An Austentatious Night Out
ELOISE DAVIES returns with her next literary parody: Jane Austen in the club.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that this formation is a ridiculously overused way to start an article.
But Elizabeth Bennet of Pemberley-broke College, Cambridge (£9000 a year) was in a rush. Trust her mother to talk on the phone so long…
“Have you been eating enough? When did you go to bed last night? When did you last moisturise? Are your shoes pinching? Remember, you might feel down this week – your period’s due. I’ve got it marked on the calendar. I saw Mrs. Lucas yesterday and it was so good to be able to tell her all about your Cambridge experiences. Charlotte’s still pretending to enjoy Durham, poor sweet. Though she does have a boyfriend now…any chance of you getting a boyfriend soon? I feel quite unable to match Mrs. Lucas’s ‘meeting the potential son-in-law’ anecdotes at the moment… Its going to make our Rambling Society walks unbearable!”
Rambling Society, decided Lizzie, was a most apt name for a meeting between her mother and Mrs. Lucas.
She threw on the latest fashion from London (white dress, Forever 1821) and disguised the fact she had not had a shower for two days with scent and sensibility. A liberating, if somewhat bedraggling, run through the rainy college gardens later and she had caught up with her friends, Jane, Mary, Kitty and Lydia.
“CIIIIIIIINDIESSSSS! LET’S GO.”
Lydia seemed slightly less excitable than usual.
“Nice dress, Lizzie. Military camouflage is so in!” complimented Kitty.
Looking down, Lizzie saw her dress had collected some unfortunate brown and green stains.
As with all young girls at that stage of life, the conversation soon turned to college marriage. Angelic Jane (always getting firsts and still found time to volunteer for every Access scheme CUSU ran) had been proposed to by the equally lovely Charles Bingley. It had been an elaborate affair involving rose petals, soap and the chapel choir serenading them with The White Stripes’ seminal “You’re Pretty Good Looking (For A Girl)”. Lydia and Kitty were jealous; Lizzie felt slightly ill and Mary was still bemoaning being dragged from the library, where she had been reading an excellent book on medieval agrarian reform.
The elegant octaves of Abba greeted the party as they entered the Cindies ballroom. Already the guests of this graceful establishment were partaking in the customary uniform dancing. The Grind seemed to be featuring particularly prominently this season.
Lizzie spotted her officious supervision partner from outside college, William Collins, and just about managed not to be sick in her mouth. She was not yet drunk enough to bear his bumptious ways: “Oh Pemberley-broke… yes, well, it’s got nothing on St. Catherine’s…”
Instead she walked straight into Fitzwilliam Darcy. Darcy was so rich he could be at John’s and he was looking incredibly handsome in his rain-soaked white shirt. Unfortunately, he was also an ill-mannered git who had once been overheard describing Lizzie’s feminist interpretation of Shakespeare as “tolerable, but not clever enough for me”. At least it cut down the number of potential husbands by one. He was clearly one of these idiotic public school reactionaries. And of all the colleges to share a name with…
Lizzie attempted witty chat over the exuberantly cheesy music, desperately looking round for an escape.
Jane and Bingley were at the bar, politely debating whose turn it was to buy their gin and tonics. “No, no, it’s definitely my turn to pay.”
Mary’s pretence of detachment had fallen away (something to do with tequila shots) and she was warbling along in best choral scholar style to ‘Ni**as in Paris’.
A sharply-dressed boy was buying Lydia a drink and confidently announcing himself to be a third year NatSci who came top of his tripos last year.
Darcy was glaring at them.
What a sexist pig, thought Lizzie crossly. Couldn’t he handle people flirting?
She was about to make a confrontational comment about the madonna/whore complex when Darcy turned round and addressed Lydia’s partner.
“George! How’s Land Economy going? Lucky you scraped that third, wasn’t it?”
As Lydia angrily quizzed her disreputable admirer, Darcy turned back to an astonished Lizzie.
“Now I’ve been meaning to ask you a question…”
He fumbled in his pocket. Was he saying something about bling? But before Lizzie could think through the bizarre turn of events, Kitty had run over.
“Lizzie, it’s our favourite!”
They shimmied onto the dance floor together: a more pressing issue had captured their attention.
It was the circle of life.