1925, with fifth or sixth wife (there’s some uncertainty about his possible fourth marriage) Jill Ann Vandenberg, born 1967? The marriage lasted from 1998 (left) until Curtis’s death in 2010 (right).

Dennis Kucinich, born 1946, with his third wife Elizabeth Kucinich, born 1977; married since 2005. Or call it Elizabeth with her first husband.

Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, billionaire Spanish duchess born 1926, with third husband (she was widowed twice) Alfonso Diez, born 1949; they just married in 2011.

Zsa Zsa Gabor, born 1917, with ninth husband Frederic Prinz von Anhalt, born 1943? They celebrated their silver wedding anniversary in 2001, and remain married.

Diana, Princess of Wales, born 1961, with her only husband, Prince Charles, born 1948. Their marriage lasted from 1981 until their divorce in 1996 – they legally separated in 1992.

Kate Middleton and Prince William, both born 1982. Married in April 2011, first time for each, they are now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Camille Cosby, born 1945, and her first husband, Bill Cosby, born 1937. They’ve been married since 1964; in 1997 they suffered the violent death of their youngest son, 28-year old Ennis, in a street robbery.

The Duchess of Cornwall, born 1947, and Prince Charles, born 1948. They’ve been married since 2005 – second time for each, after a divorce apiece.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Upcoming Reprise

Monday, December 26th.
When May Follows

An invitation to 'Brighton', fictional job in 'The Gulf' and
a Marriage of Convenience.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Re.: Christmas Candy

via email from Betty Anonymous:

The first three boys, I have to agree with Betty Barbara there, „are entirely Too Young to be RDD material“. Nikolaj has a 'beak of a nose', but I would not call it handsome and therefore he doesn’t qualify. I don’t know many Dutch actors. Tall? Perhaps. Big with it. Afraid not. (Actually there is one who is large. But apart from sporting an untidy beard he always has an unruly mop of hair, he isn’t handsome enough, and his form is rather rotund, so, no, he doesn’t qualify.) Beaky nose? Hm. Blond? That’s where it get’s really difficult.

Not blond.

Jeroen Krabbé is a famous Dutch actor, whom you may have seen. Or not. (I remember him as the bad guy in Crossing Delancey. Here is a picture of him as the bad guy, Dr Charles Nichols, in The Fugitive.

There is a blond Dutch actor, though, whom you all know, I dare say. He is tall, blond, has blue/light blue-gray eyes and a slightly beaky nose. And he is considered to be a handsome man. (Can I see him as BN material? – No.)
Rutger Hauer

There is an American actor who qualifies, in a way, for several reasons.

Tall? – Not overly. Only 5 ft 9.
Vast? – No.
Blond? – Dark. But then not all of the RDDs are fair.
Casper van Dien

Casper Robert van Dien, Jr., born 1968 in Ridgewood, New Jersey

Van Dien is a descendant of an old Dutch family long settled in the New York area; his other heritage includes Swedish, French, English and Native American. (Dutch: check)

The street on which Van Dien grew up in Ridgewood, New Jersey, Van Dien Avenue, was named after his great great grandfather. ('It's a castle!' she exclaimed. 'No, it's a Middle Ages red-brick house called a stins; we have no castles as such and not many of the stinsen remain.': check – sort of) – An Unlikely Romance

The name Casper is a family tradition, given to the eldest son of his family for more than 11 generations. (Little Duert, little Hugo, little Coenraad...: check)

There is a long military tradition in Van Dien's family. Aside from his father, Casper Robert Van Dien, Sr., a retired U.S. Navy Commander and fighter pilot, his grandfather was a Marine during World War II. When Van Dien was older, his family moved to Florida, where he enrolled at the St. Petersburg campus of the Admiral Farragut Academy, graduating 3rd in command. Next, he went to Florida State University in Tallahassee. ('Was your father a surgeon, too?' 'Yes, and his father before him.' – check – up to a point)The Fortunes of Francesca

