July 2008


I’m excited to be able to announce that my second historical novel, Beyond the Veil, was recently released by Phaze Books. It seems I’ve been waiting for this to be published for ages, but when the release finally happened RL played an unkind trick on me and I wasn’t at my best, so I’m a little late with my notice.  However,  I’m posting the Blurb below, together with the first few paragraphs to give a taste:

BLURB:

Captured by the aggressive pirate captain of a Barbary corsair ship off the North African coast in the latter half of the eighteenth century, David Jordan faces a life of slavery of the worst kind when he is taken to the specialist markets of Tripoli.  However, the enigmatic man who finally buys him is not at all what David expects.

Robert Charteris has a very personal reason for fighting against the iniquity of slavery and, in disguise, witnesses the disposal of the slave cargo from a captured English ship and, for the first time in fifteen years, Charteris feels an interest in another man.

His decision to rescue the young man has repercussions he could never have expected in this tale of high passion and forbidden love.

EXCERPT:

David was forced to duck yet again as a cannon ball screamed overhead, this one slamming into the ship’s mast, the cracking of the wood drawing everyone’s attention, but miraculously it held. More cannon balls whizzed and shrieked as they tore through sails or broke off some of the smaller spits holding the shrouds aloft.

Slipping further back into the shadows, David cursed his stupidity at ignoring the perils of travelling in the Mediterranean as he watched the Barbary Pirates pouring across the ship’s tilting deck, its surface already awash with blood. The crew manfully attempted to fight the pirates back but they were not only outnumbered, they were outfought. David had no weapon and weighed his chances if he tried to help.

His attention was drawn by the angry bellowing of a pirate who was chasing Miss Bateson, her long blonde hair coming loose from its tortoise shell grip and streaming out behind her. As she looked back over her shoulder, her eyes showed fear yet her mouth was set in a determined line. David was debating his options when he saw young Tom Bateson struggling with one of the pirates.

Almost immediately David understood that Tom had been attempting to help his sister, who ducked hoping to avoid another pirate trying to intercept her.

Without a second thought, David ran out of his hiding place and launched himself at the pirate who shook the sixteen-year-old youth like he was a rat in the teeth of a dog. The man was huge, his bare arms bulging with muscles where the split sleeve of his shirt fell open, his legs braced with a wide stance. David landed on the pirate’s back but the man was not even unbalanced. He dropped Tom instantly though, and twisting from his shoulder he reached back and cuffed David upside the head.

David hung on even though his head was spinning and his ears were ringing. With a growl, one of the man’s beefy hands gripped David’s right arm and his vice-like hold broke David’s grasp as if it was nothing. He yanked David towards him and his other hand slammed into David’s chest, throwing him clear across the deck where he landed heavily, his head ringing.

Suzanna Bateson’s forward rush came to an abrupt halt when she ran into a solid object. Strong arms wrapped around her, keeping her from falling. For a moment she looked grateful for the help, until she glanced up and gasped in shock.

She was held tight in the grip of another pirate. A tall man whose dark eyes were all that could be seen of his face, the rest of it covered by a black veil edged in silver attached to his burnous, and the long hooded cloak favoured by the Turks, which was also edged in silver. The burnous fell over loosely fitting black pantaloons and a loose silver shirt worn split open to the waist where it was tucked inside the wide waistband.

“What have we here?” he asked in English but with an odd accent.

The woman struggled in his grip, but he merely pulled her closer to him. “I like a woman of spirit. I think I might keep you,” he said as his eyes swept over her.

He leaned in towards her, obviously intending to kiss her and she shouted in shock, “No!”

Ignoring his increasing dizziness, David attempted to roll to his side to try and get his knees underneath him but just then Tom Bateson barrelled out of his hiding place among some fallen sails and leapt at the tall pirate.

“Leave my sister be, you bastard!” he yelled as he attempted to land blows on the man’s kidneys.

