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velkommen

Welcome. This is my blog, and you're my most coveted guest. If I seem a bit too intense, it's only because I have so much that I want to share with you, and I can see that you're eager to begin as well. So, please...make yourself at home, sip an East India cocktail (I blended the pomegranate juice myself), and sample some of my domestic and imported Arcana: useless, but fascinating information about Victoriana, Steampunk and other favoured topics; music which evokes that dark, lost Lenore sensibility; and other pleasant or, perhaps, unsettling non sequiters whispered in a darkened room. Linger long or short, leave a comment or refrain, but remember to come back soon to play a (shhhh) parlour game.
Velkommen. Dette er min blog, og du er min mest eftertragtedegæst. Hvis jeg synes en smule for intenst, det er kunfordi jeg har så meget at jeg vil dele med jer, og jeg kanse, at du er ivrig efter at begynde så godt. kan du ...føl dig hjemme, sip et East India cocktail (jeg blandetden granatæble juice mig selv), og prøve nogle af mine indenlandske o importerede Arcana: ubrugelig, menfascinerende oplysninger om Victoriana, Steampunkog andre begunstigede emner; musik der fremkalderdenne mørke, mistede Lenore sensibilitet, og andrebehagelige eller måske foruroligende, ikke sequitershviskede i et mørkelagt rum. Linger lang eller kort,efterlade en kommentar eller afstå, men husk at komme tilbage snart til at spille en (Shhhh) selskabsleg.

ABOUT ME

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I love my grown children, miss all the dogs I ever had, and I cry at the drop of a hat, I believe in true love, destiny, fairness, and compassion. If I could be anywhere right now, it would be the ocean. My favorite city is New York, but I am always longing for London and craving more time in Copenhagen. I'm drawn to desolate places, deserted buildings, and unknown byways. I don't care how society perceives me as long as my gut tells me that what I'm doing is right. I am interested in paranormal things, spiritual things, historical things, and things that glow at night. I like to drink, I smoke when I write, I can't stand small talk, and despite my quick temper, I would rather kiss than fight. I'm selfish with my writing time, a spendthrift with my love. My heart has been broken so many times that it's held together with super glue and duct tape. The upside is that, next time, I won't be tempted to give away what I no longer have to give. But I will let you buy me a Pink Squirrel.

Fuldmane

Fuldmane
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Helvede's så Nocturne

Helvede's så Nocturne
The raw, aching sadness with which the following words were typed has been reformatted to fit your screen. No need to adjust it. All names have been expunged to protect the innocent and the willfully insane.

Nocturne in G Flat major

Chopin, darkness, light, sand and wind, starlight tread. Beethoven, love, fear, madness, redemption in the night. Liszt, waltzing widows, desperate bargains, pleasure's secret plight. Now, then, before, always, forever. Promises made on lonely beaches, celestial summer's perfect kiss, passions quenched in salty breezes, the lure of distant mist-draped heights. Bitter interlude. Final, private nocturne. Burned down like a candle. Doomed bleeding beauty. Fated sacrificial night.
To be continued...

Gentle Visitor

Gentle Visitor
And now, Gentle Visitor, won't you please lend an eye (we've worked so hard)...
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
We love all things dark and mysterious, macabre and obscure, odd and unfathomable. Nothing is too strange or bizarre for our little blog. And although we would never presume to offer definitive answers to the great questions of life, we shall do our best to enlighten, inform and delight our visitors with our whimsical potpurri of facts, anecdotes, trivia and informational outpourings. We strive not to offend, but to edify those who wish to reach beyond their comfort zone and touch the fabric of another time and place, and of distant, but genuine worlds and lives. As Victorian-themed blogs go, ours may not be the most austere, nor the most comprehensive, but we know what we like, and if our readers like it as well, then all is as it should be in this ramshackle corner of our own personal Victorian empire.

A Musical Note

A Musical Note: We feel that our blog is best viewed when accompanied by one or more of the following musical selections. Then again, we also feel that our blog is best viewed when accompanied by a glass of absinthe, a bite of lemon cake, and a foot massage (preferably by someone you know). So, to paraphrase the otherwise completely irrelevant-to-our-blog Mr. Aleister Crowley, "Do what thou wilt...but be open to Chopin."
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And now we begin

And now we begin
"One must strive to show decorum even when scrolling." Queen Victoria, Buckingham Palace Blog, August 11,1879

