Tuesday, 19 February 2013
Alice and the New Magdalene Laundries - And a Clip of Victoriana Nonsense I Came Across Long Ago
Yes, you've guessed it! I finally have the new book at the point where it is nearly ready to be published. It requires only a few more corrections - and of course the all-important (to me at least) cover art / marketing imagery. The title I have come up with in truth relates to only part of the tale but is unashamedly designed to ride on the renewed wave of interest here in the UK in the press and on the radio over the notoriety of the Magdalene laundries. Of course the institution I describe is entirely fictional - but it is also all too plausible; especially when one considers the fact that the last of those deplorable institutions was only closed down in 1996! I may elect to place it on LULU sans cover art to begin with, as I did the last title I produced (which is now out on Amazon et al courtesy of Andrews UK LTD by the way) so it may be worth a search through LULU to check from time to time.
Alice Under Discipline - Book Two
Alice and the New Magdalene Laundries
Now that I have that off my chest I can be off out to the pub. You see the cat's away (the wife - and she 's taken the kids!) for the week and as I haven't been near a pub since the 3rd of January (and it's sunny here in North London) so I have decided to award myself a few days imbibing the local Ales. At the same time I'll be taking the netbook computer I have and God-willing I'll be putting together some introductory articles and such for the website. The latter I shall be updating next either tomorrow or Thursday, most probably with a few pages spotlighting the work of a guest author. And on that subject; I plan to host a series of pages on the website (link in the right hand sidebar) devoted to publicising the work of other authors, so if any of you are interested in giving your work the light of day let me know, either here or by email, Twitter, Facebook or whatever.
Talking of other authors: Ages ago (many years actually) I came upon something which later went a long way in influencing the kind of thing I tend to write about. If you look you'll doubtless recognise many themes I have used or touched upon in my novels or on this blog over the years.
"...suffice it to say that after five years both signatures were dully obtained – and then both names fade from history, just rumours of institutional care remaining. Others, though, have pointed out the startling resemblance of two of a certain titled lady's maids to the twins she once had in her care, not to mention marvelling at the exacting level of obedience she managed to extract from the girls. One visitor describes the pair of them as obliging and sweet, but “little more than pretty automata, seemingly without a thought of their own in their heads”.
The regime which may or may not have produced such “exacting obedience” we know more of, though – our lady disciplinarian was something of an obsessive journal keeper, it turns out. For instance every detail of the two girls' 'finestred' - or windowed, as she describes them – dresses is outlined, detailing how she based the dress design around the summer uniform of a particularly strict girl's boarding school, before adapting it to her own specification, complete with underwired cut-outs to expose the breasts and a mid-thigh widely-flared skirt (her description) – and all this in an era when to show the ankle was deemed outrageous, if not downright obscene. Then she plaits and coils each girl's long hair, tying each plait with a blue gingham ribbon - chosen to match the schoolgirl dress - at its end before coiling it up either side of the girl's head and pinning it in place like a straw tea mat, before then plonking a straw boater on each girl's' head.
Actually, it is only when one of the girls throws something of a tantrum over having to wear what the girl herself calls “that stupidly childish hat” that this disturbingly clever woman's imagination really goes to town. She deals with that little disturbance by taking a pair of barber's clippers (manual in those days) to the tops of both girls' heads, cutting bald a pink-hued path the width of the clippers (around an inch and a half to two inches in width I imagine) down the centre of each girl's head before plaiting the remainder. From that point on she takes a cutthroat razor to that furrow on a weekly basis to keep it clear, ensuring that neither girl has much desire to remove her school uniform hat, even in private. At one point, at least in her journal, she considers shaving them both bald, but then considers that she prefers the manner in which the residual plaits coiled to both sides of the head makes them look ridiculous – she doesn't tell the girls that, though, always holding over their heads (forgive me) the threat of taking the clippers and the razor to their remaining 'crowning glory'.
