Our local Writers Group sets an assignment each month, and the subject for October was simply "Purple". I came up with this. No wonder I look shocked. Another fun photo courtesy of my friend, writer and photographer Nelma Ward.
A PIECE OF PURPLE PROSE -
IF you're trying to write purple prose, research some of the Victorian era novels. Or early 20th century books like "The Sheikh" by E.M. Hull. You know, the one the Rudolf Valentino silent movie was based on. Then there's the work of Elinor Glyn. Her most famous book is "Three Weeks", the story of an innocent young man seduced on a tiger-skin rug by a European royal lady holidaying incognito. (Fadeout at the vital moment. Darn.) It inspired these immortal lines:
'Would you like to sin on a tiger skin
With Elinor Glyn?
Or would you prefer to err with her
On some other kind of fur?'
So, you can see that to equal the origintors of purple prose I'm really up against it. Let's see now...
THE VICISSITUDES OF VALERIA
The British aristocrat Lady Valeria van de Vere Pug-in-Perambulator was the latest of a family so old and so rich no one sniggered at their surname but pronounced it in the same dignified accent they accorded to Windsor-on-Thames. Valeria wed a Frenchman of good blood, great charm, no title and no money named Etienne de Vulgarrat and bore him a daughter whom they named Virginia van de Vere de Vulgarrat. Etienne, of touchy and quarrelsome temper, died in a duel (unlawful but lethal) a few weeks later, a duel he felt honour-bound to initiate with one Louis le Liare when said Louis was heard to laugh at the French translation of Lady Valeria's appalling maiden appellation.
Valeria was cross with her husband's timing yet secretly relieved it would not now be necessary to repeat the messy and undignified process of childbirth. Also there was the comfort of wearing, from the day of Etienne's death onward, only the colour black, which not only made her reputation as a wife and widow forever in mourning - just like Queen Victoria after her Consort poor Albert of Saxe-Coburg kicked the unsanitary bucket of typhoid fever, though not before he, unlike Valeria's late lamented spouse, managed to father no fewer than nine children on his doting queen - but because Valeria knew perfectly well that black was her best colour.
And all this drama left little Virginia to be brought up, as was right and proper at the time, by nurses and nannies, and never presented to Valeria's dinner guests before that lady was certain the child, though her hair was plaited and she was primped and prettied up in piles of petticoats under plaid pinafores, would always be plain and never become a panted-after prize like her mama. So Virginia grew to prim and petulant puberty, praised, petted and pampered by potty persons of poor rank, and with no playmates but puppies, pussycats and pet pigeons, even though the pups and pussies occasionally pulped the pigeons to puerile perdition.
However, when Virginia's twenty-first birthday eventually arrived, she inherited a fabulous fortune from her famously mean-with-money maiden aunt, Miss Margaret May Menderby of Menderby Manor, and gleefully set up house in the Manor mansion with her pets and said persons of poor rank, and of course a fatuous female companion for respectability. Her mama, meanwhile, recklessly gambled away her own fortune with fast and fickle pursuits like cards and roulette at Monte Carlo, ate well but unwisely of whatever fine foods she fancied and finally ended up fat as a flawn, then in a moment of febrile foolishness fell into the fascinating if failing arms of none other than Louis le Liare, and flung herself without finesse into a final fashionable affair. Which proved too much for Louis's fervour and he faded away from a fatal fever.
The valiant Valeria, however, was disconcerted to discover her Fallopian tubes were still fertile and she had fallen pregnant, and when her figure filled with the foetus and her finances were fiddled away, fled to Virginia at Menderby Manor, where she bore a fat and farting infant whom Virginia magnanimously made out to be her own love child by the fragile fiance who, fed up with his failure to fund a famous fox hunt, had fatally fallen from a flagpole four fortunate months before. Virginia's fecundity thus seemingly fulfilled, the fifteen fortune hunters ferociously fighting for her favour and fortune refuelled their efforts, and Virginia wed with frantic festivities Lord Ferdy Faintleroy, the fairest and flirtiest fig off that fine feudal fifteen.
Virginia filled the final fifty years of her life bossing the flock of Ferdy, her mama, and her fat half-brother Filbert with a fine, firm flow of force, and with fiscal fission maintaining her manor and making many millions. Valeria flatly refused to fail feeding her flesh and fattened to a fantastic and foolish figure of fun.
Well, at least Virginia lived happily ever after.
(c) Monya Clayton 20th October 2009