Launching the Rocketship

Launching the Rocketship

I visited the Rocketship for the first time today. It’s a new bookshop for children, though it has a shelf of Salisbury authors and, since I am a Salisbury author, I took some copies of Mr Blackwood’s Fabularium along. I think anyone who wants to write ought to start by reading to children, ideally between the ages of six and nine. That way you tune […]

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The Victorians and I

The Victorians and I

I bonded with the Victorians a long time ago. Until I was six I lived in a house where there was no electricity, so I’ve experienced at first hand the ways in which family life arranges itself round a single source of light and heat. I went to a Victorian school which had gas lamps – one of the classrooms didn’t have any lights at […]

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Lioness Attacking the Salisbury Mail Coach: an Update

Lioness Attacking the Salisbury Mail Coach: an Update

I have written before in this blog about the lion attack on the Salisbury mail coach in 1816. For those of you who missed it, this is the story. In The Devil’s Coachman, the first of the inventor’s two tales, there is an account of how a lioness attacked the Salisbury mail coach at what was then called the Winterslow Hut (until recently The Pheasant). […]

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Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook

what secured Cook’s fame was his association with the Great Exhibition of 1851. He not only organised the trains; he also found accommodation for visitors to the Exhibition

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Author Interview

I was recently interviewed on the American website nfreads.com. Follow the link: Interview With Author Stephen Lycett

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A History of Lost Sensations 4

A History of Lost Sensations 4

The painting is Life at the Seaside or Ramsgate Sands by W.P. Frith. By modern standards these seaside tourists of 1853 look horribly uncomfortable because they look horribly over-dressed. That it’s a hot is obvious from the number of parasols. But why, we ask ourselves, the bonnets and shawls, the bowlers and top hats, the neckties and the waistcoats? Why is no-one, apart from the […]

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A History of Lost Sensations 3

A History of Lost Sensations 3

The olfactory world of the Victorians was ranker than ours. Let’s start with sewage. Most people know about the Great Stink of 1858, when a heatwave acting on the raw sewage in the Thames produced a stench so overpowering that Parliament was forced to close. Among the reasons for the sewage pollution in the river were the well-meant reforms of the 1830s and 40s which […]

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A History of Lost Sensations 2

A History of Lost Sensations 2

In the last blog I offered soundscapes from the present, from fifty years ago and from 1533. What about a hundred and fifty years ago? We think of the modern world as a noisy place and, if you live under the Heathrow flight path, no doubt it is, but I think we’d be surprised by how noisy life in Victorian cities really was. Thomas Carlyle […]

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A History of Lost Sensations 1

A History of Lost Sensations 1

Here’s a modern urban and domestic soundscape: – Unsilenced motorcycle exhausts, burglar alarms, lorry reversing beepers, pings and buzzes from your mobile, other people’s ring tones, humming of fridges, music from builders’ radios, clang of scaffolding poles being loaded and unloaded, rasp of garden strimmers, creak of cooling radiators, rip of opening Velcro, rumble of trains on bridges, drone of microlights, chimes of ice cream […]

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The Retrospective Destinator

The Retrospective Destinator

The Retrospective Destinator   If you follow the link you will find an audio file of The Advertising Copywriter’s Tale (Part One). It takes about fifteen minutes to listen to. The story concerns two men who advertise themselves as follows: ‘Retrospective destinators – Messrs Hancock and Breeze offer a discreet service as makers and menders of damaged or incomplete reputations.’ The idea was suggested by […]

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