Genius and Geniality: The Verisimilitude of Videos

[Why I should be abssorbed in the authenticity of Austen adaptations... I
daresay there's a reason.]

Back in her room aboard the TARDIS, Victoria felt she was properly relaxing
for the first time in days. Say what you liked about the fashions of the
twenty-first century, they were certainly more comfortable than those of
the Regency. And she no longer had to pose as a wealthy heiress, scour her
memory for half-remembered details of Jane Austen novels, worry about what
might happen if the alien technology they'd been looking for had fallen into
the wrong hands, or fret about what social solecism her impetuous young
'cousin' might commit next.
"All right, I admit it." Zoe closed the copy of /The Mirror Of Graces/
that she'd unearthed somewhere in the TARDIS library. "You were right and I
was wrong."
Victoria gave her a look of simulated amazement. "That's something I never
thought I'd hear you say."
"I know. I don't like being fallible. It serves me right for jumping in
without reading the manual first."
"The manual? Zoe, etiquette isn't like one of those computers you're so
fond of. You can't reduce everything to a list of rules."
"Tell that to my parapsychology tutor. Though I think even he might have
balked at some of the things this book says."
"Such as?"
"According to this I shouldn't have tried to defend myself against that
wretched Lieutenant."
"Tried?" Victoria raised her eyebrows. "You threw him halfway across the
"Succeeded, then, if you prefer. And he still started it. Just because he
couldn't bear the idea that I know more about ballistics than he ever will."
"We've been through all that. Several times. Don't do it again, Zoe, that's
all I ask."
"I promise I won't." Zoe muttered something more that Victoria couldn't
"What was that?"
"I said, Fanny Price didn't get all this nagging."
"Fanny Price...! Zoe, I thought you said you'd never read any Jane
"That's right. But I saw a vid of /Mansfield Park/ once." She paused and
added reluctantly, "Some of it, anyway."
"A vid?"
"Video adaptation."
"You mean something like the serials on television?"
"That's right. The 2024 version, with Bella McDonald and Jimmy Fox."
"And in this 'vid' just what did Fanny Price do?"
"Kicked Henry Crawford in the--" Zoe caught sight of Victoria's expression
and hastily moderated her language. "Kicked him down a flight of steps."
Victoria's shock did not seem appreciably diminished.
"I take it that doesn't happen in the book?" Zoe added.
"It certainly does not."
"Oh. Well, I'll know better next time." An idea seemed to strike her. "Hang
on a moment."
She dashed out of the room, returning a few minutes later with a copy of
/Mansfield Park/.
"I'll read the book," she said. "And then we can watch the vid together,
and try to spot all the places where it gets things wrong." She weighed the
tome speculatively in her hand, and glanced at the first page. "I should have
finished this in three hours or so. Are you free this evening?"
Victoria laughed. "You think can read /Mansfield Park/ in three hours?"
"That's my guess. Based on the size of the type and an estimate of the
number of pages."
"You'd only spoil it if you hurried. Take as long as you like."
"I will." Zoe's stubborn expression suggested that this would still be
three hours. "See you later."
She departed again, only to stick her head round the door a moment later.
"Tell you what," she added. "It's a good thing no-one asked me to take
part in any amateur theatricals. I dread to think what I might have done. You
may have to close your eyes when we're watching that bit."

John Elliott

"Oh, oh!" cried Mrs. Jennings; "very pretty, indeed! and the Doctor is a
single man, I warrant you." -- Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen