Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The more things change ...

I've been reading a book called Queen Bees, by Sian Evans.

It's one of those multiple biographies about six society hostesses between the wars. (That's what  it says on the cover, but it actually stretches longer than that, from before the first to after the second world war.) I picked it up originally because Nancy Astor, the first woman to take her seat as an MP, is one of the six, and I was hoping for some information on her for the 'day job'. I didn't get it, but the book is fascinating on the 'soft power' wielded by these society ladies. At balls and in drawing rooms and during country house weekends, they were the 'behind the scenes' movers and shakers of the day. The whole thing reads like a whose-who of famous names - politicians, film stars, royalty - everything from the Abdication Crisis to the Profumo Affair.  If you are interested in the era, it's a worthwhile read. Just the descriptions of the fabulous jewels that these ladies owned had me hooked.

And those women worked hard on their social whirl - charts and lists of guests and their preferences, endless invitations and letters. One of them even had a drop down desk in the back of her car so that she could deal with correspondence while travelling between engagements. While I was reading it occurred to me that what I was reading was familiar - what we would call social media - keeping up, keeping in touch, exchanging gossip, only we do it electronically and they did it all by hand. These days it would be a computer and a spreadsheet.

Human beings don't really change.

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