This article actually was published last week, but we’re just getting around to it now (thanks to Alert Janeites Marsha and Helen B. for sending it in). Giles Coren reviews a pub in Bath in The Times, and since it’s in Bath, feels obliged to drag Jane Austen into it.
Until fairly recently you could still buy books at Jane Austen’s favourite bookshop, in Winchester. I forget what it was called. It was on a little alley leading from the high street to the cathedral close. I bought the odd book there, over the years, but more often just browsed its bowed and overcrowded shelves for that sense of contiguity with the pre-Dickensian golden age of the novel – occasionally thumbing a shelf edge perhaps pre-scanned by Austen herself, rummaging for some new anti-Jacobin treatise by her beloved Edmund Burke.
Jane Austen had a favorite bookshop? Why were we not informed? Did she spend that much time in Winchester? Wouldn’t a bookshop in, say, Alton have been more convenient? And Edmund Burke was her beloved? Edmund Burke? Seriously? Have we entered Austen Bizarro World or do we just have another ignorant journalist on our hands?
Not that I was ever much of a fan of milksop Janey and her middling rom-coms.
Ah, that answers that question.
Not even a decent rape. It’s all very well Andrew Whatsisface filling his screenplays with flimsy nighties and grunting Regency shagmeisters, but don’t go thinking there’s any of that in the books.
Grunting Regency Shagmeisters has just replaced Jane Austen Ate My Brain as our new band name.
Now that it’s gone, there is nothing much left in Winchester by way of Austenalia, barring a little plaque in the cathedral, quietly noting her death.
Is he perhaps thinking of the plaque on the house where she died? Because there is a grave marker, a not-that-little plaque, and a memorial window in Winchester Cathedral (or so we’re told; someday we’ll go pay our respects).
The same cannot be said of sex toys. Esther and I were strolling along Stall Street, gazing at the roofs and thinking how little 200 years had changed the place, when we came eye to crotch with the shiniest row of tarts in skimpy underwear that you ever did see, vogueing in the window of Ann Summers.
“Oh, Captain Wentworth, do let’s pop in!” said Esther. I looked blank.
“You know, Captain Wentworth, from Persuasion,” she said, urgently. “You be him, and I’ll be Anne Elliot. If Persuasion had been written now, this is clearly where they’d have come to spice things up. Once he’d started on her with the Rampant Rabbit or the Dirty Dolphin it would have been a done deal. They’d have got married there and then, and there’d have been no silly confusion and no seven-year wait to get laid. Oh, it would have been sooooo romantic!”
Somebody needs to re-read Persuasion, we think, with greater attention to the timeline involved.
Price: I think we paid about 50 quid.
50 quid? For lunch? In a pub? No wonder he’s cranky.