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Monday, February 27, 2023

Nicknames and Endearments.


Nicknames and Endearments.

Nicknames can help readers identify with characters, give a small clue to their personalities or appearance. Or nicknames can be deliberately misleading and at the same time appropriate, say where “Generous Eddie” turns out to be a brutal miser, generous only in the beatings he administers, or “Big Meg” is a small and dainty creature, perhaps with a large heart. Nicknames can also be wrong, revealing perhaps a character labouring under the mistaken opinions of those around her/him, and something that the reader and main viewpoint characters in the story can gradually discover.

 In history, King Edward the First of England was nicknamed “Longshanks” for his height and “Hammer of the Scots” for his campaigns against Scotland. An example of a nickname giving a flattering impression that was not, in my opinion matched by reality is King Richard I, the “Lionheart.” Brave perhaps but also cruel, as shown by his killing of the Muslim captives of Acre – all 2700 of them. By contrast, Richard’s opponent on the crusades, Saladin, was a man whose epithet, “Salah ad-Din” means “Righteousness of the Faith”, a title he appears to have lived by.

A more endearing nickname is that of “Greedy-Guts” for the famous medieval champion and knight William Marshal, an epithet he acquired during his teenage years.

In my own fiction, I use nicknames to reveal character. So, in ‘The Master Cook and the Maiden,’ my hero Swain, is known to his brothers as “Ram,” because of his great size and battle habits.



One more thing is needed... an entourage," said a new

voice, issuing from the out of the apple tree by the garden

wall. Even as Alfwen struggled to pick out the stranger in the

shadows and foliage, Swein was darting forward.

“Gideon, by all that’s holy! Well met, brother!”

He smacked into the newcomer, knocking the shorter man

to the ground while Mistress Glover scolded, “The tunic,

Swein, careful of the tunic!”

Somehow, the smaller man flung Swein off him, leapt to

his feet and enveloped his brother in a bear hug. “Well met,


“After Battering-Ram, when he would charge into things

as a lad,” Gideon explained, nodding to Alfwen and the

widow. “Will you introduce me, Ram?”

Grinning, Swein detached himself from Gideon and

bowed. “May I present Mistress Glover and my wife, Alfwen.”

He beamed at Alfwen, a look of pride and love together.

“My bride, Alfwen.”

The shorter man stepped closer and Alfwen’s breath



Endearments in fiction, especially romance fiction, can show a developing romantic interest and tension and suggest a growing closeness. Individual and apt endearments are particularly satisfying and can be used in banter between couples in both fiction and life. They can also show a regional flavour.

So, for Cornwall, “Lover” and “My handsome man,” can be used as pet names for both sexes. (I was called “My handsome man” by an elderly Cornish lady, straight after she commented on my looks to my mum, “It don’t look twenty-one, do it?”) Devon folk also use “Lover,” – I always smile when my husband, who comes from Exeter, uses it to me.

Scots can use “Hen” as a pet name for a young woman. Annwyl in Welsh means "dear, darling, beloved,” and anwylyd means dearest. For a boy: “fy ngwas bach I” (my little lad) or “fy 'mach del I” (my little pretty one). Hinny, Pet, Bonny lass/lad are all expressions I’ve heard in Northumbria.

‘”Sweeting,” has been popular since the Middle Ages, or “dear heart.”, though “piggesnie” (“Pig’s eye”) may not be well received today. How about the lovely, “My heart’s gleam” or “My best beloved,” that are also medieval?

Have you any favourite nicknames or endearments?



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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Dance Scenes in Historically-Set Movies – February - Shall We Dance? #prairierosepubs #moviedancescenes

Join me here for a year of movie trivia fun as I post dance scenes from movies set in historical time periods. I will give a brief summary of the movie’s plot and an equally brief set-up to the scene.

Each month on the second Wednesday, I will post a movie clip and link back to previous movie scene articles here on the blog.

 This is the criteria by which I'm choosing movie scenes:

  • In a non-musical movie, the dance scene is important to the storyline and not just visual and auditory filler.
  • In a musical drama, the characters in the dance scene don’t sing to each other.
  • In a musical drama, the dance scene is important to the storyline and not just visual and auditory filler.
  • The historical cut-off is 1960, because that date works for me. ;-)

Side note:  The article “Classic Literature is Not Necessarily Historical Fiction” on the BookRiot website offers an interesting explanation on what constitutes historical fiction and where various historical date lines are drawn.

