Now just look who caught my eye as I was driving past in my ambulance! . . . .
Why! . . . . . it's my old mate, Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley, no less . . . . . . . . . . . and can you see the look of surprise and recognition on his face upon seeing his old chum, Eddie Bluelights, a modern day version of Mr Bingley of Netherfield Park?
"Hey Darcy - haven't seen you for ages - how's the missus?", I said, "Hang on a minute I'll pop over for a chat! - I'll park the ambulance round the corner!"
I can see all you Yankees sit up and start jumping up and down with excitement at this bit of little Olde England's heritage revealed before your very eyes - and mark my words, this chap Darcy is 'big' here - really big! He's aged a bit though, and some of you swooning ladies might say he's lost some of his handsome and virile Colin Firth looks - alas faded a little since his days of glory, captured so eloquently on our television screens with that memorable and lovable serialised BBC hit, "Pride and Prejudice" - now available on DVD.
And who's that lady beside him?
Why it's non other than Jane Austen herself, creator of Mr Darcy plus a multitude of other wonderful characters in her six famous books. I must say she appears to be giving him the cold shoulder, doesn't she? Not much life in her!
I spotted them both in Bath, our beautiful Georgian city - a city with lashings and lashings of history. I pulled my ambulance over and deserted my 88 year old patient - blow him! - he'll have to wait whilst I have another chance to see my mate, Darcy.
Then I had second thoughts of compassion for my patient and having no other option than to 'get rid of him' as quickly as possible I laid my hands on his head, saying, "Arise, my son - get up from your bed and walk! - you are healed!"
To my amazement he obeyed, stood up, kissed me (ugggh!), jumped out of the ambulance door and sprinted down Milsom Street, the main street in Bath leading to the shopping precinct. He was sparsely clad in his pyjamas, waving a blanket and skipping and shouting words of joy, declaring to the world, "a Miracle, a Miracle! I'm healed, I'm healed!" with his arms and hands aloft in the air.
"Gosh! I had been wondering if I could do that for ages", I remarked to myself, all excited, as a little voice inside my head said, "What took you so long, my son - you asked me if you could do that 20 years ago - we were all wondering up here whether you were ever going to do it! But better late than never, we suppose!"
"Hang on a minute, God! I'll have to talk to you later! - got to get him back!" I said as I charged out of the ambulance in hot pursuit, followed by Mr Darcy, as we sprinted after the patient as fast as my ailing hip joint would let me. We could see a crowd forming who waved us on frantically since they thought we were the fun event tail-enders of the Bath Half Marathon, completed 2 days ago. As we passed they clapped, cheered, poured drinks on us and slapped us on the back in encouragement as they saw first a very fit old man in his pyjamas, shouting "Alleluia", Alleluia, a Miracle, a Miracle!", followed by a limping ambulance man with his bad hip, and in the rear an ageing, already puffing, red faced, sweaty Mr Darcy, wearing period costume.
Darcy and I just could not catch this man and my pleas of "Stop that man!" were greeted with hysterics and cheers from the on lookers who thought this was all part of the game for the fun race. The 'cured' patient got clean away - where he went we do not know - perhaps he is still running! So I reported the matter to control and told me to stay near the ambulance whilst they reported the loss of the patient.
Now a little digression and a word of warning to visitors from overseas.
If any of my American friends decide to visit little Olde England I would recommend a visit to Bath - but let me warn you! It is horrendously expensive, because the locals can 'see you coming' or think they can, and will charge you exorbitant fees for even the simplest things like an ice cream - quite immoral really because they think you are all loaded and don't mind paying! The same thing occurs in London for, in my experience, outside the Tate Gallery one year an Italian ice cream man called me over and said to my wife and I, "Edoardo Luciblù, if you want a cone each, have it now because those Yanks and Germans are coming out of the Gallery soon and I'm going to make a killing here". So, my Yankee friends, if you come here, haggle! with them, bust their asses if you wish, or get a Brit to buy your ice creams for you.
(Thanks Lola for the translation of Eddie Bluelights, it came just in time for the post - Lola is an Italian bird in blogland and she is lovely! - and gosh, what a fine cook she is, chaps!)
