I WAS IN THE LIBRARY, ABSENTLY leafing through a biography of Queen Victoria when I stumbled across the following screamingly funny passage about the deaf Duke of Wellington at Windsor Castle dinner parties.
Has anyone seen that film The Young Victoria? It's about her romance with Prince Albert. I love a good costume drama but our local multiplex cinema specializes in the sort of bland, loud, slap-bang schlock that just makes me fall asleep and doesn't appear to have screened it at all...
IT COULD BE especially tiresome when the Duke of Wellington was one of the guests since he was so fearfully deaf and shouted so. "Very good looking man," he once bawled in Lady Lyttleton's ear, referring to the Tsar, Nicholas I, who sat immediately opposite and understood English perfectly. "Always was so ~ scarcely altered since I saw him last ~ rather browner ~ no other change ~ very handsome man now. Don't you think so?" Lady Lyttleton felt compelled to shout an answer, "Yes, very handsome indeed." On occasions the Duke would talk "as loud as thunder" about some matter of delicate state importance which should have been mentioned only in Cabinet, and the Queen would blush "over and over" and at last succeed in interrupting him by "screaming out upon some other subject".
Christopher Hibbert, Queen Victoria A Personal History p144
Now do any of yous know The Number One Ladies Detective Agency novels by Alexander McCall Smith. They're hilariously funny. He's a white man but Zimbabwe-born and educated and purveys his grasp of African English extraordinarily well. BBC World Service Radio turned them into plays and they're now on BBC1 television, Sunday nights.
The following extract is from the one volume I have; it happens to be the very story they're showing this weekend:(decade old disappearance of an American on the edge of the Kalahari and Mama Precious Ramotswe of course cracks the case...)
MR J. L. B. MATEKONI, proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, found it difficult to believe that Mma Ramotswe, the accomplished founder of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, had agreed to marry him. It was at the second time of asking; the first posing of the question, which had required immense courage on his part, had brought forth a refusal ~ gentle, and regretful ~ but a refusal nonetheless. After that, he had assumed that Mma Ramotswe would never remarry; that her brief and disastrous marriage to Note Mokoti, trumpeter and jazz aficionado, had persuaded her that marriage was nothing but a recipe for sorrow and suffering. After all, she was an independent-minded woman, with a business to run, and a comfortable house of her own in Zebra Drive. Why, he wondered, should a woman like that take on a man, when a man could prove to be difficult to manage once vows were exchanged and he had settled himself in her house? No, if he were in Mma Ramotswe's shoes, then he might well decline an offer of marriage, even from somebody as eminently reasonable and respectable as himself.
Tears of the Giraffe, Alexander McCall Smith p1
Illustrations, top down: Number One Ladies' Detective Agency, TV adaptation; old Queen Victoria; young Queen Victoria; Princess Beatrice (the Queen's granddaughter, child of Prince Andrew and Fergie (Duchess of York)(a more than passing resemblance to the young Victoria, don't you think?)); No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency L-R Mma
Makutsi (secretary), Mma Ramotswe (detective) Mr JLB Matekoni (Mma Ramotswe's husband-to-be).
YOUNG VICTORIA trailer
It's directed by Martin Scorsese, by the way...
THE NO. 1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY
It's on HBO in America, by the way...
I was surprised, on my Googling, to learn the "vibe's still alive"...
I "leafed" through loads of footage till settling on this, which has the best soundtrack.
THIS IS ONE VIBED-UP PARTY. JAPANESE GIRLS ON EEEEEEE ARE THE BEST!
To see more trancetasticality, click here...
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