May 3, 05 - 10:40 AM
Tales from Long Ago
Well, fairly long ago. Back in the second Archive of the Aphrodite Cocktail Bar. Not the one at Girls' Town but the original one, before it had been fully taken over by Aristasians.
There is so much material in those old Archives that I wonder if any of us have read it all, so it might be fun to "rescue" some of the moere interesting bits.
Here is something that caught my eye while I was a-browsing:
Freedom and Compulsion in Dress
Miss Alice Lucy Trent writes:
There is nothing free or rebellious or unconventional about bongo dress. It is just another set of conventions, enforced in just the same ways as all conventions have been enforced.
We are told that we are sacrificing elegance and charm and femininity for a new freedom. The freedom is an illusion, but the sacrifice is all too real.
How true this is. The pressure on me and other girls not to dress in formal and feminine ways was intolerable when I was at school and in my teens. Even now I don't think I could do it if I had not found the support of a group of like-minded girls. The pressure comes from everywhere: parents, other girls, the mass-media, school authorities, and every source that pressure comes from for any semi-compulsory style of dress in any society.
Of course you can dress in lots of different ways, including "outrageous" ones, but only if they fit in with what is being served up by the system. "Rebel all you like, but rebel in the permitted manner" is the message everywhere. Pierced eyelids, shaven heads and tattooed tongues are not true rebellion. They are all part of the new suburban respectability. They are part of the style promoted by the multi-national corporations and accepted by every one. The attitudes they express are the attitudes you are supposed to have. They are one of the four or five prepackaged sets of attitudes you are allowed to choose from. And, of course, you are allowed to mix-and-match your own personal variation; just so long as you don't stray outside the permitted range. Just so long as you don't try to get back to the roots and the realness that have been stolen from you.
Nothing could be more bourgeois and ordinary in the 1990s than to wear a 1950s frock with workmen's boots. But to dress in a real, demurely-stunning 1950s style with no quotation marks around it; and to adopt the inner loveliness and decency that goes with it: that is true rebellion. That is actually going against the compulsory attitude of the times. That is doing what the tyrant does not want.
Sue Estelle from Germany, in her postings to this Cocktail Bar [see Archive One -- Webmistress], continually reveals between her lines the pressure on her to conform to unfeminine styles, and her touching cry:
Thanks to you all that I am not alone.
Should in itself put paid to all the complacent acceptance of the claims of the "new freedom" in dress.
Granted, then, that the bongo style (or rather, permitted range of styles) is no freer or less compulsory than any other style, what are its merits? We all know it is not elegant. It is not attractive. Its great claim to existence is that it represents freedom. But now that we know it doesn't represent freedom, what good is it? We have swapped beauty and elegance and human dignity for a freedom that never was. We have exchanged real goods for fairy gold that turns to old dry leaves in our hands.
Isn't it time we changed back?
May 4th, 2005 - 5:20 PM
Re: Tales from Long Ago
What a good game. Here is a rather amusing piece from Archive Ten. Of all the Cocktail Bars in all the Girls' Towns in the Empire, she had to walk into this one...
Janet Returns to the FoldWell, here's looking at you, pettes. Actually, it is you who are looking at me. What's the matter, didn't you never see a brunette before?
Alright, I know what you're thinking, only you're all too pretty and polite to ask. "What happened?" You think I'm going to tell you? Well, maybe just an itsy-bitsy bit. Just let me hop onto this bar stool -- and don't you dare look at my petticoats. I'm not a blonde to be ogled. Well, all right, you don't have to look the other way either. A girl likes some admiration.
Very well -- I mean okay -- here's my story, or as much of it as I'm prepared to tell you. And don't start interrupting me on account of my bad grammar. I know grammar same as you do, but I like to get a bit of atmosphere by talking tough.
Okay then. I was offered Miss Barbara's option of spending a day and an evening in nylons with obvious runs (laddered nylons as we say where I come from) as a penance for putting my hand uninvited up young Ellhedrine's skirt. I turned it down (the penance I mean, not the skirt). I'm tough, but I'm not that tough.
The other option was Yrsula's -- to be attended to by Sister Athleen, the head nurse at St. Yvyanne's and an expert disciplinarian. I downed a whisky sour and accepted it.
