Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Writer in Residence – Legend of the Golden Flower (Final Part) by Paul Andruss


FINAL PART

Spring was in Kyoto, if not yet in the mountains. The road into the city was lined with peasants preparing rice fields. The blossoming plum orchards hummed with bees.

The round moon-gate to the Spring Palace was flanked by pots of dwarfed cherry trees dripping in pink tinged flowers. Okurimono peered into the courtyard, thinking she had never seen anything so beautiful. Its pavilions looked to be as much of a playground for the gods as the formidable donjon of the shōgun’s castle.

The guards at the gate stepped forward, jabbing the air with iron tipped bamboo spears.

“Scram!” cried one.

“Come back in a few years. You’re too young for a tart,” laughed his friend.

Okurimono did not flinch. After the dangers she faced on the mountain road, these men seemed foolish.

“I come from the Lady Fujiko-san for Okaa-san, the Lady Yarite of the Spring Palace.”

She reached into the bento bag and presented the piece of jade.

“Step inside.” said one as the other shouted a curt order at an old servant woman.

Ignoring the soldiers, but bowing low to Okurimono, the old servant gestured her to follow.

Inside the compound, Okurimono was surprised to see many finely dressed and immaculately painted women kneeling patiently inside a cage.

“Who are they?” she asked in awe of their beauty and clothing.

“Do not look at them,” hissed the old servant woman. “They are yūjo, available to anyone with the price, no matter samurai or peasant.”  With many impatient gestures she waved Okurimono past the women.

Outside a grand house, with a majestic cedar shingled roof, the servant signalled Okurimono to wait as she hurried up the veranda steps with much bowing to the servants at the door. A few moments later a magnificently dressed old woman came out.

Remembering her manners, Okurimono, got down on her knees and bowed her forehead to the floor. ‘Okaa-san.’

“No,” snapped the old woman harshly. “Who are you?”

‘Tengoku no Okurimono,’ she answered. Kow-towing with supreme politeness Okurimono presented the jade and letter stating her business.

“Wait,” said the magnificently dressed old woman and hurried inside.

She reappeared moments later. “Come.”

Okurimono took off her shoes on the veranda. A maid hastened out to take her benyo bag, hat and kosode. Another appeared with towels and a bowl of jasmine scented water to wash her hands and face. A third and fourth opened and readjusted the folds of her kimonos. When the magnificently dressed old woman considered her presentable, she impatiently gestured for the inner screens to be slid open.

Okurimono followed her to a room where a large handsome old woman knelt on a cushion. She wore an ornate black wig with many combs and was dressed in the most exquisite embroidered black kimono Okurimono had ever seen, extravagantly tied with bright obi sash.

In her hand was her mother’s letter.

Knowing this must be the Lady Yarite, Okurimono dropped to the floor touching her forehead to fine woven tatami matting. ‘Okaa-san.’

“Stand up child.”

Okurimono obeyed.

“So Tengoku no Okurimono, you are my Fujikochan’s daughter.”

The old woman smiled revealing the black lacquered teeth of the Emperor’s court. It left Okurimono in doubt of her importance. She bowed trembling, barely daring to speak.

“Fujikochan was my greatest achievement and most bitter disappointment. Now she sends you. Come, tell me everything from the beginning. I am greedy for gossip of your mother and that rascal Uco.”

Bearing in mind Ucosan’s advice, Okurimono knew everything depended on her story. This had to be the best performance she had ever given. To win over such an august person as Okaa-san, she must use all her skills.

As she told her story, Okurimono was pleased to see Okaa-san smile. Once or twice she burst out laughing, without covering her mouth. She sounded as hearty and common as Ucosan. When the old woman laughed Okurimono paused, so she would not miss the next part of her tale. During these lulls she snatched sly glances at the maids giggling breathlessly behind their hands, sounding no louder than mice.

At times Okaa-san slightly declined her head, causing two maids to rush forward with dazzling white handkerchiefs to dab beneath her eyes, so no tears would mar her perfect make-up. As Okurimono paused, she noticed the maids slyly take handkerchiefs from their sleeves to dab under their own eyes.

She bowed when finished, as much to conceal a smile of triumph, as respect for her honoured patron.

“Tengoku no Okurimono: Heavenly Gift. Indeed, your mother sent me a rare gift in you. How like your mother you are. In your wild tale of yokai and kami I hear my dear Ucochan. She was always a liar,” she added with affection.

“What is it child, out with it.”

‘Respectfully, my mother is ill, Okaa-san. I beg of you, arrange an interview with the shōgun’s mother, my grandmother.’

The old woman laughed aloud. Snatching a handkerchief from a maid to wipe her own eyes, she ruined her make-up. Catching her breath she asked, “Your mother told you this?”

‘Ucosan.’ the girl replied.

“No doubt she did.”

Okurimono looked puzzled.

“Child, the shōgun’s mother died long ago and his brother ordered to kill himself before you were conceived. A rich Nagasaki merchant bought your mother’s contract. I told her not to accept; she had a place with me. Your mother did not listen.

“A few years after you were born, the shōgun expelled the Portuguese black priests infesting Nagasaki like a plague and banned all foreigners from the land. He ordered all Nippon to recant the filthy superstition of their shamefully crucified god.”

“Many in Nagasaki, rich on foreign trade, rebelled against our rightful lord. Your father was crucified, along with his family. His wealth confiscated. Your mother, as his concubine, was to be sold. I helped her escape over the mountains with what wealth she could carry.”

‘Respectfully, my mother is dying.’

“She said she was dying in her letter. What do you want, child?”

‘Respectfully Okaa-San, I came for the imperial chrysanthemum to heal my mother.’

“Only the Emperor has the imperial chrysanthemum. It is rare and expensive. Fortunately I have a taste for rare and expensive things.”

“Shall we make a deal, you and I? The flower in payment for a contract binding you to me. I shall train you as I trained your mother. Make you the greatest tayū in Kyoto. What are your skills? Do you know the tea ceremony?”

‘Yes.’

“Flower arranging?”

‘A little.’

“Can you write poetry?”

‘I can write my name, but I can sing and dance. I can show you.’

“Are you not exhausted, child?”

‘Woman is made to serve and please. Pain and weariness are her lot,’ said Okurimono formally. ‘Everything worthwhile has a price, Okaa-San.’

“Art demands the greatest price of all. It is what I taught your mother.”

A maid brought Okurimono a long necked shamisen and a plectrum. Okurimono deftly tuned the lute’s three strings and began a lament from the ancient tale of Genji.

When the song ended, Okaa-San asked. “How old are you child?”

‘In a few moons I reach my twelfth year.’

“The same age as your mother when she came to me. Normally, I do not begin training until girls are a few years older.”

She clapped her hands. A maid hurried carrying a potted plant. The imperial chrysanthemum had one large bloom, a golden daisy surrounded by sixteen broad petals. “Do we have a bargain?”

Okurimono could have wept with joy. ‘Oh yes, Okaa-San.’

* * *

With all the excitement, sleep eluded Okurimono. Okaa-San had promised to send a litter to collect her mother. By tomorrow evening, Okurimono would see her mother and Ucosan, and know if things had transpired as the nine tailed fox, Lady Mae, promised.

Drifting off to sleep, a premonition made Okurimono open her eyes and sit up. Her mother stood in her room. Wan as moonlight, she flickered to and fro like the flame of an oil lamp guttering in a draft. At times she almost faded away until Okurimono could see the panels of the shoji screen through her. This was her spirit image, her ikiryō, a living person’s soul most often seen near death, when the chains of life are weakest.

She cried out in anguish.

A maid rushed in, bowing as if to an honoured guest. “Okurimono-San?”

Okurimono knew what she had to do. ‘Bring scissors. Quickly.’

Ucosan told a story of how a girl cleverly saved her mother’s life with a chrysanthemum. A young girl, with an ill mother, met a kindly kami who said her dying mother would live a month for each petal on the chrysanthemum in her room. Cleverly the girl took her scissors and cut each petal into many strips, ensuring her mother a long, long life.

Alone in her bedchamber, Okurimono did the same, using the scissors to shred the chrysanthemum’s petals into ribbons. She worked feverishly. When she finished, Okurimono inspected her handiwork with horror. Each damaged petal was wilting.

Had she saved her mother, like the girl in the story, or merely hastened her death?

Exhausted Okurimono flung herself on the mattress and cried herself to sleep.

Next morning Okurimono saw the chrysanthemum flower was a vibrant golden globe of a thousand slender petals. Tamamo no Mae, the nine tailed fox, had sent a miracle, just as she promised.

Sunset found Okurimono expectantly waiting at the Moon-gate for her mother’s palanquin. As it grew dark, her maid came to take her to her room. She explained it was not appropriate for the patrons to see one so young and assured the girl her mother would arrive tomorrow.

Yet, it was the same story the following day. As the maid collected her once again,

Okurimono respectfully asked her if Okaa-San would allow her to return home to see what the matter was. The maid frowned at the request, but promised to ask.

