‘Stand and Deliver!’

My Pinterest board – as well as being a way of losing hours – is a repository for a whole host of lovely pictures, and it’s no surprise really that I chose to call it Inspiration and Suchlike. If you track it down, you’ll see a snapshot of the things I like and ‘pin’, which just make it easier for me to refer to if I’m writing. On the board, is a rather splendid collection of period clothing and ephemera, for instance Ella’s wedding dress from Some Veil Did Fall and a bathing hut, which was Lorelei’s sanctuary on the coast in The Girl in the Photograph. There are also ice skates, a packhorse bridge and other things relating to my new trilogy, which is still very much in the edits stage, although it’s all been signed up by my lovely publishers Choc Lit.

If you track my board down you’ll also see a picture of Adam Ant. This one, in fact.

Adam Ant

 

The first book in the new trilogy has a charismatic highwayman as one of the characters, and if you read my previous post, you’ll see I had a peculiar old Google Search and randomly discovered Hugh Grant as a highwayman. I love Hugh, but he wasn’t the best person for the role, as my highwayman has a bit more of a dangerous glamour to him. And I can’t see Hugh in that role. As my Mum would say, he’s a bit chocolate boxy. What do you reckon? Personally, I don’t think his mask is very effective. You could tell that was Hugh a mile off.

Hugh Grant

I can’t actually visualise Adam Ant as my historical hero either; my highwayman certainly doesn’t have a white stripe across his nose, but I put that picture on Pinterest to appease a friend who was adamant (get it?) that I needed that particular Dandy Highwayman on the board, if I was going to all the bother to find highwaymen. I do aim to please and it’s quite a nice picture of him anyway.

During the ‘poking around the internet’ time that I class as valid research, I was also trying to source some pictures relating to The Highwayman poem by Alfred Noyes, which still sends chills down my spine decades after we did the poem at school. I just love it. It fires my imagination every time I read it, and that’s why you’ll find a quote from The Highwayman at the beginning of the new book.

One more thing that’s arisen from my research into highwaymen is the fact that they did indeed say ‘Stand and deliver!’. Now, I don’t feel able to put that in to the novel as it stands, because (and I bet you’re doing it right now) readers will simply end up singing it in an Adam Ant voice. Instead, I found this marvellous phrase in a contemporary court case: “Deliver to me this moment, and make no noise, for if you do I will shoot you dead. And tragically so.”

The whole phrase was from the trial of James Abbot for highway robbery on 27th February 1754 in the Old Bailey. Abbot’s victim gave this testimony:

“When we came into Hyde Park the prisoner, Abbot, came up to me, and put a pistol to my breast, and said, D – n you, deliver to me this moment, and make no noise, for if you do I will shoot you dead. I will have your money or your life before you wag [move] a step farther.”

Interestingly, Hyde Park was also the first place to have an artificially lit highway in England. The area which became Rotten Row was lit by three hundred oil lamps, ostensibly to make King William III feel safer when he was cutting through to Kensington Palace; probably because it was an area rife for highwaymen! Research can throw up some very interesting facts, which is part of the reason I enjoy it so much. It also gives me an excuse to trawl the internet looking for Hugh Grant and Adam Ant pictures….it’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it!