Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Regency Trousers - A Not Entirely Toilet-Related Post

The main topic of discussion at the Privy Counsel right now is Regency trousers. Specifically, Regency trousers as related to embarrassing erections. (It probably surprises nobody to learn that this discussion was occasioned by an overdose of Austen adaptations.) You may find this hard to believe, but there is no information on the entire internet about what Regency gentlemen did if they accidentally got an unwelcome erection in the drawing room. None at all!

Buckskin breeches - which have been compared to a pair of Levi's - were appropriate morning attire in the country. They were supposed to be skin-tight, but would become baggy with time. However, whether helpfully tight or comfortably loose, you couldn't wear them to the drawing room, and so they would be of no use in hiding RREs (Rampant Regency Erections) except maybe when pottering round the stables or the kennels, and frankly, that's a train of thought we would rather not follow.
Image from janeaustensworld.

As anyone who has ever studied Austen adaptations in way too much detail knows, the distinguishing characteristic of a pair of gentlemen's breeches is that they are very, very tight. Also, the coats are designed to cut away from the front, leaving the crotch area abandoned and forlorn. What happened, one wonders, when one of the ladies accidentally flashed too much ankle and the gentlemen's blood was inflamed by a fiery passion?
Fictional Friend speculated that "I think that's the response Ms Bingley was trying to elicit by insisting upon perambulating the room". Was this, in fact, what the endless cups of tea were for? To place over the front of one's trousers, thus hiding any embarrassing physical response to bewitching beauty? As Tudor Friend mused, "Given the lighting conditions in most houses of the period, unless it's a very bright day, it might well work".

A fascinating close-up of the technical workings of the Regency fly.
How helpful, if at all, would this have been in hiding an RRE (Rampant Regency Erection)?
Image from janeaustensworld.

According to Lucy Worsley, one of our favourite historians, it was socially acceptable to relieve oneself when in company in the Georgian/Regency era, at least among gentlemen. Was it likewise socially acceptable to display an erection left, right and centre? Tudor Friend here argued that "it's post-Puritan England, so I'd be surprised if even the lascivious Regency crowd were THAT down with open sexuality". Fictional Friend added, "True. Just trying to figure out how to read between the lines and find a euphemistic reference to it". There was also a strong suspicion that standards may have differed between social classes; as Fictional Friend argued, "that farmer guy in Emma might have had different standards for this than Mr. Knightley".

A resolution was voiced to "go through every Jane Austen story and wonder which of her heroes suffers from RREs (Rampant Regency Erections)", and it was agreed that there is "nothing like a good smutty-minded paradigm shift"!

A gratuitous image of Alan Rickman wearing trousers in Sense and Sensibility.
Image from thepenofawdur.

The discussion ended with the Regency costume website we were studying being declared to be "PURE CRACK" (i.e. highly addictive). There were then some jokes in very poor taste about the Pump Room, and the whole thing deteriorated into a very unscientific conversation.

Seriously, though, why has there been no scholarly inquiry into this topic? As Tudor Friend ranted, "I'm genuinely surprised no one has written about this. Because there is NO WAY that trousers that skin-tight didn't have SOME sexual overtones intentionally". What are the social historians out there doing?

In order to salvage what is left of our self-proclaimed intellectualism, we feel the need to post some seriously classy toilet pictures. These are from the National Gallery - bog photos can hardly get more respectable than that! So there.

This is a functional and aesthetically pleasing motion-sensor tap,
with a functional soap-dispenser dispensing pleasant soap.

Well, strike us pink with a pair of buckskin trousers if that ain't a revolving towel! Huzzah!

There is only one possible festive video for this post. As we all know, thanks to Bridget Jones, the scene where Elizabeth Bennet walks to Netherfield to check on her sister Jane is one for which Andrew Davies, the director of the 1995 BBC adaptation, wrote in the stage directions that Darcy had a giant erection.

Says Bridget (who is interviewing Colin Firth):
BJ Oh. Do you think Mr Darcy would have slept with Elizabeth Bennet before the wedding?
CF Yes, I do think he might have.
BJ Do you?
CF Yes. I think it's entirely possible. Yes.
CF I think it's possible, yes.
BJ How would it be possible?
CF Don't know if Jane Austen would agree with me on this, but...
BJ We can't know because she's dead.
CF No, we can't... but I think Andrew Davies's Mr Darcy would have done.
BJ Why do you think that, though? Why? Why?
CF Because I think it was very important to Andrew Davies that Mr Darcy had the most enormous sex drive.
CF And, um...
BJ I think that came across, really, really well with the acting. I really think it did.
CF Thank you. At one point, Andrew even wrote as a stage direction: "Imagine that Darcy has an erection".
BJ Which bit was that?
CF It's when she's been walking across the country and bumps into him in the grounds in the early stages.
BJ The bit where she's all muddy?
CF...and dishevelled
BJ...and sweaty?
CF Exactly.
BJ Was that a difficult bit to act?
CF You mean the erection?
CF Um, well, Andrew also wrote that I don't propose that we should focus on it, and, therefore, no acting required in that department at least.
BJ Mmm.
CF Yes.
BJ Mmm.