In the afternoon on the third day, the maid interrupted Okurimono’s lessons with many apologies. A runner had arrived. The mother’s litter was expected.

Eagerly Okurimono snatched up the golden chrysanthemum and followed the maid to the moon-gate. Her heart pounded with excitement when she saw the closed litter carried by four strong bearers. Rushing outside the compound she waited impatiently by the potted cherry trees as they put down the brightly painted yellow kago with its sumptuous curved roof and gauze curtained windows.

One of Okaa-San’s guards opened the door.

Okurimono’s heart leapt at the sight of a delicate bright kimono.

Ucosan stepped out.

‘Where is Mama?’ Okurimono cried, afraid she knew the answer.

Ucosan’s eyes filled with tears. Spotting the globe chrysanthemum, she quickly composed herself.

“Okurimonochan, my news is both great and terrible. Two days ago, I was happy to see your mother whole and well, her colour and appetite returned. We congratulated each other on our good fortune, as I heard a rapping at the door and my heart sunk like a stone.”

“Outside was Lady Tamamo no Mae, the nine-tailed fox, in her finest kimono. Oh my child, you had cut this beautiful flower into so many petals her life was now too long. The divine Emperor and the shōgun would demand the same lifespan from the gods. There would be no peace between earth and heaven. As she was as long lived as a divine sage, the Lady Mae had come to take your mother to dwell for evermore among the immortals.”

As Ucosan spoke a breeze snatched the blossom from the potted cherry trees. A shower of petals drifted like snow. One touched Ucosan upon the lips.

Okurimono burst into tears.

“No tears here,” said Ucosan. “It is not fitting.”

* * *

Under the tutelage of Okaa-San, Okurimono became Kyoto’s most famous tayū. Men paid five years rice in gold to spend a single night in her company. Many nobles offered to buy her contract. She refused each offer.

Of course you will not have heard of Okurimono, you only know of Kogane no Hana, the Golden Flower. The name she took on the day she became orian.

And that is her story, or at least the story she told when she was old and mistress of the Spring Garden Pleasure House, to young girls sold by their parents to train as orian, and missing their homes very much.

At the end she would add reflectively …

“That is why the word for Floating World sounds the same as Sorrowful World. For everything in this world has a price and art demands the greatest price of all.”

THE END

Please join us again tomorrow for a special post on the writing of The Legend of the Golden Flower.

©Paul Andruss 2018

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

The latest review for the book

I stumbled across this book one day while reading a historical piece written by the author. He had included an image of this book cover at the bottom of his article which immediately drew my attention. This author often writes long historical dissertations so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I took a chance and purchased the Kindle edition. What a delightful surprise! I couldn’t put the book down!

What I found was a fantastic story about one of my favorite subjects, faeries! Not only was it geared to the YA genre, but it also included a fair amount of historical fact to make the story shine.

When Jack’s older brother Dan is abducted before his very eyes, he is stunned by the mysterious circumstances of his disappearance. The fact that Jack witnessed the strange abduction and doesn’t tell his parents only adds to his troubles. Jack’s mother is suffering from a chronic illness and his greatest hope is that the situation will rectify itself, and Dan will come home on his own.

One night, Jack starts receiving cell phone calls from Dan, and when he answers, there’s no one on the line. He tries to tell his parents and the police the truth about what happened, but every time he opens his mouth to speak, his throat closes up and he is unable to utter a single word. Faery glamours? Could be!

In the meantime, Jack starts seeing a dirty tramp hanging around his house who only speaks in rhyme. It becomes apparent that no one can see the tramp but Jack, so he enlists the help of his friends to help him solve the mystery behind his brother’s disappearance.

Jack and his friends are thrust into the magical world of the fey where the kids experience the light and the dark, of a failing faery kingdom. They learn about ley lines and how the fey evolved beside mankind. The story progresses with plenty of magic and suspense until you reach the satisfying end.

Let me just say, that this is one of the most creative books I have ever read about the fey. Jack’s friends are reminiscent of the characters in the Harry Potter series and I had no problem connecting with their personalities. The plot is brilliant, although I had a hard time separating fact from fiction. That’s what I call good writing!

I enjoyed this novel and will read it more than once. I feel children and adults of all ages will enjoy this book. Do you love magic and all things faery? Then, have a read because this book is reasonably priced and will keep you entertained for hours.

MY RATING: Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5  Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

It would be wonderful to have your thoughts about the story. Thanks Sally

A special post tomorrow that goes into the background and research for this beautiful story.

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Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Writer in Residence – The Legend of the Golden Flower (Part Three) by Paul Andruss


You can read the story so far The Legend of the Golden Flower

PART 3

Beyond the ancient shrine, the village road deteriorated into a treacherous track, twisting through steep sided hills covered with pine. Here the thin dawn light was sucked from the sky by a canopy of black needled branches. Even snow could not reach the forest floor, but lay in scattered drifts obliterating fallen trees, moss covered rocks and who knew what else, leaving them shapeless and sinister.

Okurimono never ventured beyond the town in all her eleven years. Ucosan’s tales of the world were all she knew. Ucosan said mountains were deadly places where evil yokai dwelt; wicked mountain Jami, spider demons and giant man-eating centipedes. There were aobōzu, ghostly blue priests that steal children, bloodsucking spider women and shapeshifting spirits. Racoon-kami that turn into cyclops-priests, mountain weasels with curved razor-sharp claws, and badger-kami in the form of monks tempting thirsty travellers with water or tea, before turning into faceless ghosts.

In a lonely clearing Okurimono saw the sunshine had crept down from the barren peaks to the wooded slopes. Wreaths of pale mist thickened in the trees before swirling into the shadowy valley. This mist was enenra, the all-devouring monster of smoke and darkness. Enenra made it seem as if the day was reversed, and the rising sun brought deepening night.

At the far end of the clearing she spotted wood smoke, the fires of charcoal burners.

Okurimono was almost foolish enough to seek company and warmth before remembering Ucosan’s warning. Rōjin no hi, the old men of the woods, invite you to sit by the fire; then devour you when you fall asleep.

The air grew colder as Okurimono ascended ever upwards through the gloomy trees.

Weariness, like a demon on her back, weighed increasingly heavy. Perhaps a yokai would entangle her lags as she walked along a precipice. She would fall and end up another vengeful ghost of this wild forsaken place.

Afraid, she jumped at every strange noise. She grew convinced a buruburu possessed her, a spirit of cowardice and shivers. Okurimono wondered if she should abandon her quest and run all the way home. The thought of her mother made her forge on.

With face stung by the bitter wind, she blindly followed the narrow path. Climbing through the trees, until she realised she was lost. In despair she sank down beneath the low branches of a tree. Almost touching the floor, they kept the ground dry and free of snow.

Okurimono knew she must not sleep. Some trees were jubokko and would drive their roots into her if she slept, to suck her blood. She huddled fearfully against the trunk, nervously pulling the quilted kosode tighter, praying she had not been tricked by the Lady Mae.

Okurimono heard something drop through the branches. Her imagination conjured images of akateko, demons resembling severed red hands scrambling through the boughs. Or tsurube oloshi, laughing heads that drop from trees to devour you.

With a thump two creatures landed. They pulled open the pine needled branches to peer at her. She peered back, not quite believing what she saw. They were no taller than Okurimono with large heads and bodies covered with red hair. They jabbered at each other like monkeys.

Okurimono knew kijimuna tree sprites were not unfriendly. But they were tricksters and you must beware. Their favourite trick was to sit on your chest until you could not breathe. If one liked you, he might let you ride on his back and would take you where you wanted to go.

However, if one did, you must not break wind, Ucosan warned. That was impolite.

The kijimuna looked at her curiously, deciding what to do with the creature, no doubt as strange to them as they were to her. Thinking quickly Okurimono pulled out the parcel of cold rice Ucosan packed for the journey. With a deep bow she offered it to the kijimuna. One came forward timidly, snatched the parcel and tore it open. The other, fearing he might miss out, shoved in his hooked fingers and pulling out a handful of rice shoved it in his mouth.

His companion looked on in horror, before slapping him soundly across the head. He retaliated by punching his friend so violently the rice parcel flew out of his grasp. As it descended they both leapt into the air to grab it.

Okurimono burst out laughing.

Shocked, they stopped to stare at her.

Swiftly Okurimono snatched up the rice parcel from the floor, mercifully largely intact, and broke it into two, offering one portion to each. After a moment’s hesitation, each grabbed a share from her hands.

They looked at what they had. Then looked at what the other had. With an enraged howl, the first lurched at the second. His companion was too quick. He leapt up grabbing the branch with his free hand and in the wink of an eye was clambering up the tree, with the other in hot pursuit.

Still laughing, Okurimono scrambled out of her shelter to watch their antics. Waiting for her was the beautiful lady Tamamo no Mae, floating on a golden cloud. Her nine foxtails, somehow freed from her kimono, wafted through the air behind her like a peacock fan.

