September 30th, 2008
Now that I am quite snugly situated in the home of Miss Price of Hammersmith, I am able to commit to you, journal, a relatively full and nearly honest narrative of my continuing adventures in this new century. At first I did not know what to make of this computing-machine. Piranha (her Christian name is Patricia, though she prefers to be known as a type of aggressive Amazonian fish - which does not surprise me, for she is quick to bite!) said that all of one’s life and work reside in this device, this computer. I could not imagine such a thing - whole libraries compressed in such a little space - how odd!
But let me tell of Piranha first. She is Amanda’s roommate, and an extremely pretty young woman, with light brown skin and the sort of curly hair that would turn my sisters green with envy. She was born in London, and in many ways she is all that the city has become. She’s called Piranha, for she’s a predator, not prey, and if she stops swimming, she’ll die.
“No,” she said, eyes narrowing. “That’s sharks.”
Piranha eats men for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She flosses her teeth with their ties; she uses their tears as moisturizer. (Which is quite astonishingly good. I had no idea my skin could be so dry!)
Piranha tells me that this World Wide Web — “No,” she says exasperatedly, “No one calls it that any more, it’s the net” — and oh, I do like the thought of that, a fantastic thing — for I cannot imagine it as an actually being a web but the idea of some vast net of words — of stories — is very appealing.
I came, you know, to Hammersmith to write a novel....
But I am wandering. I have so much to tell! Piranha has generously offered me a place to sleep (Amanda’s bed) and a computer (which also belongs to Amanda) for my especial use. “Get an LJ, it’s perfect for a nerd like you. I know Amanda has one,” she tells me, and truly I know not what to make of it.
I have made this … LiveJournal, and hope that it, like the journal I have left behind me in Longbourne, shall help me understand more fully what happens here, and what is to happen to me.
I do not know what exactly a nerd is, but from her tone I suppose I am to her what poor Mary was to us in the old days at Longbourne. Sisters can be cruel in their way, but I think we were cleverer about it. (Not you, Jane, for I do not remember a single cruel word that you have ever uttered, not to me and certainly not to poor, afflicted Mary.)
I take no offense, for I am to be a peerless guest to Miss Piranha, and as such say nothing more about it.
I hope to use this blog (which is an unlovely word, but needs must) to confide in to it such things that I cannot safely tell to anyone, now.
October 19th, 2008
You will find me utterly transformed! I have had my hair cut very short, my body prodded and tweaked in all sorts of odd ways, I have been shaved, snipped and peeled until I do not know what parts of me are truly Elizabeth and what are parts of this new creature, this Lizzie - or Liz, for it is better, I am told to be blessed with a shorter name than a long one. The people of the future, I find, are frightfully impatient, and afraid of nothing more than the waste of time.
In short, I am Liz Bennet, and I am hunting for employment. For, you know, everyone works here, or expects to, and I must be no different.
It is difficult for me to find employment —I have, as Piranha never tires in pointing out, no papers to prove who I am —but surely one can see that I am but a humble Englishwoman who needs but a few coins to rub together.
(“You, Lizzie, are many things,” I can hear you say, Jane, “But humble is not one of them,” and it is true, but this place is so odd and sometimes frightening that I wish that I had not been so hasty... But no, I digress.)
I went to the temporary agency that Piranha told me of and have found that I am not much in demand! For no-one these days wants a bit of embroidery, a fine hand at letters, or striking flower-arrangements. They look at my slow and laborious typing with a critical eye —though I think I do quite well for one who has never done such a thing in her life. (It is a bit like playing a small pianoforte, though I know the comparison is not a good one.) But they all call it “pecking”, and it is apparently a bad thing to do.
You see —it seems that I am as unlucky at finding a gainful employment here as I was at finding a rich husband at home.
Piranha tells me that I could be certainly qualify for an old age pension, being more the two centuries old.
She slays me.
(This is a clever and modern way of saying that she has caught me out.)
November 1st, 2008
I have read every book in the house.
Most belong to Amanda, and most are editions of Pride and Prejudice. Did you know I was to be married to some proud fool by the name of Fitzwilliam Darcy? It seems an improbable fiction, though it is, apparently, my story.
