The Cocktail Bar

NOTE: This conversation runs backwards! For the benefit of regular readers the newest comments are put at the top.

girls in Pit-london who love Aristasia and would like to visit Aristasian soil may discuss a Visit to the Aristasian Embassy, which is five minutes from an Underground station. Pop us a note if you are interested.

Music Playing: Body and Soul by Miss Marychild's Dance Orchestra

Dateline: 20 December 1951

Ellhedrine's Santa Question

Sweet young Ellhedrine was recently puzzled about Santa Claus, a very understandable question from a girl who comes from a country here em-ee-en are unknown and Nativity presents are delivered by the Star Fairy. Our wise editrix was of the opinion that this was a difficult thing to explain to an Aristasian born; but I think I can help. Here is a picture of Santa, dear Ellhedrine. She is a kind of Tellurian Star Fairy who comes down the chimney without getting her red coat dirty (because she is magic, of course). And she looks like this.


More Domestic Instruction

Gosh, I had never even heard of hereditary maids until now, though serving maids certainly still exist here in Kadorian Gotham. I say "still," because I gather that, at least until the Great War, servants of all sorts were still fairly common in Culverian households, even in middle class ones, but for reasons I do not quite understand, they are rather a rarity in all but the very wealthiest ones anymore. Culverians seem reluctant to put themselves above others, as a rule -- there is a very strong democratic tendency here, you see. Some pettes are even self-conscious about having a waitress in a luncheonette re-fill their coffee cups without saying "thank you" each time, even when deeply engaged in the most intriguing gossip.

 At any rate, most girls in Culveria, even fairly well-to-do ones, are brought up without servants nowadays; they see their blonde mothers doing the cooking, baking, preserving, cleaning, laundry, ironing, shopping, sewing and mending, not to mention the doctoring and even some minor household repairs! Perhaps this marked self-sufficiency has to do with a hardy colonial or pioneer spirit, or with a self-conscious rejection of social class as inimical to our democratic notions, ("any girl can grow up to be President"), particularly after periodic floods of immigrants (often from very stratified cultures) over the last several generations. But I shall leave these matters to the sagettes and philosopherettes -- I am as much a product of contemporary Culverian culture as any ordinary houseblonde: my job is merely to write about things that will allow Culverian girls, but particularly blondes, to attain their domestic ideals with the least expense and fewest tears.

Speaking of domestic ideals, we have talked about kitchen ranges and washing machines, but have said nothing so far about that Queen of appliances, for many pettes the most expensive possession in the hestia, the refrigerator. Well, Mrs. De Culver did mention one in a most mystifying way -- said it was being thrown out and that she gotten it for nothing! Lucky girl! And Annalinde, I think it was, mentioned an up-to-date one at the Embassy, acquired in much the same way, on which she had re-gilded the letters and emblem on the door. Well, I cannot comment on those strange provinces where people actually throw away refrigerators: Kadorian ones are built rather like small bank vaults, and should last practically forever with only occasional maintenance.

 Now, in the olden days, a girl could step outside in the morning and stop at the baker for bread, at the dairy shop for butter, milk, eggs and bacon, at the grocer for coffee, and so on, and be back in sight of ten minutes with all the fresh fixings for breakfast. The same for dinner or supper. But with the growth of cities and suburbs and the appearance of supermarkets, like the A & P, such convenient neighborhood shopping is quickly disappearing, so now most Culverian hestias must perforce have better-stocked larders than ever before, and that means more space for refrigerated, perishable foodstuffs.

 Consequently, refrigerators have grown absolutely enormous in just the last decade. They have such efficient compressors that sizeable freezer compartments are now possible; in addition, most now have special crisping drawers for vegetables and another for meat and cold cuts. Here is a photo of the very latest Philco refrigerator installed in a typical, up-to-date Kadorian kitchen. It is very large even by today's standards: 11 cubic feet in the refrigerator compartment and another cubic foot-and-a-half in the freezer! With such a capacious refrigerator, this smartly-dressed Mom need shop only once a week for her family!