“I see your little friends have banished the fear yokai,” she said with amusement. “You have done well, Okurimono. The hardest part of your journey is over. Above the next ridge your descent begins. I have sent a friend to guide you.”

Okurimono bowed in gratitude. When she looked up the celestial lady fox was gone.

Somewhere in front of her, Okurimono heard chi-chi-chi and followed the sound to a small bird, standing on a moss covered rock. When it saw her, it fluttered onward to a branch, scolding her to hurry. This was yosuzume, a mountain sparrow kami. Each time it seemed she might catch the sparrow it flew off once again, to wait for her approach. In this way Okurimono soon found the lost path.

As the sparrow flew off, Okurimono heard something in the undergrowth. She was not afraid.

Stories said mountain sparrows led travellers to okurio-kami, the escort wolf. It was the protector the celestial fox, Lady Mae, meant.

Okurimono never saw her wolf escort, although he never left her side. The kami stayed hidden in the undergrowth. Whenever she crossed a bridge, or the forest thinned, the wolf was magically waiting on the other side.

By noon she reached the pass. In the far valley she saw villages surrounded by rice fields and beyond them a pall of yellow smoke, from the wood fires of Kyoto. Standing on a mound, high above the smog, was the mighty five-tiered stronghold of the shōgun. Pale stone walls and fluted tiled rooves rose pagoda-like, one storey upon the other, into clear blue sky. It was so beautiful Okurimono thought it must be a house for the gods. It was in that beautiful place Okurimono would find her grandmother.

©Paul Andruss 2018

The final part of this beautiful story tomorrow.

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

The latest review for the book

I stumbled across this book one day while reading a historical piece written by the author. He had included an image of this book cover at the bottom of his article which immediately drew my attention. This author often writes long historical dissertations so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I took a chance and purchased the Kindle edition. What a delightful surprise! I couldn’t put the book down!

What I found was a fantastic story about one of my favorite subjects, faeries! Not only was it geared to the YA genre, but it also included a fair amount of historical fact to make the story shine.

When Jack’s older brother Dan is abducted before his very eyes, he is stunned by the mysterious circumstances of his disappearance. The fact that Jack witnessed the strange abduction and doesn’t tell his parents only adds to his troubles. Jack’s mother is suffering from a chronic illness and his greatest hope is that the situation will rectify itself, and Dan will come home on his own.

One night, Jack starts receiving cell phone calls from Dan, and when he answers, there’s no one on the line. He tries to tell his parents and the police the truth about what happened, but every time he opens his mouth to speak, his throat closes up and he is unable to utter a single word. Faery glamours? Could be!

In the meantime, Jack starts seeing a dirty tramp hanging around his house who only speaks in rhyme. It becomes apparent that no one can see the tramp but Jack, so he enlists the help of his friends to help him solve the mystery behind his brother’s disappearance.

Jack and his friends are thrust into the magical world of the fey where the kids experience the light and the dark, of a failing faery kingdom. They learn about ley lines and how the fey evolved beside mankind. The story progresses with plenty of magic and suspense until you reach the satisfying end.

Let me just say, that this is one of the most creative books I have ever read about the fey. Jack’s friends are reminiscent of the characters in the Harry Potter series and I had no problem connecting with their personalities. The plot is brilliant, although I had a hard time separating fact from fiction. That’s what I call good writing!

I enjoyed this novel and will read it more than once. I feel children and adults of all ages will enjoy this book. Do you love magic and all things faery? Then, have a read because this book is reasonably priced and will keep you entertained for hours.

MY RATING: Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5  Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

It would be wonderful to have your thoughts about the story and  hope you will join us tomorrow for the final part of the story. Thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Writer in Residence Rewind – Of Cabbages and Kings by Paul Andruss


I must admit that I restrained from watching The Crown series as I was not sure that I wanted to see the nitty gritty on our royal family laid out with dramatic interpretations. But I finally got the boxed set and was hooked.. I am now eagerly awaiting the next series with its new cast.

In the meantime, here is a post from early 2017 from Paul Andruss on the less glamorous side of being a royal..especially when caught on microphone or television. And also tragically when forces are intent on your complete removal.

Of Cabbages and Kings by Paul Andruss

picture12Gore Vidal & Princess Margaret 1951
(newyorksocialdiary.com)

In one of her wire-tapped phone conversations Diana, Princess of Wales, referred to her in-laws as ‘that ‘king’ family’. Actually, there were three letters in front of the word KING; the first being F. But I left them out.

I have no axe to grind with the monarchy, but equally neither have I had the same provocation. While having no strong feelings either way, I will say that anyone who by their very existence prevented Tony Blair making himself lifelong President cannot be entirely useless.

Someone who did know royalty was American author Gore Vidal; bon vivant and member of the jet set. A term coined after the de Havilland Comet -the first purpose-built commercial jet airliner- made the world the playground of his generation’s rich and famous.

Vidal was great friends with Queen Elizabeth’s sister, Princes Margaret. He records their first meeting at a costume party where she wore the blood stained shirt King Charles I was beheaded in; borrowed from Kensington Palace for the occasion. When you think about Prince Harry turning up to a fancy dress ball in a Nazi uniform, it’s easy to see where he gets his sense of style.

picture13David & Wallis on their wedding day
(Getty Images 1937)

Vidal also knew the Duke and Duchess of Windsor during their exile in Paris. The Duke was Edward VIII (called by his 7th Christian name, David). He abdicated the throne to marry American Wallis Simpson. Vidal cheerfully admits to liking Wallis for her intelligence, and David because he was ‘deeply stupid’.

In 1936 Edward VIII abdicated because parliament would not approve his marriage to Wallis as she was divorced; or twice divorced to be pedantic. His speech contained the famous line so beloved of romantics: I cannot discharge my duty without the help and support of the woman I love. As they left England, his brother, Queen Elizabeth’s father, became king and the rest as they say, is history.

The British press always referred to the Duchess, somewhat disparagingly, as Mrs Simpson. They loved to portray her as a gold digger, who could not wait to slip the royal crown on her grubby colonial head. Vidal records Wallis remembering it differently. She was a wealthy divorcee who claimed never even wanting to get married. ‘It was all his idea,’ she told Vidal. ‘They act as if I’m stupid, not knowing who can be queen. But he insisted.’

‘I remember the morning after we were married,’ she continued. ‘There was David saying – And what do we do now? My heart sank. Every day of his life had been arranged for him and now I was the one who had to take the place of the entire British Government, trying to think up things for him to do.’

‘The Duchess took a long drink of vodka,’ Vidal finishes devilishly, ‘then began the denunciation of all the Royal ladies. And very entertaining it was.’

Like Diana, Wallis had a legitimate axe to grind.

picture14David & Wallis meet an avid fan
(Getty Images 1937)

Vidal records the exchange in his memoir Palimpsest. As he explains it, a palimpsest is a parchment, scraped clean by a medieval monk for re-use. Such finds are invaluable as the original text is still faintly visible – a bit like memories. Sagaciously, he adds memoirs do not need to be weighed down by historical fact. So perhaps one should not take Wallis’s protestations of innocence entirely at face value.

Vidal’s recounts a story from the Duke of Windsor that’s worth repeating.

‘I was there at breakfast with my father and mother, the King and Queen, when an equerry came in. The King was furious. I mean this was breakfast for heaven’s sake! Not done, you know, ever! But the man went straight up to him with this note which the king read and gave to my mother. She read it and gave it back saying ‘No!’

‘Later that day I asked her what it was about and she said the British government was willing to send a ship to rescue my father’s relations Tsar Nicholas and his family, but she did not think it would be good for us to have them in England. So the Bolsheviks shot the lot of them.’

picture15The unlucky Romanovs: intimate family portrait
(Archive Source)

Historically, a lot of reasons are put forward why Britain denied the Romanovs refuge. Explanations tend to focus on the fear of Bolshevism taking hold. Princess Margaret had another theory. She believed her grandmother was deeply resentful of real royalty. Even admirers describe Queen Mary as cold and hard.

Vidal tells the tale of Margaret’s outrage when reading Nicholas and Alexandra – the biography later made in to a film. ‘They were so perfectly ordinary. I mean it could be us!’ she bemoaned in stentorian Hanoverian.

Although that might leave you smiling or shuddering depending on your perspective, Margaret had a point. In private, the Romanovs lived the ‘simple’ secluded life of any upper middle class European, and fiercely guarded their privacy. Indeed, their daughters complained of a claustrophobic upbringing.

Yet politically, Nicholas was the supreme autocrat who could not bear to surrender an iota of power and focused much of his energy enforcing a medieval stranglehold on his deeply troubled and backward country.

picture16Nicholas & Alexandra
Father & mother of all the Russias
(Archive source)

His ineptitude and stubbornness consigned Russians to privation and doomed wars. He approved of anti-Jewish Pogroms, believing they unified the country behind his regime. He did nothing when his army slaughtered peaceful demonstrators. And he thwarted all attempts to introduce basic human rights, fearing it would erode his God-given authority as the ‘Father-of-all-the-Russias’.