It took a few days to arrange the assignation. Sister Athleen was just finishing a week of night duty. I offered to go down to the clinic (I kind of wanted to check the joint out after what Ariadne had said about it) but I was told Sister Athleen was coming to London and I should meet her there. I said okay.
It was a foggy evening when I set out. London was London. Not the run-down, gibbering, fluorescent parody of London you'd find in the Pit. Blondes in chic coats, white gloves and hats. Brunettes in wide skirts and perfect lipstick, their faces painted like china dolls. Even a few em-ee-en in bowler hats with furled umbrellas. The cars were all black, tall and curvaceous, like show-blondes in mourning.
I got to the place. It was a respectable, suburban semi-detached. What was I expecting? An opium-den? The lighted windows glowed yellow, promising a haven from the swirling Autumn fog. At any other time they would have looked inviting. But this wasn't any other time.
I knocked on the door. Three times, as arranged. It was opened by a parlour-maid in a crisp black uniform with a starched white apron. The frills of her shoulder straps stood out like two tuck-pleated butterflies against the suburban wallpaper. I had the feeling she would have opened the door just the same if I'd knocked four times or even five. But the proprieties have to be observed. If I'd remembered that a few days ago, through a haze of Fountains of Youth, I wouldn't be here now. But I hadn't. And I was.
"Come in, miss," said the maid. Ordinary words. You can hear them any day from any maid in any house in any street in this city or any other. Ordinary words, but to me they were heavy with significance. I looked at the maid, trying to remember something out of long ago. Wondering if she knew, or guessed, what I was here for. Wondering if her black stocking-tops showed when she bent down to dust the low places. Or did she? What did she know about low places? She looked like a pretty classy maid to me. She probably had girls under her to do the dirty work. I watched her and wondered.
"Well, come in, miss and stop letting the fog in," she said.
Was it the fog they wanted to keep out, or the prying eyes of -- of whom? In that fog nobody could see anything much, so I guessed it must be the fog itself. Funny -- that's what the maid said.
I was shown into a long room. It looked like a study with a desk at the end. Behind the desk sat Sister Athleen, devastatingly neat in her nurse's uniform. Not a hair out of place. Everything about her was starched from her apron to her voice and the chrome watch pinned above her left breast might have regulated the movements of the heavens. I sensed that when Sister Athleen was in charge everything was on time to the second and in place to the inch. On the desk in front of her was a long, slender cane in a rich dark colour with a crook handle.
"You are Janet, I take it," she said.
"That's right, Sister."
She lifted her watch with her right hand and looked down at it. "You are two minutes and twenty seconds late," she said.
Well, pettes, I said I'd tell you as much as I was prepared to, and that's as much. I think I'll stand at the bar for my next drink. These stools put a lot of pressure on the tender places. I'll say this for Sister Athleen. She's an expert all right.
Jewel, may I buy you a drink? And barmaid, send one over to Ellhedrine, if you would, with my compliments.
May 4th, 2005 - 5:26 PM
Re: Tales from Long Ago
Oops! Cut of her last T there! And if you want to know the background to the story, you'll have to look it up for yourself.
May 6th, 2005 - 2:43 PM
Re: Tales from Long Ago
Boinging along to Archive 55, here is a little piece from my old and dear friend, Miss Barbara:
I was quite happy to hear about Mrs. Culver's up-to-date dreams. I am fortunate enough to have mainly up-to-date dreams and they are always a welcome relief if I've had to be in the pea-eye-tea. If you've never had a good 'ol racinated dream, you don't know what you're missing! But having such lovely dreams isn't just an accident; rather, it takes a lot of work purifying your psyche enough to allow such real images to live there. If you are being very good, refusing the Pit's poison and reading lots of real magazines and books, watching real films and television programs, and listening to real music, you might begin to dream real dreams too!
One thing I like to do just before bedtime is look at pictures or watch some television from before the Eclipse. Then, as I wait for sleep to take over, I imagine all of my own little town becoming real. I don't imagine how it was before the Eclipse because it is important for me to think in terms of the world becoming whole again in the future. All of the houses in my neighborhood were built before the Eclipse, so the actual buildings are sound enough. I imagine those houses sheltering real people who drive real cars and raise real children. Then, when sleep comes and I begin to dream, I almost always find myself in a real world, where even the people who wear the wrong kind of clothes during the day, are quite nicely dressed in my dreams. And even if these same people drive bongo monstrosities in the day, they drive elegant, dignified automobiles in my dreams. Isn't that wonderful?