I am moving on to Piranha’s collection of reading material. So far I have consumed all of her editions of monthly ladies’ magazines. These go by the names Cosmopolitan and Vogue. If they only knew of these magazines, Lydia and Kitty, I think, would have perished from envy!
It is, perhaps, better that they don’t. Talk of bonnets is taxing enough, but this talk of “pleasing your man” is quite discouraging. Perhaps things have not changed so drastically after all.
But no, I must remain optimistic.
(I do long for more challenging reading material, however.)
December 20th, 2008
I have traveled to the great metropolis and made it my own! Or perhaps, more modestly, I have traveled to the great metropolis, and have come back again, all in one piece. I was not trampled underfoot in the underground, I did not get accosted or robbed, and if many saw a wide-eyed girl seeing London for the first time, I do not think I was alone there.
Coming home to Hammersmith, I saw a young man with a perfect head of chestnut curls; a fresh linen shirt, gray pressed pants, and sharply shined leather shoes. He made me feel utterly, wretchedly homesick.
These moderns care not a bit for a good curl.
January 5th, 2009
How did I live without a mobile? Lydia would have loved to text ever and anon. But, oh, I must confess, I do love it too. I called Piranha at least eight times. The last time, she did not answer. I must make more friends immediately, for she and the Rosenbergs are the only people on my contact list.
C u l8ers.
February 19th, 2009
I feel like I have so much to learn, so much to know! But Doctor Rosenberg says that it is natural for one such as myself to feel this way.
(She thinks I was raised in a cult that shunned technology and lived as if it were the nineteenth century. Piranha told her this; I thought it best to nod along.)
Doctor Rosenberg is my employer, for I am charged with the care of her daughter, Rachel. Yes, Doctor Rosenberg is a woman, who is married to quite a nice man named David, who is not often here, for he works in the City, and does clever things with money.
March 1st, 2009
But I must say... If Mr. Darcy looks anything like Colin Firth, I am quite sad to have missed him.
April 3rd, 2009
To my complete surprise and astonishment, it seems that I have gained readers to this journal. I suppose I should I have locked these entries to begin with, but I did not think anyone would care to read my thoughts.
But, it seems that I do have an audience, and my audience demands answers.
- Are you really Elizabeth Bennet?
- Ooooooh Mister Darcy!!!
- You can’t possibly be Elizabeth Bennet.
But I am.
- Elizabeth Bennet is a fictional character.
So’s yer mum.
(Rachel taught me that. I haven’t the heart to tell her that the insult is older than the both of us.)
- Who do you think played you best —Jennifer Ehle or Keira Knightley?
I believe both women brought different things to the role. Both were beautiful, vivacious and intelligent, and if I may flatter myself, so I am I! Keira is the right age, for I am only twenty-one, but I think Jennifer is quite winsome. I like her eyes especially. They are, indeed, quite fine.
- Who’s your favorite superhero?
I quite like Batman.
- post topless picsssss??
I suggest, sir, that you go first.
- Amanda’s adventures in Austenland are quite comical, but strain credibility. How can a girl so obsessed with Pride and Prejudice know so little about the early nineteenth century?
H’mmm. It seems you know something of the situation. (Is that you, Piranha? You know, using formal language won’t throw me off!)
Well, I am not Amanda, so I can only speak from my own observations. But Amanda isn’t a scholar, nor is she an expert. Amanda is a fan. That’s not to say that fans can’t be very knowledgeable about the things they are devoted to.
After all, Mr. Rosenberg —David —is what they call a “Trekkie”. He is a great devotee to the American television show called Star Trek. He has showed me a few episodes of this show, and while I cannot for the life of me find much interest in it, I know he loves it. He could - and can - and does spout off the most alarming statistics about the series.
But it is not so with Amanda. Perhaps she learned early enough that if you love something, you ought be discreet about it. Keep it secret, for most will never understand passions that stray into the even slightly unusual.
Pride and Prejudice is Amanda’s favorite book, but to her it is more of an escape - a fantasy rather than reality. So why bother learning more about the reality of my former world?
The miniseries only underlines the fantasy of it all. Colin Firth, after all, is dreamy.
( I doubt she could have foreseen the need to make the nineteenth century into a subject of close study.)
April 20th, 2009
Having considered the matter deeply, I do concede this point —toothpaste is better than chalk. Although getting bits out of one’s hair is a matter of some difficulty.