Now after that little digression I will return to the theme of my post.
My son considers that Mr Darcy looks severely constipated which probably accounts for his inability to run quickly earlier on!
After the chase Darcy ordered a cup of tea for us and while we were waiting I took another photograph. You can see the location is the Jane Austen Centre at 40 Gay Street, Bath, where all kinds of memorabilia are sold for the tourists and purists, plus site tours of some of Jane Austen's Bath residences. Jane Austen is perhaps the best known and best loved of Bath's many famous residents and visitors. She paid two long visits here towards the end of the eighteenth century, and from 1801 to 1806 Bath was her home. Her intimate knowledge of the city is reflected in two of her novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, which are largely set in Bath. I have a website address for you of the Bath Jane Austen Centre which should be of interest.
Mr Darcy attracted my attention: "Come over, Eddie, my boy! Here's you tea. . . . . . and how are you?"
"Great, thanks Darce - I say do you mind if I put these photos on my blog for my American friends do you - they'd love them - just the sort of thing they'd love to put in their pockets? Could you get Jane to take one of us together? Oh I see, she's not speaking then!"
"No, Eddie, she's just like my wife, Elizabeth (nee Bennet) you know - dead moody and won't speak for absolutely ages even after even the smallest difference of opinion. You know Elizabeth Bennet is modelled on Jane Austen's personality - both tough old boots! You know, it could be the same person! I just cannot get a word from either of them, sometimes - won't speak for ages!! Lady Catherine de Bourgh was quite correct when she said Elizabeth was an "obstinate, headstrong girl" . . . adding, "I take no leave of you, Miss Bennett. I send no compliments to you mother. You deserve no such attention. I am seriously displeased." And, you know, Lizzy was so headstrong she sent Lady Catherine packing with a 'flee in her ear' in that memorable garden scene. That's what I have to put up with - and she's so energetic! She has me diving into the lake every morning and running around the grounds with her and the dog! She wears me out! Surprising really I ever had the energy to have any kids after all that."
Where's Elizabeth?" I asked
"She's at Pemberley doing the washing, ironing and cleaning and looking after the kids, you know - all the things a wife should do while a man goes to work. I had to start working because Mr Wickham took us to the cleaners a few years ago - nearly cleaned me out! It's all documented in some manuscripts we found recently - another two books - recent finds here in Bath - almost finished by Jane Austen - but shelved for some reason. These priceless manuscripts are in the hands of some professional people who are considering whether they can complete the stories for publication - the titles are, Mr Wickham Strikes Back! and Mr Wickham, the next Generation, and they are fabulous reads. They think it's a little analogous of Mozart having his 'Requiem Mass' finished by Salieri. (I know you music experts think this is nonsense and Salieri had nothing to do with it!)
Darcy continued, "It's no good me telling you the plot of Mr Wickham Strikes Back and Mr Wickham, the next Generation, because you probably don't even know the plot of Pride and Prejudice."
"Just try me!", I said - here is the plot in a nutshell for those who have no clue as to what on Earth I'm talking about.
Rich and friendly Mr Bingley buys Netherfield (The BBC have Darcy and Bingley riding horses - lies! - this is not in the book!)
Much richer but moody Mr Darcy is staying with Mr Bingley and in the party are his younger sister, Miss Bingley, who has 'has the hots' for Darcy but Darcy 'doesn't care a fig about her'. In the party also is Mr Bingley's older married sister, Mrs Hurst and her husband Mr Hurst, who is permanently asleep!
Mrs Bennet plots to 'capture' Mr Darcy for one of her daughters - he is worth £10,000 per year! and Mr Bingley £5,000 per year.
Mr Bennet of Longbourn introduces himself to Mr Bingley.
Mr and Mrs Bennet and their five daughters to attend the Assembly Rooms Ball where they meet Mr Bingley plus his family and Mr Darcy.
At the Dance Mr Bingley fancies eldest daughter, Jane, who fancies Bingley in return but Mr Darcy disapproves of their low class and the bad manners of Mrs Bennet and the silly sisters, yet he fancies Elizabeth Bennet something rotten but cannot pluck up enough courage to ask her to dance. Silly boy!