Onward to the Febuary movie scene.

Name of Movie: The King and I
Historical Time Period: 1860s
Location: Siam
Occasion: Formal government dinner and social activity
Type of Dance: Polka

Background from Wikipedia:

 “The King and I is a 1956 American musical film made by 20th Century-Fox, directed by Walter Lang and produced by Charles Brackett and Darryl F. Zanuck. The screenplay by Ernest Lehman is based on the 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I, based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon. That novel in turn was based on memoirs written by Anna Leonowens, who became school teacher to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s. Leonowens' stories were autobiographical, although various elements of them have been called into question. The film stars Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner.”

Warning – Spoilers ahead

Scene Set-Up

 Anna, a widowed school teacher from England along with her young son, Louis, arrive in Bangkok where Anna will tutor King Mongkut’s many children. Anna is given living quarters in the palace despite the King's promise to provide her a house. This remains a conflict between the King and Anna for quite some time.

 The King concedes to provide her a house if she will help him appear less 'barbaric' to the British delegation there to assess his kingdom for possible protectorate status.

 During this official State business evening, Anna dances with an old friend. The King is intrigued and a bit jealous. After the evening's festivities are over, the Kink encounters Anna as she remembers how much she enjoyed the dancing and socializing. The King demands she teach him how to dance.

This is the polka from the movie – Shall We Dance?

It is subtly obvious that this dance scene’s purpose is to reveal that the King and Anna have fallen in love. It’s while dancing that they admit it to each other through facial expressions and touch. They also realize absolutely nothing can come of their mutual feelings of love.

At 1:47 in this clip, Anna and the Kink grasp hands to prepare to dance. There is a 'respectable' space between their bodies. They move apart as Anna explains the dance steps. The King watches and makes the foot movements. Anna swirls about singing of love. She and the King say 'romance' at the same time. Anna slowly turns to the King as she has the first glimmer of acknowledgement of their mutual attraction.

They take hold of each other's hands again (2:36). They dance and prance around, but the King is dissatisfied. At 3:15, the King cuts through the social politeness and calls a spade a spade – holding hands at a distance isn't what he saw her doing with that European earlier in the evening.

He moves in slowly, his hand extended to touch her, partially embrace her. Anna's breath hitches. Her cheeks flush. Their gazes lock in mutual understanding that if he touches her…if she allows him to touch her…it will be an unspoken declaration of love between them.

The dance finishes. They gaze longingly at each other from across the ballroom. The King slowly moves toward Anna, his arm outstretched to touch her again. She anticipates his touch.

 He slips his hand along her corseted side. She allows him to move in, body to body. That moment of gone too far arrives. The kiss is imminent.

In the space of a breath, the King remembers who he is, while also truly respecting Anna (maybe for the first time in the story), and he goes for another dance instead of the forbidden kiss.

This dance was their only moment to share their love that will forever remain locked in their hearts.

The costumes for the time period are simply lovely in this movie.

 Until next time,

Kaye Spencer
Writing through history one romance upon a time


Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The Original Great British Bake Off

 The Original Great British Bake Off

C. A. Asbrey

Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, and is observed in various ways in Christian countries throughout the world, but most reflect the fact that it's the last day to feast on forbidden goodies before the lenten fast begins. The most famous are probably the carnival in Rio De Janeiro and the Mardis Gras in New Orleans, which translates directly from French as Fat Tuesday. The word carnival comes from from medieval Latin carnelevamen, carnelevarium ‘Shrovetide’, from Latin caro, carn- ‘flesh’ + levare ‘put away’. In Denmark, buns stuffed with whipped cream, chocolate, jam, accompany fastenlavn; a game involving hitting toy barrels full of sweets shaped like cats in a game similar to a piƱata. Lithuanians are encouraged to eat twelve meals to prepare for the fast, and hold festivals where people sing, dance, and play tricks in a way Halloween is celebrated elsewhere. The Polish have Fat Thursday instead, with bakeries opening early to sell of the cakes that will be consumed that day,and Spain also starts on the last Thursday before Lent when they throw Dia de la Tortilla, literally Day of the Omelette. This carnival varies by region, but rest assured it will involve feasting on all things tasty and fattening.

