Saturday, 8 April 2006

Last night I saw my heroine, Miss Charlotte Hopesay, in the flesh.

Well, not exactly. As I have mentioned, Miss Hopesay's physical appearance is inspired by Heather Findlay of progressive rockers Mostly Autumn. The band played last night in the Corn Hall in Cirencester, which is less than 20 miles from the Wenlock abode, so I went along. I managed to secure a place almost at the front, strictly for research purposes, of course.

Heroes and heroines in less well written romances appear to be able to identify the colour of each others' eyes at a glance across a crowded room. The light level of a typical Regency ballroom cannot have been significantly better than that of the Corn Hall last night, and I found it very difficult to determine the colour of Miss Findlay's eyes from twelve feet away. They were not cornflower blue, flashing green nor (because such things don't exist naturally) amethyst. They were not cool grey, nor an intense dark brown (this one does exist - my eyes are a very deep brown). My conclusion was that they are hazel, not least because there is no real consensus over what colour hazel actually is.

I didn't spend the whole evening staring into Miss Findlay's eyes, however. I also wanted to see how her face reflected emotions, and how she moved about. Being the lead singer in a rock band she managed to express a wide range of intense emotions: sorrow, happiness (even ecstasy), pain and anger. But she was not strutting the stage the whole time, and during breaks between songs, or during other bandmembers' solos, she showed gentler emotions: thoughtfulness, wistfulness, concern, even confusion.

I did less well, from a research point of view, when it came to watching Miss Findlay move. Unfortunately she had not chosen to wear a high-waisted, full-length evening dress in primrose silk, or even a walking dress of sprig muslin. Nor was her footwear - knee-length black leather and suede boots with 3 inch stiletto heels - quite in keeping with what Miss Hopesay would have worn to Lady Stretton's Salon, or as the everyday clothes of a gently-born governess-companion.

But you can't have everything. The music was great, even if I did get absolutely drenched biking home in the wind and rain. Maybe next time the band plays in this area I will be able to persuade Miss Findlay to wear something a little more Regency.

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