All in all, Nicholas was rather like King Charles I, who also believed he ruled through Divine Right, ignored Parliament, caused a Civil War (between the Cavaliers and Roundheads) and was executed for his troubles.

So while Princess Margaret had a point about the Romanovs’ perfect ordinariness, perhaps she also needed to remember just whose shirt she was wearing at that fancy dress party. And exactly why it was blood stained.

©PaulAndruss 2017

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Buy Paul’s books: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Thank you for dropping in and please feel free to share Paul’s article around the universe… thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Writer in Residence – Fifty Ways to leave your Mother: with apologies to Rhyming Simon by Paul Andruss


Prince Charming has awoken from an extended slumber (he was actually working his backside off on work projects), enticed by the aroma of food served at the End of Summer Party, and the yearning to be back among friends whose banter he had sorely missed…….sorry Paul ♥

Paul has promised from time to time to entertain us with one of his legendary tales so that we do not go into withdrawal. And I am delighted to say he slipped a new post over to me last week… hot off the press.

There has been quite a bit of press recently about the ‘bank of mum and dad‘ and the fact that many adult children are moving back home because of the difficulty of getting on the property ladder, or cost of renting. In Ireland it used to be quite common for bachelors to remain at home until 40 + or longer, until they would marry.

This post offers some suggestions on how to leave home and specifically your mother… of course in Paul Andruss style…

Fifty Ways to leave your Mother: with apologies to Rhyming Simon by Paul Andruss

My hands were shaking as I picked up the phone
You’re almost 40 she said, and you’re still living at home.
Don’t want excuses because I’ve heard them all before
There must be fifty ways to leave your mother
We’ve been together now since we were twenty five
I’ve sacrificed to you the best years of my life
And all I ever get is your evasion and your lies
There must be fifty ways to leave your mother

Fifty ways to leave your mother
Act like a man, Stan
Tell her you’re gone, John
That you’re getting a flat, Matt
And that is that
I don’t want to marry, Harry
Wouldn’t like you to worry, Murray
I’m not looking to wed, Fred
We’ll live in sin

My girlfriends stare at me agog with disbelief
Are you still going out with that sad loser Keith?
Pack him in they say, it will come as a relief
He must have heard, fifty ways to leave his mother
Been patient long enough, don’t listen to him no more.
All his excuses, you must have heard them all before.
Make your mind up and kick him out the door
You’ve told him, fifty ways to leave his mother

Fifty ways to leave his mother
We’re telling you the truth, Ruth
So get a new plan, Ann
Find yerself man, an’
Live happily
Get your head straight, Kate
Go out on a blind date
Don’t hesitate, or wait
For the likes of him

Mum was ironing stuff for me weekend with the lads
Off down to London to watch the footie match
All things considered I really don’t have it that bad
Livin’ with Mother
I put my feet up while she makes a cup of tea
Though she doesn’t say a word, I must agree
To lose this cushy life of mine would be insanity
There must be fifty ways to leave your lover

Fifty ways to leave you lover
Just ignore her calls, Paul
Send her a text, Rex
It might sound better, Trevor
Jotted down in a letter
Pretend you’re not in, Jim
When she lookin’ for a fight, Mike
Or perhaps Mum, you could
Tell her for me?

Say you’re two-timin’, Simon
Tell her you’re gay, Ray
Pretend that you’re dead, Ed
Or going to jail
It might sound a lot better
Written down in a letter
Hell, I’ll do whatever
To get myself free

Repeat chorus (until convinced)

The problem is all inside your head she said to me
The answer is easy if you take it logically
I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free
There must be fifty ways to leave your lover
She said it’s really not my habit to intrude
Furthermore, I hope my meaning won’t be lost or misconstrued
But I’ll repeat myself at the risk of being crude
There must be fifty ways to leave your lover

Fifty ways to leave your lover
You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

She said it grieves me so to see you in such pain
I wish there was something I could do to make you smile again
I said I appreciate that and would you please explain
About the fifty ways
She said why don’t we both just sleep on it tonight
And I believe in the morning you’ll begin to see the light
And then she kissed me and I realized she probably was right
There must be fifty ways to leave your lover

Fifty ways to leave your lover
You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

Fifty Ways to Leave Your Love: Paul Simon
© Universal Music Publishing Group

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac Cool

Finn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, explicitly sexual and disturbingly violent, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

You can find all of Paul’s posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

Thank you for dropping by today and please feel free to share the post on your own blog and networks. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Writer in Residence – Back by Popular Request – The Party’s Over – Cabaret : the Evolution of a Musical by Paul Andruss


Paul Andruss was unable to join in with his usual amazing posts over the End of Summer Party, but he has written an exclusive piece to end the party week with a flourish… Thanks Paul…you are a star…

Most of us are familiar with the musical Cabaret, but Paul goes into the background and the real life characters that morphed into Sally Bowles and the rest of the cast.

Cabaret: the Evolution of a Musical by Paul Andruss

In 1931 Christopher Isherwood moved to Berlin, aged 26. At the time Christopher said he moved to escape the stifling confines of upper middle class England. He did, but later admitted the main attraction was the laissez-faire attitude of Berlin’s working class young men inhabiting the sexual underworld.

These young men were happy be available to comparatively wealthy foreigners, not in a professional capacity, more as ‘young brothers’. They received accommodation, meals, drinks, clothes and gifts; borrowed money they never intended to pay back, to ultimately squander on the female prostitutes they became infatuated with. It is a mistake to see them as victims. Consider them as business men wheeling and dealing in what they had to hand, so to speak.

Paris had long been the city for lovers. Not to be out done by its rival, between the wars Berlin reinvented itself as the city of eroticism and decadence, as Amsterdam would do in the late 60s. The 1930s saw a world-wide depression. In 1932 a third of all working men in Germany’s Weimar Republic were unemployed.

Berlin fascinated the world. Many saw the city as a microcosm of the future in Europe and North America. Bloody street battles between the partisans of international communism and nationalist fascism were already playing out not only in Berlin and Paris but across Spain and Italy. In America and Britain there was a sense of impending revolution. Although critics vainly pointed out, there was little to choose between Communism and Fascism, the only thing that concerned most people was which side would win.

Isherwood wrote a best-selling novel and a short story collection about his time in Berlin. The most famous was Sally Bowles. Allied victory in the Second World War increased the public’s fascination with Isherwood’s account of the rise of Nazism. The other way round, his books would have been proscribed and burned.

In 1951 John Van Druten wrote a Broadway play based on the Berlin stories, focusing on Isherwood and Sally Bowles’ platonic friendship, explained in the play by presenting Isherwood as a driven writer and Sally’s fear of destroying their friendship with a sexual dalliance. Van Druten took his title from Goodbye to Berlin’s opening line: ‘I am a camera’.

In the play Sally and Christopher are English, as they were in life. Christopher is drawn to the bright brittle Sally, who has a habit of choosing the wrong men. Sally is pretty but talentless; singing in a rundown cabaret club while waiting to become a movie star.

The crisis comes when a wealthy American playboy gets Christopher and Sally to show him around Berlin. By the time he leaves Sally is pregnant. Gentlemanly Christopher, now in love, offers to marry Sally.

Sally cannot renounce her chaotic bohemian existence for respectability. She has an abortion and blithely talks about going to Paris with another man she has just met to become a movie star. Christopher returns to England alone.

The musical Cabaret followed in 1966. Originally it was conceived as a straight play prefaced by a number of songs sung in the seedy Kit Kat Cabaret club where Sally worked. The play quickly transformed into standard musical format, featuring the cast singing about their emotions, while keeping the cabaret-stage songs to comment on the social changes during the Nazis rise to power.

One such song If You Could See Her Through My Eyes is sung by the MC about his love for a female gorilla. It ends with the line: ‘If you could see her through my eyes she wouldn’t look Jewish at all’. Meant as a condemnation of the German people’s attitude change that dehumanised fellow Jewish citizens, it worked too well on the stage. It so outraged American Jewish groups the last line was changed to a Yiddish word meaning different. The original lyrics were reinserted in the 1972 film of the musical.

The musical’s plot was simple. A love story between American Cliff Bradshaw (Bradshaw was Isherwood’s mother’s maiden name) an innocent abroad in Berlin looking for inspiration for his great novel, and the unchanged Sally Bowles.

Out went the play’s secondary characters and in came the doomed courtship of the boarding house landlady by a Jewish grocer. She abandons him initially because of fear and finally because her attitude hardens against the Jews.

The main action takes place in the Kit Kat Cabaret club. The ending remains the same. Pregnant Sally has an abortion and returns to her old job as a cabaret singer where she sings the title song: a paean to recklessly seizing the day.

When Bob Fosse made a film in 1972, Sally (Liza Minelli) became American and Cliff, renamed Brian, was a stuffy closeted homosexual Englishman. Fosse returned to the original idea of a play with music, keeping almost all the songs to stage numbers in the club. The exceptions were Tomorrow Belongs to Me and Married (Hieraten).

