I was reminded the other day of an axiom that applies to research for writing: We don’t know what we don’t know. It’s a constant problem, especially when you’re writing a period piece. We have to check constantly that we’re not building in anachronisms that will jar the reader out of the illusion.
But how deep do you go? How do you know when to stop? It’s easy to think you’ve verified a fact but, with the best will in the world, you weren’t there at the time. And the unchecked error is always there, waiting, like a rake in the grass.
Misha Herwin, my fellow Penkhull author and great friend, was kindly editing my upcoming short story collection when she questioned a reference to ballet at Sadler’s Wells in 1914. I confidently pointed out that the theatre was opened in the 17th century by Richard Sadler.
There is a misconception that cats are merely fickle when it comes to food. I am not so sure about that. Careful observations of the ‘Miss Dilly’ crew have led me to believe that their choices are made on a mixture of masterful plotting and the wish to collectively mess with the minds of humankind through organised militant action!
Take this week. For some while Felix cat food was been on permanent special offer and our tribe wolfed down packet after packet with gusto. They would eat Whiskers with slightly less enthusiasm but generally cleaned out the dishes.
As an experiment we slipped in the odd sachet of supermarket brand food and these also vanished with apparent satisfaction and so last week, rather rashly, a 48 pkt outer of said supermarket brand was purchased.
“The cliched image of a starving author is of a shy and tortured creature huddled in a freezing garret dressed in tattered, dusty overcoat and fingerless gloves, scribbling furiously with a tattered quill pen by guttering candle light… ”
I haven’t been keeping up to date recently with clearing out my clothes. Life got in the way and it didn’t seem that important, until I wanted to find my blue striped cardigan. I knew it was there somewhere, I’d seen it only a few days before, but at the crucial moment it was nowhere to be found.
Half the cupboard had to be emptied before it was located, scrumpled up in a sad heap on top of a pile of shoeboxes. Another casualty of my propensity to keep every garment I’ve ever owned, it did however re-start the life-laundering initiative.
Today’s selection is a top I’ve not worn for years. I bought it when I went shopping with my younger daughter, before her daughter was born, so that is at least five, if not six, years ago. In those dim distant, pre-grandchildren days, we could spend hours wandering around…