You're welcome.

Festive video - Pride and Prejudice BBC 1995 walking to Netherfield scene

Related Reading

The by now classic post about Lucy Worsley and Regency toilet habits:
Lucy Worsley and Jane Austen: Historical Toilet Etiquette

Another classic post, which shamelessly objectifies Mr Darcy, but which is also surprisingly informative on the subject of Regency hygiene:

Some more objectification of Mr Darcy:
It Is Tolerable, We Suppose: A Privy Counsel Pick-Me-Up

Our festive abridged version of Pride and Prejudice:

If you wish to read more about tight trousers:
All Mouth and No Trousers - Sichuan Food in Singapore

Here's what happens when you go to Tudor Friend's house with the specific purpose of overdosing on Jane Austen costume dramas:
Failing to Be Disappointed: Tudor Friend's Tudor-Era House

Monday, 27 July 2015

Þórsmörk, Iceland: Some Light Relief

Vroom, vroom! Yes, we have been away! No, you don't want to know what we have been doing! What matters is that we are back - with what we like to think of as a vengeance! Recent traumas have, quite possibly, contributed to some pretty rampant spiritual growth, which should logically result in even more inspirational and intellectually uplifting blog posts henceforth.

Also we made a vow that, if we survived our ordeal, we would go on a champagne bender, the likes of which you have never seen. As regular readers may remember, we have produced some of our best work while hungover (for instance this, and this. This one wasn't bad. Oh, and this was a very satisfying rant), so this resolution may very well work out in your favour.

Audiologist Friend has been adventurous as usual, this time in Iceland! This eminent earwax specialist says (as ever, do take this opportunity of refreshing you colloquial Swedish, but if you happen to be hungover, or otherwise linguistically incapacitated, a translation will follow):
Tro inte att jag glömt din blogg! Här kommer en riktigt fräsch o härlig WC (!!!) nedanför Eyjafjallajökull och Mýrdalsjökull - riktigt lyxigt efter en 26 km gångtur. Inga lampor men tak där väggarna inte når hela vägen upp = ljus lyser igenom, och taket gjord av genomskinlig plast (med vit färg så ljuset kommer in). Stället heter Basar i Þórsmörk.
(Don't think I've forgotten your blog! Here is a really clean and lovely WC (!!!) below Eyafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull - properly luxurious after a 26 km hike. No lights, but walls that don't reach all the way to the ceiling = light shining through, and the roof was made of clear plastic (painted white, so the light could get through). The place is called Basar, in Þórsmörk.)

Icelanders know how to do a good bathroom! Even in the wild! Woof!

We note with pleasure that this toilet is both clean and disability-friendly,
and features a covered toilet-roll holder.
In other news, Tudor Friend sent us this article about Japanese toilets, which was interesting, but also a) creepily close to being an advert, and b) totally lacking in anything resembling an environmental angle. Tudor Friend commented:
My theory on the great "why we don't like bidets" discussion is that we feel like we won't get sufficiently dry, and *retaining* moisture on one's posterior or nether bits is something we associate with not having cleaned sufficiently.
On us predictably going on a rant about how any discussion of Japanese super toilets needs not only an environmental element, but also a clear affirmation of the total and utter non-necessity of having a warmed-up toilet seat, Tudor Friend concurred heartily:
I agree! I've sat on one once and it was fucking CREEPY. My ass does NOT need to be toasted to have a functional bathroom experience.

We're off to bang our heads against the wall for a bit. Hopefully next time we write, we will be rampantly hungover!

Because we recently encountered a gym instructor in his fifties with a passion for both hair metal and Lady Gaga, which totally reminded us of Australian Friend, we thought we'd make today's festive video the most bathroom-related of Gaga's videos. (It coincidentally appears to feature somebody being forced to drink water.)

