Top ten references when writing The Quiet City

Here, in no particular order, are ten that stood out for me straight away!Lots of honorable mentions as you can see from the racks behind me, including Henderson’s phone directory that told you what was where street by street in 1910 to 1911. Research was always a big deal in this, partly to make sure I got it right, but also to transport you back with all the color, sounds and sights of being in downtown victoria just before the great war.
Part of the book is set in present day which is how the room gets included as of course Victoria’s first library was the one on Yates and Blanshard donated by Andrew Carnegie.Click on the writer section of my page to read now! Thank you for checking out my work!Cheers,Tom

Who was Jack the Ripper? The Quiet City blog article

The year was 1888.

The place was Whitechapel, east London, England.

In a year of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee and the height of the British empire a single person would thrust the world into the next century. A single murderer, a serial killer would push social change and create a legend that is still mysterious and compelling today.

From a letter that started “Dear Boss” referring to George Lusk of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, the name was born. Whether it came from the killer we will never know, but it was crudely signed “From Hell, Jack the Ripper.”

Between August and November of that year is believed to be the Ripper’s main period of activity. During that time seven or more kills are attributed to Jack, with five that cannot be questioned.

Called the Canonical Five, their deaths shocked people around the world with the sheer brutality and the Ripper’s ability to kill so savagely and then seemingly blend into the night. It did not help that crime scene investigation was still in it’s infancy with the exception of the French legend Eugene Francois Vidocq in 1857 who incidentally inspired both Sir Authur Conan Doyle with his character “Sherlock Holmes” and Victor Hugo with his character “Jean Valjean.”

The Canonical Five were, in order…

Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly

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Named the Whitechapel Murderer and Leather Apron for a piece of cloth that was left at the crime scene of Catherine Eddowes (though it could have also been a piece of her own clothing) the number of possible suspects are numerous.

Many are connected to aspects of the crimes and a few have confessed but with no final conviction ever publicly made.

William Henry Bury caught the attention of Ripper investigator Frederick Abberline for the fact that Bury had killed his own wife in a similar way to the death of first victim Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols.

Thomas Neil Cream who had been a killer in both North America and England, and was a doctor with the knowledge of anatomy that would have assisted in the killers more vicious trademarks famously had the last words while being hung “I am Jack the…

There is the Royal Conspiracy, portrayed by Johnny Depp in the movie “From Hell”, which involved members of the freemasons leaping to the defense of the Royal family who were being blackmailed by a prostitute.

There was polish immigrant George Chapman who had poisoned three of his wives before being hung in 1903. Like Thomas Cream he had a high degree of medial knowledge which is still debated as to whether necessary. Many maintain that a butcher could have been just as effective, provided the person had the strength to inflict the wounds that were done so deeply and quickly. The change in way of killing makes Chapman also potentially unlikely.

Francis Tumblety was another possible killer who knew Whitechapel well. Arrested for gross indecancy he collected uteruses and pretended to be a doctor. He fled London in November 1888 at the end of the murders though his kind of kill never came up again in the North American cities where he fled to, something unusual for a serial killer.

Most famous and considered very possible was Aaron Kosminski, a 23 year old polish immigrant who was certified insane in 1891 and was committed an asylum. His name first appears in a police constables memo as a possible killer with a strong hatred of women and homocidal tendancies. One theory is that the police themselves kept his incarceration quiet as no good could come from the suggestion that a polish jew was guilty of something that had already incited antisemtic and racial hatred in the London streets. Kosminksi also resembled a man who ran from a constable during one of the murders. But there is also every possibilty that his connections to the murders was put in place to create the perfect hated scapegoat so even with recent findings involving the DNA of a decendant of Kosminski we will never know.

In The Quiet City I will bring in my own version of the ripper again, one connected to Whitechapel but in very new and hopefully unexpected way.

Thank you for reading my blog post and if you like it and want to know more about my historical thriller set in Victoria Canada, please follow and give this post a like! I have more blogs planned before I launch the book as well as the “Writer” section of my site which has links to some of my other work including the Telus Optik winner “Ollie and Emma”.

Thank you again for supporting indepedant artists!

Cheers,

Tom Pogson

Happy Indigenous People’s Day!

I know today has other other holidays attached, such as Canadian Thanksgiving but you can learn about this one wherever you are, even if you can’t get your hands on a Tofurky.