Strictness in Culveria


 Well, yes, we Culverians do tend to be more strict than the Old Worlders only because we must be, if order is to be kept in such a wild expanse as ours. When our foremothers first arrived, the natives and the land both were untamed savages. We couldn't let the Barbarian influences, well, influence us, so Official Brunettes set down some fairly severe laws of the new land. The most severe punishments have never been used, as far as I know, and I would raise a doubtful eyebrow about six months of P.S. (Six weeks is the longest I've ever heard of, and it was either that or the poor girl would have been exiled. Luckily, it did her a world of good and now she herself is a County authority).

 And about those servant-less Culverian homes...well, I've heard mention in more than one town council meeting that it's high time for us to return to the ways of the Old Country in this matter, and perhaps it was a bit silly for us to try to do everything on our own. The girls from New Vintesse and New Trent have always thought New Quirrie houseblondes a touch silly for not having serving girls about.

Love Always,


One little word about Punitive Service which may help to reconcile the varying accounts. The Aristasian legal system is a little different from the Tellurian. In Telluria, if some one was sentenced to four weeks of Punitive Service (or whatever they have in Telluria) it ought to mean, at least theoretically, that she was twice as naughty as some one sentenced to two. This is not always the case in Aristasia, where bonded service is not necessarily a punishment and may actually be the right and happiest thing for a girl at a certain point in her life. Also, there is a difference between Punitive Service and compulsory bonded service which may be imposed in respect of an offence, but is not inherently a punishment (compulsory bonded service awarded in view of an offence is often loosely referred to by the public as "Punitive Service". especially when there is a punitive element (in such cases the punitive element is the punishment for the offence, while the term of service actually comes under the rubric of Maternal Direction by the District Governess), and the girls so bonded are sometimes called "punies" but it is not actually the same thing. Compulsory bonded service often becomes voluntary bonded service after the compulsory term is ended, the girl finding herself happy and satisfied in her new position.

A Pin-Up For Brunettes

Darlings! What with my pre-occupation with music and records, and with the Embassy post box out of kilter for a number of days, I had quite forgotten to send any new Pin-Ups!

 So here is one, at long last, for the brunettes in the Cocktail Bar, just to show that a blonde needn't always be shown at vulnerable and embarrassing moments, such as descending a step-ladder with her skirt caught on a rung, stranded at the side of the road, (or caught in an elevator with two armloads of groceries), panties not precisely where they ought to be, and so on, and still be perfectly enchanting to the average brunette, as a Pin-Up, I mean. This Pin-Up is a rare bird, indeed -- a blonde WAC in full uniform! Not being a brunette, I can't personally vouch for how this charming photograph might affect a lonely brunette stationed at a remote military base, but I think she might rather fancy being called to attention and inspected by such a lovely blonde creature as this! She might wonder what demerits this blonde might hand down for infractions of uniform, such as seams not perfectly straight or lipstick not perfectly applied. Any suggestions from the brunettes in the bar?


Music Playing: I Only Have Eyes for You by Miss Marychild's Dance Orchestra

Dateline: 19 December 1951

Trent Fights back!

Well, paint my nails, what a glorious Cocktail Bar! Amabel put me onto it. You must come, she said. So I came.

 Well, seeing all in order and tickety-boo to a fault I shall recommend this place to my select circle of sober and upright friends. Well, upright, anyway. At least when they're sober.

 Sorry about that. I got it out of a Nativity cracker last year.

 But, I say you Trent-bunnies, are you going to let Mehitabelle wipe the floor with us like this? All her Kadorie lyrics bestriding the floor like so many eight-to-the-bar collossi?

 I won't say there are no good songs in Kadoria, because I know a sticky wicket when I see one. But for sheer glory, nobody can touch the lyrics of Trent. Like the finest Elspethian poets (I mean Elspeth the first, of course, not Elspeth of Quirinelle) many such lyrics turn on some clever conceit. Listen to this one which turns on the clever and mildly fantastical conceit of memory - of the idea that everyday realities might be forgotten and need to be called to mind:

Remember Me?

