Am reading E. M. Delafield's The Diary of a Provincial Lady (mentioned previously here and endorsed by Simon T. in the comments -- thanks Simon!). Published in serial form in a magazine in the 1930s, it is very much like a modern day blog, with a few notable exceptions. (Mem: must engage French governess for Luke.)
March 28 -- Read admirable, but profoundly discouraging, article in Time and Tide relating to Bernard Shaw's women, but applying to most of us. Realise -- not for the first time -- that intelligent women can perhaps best perform their duty toward their own sex by devastating process of telling them the truth about themselves. At the same time, cannot feel that I shall really enjoy hearing it. Ultimate paragraph of article, moreover, continues to haunt me most unpleasantly with reference to own vulnerability where Robin and Vicky [ed: her children] are concerned. Have very often wondered if Mothers are not rather A Mistake altogether and now definitely come to the conclusion that they are.
Interesting speculation as to how they might best be replaced interrupted by necessity of seeing that Fitzs. [ed: her male parlourmaid] is turning out spare bedroom according to instructions.
Reading The Diary alongside Christina Hardyment's history of childcare advice, it's amusing to note how often the Provincial Lady downplays her attachment to her children, in an attempt to appear a modern parent, all the while privately obsessing over them and often playing with them in a wild and what she would consider inappropriate manner. Her nemesis, the insufferable Lady B, constantly offends her by describing her as a "Perfect Mother."
[Robin] says that he has a Splendid Idea. This turns out to be that I should play the piano, whilst he simultaneously sets off the gramophone, the muscial-box, and the chiming clock.
Robin implores, and says It will be just like an Orchestra. (Shade of Dame Ethel Smyth, whose Reminiscences I have just been reading!) I weakly yield, and attack, con spirito, 'The Broadway Melody' in the key of C Major. Robin, in great excitement, starts the clock, puts 'Mucking About the Garden' on the gramophone, and winds up the musical-box, which tinkles out the Waltz from Florodora in a tinny sort of way, and no recognisable key. Robin springs about and cheers. I watch him sympathetically and keep down, at his request, the loud pedal.
The door is flung open by Howard Fitzs., and Lady B enters, wearing brand-new green Kasha with squirrel collar, and hat to match, and accompanied by military-looking friend.
Have no wish to record subsequent few minutes, in which I endeavour to combine graceful greetings to Lady B. and the military friend, with simple and yet dignified explanation of singular state of affairs presented to them and unobtrusive directions to Robin to switch off musical-box and gramophone and betake himself and his pink-eye upstairs. Clock has mercifully ceased to chime, and Robin struggles valiantly with musical-box, but 'Mucking About the Garden' continues to ring brazenly through the room for what seems about an hour and a half ... (Should not have minded quite so much if it had been 'Classical Memories', which I also possess, or even a Layton and Johnstone duet.)
Robin goes upstairs, but not until after Lady B. has closely scrutinised him, and observed that He looks like Measles, to her. Military friend tactfully pretends absorption in the nearest bookcase until this is over, when he emerges with breezy observation concerning Bulldog Drummond.
Lady B. at once informs him that he must not say that kind of thing to me, as I am so Very Literary. After this, the military friend looks at me with unconcealed horror, and does not attempt to speak to me again.
On the whole, am much relieved when the call is over.