Olney Pancake Race

In the UK it's all about the pancakes. They cook them, eat them, race with them, flip them, and ritually beg for them. In older times a version a wassailing accompanied Shrove Tuesday. Known as Lent Crocking, Nicky-Nan Night, the Drawing of Cloam, Dappy-Door Night, or Pan Sharding. This entailed people going from door to door begging for pancakes, ingredients, or fillings. A failure to provide them could result in pranks. The origins of the pancake race come from an old story about a woman in 1445 who was so busy making pancakes that she didn't realise she was late for church until the bells rung. She raced to the church, still clutching her hot pan, tossing the pancake all the way to prevent it from burning.

This tradition takes place all over the UK, and even at the Houses of Parliament, but the event at the Village of Olney is the most famous. Contestants run a 415 yard course, and they must wear a headscarf and an apron, tossing the pancake as they go. Other events celebrate the tossing of the pancakes, trying to toss it the highest, the most times, or set records for the largest number of people tossing pancakes (Sheffield 2012, where 890 people tossed pancakes for thirty seconds). The largest pancake was also tossed in England, in Rochdale, in 1994 using a crane.

The Largest Pancake Ever Tossed
Florence White was the first freelance food journalist un the UK. In 1932 she published a book of regional 853 recipes from all over the UK, some dating back to the fourteenth century. I can't think of anyone better to provide an original pancake recipe. 


2 oz plain flour

1 egg

1 gill of milk (a historical measurement, translating to 142ml)

A pinch of salt 2 oz clarified fat for frying

2 oz caster sugar

Lemon juice


Mix the flour and salt together, and make into a batter with the egg and milk. Heat the frying-pan, add a little fat. Make it quite hot, and pour in enough batter to cover the pan thinly. When golden brown on one side, toss or turn and fry the other.

Squeeze a little lemon juice over it, dust with caster sugar, roll up and serve dusted with caster sugar.


“That’s my drink,” said Tibby. 

The stranger turned a smug sneer on Tibby. “It can’t be. It’s in my hand.” “It’s mine.” 

Tibby appealed to the barman for help. “He’s got my drink.”

The server rolled his eyes. “Have you seen how busy it is in here? I ain’t got time to watch everyone’s stuff. Look after your own drink.” 

“I’m trying to. Give me that.” Tibby reached up but the taller man held the glass up high, way out of the reach of the tiny man. “You know that’s mine.” 

Tibby jumped and stretched, huffing in his exertion in a game of alcoholic-keep-away much to the amusement of the ring of bullies who sniggered and jeered. “Look at the size of him. He’s a midget.” 

“I am not.” Tibby jumped once more. “Midgets are medically four-foot-ten. I’m five-foot-one.” 

“Five-one,” guffawed a vacant-looking goon. “You is a giant midget.”

 “Please, I’ve had a terrible day. Just let me have a drink in peace. Give me my glass.” 

“Yeah, give ’im his glass, Fred,” scoffed the large one with greasy hair sticking out from under a tatty cap. 

“Sure.” The stranger swilled back the contents before he held out the empty glass. “Here.” 

Tibby pulled back his reaching hand, his bottom lip growing and trembling beneath great blue globes which glistened with tears. “You drank it?” 

The men threw back their heads and guffawed, slapping one another on the backs and seeking support for their helpless mirth at this unexpected reaction. It was beyond anything they’d hoped for. 

“Yeah, get yourself another.” The bully snickered.

Tears streamed down Tibby’s face. “I don’t want another drink. I wanted that one. It was special.” 

Fred leaned forward, leering into Tibby’s face. 

“Well, you can’t have that one. I drank it.” 

“He’s cryin’. Can you believe this?” asked the smallest bully. “A grown man sobbin’ like a baby.” 

“I don’t believe this.” Tibby leaned over the bar, his shoulders heaving with deep sobs. “First of all, I get taken to jail for a crime I didn’t commit. Then I get fired, and to top it off, my wife told me she’s leaving me.” He backhanded away glistening tears as the band of bullies fell quiet. “This has been the worst day of my entire life. I come in here for a quiet drink and now, I meet you. Why do you want to stop me from committing suicide? It’s too cruel.”

 “Suicide?” a small voice murmured from the gaggle of miscreants. “

Yeah.” Tibby turned on the bully, pointing an accusing finger. “He drank my poison. A man can’t even kill himself in peace anymore.” 

