September 7, 2016 · 12:00 pm
Sandra Crook provided this week’s photograph. I’ve wondered some way from it, and not in the direction I originally started, with my story below. Your comments are welcome.
Cleanliness Above All
Initially, Simeon hoped Elenora might be an ally. “I don’t approve of slavery,” she said. “I have an honest, local girl myself.”
But it transpired “local” meant English and as for “honest”, the maid was apt to pilfer coins to buy ribbon, and would be dismissed once a replacement could be imported.
“I like to know her hands are clean.” Elenora flicked a suspicious glance at the pristine plate set before her. “And she speaks the language.”
Later, his wife admired Elenora’s white dress.
“Presumably the cotton was picked by the only English plantation worker on the island,” Simeon thought.
April 29, 2015 · 9:34 am
Today’s picture wasn’t immediately recognisable to me, except that it looked like continental Europe, but the title of the photo turns out to be Barcelona. I’ve been, once, on a soccer tour of all things (Pembroke Ladies, I think we lost every match), but perhaps this wasn’t a part we visited.
The picture is from Dee Lovering and Rochelle leads us as usual. I always appreciate honest comments and hope you’ll leave one today.
Mrs Bronson looked over her glasses and down her nose. “He’s dark-skinned,” she whispered to her husband in a voice that carried eagerly to their daughter’s ears and, no doubt, her new boyfriend’s.
“Slightly,” Mr Bronson concurred, somewhat quieter. “But he seems nice.”
“Think of the babies though.”
“Good God, woman, let’s not think of babies yet. She’s only nineteen.”
“Someone has to. We need to put a stop to it. Can’t have half-caste Grandchildren standing over our graves, Albert.”
“Christ! Now you’ve got her a mother and us dead!”
“Probably killed by that boy. I don’t trust the Spanish.”
September 25, 2014 · 12:44 am
I hope you felt for Charlotte yesterday. I’ve been in her position many times whilst nursing and rocking Sebastian and my biggest challenge in writing her story was to convey the desperation of just-out-of-reach sustenance in 100 words punctuated with nursery rhymes. There’s an analogy in there somewhere 😉
We’re going somewhere else today, to a character from one of my draft novels, Who Is Eric. I haven’t wheeled Lily out of my mind for a while, but I’d love to know what you think about her. Please note, her story does come with a LANGUAGE WARNING.
Oh lovely, dear. Yes, I would like a banana. Keeps the joints healthy, you know? And very good for weight loss. You should try them. Are you dieting? I suppose you grew up on bananas though, back home.
Oh? Walthamstow, really? I just thought… Mind you, you never can tell these days. Our postman – black as the ace of spades, but when he talks, you’d think he grew up nextdoor. As a matter of fact, he did. We knew him when he was a boy. First gollywog in the school. Can’t call them that either these days, can you?
December 16, 2013 · 12:56 am
Hollywood (and its TV equivalents) are often condemned for failing to provide opportunities for members of minority groups. These days, racial and gender minorities are starting to make headway, but the disabled community is still far behind. Sebastian’s and my current crime-drama-of-choice is Lie To Me. In the third season, Shoshannah Stern – an actress who was born deaf – plays a deaf character. She’s a minor character, but it’s reminded me that while the industry isn’t innocent, some of the fault lies with the writers.
How many disabled characters do you find written into the great novels of our time? How many deaf or blind or wheelchair-bound heroes and heroines can you name? For me the answer is not many, and they don’t appear much in my own writing either.
Is this because of some subconscious prejudice? Or because I don’t know many disabled people to bring these characters to the forefront of my mind? Possibly, but I think there is also an element of fear (or, if you prefer, laziness – I’m not good at researching before I write). Last week I mentioned the challenges of writing a character of a different gender, but gender lines are blurry and for the most part the gender of a character has very little effect on their everyday life. A severe disability affects everything. I’m not talking about pity here, I’m talking about practicalities. I have no idea how (as in literally, not emotionally) disabled people do many of the things they not only do, but take for granted. And until I learn that, I don’t think I could write a disabled character with integrity.
But if most writers feel that way, and most writers are able-bodied, we can’t blame Hollywood for not offering decent roles – we’re not offering them to Hollywood either.
December 5, 2011 · 2:03 pm
In my post, More Writing Games, here: http://wp.me/p1PeVl-1w, I described an exercise in writing from Anthony Burgess. Since description is my weak spot, I thought I’d go with the original version and describe a room. It turned into a bit of a story itself, but I hope you like it – comments are appreciated as always (good and especially bad ones). I was using page 1111 of my dictionary, as requested, and word 13 in particular. See if you can spot the page. Here we go…
The hotel room was dark and smelt faintly of prophylactics. I felt my stomach turn at the image that conjured up. The curtains were heavy blue velvet, I pulled them back to let some light into the room, but that just revealed the true squalor within. Mould was propagating wildly in one corner where the wall had a pronounced yaw inwards, and the ceiling was stained from water damage.
The decorations were strange, a propfan jutted out of the wall above the bed, as if the remains of a war time crash that noone had bothered to remove. The quiet design of the propeller the ultimate irony, since in the last few minutes the fan on the ceiling had already demonstrated a propensity to squeak, once in every slow, useless cycle.
“Your guest is joining you later, is he?” prompted the bellboy, hanging on the pronoun to emphasise his views on the prospect of two men sharing a double room. Clearly not a proponent of the Rainbow propaganda promulgated by the hotel, he virtually had “Prejudice” tattooed across his knuckles. He propped the door open and wheeled in our cases. I thought about withholding the bill I’d palmed earlier, but it seemed better to propitiate him, otherwise he’d only chalk it up to the colour of my skin and the propensity of black men to tip badly.
I pushed the bill into his hand and closed the door behind him. The room stank, the service stank. I was about ready to leave, but I couldn’t. There were no other hotels in town, no other rooms to be had for any money, and the funeral was starting in an hour. I propelled my brother’s case away from the door and sat down heavily on the bed.