“Pride and Prejudice” closed a few nights ago at BYU and I’m still struggling with speaking American (you know, like those chaps on the news), so I’m writing this in an aristocratic English accent (easier than German, where you sound like you have something caught in your throat, or French, where you sound like you have something caught in your nose). So please read it that way, if you will. Read along out loud, if you can (rhymes with “pan”-unlike “can’t,” which rhymes with “font”). But only, of course, if you are alone (say the “o” sound in these words by starting with an “uh” sound-no, really).

It’s been (rhymes with “bean,” as in “Mr Bean” ((remember, no period after “Mr”-um, that is to say, full stop)) ) very (“veri”) helpful to have my daughter here on a short visit from her four-hundred-year-old flat in England, which reposes in the shadow of the castle of Ashby de la Zouch. She is a subject of the Queen (we’ll not dwell on the subject of the Queen-actually, she ((my daughter Eliza, not the Queen (((also Eliza))) )) has dual citizenship: both here and there ((pronounce the first “r” but not the second (((We just received a new ((((nyoo)))) home teacher who is an Irish, Canadian, and American citizen, and who, after all that bother, rather ((((those words rhyme)))) wishes he had simply swum the Rio Grande.))) )).).

My Eliza has no English accent (leave out the second vowel), and so the primary (ditto) value of her visit is emotional. But she brought along little Darwin Ruby, who is just four and has a lovely accent. So my granddaughter and I have been conversing like billy-o (not exactly an aristocratic expression, but what do you want ((rhymes with “font”))?).

Journal entry for 24 March 2014

Darwin showed up wearing a little smock with pockets on the front. She told me “They’re for putting money in. Mummy was going to buy me some money, but she didn’t yet.” I chose two shiny pennies from the basket on the shelf and said “Here, one for each pocket,” adding, apologetically, “Of course, it’s American money.” She replied “That’s all right. We can sell it for American shopping.”

They’ve gone now, but were staying with Eliza’s elder brother Dave in Salt Lake City, America. Before seeing “Pride and Prejudice,” which he liked, Dave, intrigued by the title, asked “Is this going to be a documentary about BYU?” He also likes his joke. I should reveal here that Dave’s house is actually adjacent to the Uni (the British say “Uni”) of Utah, so he has a bit of a red streak in him, although, unlike his father, he is utterly heedless of American collegiate football. (It has been observed, perhaps here, and certainly by a few million Shakespeare enthusiasts, that the Earl of Kent in the play “King Lear,” berates a servant by calling him a “base football player,” suggesting that the good earl needs to review his priorities or, at the very least, decide which sort of ball player he perceives the servant to be. ((Our brilliant and charitable director, Barta Heiner, once played King Lear. This was with the full approbation of the administration of Brigham Young Uni. Forget “ordain women”-I say “Crown them!”)) )

The closing of our production is, for me, a melancholy thing. I’m always a bit undone by a closing. When we closed “Hancock County” in 2002 (again at BYU, a brilliant piece by Tim Slover about the trial of the murderers of Joseph Smith) I needed medication. I’m still taking it. But one lovely blessing accompanied this more recent closing. I have mentioned that there was a dog in our show. Lady C. D. Bourgh toted around an astoundingly becoming animal we called “Pippa” (her actual name “Misty” was far from being sufficiently aristocratic). When Pippa first appeared at rehearsals, she seemed ecstatic at being around such a large and amiable group (except for Mr Wickham, who, when he walked in, was greeted with snarls by this keen canine judge of character). Everybody wanted to be the dog’s best friend.

But then Pippa’s owner and trainer (one of our omnipresent dramaturgs) firmly instructed us that no one was to relate to the dog but her worship Lady Catherine and her worshipper Mr Collins, at whom Pippa was being trained to bark on cue. The rest of the company was strictly to ignore their comely canine colleague. This was hard, very hard. But at the point in the last performance when Pippa left the stage for the final time and was brought to the Green Room, the ban was lifted and Pippa (in the arms of Mr Wickham) was petted and fondled and complimented by all present.

We closed on a Friday. Productions like these usually close (unless they are driven from town by a disappointed audience bearing pitchforks) on Saturdays. We closed on a Friday because of the onset of General Conference. This paragraph is a transition to a few moments I particularly savored during said conference, which I hope may concur with some of your favorite moments.

From journal notes:

It’s sweet to hear President Eyring use Corianton as an example of a successful penitent, rather than as the usual cautionary example of the bad egg.

(In the Priesthood Session I had the benefit of neither light nor spectacles, and so I dotted “e”s and crossed “l”s and frequently repeated syllables within words. I’ll spare you those quaint authenticities.)

Elder Randall L. Ridd told us that the Internet automatically creates a “cyber book of life.” Our youth are the “choice” generation (meaning they have such a multiplicity of choices. It’s well to remember, however, that even in my distant youth, we were clearly identified as the “choice generation held back until the end of times” ((I am, for crying out loud, a bona fide “Saturday’s Warrior”-or wait, I’m only the father of an S.W. (((which reminds me, if any of you has about the manor a teen that requires slapping, I’m your man! You can reach me through the editors.))). )). ).

President Uchtdorf counseled us “not to sleep through the Restoration” in the manner of Rip Van Winkle. Our discipleship is not a matter of “once a week” but “once and for all.

Jean A. Stevens says “The gospel is not weight, it is wings.”

The sister who closed this session with prayer (her name is not online and I didn’t write it down) gave me the first southern accent I can remember hearing in General Conference. (It was a sweet sound-it made me wish “Pride and Prejudice” had been set in Louisiana, America.


President Boyd K. Packer promised that “empty arms will be filled.”

Marcos A. Aidukaitis says “buzzum” instead of “bosom,” but I really like this guy (I wasn’t writing my journal in an aristocratic English accent, like I am this column. I look forward to his speaking again ((rhymes with “sustain”)) in the near future.).

Backstage Graffiti began twelve years ago as an encouragement to keep journals. It still tries to do that, witness the inclusion of several exemplary journal entries, above. It was not intended to encourage Facebook posts. Meridian Magazine, in fact, made its debut on the Internet a good while before Facebook did, although its current stock price is, inexplicably, lower. But I wish to conclude with something I posted on Facebook on a recent day of Certain Significance:

Mrs Bennet of Longbourn House takes great pleasure in announcing the marriage of our second daughter, Elizabeth, to the Rev. Mr William Collins. The newlyweds will make their home in Italy, where the groom will pursue his passion for the dance. The vicarage left vacant by Mr Collins will be filled by Mr George Wickham, the recently wed husband of Lady Catherine De Bourgh (over the pitiable objections of the dog, Pippa). Mrs Bennet has happily overcome her aversion to Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy, and the exuberant couple will elope shortly. For my part, I’m going to Scotland with Collette, the stage right dresser, and Rebecca, the stage left assistant stage manager. It is intended that my daughter Mary will care for her four remaining sisters with proceeds from playing pianoforte in the tavern at Meryton. This is all I have to say on this First Day of April, 2014.