Monthly Archives: February 2016

Writing a story – Make Sure That Your Characters Are Dirty Enough

Be whatever you want to be

Writing historical fiction is the closest encounter that you may get with time travel. Therefore, I would urge you to give it a go whether you see yourself as a writer or not.  Why? You may ask. The reason is simple – writing a story  is good for you. When you totally lose yourself in another world you forget outrageous bills; folks that you want to send to Mars and even the state of politics worldwide. It’s your world, you can control it and if you wish to be a gothic temptress or a swash buckling pirate you can be.  in other words, be whatever you want to be.

Fancy yourself as a gothic temptress? -Yes, you too could look like this.

Fancy yourself as a gothic temptress? -Yes, you too could look like this.

A word of warning however, don’t go overboard on cleanliness. To give you an idea of how dirty you need to get when you write your stories, we at Loony Literature, have given you some true examples that we have unearthed.

During the seventeenth century, folks did not favour a good wash all over.  In fact, baths were mostly public places and visited for health purposes as opposed to getting one’s body clean.  For some strange reason, if you did go to the baths to cleanse yourself there was superstition attached to it and it should only be done when the moon was in Libra or Pisces.

Although Samuel Pepys wrote his diary on a regular basis, he did not apply the same amount of drive to washing himself.  He boasted that he sometimes gave himself a vigorous rub down with a cloth which he believed made him clean.  Elizabeth, his wife, however, did visit a public bath house at least once because Samuel sniggered about that too in his diary.

Stay out of my bed, you filthy oaf

Although Elizabeth probably visited the public bath house for health purposes, it would surely have made her smell sweeter than Samuel.  This was what might have put her in a morally advantageous position when she banned him from their shared bed until he had at least ‘cleaned himself with warm water’.  Samuel also had an aversion to washing his feet but he did do it occasionally.  The reason for such behaviour was that flinging off one’s socks and wetting one’s feet could lead to all sorts of health disasters like getting a cold.

Would YOU kick him out of bed?

Would YOU kick him out of bed?

If you’d lived in 1909, you may have been tempted by a newspaper advertisement which suggested that you wash the ‘Witch’ way.  Housewives who had probably been tackling the household wash for years were staunchly advised that they should never rub clothes as that would make the dirt worse.  The secret behind proper clothes washing was simply to let clothes soak in Witch and all the dirt would be loosened out.  This promise was backed up by the boast that that was what clothes manufacturers did and, of course, they all used Witch.  No names were mentioned to back up this testimonial.

“Let your clothes soak overnight in the morning they’ll be white” was the sales slogan.  If you still were not convinced of Witches’ magical washing powers the manufacturers added that it was a hard soap dried by a secret scientific process and then powdered.  As an added gesture of selling to everyone who read the advertisement, whether scientifically minded or superstitious, there was a huge caricature of a ghastly looking witch on a broomstick on it.  It is really surprising that we are not still using that product today.

Washing clothes is obviously a lot more complicated than can be imagined.  In 1916, a meeting took place of the Camelford Board of Directors for the workhouse to determine if the number of staff could be reduced.  A Mr Boney suggested that they should do their own clothes washing during the war and this would save them the cost of paying a char lady to do it for them.

Me! Wash clothes! Are you insane?

Me! Wash clothes! Are you insane?

Mr Uglow, the Master, stated that he would not wash his own collars; neither would he go without wearing a collar.  When questioned why he would not consider washing his own clothes he wiped his brow and shuddered.  He informed the gathered party that it was out of the question as he had never undergone an apprenticeship to wash clothes.

For folks who lived during World War II, food rationing began in 1940 with clothes rationing closely followed in 1941.  Within just eight months, soap rationing meant that having a good soak became something to daydream about.  Even hair washing became a luxury.  Magazines at that time advised their readers to wash greasy hair every ten days but dry hair could go for three weeks before needing a shampoo.  No wonder Marlene Dietrich took three months’ supply of dry shampoo with her when entertaining the troops in Europe.

When you can't get your hands on a shampoo - wear a top hat.

When you can’t get your hands on a shampoo – wear a top hat.

No excuse now – writing a story will help you to get rid of stress and feeling glum because you will be in control. You don’t have to let anyone else read it either – so do yourself a favour, pick up a pen, open a new file or simply record yourself. Happy writing.

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Filed under Creative Writing, The Peculiar Past

How To Succeed With Your Exercise Routine

Own up – is this you?

  • Joined a gym but only been six times and are still paying for it?
  • Spent too much on your credit card for that deluxe running machine?
  • Bought a jogging outfit that still doesn’t need washing a year later?

If any of that is even remotely like you – you’re in the right place. I’ve watched folks embark on exercise routines and fail so many times that I feel I’m not being nice if I don’t point out to succeed with your exercise routine.

Victorian exercises

Can't I get a servant to do this for me?

Can’t I get a servant to do this for me?

To get you into the swing of this and show you that you’re not the only one that has fallen into this trap, we need to look at a failure waiting to happen. During the first week of January, I was out on my daily power walk when I spotted what I thought was a pink flamingo in the distance. Getting quite excited, I got ready to take a photograph. However, on closer encounter I goggled at what it really was.

Before I knew what had happened a lady that obviously did not share her fairy buns out and would drive to the hairdressers even though it was only across the road was before me in all her glory gently bouncing along. She  cared a great deal about her appearance as she had an expensive blonde colour and cut, full makeup and brand new designer clothes on from head to foot. Being surrounded by fields and ditches, it was almost as exciting as spotting a flamingo.

The Pink Flamingo believes that dressing the part is the most important bit of her exercise routine.

The Pink Flamingo believes that dressing the part is the most important bit of her exercise routine.

Before you think that I am making judgement on my pink flamingo – I am not. She certainly gave me a lot to think about and I am simply describing what I saw. I know the heartache that excess weight causes with folks both with their health and their self-esteem. It’s something that I am deeply interested in and I want to help that is why I am writing this. As for the hair and make-up, anyone that knows me personally will vouch for the fact that I always urge everyone to make the most of their bods so that they will feel better.

The clothes, however, were one of the aspects that were causing her to fail in her quest to get fit and lose weight. It was a freezing cold day and moving at the speed that she was going meant that she would be cold and miserable. As her pink jazz pumps hit the ground, she grimaced – her feet were obviously freezing.

The sight of my boots made her shudder

As she passed me, her eyes widened as she eyed my heavy walking boots splattered with mud and my jeans that were also just as crusty. Her raised eyebrow suggested that I needed a pink makeover. However, the huge difference between us what that I was as warm a cat hiding in an airing cupboard and I adore walking in the countryside. It makes me feel fantastic. She, on the other hand, was trying to jog because she felt that she had to – it was patently obvious. Six weeks on and I haven’t seen my pink flamingo since. Perhaps she’s migrated but more likely she’s given up and made herself feel worse. I hope not.

I will enjoy myself whether I like it or not.

I will enjoy myself whether I like it or not.

  

The point that I’m making is that you should find a style of exercise that you enjoy. I would say that I am stating the obvious but I see too many people making the same mistakes over and over again. Don’t take up a form of exercise just because your friends or partner enjoys it. Only do so if you get the same excitement from it. Find out what you like – dance, swim or go rowing at the local park – but only do it if it gives you a buzz. There is a form of exercise for everyone; you simply need to find out what yours is and you will succeed with your exercise routine. When you do that, you will keep it up and naturally get fitter.

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Filed under Being Buoyant