CHURCHES AND CINDERELLA

TRAVEL

Now I’ve had to scramble looking for where I left off before Christmas and the Best Reads posts, and yes, DH and I were in Vienna. In my usual boring way, I had sussed out what there was to see and do, making copious notes before we left. We didn’t hang around but walked into the centre of town to the opera house.

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We meandered up the main central pedestrian way – the Stephansplatz and visited St Stephen’s Cathedral, an imposing Gothic edifice which was begun around 1350 or so, so it’s quite modern as you can see!

I was eagerly eying the shops but Dh managed just in time to whisk me into St Peter’s Catholic Church with its impressive dome.

In the middle of the Stephansplatz is this amazing statue. It was commissioned by the Habsburg Emperor Leopold I at the end of the last great plague to hit the city in 1679. It’s probably the most intricate column I have ever seen.

HISTORY

Queen_Elizabeth_the_Queen_Mother_portrait

I recently read a book about Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, written by an insider who painted her as less than loveable, although she won the hearts of the British people.

Without her, George would have struggled as king, a role he certainly never wanted. To begin with, she insisted he have elocution lessons so he would sound posh without stuttering and so, of course, she chose an Australian to tutor him. Makes perfect sense. She was said to be very controlling and very bossy.

ADD BREAK

This week the opening pages of my comedy Unhappily ever After. You didn’t really think that Prince (now King) Charming and Cinderella would live happily ever after did you? Come on, she was from the wrong side of the tracks, and if truth be told, he was a bit of a wimp. The other famous Fairyland characters, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty get a similar treatment. Throw into the mix the Green Giant sent by the ‘Red Party’ to rouse the simple, stupid peasants into revolting against their royal masters and the stage is set for disaster.

(I should mention this book comes with the following warning which is inside the front cover).

This book is not suitable for children, nor is it recommended for adults who are of a gentle, sensitive or nervous disposition. The opinions as stated by the characters are neither politically correct, nor in fact even kind or considerate. The author takes no responsibility for their appalling actions. It should be remembered that it refers to a time before the new laws about correct speech were promulgated. No offence is intended to any race, gender, creed or belief of any persuasion, and as such this narrative should be treated as a work of fiction.

The death of Charming’s parents – they simply adored chariot racing and misjudged that final bend – brought untold wealth to the young prince and power beyond belief. In his hands was the authority to dispose of any or all of his subjects as he saw fit. He was a total autocrat in a land that did not expect to be ruled in any other way. Yet Charming remained his own sweet self. The result was a happy and contented kingdom where each day was as delightful as the one before and would be forever more. Nothing would happen to disturb Charming’s idyllic life or his upright, well‑bred existence – not even his wife.

Of all marriages theirs must have been the most mismatched in the history of time. Everything that Charming was, Cinderella was not. She’d had a hard upbringing, in one of the poorest areas of Charmingdon and she’d never shaken her common accent. She’d been born a peasant and she would die a peasant. Not all the royal trimmings in the world would ever change that. Not that Cinders had ever been seen to make an effort. Since becoming a royal she’d had all the advantages of dancing classes, elocution lessons, instruction in etiquette, even horse riding lessons, but having made it to the top without such accomplishments, Cinderella really didn’t see why she should bother now.

Time had not been kind to the Queen’s figure either. She had a particular fondness for chocolates, toasted marshmallows, cream cakes, doughnuts, waffles, sugar buns – oh let’s be honest – Cinderella had a passion for anything edible. She spent the greater part of her day consuming everything in sight, and as her figure grew outwards, her appetite grew in tandem. She was of average height, with dull, mousy hair, and the fair complexion and freckles to match. Her large bulk made it impossible for her to ever look smart despite heroic efforts on the part of her many dressmakers. As soon as she began to move, her flesh wobbled in every direction, and at the extremity of a pair of very stout legs were the most amazing feet you’ve ever seen. Even she had to admit they were not exactly the most beautiful feet, but, she had a lot to thank them for. She was the only female in the whole land whose foot fitted that slipper lost at the Ball, and that made them the famous feet that had become her trademark. They were always bare. She liked, she said, to wiggle her toes at all times.

Despite all this Charming adored her. In his eyes she could do no wrong. He did not recognize her common behaviour, her faults, her gross appearance, her appalling manners. To him she was perfection incarnate. True, she had a bit of a temper, but everyone has their little foibles and if she possessed an interesting way of expressing her feelings, well, that was part of her enchanting personality.

Cinderella was not so inclined to adore her spouse. The thought of being the most important queen in the land had thrilled and excited her two centuries ago; to get ‘one up’ on those snotty sisters of hers was a dream come true. But it all turned out to be very boring. She began to despise her adoring husband. He irritated her with his goodness, yet it was his very goodness that made it so difficult to be really nasty to him. He failed to understand her snide remarks, her sexual innuendoes, her criticisms. She sat for hours wondering how to free herself from this marriage she had come to loathe. Perhaps she should come straight out and tell him in a language even a four year old would understand. Yes, she’d procrastinated long enough. She’d tell him today, this morning, at breakfast.

Till next week, take care.

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(MER)LION AND LEADERS

Once I’d dragged DH out of the fort, we discovered the island was a mini Disneyland. Spotlessly clean, as you’d expect and I was too busy rubber necking to take many pictures.

The cable car stopped at several levels and you could get out and explore at each one.

The merlion is a mixture of a lion’s head with a fish body, used as a promotional symbol by the tourist board. Singapore was originally a fishing village but its original name was Singapura meaning lion city. The other picture is one you may have seen before and I’ll leave you to decide which is which.