Reverend Collins arrives - he is heir to the Bennet's home, Longbourn, and he fancies Elizabeth immediately but she almost 'throws up' when she sees him. Mrs Bennet wants the marriage but all Collins can do is talk about his idol, Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
Another dance, the Netherfield Ball, hosted by Mr Bingley with Charlotte Lucas attending, Elizabeth's spinster friend. Bingley and Jane dance all night and fall in love. Collins makes a play for Elizabeth but she's not interested because she fancies Wickham, a dashing, handsome loveable rogue in uniform, who is not there because he is frightened of Mr Darcy.
Scantilly dressed Lydia reveals nearly all to Mr Collins on the stairs at Longbourn (again. . . not in the book ~ heresy!!)
Darcy plucks up courage to invite Elizabeth to accompany him as partner in an Elizabethan dance and to the music they have a sexy conversation with some intellectual sparring, with lashings of pent up frustration . . . . . and Collins later proposes to Elizabeth who promptly rejects him much to the annoyance of Mrs Bennet, but daddy is on Elizabeth's side. So instead Collins makes his play for Charlotte Lucas and bingo, she accepts! "WHAT!", says everyone! "Uggggh! Obviously she requires the services of Spec Savers!"
Mrs Bennet and the silly sisters, including Lydia annoy Darcy - Darcy annoys Mrs Bennet - Mr Bennet escapes into his study! AGAIN!
Later Elizabeth and girl cousin stay with Mr Collins and Charlotte.
They visit Rosings, the estate of Lady Catherine and her daughter, who never speaks or gets out of her chair - she resembles a zombie. Lady Catherine wants Darcy to marry her! She must be joking! Kiss her and she'd fall to pieces! Talk about good breeding - there'd be no breeding with her involved - she looks like a wet fish!
Lady Catherine enquires of Elizabeth, "What are you talking about? I will have my share of this conversation!"
Later, Darcy puts the boot in regarding Bingley's and Jane's relationship, much to the pleasure of that evil and scheming Miss Bingley who wants Mr Darcy.
Elizabeth finds out and hits the roof!
Darcy tries to propose but stalls hopelessly at first attempt.
Darcy tries to propose again but fluffs it again, saying Elizabeth's social status is far below his own and by the way I want to marry you!
She makes a huge speech of rejection, saying, "From the very beginning . . . . your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as form that groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed upon to marry."
That's it Lizzie, you tell him!
He says, "You don't like me then?"
He writes he a letter revealing what a cad is Mr Wickham and sticking to the fact that the Bennet family are 'the pits' and why he split up Jane and Bingley. What a mess he's in now!
Darcy meets Elizabeth walking outside while he is waiting for her on his horse - his tall hat nearly falls off when he hits it on a branch. He said, "Miss Bennett, would you do me the honour of reading this letter?"
She takes it, reads it and fumes - then leaves for home at Longbourn.
She later stays with her aunt and uncle, Mr and Mrs Gardiner, in Derbyshire, near Pemberley.
They visit Pemberley when they think Darcy is away on business. Pemberley is Darcy's mansion and Elizabeth falls in love with it. The servant says what a fine fellow Darcy is, making Elizabeth think twice and when she sees his portrait she starts to ogle him.
Mr Darcy arrives after a long ride, dismounts and takes off some clothes (BBC production only - not in the book!) and dives into the lake to cool off. (That is what the ladies find so attractive and sexy about him . . . . must be!)
Elizabeth and Darcy meet when he is half clad with his shirt hanging out of his trousers, walking his horse just after his swim. Elizabeth intelligently yells out, "Mr Darcy!" Of equal intelligence was his reply, "Miss Bennet". This proves neither needs the services of SpecSavers.
Darcy does a remarkable quick change act and his personality has been transformed as well - assisted by the male finishing school he attended, when he said, "I will conquer this!" just after his rejection.
Mr Darcy invites Mr and Mrs Gardiner and Elizabeth to stay for a walk and added that Mr Gardiner could fish in his stream and lake whenever he wishes - Elizabeth is astonished at the change.
