Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bella, bella

I had squirreled away 'The Secret Life of Mrs Beeton' until I had some time to enjoy it in full and finally I was able to settle down and savour it today. I was very pleased to see my front door as their 'neighbour' to their lovely house in Pinner. Not that I live in Pinner but I do live in a house that is very Mrs. Beeton-esque well at least from the outside! I'm not entirely sure that I didn't spot myself at my front window watching the proceedings below me. Though this was only the merest shadow viewable solely with the aid of pause and rewind on my Sky+. Funnily enough the very gadget that meant the BBC had originally contacted me as my dish was obscuring the Beeton-esque view of my house and had to be temporarily removed whilst the filming took place.

I enjoyed the BBC drama very much. I knew some information about Mrs. Beeton beforehand. I knew she died young and I knew that she actually couldn't cook. I had always understood that Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management was really the brainchild of Mr. Beeton but it seemed clear from this that Bella was a huge force in its creation and worked very hard on the collating, organising and testing of the recipes that she became famous for. I knew that she was always portrayed as considerably more matronly that she actually was, as it was believed that the buying public expected that of her. I hadn't realised that she had such a dreadful time losing her babies and that this and her early death was probably due to contracting syphilis from her husband. How really awful! I hadn't realised that her mother had already borne 16 children by the time Bella got married and was starting her family. Unfortunately the books success didn't save them from nearly going bankrupt and she didn't really make it until after her death. And not before they'd had to leave their lovely house in Pinner and move into less salubrious rooms above their publishing offices. It seemed that Bella had more than her fair share of heartache and sadness in her short life. I wonder what she'd make of her continued success nearly one hundred and fifty years after she started writing the book.In case you are wondering about the quote in my masthead, Mrs. Beeton said, "Dine we must and we may as well dine elegantly as well as wholesomely". And I totally agree with you, Bella, we must eat so we should always eat as well as we can!

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