Saturday, 20 September 2014

Missing Histories & An Exhibition Worth Seeing

I am shockingly bad at regularly posting, which, since it is nowhere near New Year’s (thank God), todays resolution to post twice weekly will have to count as a New September 21st one. So as I find blogging about me me me boring, I thought I’d comment on stories, film (as ever), books and people I’ve found intriguing, thought provoking or just plain funny.

That said, the me me me stuff out of the way: right now, I have two main stories on the boil (about the only cooking I ever agree to) after a near-absence from being able to write solidly of quite some months. I had a killer of a 9-5 schedule that was more like 7-7 and it nearly wiped me out along with any creative abilities. Yep, poor me, etc. I managed to get In The Flesh and Angel Angel done but that’s pretty shit productivity compared to my usual speed. Fortunately my mojo is back together with my word count. Hopefully it will wind up with some good things resulting.

Meanwhile … please, click on the link (I finally realised you could embed a tweet!), and read the article, because it’s pretty extraordinary and it really bears on this post. 

I’m never going to know the story of the woman in this photograph, but what strikes me is how modern she looks. I want to know her story. I doubt ever will. Certainly I had never heard of Sara Forbes Bonetta, also represented in the photo exhibition (which I would love to see – anyone reading this in London, I am jealous), and that is amazing, as I've read enough histories, both of the art, social scene and general life, of Victorian London, and she should have merited inclusion.

What that article did was emphasise something well known– just how history gets rewritten, chunks get left out, and often, they are the parts that tell so much about the world in that instant of time. They are parts that it is so important to acknowledge, no matter how grim many of those stories will be.

Victorian England is a time and place that fascinates me, originally I think because I, early on, had such a love of the over-the-top art of the time and still do. The Pre-Raphaelites were an inspiration for the Surrealists, and little wonder. Take a look at any Rossetti or Burne-Jones, and you’ll be tripped out. The Victorians were conflicted, torn apart, I think, as our age is, by the incredible speed at which things were changing.

But none of the histories go into the stories of people like the woman in that first photograph. Not white, not male. A visitor from Africa. And other people of color were obviously living in Britain. What were their stories?

At the moment I am working on two books, one a paranormal, another a rock star contemporary. On the backburner I have thirty thousand words of a retro paranormal with one of the characters loosely based on Josephine Baker, that incredible jazz-age singer and entertainer. She had to travel from America to Paris to gain the recognition and fame she deserved. Even so, reading now what counted as praise then often sounds incredibly stereotyped if not plain offensive. I wonder what she truly thought of it. It would be fascinating to know, and is something I speculate about within the story and the context of the character.

Well, it’s Sunday morning here, still, just, and I need to get back to the paranormal. Blood has been spilled, and yet more will be. It’s fun to rule the world, if only a virtual one…



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