It was always my intention when writing this blog to do a sort of summary post once I’d finished the series. Now I find I’m a year out from recapping the final episode and still haven’t done it.
It’s easy to get swallowed up by nostalgia when valorizing a decades-old TV program. (As a lifelong Doctor Who fan, I know this too well.) That Clarissa and Jennifer themselves seemed like throwbacks to an earlier time (characters out of Wodehouse or Saki, perhaps), and that on the show they constantly referenced the past, usually comparing it favorably to the present, compounds this problem.
They are both gone now. People sometimes say the two of them seemed like best friends, but as my wife once pointed out that isn’t the case. What Clarissa and Jennifer seemed like is semi-strangers who discover they have such similar sensibilities and values that they can’t help getting along. Both believed in having fun, being curious about things, and making the most out of what life deals you. They believed in quality, tradition, and most of all propriety; they felt there truly were right and wrong ways to do practically everything – and they told you what they were. Neither one gave much of a shit if you agreed or not.
They had differences, and those differences maybe prevented them from being real friends. But what does that matter, when their similarities were so great? Watching the show, it’s clear it didn’t matter to them.
Their conversations are amazing, because unlike a lot of obnoxious people who are “natural performers,” they actually listened to each other’s opinions and stories rather than just planning what they were going to say next. For the most part, anyway. In truth, each seemed surprised at times to have found such an engaging companion to talk to.
As for their recipes, well, a lot of people roll their eyes at them, of course, but I’m surprised how many work well. Quite a few – Jennifer’s fish pie or lettuces with peas, Clarissa’s walnut-garlic chicken or Yorkshire gingerbread – have made it into the permanent repertoire in our house. And as for those that haven’t turned out (ahem, chocolate “pye”), certainly it was fun giving them a whirl as well. I feel the most important things I know about cooking I learned from the ladies – make do with what you have on hand, don’t fixate on exact measurements, cooking times, etc., use the best local ingredients you can find. These principles apply no matter what you’re cooking.
I would like to thank the readers of this blog – you have delighted me again and again with your feedback. I apologize for any sloppiness or hastiness in my writing, and I sincerely thank those of you who sent corrections! I know some of the links now point to dead ends – perhaps someday I’ll get around to updating them.
Also of course my two lovely daughters, and most of all my beautiful wife for putting up with what is without question an odd obsession for a husband and father to have. That they shared the project with me made it even more fun.
Not much more to say, is there? Only, your very good health! And cue the closing theme, please.