Monthly Archives: December 2012

Victorian Lady Detectives – Loveday Brooke.

The murderof old Sandy.

Loveday Brooke was sent to work undercover to investigate the murder of old Sandy.

Loveday Brooke is a genuine Victorian lady detective.  By that, I mean that she was created in the Victorian period by Catherine Louisa Pirkis.  Many of the different adventures (The Black Bag Left On a Doorstep; The Murder at Troyte’s Hill; The Redhill Sisterhood; A Princess’s Vengeance; Drawn Daggers and The Ghost of Fountain Lane) were first published in the Ludgate Monthly in 1893.  In 1894, these stories and Missing were put together to produce the book, The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective which was Pirkis’s fourteenth and last book.

The stories have been criticized because there is no character development with Loveday but it is important to take into consideration that atmosphere and plot or solving the puzzle are what make these stories work and, for me, the fact that that we know little about Loveday makes the stories all the more intriguing.

So what do we know about Loveday?  She dresses in black and is “almost Quaker like”in her attire.  She is of average height, medium colouring and nondescript looking.  We know that when she is concentrating she droops her eyelids over her eyes until she seems to be peering out through slits.  In essence, Loveday is perfect for going undercover and not being noticed.  We also know that poverty was beckoning to her like the grim reaper but she did not meekly follow it, no, she laughed in the face of Victorian society and re-invented herself by finding work in a Fleet Street agency.  There have been criticisms that we do not know why Loveday suddenly faced poverty.  Again, I feel that as I read the stories, this makes her more mysterious, like the later Albert Campion by Margery Allingham.  In effect, Loveday Brooke is somewhat an enigma and that is one of the reasons why the stories the stories work.

Another winning factor for me with Loveday is that she uses logic to solve the crimes instead of relying on feminine wiles as women often have to do in fiction for some strange reason.  In The Murder at Troyte’s Hill, Griffiths of the Newcastle Constabulary is asking Loveday to explain one or two things about the case to him.

“Put your questions to me in categorical order,” said Loveday.

For women and men the world over who wince at the stereotypical dotty female portrayed in fiction; this has to be a triumph and it was actually written in the Victorian era which makes it all the more delicious.

For anyone who loves the atmosphere of the Victorian era and the female detective, I would suggest that you lose yourselves in the atmosphere of The Murder at Troyte’s Hill ( by following this link) in which Loveday goes to work undercover in the country house.

What do you think – does Loveday Brooke work for you as a Victorian lady detective?

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Filed under Victorian Detective., Victorian Detectives.

Ross Mountney talks about the freedom of choice which we now have in publishing and also offers a link to the new edition of Education Outside School Magazine which is online and free – it’s a great read.

Ross Mountney's Notebook

The next issue of EOS is out; the online magazine for home educators. I wish there’d been something like this when we started home educating, it makes you feel part of a community, supported and legit!

The beauty of these online publications is that, at last, what we get to read is no longer decided by elitist publishers with a big profit their only consideration rather than what folks might want.

Obviously publishing houses are businesses and have to make profit, but I think many businesses go beyond need to greed. And what I hadn’t twigged, and now I do having published independently, is that publishers have also denied us access to masses of brilliant stuff simply because it wasn’t commercial enough.

Think of all the Indie bands whose music’s become noticed by circulating it independently. Now, people who want to publish more contentious subjects – like home education –…

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Filed under About Loony Literature

Dr. Frankenstein’s “12 Days Of Christmas” – Inspired by Mary Shelley and Shakespeare.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Warning!  Invite family and friends to stay for the twelve days of Christmas at your peril.  After the “Frankenstein’s  Revenge” play, Dr. Frankenstein promised to be much nicer and invited The Monster to stay with him over Christmas.   The video recording below is a shrunk version of events.   All insults hurled will be available for your use below the film clip.  So please join in and give this song an airing over Christmas.

On the first day of Christmas

Frankenstein said to me:

You’re a wart face on a mouldy flea,

On the second day of Christmas

Frankenstein said to me:

Old skanky breath,

You’re a wart face on a mouldy flea,

On the third day of Christmas

Frankenstein said to me:

Worm eating corpse,

Old skanky breath,

You’re a wart face on a mouldy flea, 

On the fourth day of Christmas

Frankenstein said to me;

Thou bent nosed fool,

Worm eating corpse,

Old skanky breath,

You’re a wart face on a mouldy flea,

On the fifth day of Christmas

Frankenstein said to me:

Septic earache,

Thou bent nosed fool,

Worm eating corpse,

Old skanky breath,

You’re a wart face on a mouldy flea,

On the sixth day of Christmas

Frankenstein said to me:

Thou leaking guts,

Septic earache,

Thou bent nosed fool,

Worm eating corpse,

Old skanky breath,

You’re a wart face on a mouldy flea,

On the seventh day of Christmas

Frankenstein said to me:

