S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen
owlfish

A Music-Hall Guide to Victorian Living

The Ingleby Singers, usually of Valentine's Mansion in Ilford, exist, as a subset of a larger group of madrigal singers, solely to sing Mrs. Beaton's Book: A Musical-Hall Guide to Victorian Living. This confection of good advice and singing was first published in 1982. It was written by composer Michael Hurd who specialized in writing children's operas and cantatas. In Thursday's performance of it, it was interspersed with readings from the book itself, and recipes from a local nineteenth-century cookery book. To make the performance complete, it was all accompanied by an illustrative slide show.

The songs all draw heavily on the advice given in what is still one of England's most famous cookbooks, a commodious volume giving advice on everything from cookery to managing one's servants and budget for the aspiring middle classes of the 1850s and '60s. That, therefore, comprises the words and messages of the songs themselves: how many servants one can reasonably afford, given one's budget; why one should never chat about trivial subjects; cooking for charitable purposes; the importance of the lady of the house. It's all tongue-and-cheek and funny, while still being rather proper, the self-conscious modern composer appealing to his contemporaries while bringing to life a monument of Good Advice.

And so, my friends, lest you had any doubt: if you earn less than 500 pounds per year, you cannot afford to keep a full-time cook employed in your kitchen, let alone much other help other than part-time.
Subscribe

  • The night of bad jokes

    My sister tells me that telling jokes to earn one's treat for Halloween is a Des Moines thing. People in the DC area don't do it. Really?

  • Tasting chocolate

    One of the highlights of going to the Chocolate Show today was a panel called "Judging the Judges". The award winners of a raft of major chocolate…

  • Theo Randall at the Intercontinental

    For weeks, I'd been looking forward to eating at Dabbous, but they cancelled at the last minute, thanks to a gas leak. We already had childcare, so I…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 3 comments