Do you remember one September afternoon?
I stood with you and listened to a wedding tune,
And didn't I go with you on your honeymoon?
Remember me?

 Do you recall a cottage small upon a hill,
Where every day I had to pay another bill?
And if I'm not mistaken, dear, I pay them still,
Remember me?

 I can see
A little angel on your knee.
Can't you see
She kinda sorta looks like me?

 For I'm the girl whose only thrill is loving you,
Who worries till she hurries home when day is through
And I'm the one you give your good-night kisses to,
Remember me?

 Even without the delightful tune, you can see how charming it is, how neat the little internal rhymes, but most of all, how, through this simple but ingenious conceit, it conjures something very wonderful - the romance of married life - the enduring delight of love, not simply when remote and unobtained, but when a living, everyday reality. The "happy ever after" which cynics like to think cannot exist. So many up-to-date songs gloriously celebrate precisely this theme.

 Notice also, after my conversation with dear Amabel (which I understand she told you about), that this is a very Culverian song - the idyll of the working Magdala brunette and her blonde - the romance of the employee. No, I am not laughing. Do not think for a moment that I could laugh at something so lovely. It belongs to the far West of the world and the extreme edge of the Latter Days, but it has within it all the goodness that ever was. For goodness, wherever we find it, is goodness always. It would take an Eclipse to end that, and there can be no Eclipse in Aristasia.


More Nativity Preparations

Darlings, Phyllis here, with a little homey news about our own Christmas preparations in Kadorian Gotham. I could not resist telling you after seeing the lovely Nativity tree at the Embassy with its perfectly magical fairy lights, not to mention the delightful box the lights came in. (The girls in the Embassy should know that such fairy lights are easily had in Gotham -- why, we just walked down to the corner Rexall drug store, which carries them every year at 98 cents for a string of twenty. I'll be happy to send some next year if you need more, girls!)

 Yesterday, in between feeding and cuddling and caring for Baby Margaret, Sarah and I got to spend some Time Alone Together while Margaret was finally napping -- a distinctly unusual event. (Sarah has been wonderful over having a new baby sister suddenly absorbing all her mom's time, but Sarah is, after all, only six, and needs lots of attention.) Here we are putting the finishing touches on the creche for under the tree: I am holding the angel for the top of the tree and Sarah is about to put the tiny Baby Jesus into his cradle.


Kadoria's Reputation Restored

We always hear in the other Western provinces, that Kadoria is terribly strict. Of course one doesn't know about New Kadoria. I never understand how much sway Queen Francesca has over her Culverian colony. But certainly in the Old World, Kadoria is generally considered strict.

 So when Mehitabelle said about Angela and her naughtiness, I quite wondered. But now Kadoria's reputation is restored. How dreadfully strict! Six months' Punitive service! District Attorneys and convictions and all sorts of bob-raising things!

 Here in Maryhill, mosy things like that are dealt with by Miss Quint who is our District Representative. She is a dear, auntie-like lady. I won't say she doesn't give the strap occasionally, because that would be an awful fib, but she isn't at all as scary as New Kadoria sounds. There is also Mlle. Mimieux, the Maryhill Dragon (don't say I said that!) but we don't see her very often.

 I did have Punitive Service once for a very naughty tantrum, but it was only three days. It was very strict, but I think it helped me. I had a Nativity card from my mistress just today. She never forgets any of her Punitive Service girls.


Thank Dea The Post Box is Working Again

When I learned that the Embassy post box might be closed to piccies for a whole week, I was all set to become tres devastée, because we fashion pettes simply live for pictures, you see -- without them we become rather sulky and quiet. So it was with great relief that I learned earlier today the post box has been repaired and I can resume sending you hats to adore.

Here is a picture of a model you have not met before. Her name is Ethel and she is a very friendly blonde with a penchant for practical jokes. She is smiling because she has given the photographerette a joke ciggie that suddenly poofs white powder all over one's face, and she is waiting for it to go off, perhaps at the same time as the flash (she hopes). One can see she is trying to hold her breath without seeming to.

