Wit and Wisdom of the 19th Century: Chestnut Horse

A ballad sold in 1871 for one penny, satirising philosophy, logic and too much education!

74407673More quotations:

Jane Austen

Alice in Wonderland

Mrs Beeton





Five Fictional Heroes

The best fictional characters jump off the page. Full of charisma, they have a little quirk or two and maybe a fatal flaw. Who cares what they look like? Your imagination fills that in for you. Start a conversation about your favourite novel or fictional hero, though, and you may be surprised at how much you disagree with other people.
© Dana Rothstein | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Whether you swoon over Mr Darcy or adore Jack Reacher, maybe it’s worth wondering why he appeals so much to you. It could tell you something about your own personality and values.
Here are five male characters from fiction: do you love them or hate them?
Mr Darcy
No matter how hard I try, I do not like this Pride and Prejudice hero. He may be strong, have hidden depths of kindness and generosity, but I can never forgive him for his rudeness to Elizabeth Bennett at the Ball. Not only does he say she is not handsome enough to tempt him, but he also has no interest in women “slighted by other men.”
Now, I don’t mind him holding those views, but I do mind him talking about them in a voice loud enough for other people to hear. To me, that is cruel and unforgiveable. No amount of kindness to his sister, or even to Elizabeth’s family, is enough to make me forget that, in his heart, he does not care whether he hurts someone’s feelings.
Anyone who has ever suffered the indignity of being a wallflower at the dance, even if it was only for ten minutes, will know what I mean.
Mr Micawber
 I love this Dickens character, from David Copperfield. He is foolish, lazy and selfish,    but I forgive him everything because of his optimism. The glass is always about to  overflow, until disaster strikes. Yet, he bounces back. Something will always “turn up.”
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”
My finances, like his, rely heavily on something turning up.
Jack Reacher
I feel no need to care for Lee Child’s hero. He likes himself enough for both of us. The books are fun, though.
George Smiley
John Le Carre’s fictional spy is so sad, my heart goes out to him. He’s too clever for his own good, he’s married to a rich woman who deserts him and he has no problem with killing people. I think it’s maybe the spectacles that I love. Thank you, science, for contact lenses.
Lucky Jim
Is it possible not to identify with Kingsley Amis’s downtrodden loser? As he lurches from one disaster to another, he fights intellectual snobbery. I cheer for him as he wins tiny childish battles against authority by making faces behind his boss’s back. I defy anyone who has ever done that to fail to identify with Jim.   
What does all this say about me? That I admire kindness, self-control, optimism, childish humour and the valiant underdog.I hate cruelty, self-love and snobbery.
How about you?
Writing your own fiction? Here’s what Novel Writing Help has to say about creating characters.

Iceland: global warming

Chief Executive Alfred Deville surveyed the crowded conference room. As silence fell, he gestured to the vast image of tyrranosaurus rex on the projector. He waved one carefully manicured cloven hoof and smiled, showing pointed teeth. ‘We are finally making progress, team. Our work is beginning to pay off. Just a few millennia ago, we zapped the dinosaurs. Then, after that, we dealt with the dodo.’

The picture changed to a group of pig-tailed sailors chasing a waddling, flightless bird.‘Tasty but dim, I remember,’ said Deville, licking his lips.

Bankers in the front row downloaded the image to their iPads, snickering. Deville changed the scene again.

Planes speared through the sky over a landscape of melting glaciers and smouldering forests.‘My best idea to date,’ boasted Deville. ‘I stole it from the last dragon, who, you remember, melted the North Pole with his dying, fiery breath. Bless him.’

Deville drank in the admiration. Wait. What was this? A new acolyte frowned, puzzled. Deville leaned forward. ‘Before your time, perhaps, young Mr….’ He read the name tag out loud, ’Mr B L Zebub. Interesting name. Well Mr Zebub, I am well aware that the Pole froze over again. Dragons are not perfect, but it did not matter. Already I had my grand plan.’

He waited, timing it. ‘Global warming!’

The tumultuous applause died at last. ‘Air Transport,’ Deville continued, ‘is central to my plans. Every single plane emits enough CO2 to melt the glaciers in, oh, roughly a year or two, I should think.The more planes, the sooner disaster will overtake this pesky planet.’

He waved a hoof vaguely. Detail was not his strong point. He left that to his team. ‘Humans adore their flights, their holidays in the sun, their lunches in Rome. They will never give them up, no matter what their scientists advise. My work is nearly done.’

At the back of the room, unnoticed, Gerald O’Dadd sighed and stroked his long, white beard. He pulled a battered Pocket Atlas from his battered pocket. Quietly he flicked through the book, speed-reading. He stopped at a page marked Iceland.

Gerald O’Dadd thought. He scratched his head. He frowned.

At last he smiled and retrieved a pencil from behind his right ear. He scribbled a note in the margin. ‘Volcanic Eruption.”