Tomorrow Belongs to Me originally sung by the club’s pro-nazi waiters, was given to a young boy in the Hitler Youth. Originally sung by the landlady Hieraten appears as a German gramophone record Sally plays.

Around 20 show numbers were cut and two new numbers added: Sally’s Maybe this Time and The Money Song (replacing a similar themed-song Sitting Pretty). Fosse reintroduced elements from the play in favour of the musical such as the love story between gigilo Fritz and the wealth Jewish heiress Natalia Landauer. He also reintroduced the playboy who knocks up Sally in the form of a wealthy German aristocrat.

By 1972 women’s liberation and sexual liberation were powerful voices. Fosse used both elements to make the film relevant. Brian was explicitly gay, although he falls for, and has sex with, Sally. The aristocratic playboy was a bisexual who in the words of the script…

Brian: ‘Screw Max.’

Sally: ‘I do.’

Brian: ‘So do I.’

Sally was less of a victim and genuinely talented as befitted Liza with a Z. Although Brian offers to marry her and make her respectable, she fears their love will become eroded by his homosexual slips and her penchant for booze and the odd casual screw. She has the abortion and returns to the Cabaret as a single independent woman. When she sings Cabaret it is a fierce declaration of independence and a rejection of the bourgeois values.

Both points resonated with the audience.

The film ends in the same way as the musical with the MC, reprising the opening song that welcomed the audience and invited them to forget their troubles. Now the MC hopes their troubles are forgotten and wishes them Auf Wiedersehen, A bientot, but not Goodbye. In the distorted mirror over hanging the stage is reflected an audience wearing the brown shirts of Hitler’s SA, later replaced by the SS.

The film’s portrayal of controversial issues earned it an Adults Only certificate: the first time one was given to a musical. I saw it when I was 15 with my 11 year old brother. Heaven knows how we got into the cinema. I don’t think they really cared. My brother hated it, whereas I, at threshold of adulthood, was enthralled. I have always cherished two of film’s ideas incorporating them into my personal mantra for life.

From The Money Song:

Money makes the world go round, of that we both are sure. Pfffit on being POOR!

From the song Two Ladies:

Twoseees beats onesees, but nothing beats threes

When the stage musical of Cabaret was revived in 1993 London, times had changed. The director Sam Mendes could not in all justice ignore the iconic film. He not only included the two songs written for the film but also kept the frank adult themes while keeping to the original musical book and score. American Cliff kisses one of the boys in the Kit Kat Club.

At the end of the musical when the MC is singing Auf Wiedersehen, A bientot, he takes off his coat to show his concentration camp uniform: striped pyjamas sewn with the yellow star of the Jew and the pink triangle of the homosexual. Reminding us how the Nazis dealt with those they considered sub-human and degenerate.

For his star, Mendes chose 29 year old Jane Horrocks as Sally Bowles. Little Voice, a play and later a film, was written to show off Horrocks incredible vocal range, control and talent for mimicry. It was about a reclusive young woman pushed into the limelight through her talent to mimic distinctive singers such as Shirley Bassey, Judy Garland and Gracie Fields.

So I leave you with Jane Horrocks as Sally Bowles.

Sally has had the abortion. She wants to continue with her career. She and Cliff argue. He says she has no talent and the only way she ever gets a job is by sleeping with the club owner.

Watching Horrocks sing Cabaret is probably one of the most chilling things you will ever see: a complete mental breakdown in 4 minutes flat. It is the perfect metaphor for a country living on its nerves, that is about to consign itself, and the world, to flames.

Everyone who wants to write should read Isherwood. His prose is stark, elegant, clear, erudite, multi-layered and devastatingly witty. No wonder he was considered one of the most gifted novelists of his generation.

I have finished re-reading Christopher and his Kind after a 30 year gap. He is a joy to read. If you want to learn more about Isherwood’s time in Berlin in the 1930s try watching the no-holds-barred BBC production of the book. Matt Smith looks uncannily like a young Isherwood. You can watch the video here: https://youtu.be/F-MD4z7_RI4

The portrayal of Sally Bowles in the novella and subsequently in the play, musical and film infuriated Sally’s real-life inspiration Jean Ross. Intelligent and serious, Jean was a lifelong communist. She died of cervical cancer in 1973 after meeting up, and making up, with Christopher Isherwood three years earlier.

Jean Ross: the original Sally Bowles (Wikipedia)

©Paul Andruss 2018

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen.

Finn Mac Cool

Finn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, explicitly sexual and disturbingly violent, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

You can find all of Paul’s posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

Thank you for dropping by today and please feel free to share the post on your own blog and networks. Thanks Sally

Posts from the Archives – #Gods and #Legends – Ionia by Paul Andruss


As Paul Andruss is on an extended break working on other projects..I will be sharing some of his earlier posts for those of you who were not visiting the blog at the beginning of 2017. Also I am sure that those of you who have read before will enjoy as much as I have the second time around.

Ionia by Paul Andruss

picture1This land of gods and heroes fills me with irrational love and irrepressible longing. Here a sister married her brother and built him a tomb so magnificent it became a wonder of the world. Here, a nymph saw a young man drink from her spring. Fiercely desiring him, she prayed they would never part. With cruel humour, the capricious gods joined flesh to flesh, creating the first hermaphrodite.

This is Bodrum, once Halicarnassus, home of the mausoleum. Behind the town, hidden in hills of olive and pine, is the spring of Salamcis where the son of Hermes and Aphrodite took that fatal drink.

The heartland of Ionic Greece was already ancient when the Parthenon shone brand-new on the lion coloured rock of the acropolis. Cities, old as time, ringed the Gulf of Latmos. Even then a dying seaway choked with mud from the Meander River. First Priene and then Milatus were left high and dry. Abandoned since antiquity they provided tourist attractions for Ancient Romans.

To one side of the silted estuary is Lake Bafa, formed by the tears of the Moon goddess weeping for the shepherd boy, Endymion. On the other, the city of Miletus, where in the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Paul awaited the Ephesian elders.

Once, Lake Bafa was seashore. The freshwater lake only formed when the estuary silted. The men of Heraclea faced with the retreating sea, desperately dug navigable channels, causing seawater to turn the lake brackish.

Legend says the moon goddess, Selene, was so smitten with Endymion she threatened to forsake the sky. In response, the fearful gods made him sleep for eternity, and as she wept for her lost love, she cried a lake. It was a good day in November and Bafa was body warm, we swam and can confirm the water does indeed taste of tears.

The Meander estuary is now a fertile plain. Having never seen it in November we were surprised by hundreds of cotton wool balls littering the roads. It was cotton-pickin’ time. Turkish women, in traditional rural dress of headscarf and baggy trousers, picked tufts of gossamer from branches of stunted, scrawny bushes. It could have been a hundred years ago, if not for the huge blocky harvester devouring the adjacent field. Its parallel rows of vertical teeth left only broken, skeletal stalks. In factory courtyards were cotton castles of pearl-grey lint, while caught in the wire of the perimeter fence, grimy candyfloss streamed in the wind.

picture2First stop was the ancient city of Eurymos. All that is left is the Temple of Zeus. We were the only people there. It was like discovering it for the first time. As if we were some Victorian explorers with Sir Richard Burton – the one who translated the Arabian Nights, not the one who married and remarried Elizabeth Taylor.

The only problem with fantasy is truth. Although sites look undiscovered they are actually the result of extensive excavation. Unexcavated, they are under 2,000 years and at least 20 feet of wind blown soil – like the rest of Eurymos. One undistinguished field is the forum and another is the theatre. Each has its herd of indifferent sheep, munching as they have munched for millennia, placidly unaware of their contribution to history falling out the other end.

picture3The temple of Apollo at Didim was never finished because during the centuries it took to build, Christianity became the state religion and pagan temples were abandoned. It is impossible to convey the sheer size of the site. Nothing is on a human scale, the column bases; the cyclopean stones walls – now only a third of their original height. All of it dwarfs you; awes you. It is like something built by the giants who stormed Olympus.

picture4There is a sacred spring in the temple grounds. It had recently rained and the area was marshy. It should have prepared us for what was to come at Miletus. It didn’t. Here we saw tortoises mating. And it was lucky they were tortoises. When Tiresias saw two snakes copulate, he changed sex.

Because of his unique perspective, Zeus and Hera asked Tiresias to settle an argument about who needed love the most. Tiresias replied that if love had ten parts, women needed nine. Hera was so furious she blinded him. Leaving Zeus to compensate with the dubious gift of second sight and a lifespan increased sevenfold. However, thoughtless Zeus forgot to bestow Eternal youth so Tiresias grew old and stayed old for a long, long time. More of a punishment than a gift one would think.

picture5Back at the car, we saw a stone placed at the base of a wall. As it was obviously for looking over, we discovered part of the sacred way stretching from Miletus, 26 km away, to the shrines of Apollo and his sister, Artemis.

picture6We had read Miletus has a fantastic theatre but not much else. Because of this, our friends decided they had had enough of scrambling over ruins and went to the site café, leaving us to explore alone.

