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gloves off – decision time

The Honourable Alexander Clifford spent £500,000 renovating his home, Ugbrooke House. He tackled the task with appropriate seriousness having ‘panic attacks’ over curtain choices. As he said himself, trying to pick which £10,000 tassel for the curtains “sent him over the edge, I went absolutely nuts.” 

Well, he would.

I’m not mocking or being facetious here. I know that agony when choosing the colour of a wall or the positioning of a painting. While my budget would be a fraction of Alexander’s, the fear of making the wrong decision is just as large.

Getting it wrong is a real phobia – it even has its own greek-rooted name: atelphobia. At the moment, I’m atelphobing all over the gaff with the illustrations for the latest book.

I’m indecisive about the layout of the scene where she first steps into Bond Street . Bond Street was a popular spot for the rich and beautiful to see and be seen. High-end shops with luxury goods charmed both eye and purse-strings.

I have neither talent, time nor inclination to illustrate the scene realistically. Yet I do want to convey as sense of the colour and excitement. At first I thought I would create a street vista. I was really excited to find contemporary drawings of the street which named particular premises.

I mocked up a street-scape.

But this layout is too realistic. I want to explore surface pattern and interesting page layouts with this book and this design doesn’t cut it. I next tried a kaleidoscope pattern using the buildings.

This has more scope. As yet it it too cluttered. I shall try different colour combinations of the lower stories. This might allow for the window shoppers to be seen.

However, I find myself getting worried about the illustration style I will use for my heroine. I created this cover last week and was fairly happy.

But use of this style meant I needed to alter a previous drawing I had made. The Cassandra on the left is the first, the figure on the right the updated version. And the updated Cassandra has an unfortunate Dr Seuss vibe. Lovely for Whoville, but not right for the Regency.

In the midst of this indecision, a friend suggested that a book about pandemics through history might be worth looking at. She’s right. The Curious. Lady’s Guide to Pandemics would be fascinating. I can see it now. A trawl through time, discovering the trials and treatments of leprosy, cholera, plague and typhoid. Reading about blocking up whole streets to prevent infected people moving about, leaving them to die in their homes would make our lockdown and quarantine measures seem like a walk in the (5km distanced) park.

So do I stop work on The Beautifull Cassandra and start a book on pandemics?

Oh the pain… decisions, decisions…

I thought it would be nice to finish this post with a tie in to where I began – curtain tassels. But I got distracted by thoughts of nipple-tassels and found myself down a fascinating rabbit hole of burlesque costume history. Apparently nipple tassels were invented in the 1860s. Formally called pasties, their purpose was to allow exotic dancers do their thing without flouting decent laws which banned nudity.

Perhaps I should buy a pair of nipple tassels. A woman who would wear nipple tassels would surely be decisive. Or maybe I begin work on the Curious Lady’s Guide to Seduction…

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