UNBELIEVABLE HISTORY

Now it is said that George V didn’t like to sit to have his portrait painted, so he stood up instead. Here he is with his cousin the Kaiser on the left and his cousin the Tsar on the right. Yes, they were all related. And you know who was the common factor!

George probably didn’t think he’d become king until his elder brother Edward (yes, another one) died of pneumonia and the year after that he married the German princess Mary of Tek – a cousin and granddaughter of King George III. She’d previously been intended for big brother Edward so they passed her on so to speak. Honestly, being a princess isn’t all frills, flouncy dresses and dancing at balls, it’s more like the local meat market – aristocratic breeding and good child-bearing hips. Where did Disney get those silly ideas from? Which brings me very neatly to …

BOOKS

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I’ve been tossing up whether to do a follow up to Unhappily Ever After. As it is, it’s a stand alone with all the loose ends wrapped up. It tells the story of how Cinderella decided to get a divorce from King Charming. No one ever questioned how this commoner, from the wrong side of the tracks, would fit into a royal household, and of course, she didn’t. All that protocol was too much for her, the other royals hated her, and she didn’t even produce a male heir only one princess who had a preference for other princesses. I guess my next project will come to me in the shower or other inconvenient place and by the time I’ve grabbed a towel, I’ll have forgotten what it was!

If you feel like a good laugh, here is the link  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DPVB4M8

Till next week, take care.

DRAGONS AND DISASTER

THE TRAVEL STORY

Penang was a nice place, but it was almost impossible to see much. Not from the top of the bus, that was too scary, but because of all the people, you could hardly put a pin between them (well a little more artistic licence here as one of the photos will show).

Altogether we spent 5 hours on that bus and the heat was unbearable as it wended its way down to Butan Ferringhi. Most places were incredibly filthy, the food stalls grungy, the public loos a disgrace and we were bombarded with rap and other raucous music and horrendous traffic jams.

We’d become so used to the row outside, people, car horns and delightful screaming children that I was slow to realize the dragon dancing in a house across the road. So apologies for the blurred pictures, I missed most of it.

HISTORY NONSENSE

Now those of you who are really switched on will have noticed that I’ve hopped back in time a little to tell you more about Bertie. (I’m not too fussed about precision if you’re not). At this point I wish to remind you of my disclaimer as to the accuracy of these lessons and should you fail any exam by quoting from my blogs I take no responsibility whatsoever.

Now just when you were thinking that Bertie was an absolute cad (an old British word for scumbag) you should know that when Lily Langtree became pregnant, Mr Langtree went bankrupt and left her and she was forced to retire from society.

Lillielangtry1ACTRESS

She moved into a small apartment and was astounded when Bertie – (by now called Teddy by most of his friends), knocked on the door.

He proved himself loyal and helped her begin her acting career by introducing her to all the right people. They had ceased to be lovers, but the Prince remained a good friend. That’s not probably quite as his wife Alix saw it however.

 

THE EMBARRASSING PROMO BIT

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I’ve not pushed my comedy book for a while and it’s worth a read, especially if you’re feeling a little depressed. I take you back in time to Fairyland, two hundred years on from that memorable ball, to tell you about Cinderella, now fat, blousy and very, very common. She’s had enough of King Charming and is planning on how to get a divorce. Add to this the elegant and prissie Snow White, married to King Harold who beds anything within reach, and Sleeping Beauty who is making up for lost time and terrorizing her wimpy husband King Augustus who can’t afford to feed the 28 children they’ve already produced. As if all that wasn’t bad enough enter the Green Giant who has been sent to cause a revolution among the happy peasants who are just that – happy.  http://amzn.to/2j26YUd

Till next week, take care.

$/£ 0.00318 for a smile

Once upon a time when I was writing for a living (and are we going back a long, long way), I wrote mainly promotional, educational and informational content – usually for radio and television, often in a drama format.

few of the videos I made

Then, as I got to the wrinkly stage, pretending to be retired, I turned to books. I wrote three memoirs, and two novels. If there was any theme it was Africa, well I lived there for almost forty years, so I got to notice quite a lot, especially filming in deep rural areas miles away from cities.

Then I broke the mould and published my political/satirical book set 200 years on in Fairyland, possibly described as similar to Tom Sharpe or Monty Python. I was unsure if the rather ‘British’ humour would transcend the Atlantic, but surprisingly I’ve had more sales on the other side of the pond.

UAE KINDLE COVER

Readers who knew me best from the Amie novels (and let’s face it, she has a very limited sense of humour), expressed surprise as it was so ‘not’ my genre.

Most writers have a genre we’re told ‘it’s the right thing to do’. So, Ludlum writes spy books, Steven King writes horror books and Edit Blyton wrote books for children.

But as often as I could, I put a humorous slant on most of my writing. It’s there in my memoirs, even in Walking over Eggshells. I’ve had to see the funny side of life in order to keep sane through the ups and downs of the bizarre situations I found myself in.

So Unhappily Ever After is possibly more me than Amie’s servant, telling her story to the world (well OK to the occasional reader who clicks on the link).

Why am I rambling on like this? Just a reminder that Unhappily is at $/£0.99 this week for 311 pages of really funny stuff, even I giggled at some of it. And as an extra teaser, here are some of the Twitter adds I put together (no, not going in for the graphic awards any time soon), which might give you a taste as to what it’s all about.

UAE FRIDAY 5 AUG

It climbed to #6,246 overall in paid books this morning in the US and #35,868 in the UK but I had a bit of help with one of those promos. Go take a peep, here is the link

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DPVB4M8

and please, if you are in a good mood, reblog this for me as well? And if you feel depressed then check out the look inside and smile.

Have a great week.