One mangy rat’s bum,

Thou leaking guts,

Septic earache,

Thou bent nosed fool,

Worm eating corpse,

Old skanky breath,

You’re a wart face on a mouldy flea,

On the eighth day of Christmas

Frankenstein said to me:

Pus filled big boils,

One mangy rat’s bum,

Thou leaking guts,

Septic earache,

Thou bent nosed fool,

Worm eating corpse,

Old skanky breath,

You’re a wart face on a mouldy flea

On the ninth day of Christmas

Frankenstein said to me:

Hog headed prump,

Pus filled big boils,

One mangy rat’s bum,

Thou leaking guts,

Septic earache,

Thou bent nosed fool,

Worm eating corpse,

Old skanky breath,

You’re a wart face on a mouldy flea,

On the tenth day of Christmas

Frankenstein said to me:

Dung coloured turnip brain,

Hog headed prump,

Pus filled big boils,

One mangy rat’s bum,

Thou leaking guts,

Septic earache,

Thou bent nosed fool,

Worm eating corpse,

Old skanky breath,

You’re a wart face on a mouldy flea,

On the eleventh day of Christmas

Frankenstein said to me:

Thou shrivelled toe nail,

Dung coloured turnip brain,

Hog headed prump,

Pus filled big boils,

One mangy rat’s bum,

Thou leaking guts,

Septic earache,

Thou bent nosed fool,

Worm eating corpse,

Old skanky breath,

You’re a wart face on a mouldy flea,

 On the twelfth day of Christmas

Frankenstein said to me:

Gassy old merchant,

Thou shrivelled toe nail,

Dung coloured turnip brain,

Hog headed prump,

Pus filled big boils,

One mangy rat’s bum,

Thou leaking guts,

Septic earache,

Thou bent nosed fool,

Worm eating corpse,

Old skanky breath,

You’re a wart face on a mouldy flea,

All insults from this song are taken from Will Blyton and The Stinking Shadow.

Many thanks go to William Shakespeare for inspiring me to write them.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Christmas, Frankenstein, Frankenstein's Revenge, Will Blyton and The Stinking Shadow

6 Great Activities To Introduce Kids to Charles Dicken’s “Christmas Carol.”

Create a Victorian Ghost Story Atmosphere.   On Christmas Eve, it is a family tradition in our house to sit around the fire and by candlelight we tell ghost stories just like the Victorians did.  This is a great way to introduce children to “Christmas Carol”.  For older children read the original Charles Dicken’s “Christmas Carol” and do it in stages on the run up to Christmas.  It will be something which they will look forward to particularly if you create the right atmosphere with candles, hot chocolate and marshmallows and a sense of fun thrown in.  For younger children, there are some excellent versions of the story which  have illustrations in and will introduce them to the basic concept of the story.  The main thing is to create the atmosphere and have fun.

Scrooge, from Charles Dickens: A Christmas Car...

Scrooge, from Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. With Illustrations by John Leech. London: Chapman & Hall, 1843. First edition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Introduce Scrooge  I was first introduced to “Christmas Carol” by watching the old 1951 version starring Alistair Simm as Scrooge.  It was Christmas Eve and the snow floated down outside as I watched it, it was an afternoon which was to mould my attitude to Christmas.  If the children are older you could watch it all the way through, however, for younger ones you only need to watch the first six minutes for them to get a fascinating insight of the character of Scrooge.  Tell the kids you’re going to show them a film clip of a man called Scrooge and they have to decide if he is a Christmas baddie or not.  As you watch the first six minutes ask them why he is not nice and get them to boo him.  It’s also great fun to shout “Baddie! Baddie! Baddie!”  You can even get them to vote as to whether he is the worst Christmas baddie ever or can they think of worse ones and why are they worse than Scrooge.  The important thing is to get a conversation going as to why we don’t like Scrooge and to have fun, fun fun.  For older kids, ask if they think Scrooge can ever become nice and then question why they think that he can or can’t and then tell them that they need to watch the whole film to find out whether he changes or not.   You can watch it here.

Make your own Christmas ghosts on film.   Watch Horace Gawp’s Christmas Carol below, check out our ghosts and then make your own.  It is easy and great fun to do.  All you have to do is get the kids to put some of their dressing up clothes on or use different clothes than they normally wear.  If there are any hats or wigs in the house these can be used.  Putting clothes on which are far too big or small will give a comic effect.  Once the clothes are on, get the children to pretend that they are a long lost ancestor – they don’t have to exist – you can pull them out of the air for instance, you can have great uncle Theophilus Windbag.  Tell the children to pretend that they have come to visit each other or you with a message for the future.  When they have worked out their message, get them to act it out and film them.  It doesn’t need to be very long.  Upload your chip to your computer and if you have ‘windows live movie maker’ – you can use that.  If you haven’t got ‘windows live movie maker’ on your computer upload your film to Youtube. (For You tube, upload your film and click on “enhancements “- you will see a menu of different colours, it is probably best to choose the lightest but play around with different ones to get the effect which you wish.  Don’t forget to save your final choice.)   For ‘ windows live  maker’, click on that.  In the top menu click on “add videos and photos”  and it will ask you to choose which photo or video you wish to use.  Click on the film clip you have just made.  When your film pops up, look at the top menu and click on “visual effects”.  You will see one which is all white, this is the one which we used for our ghosts, however – play around to see which suits you best.  Once you have done this, return to the “home” menu at the top and save your film.  You will be asked to give it a title and that’s it you have created your own speaking ghost.

