Monthly Archives: August 2012

A very lazy Tuesday…

I’m afraid I’m going to cheat again this week. I have a stonking headache and when I’ve got a headache the ability to write completely deserts me. So instead of me rambling on about what’s gone on in my week, I’m just going to post a double length snippet.

Below is an extract from Braving Madness where Edward has just confessed to having attended sixteen seasons.

“Would you believe I was looking for a wife?” Or more accurately looking for girls suitable to be his wife and then neatly avoiding them.

“For sixteen years?” Her delicate eyebrows nearly rose off her face. “Does it take that long to find a wife?”

“I told you before; it’s not an easy to find the right bride.” And since his father had died, the right bride mattered. He’d had no intention of marrying someone he could hurt.

“Most girls are expected to make a match by the end of their first season.”

“Are you saying that I’m ‘on the shelf’?”

A smile danced over Betty’s face. “That or you’ve been paying attendance to the wrong type of ladies.”

“And what do you mean by that?”

Despite the colour flaring in her cheeks, Betty lifted her chin defiantly, nothing like the insipid mice that swarmed the fashionable ballrooms in gowns of pale silk. “Merely that if a lady already has a husband she is unlikely to be looking for another.”

Edward managed to swallow his laugh. “I think that depends very much on the health of the first husband and the bank balance of the next intended victim.”

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Images as Windows into the Past

This week has been a bit of a photography week for me. I go through phases with taking photos. Sometimes all you can really be bothered with is a snapshot, nothing fancy, no poses, usually awful light, but hopefully you capture the instance, first steps or your little ones wearing a bucket on their head. Other times I get it right. I think about the composition, about the lighting and I take a zillion photos and just one will be perfect.

But when I look back over my albums, I don’t really mind which style the photo was taken in. I imagine other people prefer the pretty pictures but at the end of the day if my little girls are in shot then the magic is there and my memory of that moment is strengthened.

And it got me thinking about how much I rely on photos to bolster my memories and what it would be like not to have them. After all relatively speaking photography hasn’t been around that long and for a reasonable portion of that, photos would have been very formal occasions.

These two photos are of my relations on the day of their engagement. They had gone for a picture together but the photographer was shocked by the idea (or could see an opportunity for making more money) of an unmarried couple having their photograph taken together. See I come from a scandalous background.

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But before photography was about, people would have had to rely on a painting or drawing to capture a loved one’s image. And if you’ve ever tried to draw a picture of someone you will know how difficult this can be. Our brains are programmed/designed to recognise faces. Just one tiny mistake and we can spot it. So if you wanted a good likeness you would have had to pay good money and most people aren’t going to do that very often. So you might end up with only a handful of decent images of a person over their lifetime.

I took a dozen photos of my girls yesterday. I can’t imagine being restricted like that.

But then again, one of the strongest mental images I have of my first born daughter is in the operating theatre where she was born. And there were no cameras there, so I know for sure I’m not confusing the original memory with the subsequent memories of frozen moments on film. And somehow knowing that makes that very special moment even more special.

The snippet below captures a moment between Edward and his prospective father-in-law Lord Lumley, Earl of Scarborough along with a painting of his late wife.

“Betty?” The Earl snorted into his drink sending ripples across the surface. Not enough to spill any though. “Name’s Elizabeth, named her after her mother. Always thought it was a beautiful name. She should be proud to have a name like that.”

Finally those two words back on the bridge made sense. Not Elizabeth. Not her mother. “I think Betty suits her. And perhaps she doesn’t care for the daily reminder of her mother, of your combined loss.”

“Reminder?” Incredulity raised the Earl’s eyebrows, disbelief brightening his tired eyes. Clearly, he was in no need of reminders, to forget was unthinkable. He lifted his arm, his glass already empty, and pointed at the painting above the mantelpiece. “That’s my wife up there. Betty’s the spitting image of her.”

