Good Evening and welcome, ladies and gentlemen. I am Sir David Frost, the late, great British journalist, comedian, writer and media personality, best known for my groundbreaking interviews with important political figures such as Richard Nixon, and now reduced to hosting this idiotic piece of nonsense, but there you go. One works when one can, especially seeing as I’ve already passed on…
Sir David Frost: Tonight, we welcome The Real Housewives of Derbyshire County, a group of argumentative literary characters from Jane Austen’s wonderful book, Pride and Prejudice, women who have wreaked havoc in the lives of their husbands, brothers, children and parents for over two hundred years.
Or perhaps it merely felt that long to their families.
First, allow me to introduce my totally unwanted yet ever-present co-moderator for this final destruction of my stellar career, a woman physically strong enough to lift a carriage with horses attached above her head to retrieve a dropped invitation from the Queen, while also being mentally unhinged enough to give Madame Defarge a run for her money. Lady Catherine de Bourgh, that fearsome caricature of a Grande Dame, that overbearing, officious harridan of a female – a woman continually given her own way in all things and one who never allows another living soul to disagree with her.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh: You bring a blush to my cheeks, Sir. David.
Sir David Frost: I sincerely doubt that is even remotely possible, madam. Nevertheless, we must continue,contracts have been signed. I shall now introduce The Real Housewives of Derbyshire County…
On the settee, sitting farthest from me on my right, is Charlotte Collins. Supremely practical, almost clinical in her loveless approach to marriage, she was formerly known as Charlotte Lucas and is currently wife to Reverend Mr. Collins, boiled potato lover. Charlotte, thank you for being here.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh: Well of course she is here. Why would she not be here? I gave strict instructions to her husband that she should attend this miserable gathering and attend she has. She’ll be quite unexceptional, I can assure you of that. I have told her she may speak, but only during those odious commercial breaks or at such unlikely times as when someone addresses her directly… or, of course, if another should become incapacitated in such a manner as to foam at the mouth, or become suddenly and profoundly mute. Is that not correct, Mrs. Collins?
Mrs. Charlotte Collins: May I speak now, Lady Catherine?
Lady Catherine de Bourgh: Actually, I should prefer you did not.
Sir David Frost: Charming. Splendid. Well, perhaps we’ll move on then. Next to Mrs. Collins we have the lovely Jane Bingley, formerly Miss Jane Bennet, great beauty of the county, demur, saintly, and generally one who acts precisely as a genteel young woman should. Ordinarily, this would have made her the main character in this tale, since nineteenth-century novels tended to prefer their ladies written this way. In Pride and Prejudice, however, Jane’s insipid behavior nearly causes her to lose everything. She is the current wife of the equally insipid Charles Bingley of Netherfield Hall. Mrs. Bingley, welcome.
Jane Bingley: I arrived on horseback.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh: Pardon me Mr. Frost, may I make an observation at this point?
Sir David Frost: Would I be at all able to prevent you?
Lady Catherine de Bourgh: Not really, no. Interesting aside for your viewers, Mr. Frost, Mrs. Bingley is actually not very bright. She once ask if Laudanum was an Easter hymn. Yes. Moves her mouth when she reads. Raised without a governess you know. May as well have been raised by wolves, the lot of them. They have no accomplishments, not one among them. I suspect the youngest one spits the farthest, but that’s not much upon which to build…
Sir David Frost: Lady Catherine, I really must protest, most vigorously. It was only under your thinly veiled threat of castration that I agreed to allow your co-moderation of this discussion, however we cannot tolerate such disparaging remarks.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh: I see… what sort will you tolerate then?
Sir David Frost: (groan) Let us continue. Sitting beside Mrs. Jane Bingley is her mother, Mrs. Bennet (nee Gardiner) a woman with no known first name who married above her station to a man she neither respects nor loves, a man who is completely unhelpful to her, a man who has failed to provide for his wife or daughters, though he knows full well he can leave neither funds nor home to them. Ahem. Pardon me, Mrs. Bennet. You’re looking at me rather oddly, madam.
Mrs. Bennet: Are you married, sir? Betrothed? Engaged to be betrothed? Do you even like women? I have two more daughters remaining at home, unmarried both. Only two. Yes. I had five unmarried but then I had two. Five now two. They don’t eat much, really. One is a musician and the other is…not. Did you say if you were married?
Lady Catherine de Bourgh: You had better move on, Frost. The mother is much like her daughter, a few peas short of a casserole if you take my meaning. To put a finer point to this, Hertfordshire is short an entire family of village idiots since the Bennet girls came to town. Never turn your back on them either. They’re all very quick – dull witted, but quick. They shall have your pants down to your knees in a…
Sir David Frost: LADY CATHERINE!
Lady Catherine: Whatever have I said now?