The tall pirate swirled the girl away into the arms of her erstwhile pursuer while he grabbed up the fair-haired youth. “I can clearly see you two are related,” he said with a smile, his oddly accented voice warm with amusement.

David just managed to hear the captain say, “Take them to my cabin, Achmed,” before everything dimmed and he gave in to the pain pounding behind his eyes, momentarily losing consciousness.

A rough voice calling out in a language he knew he ought to recognize dragged David’s attention back to his surroundings. He tried to open his eyes but swiftly closed them again as the brightness seared his pupils. He tried to listen to what was being said, but at first he could not even remember which language it was, let alone interpret it.

However, he realized it was the pirate Captain speaking and with growing horror he did recognize a few of the foreign words, “…kill the injured men too. They’re no use as new crew and even less use on the slave block.”

<end excerpt>

Buy today from Phaze: http://www.kingcart.com/Phaze/product=Beyond+The+Veil

Stevie

http://steviewoods.com

My Publishers:

http://www.phaze.com

http://www.torquerepress.com

We’re hoping that this will be a new regular feature. As we all write, we are simultaneously researching, so each week we come across useful, interesting, or just downright bizarre sites. We’re going to post a selection of them every Friday for your delectation ;)

A list of British Army Officer casualties in the Peninsula War

Lots of fascinating information about

Medical Services
Surgery
Treatment of Wounds
Medical Hygeine
Evacuation of the Wounded
Amputation Instruments and Chart
Causes of death in British Army hospitals 1812-1814

but I chiefly find it useful as a mine for men’s names and surnames.

And

which is a wonderful site full of old maps and original papers from the 11th Century onwards.

I’ve recently had the great pleasure to talk with Alex Beecroft, author of “Captain’s Surrender”, about her work, her plans, fanfiction and God, and I’m very happy to share this interview with you. Special thanks to Alex for putting up with me!

Emma Collingwood: Do you remember when you first had the wish to write? Did it start in your childhood, or later?
Alex Beecroft: I think it started when I was about 11. That was the time that I started writing things down in little booklets, and hiding them!

EC: What did you write about?
AB: I think I wrote typical bad fic. I was a big fan of “Emerson, Lake and Palmer”, and I wrote about them being in an intergalactic band, having adventures in sleazy space stations and saving the universe with the power of music. It was a sort of crossover between my love for progressive rock music and my love for Star Wars. I have to say though that I never inserted myself into the stories. No Mary sues for me!

EC: What a pity. Mary Sues are fun! One could say your first stories were SF then… being into Star Wars, have you ever considered heading for SF with your writing?
AB: I did. For a long time science fiction was what I wanted to write, but as I got older I realised that my scientific knowledge was not really up to scratch. The kind of science fiction I enjoyed was the hard science fiction, but after I failed physics at school I rather lost my confidence in being able to cope with the science. So I switched to being into fantasy and writing fantasy. Although that is simplifying matters really, because if think about it now I loved fantasy too in parallel.

EC: From Asimov to Tolkien…?
AB: Tolkien and Asimov together. I think what I really liked was the experience of being in another world – a world that wasn’t like the one I lived in.

EC: Has your environment been supportive of your writing ambitions?
AB: In general I’d have to say – no. I was always too busy, and I’ve never had a lot of energy, so when I came home from work I would be too exhausted to do anything. I honestly don’t know how people cope working and writing at the same time. When I had my children, I left work, and then I immediately took up writing, even though my first novel had to be written during the one hour a day that the first baby was asleep. I think it was the only way I stayed sane!

EC: I can well imagine! Things are different now?
AB: Yes, they are. Both of my children are at school now, so I have from ten o’clock in the morning to three o’clock in the afternoon to write. Naturally, this has led to a drastic reduction in the amount I actually get done – procrastination is my worst enemy!

EC: You can treat your writing like “a real job” now, then. Have you settled into this routine?
AB: Yes, I have. I do in general sit down and write or edit from 11-3. The rest of the time I am answering e-mails or doing self-promotion or writing blog posts. I don’t count writing blogs as part of my writing time! But I’m a very slow writer. Today for example it did take me the full four hours to do just under 800 words.

