Friday, 13 July 2012

history, Lucy's style..

Lucy Worsley
I first watched her show Harlots, Housewives, and Heroines: A 17th century History for Girls on BBC Four and was drawn to her unique accent of English. I watched Act One: At Court, and then Act Two and Three; At Home and At Home and At Play respectively and was totally caught by her playful way to retell the history of the Restoration Era. She seems to be such a fun person and I would love to study Britain's history with her as a lecturer. And the accent!!! Loved it.


I was a UK-buff since I was a little girl. The dreams of visiting castles, manors, and other stately homes were made true when I was 24 and lived a while in the UK; using the study excuses. Ha! I am in LOVE with everything UK, especially its history. I had to say I am a history buff too, though my ability to memorise dates and names is quite faint.

Hence my other hobby to watch documentaries about England's history, and I swallow all: prehistoric (to mention Orkney, Stonehenge, Piltdown case, etc.), Vikings (i love the Jorvik part of the history...), Anglo-Saxons (now this is where it gets reaaaally heard for me to remember the names of the people in ancient English or Scottish or Welsh... braaahh!), Romans! (grand architectures, the times when visiting that pub with remains of a frigidarium underneath the overflowing taps of beer and cider and ales, Hadrian Walls, whatnots..), Dark Ages (whooooooo witchycrafts and the likes), Medievals (i ADORE churches and chapels and candles and crosses and gyahahaha.. nearly everything medievals!), and usually I got bored during the times of Renaissance. Oh, Miss Worsley, I beg your pardon if I indeed had been mistaken on putting the timelines incorrectly. I'm just bad at memorising, not to mention the newly obtained retrograde amnesia after I banged the bathtub with  my head.

Watching the historical reenactment series on BBC (whichever channels that would be - cant memorise them all), had really brought up the passion of history-learning nerves in my brain. Which is good.

FASHIONS, WOMEN, AND THE INTERWOVEN TIMELINES
In the Harlots, Housewives, and Heroines series, Miss Worsley explored the fashion, the customs, the daily lives, the chores, the etiquettes of being either a harlot (say what!? etiquettes of being a harlot, have I gone mad!), a housewife, and well, is there an etiquette to be a heroine?? LOL. On Act Three she mentioned something about Celia Fiennes, the first ever English female traveller; who commited to be a bachelorette for quite a while just to travel. It was told that she was particularly interested in the economical aspect of every county she was visiting, recording Liverpool, Bristol, and others.
Fiennes was interested in anything new, in innovations, bustling towns, the newly fashionable spa towns such as Bath and Harrogate, and in commerce. - Wikipedia, 2012.
I find Celia Fiennes to be very inspiring, when the Restoration women are busy marrying - she wasn't. Now, some of you might just say that it is a justification effort for me to find someone alike. Hey, it's human nature to find something similar in others. Hmm, Celia, any relations to Ralph Fiennes?

Now, I have another habit: interconnecting the timeline with what happened in my own country. I have to be honest, Miss Worsley, if you happen to stumble upon this writing of mine, that the historical recording system in my country is a bit saddening. (then there is this voice saying: 'A BIT SADDENING, YOU SAY??! I am just going to assume you're being polite, Dee....') I am imagining that when England was bustling with luscious fashion and clothing, Indonesia might have the same thing too. Well, of course the ladies and gentlemen over here wouldn't wear exactly what Louis XIV or Charles II wore. But believe me, I have no idea on how to find out what people in my country were wearing during those days. Sure there are reliefs of carvings and statues on the 'Medieval' era in Indonesia (I think we refer it to the Classical period of Hinduism and Buddhism influences). But I am not easily satisfied with only one or two references. I need more. I need images, pictures, so I can imagine what it feels like in the past. I really think that it is important as an archaeologist (am I now!?) to get in tune and in depth to whatever that I am studying. Okay, hang on: did I just suggested that if I am learning prehistory I should be either barenaked or wearing bark clothing and have my long jet-black hair being dragged by my man? (ACH, THE STEREOTYPES!!!)
Chopines. - Taken from Wikipedia
Yes, yes, I can imagine the influences of Western styles of clothing in Indonesia during 17th century period: Portuguese and Dutch have entered the ports and jetties. Not to mention the previously arrived Arabs, Indians, Gujaratis, Chinese, and several others. We might have some sense of influences in daily fashion and statel fashion from these new arrivals, either symbolically or explicitely.
The idea is to be in a higher position than the commoners

