Friday, May 27, 2011

Stage fright

There are times when the music being shuffled to my ears on my iPod is eerily appropriate to my mood or place. At those times, serendipity makes me smile and puts a spring in my step. Today the internet obliged thanks to this insightful look at the stages that writer's go through. I'm a Stage Five, no doubt. Serendipity has done more than make me smile today.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A team player

Coach: There's no 'I' in team.
Player: No, but there is a me.
Coach: What?
Player: A 'me'. The letters to spell 'me', you know, 'm' and 'e', are in team.
Coach: I know how to spell 'me'.
Player: Right! So, you could say that 'I' is in team.
Coach: 'I' is not in team.
Player: But 'me' is, and me is a synonym for I. You and me. You and I. They're pretty much the same thing.
Coach: What are you saying?
Player: I'm saying that, in a sense, I is in team.
Coach: It's not.
Player: It kind of is, and so is am.
Coach: There's a what now?
Player: The letters to spell 'me' are in team and so are the letters to spell 'am'. Both are about a sense of self, an individual, so, by that count, I is in team twice.
Coach: I is not in team. Why don't you understand that?
Player: And maybe you should understand that your aphorism is miscast. That you should stop parroting cliches if you really want to make a team become more than the sum of its individuals.
Coach: Okay, smart guy. I got one for you. Since you're so struck on letters.
Player: What? What now?
Coach: Not only is there no 'I' in team, now there's no you either. You're off the team.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Old and new

Elizabeth I of England, the Armada Portrait, W...There are some words (handset, kablooie) that are clearly unfit for a story set during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1533 - 1603). But there are lots more that are ambiguous.

I've run a few of the words I'm most worried about through the OED to see if my fears are groundless or justified. Any that have lacked a definitive answer from the OED, I've used a concordance of Shakespeare as a back-up. There are some real surprises in the list - chuckle fercrissakes. Language is a constant torment and a lesson.

If the words were in use before 1608 I've deemed them safe. Later than that and they are ruled out. This has been a really useful exercise and lots of fun, its made me think about how I use some words and will make me think of different ways to say some things.

desperation (1366)
lunatic (1290)
drugged (1758)
ambition (1340)
concotion (1531 - but only of digestion. 1851 to describe a mixture)
chuckle (1743)
laboratory (1592 - in Dee's own work!)
shy (1791)
dotage (1386)
spindrift (1614 - of spray)
conversation (1340 - to mean living among others. 1830 - specifically as talk)
expansive (1651)
drugged (1758)
rug (1547 - a coarse woollen cloth)
nightgown (1475 - a loose gown worn over night clothes)
abashed (1425)
conscious (1651)
chatter (1851)
embarrassed (1683)
regularity (1600)
truncheon (1400)
bustle (1637)
fret (1556)
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Monday, May 09, 2011

Courtiers and Conspirators

I was looking for some useful people to populate a story set in and around Elizabeth I's court. What I needed was someone who had reason to hate Elizabeth and in this lot there are loads of potential candidates. What I like about this set up is that people fell in and out of favour with the Queen and sometimes relatives of those executed for treason were her most trusted statesmen. The ambiguity and fluidity of the power relationships is rocket fuel for the engine of plot. God Bless you Queen Bess!Thomas Phelippes' forged cipher postscript to ...Image via Wikipedia

Lord Chancellor - Nicholas Heath

William Cecil - principal secretary of state - stayed in the post for 40 years. Disliked by Dudley.

Robert Dudley - Master of the Horse. Disliked by Cecil. Was imprisoned with Elizabeth in the tower. He handled the plans for her coronation.

Robert Devereux - 2nd Earl of Essex. Guardian was William Cecil. Made Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. 34 years younger than the Queen. His relationship with the Queen deteriorated to such an extent that he tried to foment a coup.

Sir Philip Sydney - In and out of favour with the Queen. Uncle was Robert Dudley. Fought with Dudley in the Netherlands and was killed there in 1586.

Christopher Hatton - Captain of the Queen's bodyguard. A privy councillor and was made Lord Chancellor in 1587.

Sir Henry Lee - Master of the Armoury and the Queen's champion until 1590.

Edward de Vere - courtier, playwright and soldier. Fell out of favour with the Queen.

Lord Henry Howard, Charles Arundel, and Francis Southwell - catholics denounced to the Queen.

Thomas Radclyffe - 3rd Earl of Sussex. Arranged Mary's marriage with Philip II of Spain. Made Lord Chamberlain in 1572.

Francis Walsingham - Elizabeth's spymaster. Uncovered the Babington, Ridolfi and Throckmorton plots against Elizabeth.

Charles Paget - One of Mary's chief agents in Europe.

Thomas Morgan - Mary's cipher clerk, Welshman and involved in the Babington plot.

Admiral Sir John Hawkins - pretended to be part of the Ridolfi plot to entrap the conspirators.

Thomas Howard - Duke of Norfolk. Had a leading role in the Ridolfi plot and was executed for treason in 1572.

Roberto di Ridolfi - Florentine nobleman and conspirator.

Charles Baillie - Ridolfi's messenger.

Sir Anthony Babington - Catholic courier and one of 24 convicted of treason. The Babington plot takes its name from him.

Thomas Phelippes - forger and intelligence gatherer who worked for Walsingham.

Chidiock Tichborne - Babington plotter.

Sir Francis Throckmorton - Catholic courier found out by Walsingham. A minor plot against the Queen was named after him.
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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Hit this

Fantastic write-up of how to plan and execute a bank robbery. Lots of great advice. I particularly like the line about taking no left turns on the escape route.

History notes

About 200,000 people lived in London in 1600. About four million people lived in the whole of Britain.The watertower, Shooters Hill, London. ---- :I...Image via Wikipedia

Medieval London was only a couple of miles across. Concentrated north of the Thames, it hugged the river bank from the Tower of London in the east to Charing Cross and Whitehall in the west. The most northerly point was the priory of St Bartholomews which sat close to the windmills in Moorfields. There was only one bridge across the river.

Shooter's Hill in Greenwich is the highest point in south London. It got its name from the archers who used to practice their during the Middle Ages. It used to have a gallows at the bottom with the bodies of the hanged being put in a gibbet at the summit. In 1661 Pepys noted riding "under a man that hangs at Shooters Hill and a filthy sight it was to see how the flesh is shrunk from his bones".

Oxleas Wood lies close to Shooter's Hill.

A horse and rider can travel about 20-30 miles in a day. At walking speed they will do a mile in 15-20 minutes. At a trot they will complete a mile in 7-8 minutes. It is about seven miles from Shooter's Hill to the City of London.
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