EC: Does blogging count as “promotion time”?
AB: I think writing for something like the Macaroni’s Blog counts as promotion, but fiddling about on Livejournal counts as relaxing and enjoying myself )

EC: When did you first share your writing, and where/who with?
AB: I first allowed another person to read my writing about seven years ago. I had discovered fanfiction on the internet, and I started writing a Star Wars novel based on the new film “The Phantom Menace”. It was somehow easier to share fanfiction because I already knew that other people were using the same characters and settings. It wasn’t quite the same level of exposure as showing somebody my original work.

EC: Fanfiction as a “training ground”?
AB: Not really. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to writing, and while I could look at my own writing and say ‘that’s not as good as anything you’d see published’ I did not want anyone else to see it at all. Not even in fanfiction. Only when I got to the stage that I could pick up published books and think ‘I have done better than that’ was I ready to allow people to see it. But fan fiction got me used to the idea that I was writing for an audience – that my writing was not some kind of elite art form that didn’t have to mean anything to anyone apart from me. It got me used to the idea that I was writing to entertain people. And also it got me accustomed to the idea that there were people out there who would enjoy what I wrote, and therefore there was some point in my continuing to share it. It was a great easing in to the idea that my writing wasn’t just self therapy, it could sometimes be entertainment as well.

EC: One could say then that the way your work was received (with enthusiasm and admiration, as far as I can tell!) moved you from the audience to the stage?
AB: *g* Yes. It gave me the confidence to know I was doing something right.

EC: You did!
AB: Thank you!

EC: After Star Wars, there came LOTR…?
AB: Yes, I don’t quite know how that happened. I’d grown up on Tolkien, reading and reading “The Lord of the Rings” over and over. And then the first film came along, and I still felt no desire to write anything in that universe. I think what sparked me off was finding the Henneth Annun site and seeing what other people were doing with the material. And then of course I found out that nobody liked my favourite character – and after that I had a crusade!

EC: Tell me more…
AB: LOL! In my multiple readings of Tolkien, I had become very fond of Celeborn, Galadriel’s husband. He was rude and acerbic, and he had his own agenda, and he dared to criticise Gandalf, and he was like no Elf I’d seen before in Tolkien. I thought he was really cool. Unfortunately, everybody else seemed to think that he was a henpecked husband who wouldn’t say boo to a goose. He tended to get ignored, or at the very best he was written as a character with no personality of his own, who existed merely to worship Galadriel. I wanted to put some of the aggression and lordliness back into the character.

EC: Fully agree with your perception of Celeborn. How were your stories received?
AB: Surprisingly well, really! Considering that they were mostly dialogue pieces where I examined politics and prejudice in Elven life!

EC: Tolkien’s language is a very formal, even archaic form of English, especially the way Elves communicated. Did you find it difficult to adapt to this style?
AB: I was quite at home with Tolkien’s language, as I studied the Anglo-Saxons at university, and had read a lot of Saxon and later medieval poetry. I did manage to do two novel-length stories where something other than dialogue happened though. ‘Oak and Willow’ was the tale of the courtship of Celeborn and Galadriel, which contained lots of First Age history.

EC: Lots of research for those ones, I suppose…?
AB: There was actually very little research in ‘Battle of the Golden Wood’, because the whole thing was based on two paragraphs in one of the Appendices of LotR. But ‘Oak and Willow’ and some of my later stories which revolved around the issue of Calaquendi/Moriquendi politics and racism took a lot of hunting through the 12 volumes of the History of Middle-earth. I admire Tolkien’s ability to make a history for his world which feels just like real history – all the same gaps and lacunae and differences of interpretation. The man really was extremely clever! And ‘Battle of the Golden Wood’ was the first really large scale story with battles, siege warfare etc. that I’d ever tried. In that respects it was almost like writing historical fiction.