1993 - 1997 married to Carrie Mitchum, they have two children,
Casper "Cappy" Robert Van Dien III and Caroline Dorothy Grace "Gracie" Van Dien
1999 - married to Catherine Oxenburg, they have two daughters, Maya and Celeste Alma

Oxenberg and Van Dien are celebrity ambassadors for the non-profit organization Childhelp.
(She additionally agreed to join several of the charity committees too because it was expected of her. – check)An Unlikely Romance

Betty Anonymous

A Girl in a Million--Reprise

Dear Bettys!  You all know what suckers The Founding Bettys are for sad, woeful tales full of Araminta awesomeness.  And this one has all sorts of wonderful angles--heroic nursing (on her part), confused condescension (on his part), the parry and thrust of romantic one-upsmanship (on both their parts).  It's a lovely book. But why is that red ball bouncing on the cover!!!!
Fruit pies and figgy pudding,
Betty Keira 

Caroline Frisby ,24(small, thin and plain...except for eyes and hair), and Aunt Meg are on holiday in Holland. Caroline delivers a package for her nursing student, friend, Corinna (it's a good thing she didn't fly to Holland...suspicious packages....). As she's leaving, she misses the last step and and unlike a cat, falls down in a heap at the feet of Marius van Houben - our RDD. He stands her up, dusts her off and marches her inside so that he can bind up her scrapes. We are then treated to a whirlwind tour of Amsterdam:
  • Oude Kerk
  • Nieuwe Kerk
  • Koninklijk Palace
  • Anne Frankhuis
  • a bewildering succession of museum
  • finally, the Rijksmuseum
All in one day. Caroline and Aunt Meg were certainly out to get their money's worth of sights on their coach tour. Editors Note: Coach tours. Hmm. That brings to mind two words...Band Trip! I can't think of a more soul sucking way to go vacation. I was introduced to coach trips as a teenager (which is probably why I have no fond memories) when the marching band I was in took their yearly trip. There's nothing quite like sitting in one bus(coach) while the adolescent males in the other bus hold up girlie magazine centerfolds to the window. Ah, thanks for sharing. After traveling home in the coach, Aunt Meg tells Caroline that they could have done with a Bentley..."now that's the way to travel." I agree. I'm sure a Bentley would be much less soul sucking than a coach. Back at the hospital (did I forget to mention that she's smack in the middle of nurses training? My bad), Caroline steps on the wrong toes...literally, and gets transferred to Children's, where who should walk in but the man at whose feet she fell? Who doesn't seem to recognize her. Oops. They get thrown together quite a bit when young Marc van Boursel is admitted to the Children's Ward after a bit of brain surgery. Caroline is one of the nurses (well, student nurse) who is asked to "special" (British word alert) the comatose toddler. The Venerable Neels is at her most medical when Sister Crump is giving the nurses who will special Marc instructions, "...a craniotomy and decompression of the vault - but there is some diffuse neuronal damage....[also] oedema and some haemorrhaging so be on the look out for coning." Neuronal damage? Coning? How 'bout "Baby Boy has a Thump on His Head." As she leaves Caroline to take care of the sick little boy she gives one more pithy piece of advice "Just keep your hand on the panic bell." Well, duh. The next 20 or 30 pages deal with Caroline specialing Marc. We shall skip lightly over this part. Suffice it to say, that by dint of hard work and singing lots of nursery rhyme songs, little Marc pulls through. Sister Crump describes Caroline as being like a bulldog. "Once she gets her teeth into something, she doesn't let go." ...A conspiracy is formed to get Caroline to go to Holland so that she can continue to nurse Marc for a couple more weeks. Madge the Nurse is mad that Caroline is chosen to go...she let's off quite a rude remark "your brain's as dull as your face." Excuse me? Did she really just say that? Wow. Now that Caroline has been chosen to go to Holland, it's time for a shopping trip to Marks & Spencer! After spending some time drooling over mini-skirts and vivid tops (this is 1993 - I don't remember mini-skirts being that in vogue...knee length, maybe), she sensibly ends up buying a green voile two-piece. Caroline is about to find out that traveling with the monied class is different than coach tours and bus queues...going through the airport with Mevrouw van Houben was quite a different kettle of fish. Editor's Note: I'm writing this review the day before going on a trip that will involve 3 airports - Sea-Tac, Atlanta and Charleston. While I've never been to the Charleston airport, I have had plenty of experience at Sea-Tac, and a few memorable layovers in Atlanta. I'm trying really hard not to be jealous of the lack of queues in this book. Caroline, Mevrouw van Houben and little Marc travel to the van Houben homestead at Alpen-aan-de-Rijn, in an ambulance. I'm not sure I quite understand the need of an ambulance. Why don't they just borrow Uncle Marius' socking great Bentley? Of course Marius walks in on Caroline in the middle of eating lunch - she has a mouth full of food. Awkward. She pours herself another cup of coffee and proceeds to sip it while Marius is waiting impatiently for her. When she finally finishes she says, "I'm ready when you are, sir." "Don't cross swords with me, young lady - you might come to grief." She judges it prudent not to answer that. Yessirree - by all means, let's be prudent. A few more pages of nursing young Marc, and it's time for...