 As for today's hat, Ethel is wearing a perfectly darling overseas cap in black velveteen, tilted at a rakish angle, with a shoulder-length skirted veil of fine tulle studded with black velvet bows. Now, Darlings, one thing I have not mentioned is that McCall's sells the patterns for most of the hats I have shown in the Cocktail Bar. The pattern for this model, No. VOC-4662, may be had for three cents (one may send a stamp), by writing to: McCall's Hat Patterns, 550 Madison Avenue, New York 12, New York. Be sure to enclose a stamped return envelope. But even better, take out a subscription -- there is a pattern section every month, not just for hats, of course, but for dresses, skirts, suits, baby clothes and even petticoats, which are becoming quite the vogue, I hear, in far western Kadoria.


More on Phonograph Needles

Gosh, Louella, "use each point once only" would be like wearing a pair of nylons "once only" and throwing them away! But, anyway, I was not talking about ordinary steel needles -- those might be all one can get in Vintesse or even in Trent. No, I am speaking of the latest Kadorie vanadium-plated premium steel needles (introduced at the RCA "March of Science" pavilion only last year at the World's Fair), that come only twelve to the envelope because they last so very long. Each needle is in two parts: a fine needle part brazed or swaged into a thicker sleeve or collar part which fits into a hole in the tone arm and is fixed in place with a finger-screw. And eight-inch records -- yes, we have them in those make-your-own-recording-for-a-quarter booths in the penny arcades around Times Square here in Gotham. Usually, four or five very young blondes cram into this teensy little recording booth and sing a hit song at top volume a capella, sort of, but they never seem to come out sounding quite like the Andrews Sisters.

 As for Angela's tantrum -- well, Angela is really quite well brought up and certainly knows better, but she has a fine temper coupled with a heightened sense of jealousy, not that that should excuse her conduct: it merely helps to explain it. She got into quite a bit of hot water with the authorities over it, particularly as she has had two similar destructive tantrums in the past. The County Commisionerette (we do not have District Governesses, as such) has, in fact, turned the case over to the District Attorney's Office here in Gotham. Angela, must, of course, pay for the record collection at the minimum, but beyond that, it is likely she will be sentenced to at least six month's punitive service if she is convicted and there are no mitigating circumstances.

 Anyway, now that the Embassy post box is working again, here is that picture of me picking out a song to play for the Aphrodite Cocktail Bar.


Music Playing: Wake Up and Live by Miss Marychild's Dance Orchestra

Dateline: 18 December 1951

Merry Christmas to All

Dear pettes, I just had to pop in and say that it is, indeed, going to be a lovely season. I am finished with teaching for the semester, and all my schoolgirls did ever so well on their Christmas concert last night. It was really just what was needed to put this brunette in the holiday spirit: rows of little girls singing (oh so prettily) "Joy to the World", and then also the secret knowledge that I would be able to sleep late the next day. Not that I don't adore teaching, you know, but oh my, the energy it takes! Today, I shamefully admit, I slept until 9 a.m. Oh, sweet sin. And as you can see, then I went and treated myself to a new hair-do. I spent the rest of today shopping for Christmas gifts, which was a true joy in itself. And here are cards for you all! Merry Christmas!



I was a bit taken aback by Mehitabelle's saying that gramophone needles should be changed once a week. Do you mean the ordinary steel ones? On the inside of the tin and on the black paper inside the tin, it always says "Use Each Point Once Only", and that means only play one record with it. Now it's true I don't know any one who sticks strictly to this rule except for very presh records, but they really should be changed every few records. A dozen is pushing it. Doesn't the sound get a bit dreadful after five or six?

 Also, yours seem rather expensive. We get ours for 1/6d per hundred. and I can tell any one where to get them for that or less, even in the Pit.

 As for Angela's disgraceful conduct in smashing her brunette's record collection, I wonder how blondes are brought up in your part of the Empire. Is there no District Governess where you come from?