May 16th, 2009
What an eventful month I have had!
I have learned that the foodstuffs that are sold in the most colorful packaging are, in fact, quite deadly. Imagine, drinks that come in vivid hues such as this sickly green color that characterizes Michael’s favorite drink. I believe it is called Mountain Dew, though to me it seems more like the sludge that collects at the bottom of gardens.
The Rosenbergs are quite devoted to what they call the ‘macrobiotic diet’ which, if my researches in Wikipedia are correct, seems like the most reasonable and sane way to eat. I do not miss the groaning board that was breakfast at Longbourne. I do not miss bacon in the least.
No, not at all.
( I do miss Lady Ambrosia most fiercely, I realized, when taking Rachel to the zoo the other day.)
May 28th, 2009
I cannot, for the life of me, find any truth or purpose in these highly romantic books that purport to be continuations of the novel (I think you know by now of which novel I speak) — though I must say that the faith people seem to have on my dispatching an army of the undead is quite amusing.
Less amusing was the one where I became the bride of the undead! Mr. Darcy is many things, but a vampyre he is not.
(Truly, the death of the author is a thing one feels most keenly, in these post-modern times.)
My own poor novel is quite neglected...
Perhaps it needs vampires? Or vampyrs?
June 8th, 2009
I have gone clubbing for the first time. I do not know if I like doing this, although it does seem like I have done well enough, according to Piranha. The Rosenbergs have gone to Cornwall for the weekend, so I did not have to embarrass them by being appallingly hung-over the next morning.
My night went thus. At five thirty in the afternoon, Piranha arrived at the Rosenbergs’ home, and we decamped to her flat in Hammersmith, for she declared that I had not a dress fit to be seen in. So we tried on all of Piranha’s clothes. But none of them were “my color”, according to her. Amanda’s clothes were too small, and hung awkwardly on my taller frame.
So we went to the shops. And while Piranha is not the champion of frivolity and excess that is my own sister Lydia, she is not inexperienced in fine art of clothes-shopping. We must have tried on at least twenty dresses before I cried for mercy.
Finally, we agreed on a simple yet revealing black number that clings to one’s bosom and hugs one’s bum and it —and yes, I look good in it.
I look damn good.
“You look damn good,” said Piranha. It must have been true, for Piranha never flatters when she can flatten.
I took one last look at the mirror.
“I’ll take it.”
And then we fell into a fit of giddiness that would have done my younger sisters proud.
If only they could see me now!
We got to the club at nine. Piranha was immediately swept away, shouting that she shall meet me at the bar later.
Oh, I do wish she wasn’t the only friend that I have here.
But I have always found it somewhat difficult to make friends....
I am barraged with a volley of trollish male voices.
“Nice dress, wanna fuck?”
“My balls are aching at the sight of you!”
“Where have you been all my life?”
“Did it hurt when you fell from Heaven?”
“Hey, hey, pretty lady let’s get crazy tonight!”
“You have lips like a couch!”
“If you had no arms, you’d be like the Venus de Milo!”
“You’re aesthetically pleasing, so am I, so let us fornicate like rutting hounds in heat!”
I manage to loudly mutter, “Oh, piss off!” before scrabbling to the women’s loo.
I am very glad that neither Jane —nor anyone at all from Longbourne or Meryton can see me now. Not Jane, not Charlotte, not Lydia, Kitty, Mary, and certainly not Mama or Papa. Oh, the music is so loud, it is rattling my skull and this place smells of piss and a bit of vomit and I am completely overwhelmed and …
Well. Deep breath, Elizabeth. Human nature has not changed in two centuries. It hasn’t, not really. It’s just that now, people speak what they feel, all the time, and what they feel is not always pleasing to hear.
I can’t stay hiding here forever..
(A little while longer?)
No, Elizabeth Bennet, you are not to be a prisoner of the women’s loo. You are better than that. This may not be a ball, and there is no Mister Darcy behind those walls, but you are no longer fictional and are no longer held by fictional conventions. This is life, it is not a romance. Nor is it a social satire.
Elizabeth Bennet, you are a real person.
And real people do not always find the cleverest thing to say (though you always do) nor find the cleverest people to say them to... (Say, for the first twenty years of your life.)
But you are real now, and well, reality has its pitfalls.