An Interlude in Amsterdam or Let's Take the Kid to the Hospital For Days of Tests.
Marc is to go to hospital in Amsterdam for some tests - just to make sure he's doing okay - of course he will be taking his private nurse, Caroline. Editor's Note: My experience with the healthcare "system" here in the U.S. is quite different. Here, if we have tests, most likely it will be on an outpatient basis. Waiting for hours in a soul-sucking waiting room with horrible flourescent lights. "Not that anyone could look good under these zombie lights. I, I, I, I can feel them sucking the juice out of my eyeball. Suck, suck, suck, SUCK..." - Joe vs. The Volcano. Now, back to our story...Marius asks Caroline to go out to dinner with him...on a whim. She turns him down - sure that he didn't mean to do it (he didn't!). Caroline says that she is going out with some of the nurses, which of course is a bald-faced lie, and you know that nothing good ever comes from telling bouncers. She sneaks out of the hospital after dinner intent on exploring Amsterdam after dark. By herself. Because she doesn't have looks or much money, she feels pretty safe...lucky for her Marius was watching her sneak out and follows her, because she is accosted by Ill-Kempt Man! Horrors. It's nice that someone is finally showing an interest in accosting her, unkempt or not. A little coffee with Mr. van Houben by the Rembrandtsplein will fix that right up. It's right around this point that Marius begins to change a wee bit. He starts talking to his dog, Neptune aka Nep, about Caroline. He had no fewer than 5 conversations with his canine friend during the second half of the book. Personally, I feel this bodes well for him. Any man who can talk to a dog and ask advice of a dog can't possibly be all bad. Caroline and little Marc now return to Alpen-aan-de-Rijn (which looks like "Alps on the Rhine" to me...) where Marius comes and invites Caroline to spend a day sightseeing with him. She gets a slightly mulish expression on her face and wants to turn him down, but Marc's mother is right there and accepts for her (great, first she's called a bulldog, and now she's a mule?). This leads up right up to: Caroline's Grand Day Out. Marius really does our girl proud. My favorite part of the day (besides shopping in a flea market!) is when he takes her to his home and introduces her to his cat, Jane, "...nothing to look at but a charming character and a splendid mother." Well, if that's not a type and shadow, I don't know what is. At the end of this fabulous day, our heroine has her dawning realization - the fairly hopeless kind. I don't know why she had to feel so hopeless - the man just spent an entire day escorting her around what seemed to be the entire country of Holland. If that doesn't say something about a guy being interested...