Betty’s likeness stared back at him. She stood at the base of a sweeping staircase, her hand gracing the newel post, her head turned back as if someone had called her name. Sunlight caught the same auburn hair, the shimmering strands pulled back from her face, twisted into a Grecian knot. A single coil draped over one bare shoulder, the skin the same innocent porcelain, the skilful artistry managing to capture the inviting softness.  

“I want to marry her.” He breathed the words without thinking. So much for presenting a good front, he was practically salivating at the poor man’s dead wife.


A Romantic Getaway Complete with Small Children…

 

 

Last week was my ninth wedding anniversary. Nine long years. Am I allowed to say long? Nine years, feels like longer. My granddad used to say that every year to my grandmother and they were married for over 60 years, so that can’t be a bad sign.

As a reward to reaching an anniversary of such epic proportions, by today’s standards at least, we decided to go away for a romantic weekend. To Cleethorpes. With my two little girls.

For those of you who don’t recognise the name as the popular haunts of lover’s getaways, Cleethorpes is a family seaside resort on the east coast of England, high on sand, ice-cream and chips, low on peace and quiet.

I think we would have managed a bit better if Nancy hadn’t managed to climb out of her cot. She’s never done it before, but obviously she sensed her company would really be appreciated every few minutes, and that in the absence of crooning ballads, she should do her best by screaming her head off at every available opportunity.

Oh well.

A good time was had by all. Sandcastles were made and stomped on by eager feet, ice-creams were eaten with abandonment, and enough chips were scoffed that by Sunday evening no-one could actually face eating another meal.

In the extract below, Betty and Edward show they have a much more intimate evening ahead of them.

Edward’s gaze dropped deliberately, sweeping downwards before lifting to meet hers again. “Of course not; rakes are rarely shocked or overexcited.”

There was a trace of a quiver in his cheek muscles, so faint she nearly missed it, but it had definitely been a quiver. He was keeping himself under tight control. She lowered her gaze a couple of inches, following the hard line of his jaw. If only she could slip her fingers against the snowy folds of his cravat, feel the heat of his skin and know if the beat of his pulse was accelerating as rapidly as hers.

She deliberately looked down the length of his body, copying Edward’s own recent behaviour; past the draping lines of his great cloak, from one coat button to the next, the pale horn a burnished bronze in the warm firelight until she reached his unmentionables.

She shouldn’t be staring. No real lady would. But if he could look then why shouldn’t she? She remembered the quiver in his cheek. Brazen and confident, she was the one in control.  

She looked back up. He was watching her. Chestnut strands threaded his iris, whispering of the warmth of an autumn sunset.

“Then the evidence of my own eyes, Lord Carrington, proves you are quite definitely not a rake.”

Edward choked.


Physics and Star Dust

I have a Masters in Physics. Not everyone can say that. Few people want to. Physics tends to be one of those dreaded subjects, right up there with English Grammar and Mental Arithmetic, or if you were a geek like me, Physical Education (or PE for all those Brits out there). Announcing you like Physics is the same as telling the world you have a highly infectious skin disease.

But I can’t say Physics has ever intimidated me. Physics is just a way of describing how the world works.

Or trying to at the very least.

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From sub-atomic particles to the rules governing the macroscopic universe, there is a beautiful simplicity even if it doesn’t always seem that way. The language is elegant. It can be made to yield incredible results and be understood across the world.

In the extract below, Betty shows even when she’s feeling miserable there is still a little bit of scientist lurking beneath.

Betty sat on the terrace ledge and stared at the stars. Behind her, the ballroom still heaved with bodies despite the hour being past one.

The sky loomed overhead. The Great Bear lazily circled the North Star, the belt of Orion dipping below the bank of trees, all the same stars that had watched over her father’s house.

A few days ago she’d found reassurance beneath their gaze but since she’d met Edward… Her body clenched as the image of him flashed in her mind, whirling in the waltz, his coat soft against her cheek, the steady beat of his heart beneath.

She blinked into the darkness. No comfort to find now, only a vast emptiness.