 Oh and I meant to mention that there are also 8-inch records, as well as 10 and 12. Not so common, but some companies like to release hit songs on them, perhaps because they are a convenient size to carry. And, we have some double-play records which somehow squeeze twice the time onto a standard 10-inch side, so you get four songs per record. A bit of a gimmick really, especially as many grammies have not enough "wind" (pronounce it either way!) to play two songs at once. Oh, yes, we always call your "phonographs" gramophones here. or "grammies" among the Pippsies.


Who Done It?

All Right. Own Up. Who let the Blonde dust the Crystal Globe Receiving Apparati?

 Who let her near the Tickertape machine without explaining that the tape with the little holes in it lying in the basket was NOT the rubbish left over from making very fine confetti?

 Who let her run the vacuum cleaner in the communications room without checking which power point she was using, and what she unplugged to use it?

 Although, heaven forbid that yours would be as bad as Petal last week when I let her into my office. She so wanted to help, so I gave her the week's filing, (ten pages) and explained to her how to find the correct files and put the papers in them.

 When I tried to find the papers the next day, they weren't anywhere to be found - until I opened the last file and found that instead of filing "Richards" under R and "Stevens" under S, she had filed all the papers under F for filing.

 "Well, it made sense to me!" she squealed.

 I sent her out shopping instead for a new hat for herself. Far less expensive, and much less strain. Now maybe I should join her.

 Knuffels to all (I've just found out it's the Dutch word for "Hugs")


And a giant economy-sized knuffel back to you, dear brunette. We don't understand about "letting the blonde" do such-and-such. We are all blondes here, usually. That's why - well, that's why. Petal's filing system seems perfectly logical to us. But then brunettes never did understand logic. But what outlandish names "Richards", "Stevens" - we've never heard anything like them before - what can they mean?

All About Records

Hi, Darlings All, this is me, Mehitabelle in Kadorian Gotham, lover of lyrics and songs. I fear that today I don't have any of either (I am so sorry), so instead I would like to tell you all about my fabulous record collection. I have heard some of you girls mention "bendies" and "windies" and still others talk about "shinies" when discussing recorded music here in the Aphrodite Cocktail Bar. Of course, I haven't the faintest idea what those strange-sounding things are, Darlings! They sound like science-fiction somethings-or-other dreamed up by Miss H. G. Wells! Here in Kadoria we do have regular records, of course; they have been around for years, ever since the Great War, just before I was born. They have heft and are black (once in a while one might find a brown or a red one, but they are merely novelties, not serious music), and they come in two sizes, ten and twelve inches. They are rather fragile and almost always break when one drops them. (One doesn't have to drop them, however -- one can throw them: Angela, a blonde acquaintance of mine, threw her brunette's entire record collection, one by one, against the living room wall when she found out her brunette had asked another blonde out to the movies! Angela said the sound was absolutely delicious, almost as good as the music that had been on the records, and that the pile of shards was almost a foot high, and she topped it off with the necklace and earrings her brunette had given her the week before, then stomped out!) We play them on a machine called a phonograph or a Victrola that comes in its own polished wood box, or comes together with a radio in a big wooden cabinet that stands on the floor and is quite often the grandest piece of furniture in one's living room. One must install a new needle every week or so, but they are quite inexpensive -- one can buy a dozen in a dolly little glassine envelope, at any record store or at Woolworth's, for about 29 cents.

 Ten-inch records play about three minutes a side, enough for a typical hit song. Twelve-inch records are usually for longhairs (but not always) -- they play about six or seven minutes to a side. I have my own classical music library -- Beethoven's Fifth and Schubert's Unfinished, and they are each on several twelve-inchers. Nowadays, if one can afford it, one buys an automatic record changer phonograph, on which one can stack up to five or even six twelve-inchers at once (if one listens to opera): when one side has finished, the arm picks itself up off the record all by itself and moves out of the way so the next record can fall into place, but one can only use what are called serial records on such machines, where, in a three-record set, for example, the first record will have sides one and six, the second, sides two and five, and the third, sides three and four, so the whole set will play in proper order when stacked on the changer. After side three has played, all three are turned over together and put onto the changer again so the "series" can finish.