Darcy introduces Elizabeth to his sister, Georgiana - they get on like a house on fire.
Elizabeth is invited to Pemberley and Miss Bingley is not very nice to her but Darcy slaps her down.
Elizabeth sings and plays Mozart's 'Voi Che Sapete', Miss Bingley carps, and Georgiana plays Beethoven's Andante Favori, stumbles and Elizabeth assists during which her eyes meet Darcy's from across the room - with tell tale signs that their 'furnaces' have just been lit!
Wickham spoils everything by eloping with Lydia.
Elizabeth thinks Darcy will have nothing more to do with her because of family dishonour!
Darcy goes after Wickham and Lydia.
Lydia looks out of a window in London and shouts out, "Mr Darcy!" showing both her intelligence and proving she does not require the services of SpecSavers either.
Darcy and finds Wickham and Lydia and forces them into 'shotgun' wedding.
Wickham and Lydia return to Longbourn as man and wife and Lydia 'pulls rank' on the older sisters as the first married lady - hence she is first in the pecking line at dinner. Other sisters fall into rank.
Darcy and Bingley call at Longbourn to court Jane and Elizabeth and both couples get engaged.
Mrs Bennet and Darcy just about tolerate each other.
Lady Catherine visits Elzabeth in the garden to try to stop the marriage, saying Elizabeth is a low down skunk and not posh enough for Darcy.
Elizabeth sends her packing, as per garden scene described earlier.
The four get married at long last . . . . . with smiles all round.
Lady Catherine and daughter sit at home sulking.
Mrs Bennet says, "Hasn't God been good to us?"
Mr Bennet says, "Yes I think he has!"
The all live happily ever after - or do they?
There - done!
"Remarkable", said Darcy, "want a job? I will tell you about the other books another time."
We went inside and talked to the girls behind the reception desk. I asked one of the girls which scene she liked best from the BBC DVD. She replied the bit when Mr Darcy arrived home after his journey, took off his clothes and dived into the lake, then walked with his horse across the field towards the mansion and saw a startled Miss Bennet who said, "MR DARCY! and then Mr Darcy said, "MISS BENNET". I laughed and said I thought she'd say that so I tested her further. I said to the girl, "Would you find this Mr Darcy here attractive if he rode his horse around Bath, charged into the Roman Baths, took his outer clothes off and dived into the baths, got out and led his horse home and met you, saying, Miss Bennet? after you had said, "Mr Darcy"?
"No", she said, "I'd think he would look like a raving lunatic and should be locked up!"
Oh well it must be all about Colin Firth's chemistry then I suppose and not about diving or swimming- how disappointing for you, Darce.
Darcy said, "You've given me an idea! Instead of keeping lions and tigers at Pemberley, throwing the house open, as Lord Bath does at Longleat, Nr Bath, in order to pay exorbitant rates to the government, we could have a sort of marriage counselling service for bored husbands and wives. We could dress all the men like Mr Darcy and make the men all behave like Mr Darcy used to - rude and aloof. Then have a finishing school where they would attend - where they can learn fencing, deportment, how to treat ladies etc. We could supply all the period costumes and the horses and the women could all dress like Elizabeth Bennet.
Then the men would come racing in on horses, strip off and dive in the lake, watched by all the Elizabeths who would say to their men, "Mr Darcy!" They would reply, "Miss Bennet" Then quick to the bedroom!
It would be a huge money spinner and make me a fortune -Thanks Eddie!
Just then an elderly man in pyjamas came running into the shop. "Has anyone seen the ambulance driver? Oh there you are - bless you - I am healed! thank you! thank you! Get me to the hopital to collect my clothes - they want me in the London Marathon next week"
Now ladies, would you like to see the Lake Scene again? Oh go on then!
Want to see the eye contact scene again!
Oh go on then here it is - get the tissues out.
Well that's enough of the fiction. Hope you enjoyed the post.Perhaps it is time to start writing some factual themes.
Would you like to see some of my ambulance experiences posted?
Copyright photographs and text ~ Eddie Bluelights May 2009
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