09-23 Getting to Know Leah Hammond, author of RISKY LIES
Thursday, December 25, 2014
CHRISTMAS EVE IN A BORDELLO - MARGARET TANNER
CHRISTMAS IN AUSTRALIA - MARGARET TANNER
In Australia at Christmas time it is always hot. Not surprising really when we are well into summer. Up until the last few years, Christmas lunch or dinner was the same as it was in England. Roast chicken, ham, turkey and vegetables. My favourite part of the meal was dessert, hot plum pudding with brandy custard. No matter how hot it got this is what most families had. I know my family always did. We also enjoyed Christmas cake and mince pies not to mention mull wine.
Over the last few years, things have changed somewhat, although many people do stick to the traditional fare, particularly the older people. Barbeques are popular, sea-food and salads. Dessert might be pavlova or fresh fruit salad with ice cream. Champagne or beer are the drinks of choice.
In my novel, Fiery Possession, parts of the story are set in a high class bordello. I thought I would post an excerpt depicting their Christmas Eve festivities.
Christmas Eve proved to be
extremely busy. Jo, helping George behind the bar, paused only long enough to
attend to Mark’s needs. A surprising number of young men wished her Merry
Christmas. Many of the men came, not for the women, but for the company,
because they were lonely.
Katie, in a pale pink tulle
gown, with a silver braid along the sleeves and hemline, only needed a wand to
look like a fairy princess.
“Sing us a song, Katie,” a
ruddy-complexioned young man called out.
“Yes, Christmas carols,” said
a voice with a thick Scottish brogue.
Glory played the piano and
Katie started singing. They were quickly joined by a crowd of men who wanted to
sing songs in praise of the infant Jesus. Jo would not have believed such a
thing possible - Christmas carols in a brothel.
Bar trade slackened off
somewhat and she joined in the singing.
“Wait a minute, boys.” Glory
stood up and they all groaned their disappointment. “I’m coming back.”She laughed loudly making her double chins
wobble. A bright yellow gown, trimmed with black feathers and with a plunging
neckline did nothing for her figure. “Jo can play for you.”
“Well, all right,” Jo
laughingly agreed. While not as expert as Glory, she nevertheless could play
the simple tunes, and the singing started up in earnest again.
Men discreetly left then
returned after a time. Jo noticed Mr. Griffith sitting with Francy at a table
and he certainly hadn’t come for the singing. Poor Mr. Kilvain arrived, but
scurried off like a scared rabbit when Jo spoke to him.
Two of the girls from the
kitchen came out bearing loaded trays of miniature pies and Cornish pasties,
and plates loaded up with cold chicken, pork and salad. An impromptu Christmas
Eve party, how generous of Glory. A cheer went up from the men on seeing this
They soon demolished the fruit
cake, macaroons, miniature pies and pastries. Jo laughed as she was pressed
into service as a waitress.
“Drinks on the house,” George
announced. “By order of management.”
Everyone cheered. Later the
lamps were snuffed out and small candles distributed to various individuals,
before the singing commenced again. The customers were not poor men, most of
them just lonely in a vast, empty continent with few unattached women. With a
dozen or more flickering lights in the otherwise darkness, Jo had never
witnessed such poignancy. Because of the
summer heat, the windows remained open. A gentle breeze wafted in, laden with
the perfume of summer roses and the scent of the gum trees.
The singing continued, not all
carols now, but requests for songs from the distant shores of England, Scotland
and Katie obliged with them all. If she didn’t know the words, someone else
At eleven-thirty, Jo decided
to retire. It had been an enjoyable evening. She waved to Glory before making
her way to bed.