I think all of you newies are being quite good making all of your changes. The most important thing to remember is that the more you grow into Aristasia, the more you will know that the Pit has no right whatsoever to exist, and this knowledge will help you care less and less what the Pit thinks of you. It's ever so much more important what you think of the Pit. And, for all of us, that is not much.
May 13th, 2005 - 12:08 PM
Re: Tales from Long Ago
Here is a charming piece from Archive 29. Very traditional. I am sure some modernist blondes will disagree with the interdiction upon their smoking. But then - I really don't know what blondes are coming to these days!
What is a Drawing Room?A drawing room is not a room for drawing in, but for withdrawing to. It is short, originally, for withdrawing room. In my country, where dinner is a great ritual that begins with cocktails (or among more traditional people, sherry) at 5, and then by dressing before the Rite Proper begins; there comes a time, much later, all courses having been consumed, when the blondes withdraw from the table to the drawing room, leaving the brunettes to their ruby havena (the decanter passed always to the left) and their elegant scented cigarettes.
It is an excellent arrangement, for while the pleasures of mixed company are enjoyed for most of the evening, a period is ensured in which the brunettes can talk about brunette things and the blondes about blonde ones. It is always the leading blonde's prerogative to initiate this move, and in more traditional houses not only does a blonde never smoke (a few blonde blushes at the Cocktail Bar, I fancy), but the brunettes should never smoke while the blondes are present, for fear of offending their sensitive little noses.
I have heard of a great brunette wit in Arcadia, Ola Ferala, who talked so wonderfully after dinner that the blondes quite forgot to withdraw. They sat together so long that the great oil lamps began to gutter, and at last a blonde said to the wit:
"Oh, Miss Ferala, that lamp is smoking"
To which Miss Ferala replied with a sigh: "Happy lamp."
What brunettes do when the blondes have withdrawn, I have, of course, never seen for myself. They talk of those things brunettes talk of when blondes are not present. Mostly things too boring and businessy for blonde ears, I think, though sometimes jokes that are a bit naughty - though probably not even remotely naughty by Pit standards.
Blondes are terribly cosy in the drawing room. We have coffee, and sometimes a little rose-aramani (though only a little, because it goes to your head like anything after wine) and we can chatter and giggle about all the little things brunettes would think silly.
Just as it is the blondes' privilege to withdraw, it is one of the senior brunettes who must make the ritual proposal: "Shall we join the blondes?" And then the brunettes come in, delicately scented with sweet Novacairen smoke and a breath of old Havana, and the maids give them coffee so elegantly, for they too are part of the ritual dance, and the conversation is always a touch different in character from the earlier conversation at table. Somehow it has that delicious late-night feeling.
Well, the drawing room is used during the day of course - not for withdrawing - but it takes its name from its great ritual function in that High Rite of the Hestia which we call dinner.
May 20th, 2005 - 10:05 AM
Re: Tales from Long Ago
Here is an account of a visit to the Old Embassy (not the one before Castle Mushroom, but the really Old Embassy by one of the regulars at the Old Cocktail Bar.
Hearts Across the OceanHello Dear Hearts in the Cocktail Bar,
Well, here I am back on the Queen Mary, this time returning home to pit-America.
What a lovely time I had in Yvyanne; but, you see, I am actually taking Yvyanne home with me. For no longer am I an American. I am now an Aristasian! And although the Aristasian Embassy is located near Pit-London, Aristasia itself is manifested in little dots all over Telluria, including, I am happy to say, my little spot on the globe, located in Pit- america. I have so much to tell you darlings that I hardly know where to begin. Dear barmaid, help me clear my head with a Rusty Nail, would you?
Remember Elaine, the brunette in disguise who transformed little 'ole me into a blonde? Well, she is still here, but, true to brunette style, is now helping a couple of other more, um, needy girls understand their Aristasian selves. When I boarded the Queen Mary and met Elaine's lovely eyes, she knew at once that, after my visit to the Embassy, I was far enough along that I no longer needed her complete attention.