But she does eventually take the razor to their eyebrows – you couldn't make it up – and I haven't, then even takes a small pair of scissors to their eyelashes. It almost goes without saying that intimate shaving is the next step - backed up by the not-so-judicious application of the school cane she quickly introduces. The latter is treated to a long, drawn-out, blow-by-blow or cane-stroke-by-cane-stroke description of how she wears down both – interspersed with ice-cold showers, day on day – before they finally submit to her intimate attentions.
Then we have listed is a step by step series of measurements detailing the drawing out and distension of the girl's nipples, ending when both girl's nipples had been stretched to very nearly two inches in length. And their breasts seamed to have been elongated to some extent too. And not satisfied with that, she then starts adding thicker and thicker – and therefore heavier, one would think - nipple rings, with the expressed intention of widening the holes “so that they never can be hidden” as she says. The very next thing – well it's not the very next in that the nipple stretching exercise is in the early stages, though well on the way and both girls are becoming well familiar with the breast-whip, both around the nipples and on the undersides of the bosom, but the next thing is the nose ring. Now in today's world that is possibly not that astounding, but in the Victorian world? I for one didn't even know that sort of thing went on. And did they even have anaesthesia back then? Well, I'm not sure of that last part, nor where the Victorians would have obtained ice from in the middle of summer. What I do know is that there is a very detailed, wholly realistic and believable account of how a female specialist, some colleague member of some discrete Sapphic organisation or club judging by the impression I get, is called in and how she applies ice to the septum of each girl's nose before carrying out the act itself. Needless to say a very long-drawn-out caning precedes the treatment, neither girl being what one might call exactly keen.
But nonetheless, the treatment goes ahead and both girls are soon sporting what sounds to have been quite a large and cumbersome nose ring. And as with their nipples it isn't long before a larger and heavier ring is substituted for the original - and then another and another, each designed to stretch the original piercing larger. And when one of the duo goes running, crying to her guardian, instead of castigating the girl's governess the guardian actually suggests to the woman that she adds a bell to each girl's nose ring as a form of discipline, even going so far as to suggest it too, like the ring itself, be made progressively larger and heavier. It is only a short step from there - once the idea had taken hold and the two girls' refusal to speak with the lisp their governess had decided she liked had grown to irritating proportions - to piercing the tip of the tongue and the lower lip of each girl and conjoining the two body parts with a ring. I imagine that latter operation dealt with the refusal to develop a lisp alright!
Then we come to another apparently anachronistic development. We come to the question of our duo’s knickers. Don't forget we are talking about the Victorian era here, when skirts brushed the floor except for those of little children, and drawers or bloomers were knee length or even ankle length. We have already mentioned the fact that our duo's frocks were mid thigh, if full-skirted, and based on strict long-sleeved and high-collared school summer dresses, albeit cut away where it mattered to expose and 'present' their breasts. The styling, as I understand it, was some sort of variation on the favoured 'sailor suit' dress usually reserved at the time for children, but in a gingham check pattern with contrasting stiffened white collar and cuffs and 'cut' and 'boned' to not only allow for the maturing figure, but to actually augment and exaggerate it. So what about their knickers or bloomers – well, what would you have come up with, given the limitations (perhaps advantages - just think about that for a moment) of the Victorian era? I wonder? I wouldn't mind betting it wouldn't involve rubber.
Vulcanised rubber was a fairly new material back then. And who would have thought then of employing this new material in young women's underwear – very few, I'd wager. But this singularly brilliant woman did – and who other than another woman would have appreciated the torment this new fabric could potentially cause the female person? She describes her design work as trunk-style. She goes on to detail “a close-fitting garment” having deep-sectioned ribbed cuffs around the thighs and possessing a high waistband, the latter consisting of the rubber wrapped around and over a girdle of spring steel and arranged to come together at the rear with a tongue and clasp arrangement designed to take a small padlock (to deter tampering – as she says). A “virginal slit” occupied the gusset position, this being in reality a double slit separated by a thin tubular centre seam, the latter clearly intended to separate the outer labia and encourage the inner labia to protrude through the thin slits either side. Going further to the rear, and this centre seam split in two to form a 'y' shape, the two halves being studded with reinforced brass eyes that were, in wear, laced together with a tough cotton cord, of which the latter could be rapidly drawn out to allow for natural functions – or the attention of the cane or strap – if of course one had the key to the second padlock that secured the eyed ends of the laces. Which of course neither girl had.
