October 11 1999
3A Hyde Park Terrace
LONDON W2 5ZZ
Thank you for your recent letter on the subject of jury service. Our lives are so different aren’t they? Here I am fending off Richard Parker the Bengal tiger and there you are, endeavouring to uphold the fundamental tenets of justice!
I seem to be rediscovering my feminine self after so many months of Austen-related grief and apathy. Instead of swathing myself in hair scarves and sunglasses, I am now draping sleek clothing ensembles over the backs of sofas, opening dust-covered jewellery boxes, and illumining my skin with perfume. Just yesterday I exited the house in a plush plum hat; high-heeled boots (in a harmonizing colour); a knitted wool skirt – above knee – and a tawny Jaeger jacket. I even laid a weighty silver-and-amber necklace against my throat, matching it with similar earrings and a ring. I felt that, finally – and once more – I exemplified a modern woman arrayed in haute couture.
I have also now set up the Parade Street poetry group, which is meeting in an upstairs room of the ‘Victorian’ pub. I did this with the aid and assistance of Amanda Jones, who finally materialized (accompanied by a flurry of apologies for her non-appearance on the date we were supposed to meet). I must say that the venue for our poetry ‘cafe’ is not quite as svelte as we might wish. While the downstairs of the pub is really rather lovely – its upstairs room is in somewhat of a state of neglect. It used to host skittles matches and there is a concavity for its alley on the right-hand-side of the room. It might be all too easy to fall into this, whilst delicately balancing a pint of cider atop high heels.
Our first session was not exactly over-attended. In fact there was a medley of quite surprising individuals present. I’m sure I recognized one or denizens of the streets; a local alcoholic, and someone who had told me recently (in a supermarket) that he suffers from a brain tumour. I myself found that I was suffering from a quite paralysing shyness and reluctance to stand at the front of the room and speak. Luckily (or unluckily as the case might be) Amanda Jones – as a school head teacher – seemed extraordinarily keen to host the evening, and I was relegated to holding the tin of admissions monies at the door. I do hope I will be able to get over this Mum? Do you think I should attend a class in public speaking? Or should I wait and hope that I grow in confidence?
On a more cheering note, I think I saw Austen exiting from an alley the other day. And he was looking quite decrepit!