Create your own Christmas Ghost Story.   Once you have gotten in the mood for Christmas ghost stories, it is a good idea for the kids to create their own.  I use the term “create” as opposed to “writing” because I know that as some stage most adults are able to read and write, however, to me, it is more important to concentrate on encouraging children to think creatively.  Once they are bursting with ideas then they can be recorded but the pressure to put pen to paper before the ideas have been thought often creates a creative blockage.  So if you start off with a framework of a person who treats others badly at Christmas time but gets visited by three ghosts who want to show him something from his/her past, present and future, then you have got a basic plot to work from.  Character wise – start off with Scrooge (or whatever you wish to call your main character) and perhaps discuss why this person treats others so badly and hates Christmas time.  You will be surprised how much this gives you to put into your story.  The main point here is to get the kids thinking and having fun.  Let them create three ghosts, get them talking about where they want their story to be and in what time period.  It is amazing how creative kids become once the pressure to sit down and write is off them – so get them shouting out their ideas, looking on the internet for what their ghosts can look like and generally having fun.  It doesn’t matter if the story never gets finished because the end product is not what this exercise is about.  The object of the exercise is to get the kids to know a little about Christmas Carol and Charles Dickens and most of all it is to give them the confidence to be creative.  Encouraging them to be creative is one of the most important gifts you will ever give them as creative thinking is quite simply problem solving – this is needed every day of our lives and the  more children do it, the better they become at it – need I say more?

Marley's ghost, from Charles Dickens: A Christ...

Marley’s ghost, from Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. With Illustrations by John Leech. London: Chapman & Hall, 1843. First edition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Playing at Christmas Carol.    When I was a child we would watch a film or television programme and then we would go outside and play “Batman” or “Robin Hood”.  When kids play like this, they are effectively creating drama.  So if you’ve read them the story or watched the film, it’s a great idea to let them play some scenes from “Christmas Carol”  Which child wouldn’t like to be the horrible Scrooge?  They can get out all their inner niggles without getting in trouble.  How exciting to play Marley’s Ghost with the chains and frightening the life out of that horrible Scrooge.  Let them improvise with their own words and their own rendition of the story, join in with them until they get the hang of it and let them get lost in the old fashioned world of playing.  Who knows, they might come up with their own shortened version which they want to put on for the family for Christmas.  Children never fail to surprise me with the depths of creativity once a seed has been planted.

Ignorance and Want, woodcut — from A Christmas...

Ignorance and Want, woodcut — from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Visit a stately home in the run up to Christmas.    Hardly anybody can build up a Dickensian atmosphere like these folks.  There the children will see the costumes and decorations in reality.  Many places have got special events on this year which will especially demonstrate how Christmas was in Charles Dickens “Christmas Carol.  The National TrustEnglish Heritage and Historic Houses Association are good places to begin looking.

We hope these “Christmas Carol” activities have been of use to you but most of all we wish you a very Merry Christmas.  Have fun.

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Filed under Christmas, Education

“Christmas Carol”- inspired by Charles Dickens.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Every year on Christmas Eve, we gather around the fire and by candlelight we read and tell each other ghost stories.  This of course is inspired by Charles Dickens, the Victorian novelist, who virtually designed our model of Christmas with his ghost story, “Christmas Carol.”  One of the aims of Loony Literature is to encourage folks and children to read more classic literature and also to use it as a springboard for their own creativity.  Therefore, for this Christmas, we have created our own comic version of “Christmas Carol” to both entertain and inspire you. 

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Filed under Christmas, Loony literature videos

Christmas Carols For Beginners.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

Christmas Carol Singing.

Horace Gawp prepares for his Yuletide vocals with the Mugwashs.

Every year, at this time, Mistress Loony entertains the Deserted Village with her festive events.  She is determined to outdo Mistress Mount-Crankshaft who ruined Mistress Loony’s carol concert in the village hall last year by bringing a crowd of village rowdies from the church choir.  It really did not need to end the way in which it did but as the choir pelted Mistress Loony with cabbage skin, she became heated and suggested that the vicar resembled a vampire.  Needless to say, the Loony Literature carol concert will be from home this year with only certain members of the public invited, namely Horace Gawp and the Mugwashs.  So sit back and enjoy the Loony version of a carol concert and as for you, Mistress Mount-Crankshaft – get a load of my festive hat and weep!!!!!

So remember if your festive endeavours fall into the mire,  you can always emerge with a sweet aroma if you get a festive hat.

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Filed under About Loony Literature, Christmas