We are still quite fast friends, and I am not at all disappointed, for just seeing her give of herself to those two helpless little blondes (who by the way remind me so very much of Trudy and Rosie), makes my own sweet blonde heart swell. But more about my trip. I arrived at the Embassy all aflutter. Was my hat on straight? Did my gloves match the rest of my outfit? Was I going to be presentable to high Aristasian authorities? What if I forgot the many, many rules and requirements I had heard about?
Oh, how nervous I was as I stood at the door, waiting for it to be answered by some smartly clad serving girl! And, as it came about, there was good reason for the nervous part, for Aristasians do maintain high standards in all things. But, on the other dainty little hand, Aristasians are warm and loving, ready to help a girl be real and good in any way they can. If I could describe Aristasia in only one way, it would be thus: it is an utterly feminine world in which high standards and complete love dominate every single action and event. Absolute strictness married to absolute compassion. One without the other would leave a world crumbling. Both together create the closest thing to heaven on earth one can find. And that is my honest assessment.
More details later, Sweeties! But for now, I am going to take my leave of you cocktail bar pettes so that I might rejoin my lovely companions aboard the Queen Mary.
I left you girls last describing how I felt when I arrived at the Aristasian Embassy front door. Well, after I first stepped on to Aristasian soil, I was given a long interview with the Mistress of the House. She put me at my ease, telling me all I might expect and all that would be expected of me. A girl, especially a blonde, always likes to know just what is expected of her. That way, she feels nice and safe and all cozy-like. Don't you sweetums agree?
Then something so exciting happened that you'd never guess it in a million years. The maid who was supposed to serve the Mistress throughout the afternoon did not arrive, so guess who got to be maid? Little 'ole me! And there were some bongos who came for business reasons and I had to greet them at the door and take their coats and show them into the drawing room and serve them tea. How nervous I was! So much so that when they knocked at the door, as I was applying my lipstick, I crumbled the one tube I had brought with me! (But never fear, pettes, I managed to have nicely lipsticked lips the entire stay nevertheless).
I must say that I was a fine maid, even with just a few minutes of training. For, to be a good maid, one requires a maid's spirit more than a maid's training, if that makes any sense. Well, now I feel like a little girl showing off in her party frock, and it is a bit naughty of me to brag like this, but I just have to tell you girls that the bongos called the Mistress of the House later that day and asked her where she got her "new girl," because she was just sooooo subservient. Imagine my delight when I heard that! Blonde me. I was so happy on that first day of my visit, and on every day, as you sweet pettes will discover in time.
* * *
Curious pettes may like to know, amid this heady mixture of Earthly Reality and Elektrareality, that Miss Barbara/Miranda really did visit the earthly Aristasian Embassy and really did act as a maid when some bongos came, and really was quite splendid (and really did crumple her lipstick), and we all (we all being the pettes at the Embassy) absolutely adored her, because she is even more adorable in Earthly Reality than she is here in Elektraspace.
Oh yes. It's not all fiction, you know darlings. You didn't think it was, did
May 20th, 2005 - 5:46 PM
Re: Tales from Long Ago
I very much enjoyed Miss Barbara's posts on the original Cocktail Bar. When I didn't know any other american pettes I read about her and knew I wasn't alone. Does anymaid know if she is still with us? I certainly hope so.
May 29th, 2005 - 8:09 PM
Re: Tales from Long Ago
I don't think it's been conveyed just how popping the Cocktail Bar was. I wish I'd been around in those days. For example...
The Younger Set Continues to Arrive
Phew, we passed that gorgeously gargantuan brunette at the door. For a moment I thought she saw through us, she gave me such a knowing look and I felt as if my whole body blushed which she can't have not noticed, but then she winked us through et voila. Dorothea, drink this in! I don't think we've ever seen so many blondes and brunettes in our lives, it's like a spell.