I sneaked to the bar, but to my relief, my “admirers” had all but drifted off. The bartender was a stoic man of about forty, who greeted me with a silent nod.
“A shot of tequila, if you please.” I folded my hands neatly upon the bar and watched as he poured my drink. Tequila is another thing that I have been introduced to by Piranha. It has a pleasing burn to it in the throat; one knows one is drinking something dangerous.
“Coming right up.”
A hand brushed mine as I reached for my shot.
“Oh! Excuse me.”
He was a dark haired man of about twenty-five, tallish, handsomeish, nicely dressed, and looking at me as though I had two heads. I discreetly checked to see if there was a spot on my nose, but no, that man was quite rudely staring at me for no reason at all.
“What are you having, mate?” asked the bartender.
The stranger’s head twisted, as if he was uncertain with whom to start speaking to. To me he stuttered out, “Er. Hello. I’m Fitz, by the way, hello.”
“I’m Lizzie.” I reluctantly shook his proffered hand. It was only a little damp.
“I said hello twice. Sorry.”
The bartender cleared his throat.
I nudged Fitz. “I think you ought to order something.”
He nodded eagerly. “Oh! Yes. I would like a Pornstar, please. Thank you.”
I think my eyebrows must have touched the top of my head, but Fitz drank his Pornstar with great relish.
A new song comes on, and Fitz sat up, as if electrified. It is much like the songs that Doctor Rosenberg is so found of, from a place called Motown, in America. But young lady who was singing is not from Motown at all, but Wales. Her voice was smoky and sad, and she was, apparently, crying out for mercy.
“This is a good song,” he informed me earnestly and took my hand —and led me to the dance floor.
(He danced like a demented Muppet. I did not find it charming in the least.)
(Not in the least.)
And he talked, almost constantly.
“You see, I used to have a lot of social anxiety!”
“Really! I was dreadfully shy, never spoke anyone except for the people I’d know for ages, but I’m on this anti-anxiety pill and the stuff works wonders, and that’s how I got the courage to come talk to you just now, you see.”
“Copious drinks help too.”
And then his empty smiles sharpened into something else and I wasn’t sure whether I should slap him down or... Well, his hands were still where they ought to be, so...
I asked him —I don’t know what prompted me —“Your last name isn’t Darcy, by any chance, is it?”
“What? No. What an odd question.”
There was deafening silence. (Between us. The dance floor was quite loud.)
I said weakly, “Like the actor?”
“Oh! Have you heard of him? Yes. But that’s just his stage name. His name is actually Simon. He’s a cousin or something.”
“Your name is Fitz D’Arcy. Please tell me Fitz is not short for Fitzwilliam.”
He winced. “It’s a family name. Named after some crusty uncle who died before I was born. And he was named....”
“Yes, I understand.”
Over the speakers, the singer crooned, “You got me beggin' you for mercy.”
His eyes narrowed considerably.
“Why won't you release me?”
“But if I’m giving out all this information, c’mon, fair is fair, tell your name.”
“Um. Well.” I looked at my feet. “It’s Elizabeth Bennet.”
“It doesn’t mean anything.”
“After all, it is a very famous book.”
A distressed-looking man with extremely curly hair stepped in, calling, “Fitz! Fitz! Come at once, Caro’s vomited all over Hurst’s new shoes, and the man is having a meltdown and I can’t deal with this, man, I can’t.”
Fitz swept into a quick and slightly wobbly bow, which was greeted by cries of consternation on all sides of the crowded dance floor.
“ Until we meet again, Miss Bennet. I leave my compliments to you and to your family.”
“I thank you, sir.”
My curtsy was one of pure habit, nothing else.
July 12th , 2009
The Rosenbergs have taken Rachel to the theater and then a to family dinner, and as such I have the run of the place.
I am content. I am secure. I … do miss my family and Charlotte and even Lady Ambrosia and all those things, but I have made my choice, haven’t I?
The future —the present, it’s the place for me.
And who knows, perhaps I am not to go without a Mister Darcy after all. (A Mister D’Arcy, in any rate. I wonder if he has any palatial estates...? No. Stop that. But perhaps I should look him up on Facebook...)
Oh bother, the doorbell’s ringing and someone is pounding on the door like a mad thing.
All right, all right, calm down...
I’ll be back.