One of the best things about writing books and short stories is doing research about stuff you need to know in order to convince a reader you aren’t as thick as a bucket full of day old porridge.
When I wrote “A Solemn Curfew”, the biggest story in “A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales”, I did loads and loads of work on mushrooms and how to cook them. I discovered varieties with really great names like Black Trumpet, Scarlet Hood and Amethyst Deceiver, you can eat those three, and Lilac Bonnet, Brown Roll Rim and Panther Cap, all of which will kill you faster than you can say “cook quickly in hot foaming butter”
Currently I am working on a couple of projects, over and above the Scots one (see previous post), one which involves toxoplasma which I will leave for now as it is making even me go “yuck” and the other is about zombies.
As most of you undoubtedly know, zombies come in two types, there are the shuffling, infectious, brain devouring types…socially difficult, not good at dinner parties, but probably very amiable once you get to know them…and the Haitian sort who don’t eat brains, usually speak very good French and while being a little bit dead, don’t hog all the nibbles at a buffet.
For the purposes of my project, I have decided the first sort won’t do for London in 1934, but the second type will fit in perfectly. If nothing else, they won’t notice the weather, which might limit their conversation, but does mean they won’t complain the rain.
The research has been fascinating, you wouldn’t believe how much of the internet is devoted to zombies…one second thought, you probably would, it s not as much as there is about cats of course, but it is a fair chunk. BTW, I have been forced to introduce a damned cat to my Mrs Lillicrop stories. What is it about cats? They manage to slide themselves into any situation where there is a big sign saying “no cats.”
I’m not anti cats, we are currently allowed to be of everyday service to Fitzwilliam Big Chief Paddy Paws Our Cat Allen, an elderly Birman of uncertain temper and an addiction to the contents of a “Goody Bag”. Today’s favour choice is Mixed Grill which is okay, but I have been made aware that the absence of “seafood Cocktail” is not what he has come to expect and someone had better get down into the town and buy the right sort asap.
However, as the breed was probably unknown in London in the 1930’s and Fitz doesn’t require anything to further inflate his ego, I have chosen a black and white one. He was supposed to be just an ordinary moggy, like my very first cat Tim who came to live with us when I was four, but…of course…he promptly promoted himself to Chief Secondary Character II, named himself Hezekiah and looks a lot like this.
Back to zombies…see what I mean about cats, one second you are having a very reasonable discussion on a subject of cultural interest and the next second you are ankle deep in fuzz and fur…the important question I needed answers for is “can you invite a zombie for tea?” and if you can, should you ask him home or to a suitable venue.
If it is home, what do you serve? Would Gentleman’s Relish on toast be too salt, apparently you can kill a zombie with a salt sandwich. Are meringues acceptable? Would a Victoria Sponge be just a bit much for anyone who used to have some French blood running through their veins?
Come to that, what do they eat in Haiti? I see more research is required.
On a much more mundane, but important note, a certain very important small person has reached the amazing age of three and as such requires a celebratory quilt. In honour of this, I am have way through a “Cat in the Hat” one which I will post pictures of once I have sorted out the half square triangles whose points have failed to meet quite as well as they should. And I’ve done the quilting of course.
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