Did you see that dashing blonde with the bob in that very short lavender dress? And look, that picture of a blonde behind the bar who seems to be doing a quickstep every once in while, cor, what a smashing outfit. And oh, no, it can't be, it's Manuela over there, she's sipping champagne with a very elegant woman in green. But she can't be making moves at another brunette, can she? Manuela's always been a bit, well, odd, you know, what with mummie and that funny school she went to. But you don't think there is something really wrong with her, do you? Well, they are both talking so seriously, she must be one of her brainy friends then (although she seems to have a better sense of dress than most of Manuela's friends and she is rather lovely). They never take any notice of me, so they certainly won't tonight. Even if Manuela would, I'm staying put. I don't care how many lines she'll give me if she finds out: I've just got to see Kiki. When word got around at school that she was going to perform at the Cocktail Bar none of us could concentrate any longer. Concentration makes me sleepy and stupid anyway. And even during Eloquence, when we're always quiet as mice because nobody wants to get the strap from Miss Bughead, we couldn't help twittering on and on about it. Well, that is to say, I couldn't and was indeed severely punished by Miss B. after lessons (it still hurts if I move in a particular way). Bughead isn't her real name of course, but because she ... Dorothea! Stop it, you dunce, you're not supposed to pinch your best friend! You must sort of stand around and wait for one of those brash things over there to come up and do it. Anyway, the next day we found out from Julietta, whose sister goes to the brunettes' school a bit further down the road, that Natalya (that's her sister's name) and her cronettes were going to see Kiki for themselves. Needless to say this enterprising idea would never have entered our heads, but we simply couldn't bear the thought of all those savage brunettes bluffing their way into the Cocktail Bar, all dressed to the nines of course, without us!
Dory, don't you even dare to look at that pack of brunettes over there! Yes, I know, but I'm telling you, they'll only get us in a whole lot of trouble. Look at what happened to that most exemplary blonde keeping the bar. I mean, how much of a rolemodel can you be? Dragged away from behind the bar by some Mrs. Hyde, just because of that hoity-toity Toffee. All I'm saying is not tonight, we can always meet them after school, silly. No, what did I tell you? I think we severely need to pop into the Blondes' right now. You girls will keep this between us, won't you? Pleeeeeeease? Oh, and one more thing, what do girls carry an extra lipstick for if not to touch up their lips a bit?
MARIE-LOUISE VON MEINHARD
May 30th, 2005 - 9:33 AM
Re: Tales from Long Ago
This is a piece from long long ago which was very helpful to me when I started here. Perhaps it will be for others too, especially the older, disillusioned set:
You mention that "The Liberation" which occurred in the sixties expunged femininity from society. Why did it take this route? Why, at this time?
As well, what does your vision of a more balanced society look like?
Why did it take this route? That is a good question. Some of us feel that a new feminist movement was indeed needed in the 1960s -- something that would have elevated the feminine principle; recognised its beauty and importance. Some of the early "second wave" feminists did realise this. Elizabeth Gould Davis (authorette of The First Sex)is a case in point. The First Sex was in a way written in answer to Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex which put forward the Marxist doctrine of feminism according to which men represent "the ruling class" and femininity is a false consciousness imposed on women by men. The answer, according to this school, is to jettison every trace of femininity and make women "equal to" (i.e. the same as) men.
The other school of feminism argues that femininity is not a masculine fraud, but a genuine and important quality, that masculinity tends to be materialistic and that the history of the world since the patriarchal revolution has been shaped and mis-shaped by masculist materialism (to borrow Miss Gould Davis's term). Of course this was anathema to the Marxists who were by definition wedded to materialism. The feminine feminists believed in a revitalisation and re-establishment of the feminine principle. The masculine feminists believed in the total destruction of femininity.
So essentially, "feminism" can mean two different, and indeed diametrically opposite, things. But the side which won and dominated the new feminist movement in the 1960s was the Marxist or masculinist side. Of course only a minority of feminists actually identified themselves as Marxists (though more did than is now remembered). But their theory came directly from Marx (or rather indirectly, via the New Left).
Now, ironically, while Marxism has perished in nearly all its official strongholds from Siberia to Germany, the Marxist view of feminism has become enshrined in the mainstream of all Western capitalist countries and is reflected in their education systems, social legislation, in the political programmes of all parties and in practically every word said on the "woman question" in the mass-media. Indeed Marxist feminism has become an integral part of late capitalism and entirely necessary to its strategy of breaking down family and other small-scale human loyalties and integrating every individual into the work-force as a separated unit with her primary connexion being not to her friends and family but to the economic system. This is the ultimate triumph of the patriarchal revolution.