Festive video - Lady Gaga, Bad Romance

Related Reading

A trip down memory lane - memorable posts we've written when hungover:
A Life-Affirming Experience
"Drunken Routs, in Which More Things Were Broken Than Heads and Furniture, Sister!"
Whether You Believe in Jebus Or Not: Unbelievably Rampant Linguistic Musings!

View all hungover posts here:

And here:
Posts Written When Hungover (Work in Progress)

(No, we don't know why we have two labels for posts written when hungover. Most likely it is a mistake which we have consistently been too lazy to rectify.)

All posts featuring Audiologist Friend

Friday, 10 July 2015

In Anticipation of a Royal Flush

You'd be surprised by how many postcards we receive at the Privy Counsel. When it comes to the more vulgar kinds of material possessions, we don't have much to hang on the Christmas tree, as the Swedes so charmingly put it, but in terms of postcards, we possess a fortune. An actual fortune! Kick-Arse Suffragette Friend sent us one just recently, of the historical-slash-salacious kind; a picture of a rampantly attractive Dakota Sioux by the name of Kicks Iron. We do enjoy our historical heroes and heroines at the Counsel!

Kicks Iron, a Dakota Sioux.
Photograph by Frank B. Fiske, ca 1905.
Then of course there's all the postcards from random weirdoes readers that clog up our postbox to the point where the postman is giving us dirty looks arrive with charming regularity.

This postcard, from a correspondent at Castle Howard, says:

To: The Privy Counsel
The Queen will be visiting the estate next month, and the lady of the house has asked me to contact you for some advice. (The household etiquette books were recently lost in a freak plumbing accident.) 
How is one to lay out the bathroom for a royal visit?  
How is one to offer the facilities to Her Majesty?  
Can one find loo roll that is superior to two-ply?  
And is it considered indiscreet, following the visit, to install a small plaque to state "the Queen peed here" for future generations to admire? 
Your discretion regarding the matter is appreciated.  
From: Private Secretary to Lady [name illegible - these aristos frequently suffer from hereditary syphilis, making their nervous systems unreliable and their pen-wielding limbs prone to tremors]

First of all, let us assure all our readers of our utter and complete discretion.


When it comes to laying out the loos for a royal visit, our experience is that ordinary cleanliness goes a long way. Scrub the bathroom thoroughly using eco-friendly products (stay clear of  bleach - you don't want the Queen getting her outfit stained then sniffing disapprovingly throughout her visit). Make sure the towels are clean, but don't use fabric softeners (apart from softeners being environmentally hostile, exaggerated softness causes bits of fluff to stick to one's skin which is annoying as hell). Avoid vulgar ornaments.

Googling the words "Which toilet roll does the Queen use" yields a surprisingly rich vein of internet lunacy. The least crazy comment on this subject that we encountered was "I think Andrex holds the royal warrant which would suggest that is the brand of choice for the royal bum". Then again, once the Queen is seated on your throne - belt off, trousers down - she doesn't have much of a choice, does she? We suggest you go for the most ecological alternative you can find. (Read one of our rants about toilet roll and ecological destruction here. Here's another one.) Also, of course, make sure you hang the toilet paper the right way round!

Regarding the royal visit toilet plaque, there are two schools of thought. The first, classic, school goes, "this is an unbearably vulgar and horrid practice and must cease immediately". Was it Josephine Tey who pointed out that if one is to believe all the stories of Tudor houses visited by Queen Elizabeth I, she must have made sleeping in other people's beds quite the hobby? (Then again, Tudor courts did travel more or less constantly. Maybe we should ask Tudor Friend to write us a guest blog post about this?) There is not, as far as we know, an outspoken tradition of putting up plaques commemorating royal toilet visits (though there is a rather festive anecdote about Henry VIII and a toilet in York), and so we suspect that the advice regarding them exists as a kind of sub-genre to the "Queen Bess slept here"-type plaques.
The second, more modern, school goes "take every opportunity of making your toilet a joyous, festive place - fucking go for it, babe!" We're rather inclined towards the more modern school of thought.

This is today's festive video, because it is simply a splendid song. The title does not correlate in any way to our current mental state, long-term memory, or employment prospects.

Festive video - Bruce Springsteen, I'm goin' down

Related Reading
Our last delightful postcard: Sober As a Judge
Our first ever postcard: We Receive a Postcard
This post is not the first, nor is it, we fear, the last, time we have made a cunning pun on the poker term "royal flush". German Friend was the first to make use of this delightful witticism: Royal Flush
How to choose an eco-friendly toilet roll (WWF)
A Thought-Provoking Blog About Cholera in Haiti
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