Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gin Lane, London.


They have come from Covent Garden, walking along Henrietta Street and turning into Gin Lane, making for The Strand.  Gin Lane is filthy, dirty gutters, wretched houses with broken windows, ("Beware the slops, Master," says Forlan), windows patched with rags and paper and, out behind, hideous stinking drains and latrines and, behind them, the dark hulk of Newgate Prison. The only building in good repair is the pawnbroker's shop, its windows heavily barred.
A drunken woman sprawls on the pavement while her child picks about in the gutter.  A man fights with a dog for a bone. Old men, drunken, besotted, stagger by.  Wretched, broken-down, miserable women shuffle along.  A group of young men standing on a corner look at Grotius and Forlan, with feral eyes, move forward, but then hesitate.  Grotius and Forlan step round a drunken fight between labourers in the gutter. A man dressed like a parson stands in the middle of an ill-coloured puddle reading loudly from a tattered  bible. 
In a doorway is a group of young women.  
(Extracted from 'the Search for Gabriella.')

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dogs.



There are innumerable dogs in literature but not many come to mind immediately.  There's  'Bulls-Eye' in Dickens, 'White Fang' in Jack London, the 'Hound of the Baskervilles' in Conan Doyle, and 'Tinky-Woo' (?) in James Herriott, to name a few. 
Shakespeare has a lot to say about dogs - there are 156 references to dogs in his plays.  However most of them are derogatory.
'Out dog!' 'Out cur!'  'Thou damned execrable dog!'  'Let gallows gape for this dog!'
'You bawling, blasphemous, incharitable dog!'   
'Thou drivest me beyond the bounds of patience!'   
'Un-mannered dog!'   'Unpeacable dog!'   'Thou issue of a mangy dog!'
And so on.  Could it be said he didn't like dogs?
In 'The Search for Gabriella' there is a scene where Shakespeare is trying to write his play 'Antony and Cleopatra' (Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!) and is constantly interrupted by a dog.  And the dog is not immune to insults, alas.