Florence’s Dining Table (from novel Welcome to Wonderland)

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Her parents own a Georgian townhouse that is never inhabited. So much of Flo’s belongings still live there. It’s her home away from home. Tread carefully on those Minton tiles as you enter…

You’re greeted by a Marie Antoinette blue that has lost it’s lustre and has resorted to a muted existence. Curiously you see shortbread crumbs lie on the staircase, they are left so that the house mice can be fed. Specks of crumbs are still in sight after all these months. Sometimes tiny paw prints are seen from the grey house guests. Long ago, Sophia saw one of them and decided to call it Roquefort.

If only you’d seen this house during childhood Christmases the staircase wore ivy like a winter shawl, Bing Crosby in the background, the scent of cranberries, mandarins, evergreen leaves and cinnamon too. Grandma would hand-make the door’s wreath with little Flo every November. Oh, and the Christmas tree was glorious, the baubles from Florence’s Great-Grandmother. The glitter remained on three precious baubles ordained with scenes from the nativity the others in deep red, evergreen and navy with lashings of silver and gold and delicate beads decorated onto them. Such a shame that her parents moved out to the country this home is seldom brought to life anymore.

Most evident in the drawing room are the late Georgian interiors. The walls eggshell blue, profiled with the white panels you’d expect. Some old VHS cases hidden behind the sofas. There’s a vinyl player in there too Florence’s only contribution to the house as everything is pretty much inherited.

Her father’s old study has draws filled with old moleskine journals, a magnifying glass and old stationery. There sits letters from his university days as he wrote to his mother, they even have his grandfather’s letters from the war. Also sat demurely a feather quill, an empty ink pot. Nobody has ever dared opened the Moleskines, after all Mr Clover is so endearingly rotund nobody could possibly betray his trust.

A large antique globe stand alone.

The next door down is the library with much to Olivia’s delight a ladder, the girls spent many after-school hours reenacting Belle’s swish with a rockler along the cases though the girls would have to push each other as it’s not as elegant as Disney made it out to be.

Silver and napkins perch on the dining table awaiting their night of resurrection. The plates are hidden in the cupboards as they are most fragile. No flowers or fruit sit at the centre, not since Christmas. The chandelier pleads for one dalliance, one more night of romance even if it is just to be used.

On the fourth floor we see that one room upstairs is like a pretty thrift store, embellished hangers holding moments of 60’s and 70’s glory, Woodstock inspired dresses from the era. Indian slippers, Gucci loafers, buffalo sandals sit neatly in unison with the lines of the wooden floorboards. Serena’s Floppy hat sits on the standing lamp, a milkmaid’s jug sits with dead flowers. An old candle once held memories of idyllic spring mornings has now lost both light and scent.  The dressing table and looking glass is strewn with neglect. The room is an homage to her maternal grandparents bohemian glory days.

The wardrobe lined with sheets from The FT and Telegraph. Alas this is not a Guardian home. Cashmere sweaters shoddily folded, an overflow of natural fibres. Some of Florence’s jumpers from childhood are shoved in too. Do you remember when Laura Ashley used to do childrenswear?

clothes wardrobe

As we make our way down one flight of stairs and another we find cabinets of curiosities, religious icons on the walls, no carpets. Flo’s mother collected crucifixes, elaborate ones from the Clover’s honeymoon in Mexico. Bloomsbury waywardness juxtaposed with piercing la boheme sparseness. Empty are the floors, the fridge and the cupboard. Bare floors only a Persian rug to warm bare feet, walls lined with eclectic Frida Kahlo imitation art, Mexicana tones, Ceylon tea stained walls. The warmest and most welcoming room of the home though the paternal grandparents never wandered in- they never approved.

In the basement we find the kitchen. The walls above the kitchen counter tops lined with mismatched tiles some artisanal others mere fillers, slapped on as the Clover’s tried to make it their own. Tiles collected from trips to Spain and Mexico. Naturally there’s an Aga with copper pans hanging. There’s a kitchen island that has open shelves on one side for all those cookbooks as well as for all those ceramic dishes as Mrs Clover loves to cook English classics.

The pantry is surprisingly full given that the Clover’s are never there. You can see the preserved lemons, (half eaten) pickles, a row of almond milk, rows upon rows of jars: tahini, pepper corns even rose petals. Next you see bags of quinoa, lentils and basmati rice. There’s even a gourmet selection of salt. It’s like a little hideaway Deli.

Inside also sits clutter and art supplies expectantly waiting to be used back to life. A deck of tea candles await their next turn to shine. They haven’t been used since a Summer garden party back when Flo & Simon were together. You see all types of jams some handmade from idle summer afternoons, others leftover from Fortnum & Mason hampers. Old Crabtree & Evelyn biscuit tins (sadly empty). A glass full of paintbrushes, masking tape, pencils. Sitting there folded up a tattered, paint stained apron for kitchen and art room.

The Laundry room remains untouched as if the servants were still here, it’s like peering into a museum.

In what used to be a House keeper’s room a tiny desk sits there and stored in the walled shelves her fathers old accounts.

Nowadays the girls are likely to get together for Sunday lunch and the occasional meet up. They get together to decorate the house over Christmas but rarely are festivities celebrated there for some reason. Diane has been pestering Flo to use her parents house more often. It will be made into a home soon, if only Flo had someone to settle down with.

