Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

Drowning but luckily without Boots

And here I am! It’s been a little while but I feel it’s time to rez this little blog and get it clanking away again. Here is a little tidbit from Belinda for your satisfaction:

As part of the glories of summer, the lovely and talented Sarah Marian, the sparkling and coruscant Beth Dunn and my humble self decided to read a book together and Belinda got the pick. It’s been a lazy sort of read with plenty of dawdling but that’s part of the joys of this season. One particular part made me laugh hard over my lunch so I thought I’d share. Here are the principle players:

Clarence (aka Clary) Hervey

Here he is kneeling before lady Delacour, Belinda’s hostess.

sir Philip is off to the left, leaning against a pillar, too dashed to stand

Rochfort is facing sir Philip, nearly completely blocked by that brunette’s head

Mr. Percival is seated at the chess table, contemplating his next move

 

A quick summary about what happened before erroneously trying to swim from a book-

Clarence and Philip get wasted tasting wines at Philip’s house and then with nothing left to do, they take off for the park, placing bets on who’s the better pedestrian. This is judged by seeing who can walk fastest, staying on the pavement, to a large tree. Philip wins but only because he shoved people out of the way to stay on the pavement. Clarence believes he wins because he stepped off the pavement to let children pass, thereby showing his “real superiority”. Clarence’s friends laugh at him for losing and since he’s doused, Clarence announces the bright idea of swimming in the Serpentine (nasty) thereby beating Philip. Everyone knows Clarence can’t swim and here’s where the fun continues

“You may wink at one another, as wisely as you please,” said Clarence, “but come on my boys- I am your man for a swim- a hundred guineas upon it’-

Darest thou, Rochfort, now,

Leap in with me into this weedy flood.

And swim to yonder point. (note how clever Clarence Hervey is. He poetry slams on will!)

-and instantly Hervey, who had in his confused head some recollection of an essay of Dr. Franklin’s on swimming, by which he fancied that he could ensure at once his safety and his fame, threw off his coat and jumped in the river- luckily he was not in boots. Rochfort began coolly to undress himself under the trees, and all the other young men stood laughing by the river side…

(Let us skip  over the part where Sir Percival and Co. come up to meet Clarence due to the fact that he didn’t push aside children. But wait…where is Clarence?)

“Damn it, yes, where is Clary though?” exclaimed sir Philip, suddenly recollecting himself.  Clarence Hervey at this instant was drowning, he had got out of his depth, and had struggled in vain to recover himself.

“Curse me, if it’s not all over with Clary,” continued sir Philip.  “Do any of you see his head any where? Damn you, Rochfort, yonder it is.”

“Damme, so it is,” said Rochfort, “but he’s so heavy in his clothes, he’d pull me down along with him to Davy’s Locker- damme if I go after him.”

“Damn it, though, can’t some of ye swim? Can’t some of ye jump in?” cried sir Philip, turning to his companion. “Damn it, Clarence will go to the bottom.”

And so he inevitably would have done, had not Mr. Percival at this instant leaped into the river, and seized hold of the drowning Clarence. It was with great difficulty that he dragged him to shore. “

Clarence comes back to life, sans friends but with Sir Percival looking on. I approve of this Maria Edgeworth. Indeed I do.

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How to Get Through a Big Book

How to get through a Big Book and have a little fun too.

  1. Make and eat food mentioned in the book (big books always include food, usually in meticulous detail).
  2. Read a little bit each day.
  3. Make a soundtrack.
  4. Dress like a character from the book for a day. Or a week. Or a month if it really grabs you.
  5. Ten minutes to kill? Daydream about the landscape or what the characters are seeing as they move through their day.
  6. Read passages you enjoy out loud. If you’re in the right mood, record yourself reading passages and share it (Instagram is great for this). Include illustrations if you like (thank you, Shirin).
  7. Whip out a highlighter or some sticky tabs for those great parts.
  8. Pace yourself and remember, reading gigantic books isn’t a race. It’s about the journey. Might as well bring along snacks, good drinks, great lighting, and enjoy the ride.

How to Search for Story Settings

A big city not far from mine has a casino. I’ve heard a few stories from friends that have worked there. Most center on being treated badly by a customer and revenging themselves by throwing the customer’s car keys into the Fox River. Karma is enacted on a regular basis at the casino.

There’s something about that river, flowing by, murky green during the day and black at night, a bottomless pit for car keys.

The river divides the city in half, east to west. The Fox flows along the old warehouses, limestone and brick, built back when the city had manufacturing plants and industry. Now the warehouses sit sturdy and silent, crumbling ever so slowly. Their roofs are flat and give the illusion of brick walls running straight into the sky. Some were built like prosaic wedding cakes, higher and higher, until the final topping is small square with tiny windows. Industry has never been about aesthetic needs and wants.  And yet by some miracle, these old turn of the century warehouses have achieved it just the same.

I observed the warehouses from the back deck of the riverside café, clutching my cup of earl grey and wishing I had put sunscreen on. It was the first time I had ever been to this café and I came because I needed a new setting for a fiction story I was working on. None of the cafes I remembered from the past were working for me. I needed this kind of café, one that hung out in an old manufacturing city where there wasn’t much industry left. There was, at least, a casino and many local businesses and this café hung on, here at the water’s edge.

A little further up was the casino where my friends had thrown those keys into the water. From my point on the deck, I could see the grimy metallic white heel of the building jutting out. Another friend told me that he goes there regularly to play black jack. It relieves stress and earns a little extra cash for his family.

The wind picks up a little and despite the sun, it’s chilly. Spring plays these tricks on us.

There is no sign of life in the warehouses all around me. We’re all boxed in together and the light plays off their empty windows, open and blank to the sun. I sip some tea and play “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin just to see if this café will work for my story. It only takes a few bars of listening to the song and I know that this place is perfect. This spot on the river is perfect for many stories. It’s  been perfect for all the stories I know nothing about and the ones that I’ve caught the smallest glimpses of.

A mallard suns himself in the weeds that line the water’s edge. The river moves fast and sure and I turn off the music. No need to for further noise. The song is already there.