Archives for: May 2006, 04
If you missed the Masterpiece Theater television production of Charles Dickens's Bleak House last winter you missed an outstanding mini series. I've read lots of Dickens, but the name "Bleak House" had always scared me away. Certainly the story has its sad moments, but the plot overall is much more positive than the name would imply.
Several weeks ago I checked the book out of the library. Time for recreational reading is rare during deadline season, but I find a few minutes here and there. Two of the characters left out of the mini series are Mr. and Mrs. Bagnet, friends and advisers of Mr. George, the soldier. This is how the reader meets the Mrs. Bagnet:
"Mr. George says to himself, "She's as usual, washing greens. I never saw her, except upon a baggage-wagon, when she wasn't washing greens!" The subject of this reflection is at all events so occupied in washing greens at present, that she remains unsuspicious of Mr. George's approachâ€¦Mr. Bagnet hospitably declares that he will hear of no business until after dinner; and that his friend shall not partake of his counsel, without first partaking of boiled pork and greens."
When I read about greens it made me smile. I wonder what kind of greens they were? Turnip, collard, mustard? The book doesn't say. Can you imagine a novel today talking about greens? Oh no! You might hear soda, pizza, or chip; perhaps even lobster or caviar. But greens? Definitely not!
I was a little disappointed about pork with the greens. Evidently Charles Dickens felt the same way. A hundred pages later the Bagnets enter the story again:
"Being shown out, they repair to Mr. Bagnet's residence to dine. Boiled beef and greens constitute the day's variety on the former repast of boiled pork and greens; and Mrs. Bagnet serves out the meal in the same way, and seasons it with the best of temper.
Seasoned with the best of temper. There is excellent advice for any blood type.