Tibby kept right in character and watched Fred grasp his throat. “Poison?” 

“I tried to tell you, but you kept pulling it away from me. I came in here to kill myself, but now you even took that from me.” 

“He’s bluffin’,” cried one of the crowd. 

“Ya think?” demanded another. “How often d’ya see a grown man cry in public?” 

“He ain’t exactly a grown man,” answered his friend. It wasn’t helping though, Fred’s eyes bulged and he doubled over thrusting his fingers down his gullet.

Fred’s friend grabbed Tibby by the lapels and shook him violently. “What kinda poison was it?” The journalist wailed and whimpered as Fred buckled at the knees. “What kind?” 

“Strychnine,” Tibby sniveled. “What have I got left to live for?” 

“Strychnine?” “Yeah, that’s why I had with whiskey. It kills the taste.” Tibby paused. “Along with the crushing pain of my pointless existence. I guess your existence has been rendered meaningless, now.” 

“I need a doc,” Fred bellowed, running for the door. 

“A doctor won’t be able to help,” Tibby called after the departing crowd. His tears had dried up and his smile returned with suspicious alacrity. “But get your stomach pumped, just in case.”

The barman wiped the bar with a grubby cloth and eyed Tibby with caution. “I ain’t gonna have no trouble in here.” 

“Hey, if you’d adopted that stance a minute ago, I wouldn’t have been driven to subterfuge.” 

The barman frowned. “There ain’t nowhere around here called Subterfuge. This is the Flying Horse.”

Tibby sighed. “Two more whiskeys, please.” His face lit up at the sight of Jake returning from the latrines. “Ah, you’re back. I just ordered some more drinks.” 

Jake’s brow met, picking up on the undercurrents and sideways glances going on around them. “What’s goin’ on?” 

“Nothing.” Tibby smiled his most innocent smile. “Some bullies took my whiskey but I told them how tough my day had been and they left.” He lifted the shot glass replete with amber liquid. “I ordered us some more. Now, about Callie. I’ve had a few thoughts.”


Sunday, February 5, 2023

A look at TV Westerns - The Range Rider

 Post by Doris McCraw aka Angela Raines

Photo property of the author

Cue music: "Home on the Range" and 

Voice over: "And who could be more at home on the range than the Range Rider? With his thrilling adventures of the great outdoors. His exciting experiences, rivaling those of Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Buffalo Bill, and other pioneers of this great country of ours. And Dick West, All American Boy."

This began the syndicated show "The Range Rider" 

Jock Mahoney as the Range Rider
from Wikipedia

This and future post is a look at some of the early TV Westerns. First up is "The Range Rider".

The official IMDb site displays the following: "The Range Rider had a reputation for fairness, fighting ability, and accuracy with his guns and was known far and wide, even by the Indians."

The show ran in syndication for three seasons from 1951-1953 for a total of seventy-nine, thirty-minute episodes. It was from Gene Autry's 'Flying A Productions' and its theme song was the familiar "Home on the Range."

The stars of the show were: Jack 'Jock' Mahoney and Dick Jones. 

Dick Jones 

Tell me who could ever forget the feline grace of Mahoney and the horsemanship of West. I swear in all the episodes I've seen I've never once seen Mahoney use a stirrup. He's beside the horse and then in one smooth motion, he's atop the animal. And the much shorter Jones was not far behind when it came to getting into the saddle. 

I always found it fascinating that the 'Range Rider' never wore boots but used moccasins instead. Perhaps that contributed to the feline grace of the character. 

Both Mahoney and Jones did most of their own stunts. In fact, Mahoney was a stuntman and stood in for Charles Starrett in "The Durango Kid" movies. The other standout was the chemistry between the two men and the humor that they played so well off of each other. 

Mahoney, born in Chicago, IL. in 1919, was 6'4".  Dick Jones, born in Snyder, TX in 1927, was 5'7". Although only eight years younger, Jones passed as a teen in the show. 

For more about Jock Mahoney: Wikipedia - Jock Mahoney

For more information on Dick Jones' career: Wikipedia - Dick Jones

And, of course, if you'd like to check out an episode: Range Rider- Marshal From Madero

See you next time for another exciting adventure tale from the shows I have enjoyed.

Make sure to check out the other posts on this blog. The information and topics are as diverse as the stories the authors here tell.