 But because I am very fond of Big Band music, most of my collection is on ten-inch records, also called singles. If an orchestra or singer becomes very popular, like, say, Gwen Miller or Samantha Kaye or Peggy Lee, then the record company will put out an album, which is a collection of songs by the same orchestra or singer on two or more records, in tan oaktag sleeves bound together with a regular spine with gilt lettering on it, like a fine book. Whenever I play one of these Very Special Albums, I always put on a new needle so that the records won't wear out too fast! So here is a picture of me just last week, with some of my favorite albums all spread out on the rug, trying to decide which song to play for you right here at the Cocktail Bar. I have just decided to choose Moonlight Cocktail, by Gwen Miller and her orchestra. Remember?


Horrid news darlings. Mehitabelle sent us a charming picture. We know it was charming because they always are, but we haven't seen it, and neither can you - because our emergency postbox does not seem to know how to receive Elektra-pictures. Girls at and near the Embassy who can pop in pretty pictures to us by hand should do so if they can, or we shall have a pictureless Cocktail Bar until the problem is solved.

An Hereditary Maid Says Hello

Hello to all of you Cocktail Bar Pettes,

 I've not introduced myself before, though I have been sitting in the corner over there, quiet as a mice, for weeks now. Well, just on and off, not solidly for weeks, if you know what I mean. My name is Sarah Jane and I decided to speak up for the first time because of the talk of hereditary maids. I am one of them, so since the topic came up I thought this little mouse should squeak. All the girls in my family are maids and almost all of us are very lucky, for we each have fine mistresses. Mine is simply the best, though, and I consider it a great gift from Dea because, quite frankly, I am not the best maid. I break things and I forget things and I burn things and, well, you get the idea. But Mistress just continues to gently correct me and guide me and take care of me. Tonight she said to me, "Sarah Jane, you need a night off. Put on your nicest dress, take this bank note, and visit the Cocktail Bar." Then she gave me a little pat on the back side and told me to be home by midnight. So, pettes, don't let me prattle on past midnight or something a bit more than a pat will come my way!

 Tomorrow night I am meeting some of my friends here for our weekly meeting of the Gammymaid's Club. You see, serving girls need to have some fun too. And we all get together and read from our little books about the various silly things that have happened in our households. Originally we thought perhaps we would be sharing gossip about our Mistresses with one another, you know whispering a bit about their various odd habits, but when we starting sharing the little gaffes and sillinesses we had written about in our books, we found that we had committed them all! Well, that's what happens when your club is full of blonde maids taking care of brunette mistresses. Sometimes we muse about who takes care of whom.

Well, that's all. Just thought I'd add my two farthings to the convo, so, bye for now, until tomorrow, when I'll be back. Better go before this glass slipper turns into a sensible maid's shoe once again.


A Wonderful Thing

Darlings All,

 The most delightful thing happened to me today and I just couldn't wait to come in out of the snow and tell you pettes all about it. Barblonde, may I please have a Hot Toddy to warm my inside as this lovely fire warms the rest of me? Well, here it is: today an acquaintance who knows nothing of the Empire nor my place in it told me that I just don't look like I am from the present era, but that, in my manner, my movements, my dress, and speech, I seem to be from about "the late 1920s or early 1930s." I was speechless because, golly, I am just a homey Quirrie girl really, and here I was being told that, goodness me, I seem more like a girl living on the Trent-Vintesse border and everyone knows that those girls have absolutely definitely got a corner on it! Isn't that so splendid? I've been basking in it all day, though of course, in my innermost heart, I know it isn't true. That I am all that Trentish, I mean. But isn't it nice every once in awhile to know that one is making just the right impression and that a near-stranger can know without question that one isn't a child of the Pit? Gosh, it makes life worth living!

 Love your very own


Some one has described Aristasia as "one long conversation". Well, Aphrodite is rather like that. If you want to catch up on the conversation so far, the Archive is the place to do it.

And here are LOTS of delightful girly places to go