EC: Which is what you are doing now. “Captain’s Surrender” has been published and received lots of praise – how does one get from the Golden Woods aboard a ship of the Royal Navy in the 18th century?
AB: *g* I got into the Royal Navy via another film. Ironically enough it was ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’. I say ironically because it seems to have made the majority of the world fall in love with pirates, but it made me fall in love with the clean cut boys of the Royal Navy. They were so sarcastic, and so fine in their wigs and stockings, and so totally impervious to danger. I had to find out whether any of it was really like that. And to my amazement, a lot of it really was! (Except possibly for the sarcasm.)

EC: So you started researching and writing as a reaction on the movie?
AB: Yes. I made the very good impulse decision to buy Patrick O’Brian’s ‘Master and Commander’ – the first novel in the series. And that was so fantastic that I was hooked. I settled in for about two years of massive Royal Navy joy. I moved on from Patrick O’Brian to Forrester’s ‘Hornblower’ (which I didn’t like as much) and textbooks like ‘The Wooden World’ by N.A.M Rodgers. And I made friends with a wonderful group of fellow enthusiasts on LJ – one of whom is of course the estimable Emma Collingwood. I think we spurred each other on with our enthusiasm.

EC: That’s definitely true! You’re certainly not a writer who exists in a vacuum. And shared love is better love. All the discussions and research shows in your work. Having read “Captain’s Surrender”, I can only compliment you on your ability to write a three-dimensional setting. Reading about it is really like actually being there. So you have not created a new world (to go back to your Star Wars days), but successfully resurrected an old one. Do you write from a “watcher’s” pov or rather as somebody who feels she’s right in the middle of the action?
AB: Thank you! One of the advantages of writing as slowly as I do is that you do have plenty of time to think between words. ) I do often find myself thinking ‘hold on, three paragraphs have gone past without mentioning the setting. Do something descriptive now!’ I tend as a writer to ride along inside my characters’ heads, and sometimes I get so immersed in what they’re thinking that I have to stop and remember what’s going on outside them. So yes, very tight third person view. I don’t ever see both characters at once. I wish I could, sometimes! )

EC: As far as “Captain’s Surrender” is concerned – in whose head did you spend the most time?
AB: Without going back and adding up the pages, I think it’s about equal between Josh and Peter. Possibly slightly weighted towards Josh, because Peter is so oblivious that he’s hard to use to observe things with!

EC: Josh and Peter – that brings us to one of the core points of your book, which is the relationship between the two men. Homosexual love in the Royal Navy of the 18th century – how did that come to happen for you?
AB: I think I’m just hardwired to tell m/m stories. The first one I remember writing was a little vignette about Khan and Joachim from the movie ‘The Wrath of Khan’. I was in my teens then. For a long time, in fact, I tried not to write m/m because I’m a Christian, and I thought then that it was a wrong thing to do. My fascination with the Royal Navy coincided with the point where I really worked out my issues and prejudices and came to realize that God is love – and that therefore if I wanted to celebrate the love that I clearly was born wanting to celebrate, then I should do it. Apologies for talking religion!

EC: No need to apologise. Has your religion influenced your writing?
AB: Oh lots! Or not at all! ;) It influences what I think about things, and that influences what I write. I hate the revenge plot, for example. You know, where the hero’s family is killed and he sets out to murder all the people who did it? I firmly believe that forgiveness is the right way to go, so I could not approve of a hero of mine behaving like that. I also am interested in engaging with questions about how ones belief in God affects ones’ life. Both Peter and Josh, in Captain’s Surrender, have to work through what their religion is telling them about them, and come to self acceptance at the end. I suppose I’m aware of it being a big influence on people’s characters and the way they behave, for good or ill. So it enters the work like that. But I wouldn’t dream of attempting to preach. That puts me off a book!

