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time travel

Saturday was my best visit ever to the Dickens Fair. I found a bodice that almost exactly matches my silver-grey skirt, and wore them with a white peasant blouse and a black leather belt and high-heeled boots and a couple of strings of jet that used to be Mum’s. I looked adorably steampunk.

The kids are old enough now that I don’t panic as much when they are out of sight, mostly, and they don’t whine or need to be carried, as much. This has had an enormously positive effect on my wellbeing. It’s most noticeable with the things we do once a year. I started going to the Fair when Julia was a babe in arms, and two or three hours used to be a long visit for us. This year we were there when it opened and almost closed it down. I don’t get as tired or irritable, and I don’t get that terrible feeling of having heavy weights hanging off me all the time, so that my very skin aches. Small children are an unimaginable amount of work. But my children are not small any more. Vast relief, and of course also, great ruefulness and sentimentality.

We got to do many more things. We heard Rudyard Kipling read The Elephant’s Child, and sketched live models in a Pre-Raphaelite Salon. Burne-Jones was there, and William Morris. And I learned how to waltz! I’ve waltzed before, but I can’t turn my head fast enough. So my lovely partner said “Just look into my eyes,” and so I did and the camera swirled around us and the music soared and I laughed my fool head off, and he said “Yes! This is how Victorians got high!” and I said “I finally get why it was so scandalous!”

Foxhunting and waltzing and Jane Austen. The pommification is starting to take.

are we from the past?

Salome, Julia, Milo and I dressed up for the Dickens Fair, but Claire steadfastly refused to wear anything but jeans and a t-shirt.

It’s one of the ridiculously fun, only-in-San-Francisco events, like Maker Faire and the Mime Troupe, that have become fixtures on my calendar. The organizers take two cattle sheds at the arse-end of Cow Palace and decorate them as Victorian London. Actors dress up as Father Christmas, Sherlock Holmes, Alice in Wonderland, explorers, chimney sweeps, pickpockets, fine ladies and so forth. There are fish and chips straight out of the fryer, best I’ve ever had in America. There are choirs singing sea shanties, pantomimes in the music halls, shops selling a slightly anachronistic range of hastily-adapted Renaissance Faire merchandise.

It is an insanely good time. Highlight of this year was the ball, Claire being just the right age to be swept away by the actors. Everyone danced until they melted down and fell asleep on the way home.