Back in London, Marius's cousin Corinna takes Caroline out to lunch at Marius's home in Chiswick. Then Corinna calls up Marius and chats about Caroline...Corinna can smell the budding romance - even if both parties are avoiding talking about each other. Enter, Robert Brewster, Muddier of Waters. The new houseman strikes up a friendship with Caroline, so that he can take her out and talk about his fiancée. Miriam. Marius see the two of them together and assumes a closer relationship...this faulty idea is not helped at all when Brewster, Muddier of Waters, tells Marius that he will be getting married a nurse...who likes paediatrics....This might be construed as a bad thing for Caroline's interests, but I'm convinced that the supposed competition is what really makes Marius wake up and smell the hummus. He shows no interest in going out with a handsome woman in her late thirties, "who spent a good part of each day keeping middle age at bay". *snort* Keeping middle age at bay? *snort*. More talking to the dog ensues. Around this time, Caroline gets transferred out of Children's Ward and into Casualty. The nice thing about Cas is that it kept her too busy to think too much about Marius. The bad thing about Cas is that's where Caroline picks up a nasty case of the MEASLES! I have to thank La Neels for introducing the medical term "Koplik's spots" into my vocabulary. Anytime I see that term, I immediately know that we're dealing with a case of measles. Caroline is quite ill...when cousin Corinna hears of it, she calls up Marius who CHARTERS A PLANE!!! to come see Caroline. Wow, I'm impressed. While Caroline is in the hospital, Marius has another conversation with Brewster, wherein the waters are cleared and he finds out the Brewster is planning on marrying Miriam, NOT Caroline. After a couple of weeks in the hospital (with measles?), Caroline is granted two weeks of sick leave. TWO WEEKS. Marius thoughtfully waits to propose (so she can regain her strength...and maybe some curves) until Caroline goes back to work...and then he gets down to the business of snogging and proposing. Her superior is informed of the fact that Caroline is leaving " from today, with the full permission of the board of governors." Sister Moss rose from her chair, her complexion dangerously puce...."You're on the board, sir,"observed Sister Moss awfully. "Indeed yes, Sister. You will wish us happy?" The End
Rating: I will cautiously give this one a "boeuf en croute" with the caveat that this is a VERY gentle story...there is no other woman and even Robert Brewster, Muddier of Waters, is just a simple misunderstanding. Marius does do a little knight in shining armour business when he rescues Caroline from The Unkempt Man - and I love, love, love that he charters a plane to come see her when she has the measles. Caroline spends most of the book taking care of sick infants of one sort or another, and there is never really any flirtation (which I wish it had). I was talking to Betty Keira about this book earlier in the day and I told her, "there's nothing to really sink your teeth in" - that's very true, but that doesn't mean that A Girl in a Million isn't a sweet little story.
Food: a can of Dutch soup, rhubarb and custard, apple crumble, sausages and chips, homemade biscuits, duckling with orange sauce, straw potatoes, castle puddings, omelette, chicken soup, cheese soufflé, beefburgers, minced chicken, junket, yoghurt.
Fashion: blue denim skirt, silvery grey cotton shirtwaister, flowered skirt, the inevitable cardigan, plastic mac, pale green voile two-piece, a jersey dress that won't crush, Laura Ashley pink dress with wide lace collar, navy and white dress with navy jacket.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Candy

via email from Betty Francesca:
Hi guys, what about these pics? for a BN guy, or his younger brother?

 Thank you, Betty Francesca for sending us links to these three bits of eye candy:
Rupert Penry-Jones. Hot? Heck yeah.

Definitely hot - but in a younger brother sort of way.
Umm...hate to admit it, but I don't have a clue as to who he is.
Ryan McPartlin.  Hot? Yes, but he looks like he knows it.
Again, younger brother material?

Again, thank you Betty Francesca, and in the spirit of giving, I would like to offer:
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.  He's really Danish,
but plays a hot Dutchman in the short-lived series, New Amsterdam.

TUJD Vintage Ornament

via email:

Betty Debbie

I just wanted the Founding Bettys to know that the Mistletoe Kiss Pine Cone Ornament is NOT languishing in some box.