EC: “Captain’s Surrender” has been published by Linden Bay Romance – how did you find that publisher?
AB: Oh, I found out about Linden Bay by a wonderful coincidence. A friend of mine in the RN appreciation society on LJ reviewed Lee Rowan’s ‘Ransom’, which she loved. Lee replied to her to say thank you for the review. We all ended up chatting and I mentioned that I had been thinking of doing something like ‘Ransom’ myself. Whereupon Lee said ‘well, my publisher’s running their annual competition at the moment to see who they will publish next – why don’t you submit it to them?’ I thought ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ and spent a month turning the series of short stories I had into a novel. I submitted it to Linden Bay, and it won the competition and here I am! )

EC: That’s fantastic! Not only for you, but also for us readers! What was your first reaction when you got the big news?
AB: Hee! I clapped both hands over my mouth and squeaked. Then I said ‘no way!’ and got up and walked ’round the house – bubbling over with joy – then I came back, read the email again and did it all over again about five more times. I wanted to tell someone but I didn’t really believe it, and I was afraid to jinx it. In fact apart from telling my husband, I sat on the news until I’d signed the contract – just in case it all fell through somehow.

EC: As I’m having the book in front of me now, it all worked out well! Was a lot of editing involved?
AB: There was a lot less editing than I expected. I was very impressed with the editor, whose comments made me feel that she was a safe pair of hands. I could see why she was saying everything she said, and it gave me such confidence in her that it was a really positive experience making the changes I did have to do. She was a bit worried about Emily thinking Walker was an ass! Would a well bred lady think such a thing? That was a bit of a poser, as I couldn’t explain in the book that Emily meant donkey, not arse.

EC: Anything you’d change about the book if you could? Or are you completely happy with the way it turned out?
AB: If I could I would have spent more time on Josh’s sojourn with the Anishinabe couple. I think the development of his relationship with them happened too fast, and it would benefit from happening slower and in more detail. But I was limited to a word count of 60,000 words and I couldn’t fit anything more in.

EC: I’ve really learned something new there, btw. The Anishinabe might make a good book as well.
AB: Yes, having spent several weeks immersed in the inter-tribal wars and politics of the era (not to mention what the French and British were up to with their allies) it is obviously a period that needs *way* more time to do it justice. I had to have Opichi and Giniw be Anishinabe because they were the closest tribe which had the two-spirit tradition; which is what Josh was there to learn from them. The Iroquois, who were the natural candidates to rescue a stranded Brit did, according to my hurried research, not approve of same sex relations, so they wouldn’t have done for this story. But I’d love to go into the different cultures and politics for a different one.

EC: Your book – beside the obvious entertainment value – really does encourage readers to do some further research, which is something I appreciate a lot in a book. Now that your first “baby” is on the market, what’s next? You’ve published another book in the meantime, haven’t you?
AB: I published ‘The Witch’s Boy’ which is a dark fantasy. It’s sort of closet m/m, as I wrote it before I worked through my issues. So there are lots of m/m platonic relationships, visibly straining at the seams. ;)

EC: But you haven’t abandoned the navy, have you…?
AB: At the moment I’m working on another Age of Sail novel, provisionally called ‘False Colors’. It has different heroes from ‘Captain’s Surrender’ and is more action packed, I think. Lots of pirates in this one, but none of the pirates are particularly nice people! I’ve also got a short story coming out in an anthology by Freya’s Bower. The anthology is called ‘Inherently Sexual’ and the story is called ‘90% Proof’, which is a sort of AoS love triangle.

EC: Most pirates *weren’t* particularly nice people (I just like to mention here the recent capture of a French ship and the subsequent violence), yet people love them. It’s refreshing to see a different approach.
AB: Thank you! I feel exactly the same. It is a mystery to me why people love armed robbers on the sea when they wouldn’t like them on land.

EC: You used to be a member of fandom – now you might have your own. Has anybody written fanfic about Captain’s Surrender yet?
AB: Not that I’m aware of! That would make me so proud, if it ever did happen, though. I’d really feel that I’d arrived, then )

EC: Thanks a lot for your time, Alex.
AB: Thank you!