Reaching the top of the theatre we saw the rest of the city hidden to the side, the wreckage of the harbour mouth monument, now miles inland, the forum, the stoa and senate house lining the start of the sacred way.

picture7The site was boggy and halfway through, mosquitoes attacked. According to the guidebook the café owner was trying to sell our friends, when the Meander River silted up, the city became a malarial swamp and that was another reason it was abandoned.

One of our friends said we came tripping from the ruins like Tippy Hedron in Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ – obviously in search of a phone box to shelter in. In our defence, the mosquitoes were the size of seagulls.

One friend on the trip was thinking of writing a travel book. Caught up in the idea, he had a tendency to pause after each utterance as if waiting for an unseen amanuensis to jot down his thoughts for posterity, which is probably not far from the truth as he was feverishly committing the phrase to memory for future use.

picture9From Miletus we drove through the alluvial plain to Priene, crossing the mighty Meander, now tamed to the size of the Regent’s Canal. Approaching the site, we saw the remaining columns of the Temple of Hera on the hillside and a ruin-lined road snaking down to the old port, now farmer’s fields.

picture8Priene is another huge area of tumbled stones, smashed columns and fractured walls sheltering under black cypress and pine. Unchanged since the time of Caesar and Christ, the view across the plain takes your breath away.

The next morning, no doubt due to a sleepless night of trying not to scratch souvenir mosquito bites, we were up at daybreak. Duly covered up like Turkish cotton pickers, we walked down to the lake to watch the full moon turn the waters silver, while the light bringer, Lucifer, the morning star, ushered a dawn of lemon, pistachio and rose – the flavours of Turkish Delight.

picture10©images Paul Andruss Ionia 2017

About Paul Andruss.

Thomas the Rhymer Finn Mac Cool

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

You can find all about Paul and links to his books here: http://www.paul-andruss.com/paul-andruss-author/

And all his previous posts: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

Thank you for visiting today and your feedback is always welcome.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Writer in Residence – Three Minutes Forty-nine by Paul Andruss


It is time for another post from Paul Andruss who has informed, entertained and amazed with his posts on legends ancient and modern in the last 18 months.

Paul has some exciting projects on the horizon, and is taking an extended break over the summer. During that time I will be sharing some of his earlier posts in his usual monthly slot, and he will be back from time to time later in the year.

I know you will join me in thanking him for all the marvelous and wondrous subjects he has introduced us to, and hope he will share more with us in the future.

You can find all of Paul’s Writer in Residence Posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

And his informative and colourful gardening posts here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-gardening-column-by-paul-andruss/

Paul leaves us with some questions… about the financial aspects of our writing, professional and peer group opinions of our writing, and where our efforts place us in terms of writer vs. author status.

Something to think about………

Three Minutes Forty-nine by Paul Andruss

    I am Spartacus!
                                                No, I am Spartacus!
                                                                        No, I’m Spartacus!

(The entirely fictional finale to the 1960 Universal film Spartacus)

While watching something on You-Tube, probably a pop video if the title is anything to go by, I was struck by a comment that said…

‘Thank you for the upload. Your reward is I have given you three minutes and forty nine seconds of my life.’

You can imagine my reaction. I cannot abide arrogance in anyone, except me.

Then I got thinking. They had a point. One, as authors, we should bear in mind. Everything we read costs time. And time is irreplaceable.

In case you think I refer to time in some nebulous way as in ‘I gave you the best years of my life you bastard!’ Let me say, it is quite easy to put a cash value on time. The Government did. They called it the minimum living wage.

In the UK in 2018 this is £7.50. Although it varies state by state, the United States federal rate is $7.25. Bear in mind $7.25 at current exchange rates is £5.35. Citizens of the richest country in the world you are being robbed!

Hand on heart how many of you are worth the national minimum wage?

Or are your worth more?

Given most of you are authors, are you worth as much as what Dan Brown or JK Rowling clear in an hour?

Obviously, at least twice that much; that goes without saying. But to get a realistic figure, let’s look at the price of a proofreading service.

Proofreading costs £5.00 per 1,000 words.

The average person reads 200 words a minute.

That neatly works out at £1.00 or $1.35 a minute, or £60.00 or $80 per hour.

As authors, if you could set your own hourly rate would you consider that reasonable recompense for your labours?

If so what the about compensation for your readers’ time?

What price would you put on that?

I timed it. This article has cost you 6 minutes 30 seconds of your life, or in cash terms £6.50 or $8.78.

The $64,000 question is…

Do we, as writers, give value for money?

I have read on numerous blogs we need to write every day to exercise our writing muscle. And with a proviso I agree. In theory practice makes for better writing.

O, the proviso?

Glad you asked.

It only works if you extend and explore your craft. Writing out a hundred times a day ‘I must become a better writer does not make a better writer.

A muscle develops by increasing the demands put on it. If after a few weeks you are doing exactly the same exercise routine, your muscles cease to improve. Why should the writing muscle be different?

People doing physically demanding work do not have the bodies of Greek gods or goddesses. Their muscles are small and dense. They are restricted, even dwarfed by repetition. And in the end they are crippled by it.

Even if writing the same piece every day did make you a better writer, one must wonder would it make the product worth reading?

Every time we write we cannot wait to publish, and hear our adoring fans go ga-ga. Do we never stop to think that as writers we are judged solely on our writing quality? Is it not better to leave it a couple of days and review before publishing? During those days our subconscious quietly beavers away, streamlining arguments and developing new insights.

Rest and review might turn something so-so into a right little gem. Finally before hitting the publish-button we need to ask: Are we saying something that need not be said at all?

Writing is our product: our brand. Experts say the best way to expand a brand is word-of-mouth marketing. If we write well, people like our product. When they recommend us to friends, our brand grows. Conversely if we fail engage due to overkill, or poor, dull work, they stop reading us. Success is entirely in our hands. There is no second chance to make a first impression.

Self-publishing and blogging has blurred the difference between a writer and an author so both appear synonymous. They are not.

Author is a profession. Authors were paid writers. Writers simply wrote. It was irrelevant whether it was poems, stories, or a diary. Even famous diarists like Samuel Pepys and Ann Frank never meant for their words to be read publically. You wrote for yourself until published.

In the days of traditional publishing the difference between author and writer was clear cut.

The publishing process defined it. The writer became an author in stages when…

The manuscript was accepted by an agent based on their professional opinion of its quality and commercial appeal.

The agent approached publishers; one of whom accepted the work based the same criteria.

The manuscript underwent proofreading and editorial development before the author received back the final proofs for checking prior to publication.

Books were sold.

Money exchanged hands.

And voila, you were an author.

It was a long and often fraught journey for both sides. In an over-crowded and competitive marketplace, agents and publishers relentlessly pushed the writer to produce professional standard work.

Agents and publishers might love literature, but primarily they are in business to make money. There were consequences should standards drop. Publishers went bankrupt. If agents could not provide commercial writers they lost their reputation and publishers’ good will.

The problem with self-publishing and blogging is the lack of such external quality controls.
A proof reader will pick up typos, spelling and grammar. But how many can afford to pay a professional proof-reader £400 for 80,000 words. To keep the maths simple 80,000 words is roughly a 300 page novel.

Quality substantive editing costs about £45 or $60 an hour with the editor working at 1 to 6 pages per hour: a 300 page book (at 6 pages per hour) costs £2,200 or $3,000. Intensive developmental editing at £60 or $80 for 2 to 5 pages per hour equals £3,500 or $4,800.

These prices are for experienced professionals. Exceptional editors are like gold dust.

They should probably share writing credits with the author. Yet authors’ relationships with editors are often problematic. Gore Vidal complained his editor removed 4 chapters of his best-selling historical novel Creation. Vidal put back the 4 offending chapters once the rights reverted to him and he negotiated a new deal for the reprint.

As independent authors can we entirely trust any editor we pay, to work in our interest; not their own? Would an editor forfeit a lucrative fee by telling the unvarnished truth? Or would they diplomatically pocket the cash and salvage what they were able in the time allowed; pretty certain the book will never be traditionally published. They know you are not in a position to critique their work unless you pay for another editor.

We writers often rely on peer review. What is peer review but the opinion of a number of people in exactly the same boat as us? There is something to be said for a dozen beta readers highlighting the same problem. But what if they see different problems and suggest conflicting changes?

In the end, it is for you, the writer, to develop critical faculties so as to be able to ruthlessly and dispassionately assess your own work. Examine everything you read, emulate the good and learn from the bad. Listen to people you trust, based on nothing but on your opinion of them as writers. Always ask yourself:

Does the new piece enhance your brand as an aspiring author?

Would you pay £5 or $6.75 per 1,000 words to read it if someone else wrote it?

I have never been paid for writing.

I hold my hands up. I am a writer: not an author.