In the 1960s the nascent feminist movement might have become a force for good or a force for evil. It took the wrong turning then (as did society as a whole) but we believe it is not too late to take the right one now.
Your question as to what our vision of a more balanced society looks like is obviously a very big one and could be the subject of a book at least; but one remark is worth making. Here as elsewhere there is a masculine approach and a feminine approach. I am not saying either is wrong, but the feminine approach is in danger of being forgotten, even by women. The masculine approach, being naturally related to the agora, the market-place, the public world -- is to start drawing blueprints of how society ought to be organised. The feminine approach is to seek a new sensibility, to look within for the changes we need to make, knowing that outward changes are merely superficial and are always, ultimately, directed by inner changes. This site will give some examples of the inner changes we are trying to make. So, in another way will Femmeworld. The "model society" there is an all-female one, so it might be dismissed as having no relevance to our world (referred to there as "Telluria"). But bear in mind that Femmeworld is not creating a blueprint for an outward society, but a new sensibility in the hearts of women and a revival of the feminine spirit which could have huge repercussions in the outside world.
Suppose our task were to break a glass. The masculine approach is to take a hammer to it. The feminine approach is to sing a high note which will set up a vibration that will shatter it. One is essentially exterior, the other essentially interior.
Jun 11th, 2005 - 2:04 PM
Re: Tales from Long Ago
Here is a piece from the old Coctktail bar from a very young and slightly under-the-influence blonde. They can be charming at times, don't you think?
A Squiffy Blonde
Oh, giggle-wiggle. Fancy any one's noticing me! I only just peeped my head round the door. In fact I wasn't quite sure I'd actually said anything. I kept meaning to, but I thought I never had. It was that Pink Lady, you see. It made me very uncertain the next day.
Did I quote Bianca Crosby singing "It's been a long, long time?" I'd been planning that one for days. I didn't sing it, did I? Oh. golliwogs, was my voice terrible?
An, oh, double-golliwogs, I didn't say that business about going on a world cruise with a Zonderful brunette, did I? Oh tell me if I really said it. No, on second thoughts, don't tell me. I was wanting to tell you pettes that story for weeks, but honestly, I must soberly confess it - well, golliwogs, it isn't absolutely true, exactly. I mean really, the reason I've been out of circulation is - well, I did a bit badly in my January exams last year and - well, you see I desperately want to go to Milchford when I leave school, so - well, I've just been swotting,
There, should I have said that? Or should I have stuck to my romance? What do you think dear Mrs. de Culver? If I should, do you think we could get the censorette to strike that last paragraph off the record. Oh, wolligogs, I don't know. I couldn't go on fib - romancing now I've confessed, could I?
Hello, Miss Barbara! hello! hello! Do please come and buy me a drink. You needn't be frightened. I'm not a bit in love with you any more. I mean, oh, don't take that the wrong way. I admire you terribly, of course I do. But I won't be a nuisance. I mean it's completely Socratic or whatever they say. And if you want to flirt with Ariadne, of course you must. She's much prettier than I and more mature and everything. But Ariadne, you mustn't mind me calling you mature the way you seemed to before. I don't mean old, I just
You know Ariadne, don't you? Oh. How about you? Really? You mean there's a whole Cocktail Bar generation growing up who haven't even heard of Ariadne! Golliwolliwogs! It has been a long, long time!
Well, of course you new girls haven't seen the place in its great days. I knew it back when - well, when it was really somewhere to go.
And Janet! Yes, dear old Janet. I bet hardly any of you can remember Janet. She was an admirer of mine, you know back in the days when this really was a Cocktail Bar. But you're all so young - in Cocktail Bar terms, I mean.
Oh, please, Miss Barmaid, just one more Pink Lady. I haven't had enough really. I've got a dreadfully strong head. Look, I'm not getting garry - garra - I'm not getting too talkative, am I?
I say, I'll pipe down and let some of the new girls talk. I don't see why we old hands should monopolise the convo, do you?
Oh, Miss Barbara, may I rest my head on your shoulder just for a mome? I promise I'm not being embarrassing. I'm just the teensiest bit tired, that's all. You can flirt with Ariadne while my head's on your shoulder. I shan't mind a bit. Shan't mind. Oh no, Ariadne not here. Forgot. Giggle.