Wednesday, November 10, 2010
"Wyatt was an architect of talent and distinction - under George III he was appointed Surveyor of the Office of Works, in effect official architect to the nation - but a perennial shambles as a human being. He was disorganized, forgetful, perpetually dissolute, and famous for his tremendous benders. One year he missed fifty straight weekly meetings at the Office of Works. His supervision of the office was so poor that one man was discovered to have been on holiday for three years." pg 149
And on the subject of uptight Victorians in regards to dressing . . .
"Inevitably, a sexual dimension became attached to corset wearing. The tone of anticorset literature for women was strikingly similar to the tone of antimasturbation literature for men. By restricting blood flow and compressing organs in the vicinity of the reproductive zone, corsets, it was feared, could lead to a tragic increase in 'amative desires' and possibly even induce involuntary 'voluptuous spasms.' Gradually, clothing fears extended to every part of the body where clothes were worn snugly. Even tight-fitting shoes, it was suggested, could engender some dangerous tingling, if not full-throttled, table rattling spasm. In the worst cases, women could actually be unhinged by their clothing" pg 401
"The one place where there actually was danger from tight corsets was in the development of babies. Many women wore corsets perilously deep into pregnancy, even pulling them tighter to hide for as long as possible the indelicate evidence that they had been party to an unseemly burst of voluptuous spasms." pg 402
Oh my word.
Bill Bryson, you never fail to tickle my funny bone.
I also read and loved A Walk in the Woods and The Life and Times of The Thunderbolt Kid.