Verily, it is proudly displayed on the tree. This year I was able to position it appropriately (see photo).
A very Merry Christmas to you all.

Love and figgy pudding from

Betty Barbara

Dear Betty Barbara,
Thank you for the picture!  I find your other ornaments to be suitably Betty-ish (are they mice?).
For those of you who were not following along last Christmas, I made a few of these ornaments as contest prizes. I even did a little craft tutorial (here). I'm now wondering if anyone besides me made their own? 

An official TUJD photo from last December.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Yuletide Greetings

We here at La Casa van Voorhees are scurrying busily through our Christmas preparations.  The stockings are hung by the artificial gas fireplace with care, the electric glow of festive lights dots our tree (that we bring down each year and take out of a box), visits to High Street (okay. are made...

It's a mildly un-Neels Christmas.  But here's where the Great Betty's and my VENN diagram overlaps:
  • Church services on Christmas morning.  Thank heavens our congregation meets at 9am.
  •  Home-fashioned Christmas gifts.  Several of them.  Check.
  • Homemade: Babies don't inspect seams...
  •  Christmas music played from the radio.  (Granted, my set is not a post-war relic and the DJ rotation is rather classic-light and Mariah Carey-heavy...) 
  • Ice-skating.  (The Mevrouw van Voorhees is undecided about whether she loves or loathes this family tradition. Suffice it to say, she does not glide effortlessly over the ice, supported in the strong, well-chiseled arms of a trained medical practitioner.  I wait in gloomy anticipation for the day when a nasty spill necessitates a visit to the ER on Christmas Eve. But the children love it, and certainly La Neels would approve of that.)
What Neels-y and Un-Neels-y things are you up to this season?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Neeldom is Reality - Guest Post

via email (from Betty Anonymous):

London – Neeldom Is Reality

A few weeks ago I read The Doubtful Marriage, where Rauwerd van Kempler takes Tilly to the Neal Street Restaurant in London. I couldn’t find the place in my London guide book and left it at that. But just a couple of days later, when I meant to google Christmas recipes by British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver I got sidetracked and all of a sudden the words Neal Street Restaurant fairly jumped into my face. Jamie Oliver was to be a guest in a German cooking show hosted by German celebrity chef Tim Mälzer. About 15 years ago, they met at the Neal Street Restaurant in London where they were colleagues and became friends. Even back then life in London was very expensive, they say. Almost too expensive for two rookies like them. Eating in the restaurant kitchen was strictly forbidden. Tim: "...which is why in the evening one always had to decide if one could afford a meal after work. Mostly lukewarm beans out of a tin."

(Ha! Beans! That famous Neeldom staple food. I wish he’d mentioned toast too!)

Tim Mälzer would often steal Jamie Oliver’s sandwiches. Until one day Jamie had spread them lavishly with chili paste...

(By the way, Tim Mälzer had also worked at The Ritz London for a while to improve his skills.)

Cheese Board

For Beth - who claims to have no idea what a cheese board is -

If you go to (images) and google cheese board you will find a whole host of lovely cheese board pictures. You will see many examples of the kind of cheese board one would find at a dinner party to round off the meal, at a cold supper party as part of the meal, or on a brunch buffet table.

And finally, here is a picture of the cheese trolley from Gidleigh Park, Chagford. I googled the Hotel/Restaurant a couple of months ago when Discovering Daisy was our topic of discussion. (Note the prepared board on the little shelf at the front.)

