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Tag Archives: Dreaming

Last night I dreamed I was in a car crash, nothing serious, just an annoying fender bender, but it felt very real.

Then, today, when I drove to the post office … nothing happened. Did the dream make me more careful? Or, did the dream mean nothing at all, but it was one of those rare ones that I remembered? It certainly made a change from the ones where I’m looking for a bathroom and when I find one it has glass walls and is situated on Paddingston Station in London during rush hour.

I often wish I could dream plots, because I have so much trouble with them. The closest I’ve got is having things click into place as I’m falling asleep and my brain is doing whatever it does at that point–beginning some sort of unwinding process that may be part of the dream process.

But years, decades ago, before I even thought of writing I had an extraordinarily vivid dream which was entirely third person, in that it wasn’t about me but I was the observer.Now, on the occasions when I revisit the dream, I’m the incompetent manipulator. I suspect it was the plot of a book I read or started reading and never finished, so if anyone can identify it, that would be fascinating. On the other hand, the plot devices might be from any number of books.

The heroine is a courtesan in late-ish nineteenth century … somewhere. Not England, not the Regency, somewhere eastern European. Her current official lover is an officer who is not always around because he’s engaged in some sort of futile military silliness but he comes into town occasionally and usually finds her with a drawing room full of lefties and poets and intellectuals. I borrowed bits of this for Dedication, my first book; I think it may also have its origins in minor characters in Tolstoy.

So he falls in love with a sweet young thing who the family want him to marry as his duty etc. (Kitty and Levin in Anna Karenina? Who knows). He tells the heroine, who isn’t too pleased, and asks if she’ll return a necklace he gave her. Because, and he really shouldn’t have done this, he gave her the family jewels (pause for other English people to recover from their merriment). She doesn’t say yes but she doesn’t say no either, and at this point I get stuck.

In some versions of the dream, she stages a grand revenge when she flings the necklace at his feet at the opera in front of the fiancee. And I think that probably is from an opera, but I don’t think I’d ever write a heroine who behaves badly in such an unsubtle way. Or, in other versions, it becomes A Scandal in Bohemia, which features the fascinating adventuress Irene Adler:

To Holmes, she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex…

In other words, she’s smarter than the male protagonists and surrenders the necklace only when a reciprocal sacrifice has been made. At this point I surrender to my usual plotting technique (if it can be described as such) and start considering other characters: the newspaper editor who is the heroine’s rebound affair; the fiancee–does she have any idea what lover boy has been up to? If there’s a revolution, which sometimes there is, who is on which side?

And I must digress here and ponder the photograph in which Irene Adler and the King of Bohemia appeared, and how it was enough to throw the whole delicate balance of Europe into disarray. Was it, gasp, a naughty photograph? Is that why Holmes wanted to keep it, to while away the long hours when Watson was tending to his mostly neglected patients?

Anyway, let’s talk about dreams. Have you dreamed things that have happened? Do you dream about characters when you’re reading or writing a book? Do you recognize “my” plot?

In this special All Contests All The Time edition, there’s still a few days to enter the contest on my site, and a new one where I ask for help in vampire terminology at Supernatural Underground. Also you can enter to win a copy of Jane and the Damned at Goodreads.

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Literary and Historical Memorials of London by John Heneage Jesse. Printed to Francis A. Niccolls & Co., Boston. I don’t see a publication year anywhere, but according to Google Books, it’s circa 1847.

And here’s something I hadn’t noticed before: Edition De Luxe, Limited to One Thousand Copies. No. 2.

Heh! I’m Number 2!

This book has some really lovely etchings in it, too. Covered over with tissue paper. However, Google Books makes it apparent that my De Luxe edition is lacking fold out maps and more drawings … So, actually, I would like to know what’s so De Luxe about it? I’m a bit peeved to be honest.

Anyway, here’s the Google books link

Tidbit from this book:

May Fair, the site of which was anciently known as Brook Fields, derives its name, it is almost needless to remark, from the celebrated fair which was held in its green meadows from the reign of Henry the Eighth till the middle of the last century. “May Fair,” says Pennant, ” was kept about the spot now covered with May Fair Chapel, and several fine streets. The fair was attended with such disorders, riots, thefts, and even murders; that, in 1700, it was prevented by the magistrates, but revived again, and I remember the last celebrations. The place was covered with booths, temporary theatres, and every enticement to low pleasure.”

Enticements to low pleasure? In Mayfair? Gasp Do you believe that? But hey, how about those temporary theatres? Very medieval.

Malcolm, in his ” Anecdotes of the Manners and Customs of London,” quotes an advertisement which appeared in the London Journals of the 27th of April, 1700, which affords us a curious picture of this memorable fair. “In Brookfield market-place, at the east corner of Hyde Park, is a fair to be kept for the space of sixteen days, beginning with the 1st of May; the three first days for live cattle and leather, with the same entertainments as at Bartholomew Fair, where there are shops to be let ready built for all manner of tradesmen that usually keep fairs, and so to continue yearly at the same place.” As mentioned by Pennant, the disgraceful scenes of outrage, riot, and profligacy, which were annually to be witnessed at May Fair, led, in 1700, to its temporary suppression. In the Tatler of the 24th of May, 1708, we find;–“The downfall of May Fair has sunk the price of this noble creature [the elephant] as well as of many other curiosities of nature. A tiger will sell almost as cheap as an ox; and I am credibly informed a man may purchase a calf with three legs for very nearly the value of one with four. I hear likewise that there is great desolation, among the ladies and gentlemen who were the ornaments of the town, and used to shine in plumes and diadems, the heroes being most of them pressed, and the queens beating hemp.” May Fair, however, was again revived. Notwithstanding that a part of the ground was built over as early as 1721, we find a donkey-race attracting great crowds to the fair in 1736, and as late as 1756, it is still mentioned in Maitland’s Anecdotes as being annually celebrated.

So, check it, there were ready-built shops. Pre-fab, people, in 1700! In our period, there would be people alive who remembered all this. They may have indulged in low pleasures. But they would have stories to tell! Complaints to make of today’s youth and how they don’t know how to have fun on the cheap.

Moving along to check what this book cites — what is the Anecdotes book he mentions?


by James Peller Malcom

Published in 1810.

And there is this fascinating bit that’s just calling out for a plot point in someone’s Regency era novel:

To shew the difference between past and present methods [of lotteries], it may be worth while to insert a modern scheme;

State Lottery begins drawing October 13, l807, containing more Capital Prizes, and 5000 less Tickets, than last Lottery. The first drawn Ticket entitled to 10,000l.; all other Capital Prizes are afloat. Purchasers of Tickets and Shares will have the opportunity of obtaining all the Capital Prizes, provided they purchase before the drawing commences. The Scheme has equal advantages of 20,000l. Prizes, 10,000l. Prizes, 5,000l. Prizes, &c. &c. to former Lotteries of double the number of Tickets.

No. of Prizes. Value of each Total Value
3 of L.20,000 are L.60,000
3 10,000 30,000
3 5,000 15,000
5 1,000 5,000
8 500 4,000
20 100 2,000
40 50 2,000
4,100 20 82,000
20,000 Tickets 200,000

20,000 Tickets only, and no other State Lottery to be drawn this year.

So, who’s got a heroine, living in Mayfair who just won the lottery prize of 20,000 pounds? Or maybe a hero? Come on. Irascible great uncle who engaged in low pleasures at May Fair, now lives in Mayfair with his young niece who just won 20,000 pounds in the lottery. What if she doubled down and won two tickets?

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