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

THE ART OF BEING A MISTRESS




ANNE BOLEYN: "THE MOST HAPPY" MISTRESS...UNTIL SHE LOST HER HEAD

When Anne Boleyn met King Henry VIII in March of 1526, she was, by contemporary standards, already an old maid. At twenty-nine, she was long-past what was then considered the prime marrying age, and with her dark looks and lean physique, hardly fit the popular ideal for what a "beautiful" woman should look like, which tended toward a more classically feminine appearance (i.e. blonde, blue-eyed, and voluptuous, if not overtly plump). Her unconventional looks, coupled with her almost mannish sense of independence and a sharp intellect made her something of an anomaly in court circles despite the fact that she was well-versed in the art of seduction and courtly romance, having spent her youth as a handmaiden to Queen Claude of France. Yet it seems that it was those very things which caught King Henry's attention when, at her father's urging, she left France and returned to England that spring for the sole purpose of advancing her family's position at court. Her younger sister, Mary had already put in her time as Henry's mistress, earning her the derogatory nickname "The Great Prostitute", a name that haunted her the rest of her life, even after Henry tired of her and sent her back into historical obscurity. But although sisters, Anne and Mary were two very different women. It was one thing to capture a king's attention, quite another to keep it. Mary, who was considered to be the greater beauty of the two, had failed to do the latter. Anne may not have possessed her sister's beauty, but, when it came to men, she had a few important attributes that Mary didn't have--a sophisticated wit, an inate awareness of what makes men tick, and a keen sense of timing.


MARY BOLEYN: HER CLASSIC BEAUTY JUST WASN'T ENOUGH TO WIN A KING'S HEART


HENRY VIII: KING OF ENGLAND, DEFENDER OF THE FAITH, AND A SUCKER FOR A HIGHLY-SKILLED SEDUCTRESS

From the moment Henry met Anne, he was a goner. Her lack of conventional beauty aside, she was about as sophisticated a woman as could be found in the royal court of England. A highly skilled conversationalist, well-educated, extremely literate, and a patron of the arts, she provided Henry with a refreshing respite from the ubiquitous flirts and banal ladies with whom he usually sought his extra marital pleasure. Contemporaries, even those who didn't like Anne (and there were a lot of them), admitted that, although "not beautiful", she still seemed to have a knack for drawing the attention of men. Her dark eyes were often referred to as "mesmerizing", and she was known for her stylish and sophisticated wardrobe, which she had brought with her from France. She was a gifted poet and a talented musician as well, two more attributes that the artistically inclined Henry found irresistable. But her crowning achievement (aside from actually being crowned Queen later on) was her stubborn refusal to sleep with Henry until he had promised to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon, and marry her. As unbelievable as it seems, Anne denied Henry her bed for six long years, and in doing so, not only kept his ardor at full throttle, but cemented his commitment to her. Granted, following Henry's divorce from Catherine and all of the political upheavel that ensued, Anne's inability to bear a son sealed her fate in a much more tragic way, but the fact that a woman of moderate noble birth, whose charms were tempered by cruel comments about her looks and suspect morals, was able to keep a man as powerful as Henry VIII on a string for nearly a decade, is worth a few kudos. Clearly, when it came to the art of being a mistress, Anne knew what she was doing, and did it so well that, out of all of Henry's six wives, she is the one whose name still sells books and movies and an Emmy-winning Showtime mini-series. On marrying Henry, Anne chose for her motto "The Most Happy", and although things may not have turned out as well as she would have liked, she is without question still the most famous mistress of all time.


ALICE KEPPEL: HIGH SOCIETY MISTRESS AND BELOVED COMPANION OF A FORMERLY CANTANKEROUS KING

It's quite possible that Anne Boleyn was one of the inspirations for another long-term affair involving another English king. Alice Frederica Keppel (nee Edmonstone) was born in Scotland in 1868, the daughter of titled landowners, whose titles, unfortunately, hadn't exempted them from a frustrating lack of ready funds. After "coming out" in British society, Alice married George Keppel, the 7th Earle of Albemarle, who was from a similar background and the victim of a similar financial state. Together, the couple decided that, in order to advance themselves in high society, Alice was going to have to take a bullet for the team and make herself available to other men, but only those who were rich enough to help fund the couple's extravagant lifestyle. And so, with her husband's blessing and occasional direction, Alice embarked on a career as a high profile mistress, bedding and bewitching a succession of wealthy, powerful British nobles, a career path which led, eventually, to the ornately-decorated bedroom of the future king of England, Edward VII, who fell for Alice's sultry charms like a sack of royal potatoes.