Betty Anonymous

Betty by the Numbers - Guest Post

Betty van den Betsy emailed this absolutely fabulous and dare I say somewhat scholarly and awesome treatise on The Great and Venerable Betty and her use of names.
My apologies for reformatting and using other pictures - for future reference: We here at TUJD love, love, LOVE getting reader submissions, but (and this is a small but), it is difficult/well nigh impossible to copy pictures that are included with the text. We don't usually have any problems looking images up on Google - but occasionally it's hard to find the exact photo (see Daniel Day Lewis below). If you really need specific pictures, attach them to the email, so that they can be opened separately.
And now, on with the awesomeness:

Betty by the Numbers: Names

From the beginning, when she created the eventual Baroness Adelaide Blankenaar van Essen, to the Aramintas and Olivias and their various Gijses and Jameses, we have loved Betty for her names. No Dracon Leloupblancs in Neels-land! Perhaps you have your own favorites – maybe Britannia and her Jake, or the Ms. Makepeace who finds happiness with Mr. ter Brons Huizinga, or the near-ridiculousness of Lucy Lockitt or Eustacia Crump (or Krijn van der Brink-Schaaksma, come to that).

For those who may find a superficial study of interest, I’ve run a few numbers:


Eleven first names get used three times each. These popular young women are: Araminta, Beatrice, Charity, Deborah, Emma (there are also two named ‘Emily’, making Emma/Emily the #1 Neels name), Francesca, Julia (plus one Julie, so Julia/Julie becomes runner-up), Katrina, Louisa, Matilda and Serena. There are also two Mary Janes and one Mary, but I don’t count that as three ‘Mary’ variants – would you?

This seems like a high proportion of names ending in ‘a’.

Harriet Tubman, 1820-1913, born Araminta Harriet Ross according to Wikipedia. For non-US readers, Araminta Harriet was born into slavery, escaped to a free state and then returned to work the so-called Underground Railroad, guiding over 70 slaves to freedom. She subsequently worked for the Union army as a spy, and packed heat as an Army scout. She had mystical visions she believed were messages from God, but they might just have been hallucinations resulting from a serious head wound she suffered when beaten by a ‘master’ in her childhood. Would history be different if she’d stuck with the ‘Araminta’?

Fifteen first names show up in two books (including Loveday, Philomena and Eulalia), which leaves 72 unique-use first names. There’s no Charlotte, which some sources report as Betty Neels’s daughter’s name, and no Jessie, Evelyn or Betty, which are the various names credited to the author. (I haven’t tracked secondary characters’ names, but there’s at least one Great-Aunt Jessica.)

All told, Betty used just 98 first names across 135 stories. But she managed to come up with 112 last names for the ladies!

For heroines, last names run more toward the usual than we see in the first names, though feet show up more than they might in your own daily life, with two Proudfoots and two Lightfoots. Since there are two Creswells (single ‘s’) and two Cresswells (double ‘s’), I’m crowning that the queen of surnames. Five show up three times each: Brown, Crosbie/Crosby, Parsons, Smith and Trent. Besides the feet, eleven other last names repeat, but there’s only one each of Pennyfeather, ffinch and Darling. And how is it I never really noticed before that Judith, of Judith, carries the last name Golightly?

Hannah Lightfoot (1730 - ??), a Quaker from London who married outside her faith, ran away from her husband, disappeared and was presumed dead before she was 30 . Some unkind scalawag started an entirely untrue rumor that the very shy, 15-year old future George III had stolen her from her husband and married her, which rumor apparently persists still, which is enough to land her in Wikipedia.


Okay, first of all, 91 of the heroes are Dutch, so 44 are English, a two-thirds/one-third split. Of the Dutch, 13 are Jonkheers or Barons, while the English muster six knights (“Sir William,” “Sir Paul”). That’s 14% titled heroes, which is certainly higher than what I can boast amongst my family, friends and acquaintance (currently 0%, though I did once chat with an earl in his gorgeous garden in the County Offaly), but seems fairly moderate compared to the number of billionaires, sheiks and princelings who populate current genre romance.

Birr Castle in County Offaly has one of the absolutely most bee-yoo-tee-ful gardens I have ever visited. I was wandering the grounds one morning, waiting for an Irish nurse’s wedding to start (not a lot else to do in Birr village), when a courtly older gentleman asked my opinion on lilacs. In the course of our conversation (thank you, Arnold Arboretum) he made clear that he owned the castle, which would make him the Earl of Rosse. Lovely man. You can have lunch with him (or his son; my chat was 20 years ago) and the countess for 115 euros per person if you get 29 others to kick in with you.

