Jane Austen vs. Food Poisoning

19 Jan
Jane Austen-style dress

Just call me Jane Bennett.

I’m sure the world will be relieved to know that, after a truly horrible bout of food poisoning, I am now able to eat again and don’t have to survive entirely on Lucozade.  Ok, that’s not interesting at all, nor pleasant to think about, but the reason I mention it is this: I suspect that I may have eaten the offending item at a Jane Austen ball at the weekend. There was a buffet, which vastly increases the chances, and the timing would work out.

The ball was held for a friend’s 21st birthday, and it was wonderful, with period dancing (including the one that Elizabeth dances with Darcy in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, which bizarrely enough is called Mr Beveridge’s Maggot), period card games (although we gave up on quadrille and played Irish snap instead, except that we called out “quadrille” instead of “snap”) and people dressed up in Regency costumes.  I wore a dress that I made for the occasion (see photo) and was so proud of the outcome. In short, it was a once-in-a-lifetime party and I had a fabulous time.

So here is the quandry: how much suffering is worth it for a once-in-a-lifetime party? On the first day of food poisoning, while writhing on my bed of sickness, I thought, “Ah, but I wouldn’t take back my decision to go, despite the consequences!” On the second day I thought much the same thing. By the third day I was no longer writhing but still couldn’t really eat and felt about as hale and hearty as a wet dish rag – and my conviction wavered. So was it worth it or not?

I’m sure in time I’ll think it was – I’ll have fond memories of the party, may still even have some of the friends I made there, and the ghastly few days will be just a footnote. But now, in the cold light of recency (which I think is a word), what’s the verdict? I have to say I’m really not sure. But if I can break the rules of this little dilemma and make it a trilemma (which definitely isn’t a word, although it’s a handy one), if I could do it all again I would go to the ball, but would merely admire the beautiful buffet from a distance.


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