A few words can go a long way. Here is Jane Austen writing to her sister Casandra, as it happened on 20 November 1800, about a ball which she had attended:
"Mrs Blount was the only one much admired. She appeared exactly as she did in September, with the same broad face, diamond bandeau, white shoes, pink husband and fat neck."
One of my favourite and one my least favourite Victorian novels are being broadcast by the BBC. They are Dombey and Son, by Charles Dickens, on the radio; and Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell on the tv. A couple of years ago I ploughed through Dombey detesting more and more its tendentious plot, sentimentality and cardboard characters. I read Cranford 50 years ago and was delighted then, as I am now, seeing it on tv, by its humorous, accurate picture of small town life.
Coming home in the rain, I walk over the reflection of street lights which shine mournfully on the black road and red brick pavements.