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October 3, 2014

Priscilla Pointon

My good friend Maurice Mandale pointed me to DISABILITY: A NEW HISTORY, a BBC radio production with twelve 15 minute episodes. I haven't listened to them all, but in episode 6 we are introduced to Priscilla Pointon.

This from the episode:

"Priscilla Pointon is a poet who is inventing herself as she speaks, and what comes out of her mouth, extempore as she calls it, is a mixture of innocence and feistiness. She made herself the centre of society in Chester, England between about 1760 and 1770.
As a blind poet she wrote about all sorts of different things. She wrote about her life, she wrote about everyday events in her life.

She writes about needing to go to the toilet when she’s visiting friends who’ve given her punch and wine and beer. And she says they’re all, ‘great diuretics’. And she’s surrounded by a group of men who have sent the maids out so there’s no one to take her to the loo."

Priscilla could very well be sitting in a sidewalk cafe in Halifax, facing the problem posed by HRM's failure to consider washroom access as part of its new by-law.

Waiter! Fetch me a chamber pot, if you please.

Priscilla Pointon - Address to a Bachelor on a Delicate Occasion

You bid me write, Sir, I comply,
Since I my grave airs can't deny.
But say, how can my Muse declare
The situation of the fair,
That full six hours had sat, or more,
And never once been out of door?
Tea, wine and punch, Sir, to be free
Excellent diuretics be:
I made it so appear, it's true,
When at your house, last night, with you:
Blushing, I own, to you I said,
'I should be glad you called a maid.'
'The girls,' you answered, 'are far from home,
Nor can I guess when they'll return.'
Then in contempt you came to me,
And sneering cried, 'Dear Miss, make free;
Let me conduct you - don't be nice -
Or if a basin is your choice,
To fetch you one I'll instant fly.'
I blushed, but could make no reply;
confused to find myself the joke,
I sat silent till Trueworth spoke:
'To go with me, Miss, don't refuse,
Your loss the freedom will excuse.'
To him my hand reluctant gave,
And out he lead me very grave;
Whilst you and Chatfree laughed aloud
As if to dash a maid seemed proud.
But I the silly jest despise,
Since well I know each man's that's wise
All affectation does disdain,
Since it in prudes and coxcombes reign:
So I repent not what I've done:
Adieu - enjoy your empty fun.

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