Tomorrow is the Queen’s funeral. There will be a great deal of black and much sombre music. And probably quite a few tears. Not a day for laughter.
But the Queen was a woman who had a mischievous sense of humour, a woman who, in private and sometimes in public, loved a joke.
Remembering the Queen’s sense of fun
So today, in advance of all that sombre black, I suggest we remember her funny side. Mostly, as Sophie said last week, she kept a straight face in case someone was offended. But sometimes, just sometimes, she had a chance to let her puckish sense of fun have full rein.
I’m desperately in need of cover help.
Basically, I can’t decide between two different covers for the Christmas book that I’m about to republish. I’ve revised and extended it and I want it to be right. So I’m asking for advice here.
In this third and final part of the blog series on punctuating dialogue, we’re back in the magical, fairytale kingdom of Bel Paese with the unpunctuatedRicotta Dialogues [click to download]. There’s a link to the punctuated version later in this blog.
You can find part 2 of the series here, and part 1 is here. The latest version of The Rules is at the end of part 2 but I’ll be expanding them at the end of this blog, and providing a printable version, so you might prefer to wait for that magic rule book to be opened 😉
Punctuating dialogue seems to be a problem for many writers. But it need not be scary. There are conventions (rules) to apply, but once you know them, it’s straightforward. Honest 😉
Come and discover the rules in the company of Princess Ricotta, her dim but impressively ripped suitors Prince Square-Jaw and Prince Six-Pack, and her conniving servants Slack-Britches and Mozarella. The fairytale kingdom of Bel Paese awaits you.
Those of you who are already confident about punctuating dialogue can read the fairytale just for fun. I hope you enjoy Ricotta’s adventures, even with unpunctuated dialogue. For those whose punctuation might need a bit of help, keep reading.
Punctuating dialogue is only convention
The conventions of punctuating dialogue have evolved over many years. Some of them seem pretty arbitrary but rules often are. We just have to accept them. Their aim is simple, though: to make it easy for readers to understand what’s going on. Continue reading →
Sicily, first of all, has grown steadily richer; and as her prosperity has increased, so too has her political stability. In contrast to the endemic confusion of the Italian peninsula, the island has become a paragon of just and enlightened government, peaceable and law-abiding, an amalgam of races and languages which seems to give strength rather than weakness; and, as its reputation grows, more and more churchmen and administrators, scholars and merchants and unashamed adventurers are drawn across the sea from England, France and Italy to settle in what must have seemed to many of them a veritable Eldorado, a Kingdom in the sun.
Sadly, the Kingdom in the sun lasted only until 1194. But it has left wonders behind.
And there was more. Lush citrus groves as shown left. Plus lots of olive trees and vineyards.
I arrived just at the beginning of the hot season. There wasn’t a spot of rain during the 10 days I was there and it was hot. So I can understand how the dry and dusty backdrop to Montalbano comes about.
History of Sicily?
Too complicated to describe in detail here. Except that, since Sicily was strategically important in the Mediterranean, all sorts of peoples strove to control it. It was colonised by, among others, the Phoenicians (also known as Carthaginians) and the Greeks. The two groups were rivals there from the 8th century BC.
If you found yourself translated back to a previous era, what modern conveniences would you miss? It’s a question I often think about when I turn on a light, for example, or when I read a book or watch a TV documentary about how things were, way back then.
I am reminded of the Channel 4 documentary, The 1900 House, the first of several such re-enactments. The whole family had signed up for the project, but they met problems and lack of conveniences that none of them had expected.
Pheasants can be fun for stories. So… once upon a time, there was a cock pheasant. And “once upon a time” is not in the past. He’s still around.
He lives in my garden. Most of the time, that is. Sometimes, he goes on a foray next door, in hopes of convincing the neighbours that no one feeds him — no one ever! — and he is a poor, starved creature. It works, too, according to the neighbours.
He is a handsome bird with shimmering gold and rust-brown feathers, a very long elegant tail and a wide white ruff round his neck. (Louise Allen, friend of Libertà, tells us that the bigger the white neck-ruff, the more testosterone in the, ahem, cock.)
This cock pheasant certainly fancies himself. He thinks he owns all he surveys. King of the World, in fact. And he tries to see off any other cock pheasant who dares to set foot on his patch. He barks — a sound like a strangulated cock crow — and rouses his feathers to show his importance and warn off rivals. He is a large chap with a small head and an even smaller, pea-sized brain. If he were human, I’d say he was “all mouth and (no) trousers”.
Regency food is really interesting and characters’ preferences tell us a lot about them. Their preferences for drink do too, as I tried to show in my earlier blog about what characters (Regency and modern) drank.
But this week, I’m blogging about food in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Sometimes, food in glamorous surroundings, too…
Where Regency food came from…? Meat, fish, game
There isn’t much detail of food and drink in Pride and Prejudice, but Mrs Bennet does mention preparations being made for dinners to fête Mr Bingley’s return to Netherfield.
“Mrs Nicholls…was going to the butcher’s, she told me, on purpose to order in some meat on Wednesday, and she had got three couple of ducks, just fit to be killed.”
That shows that meat wasn’t instantly available from a butcher’s as it is now. And a hostess knew and accepted that providing meat entailed killing animals. Continue reading →