{Guest Post} Creating a Victorian lexicon: by alleged author James Roberts

  • Tuesday, December 01, 2015

We all need a little fun in our lives. I often wonder at how "serious" we can be. But I'm throwing that all out the door since author James Roberts is in the house! Lovers of the classics, those who like a bit of something something funny bones-wise ... here you go!

Creating a Victorian lexicon: by alleged author James Roberts

When I set about writing Pardon Me: A Victorian Farce {I'll get the plug in early, there's another one coming along shortly}, a comic novel set in the 1890s, asides researching the era to get the feel of the period, I also began putting together my own period lexicon. I did not want authenticity as such, I wasn't doing a Hillary Mantel here. This was going to be farce, and to some extent, a parody to-boot. I wanted to have some fun with our Victorian forebears, and I wanted them to have some fun with the 21st Century. So in essence, what I was looking for was my very own 'cod' Victoriana. I wanted my characters to sound a bit Victorian in their speech, manners and attitudes, but to keep one foot in the present day. My ground-breaking methodology, which I can exclusively reveal here for the first time ever, and what's more, as I have yet to patent it, I can offer free to all Guiltless Readers, was this - I read a lot of books written in or around the 1890s. Yes, it was the innovative. It was also that bloody time consuming.

Of course, it did not just involve reading. I took some notes too. What I was especially on the lookout for was words and phrases that had fallen out of favour, and if the passage of time had perverted their meaning then all the better. Take for example the expression 'to get gay' with someone. Would you believe that this once meant 'to get on with something'. To be honest, this is double endentre with bells on and so blatant that even I shied away from deploying it for comic effect. 'Making love' however is a tad more subtle. Back in the days of the fin de siècle to 'make love' meant to flirt, or perhaps to take a girl by the arm and talk to her of poetry and flowers or something. Ergo: “He made love to me on the bus” a la 1890s is romantic and not in anyway sluttish.

Here are a selection of 'Bs' for your edification.

Bondage = a place of confinement.

Brick = a spiffing chap.

Bestial = a terribly unpleasant fellow.

Bosh = a total nonsense.

Bootless = a total waste of time.

Bounder/Brute/Blighter/Blister = a total b*stard.

Beano = a total p*ss up.

Blue Funk = losing one's marbles.

Should this particular blog prove popular I may be persuaded to move onto the Cs. So you may yet learn of what our friends the Victorian's meant when they spoke of 'calf love'.

Good day.

About James Roberts

James Roberts is a forty-something indie author and misanthrope who currently resides in the remoter outreaches of the Highlands of Scotland. He states his profession as 'freelance copywriter', being far too vain and supercilious to admit to being 'mostly out of work'. He has previously found gainful employment as a cocktail waiter, a vendor of cleaning cloths, a lecturer in modern history, a car salesman, a private tutor working with the financially advantaged, a care assistant working with the mentally disadvantaged and a fruiterer’s assistant. Some of these jobs he has been properly qualified for.

The epitome of the hermetic scribbler, James describes the content of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as "nauseatingly narcissistical dribble" and litters his correspondence with pidgin Latin aphorisms ad adsurdam omne ignotum pro terribili (as he would say), solely to annoy the younger generation. His website, www.jamesroberts.scot, where he can be found hiding behind the absurd nom de plume 'The Proprietor', eschews the potted author biogs, giveaways and blog tours expected of the serious indie author. Instead he subjects the unsuspecting browser to an outré discussion on the merits of the French post-structuralists, offers a 'BlogSpot' to '70s silver spooned novelist Jasper Wallet and gives Charles Dickens a social media makeover. It is, in sum, a study in self-marketing suicide.

Even more disturbing, extensive research into the author's background turns up the following entry on Google: James Roberts was the best-selling author of over a hundred books on topics as diverse as railway signalling and marital sex and his work had been translated into seventy three different languages including Welsh. In 2007 James was jailed for copyright infringement and serial plagiarism and having sex with a miner {a Welsh one}.

Recent telegraphic communiqués with the author have, however, elicited the assurance that James is now fully rehabilitated and divides his time between performing highly situational street theatre with live rabbits and lying to the nice people at Job Centre Plus.

Pardon Me: A Victorian Farce is his first novel. Or so he says.

Connect with James: Author website | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page


Synopsis of Pardon Me: A Victorian Face by James Roberts: Pardon Me is a comic farce set in the 1890s; a time when an English gentleman enjoyed talking down to the rest of the world and ‘PC’ meant Police Constable. It recounts the brief, if lively, career of hapless diplomat Madagan Rùn and his endeavours to save the British Empire from fantastical revelations vis-à-vis the making, lending and subsequent mislaying of the world's first ever celebrity sex celluloid. Along the way Madagan severely compromises no less an august triumvirate than Cecil Rhodes, Joseph Chamberlain and Prince Victor Albert, gets embroiled in a lavatorial farrago with Oscar Wilde, upsets the delicate sensibilities of Big Chief Mwanga, and starts a small colonial war.

Want to read more? Here's a longer extract - ten pages (approx., PDF)

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© guiltless readingMaira Gall