Friday, 3 September 2010

Domestic Uniform Thoughts Back in the UK

Hi folks! I’m back in the UK and raring to go! To be absolutely honest with you I have been back for a couple of days now but today is the first I have decided to designate as what I would call a ‘working day’ - one has to start somewhere. I seem to have returned to something of a mini heat wave here in Angle-land and so decided to spend a couple of days touring around several pubs I've been meaning to visit for some time as a sort of holiday extension. Not that I've been entirely idle you understand; certainly the first day I have to admit that I didn't get much written as I visited my local Wetherspons pub wherein various friendly and well-meaning folks kept pitching up and joining me at my table. As much as ordinarily I'd welcome the company and diversion it was a bit of a shame that by the time I was left to my own devices again I was too pissed to continue! Yesterday was far more productive, although I'm not at all sure where the piece I was working on fits in the greater scheme of things. One aspect that has come to interest me, while I have had time away to think, is the concept of the subject, assuming a domestic environment, being placed under another's control who has been charged to act as a proxy in the absence of the dominant character. This seems especially potent if the person placed in temporary authority is someone who ordinarily would herself serve in some sort of subservient role. For instance one can easily imagine the gall felt by the pretty teenage stepdaughter placed by her haughty overbearing and domineering stepmother or guardian under the supervisory control of the housekeeper. Just imagine the thought processes running through the girl's mind as out in the kitchen she is loudly berated by the elderly housekeeper for having the collar button of her crisp nylon overall unfastened or perhaps having a stocking seam crooked and out of place - and all within easy earshot of her stepmother's or guardian’s guests. Perhaps one or two of the latter might be accompanied by their daughters, contemporaries of, or perhaps even ex-acquaintances of, the deeply shamed girl! Yes, I know it's been done before, most famously I think in the novel, Emma's Secret World, by Hilary James - or was in its sequel; I can't quite recall. But I think there is a lot more mileage that can be got from the idea if one revolves it around the central concept of the gradual introduction of some form of ‘domestic’ or ‘home uniform’ of her guardian of stepmother's own devising as a means to at first curbing then finally subjugating the girl to her will. One can imagine harsh angry tones emanating from the scullery and cutting through the gentle cream-tea-and-scones chatter of the well-to-do ladies gathered in the sitting room and the clink of their setting down their bone china teacups, all the better to overhear the carrying on. One can imagine the occasional amused smile and half stifled giggle as they hear their host’s housekeeper sternly issuing the reminder that it might well be the hottest day of the year so far and the new rubber corsellete her guardian had recently purchased for her might well be feeling uncomfortable but every button of her dress was to be kept fastened and that included the collar and the cuffs… and yes, she was to wear that new nylon tabard properly fastened over the top.

Of course I haven't given up on the institutional discipline side of things either in the above picture I found particularly intriguing is one thing I've always found interesting is the concept of an inmate in a privately run prison or asylum perhaps, being visited by the person responsible for their incarceration and being punished by that person. That is what this particular picture says to me. The woman in the background wears a tie suggesting some form of prison guard uniform, which helps set the scene, and the well-dressed woman I imagine as the visitor. What the plate laid in front of the inmate is all about I've yet to decide - any ideas anyone?


Orage said...

easy: she is to lap up the contents of the plate (probably water) prior to a whipping as she has been heard commenting disparagingly on the visitor's dress.

ware_simon said...

perhaps the visitor had baked her some "humble pie" which she was obliged to eat before her whipping. One could speculate on the contents of the pie - perhaps it contained a good dose of senna?