Here’s a richly described set of characters and context that make for good story telling. Excerpts from an interview with Joan Walsh on the “Truth out” site sketch a tense encounter between brothers with very different world views:
White working class men were already feeling the early rumbles of deindustrialization. And they were also angry and resentful at the youth revolt. Some of it was patriotism – they couldn’t stand to see the flag or the president disrespected. Some were veterans. Some were just angry that college kids who got chances they never had turned out to be so ungrateful! The Hard Hat Riot of 1970 followed a peaceful protest near New York City Hall, after four students were shot by the National Guard at Kent State University May 4. By all accounts, it wasn’t a rowdy or angry or at all violent gathering, but a little ways into it, about 200 construction workers from the World Trade Center site came charging up the street with flags, and they began beating some of the protesters with their hard hats. My father was there as a protester, and he thought he saw his brother, a steamfitter, among the rioters. He fled and went back to his office and to my knowledge they never spoke about it.”Below the interview, a reader had this useful tidbit to add in the comments:
It’s a human characteristic to be afraid of change. Strangely, it seems, the worse a person’s situation is, the less promising any change for the better will happen, the more a person fears change. I remember the time when so-called ‘hard-hats’ (labor) felt directly threatened by any man with long hair and a beard, especially young men. When it was pointed out to the ‘hard-hats’ that for the greater part of American history men had longish hair and beards, they were merely a fashion statement or popular trend, it fell on deafened ears. Clean-shaven and short hair were their normal, long hair and beards were abnormal, a change in, of all things, men’s styles was to be feared.”
Below are passages from a Daily Mail UK article about Princess Margaret and the man she had wanted to marry. The bittersweet longing in the piece and mournful ending provide enough drama to sustain a good long piece of fiction.
“Her tender touch betrayed their secret, as Margaret attentively brushed fluff from the dashing officer’s jacket.
Until then, Group Captain Peter Townsend and the Princess had been forced to hide their feelings. With the world watching, at the Coronation of Margaret’s sister, the couple seemed so much in love.
But it was a love that would be denied. She was a Princess who could not renounce her birthright and he was a divorcee in an age when divorce was a mark of shame….
They told each other they wanted to be together, but the prospect of marriage between the Queen’s sister and a divorced man raised ecclesiastical and constitutional problems.
The Queen, being fond of Margaret, was sympathetic. The Queen Mother, however, was deeply upset.
When Townsend told the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Alan “Tommy” Lascelles, of his desire to marry the Princess, the old-school courtier was outraged. “You must be either mad or bad,” Lascelles told Townsend.
When, in 1953, it became clear that the couple wanted to marry, the Queen asked them to do nothing and wait a year, perhaps hoping the flame of desire would die.
It was not until American columnists began to write about the possibility of a marriage that similar reports were printed in the British Press. Lascelles, the Queen’s private secretary, warned the monarch that Townsend must be sent away and, reluctantly, she agreed.
He was given a two-year posting as air attache in Brussels. But banishment neither stopped the romance nor speculation about it.
Most vehemently opposed in the Cabinet was Lord Salisbury, a High Anglican who threatened to resign if a bill were passed allowing the marriage….the Cabinet decided that if the Princess insisted on marrying Townsend, then a Bill of Renunciation would be placed before Parliament, stripping Margaret of all her rights, privileges and income.
Townsend felt he could not expect the Princess to make the necessary sacrifices and when they met he realised she had come to the same conclusion. ‘We had reached the end of the road,’ wrote Townsend. ‘Our feelings for one another were unchanged but they had incurred for us a burden so great that we decided, together, to lay it down.'”
Common Writing Gaffes
The “Turkey City Lexicon” boasts several helpful hints on what to avoid when writing. Now I need to go feed the smerp. Back in a flash.
Unusual American Names
We’re always looking for character names that won’t be confused with people we know or characters we already created. Lists like this can point us to the road less traveled. Our progeny is relieved we did not have this handy when debating baby names. Little known fact: We have a child named after a book. Said child should be glad we were not infatuated with “Ivanhoe” or “Leviathan”at the time.