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The image above is from a great audiobook on the Hoopla Audio App which is free and attaches to your local library account (you can get a book for a month and a CD for about a week)

While at the library have a look for books on the subject of Native Americans, First Nations or American Indians (yeah they still use the latter, unfortunately. Some find it annoying, some have decided to roll with it. If you don’t know the tribe or band best to use Native. Or the person’s name. People like that… anyways, I digress)

There are so many books out there especially by First Nations authors that you can really get stuck in if you wish. Makuk, First Nations 101, Two Houses buried in Sand spring to mind from just the top of my head (and that’s just from here on Canada’s west coast.

In my own area there is so much to learn. On Vancouver Island’s southern tip are around 8 bands and 3 main languages. Then, similar to the Uk’s variation on accents regionally, there are subtleties between bands and clans in all aspects of life. To say you can just learn it all is a little like saying “I’m gonna learn the history of every family in Western Europe!”…it’s huge! But you can always dip your toe in with something today. After all you have studied some history I assume. Why not add the stuff they never taught you?

Even if it’s a YouTube video. Here’s a series with narrator Kevin Costner (post Dances with Wolves). I normally do a music clip but I’ll leave this up here as I want it to be leading. However, check out Native American musicians on Google if you want and discover way more that just Buffy. Though Buffy is great 😉

Anyway, get the popcorn and a drink, and when your all settled, click here

Cheers,

Tom

Discovering Georgia’s Eden

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This is something that I have always meant to blog about since it first captured my imagination.  From simply doing research for a book project I was working on, I have always wanted to travel to the country of Georgia.  To venture into the Caucasus Mountains that form its northern border and roam the streets of it’s capital city Tbilisi.

Set between the Black and Caspian Seas, Georgia first caught my attention in a series of videos called Vintage : A History of Wine which are narrated by the author of the original book by Hugh Johnson.  It is in this small, beautiful country that the story of wine begins.

In his film, Hugh explains that not only is Georgian Wine still made by the same ancient process of aging in gourds underground but that the history of winemaking there goes back to 10,000 B.C.

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I could almost finish my blog there and just let your imagination take things from that point.  This country on the border of Europe and Asia was making wine, something that requires patience and planning (and most importantly, civilisation) before most of the great empires of history took their first steps.  As an example they were making wine long before the construction of the first of the Egyptian pyramids with the earliest being the Pyramid of Djoser between 2630 and 2611 B.C.

The vineyard owners that Hugh Johnson interviewed were very humble and friendly which is exactly what I experienced myself when I made contact with people from this country myself.  Long before the Internet was what it is today I emailed some folks for more information on Georgia.  I was sent not only the phrasebook I sent for but a sheet of Georgian recipes and another sheet that contained facts about the country.  I still have my copy of this wonderful book by Patricia Hall and Tatyana Bukia which goes over everything from basic survival phrases to what to say at a Georgian Dinner.

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What is also interesting has been the increase of archeological discoveries in the countryside.  They have found the existence of dinosaurs in the area, ancient caves and more importantly, the evidence of human activity.  Near the town of Dmanisi, sixty kilometers south of Tbilisi that go back 1.7 million years.  For those who believe in the accounts of the Bible, Mount Ararat of the story of Noah’s Ark is a stone’s throw away.

What ever one believes I am personally enchanted by the wonder of Georgia as one of Europe’s most fascinating treasures.  Due to its military position as the border between two continents, its truth may be locked away under centuries of soldiers, horses and the endless scouring of time. 

If you are a Victoria, BC based reader you can find Georgian Wine as I have at the BC Liquor Store at the corner of Fort and Foul Bay.

Thank you for reading!   

Tom

Skyline photo project

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Victoria Harbour

Funny how this shot was taken on a day that I initially didn’t want to go out.  I have one of those lingering coughs that won’t go away and it was high thee to the drug store.  I think that’s how that’s spelled anyways.

Once I was outside I didn’t really notice the cough and I had just read one of those lists of blog challenges that asked for a skyline.  I had only heard that the top of Yates St. Parkade was good for that.  I had never actually been up there before.

Something about places like that take things away.  I feel a bit silly saying that because it’s also rumored to be a rough spot at night.  It’s the reality of our town like I want to explore with the Quiet City project.  We have the oldest street in Western Canada just below where the photos were taken.  That street was once lined with Saloons and peopled by newcomers from all over the world seeking riches in the gold fields along with the local Native communities who were already in residence.  We may believe in multiculturalism but getting everyone to understand that is another thing.  We also have a financial mix right across the board.  It is not cheap to live here and we have the wealthiest, street people and everyone in between still in the same mix as they were over a hundred years ago

You only way out is inside.  You can go outside and find some secluded place but it may not stay that way.  You pay off one bill and another one looms.  You add more work but it just loads more complications that drop your immunity through the floor. I don’t want to come off as negative but there are challenges for working class writers here. I just got a text threatening my phone to be cut off after bills already finished off my pay yesterday except for what i had for cold meds and juice. As i was outside uploading this (writing this in post) I just had to stop a street person from walking off with my bag. He apologized for that and it was awkward but still scary as it shakes you up because I know the desperation and therefore the unpredictability. It’s there under the same sunny skies as Beacon Hill Parks amphitheater. All you can do is roll with it. We’re a beautiful small city but a city nonetheless.