Anyways, women in my country might not be wearing fashionable Venezian high heels on the 17th century, but I bet the domination of colours of brown, golden, yellow, red, and orange would beat the dull of the grey clouds. Oh God, I could go on when talking about the history of fashion; from chopines, to negligee, corsetry (especially THIS ONE!! I'm a fanatic!). Okay, remind me to write something about the history of fashion items in Indonesia too.. I know someone who has been working specifically and archaeologically about this.

 images taken from Google Images search results
 

WOMEN AND SOCIETY
Then, what came across my mind is about the shifting of women's roles in society. Now here's something totally different, in my views. When the Restoration women of the Great Britain found their voices and were able to speak up through writings of recipe books, midwifry guidelines, sexual relationship manual books; I was wondering what the women in my country at that time were doing. There is a tendency of stereotyping the role of women over here (avec ou sans emancipation...) that women should always stand behind their men (or THE men). Waves of feminist movements from the US after the WWII didn't seem to affect much of the women in my country. Yes, nowadays you will find independent socialites spreading over there stories of successes in the Sunday newspaper or women's magazines, but really.... it's all a play. In reality, in daily life: they still embrace the feminist movement concepts half-heartedly. Why am I being judgmental about this? Hm... that's another story.

One thing I find that is similar between women ANYWHERE is that the knowledge of household skills, hygiene, health, and personal matters (and how to handle men [!!!]) are handed down in a secretive and nearly sacred manner. Now this is what I call the real GIRL POWER; in addition to what the Spice Girls have been promoting in the late 1990s. And there is this other thing that is similar: prostitution is considered to be an unfortunate profession anywhere in the world. It is the lowest form of a job (pardon me), but there are high class ones, like: courtesans, mistresses; and this custom happens everywhere as well. I have an outline about this topic as well, where I shall mention the high-class category of prostitution is merely about the controlled environments of 'activities' (if you know what I mean). Those who works in a lower level might be prone to STDs more than those who's working in a more controlled environment, where they may choose the clients varieties or to stick with several regulars. Oh yeah, archaeology of sexuality and this oldest profession always fascinates me, because I am passionate and I find the women who chose this profession are brave as not all of them do it for the sake of fun-ness.

THE STATELY HOMES
What is it about the Great Britain that keeps me falling in love with it?

The architectures

As I mentioned, from the Roman baths, churches, graveyards, cathedrals, halls, manors, lodges, whatnot. I remember visiting Anne Hathaway's home and really not wanting to go home at all (Gosh, those thatched roof is inviting!!). The series presented a bit about the rooms, chambers, and features of architecture and I have to tell you that I envy the detailed-ly recorded history of uses, users, owners, restorators, and even the person who demolished it (ehmmm, Henry!!!). Again, comparing to the supposedly stately homes in Indonesia (of course, the Westernised architectures were introduced by the Dutch, and Portuguese); I dont feel like we have proper information about the same thing.

I have to sadly admit that over here, the custom is to think that colonisation is hurtful and bad and therefore the remains shall be demolished and turned it out to be grandeur shopping malls. If you do not catch my drift of cynicism, then I dont know what to say. Today's laws were supposed to protect the stately homes and buildings, but when someone opened up the thick money-filled wallet, the law fades away. Oh God, have I been too honest here? Sorry... NOT! There is only ONE Anglican Church in Jakarta and look what happened to it? TSK!

Where am I going with this? I was supposed to write about Lucy Worsley! Hahahaa... now now.. she inspired me to write this, so in a way, I am writing about her (not?). There are a lot of social aspects presented in the series of Harlots, Housewives, and Heroines. In conclusion, it shows the shifting of daily life aspects and point of view and customs around Great Britain. Just yesterday I was talking to a colleague of mine about 'evolution of thinking' and this example of case is far more relatable than the case he was offering. Hahahahahaha... sorry!

Thank you, Lucy Worsley - to have opened my eyes and brain once again through the history of your country. I have enjoyed watching Harlots, Housewives, and Heroines; and I will stay tune to your future series.

There's no relevance to the essay, but I just found this pic in Google and LOVED it.


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