Monday, December 19, 2016

Charles Dickens' Victorian London

   I don’t celebrate Christmas so I stayed away from The Dickens’ Fair.  The fair is held every year at Cow Palace, along Geneva Ave, Daly City.  I’ve been in San Francisco for three years before I took an interest to see what goes on in there.  I found out The Dickens’ Fair is not about Christmas.  It’s more about London during the Victorian era.  Street signs of the period were posted along the hallways of the exhibits.  It’s not only about Charles Dickens either.  Edgar Allan Poe was there too.  

   The costumes, food and products available during the Victorian era were displayed and were on sale.  The shepherd’s pie was good.  I also tried the hot cider with whiskey and cinnamon and the clam chowder.  There were a lot more but I can’t afford to sample all.  The products on sale were scented candles, crystallized rose flower fashioned into jewelries, handmade soap and a host of curios that may or may not have been worn during the Victorian period.

Joy  Strong playing a street wench 
   There were some interesting characters portrayed by actors and actresses who were all dressed in Victorian era costumes.  They stayed in character while they mingled with the spectators.  One of them was Joy Strong, who played a ‘street wench’, (prostitute).

   “Where can I get a wench’s costume?” I asked her, expecting an answer circa 2016.

   “Find a lady who has fallen from grace and steal her clothes.  You’ll be fine.”  She gave a suggestion expected of a wench in a Victorian low life accent. 

   At the end of our conversation, she handed me a ticket that meant she had given me crabs.  Another ticket meant I contracted “Scarlet Ague”, a sexually transmitted disease of the place and time.

   There were stage shows which were the entertainment during the 1800’s.  They featured acted drunken singing and supposedly lewd jokes which are tame compared to what we have today.  The audience was singing, hooting and hollering with the performers, giving the hall the atmosphere of a theater bar.  We may not have this kind of theater bar today.  These days it’s called a strip joint.

   It made me wonder if long after I have died, would people dress up in my era’s fashion to reenact the stories in my books.  That would be just as interesting I’m sure.

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