Of Corsets and Casterbridge - 11 June 1858

There are many thoughts on the corset. Many people regard them as the cause of various kinds of illness. Some think them the very thing to enforce the perfect feminine figure. And some know they're not putting them on under any circumstances.

It being quiet, I thought we'd drive in to Casterbridge for a little shopping. Weather's picking up so it was a nice day for the ride.
Well, Mrs Hnaef and I have had a whale of a time buying some new gowns, skirts, bodices and what have you. We took Kitty with us. Kitty is a charming maid, whose normal job is carrying the milking pail, and gave us some good advice on what we're supposed to be wearing. Up to now I've been aware that we've been a bit random in costume.

But you're not getting me into one of them corsets. No way. Although Mrs Hnaef was quite taken with the idea of an instantly smaller waist, and bought three. Mind you, she's not spoken much since she put one on. Amazing what we do to look attractive. I suppose the corset is the Victorian equivalent of a body piercing or tattoo.

Noisy place, Casterbridge. Obviously, none of the traffic queuing for the Waitrose car-park that you get in the 21st century Dorchester. But every shop's got scythes, rakes, waggons and pitchforks up for sale. That time of year, apparently. Hnaef I'm afraid got carried away and bought a brand new yellow waggon and a whip. He's really getting into the "Country Squire" role. But still, the real problem, for all the lack of noise and traffic - no Waitrose yet.

In the square, we saw Mr Farfrae, who we're told is the former mayor. The ruthless beggar's steadily buying up land all down the Valley of the Big Dairies at the minute. Him and Diggory Venn between them. It's enough to make me oppose enclosure. Until I look at our own farm. And then I remember what a good idea it is.

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