Following A Curious Guide To London (And A Reading At The Big Green Book Shop)

Bonjour! Here are a couple of videos I worked my little socks off for. The first is an expedition to find the places in A Curious Guide To London by Simon Leyland, including the possible real life inspiration for Miss Havisham.

The next is a reading of my bizarro fiction novella at the Big Green Book Shop with Chris Meekings hosted by award winning author Laura Lee Bahr. It was amazing and I hope you like it too.

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Disturbing, Strange And Beautiful Animation ‘Decoration’ By Ben Wheele

Bonjour! I’m in the final throes of theĀ second edit of my novella, thus I don’t have long to spend with you. However I wouldn’t want to leave you empty handed so here is an animation by Ben Wheele.

It’s beautiful, with Georgian overtones, but also rather dark so only watch it if you like dark things.

Bizarre Book Club 5: A Drug and Madness Special

Drugs and madness, everyone’s favourite things! It’s in the lyrics of the extra bitĀ in that number Julie Andrews sang to the Von Trapp children that ended up on the cutting room floor. It’s true. Bee keeping was probably in there too.

I'm dead intellectual I am
I’m dead intellectual I am

Anyway…we all love Burroughs, but what of those before him?

1. Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas De Quincey. Essentially Junky for the Georgian period, this long and rather waffling essay (still entertaining though, don’t get me wrong) details the author’s fall into the grip of opium addiction. Made more interesting by the fact that his buddies and fellow hop heads were Byron and Coleridge, I recommend this to anyone with a high concentration level, which I admit wasn’t always me (ooh, squirrels).

2. The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories by Horacio Quiroga. Here’s a blog post on the Uruguayan author’s frankly depressing life and possibly the reason his stories frequently include death, madness and murder. Perhaps I’m wrong but I get the feeling his writing is more poetic than the English translation, however I still enjoyed his Mediterranean infused gothic tales.

3. Hunger by Knut Hamsun. The main character in Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun’s turn of the century novel is really hungry. Seriously, that’s the basis of the book, and it’s amazing.

Hamsun wanted to show the fragility of human perception by detailing the ups and downs in a struggling writer’s life. Everything seems hopeful when he’s had a bit of bread, but without it he does and says some very peculiar things, including harassing a young lady as she wanders down the street and almost eating a pencil. It’s much better than I’ve explained here so I suggest getting a copy forthwith.

4. The Young Doctor’s Notebook (or Country Doctor’s Notebook)/Morphine by Mikhail Bulgakov. Frequently paired together, especially since the brilliant adaptation featuring Jon Hamm, this collection of short stories details in naturalistic prose the usually surreal author’s (his other works include The Master and Margarita) time as a country doctor in Russia. Oh, and his raging morphine addiction.

The stories of treating his confused peasant patients are worth it alone (a woman in labour is brought in and the midwives check her vagina only to find lumps of sugar inserted. The baby was overdue and they’d apparently tried to ‘lure it out’). However some of the nightmarish scenarios in Morphine (a fictionalised account, as are all the stories) stay with you. I had no idea morphine withdrawal would really cause terrifying hallucinations, I thought that scene in Trainspotting was just to jazz it up a bit.

He’s a funny and thought provoking writer and I’m now going to search out his other, apparently weirder, works and you probably should too.

Well that’s all I have time for, but be sure to tune in for more exciting updates. In the meantime, here’s a cat saying “Oh Long Johnson.”

Bizarre fashion predictions from the distant past (some intentional, some not)

Well hello! Icicles hang from the trees outside (unless you’re in Australia, in which case I still can’t get my head round your weather, now sort it out). With the festive party season drawing near I’m sure everyone is wondering what to wear, and as I may have mentioned I love unusual and alternative fashion.

Why not take the old advice and learn from history? They appear to have had a spooky pre-knowledge for what the catwalks of today hold.

Before Lady Gaga was even a concept of a twinkle in the eye, this bacon sporting Bacongentleman from 1894 and hardware displaying banner-girllady from the 1890s were strutting the streets. Of course, the man is taking part in a fancy dress party and the lady is a ‘banner woman’ for a hardware shop, but this diminishes nothing.

This 1917 May Queen must have seen My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding in her sleep: May

Next up Big Brother was watching the Georgians long before Orwell or (sigh) that TV programme that will not end.

Apparently owning a small framed picture of someone’s eye on your person was quite in vogue, though they had very different meanings in France and England.

To the French it symbolised watchfulness, whereas to the English it was usually a token of love: georgian-eye-jewellery

OK enough fannying about (it’s an English expression in case you’re unfamiliar), now for the serious stuff.

These billiant predictions appeared in The Strand magazine (very prestigious London publication) in 1893.

They’re all fascinating and the designers have used the past as inspiration. I fashion-predictionsrecommend you have a jaunt on over to the original post of this even if you don’t the others, but I think this one obscurely deciding that society will form a medieval circus is my favourite:

Finally I absolutely love this news item from the 1930s. Designers collaborated to predict what we would be wearing in 2000. Ooh, swish!

Forbidden erotica: vintage pornography

Vintage pornography fascinates me, be it literature or photographic, and I’ve included a mention of it in a book of mine set during Victorian times as well as dabbling in erotica myself.

Despite what many people think, we’ve been engaging in the same practises with the same amount of variety since people began.

Perhaps the idea of someone looking out at you from a picture taken hundreds of years ago is fascinating because it highlights the fact that humans never really change very much.

A good, genuinely informative series to watch would be Pornography: A Secret History of Civilisation, in which each episode outlines different eras with their new medium for pornography (ie. Georgian literature or Victorian photography) and the attitudes that surrounded it.

If you’re up to viewing risque pictures, this blog post by author Matthew Revert is very interesting.