“I am sure of this - that if everybody was to drink their bottle a-day, there would not be half the disorders in the world there are now. It would be a famous good thing for us all.”
So says John Thorpe, in Jane Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey.
Now, Thorpe isn’t the kind of young man we’d take health advice from these days, but Austen herself wasn’t averse to the occasional glass of wine, or even several glasses: “I believe I drank too much wine last night at Hurstbourne,” she once wrote in a letter to her sister Cassandra, “I know not how else to account for the shaking of my hand today. You will kindly make allowance therefore for any indistinctness of writing, by attributing it to this venial error.”
In her novels, Austen doesn't provide many specific details of what her characters eat and drink, but when she does let us know what's on the menu, she means it to imply quite a bit about who those characters are.
Even better, she drops a hint for the reader about what she, the author, thinks of her own characters!
But with the passing of so many years and fashions, we probably miss Austen’s implications when we read her books today.
How fortunate, then, for lovers of all things Regency and Austen, that culinary historian Richard Foss is coming to town.
Foss, whose other areas of expertise include a history of airline food and the diet of Charles Dickens' England, has read his Austen, done his research, and prepared his ingredients.
His hour-long lecture, Drinking with Jane Austen, will fill in all the details Austen left out, and demonstrate the refreshments, both alcoholic and non-intoxicating, that were imbibed by the various social classes of England in the early 1800s.
He'll also show how Austen indicates to us the character of the men and women in her novels, from what they choose to drink or serve.
Presented by the Wagga Wagga City Library and Civic Theatre, Drinking with Jane Austen promises to be festive and illuminating.
As you can see from his photo, Richard Foss is more than prepared to dress in the - forgive the pun - spirit of this occasion, and you're encourage (but certainly not required) to do the same.
Each ticket comes with a free drink (non-alcoholic options will be provided) and light supper.
There'll even be a little printed recipe book for you to take home, so you can try some authentic Austen-era beverages for yourself!
JOHN Sheahan lived on a five-acre settlement next to Kapooka Army Base for many years, but it wasn’t until 2008 that he learned of the worst training accident in Australian military history, which happened right next door in 1945.
He was stunned that the tragedy was so little known, locally and elsewhere.
Curiosity got the better of him, and when he took a walk in Wagga’s War Cemetery, the idea for this book was born.
The Kapooka Tragedy draws on a 1945 Court of Inquiry and eyewitness accounts to narrate the story of the day 26 sappers, training at the Royal Australian Engineers’ base at Kapooka, lost their lives in an accidental explosion.
The shock of the blast was felt on Baylis Street, 8kms away, and two days later nearly half of Wagga’s population attended the largest military funeral in Australia’s history.
It seems inconceivable that this event would be forgotten, but it nearly happened.
The Kapooka tragedy was not recorded in any of the official war histories, and the memory of it was kept alive by family members, a few locals, and those who were present that day.
Sixty-five years later, a formal memorial was constructed near the site of the explosion and an annual commemorative service was instituted.
John's book, to be launched at the Library on Monday, aims to honour the memory of the men who lost their lives in the tragedy, and to acknowledge the grief of their families. It also recounts the efforts by contemporary Army personnel to create a fitting memorial near the site of the explosion.
SEAN Murphy is back, and this time it's seasonal.
Just in time for Christmas, he'll be returning to Wagga Library with a special Yuletide edition of his brilliant comedy show Kids' Party Confidential.
Don't miss this very, very funny man, and his hilarious tales from the life a children's party entertainer.
Last time he had both adults and kids in stitches.
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