EDWARD VII OF ENGLAND: A MONARCH KNOWN FOR HIS MASSIVE APPETITE...ESPECIALLY WHEN HIS MISTRESS WAS ON THE MENU

Edward was fifty-six, and Alice was twenty-nine when the two first met. Like many of his forebears, Edward was a veteran womanizer, and was already involved with several other women, but he was immediately besotted by Alice, who was considered one of the great beauties of her day. Described by one biographer as having "alabaster skin, chestnut hair, big blue eyes, a small waist, and a big bust", she was known, not surprisingly, for her skills of persuasion, which she used to ample effect in winning Edward's heart. Shortly after meeting Edward and agreeing to join his already well-stocked stable of mistresses, she was rewarded for her superior charms when Edward bestowed upon her the nickname "La Favorita" and made her his semi-official mistress. In fact, the future king was so enamored of Alice that he installed her and her husband at the aptly named Pleasure House in East Sutton, Kent, where he visited her regularly, on which occasions George Keppel would conveniently find a reason to be elsewhere. It must be taken as a testament to Alice's proficiency as a mistress that even members of the royal family made a point of remarking on the "pleasant change" in Edward's formerly cantankerous demeanor since she had become his lover. Edward's wife, Queen Alexandra, even went so far as to confide in friends that she preferred Alice to all of her husband's former mistresses, who she thought had been too indiscreet and prone to flaunting their royal association with the king. The queen was so fond of Alice, in fact, that she allowed her to come and see the king on his death bed.


"THE HONORABLE" ALICE KEPPEL, CIRCA 1885

Between that time and the first years of their long relationship, Edward showed his appreciation to his mistress by making her a rich woman, not by mere gifts of money, but through investment opportunities which he set up for her, as he did when he gave her a share in a profitable rubber company. In doing so, he not only ensured that Alice and her husband would enjoy a comfortable lifelong income, he legitimized her in the eyes of the public, elevating her from the status of a "kept woman" to that of a "royal confidant and friend", to whom he felt gratitude for providing him with an important personal component that had been otherwise lacking in his marriage to a woman he respected and of whom he was fond, but did not love in a romantic sense. In her alliance with Edward, Alice set a new standard for royal mistresses, one that would not only continue after Edward's death, but would surface in another, very high profile relationship still making headlines today...that of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, who, it just so happens, is Alice Keppel's great granddaughter.


PRINCE CHARLES AND CAMILLA PARKER BOWLES: MONARCH-IN-WAITING AND FORMER MISTRESS TURNED WIFE

Of course, when it comes to looks, Camilla Parker Bowles was clearly casting her net on the shallow end of the gene pool (in our humble opinion at least), but as far as mistresses are concerned, she is definitely one of the greater success stories. For all of his ardor toward her, Edward VII was never able to give Alice Keppel the one thing that women want most from a man (i.e. marriage or, at the very least, a place of deference in his life), but Camilla is one of the few mistresses who actually made the leap from side dish to main entree. Lady Diana may have won the hearts of the British public (and the world) with her winsome looks and shy smile, but Camilla's hold on Charles' heart is unquestionable and, apparently, unrelenting. According to Diana: Her True Story, the tell-all biography published in the 1990s, Charles and Camilla were involved in a romantic relationship long before Charles met Diana, prior to Camilla's marriage to Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973, and during it, with the full knowledge and consent of Parker Bowles. Like many royal mistresses before her, the future Duchess of Cornwall was consigned to the sidelines when it came to public engagements, but her lack of acceptance in the public eye had no effect on Charles' feelings for her. When the couple married in 2005, there was, of course, a predictable outcry from supporters of the late Diana, whose hatred of Camilla was well-documented and echoed accordingly by those who adored and revered the ill-fated Princess of Wales. But the ensuing years have tempered the British public's resentment toward Camilla, and more recently, the former mistress has become a more or less accepted part of the royal family, largely due to the fact that Diana's sons have embraced her publicly, saying, in effect, that they are happy to see their father happy. Their acceptance of their late mother's former rival, and the fact that it's impossible not to see that Camilla and Charles are deeply in love, have done more for her than any P.R. agent could ever have hoped to do. Camilla may never be the beloved public figure that Diana was, but for all of her frumpishness and social clumsiness, she is one mistress who got her man.


MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: A MISTRESS WHO GOT HER MAN...AND A RING. WOULDN'T ALICE BE PROUD?

And if Charles ever does become king, Camilla's status as his wife will mean that, for all practical purposes, the "mistress circle" which began in 1526 with the relationship between Anne Boleyn and Henry VII will have finally come full circle. Whether that's a good or bad thing is a matter of opinion, of course. But it is, if nothing else, an undeniable commentary on the role of mistresses throughout history. In other words...behind every great man, there is a great woman, and sometimes that woman just happens to be his mistress.

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