Find peace in the moment and live simply.  That’s what’s there for each of us city folk. Enjoy those little spots and good friends under the sun and blue horizon.

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Created by TomPogson.com

Living Languages

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Cece Sawyer exploring interactive exhibits

History is like a rising sun.  As our world gets closer and interacts the stories pour out from every corner.  The light floods every alley, every crag, every paper strewn gutter.  History is the great equalizer in a way.  It’s like a secondary version of glory or not.  What we do now ripples out into the galaxy.
My girlfriend and I went to the Royal British Columbia Museum as she hadn’t been there since she was little and I wanted to do some research into First Nations mythology, especially the section with the masks.  It’s best to do that on a weekday I found out as the section was crowded and hard to get notes.

But what was exciting was when we got off the escalator onto the 3rd floor.  There is now a permanent exhibition on First Nations language and stories called Living Languages.

Situated in the entrance to the 3rd floor in what was previously an empty space is a beautifully designed vibrant display of how the language that was nearly silenced is on the rise.  Films created in part by contributors from our community and across the province showcase the language, it’s importance and how it is still being taught despite the years of the schools attempt to suppress it. 

It reminds me of my own Catholic faith which I argue with all the time but I’m sure when the chips are down I will ask for last rights.   The Romans originally tried to silence us (lions played a part here) because they thought we were cannibals with the “body and blood of Christ” bit.

As the sun continues to rise the darkness washes away.  Our schools now explain the story of the residential school system which never happened at my age.  I am glad to see this happen as it has to.

Faith while debated should always be respected as should culture.  It is the lush fabric of our beautiful world.

Tom

Check out the exhibit now at…
http://royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/our-living-languages/

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Listening to stories

Created by TomPogson.com

The world of waiting

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I like the quote that Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode used to talk about the years he had already worked in the music business.   He got the quote from Keith Richards originally but I don’t think it’s only true for rock stars…

“It’s five years of work and the rest is waiting.”

We wait so much of our lives and you just know for a fact that there is…oh lots more to go.  As I write this (originally) I’m early for work and so I’m simply waiting as well.  Some folks naturally don’t like to wait.  I probably don’t much of the time as well as there is lots of things to do with creative work where it’s not one event after another.  So much of what I do is scheduling (as my many employers can understandably talk about) and that naturally leads to those in between times when you are simply waiting on the green light to get going.  But since we know that the waiting is going to happen I think that it’s almost empowering.
I mean, we now have these sometimes leash like mobile devices and if you “do social media” that is certainly one way to use up that time when we line up for a ticket, a coffee, purchasing a new shirt but there also just that opportunity to be more present in the moment.

This is one thing that is great about kids.  They are utterly self aware and in the moment.  They notice everything, and as we know, they are only too ready to tell you about it.  Ok, this shouldn’t be confused with patience as spending any time at a religious (or otherwise) service can tell you but that’s just because they have been told to quell their natural exuberance.  But as a busker, kids are awesome because they will often halt their parents who are cannoning from one very important thing to the next very important thing to pull at mom’s coat and exclaim…

“Mommy!  Look!  Guitar!”

I owe their union a lot of money for this.  It’s about being relaxed that things will work out and just setting off early so you’re not late.  Don’t line up if you can’t.   Don’t take on more than you can.  You don’t need to be perfect.  You’ll have plenty of time to wait tomorrow too.

But then I’m probably just an early bird.  Victoria is wonderful first thing in the early morning.  Give yourself the time to enjoy those little details of her city because there is lots of them.  That’s actually one thing I’ve really enjoyed about working on my own twitter and my project accounts…when reaching out to the city to tell everybody that we are here I’ve learned how much is really going on that you can get involved in.  This city was founded on a Gold Rush and a sudden influx of people from all over the globe.  With a background like that set on the Pacific Coast there is always another thing to see.  So step out of your own blinders when you have no option but to wait.  You could be surprised to find out where your really standing.

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