A superlative side-effect…

…when you do readings is the people you get to meet.  People about whom you might think, on the surface, ‘I have nothing in common with you…’

But then, because of the circumstances of being in their shop or their venue, you get talking and, behold and whoa, they ask a question or two, possibly because it’s their job, possibly not, and there you are.  And this happened last night and it was just one of those great unexpected moments. 

I got talking to this young woman with a very lively intelligence about–yes, all right, it had to be, didn’t it–Napoleon’s inch-long willy…which was just the sort of wild thing that went exactly in the venue, the Little Shop of Horrors, but from there the conversation went on to all sorts of things about the early 19th century and the Napoleonic wars. 

And talking to her about all this stuff which I find so cool just reminded me why I love what I do.  Why knowledge and the sharing of it is among the most exciting things about human relationships.  And it rekindled in me such a love for all the trivia that goes into making a good novel about the period.

Why do I know all this stuff?  Well, mainly because I have a brain like a sponge, apparently, and I can’t help it soaking up whatever it encounters.  But also, I do try to read everything that might be pertinent, and see everything that might be relevant, because you never know what you’re going to need to know, do you?  And I can’t have one of my characters make a crack about some gossip about Napoleon if I don’t know what the gossip was.  (I do, as it happens.  And you’re right, we need more of that…ha ha.)

Anyway, I just wanted to say that.  It was a treat to talk Napoleonic shop and I can’t think why we don’t do more of it.

This entry was posted in Writing.

5 comments on “A superlative side-effect…

  1. OK then – I’ll pick your brains. Why did Napoleon lose his empire?
    I have a pet theory. Laugh if you will, but I believe he suffered from a ‘stress related illness.’ Let’s look at the evidence, Lloyd.
    He increasingly suffered bouts of a ‘stomach complaint’, variously diagnosed, from what I’ve read, but never confirmed.
    Frustrated by both his family and marshals, he began to believe as early as 1807 that to succeed he must do everything himself.
    His decisions, both on the battlefield and in public life, became increasingly erratic, bordering occasionally on the illogical.
    My experience is that after periods of extreme stress, the brain tries to protect itself by limiting previously useful but delicate functions eg. the capacity to ‘multitask’. Or perhaps the experience causes actual physiological damage.
    Of course, Napoleon might simply have been in the initial stages of megalomania.
    You’ve read far more than me – what do you think?


    • M M Bennetts says:

      You really want me to do this? You really want me to tell you the answer as to why Napoleon lost his empire? You want me to write a blog piece about that? You’re not a hundred miles off with your theory, you know…

      And as your wish is my command…but give me a couple of days, yes?

  2. Hey – I was only semi-serious. But from a ‘history-hater’ in my schooldays (all those damn dates and bills and acts without a shred of humanity to prove or disprove their worth)I’ve turned into a ‘history-cynic’. After all, unless supported by a measurable physical entity, everything written is supposition, conjecture and opinion. But if what you know is close to what I believe, I’d love to consign some of the dusty old rhetoric I’ve read to…well, the history books!
    Just don’t get me started on why Louis-Henri Loison was such a b*st*rd – unless you know the answer to that as well?

    • M M Bennetts says:

      As I say, give me a few days–though I’m already on it. There were a couple of good books about it a few years ago: Alastair Horne’s How Far From Austerlitz?;and Gregor Dallas’ The Roads to Waterloo. The second is full of the most fascinating trivia.

  3. Thanks for the biblio; I’ll look them up.


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