I am Spartacus

What about you?

Are you Spartacus too?

©Paul Andruss 2018

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image. Thomas the Ryhmer is currently FREE to dowload from Amazon.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

You can find two directories for Paul Andruss on Smorgasbord – Writer in Residence: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

and Paul’s Gardening Column: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-gardening-column-by-paul-andruss/

My thanks to Paul for this thought provoking post, and for all his amazing contributions and look forward to seeing him back again soon.. Thanks to you too for dropping in and I am sure you will have some comments to add. Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Writer in Residence -#bookcovers – Persuasion by Paul Andruss


Welcome to the monthly post by Paul Andruss. This time he looks at book covers and their influence on the buying public.. Some interesting experiments that show that time spent on this element of your book is as important as the words inside.

(Andruss) Jane Austen: literary giant or saucy little minx? 

You decide *

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

What if they were wrong?

What if a picture was worth 60,000 words?

60,000 words is almost the length of an average novel.

What if you could instantly download 60,000 words of high impact, emotion-filled advertising straight into the brains of potential readers in the blink of an eye?

Would you hesitate?

Would you heck as like!

Human beings, and other primates, are unique among mammals in that we see in colour. Our eyes have two kinds of light receptors called cones and rods.

Mammals in the Age of Dinosaurs kept safe by being nocturnal. Rods work best in low light, which is fine for nocturnal animals, but they do not process colour. To compensate mammals relied on an acute sense of smell.

Most mammals, like horses, have eyes on either side of the head: to keep a lookout for predators. Up in the trees, monkeys needed to judge the distance from branch to branch, therefore the eyes moved to the front of the face. It made the face flatter, reducing the nose.

The sense of smell suffered. (Think of how much more sensitive a dog’s nose is than ours).

To compensate, we developed cones to see in colour, like birds and reptiles. Although we could no longer smell ripe fruit from a distance, we could certainly see it as ripe fruit changes colour.

Twenty-five million years of evolution left man dependent on vision. We respond to, and process, visual data best. 20% of the brain is devoted to vision. Eyes, as outgrowths of the brain, are the only part of the brain with direct access to the outside world. The visual cortex interacts with at least half the brain including areas for hearing, memory, emotion and automatic responses, which is how we instinctively dodge something even before we see it.

90% of the information we take in is visual.

93% of all our communication is visual: not words!

Reading and writing is only a few thousand years old. Therefore it is no surprise we process images 60,000 times faster than the written word.

Now you know all this, isn’t it time you took control of your book covers and your brand images, icons and posters to effectively communicate the essence of your book in a single high impact visual experience?

I cannot be the only kid who spent his pocket money on records because I loved the LP cover. I did not care what the music sounded like. I bought books for much the same reason.

Today, book covers might not make me buy, but they certainly make me take the book off the shelf. No mean feat in a modern bookstore.

In the 1950s, Victor Weybright of the New American Library set up a quality paperback imprint that sold millions of copies at 50 cents apiece. He originally published mystery stories. One day while reading a novel by William Faulkner, a literary heavy weight and Nobel Prize laureate, he thought…

‘…considering all of Faulkner’s sex and violence, if this book was marketed like a detective novel by Mickey Spillane or Dashsiell Hammett, I could shift copies. Of course the fine writing didn’t help… but in the end presentation is all. A sexy cover can do wonders.

‘I phoned up Faulkner’s publishers and asked for the paperback rights to half a dozen of his novels. The publisher was dumbfounded; we’ve never sold more than 2 or 3 thousand copies of all his works put together and you want to put him on the mass market!

‘I put a sexy cover on ‘Absalom, Absalom!’ and a distinguished one on ‘Sanctuary’. I was astounded when the virtually unreadable Absalom sold in the thousands; while the much better Sanctuary bombed. As an experiment I swapped the covers and watched the sales figures for the two novels flip.

‘It was at this point I realised the contents of a paperback book means nothing. It’s the cover that sells it!’

As writers we pore over our words, reading, editing and honing every aspect of plot, character and motivation; sweating over every clause. But when our perfect novel is finished, how much thought do we really give to the cover? And not only the cover but the entire visual presentation?

In relation to how long it took to write the damn thing, I would say very little. Yet in the end, that eye-catching image might be the difference between buying the Scottish castle next door to J. K. Rowling or having your pride and joy relegated to the bargain bin of the local book store.

An author’s lack of concern about visuals might be a hangover from traditional publishing where the author had little say on the visual marketing strategy. As we never tire of saying, those days are long gone. As ‘indie authors’ we already embrace not only editing and publishing but also promotion and publicity: and isn’t that just visual marketing?

You might protest you are not a graphic artist.

You don’t need to be.

This is not about making your cover and brand image.

This is about choosing it.

You may already outsource your editing, proof-reading and publishing. With each, the final responsibility sits with you, the author. Why should your visual marketing strategy be any different?

Who knows your work better than you?

Who is better placed to say whether an image captures the mood you wish to convey?
Remember the mood you choose to convey may, or may not, be directly, or obliquely, related to, or not at all related to, the subject matter of your book.

A cover image and visual marketing may encourage readers to buy your book but it cannot make your book a good read. Your text stands or falls on its own merits, independent of cover or visual marketing strategy. This is why movie trailers are often better than the actual movies.

Here are psychological principles of visual marketing:

Use a gripping image to get an idea over. If we are told a piece of information, a few days later, we only remember about 10% of what was said. But if it is accompanied by an eye-catching picture the amount of information we retain goes up to 65%.

An image will capture interest in an instant. Given the average person’s attention span is 8 seconds, you have plenty of time to drive a message home.

Use colour. It is more arresting.

We are hard wired to respond to faces. A new born baby recognises its mother. It recognises her smile and even determines her emotional state. As adults we constantly read faces for emotional cues.

Where you can, have the characters’ faces in your marketing tell a story. It will leave people subconsciously curious as to the nature of that story. In the promotional poster for Finn Mac Cool below, you can see Erin’s resentment, seated Finn’s defiant innocence and the muscleman Dermot’s resignation. What impression does it make?

In visual marketing, take care to distinguish promotional materials from the book cover. They are not the same. An e-book cover icon is small. A large picture reduced down is too cluttered and indistinct to have impact. It is better to focus on one detail.

 

E-book Cover (Andruss)

Our brains love to be stimulated, but our attention span is 8 seconds. After this the brain switches off unless something new happens. Nerves fire at 1,000 electrical ‘pulses’ per second that’s a lot of energy. To understand the information, the visual cortex must communicate with parts of the brain dealing with memory, recognition and comprehension.

When nerve impulses reach a junction, called a synapse, they convert to chemicals to jump the gap. So the chemicals are not exhausted the synapse quickly stops working until something new comes along.

A way to keep the synapse firing is with new data. Animation does this because of the changing images. Animation is a great tool to beat the 8 second rule and create a lasting impression. Here is one that I prepared earlier for the draft cover of Tales from the Irish Garden coming soon by Sally.

I hope this gives you something to think about.

*Click
https://imagegraphic.yolasite.com/

for the original shocking cover to Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

This was banned by the BBCMD
(British Bloggers Committee for Morals and Decency)
for bringing the literary writings of Jane Austen into disrepute

And as such is likely to offend… everyone.

YOU ARE WARNED!

©Paul Andruss 2018

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

You can find two directories for Paul Andruss on Smorgasbord – Writer in Residence: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

and Paul’s Gardening Column: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-gardening-column-by-paul-andruss/

Smorgasbord Writer in Residence – Barbara Villiers Part 2: Uncrowned Queen by Paul Andruss


That time of the month when we are given a fantastic glimpse into the lives of those celebrities who have gone before. In the last post, Paul Andruss introduced us to the infamous Barbara Villiers.. mistress of many.

You can catch up with part one here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/04/27/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-writer-in-residence-barbara-villiers-part-1-the-return-of-the-king-by-paul-andruss/

Barbara Villiers Part 2: Uncrowned Queen by Paul Andruss.

Barbara as the Virgin Mary & her rival Frances Stuart (Nation Portrait Gallery)

When Charles became king, the great and good of the land queued up to pimp their wives and daughters to him for political favour. Barbara had the brains to get in first and do it on her own behalf while he was in exile as the Prince of Wales. Perhaps this was the reason she was almost universally hated by her peers.

Barbara was an irresistible combination: womanly wiles and balls bigger than any man. Safe under the king’s protection as the mother of his children, she played male courtiers at their own game and won. Something no Restoration gentleman could easily swallow.

Despite her volatility and adultery with the king, the famous diarist of the age, Samuel Pepys, was besotted by her loveliness although even he admitted ‘while I admire her beauty I know she is a whore’.

Courtiers sourly described her as a woman of unremitting personal vileness and greed, who wasted little time on social inferiors. Even close friends described her as querulous, fierce and infamously rude. Yet she was fun and generous, with a heart to match her temper. When scaffolding collapsed in the theatre, Barbara was the only court lady to rush to assist an injured child.