(c) 2008 Emma Collingwood

“Hello, I’m Julian and this is my friend Sandy…”

Those were the words heard by many a family on a 1960’s Sunday afternoon as we huddled around the radio to hear ‘Round the Horne’. Not only was the show hilarious, it introduced the nation to some of the first, if not the first, gay characters to feature in family entertainment. This was at a time when homosexual acts were still illegal, Round the Horne running from 1965 to 1968 and decriminalisation happening in 1967. As Julian aptly said in the episode in which he and Sandy were lawyers, “We have a criminal practice that takes up much of our time”. To listen to this weekly sketch within the show was to immerse yourself in three or four minutes of references to gay culture, much of it really filthy if you knew what the words meant. As an eight year old I didn’t, and the references shot over my head as they must have done for most of the listeners. It’s only now I understand that “a miracle of dexterity at the cottage upright” didn’t necessarily refer to Julian’s piano playing.

However, much as I still love Jules and Sand, that love comes with a degree of disquiet at the stereotypes they portray; gay men obsessed with clothes, manicures, and The Marine Commando Club, Paddington. That stereotyping persists today, perhaps not in mainstream British TV/novels where there are, and have been, homosexual male characters who resemble their peers in everything except who they hold hands with. But watch any re-run of “Will and Grace” where Jack and his pals are holding centre stage and we’re back to the 1960’s vision of what it means to be gay. Now, we need to be very careful here. If the argument is to take issue with “Gay men always (favourite stereotype here)” then we need to be careful not to be getting into the equally subjective “Gay men never…” This is something over which you can’t be simplistic whether in the modern setting or the historical. I rather like John Barrowman’s definition of a gay man as someone who finds other men attractive. All the rest (including whether they find women attractive, too) depends on their personality and lifestyle.

Of course there are gay guys who like dressing as women and flouncing about, but there are others who dress like your bank manager (may well be your bank manager) and like to spend their weekends packing down in the second row of the scrum. Somehow (and no doubt ‘helped’ by the media) the general feeling is that things like cross dressing must be an indication of homosexuality and vice versa, despite the fact the plenty of straight guys indulge in it. But we like to have things neatly tagged and labelled, and the crux of the thing can be hard for people to get their minds around, i.e. that gay men are as varied in their tastes, interests, and way of life as any other people. There are gay men who are scene, non-scene or who totally hate the scene. There are ones who do drugs and go cruising, others who go to church, referee rugby internationals or fly out to Cambodia to design orphanages.

So what’s the implication for the writer of m/m historical romance? On the one hand there’s complete freedom; your characters can be what you want them to be, do what you want them to do, as long as they keep within the spirit and legal/social rules of their times. If you have your two Victorian era leading men walking hand in hand down Whitehall, snogging in broad daylight outside the Houses of Parliament and then going into Westminster Abbey to have their union blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury then you’re not doing anyone any justice, least of all you and your credibility. On the other hand, there’s the temptation to say “Ah, but it has to be like this” then giving your viewpoint on things, whether within a story or in discussion of the genre, as if your view must be the only truth. Just because a story has one of the characters getting married because of social pressure, that doesn’t have to be the pattern for all gay men to follow.

Let’s look at the novel ‘Maurice’, which might just sneak under the wire of being historical fiction because, even though it was written contemporarily, it wasn’t published until years later. There are three characters that fall within the definition of “finding another man attractive” and each plays out that feeling in a different way. Maurice seeks both physical and spiritual love with Clive and when the latter eschews bodily pleasure and obeys the expectations on him to marry, Maurice’s life becomes a turmoil of seeking help to be rid of his desires, making a disastrous pass at a woman and indulging in a night of bliss with Alec. Alec himself makes all the initial running with Maurice and, when it seems like he has been simply used and discarded, resorts to a half hearted attempt at blackmail, before he and Maurice realise that they really do love each other. Three different responses to the way the men feel, all realistic within the mores of the time, not one of the protagonists portrayed as a stereotypical gay man.

