Thursday, 18 October 2012

A Glance at the Past: A Glimpse of the Future?

I know, I know!  It’s been a long, long time again.  But in my defense  I have been working on three projects at once, including finishing off the latest book.  The latter has been presenting a few problems regarding the ending.  It has now been proofread (Orage – you have done a marvelous job; many thanks!) and all corrections… well… corrected, I suppose. But the ending… the bloody ending!  Quite rightly, its plausibility has been questioned; but then again the entire tale is not particularly credible, having started life as a simple re-write of a piece I once read back in the 80s (the first spanking-orientated novel I ever purchased) redirected, expanded and extended to better fulfil my tastes.  From that starting point though – and mindful of such pseudo-factual works by Richard Manton /  R.T. Mason as ‘Whips Incorporated’ (about an1880s ‘chastising service’, Janus Magazine Issue 38, 1985, Gatisle Ltd) – it slowly developed a certain aspect of the supernatural, the premise being that the action takes place in early 60s Paddington (London) and within one of the two houses previously occupied by that self-same ‘chastising service’ from the late 1800s into the Edwardian era and along with certain specialized ‘original features’ something of the ‘atmosphere’ of the place has survived . 

But it is the ending where it all goes awry.  What the problem comes down to, at that point, is the impression it gives of the number of people involved.  Too many people involved smacks too much of some kind of wide-spread conspiracy – and such things are unlikely to go by unnoticed.  It is the same problem I have with those James Bond-type movies in which some implausibly-rich despot apparently has half a small nation in his pay as his work force / private army; and not a whisper leaks out, despite the fact that he is quietly hollowing out the local volcano (as one does) and presumably tying up every JCB in whichever hemisphere he has chosen to set up his bid for world domination.  Not that are actually very many characters involved in my particular ‘conspiracy’ at all; it’s just that it is all too easy for the reader to form that impression in the last few pages, and the risk then is that the illusion is shattered. 

It is particularly embarrassing in light of the fact that I was recently asked to write a piece for the spanking ezine, the Wellred Weekly (the electronic journal of the Library of Spanking Fiction (link in the right hand sidebar, under Useful Resources’.  And of course I chose to pontificate on the subject of ‘plausibility’ in spanking story writing…  It is so embarrassing that I am even considering publishing the thing under a different name!  My proof-reader has suggested a way out, which I’m considering (thanks yet again, Orage) but until then it’s all up in the air a bit. 

Mind you, I still have the cover to do, and I will want to try to recreate a street scene from the early 1960s, which wont be easy.  I have already been to the Paddington area - even to the address given in ‘Whips Incorporated’ (the house has gone – if it ever really existed) - and have taken a few shots of the right type of house and a couple of terraces of houses from the correct era or earlier.

Talking of travelling: Around three weeks ago I was privileged to meet the guy who has supplied many of the 3D computer renderings I have featured on this blog in the past, Snoozz!  I’m pushed for time today so I’ll tell you more next time – suffice it to say that many beers were imbibed (at least in my case – ha, ha!  But what can I say: I get nervous!).  Also on my travels (Muswell Hill, North London) I came across a magazine cover in a box of odds and sods outside a tiny antiques / bric-a-brac shop (I spent an entire 25p on it!).  Dated 1929, I had to rescue it from the rain, but what really caught my eye was the advert (top, left).  Very much of its time, it gives an insight into a era when a fine display of maids’ uniforms and domestic service apparel in a high street shop window was not an open invitation to fits of giggles, embarrassed half-glances or the knowing wink of an eye.  It’s a sensibility I can imagine returning as the economic system worsens, labour becomes cheaper, the chances of a young woman or school leaver gaining a roof over her head plummets and the gap between rich and poor widens.  When the hunger begins to gnaw, the icy spiked rains of the British winter begin to cut through to the bone and the shop doorways look less and less hospitable; that’s when the prospect of a live-in position will seem most attractive, whatever her prospective employer’s restrictions, stipulations and – yes, perhaps even the veiled mention of corporal punishment.

The keen-eyed among you may well recognize that company name, E & R Garrould, from what I have said in the past regarding that point in my life when I was for a few glorious, golden years (along with my wife of the time) involved in a ‘lifestyle’ relationship with a pretty-ish, if naïve young thing who my wife had taken under her wing following the girl’s dismissal from her live-in position as children’s nanny.  Having literally come straight from having left school, and not particularly intelligent nor known for her initiative, personally I still to this day think it incredible that she had been employed in such a role in the first place – but I guess that’s another story.

As regards that company:  A professional nursing magazine dated Dec 19098 stated “Nurses who are accustomed to [purchasing] their uniforms and nursing requisites at Messrs. Garrould's, 150, Edgware Road, W1, will find at the present time that the spacious Nursing Saloon is transformed into a Christmas Bazaar.”  Well, I’m not sure about any ‘spacious Nursing Saloon’ but I do know from my earliest recollections of passing Messrs. Garrould's premises  that up to at least the late 70s, if not the early 80s, it existed as a double fronted shop with large display windows either side of the glass-door entrance hall.  By the mid to late 1980s when my wife of the time and I marched our live-in plaything up the Edgware Road the shop had dwindled to shadow of its former self , consisting only of the smaller of its original two display windows and the associated floor space beyond.  Although the door was in the same place, the entrance hall was now shared with the doorway leading into another shop entirely.  It was later to disappear completely, leaving only the Alexandra Workwear outlets for our further forays with the hapless Penny (and they  too evaporated as the 90s wore on, having expanded rapidly through the 80s). 