Since the masculine equivalent of “Eulalia” (whatever that is – Ethelred?) would probably get an author laughed out of the publishing house (although, given “Dracon,” perhaps not), Betty narrowed her scope considerably with men’s names, using just 86 across the 135 books – though the Brits repeat far more often than the Netherlanders do. James shows up six times; Jake and Oliver five each; Alexander and Thomas four times apiece. Gijs and Julius are among the seven names that make three appearances each; the others are all English. Yes, Julius wouldn’t be an unusual name for an Englishman, but in Neelsland he’s Dutch each time.

There are two heroes named Haso, Renier, and, of all things, Benedict. Both Benedicts are Dutch. (In the US, “Benedict” used to connote one man to many people; “Benedict Arnold” is a vernacular synonym for traitor, since the historical figure was infamous for plotting to turn the West Point Fort over to the British during the Revolutionary War. However, Joseph Ratzinger has done a lot to change that.)

Saint Benedict of Nursia – he is a monk, Charity Dawson!

Hissing and byword Benedict Arnold, pre-defection.

There are a total of 15 names that show up twice, and 16 if you count the English Valentine Seymour (called “Val” by his sister) and the Dutch Valentijn van Bertes as a repeat. Then we get 57 that don’t repeat at all, including Fenno, Raf and Sam.

A Valentijn (Overeem, Dutch mixed-martial arts fighter)

for Daisy (Buchanan, as played by Mia Farrow in The Great Gatsby, though she may prefer to stick with Robert Redford). In real Betty-life, Daisy got a Valentine – perhaps Val Kilmer would do, if rumors as to his full name are correct.

But it is with last names for men that Betty truly spread herself, coming up with a total of 131 distinct last names. The only repeaters, with two each, are Fforde, Latimer, Seymour and van Diederijk (Tane from An Apple for Eve and Sarre from Sun and Candlelight). Sixty-five men’s names start with “van” and seven with “ter.” Curiously, on the other side of the channel, there’s both a Tait-Bouverie and a Tait-Bullen. Perhaps they’re related. Eight English and one Dutch surname are hyphenated, which in England is often seen as a sign of upper-class-ish-ness.

The UK poet laureate from 1968-1972, C. Day Lewis, deliberately changed his name from Day-Lewis to Day Lewis, reflecting what he called ‘inverted snobbery,’ “and thereby threw librarians into a confusion from which they have not recovered,” according to Norton’s. Reason enough, surely for a photo of his son, Daniel. I’m afraid his hair may be a bit long for Betty, but I could stand a lot of Chinese food if I were sitting across from that...

Two surnames occur in both heroes and heroines: the aforementioned Creswell/Creswell for four heroines and a single hero, and two Seymours of each sex. Wikipedia lists three English villages called Cresswell, and 15 people, including Sir Cresswell Cresswell PC KC (1794-1863), who “set divorce on a secular footing, removed from the traditional domain of canon law.” Somehow I doubt that’s the one Betty was honoring. There are five places called Creswell in Wikipedia, two in the UK and three in the USA, plus a Navy base in Australia. The five human Creswells include K.A.C. Creswell, the English architectural historian – sounds good so far, doesn’t it? – specializing in Egyptian Islamic architecture – yea, maybe not so much.


The generic Betty Neels couple is Emily (called Emma) Creswell and James van Diederijk. Neither combo actually shows up in the canon.

Emma Watson, Cresswell Quay in Cumbria, James Dean, and a Dutch legislator named Diederik Samson – no ‘van’, no ‘j’, but awfully blue eyes and the best I could do. Now, on the question of James, perhaps Bond would have been a better choice, but which one? And at least I didn’t give you James II, who was not pretty by current standards.


Cresswell Quay

James Dean

Diederik Samson