“Sympathise with me indeed! Ah, no! Cast your sympathy on the chill waves of troubled waters; fling it on the oasis of futurity; dash it against the rock of gossip; or better still allow it to remain within the false and faithless bosom of buried scorn. Sympathy can wound the breast of trodden patience – it hath no rival to insure the feelings we possess, save that of sorrow.”
Once again I have taken down a book that’s been on the shelf for many a year. This one is called ‘A Cupful of Tears – Sixteen Victorian Novelettes,’ and the above are the opening lines of the first, “Irene Iddesleigh” by Mrs Amanda McKittrick Ros, and with a name like that it’s no wonder she writes as she does; meaningless florid sentences each a mile long and a positively perfect penchant for alliteration; at least one example of which, if not more, can be found in every short chapter. See above - false, faithless. bosom, buried, breast. And for example, “the dashing waves of Atlantic waters were raising themselves to a considerable height before the eyes of the fugitives, who nervously paced the deck of danger in despair and deepest thought…” Isn’t it wonderful? I have to admit though that, rubbish that it is, seeing through the veritable varied verbose, one might almost say vintage verbiage I’m rather enjoying it.
An article in last week’s paper was bemoaning the fact that people don’t write lengthy letters or keep diaries these days because the great diarists of the past (Samuel Pepys of course) by jotting down their everyday experiences give us a fairly full (there I go again) picture of what life was like in them there bygone days. Web logs are evidently no substitute. But short messages by e-mail are so much more convenient and with the cost of postage for snail mail what it is it is hardly surprising that people no longer want to use it unless absolutely necessary. I don’t know how long Ray, who is after all a pensioner, can keep up with sending us news cuttings, reviews, and tit-bits when you consider the price of postage these days. For a letter up to 40g it is 88p, then there is a catch as there is no price for 50g but with 40 to 60 the cost goes up to £1.14. 100g and it’s up to £1.65, 120 - £1.92, 140 - £2.19! As he tells us, a friend no longer sends him ‘Opera News’ as it now costs more in postage than the magazine itself.
We get catalogues from various booksellers(by e-mail now as opposed to printed) who specialise in theatrical stuff and sometimes when there is a book we would consider buying we know the price after postage is going to be pretty hefty so in many instances are simply put off by that fact. Sorry for the bookseller but that’s the way it is. It’s no wonder business corporations in the UK prefer to use continental postal services for bulk sending.
The days of the penny post are long since gone. It wouldn’t be surprising if the days of the post office are numbered.
PS: What on earth is “the oasis of futurity”?