Writing Every Day in March: Day 21

“It’s a chicken, innit?”

Mostly, I wanted to have a character use the words “It’s a chicken, innit?” and “aubergine.”

“We need to start insisting that our clients pay us in money,” Lucia says, angrily assaulting her canvas with her paintbrush and large, haphazard globs of paint from her pallet.

“Oh, it’s not so bad,” Apolline says, seeing to her own canvas with rather more delicacy. “It’s something to do on our days off.”

“And it cultivates patience, discipline, and fine motor skills,” Petra says happily. “And these lessons are with Sir Leofric, he’s one of the most famous painters in Middelmere. That’s priceless.”

“If he’s from Middelmere, why’s he here?” Lucia asks.

“The Duke hired him to paint some frescoes around town,” Petra explains. “The Alchemical Guildhall, the Library, the Art Gallery. That building Duke Cornelius built specifically to have decorated with frescoes.”

Lucia sighs, splattering more paint onto her canvas

“We have no-one to blame but ourselves,” she decides. “We should have known this would happen when we agreed to help steal back paintings from the Art Gallery.”

As the class goes on, Sir Leofric makes a long, slow circuit around the room to check on his students’ progress.

He stops to peer over Lucia’s shoulder.

“Might I offer you some feedback?” Sir Leofric asks Lucia.

“Will it matter if I say no?” Lucia asks.

“Try gentler brushstrokes, rather than these brush-stabs,” Sir Leofric says. “You’re making Art happen, not murdering a person, luv.”

“Didn’t you just spend an hour telling us how painting is a deeply personal experience that’s supposed to give voice to our unique innermost Artistic voice?” Lucia protests. “Well, what if my innermost Artistic voice feels like screaming, huh?”

“Well,” Sir Leofric says. “At least you’ve been paying attention to the lectures. Do what makes you happy, luv. The only critic that matters is you.”

Lucia scoffs and goes back to her brush-stabs.

“Pffft. Artists.”

He moves onto Apolline, who is working on meticulously shading a still-life with an eggplant.

“Quite good, luv. Fine attention to detail” he says.

He points to the eggplant.

“You know, where I’m from, we call ‘em aubergines.”

“Yes, Sir Leofric, I’m aware,” Apolline answers. “My father is a diplomat. I spent a few years in Middelmere.”

“Brilliant,” Sir Leofric says. “Weather’s better in Middlesbrooke, innit? Haven’t had a proper Wintermorn pudding since I left home, though.”

He moves onto Petra.

“And how are you getting on, luv?” he asks.

“Fine,” Petra says, her tongue sticking thoughtfully out of the corner of her mouth as she works.

Sir Leofric looks pensively at Petra’s painting.

“Well, it’s a chicken, innit?”

“Yes,” Petra answers. “It’s a chicken.”

“Tell me about this chicken,” Sir Leofric says.

“Well,” Petra stammers. “It’s a chicken. In a farmyard.”

“And what’s the story behind this particular chicken?” Sir Leofric asks. “Why is he coming to life right here on this very canvas? Of all the infinite variations of all the infinite wonders on the Powers’ good earth, why decide to paint a chicken?”

Petra’s gazes shifts between her painting and Sir Leofric. She is quite for a long thoughtful moment.

“I just wanted to paint a chicken,” Petra says.

Brilliant,” Sir Leofric exclaims.

So, I’ve established that my world is supposed to be equivalent to basically early/mid 1600s Earth, but I’ve also been working under the assumption that Middelmere is an England where the Anglo-Saxon influence was never supplanted by the Norman Conquest.

Admittedly, what an Anglo-Saxon culture that survived into Early Modernity would actually look like is entirely hypothetical and Sir Leofric probably shouldn’t be so John Bull/Rule, Britannia British, but there’s no real-world precedent for “Early Modern Anglo-Saxon” culture, I kinda had to stick to the available real-world reference.

Also, I really, really wanted to have him say “innit”.

That being said, trying to hammer out what a more strongly Anglo-Saxon Middelmere looks like it could be pretty cool.

Though, I mean, honestly, I’m a little sad that I’m not British and people look at me weird when I try work “innit” into my regular speech…

It’s a real sticky wicket. Innit, bruv?

I, uh, I don’t know if British people actually talk like that…

Recap of Week 3 coming later tonight.

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