Critics claimed Barbara held sway over the king because she was skilled in the arts of Aretino, a 16th century Italian erotic poet. The truth is probably simpler. While gentlemen of the time were expected to publically flaunt their mistresses, Barbara was probably one of the very few people Charles could be entirely himself with.

It was the same with Louis, the much admired Sun King, whom Charles modelled himself on. A King was the source of all bounty, splendour and favour, and as such could trust no one; especially those closest. Charles knew Barbara’s limitless ambition, rapaciousness and sexual appetite matched his own. The fact he understood her so well made her safe. It certainly amused him to use her to put down others.

Having given birth to their first child while Charles was in exile, Barbara became Charles’ uncrowned queen. Charles could not marry her as she was already married and divorce was out of the question. In need of cash and allies, he married the rich, plain, convent-schooled Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza to whom he was betrothed as a child.

In the process he gained a valuable ally against Spain in Portugal and a dowry rumoured to be £360,000 (over £29 million in today’s money) of which he lavished an annual income of £5,000 (£400,000) on Barbara. He also bought her expensive presents: £10,000 on a pair of diamond earrings (around £800,000 today).

Charles and Catherine were married less than a month after Charles’ coronation. He spent every night before the wedding in Barbara’s bed, despite the fact she was heavily pregnant with their second child. While the royal couple honeymooned in Hampton Court Palace, Barbara insisted she was also lodged there, on hand, so to speak.

Against Catherine’s wishes, Charles appointed Barbara a lady-of-the-Queen’s-bedchamber: allowing him easy access to his mistress. When Barbara was presented, the Queen fainted and refused her. But Catherine was no match for Barbara, who had a quiet word with the King: suggesting he rule his wife before she ruled him. Charles took her advice, dismissing all of Catherine’s Portuguese ladies and in effect isolating the queen until she complied. After this Barbara used every opportunity to humiliate the queen.

She flaunted her position by helping herself to money from the Privy Purse and taking bribes from the Spanish and the French. She meddled in politics and sold audiences with the King to those seeking advancement. When Barbara’s cousin, Charles’ most trusted advisor, declared her an embarrassment to the court and begged Charles to give her up, Charles replied Lady Castlemaine’s enemies were also his. Barbara never forgave her cousin and did not rest until he was dismissed from the king’s service.

Barbara loved to show off her wealth. She would go to the theatre wearing £30,000 in jewels. She thought nothing of losing enormous sums gambling; once losing £25,000 (or around two million) in one evening. The King in an attempt to cover her mounting debts gave her the old Tudor royal palace of Nonsuch in Surrey, which she proceeded to tear down, selling it off piecemeal.

The new broadsheet newspapers eagerly reported Barbara’s exploits. The public adored her. Her official portraits, in dresses revealing her bosom, were copied onto engravings and sold to a besotted public, making Barbara one of the most recognised women in England. In one famous portrait she cheekily posed as the Virgin Mary with her bastard first born as the infant Christ.

In 1663, the fifteen-year-old Lady Frances Stuart was appointed a lady-in-waiting to the Queen. Pepys described her as ‘the prettiest girl in all the world’. Frances was immortalised as Britannia on the obverse face of the old British Penny (until decimal currency arrived in 1971).

Charles was smitten with Frances. Her refusal to yield to him only inflamed his desire. Seeing the way the wind was blowing, Barbara abetted the king in seducing her young rival. She invited Frances to her rooms. As the evening turned silly, they played at marriage, with Barbara being the husband and Frances the bride. Unknown to the girl, it was arranged for Charles to surprise them and consummate the nuptials. Somehow Frances escaped.

Barbara was not pleased when a few later the Queen became so ill Charles believed she would die. He declared if she did, he would marry Frances, simply to get his way. Fortunately the Queen recovered and soon after Frances eloped with the Duke of Richmond, the King’s cousin: earning the queen’s undying gratitude. A furious Charles vowed never to forgive Frances. It says something for his temperament that he did. When Frances was widowed, he settled a life pension on her, and had his physician attend her when she suffered smallpox, which left her scarred for life.

In 1168 Charles became enamoured with actress Nell Gwynne. The King delighted in being called Charles III, as Nell had two lovers before him also called Charles. At 28 Barbara’s beauty was fading and her appeal coming to an end, yet despite being supplanted in the king’s bed she still held a lot of power. The King’s mistresses were expected to turn a blind eye to his dalliances and remain constant. Not so Barbara she was furious and jealously took lovers of her own, which only amused the King.

Young John Churchill (National Portrait Gallery)

Three years later Barbara took as a lover 21-year-old John Churchill, grimly ambitious and ten years her junior. She settled an income of £5,000 a year on him (£400,000): the same amount Charles initially gave her. Winston Churchill’s ancestor is another fascinating story but not one for here. The story goes when Charles surprised Barbara and John in bed, he laughed it off, telling the young man he knew he had to earn a living. The great whore now had a whore of her own.

In 1663, when Charles’ was pursuing Frances Stuart, 23-year-old Barbara became a Catholic. It is not known why; although Charles was a secret Catholic sympathiser. At the time it was laughed off by the Royal court who claimed the Rome gained nothing, and the Church of England lost nothing, by her conversion. The King joked he was interested in ladies’ bodies, not their souls.

It was to prove Barbara’s undoing when a decade later a new law forbade Catholics from holding official positions. At the age 33 Barbara lost her position as Lady of the Bedchamber, and the King cast her aside in favour of a new mistress Louise de Kérouaille.

The King advised Barbara to live quietly and cause no scandal, in which case he ‘cared not whom she loved’. Barbara did everything except live quietly. She lost everything due to her huge gambling debts. Happily she was briefly reconciled with the King. They spent a night together (for old times sake?) shortly before he died. Barbara died of dropsy aged 68 in Walpole House in Chiswick: a place she is said to haunt.

Barbara descendants include Prince Andrew’s ex-wife Sarah Ferguson and Prince Charles’ Lady Diana Spencer. One cannot help think, given the way things turned out, if would be far more appropriate for Barbara to have been an ancestor of Camilla Parker Bowles: Charles mistress and love of his life during his marriage to Diana, and now his current wife. Unfortunately Camilla is not. She is descended from Charles II through an illegitimate son to Louise de Kérouaille: the woman who replaced Barbara in Charles’ affections.

As I said previously: small world!

©Paul Andruss 2018

As Paul says… a very small world, and nothing new in history!  Thanks as always to Paul for his informative and highly entertaining post. Barbara Villiers was quite the woman….

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

Find out more about Paul and his books – Writer in Residence: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

and Paul’s Gardening Column: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-gardening-column-by-paul-andruss/

Paul would love to receive your comments and questions…. thanks Sally

Writer in Residence -Companion Post to Barbara Viliers – Plights of Restoration Women by Paul Andruss


Elizabeth Pepys by Rita Greer 2007 (Historical Painter)

The original title was Rights of Restoration Women, but I soon realised how brief that would be. In this companion to Barbara Villiers on Smorgasbord, I focus on how men saw women, and women saw themselves in Restoration England (1660-1690).

Despite having Queen Elizabeth I on the throne for 45 years a century earlier, a woman’s place in society did not really change from medieval times to the 20th century, except when convenient to plug the holes caused by plague and war. During the Civil War, as with other wars, women stepped into the breach running businesses and estates. Once war was over they were expected to step aside for men.

There were two careers for women during Restoration times. Both involved going into a man’s house; either through the front door as his wife or through the back door as his servant. The law required all single women, between 12 and 40, without visible means of support to go into service. Even middle-class diarist Samuel Pepys’ unmarried sister, was obliged to take a number of menial servant positions, until Samuel forked out £600 (around £50,000 today) for a dowry to persuade someone to marry her.

Although some London Guilds admitted the daughters as well as sons of members, records show pitifully few women registered in trade. At best women might be dressmakers or run a husband’s shop, as women did work in retail. Many women were unlicensed street vendors selling perishable foodstuffs. Women ran shops in the fashionable arcades such as the Royal Exchange, but this was to attract male shoppers.

Only guildsmen could own London shops, so it is likely those women worked for male relatives: although rights could pass to daughters as well as widows. The law ensured widows’ rights over her husband’s property. But this did not prevent a widow being forcibly re-married against her will, at which point her property became her new husband’s.

Once conducted by a clergyman marriage was legal, regardless of the circumstances. What God hath joined let no man put asunder. Divorce was not an option. There were no legal grounds- not infidelity, rape in marriage, brutality, syphilis or madness.

It is a myth Henry VIII divorced his wives. Henry dissolved his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon using the legal nicety of incest. Catherine was betrothed to his brother. He claimed they slept together. She denied it. With Anne of Cleves, the marriage was simply not consummated.

To read the rest of this fascinating post please head over: http://www.paul-andruss.com/plights-of-restoration-women/

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

You can find two directories for Paul Andruss on Smorgasbord – Writer in Residence: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

and Paul’s Gardening Column: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-gardening-column-by-paul-andruss/