One of our greatest contemporary historical novelists, Patrick O’Brian, was equally adept at weaving men who found other men attractive into the fabric of his stories without any labels attached to them. Indeed, Jack Aubrey can’t believe the tales that circulate about his sailing master William Marshall because the officer is manly, handsome and exceedingly competent. O’Brian does have at least one pair of officers being court-martialled for breaking the articles (Jack, as one of the presiding officers employing the wonderful phrase from Stephen Maturin, “No penetration, no sodomy”) but he has others who are sufficiently discreet, such as Admiral William Pellew, to have their inclinations tolerated. And O’Brian is also realistic enough to realise than an indiscreet, indiscriminate captain who takes lovers from among his forecastlemen (as does Duff in The Commodore) is a danger both to himself and the rest of the fleet. O’Brian first and foremost understands people and presents us with consistent believable characters, whatever their inclinations.

So our challenge, in writing m/m historical fiction, is to emulate O’Brian and make our heroes fully rounded people, not ciphers or stereotypes. By all means have an aesthete swanning around Victorian London wearing his green carnation, but remember that there’ll be plenty of other gay men in the same environment who’ll be indistinguishable from the other men around them. If you want to have a Georgian frigate captain choosing all the most handsome foremast jacks to crew his cutter, so be it, but don’t forget the other similarly inclined officers who won’t be drawing such attention to themselves. Have your Edwardian hero marry because his family expect it of him, but don’t assume that every gay man of the time was either under the same pressure or felt disposed to respond to it.

And please remember that we’re still not immune, in these so called enlightened times, of falling into the Julian and Sandy trap. If John Barrowman really was rejected, as the story goes, for the part of Will in “Will and Grace” because he was too straight acting, then we’re still stuck with preconceptions that are loathe to go away.

Thanks to all for entering – here’s the answers!  And here’s a link to the online version of the book if any one doesn’t have it bookmarked.

1. What would you be doing if you were cocking your organ?

Smoking a pipe. You didn’t fall for it, good for you!

2. “She’s an owl in an ivy bush” – is this a good thing?

Not a bad thing. She’d have bushy hair. But that obviously wasn’t attractive in the day.

3. “The flashman bounced the swell of all his blunt” – Is this something you’d want to do?

No, you wouldn’t – unless you were a thief used to frightening people out of their money!

4. What would you be doing if you were riding a horse foaled by an acorn?

Being hanged

5. If someone told you that your beau had been seen in his altitudes the night before, would you break off the association?

He was drunk – your call!

6. Someone’s just told you that your youngest daughter has sprained her ankle. Would you call a doctor or throw the baggage from the house?

A doctor in both cases, perhaps. It’s slang for being pregnant.

7. Is Arbor Vitae the Latin name for a tree? Or something else?

Woody! A penis.

8. You see a gorgeous man at the ball, and you overhear one rake say to another that the object of your attention is a great backgammon player. Surely that’s a good thing?

Definitely one of those. A sodomite

9. How many rolls ARE in a baker’s dozen?

According to Grose – 14. It must be the recession.

10. What would you wear to a Balum Rancum?

Nothing! It was a ball attended by prostitutes and everyone was naked.

11. Wow-wow Sauce – Invented by the Regency or by Terry Pratchett?

Regency – It contains port, wine vinegar, pickled cucumbers or pickled walnuts, English mustard and mushroom ketchup in a base of beef stock, flour and butter.

12. What’s a beau trap? An eager spinster? or something dirtier?

It was one of those paving stones that wobbled and squirted water up your legs.

13. Your husband announces he’s off to Bedfordshire. You don’t have any estates there and it’s dark! Where’s he really going?

To Bed!

14. Where would you dance at Beilby’s Ball?

At the end of a noose.

That was fun – I’ll have to do it again one day!

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