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December 31, 1677

The Ins and Outs of a New Year

The Year of Grace 1678 is almost upon us, and, in keeping with a tradition I began last year, I would like to present to my readers a list of those ideas which have fallen out of fashion this year and those which I believe will gain prominence in the New Year. Patrick has already amused me and Sean greatly with his “Ten Momentous Things, Changes, and Events of 1677,” and I hope that you will find my own list a pleasant diversion as you prepare for the New Year:

Out: Ice Cream. Despite its recent popularization by the French (it is rumored to be a favorite pudding of Madame de Montespan herself and was all the rage in Paris this year), it is my firm conviction that this ludicrous concoction—along with the croissant, the café au lait, and those unpleasant strands of potatoes fried in oil that the French have also introduced into contemporary cuisine—will fall out of favour permanently before this decade is over.

In: Syllabub. Unlike its silly, faddish counterpart, syllabub is a pudding that is quite clearly here to stay. If you want my prediction, this sumptuous dessert will be enjoyed throughout the world for centuries after “ice cream” has faded forever from gastronomical memory.


Out: Witchcraft. Following a number of poisonings in France recently, the French king was faced with the difficult problem of what to do with the abundance of suspects and their acquaintances who had been rounded up in connection with the case (under accusation of practicing witchcraft). There are those who maintain that his handling of the situation could have been more compassionate, but it is my opinion that he solved the problem the only way a king ought: with a felicitous use of judiciousness, common sense, and kindling.

In: Burnings. I will say one thing for the French, they do not make such a fuss about “due process” as one tends to encounter this side of the Channel. Louis XIV, for all his extravagance and frippery, is a man who knows when to exercise diplomacy and patience and when to rid himself of his problems simply by burning them. Having used the same method myself on a number of occasions, I can highly recommend it to any of my readers who are longing to “make a fresh start” in 1678.


Out: Patrick. My friend Patrick Thrasher is a world-renowned scholar, a respected and beloved member of the community, and a generous patron of the arts. He is also a tiresome bloody bore. When Patrick disappeared last year, I learned exactly what life was like without his learned influence, his unique sense of humor, his kind and thoughtful ministrations—but unfortunately, he has somehow found his way back into my life, and that blissful period is now but a distant memory. I have resolved this year to be less tolerant of my persistent houseguest.

In: EJT. When comparing the Thrasher brothers, it must be admitted in Patrick’s defense that Edward (or EJT as he likes to be called) is a villain, a murderer, and a dangerous fanatic. We all have our flaws, though, and Edward more than makes up for his with an aptitude and enthusiasm for golf, which (given the current scarcity of gentlemen willing to give this fascinating new sport a try) is a rare and commendable quality indeed.


Out: Spinoza. Spinoza died in February of 1677 in The Hague, and with him died one of the silliest, most preposterous books ever written: On the Improvement of the Understanding, which might more accurately be called On the Stultification of the Senses. Although the banning of his collected works has deprived me of an effective soporific, this necessary censorship—along with Spinoza's timely demise—has spared countless future students of philosophy the unpleasantness of encountering his absurd ideas. I would wager my fortune that mine is the very last generation that will ever have any occasion to read the works of Baruch Spinoza.

In: Spermatozoa. Despite producing an occasional bad apple like Spinoza, the Dutch are for the most part a useful people, and Patrick has insisted that I include a mention in this year’s list of Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek and his recent discovery of “Spermatozoa,” which he calls the “seed of life”. It has been known for generations that the process of getting this substance to fertilize an egg and thus produce life is an exceedingly difficult and unpleasant procedure, but Van Leeuwenhoek’s new theories about how it all works must certainly be accounted as interesting (biologically speaking), though they do not appear to be of much practical use in actually getting the job done.


Out: Whores. Regular readers of Peep This Diary will know that Sean and I have recently purchased a disreputable den of prostitution called The Crimson Unicorn and cleansed it of the sinful trollops who were once seen plying their trade in its infamous environs. They will also doubtless be pleased to hear that after being in our hands for little more than a month, The Unicorn may be crossed off the list of places where a common Englishman may find base comforts in the arms of a cheap whore. Which reminds me, actually—I need to remember to inform Messrs. Routledge & Sons, who publish the list, that this is the case.

In: Ladies of the Night. Although, in all honesty, they offer very similar services, The Crimson Unicorn’s well-mannered and carefully groomed Ladies of the Night appeal to a more respectable clientele than the low harlots who occupied the building before Sean and I took over its operation, and they have raised the tone of the establishment considerably. As a result, we charge double.*

*Sean has asked me to inform our readership that regular customers are still allowed to play at “Naughty Nurses” twice weekly for half price.

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Comments

Cheryl

Alas, Jack, you and I both know that in the world of puddings/dessert, Spotted Dick is king, now and forever.

Addy Farmer

Frighteningly accurate.

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