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Emily Chesley: A Legacy of War Heroics, Savagery & Alcohol Dependence (Part One)

The Meanderings of the Emily Chesley Reading CircleWriter, poet, social activist, explorer, aviatrix, and 92-year-old pole vaulter: Emily Chesley played many roles in her long and remarkable life. This week I am posting abridged excerpts from her biography, Get Bent: Emily Chesley’s Life of Speculation, which recounts the humble beginnings and formative experiences of the Speculative Songstress Of The Southwest. The previous episode (chapter one) is here.

Michael’s mounting success as an inventor sustained a comfortable existence for Molly, and Emily during her younger years. The particulate breathing apparatus proved more popular among the privileged classes of counties Clare and Limerick than his introspection wheel had been among the Michael Flannigan demonstrates his nouveau riche of Westminster. In fact, the “party brat” (by which the device was affectionately known) became so ubiquitous that it was considered one of the primary factors responsible for a dramatic increase in cannabis use witnessed throughout Ireland during the late 1850s and early 1860s. [1]

As word of Michael’s infamy as the inventor of the party brat, and of his subsequent fortune, spread to the red-light district of east London, three of Molly’s four sisters, [2] Chelsea, Hope and Mary, returned to Ireland in a desperate attempt to redeem themselves in the eyes of their now wealthy brother. Fortunately for the three Flannigan girls, Michael’s brilliance was equaled by his soft-hearted, forgiving nature and naiveté. He welcomed all three sisters into his home only to see them regress shortly thereafter back to a lifestyle of sexual deviancy and addiction now subsidized by him.

The unexpected arrival of Chelsea, Hope and Mary took a particularly harsh toll on Molly, who was already suffering from a prolonged case of post-partum depression following the birth of Emily. While Michael resigned himself to his sisters’ increasingly scandalous behaviour and distracted himself with his latest inventions, Molly was prone to lashing out at her siblings with a ferocity that rivaled her late husband’s. On one occasion, having walked in on a roily orgy in a garden shack involving all three of her sisters and a toothless groundskeeper named ‘Wily Willy’, Molly was observed by a local clergyman one Friar Parsnip pursuing her sisters “barefoot and wailing like a banshee” down a cobble-stone street with hedging shears. The shocked clergyman engaged in the chase to ensure no harm would befall Molly or her sisters. When he finally caught up with the Flannigans, Hope and Mary had spent their entire energy disarming Molly from her shears. But he was too late to prevent Chelsea from receiving an extraordinarily well-hung fence wedgie that ultimately resulted in a hysterectomy.

… Part Two here ….


1. This little known fact is well documented by the world’s first known demographer, Charles “Chuckles” Pratt, in his commentary on the social evils of 19th century Irish society, Cannabis Shenanigans.

2. Catherine, the fourth sister, had earlier given up her life of prostitution to repent as a nun at the Worcestershire Convent and Buggy Wash in Liverpool. After a decade of life as a quiet penitent and carriage lamp detailer, Catherine found her calling as a missionary and devoted the rest of her life to a South Pacifi c colony of poor outcasts of sexual ambiguity. Though still far from beatifi cation, let alone sainthood in the eyes of the Church, she is already known in the tiny archipelago of Laigo Maiago as St. Catherine Among The Hermaphrodites.


  1. Cannabis Shenanigans? Are there any other kind? Rickey says no.

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