The Bluestocking

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This was a comment on my friend Ellen's blog, The Bluestocking Belle (check by sidebar) but grew so long, I kind of wanted it on my own blog too!

I first encountered this delicious term, aged I should think about 6. My parents were very careful never to argue 'devant les enfants' giving us a somewhat unhealthy formative view of relationships, in which strained silences and gritted teeth featured prominently.
However, on one memorable occasion, my fathers sang froid was heated a little by mother's continually comparing me to my loathed cousin, 'Judith Darby' and finding me wanting.
Judith Darby was not in fact my cousin, but the daughter of family friends, Edna, who was thin lipped and withering, and Eric, who was disabled and wore a leg iron, and with whom my mother undoubtedly flirted.
She was called 'Judith Darby' because my sister is called Judith, not that anyone ever called her that except my mother, she is universally known as Jude, but anyway, it was to distinguish her from the lesser mortal who was my sister.
Judith Darby, if my mother was to be believed, learned Greek, played the piano wonderfully, was going to go to university, and had, furthermore, made an entire ZOO from origami.
My own efforts, on the other hand were slow and displeasing. Maybe Judith Darby's acidic mother helped her with her blasted origami rather than criticising her all the time, who knows, but my tongue pinchingly best effort at making a paper Nativity (no one had taught me origami, and I was only six, remember) ended up in a telling off for making a mess.
'Why, oh why' uttered my mother, through a martyr's teeth 'can you not be more like Judith Darby?'

In one of his many appearances as my knight in shining armour, my father, breaking all the rules for once, changed sides.

'Why on earth would you want to be like her?' he twinkled at me, roguishly, and then, to seal the pact, he raised his voice, to reach as far as the flounced into kitchen and boomed 'Judith Darby? Judith Darby is... is a BLUE STOCKING'

And that settled it.


I also wanted to point out though, that the lovely Ellen, self confessed bluestocking, is not in the least Darbyesque, and to the best of my knowledge, does not excel in Greek or Origami, though I could be wrong.

And that my next encounter with the word, involved Vera Brittain, of blessed memory, so of course, despite my father's relishing of the term, it cannot be a bad thing to be!


Ellen said...

Love this post! You're correct: I speak no Greek, except for the little bit that gets tossed around in ecclesiastical circles (like metanoya, for example), and I can barely fold a napkin, much less an origami work of art. Judith Darby sounds like a drag! I like you much better.

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