It was all about control - but also about exposure; one can only imagine the obscene view presented by a girl bent over her desk, so dressed, her inner lips hanging like coral-pink curtains pressed out either side of that tight latex bar stand-in for a gusset, pulled up inhumanly tight between her legs. And then you have the skirt, a nest of heavyweight gingham check satin puffed out over layers of sky-blue petticoats like an inverted carnation, irresistibly drawing the eye to the glistening centre. And why a glistening centre? Possibly not totally unconnected with the fact that the front of the gusset - the precise point upon which the two split haves converged on the centre seam – was occupied by a little circular beard of bristled rubbery filaments purposely aligned to impinge directly on the most sensitive part pf a girl's anatomy. How could that part not glisten, teased, massaged and stimulated as it was with the girl's every step? So each was kept, aroused, punished and humiliated in equal measure - and all at once - each girl's mind a permanent swirling turmoil of conflicting emotions. And masturbation was out of the question: Handcuffs had been invented and a single slim, short but strong slither of leather twixt the centre point of the linking chain and the girl's nose ring was all it took to keep that particular temptation at bay. A ribbon sewn in to the high-throated collar of her long, chaste, woven woollen nightdress would take care of keeping her nipples and breasts under the tension required in order to stretch the flesh of those parts, the unrelenting tension being increased week on week, if not night on night!
And then started the process of fattening them both up... Another facet one might consider modern. Our strict governess priestess apparently considered her bended-knee worshipers insufficiently worthy if not what she would have described as pleasantly “plumped-up”. This implied, apparently, the result of prolonged overfeeding whilst the waist and tummy were simultaneously constricted by tight and strict corsetry, the idea being that “the fat should be laid down where it will be of most delight to the eye”. By this statement she clearly inferred that the excess pounds should be deposited around the thighs, bottom and bosom.
The result of all this - once squeezed into a fitted, boned, wide-skirted frock - was a startlingly wasp-waisted, broad-beamed figure, especially when augmented by the breath-stealing corsetry of the age. And perhaps surprisingly the process apparently did indeed result in the weight going on around the bottom, hips, thighs and breasts as intended! “Plump in all the right places” – as they used to say back then. And that was exactly how she had the twins look– plump in all the right places – only perhaps a little too much plumpness for some tastes. Not that the girls themselves had too much choice in the matter, being weighed each day with the penalty of a good hard caning to be paid for insufficient weight gain. A similar tariff was payable for insufficient nipple elongation. The only way out of suffering for the latter was through the girl tugging and pulling on her teats herself of course, Avoiding punishment for the former just required working on the appetite and stacking away the calories - and perhaps avoiding the mirror as the double chin became apparent. The constantly varied diet helped, encouraging overeating at a most basic level - another anachronistic innovation worthy of a modern viewpoint.
Avoiding the mirror was near-on impossible since the tiniest pleat out of place on what was termed their 'home uniform' was cause to be upended over their governess's knee and self inspection was made a de rigour part of the daily régime. The flared-skirted childish sailor suit dress had to hang just so, with exactly a certain amount of bare flesh visible between the hem and the white cotton stockings, the latter to reach to just above the knee where they were each tied with a blue gingham ribbon bow garter to match the dress. And that bow had to be on the outside of the knee and dead horizontal – god forbid it was ever crooked! And then the light blue patent leather lace-up ankle boots had to be tied just so. High-heeled and with an acutely curving and potentially crippling 'S' shape sole they were all but impossible to walk in, enforcing a tiny, dainty step and teetering gait, but that was the intention – and they gave a pleasant uplift to a girl's bottom, which was a pleasant plus to their governess's eye. And the straw hat was a fussy affair, it tied with a gingham ribbon bow beneath the chin but that ribbon had first to pass around the rear of both ears and then had to be tied so tight as to result in the ears sticking out – and that bow, large and ungainly as it was, had to tied just so, perfectly horizontal...."