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 Post subject: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 21 Jul 2018, 10:11 
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EBD describes many things as dainty, from dresses to meals, to people. I was wondering how you see a dainty meal? is it the portion size, the presentation, or the china?
The word seems to have many different nuances used in differing situations. Would EBD have considered herself dainty?


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 Post subject: Re: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 21 Jul 2018, 11:18 
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scrabble wrote:
Would EBD have considered herself dainty?
I doubt it - I suspect that she associated the word with females of fairly petite build, which I don't think she was; much more likely to have aimed for trig, trim etc. And as a headmistress and professional writer, she may also have felt that dainty wouldn't have the right element of gravitas.

I think 'dainty' has very much become derided as a concept - even in EMBD's lifetime, as evidenced by the narrator in Betjeman's satirical poem of 1958 'How to Get on in Society' (the one that starts "Phone for the fish knives, Norman") who "must have things daintily served". While I don't think she ever used the word, it's too redolent of Hyacinth Bucket in 'Keeping Up Appearances' for modern tastes (or Jen Teale in Jilly Cooper's book Class).

The OED online gives its original meaning as "Valuable, fine, handsome; choice, excellent; pleasant, delightful", though also includes "Of delicate or tender beauty or grace; delicately pretty; made with delicate taste" which seems to me nearer to the modern (and EMBD) usage.


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 Post subject: Re: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 21 Jul 2018, 15:25 
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It's not just size, though, I am tiny and weigh nothing, but dainty is the last word for me; you have to be neat, and still, and wear your clothes perfectly. Dainty is Royal Albert china, and lacy tray cloths, and cut glass flower vases...
I suspect EBD longed to be dainty and knew she wasn't!


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 Post subject: Re: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 21 Jul 2018, 17:06 
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LucyP wrote:
I suspect EBD longed to be dainty and knew she wasn't!
Good point, and quite likely.

A little of that stuff goes a long way, though, for most of us. I remember a shop I once went into on holiday in the West Country - it stocked collectables and a few antiques, and majored in dainty, especially as applied to china and linen. The whole place overflowed with pastel colours, floral patterns, lacy and embroidered trims - and I had to leave after about ten minutes because I felt smothered!

(edited to correct punctuation)


Last edited by Noreen on 21 Jul 2018, 17:50, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 21 Jul 2018, 17:34 
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Very much in fashion in the Edwardian era - I remember my great aunts - around EBD's age [ie born 1880s/90s] having flower-sprigged tea-sets of thin china, and making thin bread sandwiches with the crusts cut off; and jam in dishes, with little spoons to serve the jam onto your plate, not straight onto your bread with a knife... all very 'dainty' and pretty.

I suspect even Cath Kidson stuff - which I find a bit much when confronted with more than one item at a time - would be too 'coarse' despite being floral.

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 Post subject: Re: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 21 Jul 2018, 20:45 
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Embroidered hankies! A great aunt used to give them as birthday presents, bless her. Not really what you wanted in the 1980s.

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 Post subject: Re: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 22 Jul 2018, 06:36 
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Alison H wrote:
Embroidered hankies! A great aunt used to give them as birthday presents, bless her. Not really what you wanted in the 1980s.


I was presented with an embroidered tablecloth, napkin and, bizarrely, hanky set just last year.

They are beautiful and I use the tablecloth now and then. But the hankies and napkins have yet to be used. It's quite sad really because they are gorgeous but I simply cannot find a use for them.

And hankies are just impractical. We hear of CS girls using hankies all the time for streaming colds.

Having just recovered from a terrible cold and flu during which many many tissues were used, I simply cannot imagine going through dozens of hankies. And you cannot reuse them until they have been washed so what do you do if you run out? Use a pillowcase?

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 Post subject: Re: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 22 Jul 2018, 09:28 
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Alison H wrote:
Embroidered hankies! A great aunt used to give them as birthday presents, bless her. Not really what you wanted in the 1980s.


We have loads of them in the storeroom at Oxfam where I volunteer. We also have lots of embroidered napkins, table mats and runners, plus crocheted doilies and mats for dressing tables. One day we will price them and have a Linen Event...................


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 Post subject: Re: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 22 Jul 2018, 11:17 
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When EBD calls the girls 'dainty' I think of Dresden figures. Peggy Bettany is the ultimate dainty girl - Polly Winterton says she felt a regular grub beside dainty Peggy. I prefer Polly.


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 Post subject: Re: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 22 Jul 2018, 13:49 
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Handkerchiefs make wonderful bedding for dolls houses....

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 Post subject: Re: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 22 Jul 2018, 15:10 
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They cut up someone's handkerchiefs - Jem or Jack's I think - for bedding when they furnished the dolls house in one of the Island books - was it Carola, the one where people had to guess what everything was made of.


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 Post subject: Re: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 23 Jul 2018, 15:53 
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Joyce wrote:

I was presented with an embroidered tablecloth, napkin and, bizarrely, hanky set just last year.