Sir David Frost: Where is the director? How much time do we have left? Good God, that much. Oh my. We shall have to carry on then, I suppose. Let us move to the sofa on my left. Sitting farthest from me, thankfully, is Lydia, the youngest Bennet sister, gossipy, immature, self-involved, flings herself headlong into romance with anything remotely male, then nearly destroys the prospects of her older sisters by running off with the notorious bounder George Wickham. Welcome Mrs. Wickham.
Mrs. Lydia Wickham: La. I was wed at fifteen, before any of my sisters, and they were so very jealous. Wicky is dreamy! He has lots of muscles. Have you seen him? Wonderful hair. He was a soldier until he was tossed out, so now we live off of my older sisters, but still and all, they are both very rich so there’s no problem. Wicky is the most handsome man. I am a complete fool for him.
Mrs. Charlotte Collins: We are all fools in love.
Mrs. Lydia Wickham: Oh lordie, lordie, there she goes again, boring and tedious old Charlotte as usual. Amazing. Each and every time she opens her gob she puts me fast to sleep. Well, she does! Lizzy, quit pinching me!
Lady Catherine de Bourgh: You see now what they are like, do you not? I am no stranger to the particulars of this youngest sister’s infamous elopement. I know it all; that the young man’s marrying her was a patched-up business, at the expense of father and uncles. I ask you, is such a girl to be my nephew’s sister? Is her husband – the son of his late father’s steward no less – to be his brother? Heaven and earth, of what was Darcy thinking? Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?”
Mrs. Bennet: Mr. Frost, do you have brothers? May I inquire as to how much per annum you receive? Have you any physical impairments? I assure you my daughters are no alarmists when faced with odd numbers of toes or such. Did I mention there are two daughters yet at home? Good breeders. Large hipped.
Mrs. Jane Bingley: Well, at least Lydia wasn’t forced to arrive on horseback.
Mrs. Lydia Wickham: Oh, will you get over yourself, Jane! You’re such a cold mullet you were lucky to attract a husband at all. Of course, even boring old Charlotte got a husband!
Sir David Frost: Enough! Good heavens! And you, Mrs. Bennet! I really must insist you remove your hand from my inseam! Thank you! Shall we move on. Quickly. Next to Lydia is the only unmarried woman in our group…
Lady Catherine de Bourgh: (snort) … not from want of trying to be sure.
Sir David Frost: …Caroline Bingley. (Lady Catherine, perhaps you would like to wait outside… no… pity) Now back to Caroline. Miss Bingley you are said to have all of society’s class prejudice but none of it’s honor and virtue. You pandered to Mr. Darcy, unsuccessfully endeavoring to win his affections. You pretended to be a genuine friend to Jane Bennett then were extremely rude and dismissive of her when she visited London. You attempted to prevent her marriage to your brother, and then attempted to prevent Mr. Darcy’s attachment to Elizabeth by constantly bringing to light the appalling manners of Elizabeth’s mother, father and younger sisters.
Sir. David Frost: You have quite the stare, Miss. Bingley. You forget, however, I have dealt with the most devious human beings on earth – politicians. Nothing you do… I won’t be… does she ever blink? Can she blink? Anyone? Is she even breathing? Should someone fetch a doctor?
Caroline Bingley: Don’t be more ridiculous than you already are. I am currently living with my sister, Mrs. Hurst, and am quite content. I have no interest in marriage. None whatsoever. Never. I could easily have won Mr. Darcy’s heart, if I had put more effort into the pursuit. You’re quite a short man, Frost, aren’t you?
Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy: She is no simpleton, Mr. Frost. Could she have seen half as much affection returned from Mr. Darcy as she has for herself, she would have ordered her wedding clothes when she was twelve.
Sir David Frost: And that brings us, finally, to the main character of our story, Elizabeth Darcy, the former Elizabeth Bennet. As the second daughter of a country gentleman possessing an entailed estate, Elizabeth risks a life of poverty if she cannot find a suitable husband to provide for her. Still, Elizabeth has eyes as well as ears, as she sees the evidence in her own home (Exhibit A: Mrs. Bennett) that marriage can also be an invitation to misery. Despair if you do, desolation if you don’t. Under the circumstances, what’s a young woman without a suitable dowry to do?
Lady Catherine de Bourgh: Mr. Frost, IF that is indeed your real name, let me assure you that my nephew’s wife employed unnatural feminine wiles to lure him into matrimony. Your assessment of her motives is as clear as it is correct. She desired the security of a superior match and thus demeaned our family. My heavens, the death of my own daughter would have been preferable to this patched up family!
Sir David Frost: Lady Catherine! Surely you don’t mean to say such a thing about your own daughter!
Lady Catherine de Bourgh: Have you ever met my daughter?
Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy: Lady Catherine, I am a gentleman’s daughter, and as such resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.
Mrs. Bennet: Lord love her! Lizzy can speak like that now because she’s filthy rich. Ha!
Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy: You bet your sweet a** I am.
Karen Wasylowski is the author of The Pride and Prejudice Family Saga
Author Page: author.to/KarenWasylowski