I think the problem with E & R Garroulds was that stylistically their various uniforms - and especially their domestic service apparel – hadn't moved on; indeed there had been little change in many of their styles since the 70s, with some examples clearly dating back even earlier than that.  But that was exactly what had caught our collective eye – my ‘other half’ and I.  And yes, back in late 1987 we were still able to purchase for our charge the traditional black dress, a selection of broderie anglaise tea aprons, a cap and an Edwardian-style bib-apron which had a flounced trim running around its square-necked bib that was so broad it formed cap sleeves over the shoulders and which looked like the Tenniel illustrations of Alice in Wonderland.  All well and good for serving at table and for special occasions, but when it came to more everyday work around the home and general domestic duties (most of the time for our dear Penny) it was down to the Marble Arch and in to their more modern competitors, the aforementioned Alexandra Workwear, where a very fetching outfit was available, a button-through dress in some highly practical man-made fabric, lilac, the lower half a solid block of colour, the bodice striped lilac and white.  A striped lilac and white waist apron and striped cap completed the picture.  With the latter accessories put aside and a lilac button-through cardigan (purchases later elsewhere) worn over the top, we judged the dress perfectly wearable in the street or when out shopping; something which could not be said for any of the Garroulds offerings at the time, to be honest.
The other pics just show the advertisement in context and the magazine cover, the latter largely so as to ensure its conservation, even if only as an image.  So many prints, books and periodicals are disappearing as they are sliced up and their various picture plates and illustrations framed for sale in antiques and collectables emporia.  Actually it took a fair amount of fiddling around, as the page is larger than A4 and couldn't be fitted on my scanner, necessitating I scan it piecemeal and then piece it together afterwards on the computer.                 


Orage said...

Thank you, kind sir, it was a pleasure!

Allow me to disagree when you say:
"it is all too easy for the reader to form that impression in the last few pages, and the risk then is that the illusion is shattered."
Since we are in the 1960s, remember the last Magdalen laundry closed in 1996. Wasn't there a widespread conspiracy between families and the Church then? And nothing to write home about at the time.

More to the point: your "lifestyle relationship" with Penny might very well have evolved into the sort of life Alison is subject to, should you have been thus inclined.

Pity you won't enlarge on the golden years with Penny! Reading fantasy stories with fictional characters is all very well, but an account of a real-life story...Wow! I've been licking my chops!

Anonymous said...

I've always appreciated the care you take about plausibility, or at least suspension of disbelief. It sets you apart. Maybe "suspension of disbelief" is more the thing than "plausibility" in spanking stories. Don't use things or situations that scream NO WAY. I could suspend disbelief in the Insitution because it was so vividly imagined, and internally, it all seemed to work. Maybe in real life it would be awfully hard for this place to exist, but there was nothing there that really smacked of a hollowed out volcano.

Maybe that's the thing that really destroys suspension of disbleief. It's when the writers clearly aen't even trying. Dr No had an island. An island you can sort of accept. The hollowed out volcano? No way. which is why I think this ending you're writing wil actually be pretty good. because you're clearly trying. You aren't like the Bond franchise writers after they decided that since they had a successful franchise, plausibility didn't matter anymore, since the audience would turn up and pay regardless of what they put on the screen.

Yes, actually, I can see live in situations making a comeback, since the economy is in fact pancaked, and no one seems to know what to do about it. Sadly, that is plausible. Maybe you can use that idea in a future book.

I would think tht there would be pictures of 60's street scenes to help your descriptions and recreations. Actually, the 60s and 70s are a weird time, at least to me. I can look at people wearing clothes of the period, and I think...Yuck. I don;t get that with clothes of the 20s, 30s, 40s, even the 50s. I don't get that with clothes of the mid to late 80s on. But the 60s and 70s were, as far as I can see, a time when people made utteer folls of themselves, with clothes, and a lot else besides.

I'm glad to hear that Orage is helping out with the proofreading, because I know he'll do a good job.

The Non Victorian Chick

Orage said...

@Non Victorian Chick
Ahem, I'm a woman!

Anonymous said...

I feel not unlike a fool. I apologize.

The Non Victorian Chick

snoozz said...

Let me second what Orage said,

It IS a great pity you won't enlarge on Penny. You have dropped so many hints over the years, and a real-life story is even more delicious than the vast majority of fictional stories - if only because it actually happened.

WIP Fan said...

I love your erotic ideas as always Garth! I'm now off to look for a woman wanting a lifestyle relationship or open a fantasy strictly disciplined prison hotel for women.You tink anybody would be interested!..)