In case this isn’t obvious I am trying to write this in the style of Jane Austen.
Esmeralda the eldest daughter of Mr Fitzpatrick Polkington of Hesmondwaite Manor in ****shire was by nature and upbringing a somewhat fearful girl. The absence of any brothers or sisters or male cousins no doubt contributed to this state of affairs. One of Esmeralda’s greatest fears was that of being alone and lost in some strange city where she had no friends to turn to for assistance.
Up to the age of eighteen her life had been passed in the quiet country around Hesmondwaite Manor and even an excursion to the nearest town let alone the bustling metropolis of Bath was viewed with trepidation. When an invitation arrived from her godmother, Lady Miranda, to spend a fortnight’s holiday at her London residence, Esmeralda turned pale.
“Papa, I can’t possibly go,” she quavered, “Pray make some polite excuse on my behalf. Say I have a bad attack of migraine or there is an outbreak of bubonic plague in the village.”
“Rubbish!” said her parent, “Of course you must go. How else can I expect to find an eligible man for you to marry? Besides, Lady Miranda is extremely wealthy and she had intimated to me – in strictest confidence – that you are the sole heir to her considerable fortune.”
I am trying to write this using sentences of different lengths
When I was 12 we lived over the shop. Literally. My parents had a baker’s shop and the upstairs rooms were our living room and bedrooms and bathroom. There were three of us in the family, mum, dad and me. But sometimes it seemed more like six; my paternal grandmother and my aunt lived only a short distance away with another old lady called Mary Ellen – usually known as Nellie. She was not a relative but had lived with my gran for a long time. Nellie worked as shop assistant in our bakers. As long as I can remember the three of them Gaga (my childish name for my auntie Margaret.) Nannie and Nellie were part of the family. They came to us for meals and before I started school I was taken to Nannie’s house every day where she looked after me while my mum was working.
By today’s standards our little flat above the shop would be considered cramped. But there were good points too. We had a fine view of the street outside from our second floor window. On the relatively few occasions when I couldn’t see across the road because of the dreaded l smog I knew I wouldn’t have to go to school. All buses would be cancelled.
The bathroom was immediately above the bakehouse oven so we had a nice warm floor to stand on when getting into the bath. Strangely enough, though we had a bathroom upstairs, the lavatory was outside the back door. Not unusual in the 1940s suppose.
I took a lot for granted about the house we lived in. Everything was close. We were one of a row of shops and most of our daily needs could be supplied within walking distance. There was a post office, a newsagents, a butcher, a fish shop, a sweetshop, a tripe shop, even a hairdresser and a shoe shop. What more could you ask? This was before the advent of supermarkets or shopping malls.
Well before I was 12 I could run errands to any of the shops on our road, I could go to the newsagents next door to buy a newspaper and twenty cigarettes for my dad. I can’t imagine sending my daughter on a similar errand when she was seven.
Writing 101. Task 4 – Serially Lost
What is the thing I would most miss if/when I lost it? That’s easy – the ability to read and write. If my sight deteriorated to the extent that I couldn’t read words on a page or letters on a screen I would be devastated. Thanks to modern technology there are ways to lessen the impact; large print, moon and braille of course and various ways you can have books and other material read to you, talking books and magazines which must be a godsend to people without sight.
The ability I have lost almost completely is not sight – I am glad to say, but writing. Not the power to generate words, sentences and ideas and string them together. I am glad to say I can still manage to do that. It is actually writing by hand on a piece of paper that I can’t do any longer. My handwriting is so atrocious that even I find it difficult to read and the only pieces of writing I now do by hand are signatures on cheques and when I have to sign for a parcel delivered to our house. When faced with a portable computer screen to sign I can almost never produce a signature that is readable. I’m thankful the delivery men seem to accept any kind of scrawl and sometimes even write the name for me – poor old lady she obviously can’t cope with modern technology, better fill in the form for her.
I know people of my age and even some older folks who can produce lovely copperplate script. Some people are so fond of pen and paper that a letter doesn’t really count if it is typed or word-processed. I am just profoundly grateful that I live in the age of computers and I can write on a screen, alter and edit as I go along and then print the whole thing either on paper or to a file for future use.
Yes the failure of handwriting is a real loss. It’s one I can cope with, but a loss all the same. If I want to make notes at a meeting I can’t manage with a reporter’s notebook like I used to use, I need my i-pad. Fine, but I also need to charge my device and have access to Wi-Fi or the Internet.
So it’s farewell to the quill pen and beautiful calligraphy in italic script but at least I am living in the twenty-first century and I have aids to writing in the form of computers and PCs, I-pads and smart phones. I have much to be thankful for.
Day 1 – Free Writing
Blogging – Writing 101 -20 minutes stream of consciousness writing.
Free writing keep on writing however silly and apparently trivial. Can I do it? Can I really manage to keep writing for twenty minutes without stopping as it were for breath? Won’t I get tired, run out of ideas, want to pause and re-read and then alter and correct what I have written? Only way to find out is to try it and see. Surely I should have enough material cluttering up my mind to be able to churn some of it out and get it written down?
Today – a windy and wet day when I didn’t get out further than the gate to bring the dustbins in and to next door to deliver a Christmas card. So much for getting out for a walk or bike ride every day. But does it really matter in the long run? I don’t want to get soaked to the skin just because I feel I have to go out whatever the weather. This is one of the great joys of retirement. You are master or your own time – to a certain extent. You can decide what you do and when you do it. OK there are some things that are tied to a particular time – meetings, church services, appointment with doctor/dentist/optician. But mostly I can look at the coming day, consider the weather, my own state of mind and body and then decide what I want to do, what I need to do and what can be postponed or even abandoned. It’s a great feeling but of course it doesn’t always apply and it’s only too easy to get immersed in something I am writing or reading and lose track of time and before I know it it’s time for dinner or tea and I haven’t done half the things I’d planned.
Since my hip operations I have developed what call the “30-minute rule” . I do one task for half an hour – whether cleaning the floors or writing a play and after that I stop – even if I am in the middle of a job -like now.!
What are your least favourite words and expressions?
Here are a few of mine. They annoy because the misuse the language and don’t mean what they say. Yes, I do know that English, in fact all language, is in a constant state of evolution and what something means today may be quite different from what it meant a century ago and in a hundred years’ time it will probably have an entirely different meaning. Even so, there are some words and phrases that set my teeth on edge.
This word should mean someone who is unbiassed in a dispute, a neutral observer who takes care of the cash – the stake – and makes sure it goes to the right individual at the end of a conflict. Nowadays it is used to mean one of the participants in a dispute, someone who is involved and does have an interest in the outcome.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen someone described as a “lifelong” member of a political party or a “lifelong” advocate of free speech or freedom of religion. This conjures up a picture of an infant in its pram waving a rosette and shouting party slogans. It’s just not possible – you can’t be a lifelong adherent of some system that requires you to make a reasoned choice before you have the ability to choose. The only truly “lifelong” conditions are inherited defects – ie someone can be a lifelong paraplegic if they have been born with that condition rather than developed it as a result of an accident or illness,
Why do so many people use this as an over-elaborate way of saying “is”? Wordsworth’s cottage isn’t “situated” or “located” in the Lake Districr it simply is there.