by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Life, the Universe, and Everything”

Victorian Barbies: Playsets and Accessories

Posted 27 February 2009 in by Catriona

Once you’ve purchased your Victorian Barbie from Harrison and Smythe, Toy Suppliers to Their Royal Majesties, then what do you need?

High-quality playsets and accessories, of course! Buy your Barbie the best accessories and social situations.

Charity Ken!

Pull a string and see Charity Ken hand an urchin a penny and simultaneously gesture the filthy object of charity away from him!

Sold separately:
Pompous Letter to an Expensive Periodical Explaining that Charity Stops the Working Classes From Helping Themselves
Port-Fuelled Diatribe in a Gentleman’s Club

Note
Gentlemen’s Club playset sold separately, but Harrison and Smythe will require proof of gender before selling this item.

Pompous Baronet Ken!

Comes with Monocle, Fetching Plaid Trousers, and Improbable Pectoral Development.

This item also comes with your choice of either Friedrich Nietzsche’s treatise on men and supermen, or a witty essay from G. K. Chesterton explaining that it’s one thing to accept that the aristocracy is richer and more attractive than us, but quite another to expect us to believe that they’re also wittier.

Barbie’s Dream Carriage!

Comes with Detachable Wheel, for arranging those convenient meetings with eligible single men away from the eyes of Victorian Barbie’s chaperone, and Faithful Hound.

Sold Separately:
Debonair, Cigar-Smoking Ken

Note
To the imaginative child, Faithful Hound may serve as either a means of safeguarding Victorian Barbie’s virtue until she is safely married and in receipt of handsome settlements, or as a symbolic representation of the hidden violence in nineteenth-century marriages. We also recommend purchasing Debonair, Cigar-Smoking Ken’s Private Rod accessory pack.

Barbie’s Loveless Marriage of Convenience Playset!

Comes with two dolls: Beautiful But Ambitious Victorian Barbie Who Will Regret Her Decision When It Is Too Late, and Extremely Wealthy But Unattractive Ken.

Sold separately
Extensive Parisian Wardrobe
Slowly Eroding Sense Of Self Worth
Faithless But Physically Attractive Lover
Humiliating And Extended Appearance Before The Divorce Courts
Act Of Parliament

Note
Older children may wish to choose one of two accompanying playsets:
Death By Arsenic, The Agony Of Which Not Even The Romance Of Suicide Can Alleviate
or
Suicide Under A Freight Train At A Russian Railway Station

Victorian Barbies: Available From Harrison and Smythe, Toy Suppliers To Their Royal Majesties

Posted 27 February 2009 in by Catriona

Stepping out of the pages of the popular weekly fiction journals, Victorian Barbie lets you reenact extravagant emotional scenes from your favourite melodramas right in your own nursery—as long as Nursie isn’t watching, of course!

Choose from these options, available now:

Seduced But Penitent Barbie!

Available in kneeling position only. Buy with the Barbie’s Deathbed playset, and create your own tableaux vivant.

Sold separately:
Stern, Unforgiving Ken
Symbolic Blasted Oak

Neurasthenic Barbie!

Press a button on her back, and watch her faint away!

Sold separately:
Attentive Swain Ken
Chair
Emotionally Traumatic Letter
Restorative Glass of Wine

East-End-Theatre Ballet-Dancer Barbie!

Comes with tambourines, rosettes for her slippers, and an entirely inappropriate amount of cleavage!

Sold separately
Horrible Accident With The Unscreened Gaslights During The Christmas Pantomime
Stockinette For Ineffectual Treatment Of Third-Degree Burns
Agonising Death Some Six Weeks Later

Botanist Barbie!

Comes with attractive flower-collecting outfit and flower.

Sold separately:
Nervous Breakdown On Realising That Science Is No Fit Subject For a Lady

And don’t forget to visit Harrison and Smythe for all your Victorian Barbie playset and accessory needs.

Quotes That Have Annoyed Me Today

Posted 16 February 2009 in by Catriona

My Gmail programme runs unobtrusive banner advertisements across the top of the page.

Sometimes, these frustrate me beyond measure, as when, on the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration, I was offered “fantastic” deals on “Impeach Obama” T-shirts. Clearly, my e-mail programme—which, if it were sentient, would know me as well as anyone, being privy to most of my everyday communication—doesn’t have the faintest idea about my political leanings. It probably doesn’t care, either.

Sometimes they bewilder me, as when they declared that dictionary.com’s “Word of the Day” was “obscure,” which really isn’t that (forgive me) obscure a word.

But today they’ve annoyed me. Not much, just a mild degree of annoyance.

Today, I have a quote of the day from Charles Kettering: “Thinking is one thing no one has ever been able to tax.”

Well, no. I’d say that’s probably true.

But, Charles Kettering, holder of over three hundred patents, man responsible for the development of Freon and the first practical coloured paints for mass-produced cars (to paraphrase Wikipedia), they do quite frequently tax the items that help us to think more broadly, more deeply, and more intensely.

Look, for example, at the fact that paperback books cost a small fortune now, compared to their prices before the introduction of the GST—after which they rose by considerably more than ten percent, I might add.

And it’s nothing new: think of the Taxes on Knowledge (not the best link, but good on dates), which increased the prices of papers carrying political content well beyond the reach of any but the well-to-do, and which existed for over one hundred years.

(So when you see an inexpensive Victorian journal telling you that it’s “A Weekly Journal of Science, Arts, and Literature,” it’s not telling you what is contains, it’s telling you what it doesn’t contain: no religion or politics, and therefore not taxable.)

So they may not be able to levy a tax explicitly on thought, though it wouldn’t surprise me if they tried.

But they can certainly levy taxes on those objects and institutions that facilitate, enrich, or inspire thoughts.

So stop being fatuous, Gmail’s Quote of the Day.

The Gecko Insurrection Is Not Over

Posted 13 February 2009 in by Catriona

The saga started, as you know, with the disappearance of my fabulous tweezers.

Then my tweezers returned.

And I thought then that the gecko insurrection movement might have gone underground, or that, perchance, they were abandoning their revolutionary plans.

But, no.

Because I’ve just been in the bathroom.

And my fabulous tweezers are still there, but one of the other two pairs has disappeared now.

So perhaps the return of the fabulous tweezers was a sympathetic gesture, a kindness from the small lizards to the humans they are planning to overthrow.

But, clearly, they still need tweezers to carry out their plans—whatever those plans might be.

(This, incidentally, is the one-year anniversary of Circulating Library: I wrote my inaugural post on the 13th of February last year. So the fact that this, my 513th post, is about my revolutionary geckoes, is a nice encapsulation of the way the blog has expanded its boundaries in the last twelve months.)

An Update On The Planned Gecko Insurrection

Posted 9 February 2009 in by Catriona

I have found my fabulous tweezers. On the kitchen windowsill.

Now, that’s just odd. I use the kitchen windowsill to store all sorts of things, not least my cigarettes. And I’m sure the tweezers weren’t there when I grabbed a packet of cigarettes yesterday.

There’s only one plausible solution.

The geckoes have clearly worked out how to lift the lid of my laptop and, since the computer is not password protected, have been reading the blog, and have discovered that their plans for an insurrection have been rumbled.

(Or, I suppose, the possums could be telepathic as well as telekinetic.)

Now it’s only a matter of figuring out whether they’ve returned the tweezers out of a sense of “Fly, all is discovered!” or whether they’re trying to lull me into a false sense of security.

Well, that and wondering why they haven’t returned my cheese slicer, as well.

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