They are beautiful and I use the tablecloth now and then. But the hankies and napkins have yet to be used. It's quite sad really because they are gorgeous but I simply cannot find a use for them.


You could frame them and put them on the walls as art. We've done that with a couple of tea towels. A professional framer should be able to stretch them out so they aren't framed all wrinkly.

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 Post subject: Re: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 24 Jul 2018, 02:36 
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Mel wrote:
When EBD calls the girls 'dainty' I think of Dresden figures. Peggy Bettany is the ultimate dainty girl - Polly Winterton says she felt a regular grub beside dainty Peggy.


I think Dresden china figure too.

The type of girl who is always perfectly clean and well dressed and never a hair out of place. Looks as if she's just stepped out of a bandbox.

Some girls are just naturally like that and stay clean no matter what the situation and never get a stain on their white linen pants. Joey complains at some point that even though she and Simone have been doing exactly the same things all day, Simone's hair is perfect while hers is all over the place.

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 Post subject: Re: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 24 Jul 2018, 06:47 
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Dainty to me implies not just that tidiness, but also build - slim, not too tall, not too buxom, fairly delicate features.

Reading through this thread it's apparent that dainty is basically the opposite of what I am.

The fine china is also something that's showing up in thrift stores in batch lots. The younger generations don't have much interest in having good china that can't be put in the dishwasher, and there's so much old stuff on the market that antique dealers generally aren't interested in even full sets of quite expensive stuff. My mom has her mom's good china, and has taken to just using it for daily meals, and tossing it in the dishwasher anyways, as none of us want it, and she can't sell it.

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 Post subject: Re: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 24 Jul 2018, 17:41 
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Dainty to me means more decorative than substantial, whether that's china, clothes, people or meals. When it comes to people, I consider daintiness to include personality. Peggy is, overall, gentle and demure and proper, and that in my eyes makes her dainty. Verity Carey has the same small build and silvery voice, but I wouldn't call her dainty given she doesn't fall in line as easily.

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 Post subject: Re: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 26 Jul 2018, 03:50 
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Didn't EBD quite often use the word "fresh" with "dainty"? Peggy was the ultimate as regarda this and I am sure Elinor Pennell was another described as thus. i also take it to mean that the person was as clean as clean could be the whole way through.

When dainty is applied to an object I also think of it as being a bit twee. Like the pink, china ornament figure I once gave someone as a present in my youth and which I would not touch with a bargepole now.


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 Post subject: Re: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 05 Aug 2018, 12:17 
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In Joey & Co in Tirol it's mentioned that the Maynard girls are accustomed to a dainty home. To me that conjures up images of table runners, doilies and antimacassars, shelves and display cupboards of china and knick-knacks, chintzy curtains and everything floral. *shudder*
EBD seems to have been quite keen on "pretty" wallpapers. Janie of La Rochelle has "pretty" wallpaper in her sitting room and Joey advises Simone to have some pretty wallpapers put up on the walls of the chateau in place of the tapestries!
NO Joey! Just get the tapestries cleaned and re-hung. Stop trying to turn the chateau into a suburban semi with your wallpaper and wooden floors!
I'm not sure what EBD would think of my latest favourite style:

https://www.wallpaperdirect.com/collect ... mpunk/1437

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 Post subject: Re: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 05 Aug 2018, 15:10 
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Dainty to me always means going out to tea, and coming home and eating half a loaf because you're so hungry.

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A certain edge when she spoke of Mrs Maynard, certainly, but, after all, not everyone could love Joey.
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 Post subject: Re: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 05 Aug 2018, 16:03 
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:lol: :lol: Yes - "dainty sandwiches" and "dainty cakes" sound like they're half a mouthful each!

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 Post subject: Re: EBD and dainty
PostPosted: 06 Aug 2018, 01:09 
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I definitely picture the Maynard home along those same lines. Everything spotlessly clean and polished (thanks to Anna!), matching floral curtains, floral wallpaper, prints of tasteful art on the walls. An assortment of knick-knacks, always fresh flowers in vases on the tables, Polished wood floors rather than carpets, but rugs on the floors.

In reality, of course, if you had 11+ kids, plus Joey, plus a badly trained St Bernard, plus riotous games with schoolgirls in the Saal, and only Anna and Rosli to manage all the cleaning and childcare, the knickknacks would would quickly be smashed and the dainty furniture and polished floors would end up scuffed and battered. Tying into the Janie Steps in Thread - the Chesters originally had a staff of three full time maids, a gardener, a governess and a nurse for their house and six kids. They Maynards, in a
similar situation, have only Anna, and in Switzerland manage an even bigger house with twice the kids, get by with Anna, Rosli, and the sometimes a mother's help.

Dainty, to me, means meals that look lovely but leave you hungry, clothes that look pretty, but you can't do anything in them without staining or ripping them, and home decor that's kind of claustrophobic, because moving will knock something over or track dirt on the pretty carpets. And the kind of physical build where you have to nibble daintily on dressing free salad and turn down the desserts to maintain it.

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