August 28, 2009

Cocktail Talk: Barchester Towers

It’s Friday, which means yippes, hallelujahs, wowie-zowies, and more exclamations of general merriment, as we communally breathe out one big happy weekend-is-here yelp. Not that all of us hate our weekdays (not at all), but the weekend’s usually more fun, with its sleeping in, and staying up late, its revelries, drinks, and merriment. However (and here’s where that ol’ other shoe sometimes drops), the weekend can also mean things like mandatory work parties and other “parties” which might be funnish, but which you don’t seem to have a choice about attending. Which is why I’m sending you out to your weekend with this quote about parties from Anthony Trollope, taken from his most famous (or top five, at least) book, Barchester Towers, the second book in the Barchester series, the first Trollope I read (I think I’ve got them all now, or darn close, now), and nothing short of a masterpiece of English drawing room comedy. Maybe I like another Trollope or two better, but I’ve read Barchester Towers at least three times, and every time I’ve wanted to skip every other facet of life until I finished it. Which is saying something. While this quote is specific to “morning” parties, it goes somewhat to all parties one feels they have to attend, or, for that matter throw.


Morning parties, as a rule, are failures. People never know how to get away from them gracefully. A picnic on an island or a mountain or in a wood may perhaps be permitted. There is no master of the mountain bound by courtesy to bid you stay while in his heart he is longing for your departure. But in a private house or in private grounds a morning party is a bore. One is called on to eat and drink at unnatural hours. One is obliged to give up the day which is useful, and is then left without resource for the evening which is useless. One gets home fagged and désoeuvré and yet at an hour too early for bed. There is no comfortable resource left. Cards in these genteel days are among the things tabooed, and a rubber of whist is impracticable. All this began now to be felt.


Barchester Towers, Anthony Trollope

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