 


 

Flo falls into a more Bloomsbury set of Bohemia, a High Bohemia shall we say. Though as you read the novel there will be heterogeneous depictions of Bohemia so you will find a Bohemian that resonates with your soul. Stay with me and stay aboard the train to Wonderland…

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Exclusive! Extracts from my forthcoming debut novel “Welcome to Wonderland” published on this blog!

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Did you know that I have a forthcoming novel coming out?

There’s still a long way to go with it. It is called “Welcome to Wonderland” and will be Book 1 of a trilogy of novels revolving around a Bohemian Love Story. I usually post the latest news about my fiction on my official site CatherineVaughan.com and the publication date of this novel will be first announced on THIS Mailing List from my official site: http://eepurl.com/cxzD1D Kindly share this 💌Mailing List💌 link to any friends and family you think will LOVE the sound of this book series.

Like all my other writing this book series is something I have put my heart and soul into. There are moments I’ve cried as I’ve typed the paragraphs.  It’s a very personal story, certainly not autobiographical but an intimate imprint of all the things I wished and longed for in life that could only manifest in printed words…

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You will meet Olivia Mariam. (She looks just like me.) Her best friend Serena Johnson, complete opposite in looks and temperament. Then there’s Tom and Jack Bodenham. I definitely have the song “something like Olivia” to blame for our main character’s name choice. Serena’s name is a slight homage to Whit Stillman’s debut film and of course Gossip Girl.

Serena sit hat

Naturally the story is set in England, Serena is off at University (studying English Lit) and Olivia works for a publishing press. Having previously turned down a job post at Cheltenham because that was where her life was b.c. (before crisis as in the 2008 financial collapse.) Her father Bill Mariam was a hedge fund manager who lost everything in ’08 and the family haven’t been back since. Olivia lost everything and has dedicated herself to reclaiming back her former life at any cost. Her plan? Creating an app.

Then she meets Jack. 

Jack is athletic and a writer. He’s dreamy but there are ups and downs in store…

Christmas comes along and she’s finally in a place of true happiness… January arrives with a new year and a new job offer elsewhere.

In the meantime Serena has ditched her risque reputation and meets Tom.  The girl’s lives change. New friendships and entanglements ensue.

people cafe

As Olivia aggressively pursues her career she encounters everything she has ever dreamed of with irresistible suitors distracting her along the way. She faces a crossroad yet again and is all too aware of the fragility of life and is uncertain how to proceed in affairs of the heart.

Evelyn wants Nathaniel. Nathaniel and Jacob are enemies yet know Bill Mariam all too well. As luck would have it Jacob and Olivia’s paths cross and attraction arises. Enter temptation and disillusionment…

As she prepares to return home she has thorns in her heart one for Jack, another for Jacob and others thorns pierce her heart from other sources.

Lastly she has doubts whether it’s best to walk alone after all, but can’t but help wonder who her true soulmate is…

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Book 1 is all about choices and the uncertainty of our paths in life and love. I can’t wait to announce the publication date to you all on 💌  My Mailing List 💌 !

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Reading Howl for the first time…

Howl 1

It was a Tuesday (13.6.17) evening and my 22nd print edition (1969) of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl and other poems” had arrived via Priority Mail. I had been meaning to own this for a while.

I opened the book at random, enter Howl. I Youtubed Allen and searched for his reading of this poem on my phone. I hit play and sat on my bed reading his words and hearing his words. Beat Consciousness streamed through my being…

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
starving hysterical naked…

 

Source

 

…Who talked continuously seventy hours from park to pad to bar to 

Bellevue to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge,
a lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping down the
stoops off fire escapes off windowsills of Empire State out
of the moon,
yacketayakking screaming…

#GinsbergGlasses

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…Who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to
Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver &
brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find
out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,
who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying for each
other’s salvation and light and breasts, until the soul
illuminated its hair for a second…
I’m with you in Rockland
where you laugh at this invisible humor
I’m with you in Rockland
where we are great writers on the same dreadful typewriter
I’m with you in Rockland

It was lengthy punch lines, knocking me out. I continued listening as he read Footnote to Howl.

Holy the sea holy the desert holy the railroad holy the locomotive holy the visions holy the hallucinations holy the miracles holy the eyeball holy the abyss!
Holy forgiveness! mercy! charity! faith! Holy! Ours! bodies! suffering! magnanimity!
Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent kindness of the soul!

 

It was almost 30 minutes of voyeuristic poetry, vulgarity, profanity and some moments had me wincing at the blasphemous lines: “The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy! The nose is holy! The tongue and [insert hidden body parts].” It’s controversial but it drastically shifted the art form of poetry forever.

In his dedication Ginsberg states his and his friends books were published in Heaven. This irks me severely because he’s practically summoning Moloch in his poem…

I like The Beat Beneration because they were pure poetry and they had that enviable university-to-death friendship that I never got to have. I arrived at University and I don’t think anybody knew Burroughs/Kerouac/Ginsberg.  It seems romantic looking back and very literary though I’m sure if I was alive when they were I’d have ran off after the poetry reading as they drank their way into despair and havoc… It’s always hard to champion these Bohemians because they’re so flawed and there’s always a dark side to artists either they are drunkards/insert addiction of choice, had horrific upbringings/lives due to others cruelty or are just plain rotten because we are all sinners. But it’s the art, talent and image I’m shining a light to… Not them as individuals.