A photo from the ’60s.
Do you feel overwhelmed? And stiff!
Here’s my latest exercise challenge: shopping with my husband.
Although I bicycle, nothing prepared me for this shopping trip. Usually I make the list and he shops (because I distract him with my extravagant love of name-brand canned tomatoes). But now he has his arm in a sling, so I went with him.
He picked the fruit, I the vegetables. He made me put them back because they were organic. Too expensive.
He also taught me to arrange the cart properly. I wondered, WHY CAN’T THE PIZZA CRUST GO IN THE BACK OF THE CART? WHY DOES IT GO IN THE FRONT? AND WHY DOES THE MILK GO BENEATH THE CART? AND WHY DOESN’T THE CAT LITTER GO UNDERNEATH?
This is why we seldom go grocery shopping together.
The most taxing part: pushing the full shopping cart up the hill to the top of the parking lot. He tried to pull it from the front, but I would not allow this.
P.S. He is healing, and that’s what I care about!
BASSETT BY STELLA GIBBONS.
Stella Gibbons, best-known for her satiric first novel, Cold Comfort Farm, the winner of the Femina Vie Heureuse Prize in 1933, wrote over 30 novels and collections of short stories.
And I have enjoyed her realistic novels thoroughly–even more than Cold Comfort Farm, if truth be told. (See my posts on The Charmers and Westwood.)
Over the summer I read Bassett, a charming novel published in 1934. Time flies–I meant to post on it earlier–but I’m just getting around to it (and am a little vague on it by now.) In this delightful novel, Gibbons cleverly explores the worlds of two loosely-connected sets of characters: a couple of middle-aged women who go into business together, and a mismatched young couple down the road who fall in love–but will it last?
This witty novel begins with Gibbons’s description of the eccentric Miss Hilda Baker, a Londoner who works in a pattern-cutting office. “Museums and galleries, dens and historic haunts of peace lay all around Miss Baker, yet she lived as narrowly as a mouse in its hole; and went backwards and forwards between her lodgings and the offices in Reubens Place, for 21 years without much change being made in her dark ordinary house.”
In the opening scene, Miss Baker is speculating on how she should invest her savings of 300 pounds. She doesn’t want a car, or to travel. She doesn’t want to fritter away the money. And so she is intrigued by an ad in Town and Country: Miss Padsoe, a spinster in a country town, needs a partner in the conversion of her house into a rooming house. Miss Baker checks it out: she has a long, uncomfortable trip to the country and is not at all crazy about it. But when her boss sacks her (he is downsizing), she accepts Miss Padsoe’s offer. And the adventures of Miss Baker and Miss Padsoe–which begin with Miss Padsoe being locked out by the bullying servants–are great fun to read.
Less amusing are the adventures of the aristocratic Shelling family down the road. Queenie Catton, a naive young woman with no job skills, takes a job as Mrs. Shelling’s companion. George, the sophisticated son of the house, falls in love with Queenie, though his sister Bell warns him Queenie is not their kind and that it would be wrong to seduce her. If only Queenie had realized that he was a little too close to his sister Bell–but Queenie doesn’t understand their near-incestuous relationship.
I loved the parts about Miss Baker and Miss Padsoe. A lively novel–so much fun! even though it is uneven.