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short stories


VICTORIANA Featuring Eva Holland • Jane Roberts John Keating • Steven Mace Sam Carter

Mystery Issue, March 2013 | 44

Henry Herbert La Thangue RA, NEAC, ROI Croydon 1859 - 1929 London

A study (Resting after the game, Kate La Thangue) Signed lower right: H.H. La Thangue . Oil on canvas: 34 x 23 in / 86 x 58 cm 33 New Bond Street, London W1S 2RS Telephone: +44 (0)20 7499 4738 | Email:

Summer Exhibition 2013 Until 18 August 2013 Friends of the RA go free Sponsored by

Detail of artwork by El Anatsui. Courtesy October Gallery, London. Photo: John Bodkin

3rd June 2013 13th September 2013 ÂŁ2,000 (winner), ÂŁ200 (runners up)


Litro Magazine Victoriana

EDITORIAL Dear Reader, Once again I find myself in a most absorbing, and, I confess, somewhat indulgent state of contemplation. I am fortunate indeed in my position! And so I sit at my desk and look out my window, with rooftops and water-towers and chimneys and spires and the assorted aerial architecture of the city as my companion. This day is a fine one indeed, and I fancy my spirits are lifted even more by the sun as it beats down on millionaire and pauper alike. The weather is perhaps the only natural democracy! I wonder what our politicians would have to say about that. Much bluster, I should think. But in truth, Dear Reader, I have much better company than this city in these few tales you now hold in your hand. Stories are a force of nature too, perhaps—much like the wind, and the rain, and the sun. Wherever you might find yourself reading these words, whether on a bus, or a park bench, in your club, or in the scullery, you and I share in the ideas contained herein, ideas that nestle in our minds and give rise to thought, and the comforting knowledge of the existence of a Great Art in the world, one that we may all be a part of. It is a most fascinating subject of enquiry. Take, for example, Ms. Eva Holland’s Life in Two Dimensions. A jewel of a narrative, as precisely and elegantly delineated as the narrator’s betrothed—a love story, but in Ms. Holland’s capable hands, something quite, quite different. Or the traditional house-tale, with which we are most familiar, but which Ms. Jane Roberts uses to most ingenious ends in The House Rules—suggesting that we, perhaps, are prisoners of our own imagination. Yes! Even you, Dear Reader! A most provoking conceit indeed! And if you find that amusing, you must surely enjoy Mr. John Keating’s To The Reader—a story for you if ever there were one! Mr. Keating’s imagination takes us—dare I say it—to a place beyond the very pages you now hold in your hand. But perhaps you prefer a calmer, more soothing form of fiction? A gossipy, scandalous story, as one might find in The Cheltenham Looker-

On. I’m afraid you will be most disappointed, in that case! For Mr. Steven Mace’s sinister The Legacy of Steeple Hill will give you no comfort, with its spectral presences and sleepless nights. But we leave you, at least, with a tale of great pathos, and one from which a lesser periodical might shy away—Mr. Sam Carter’s Gammon and Spinach. For who would dare suggest the Great Novelist Himself were anything other than a saint? Well we do, Dear Reader. We do! But I fear I have kept you too long. I do so yearn to discuss these tales with you some day. Will we ever meet, Dear Reader? I hope so, very much. But in the meantime, will you write? I would be most delighted to hear your thoughts on these stories, as well as any other matters you might care to discuss. Yours truly, until our next number, Andrew Lloyd-Jones Editor July, 2013

In the Box by Cesare Mariani



Eva Holland




John Keating TO THE READER



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COVER ARTIST Sir Samuel Luke Fildes Sir Samuel Luke Fildes, KCVO, RA (1844-1927) Portrait of Mrs Lockett Agnew signed, oil on canvas, 56 x 42 in / 142.2 x 106.7 cm Š courtesy Richard Green Gallery, London Richard Green is the leading UK art gallery specialising in over four centuries of the highest quality paintings from 16th and 17th century Old Masters and through the 18th and 19th centuries to present day.

EVENTS THIS MONTH FILM Silencio Southbank Centre, London Wonderground Until Sun Sep 15 This brand new fusion of film, cabaret, silent disco and live music comes from the deliciously cheeky minds of creative directors EastEnd Cabaret and their collaborators. Inspirations range from silent cinema to 'The Twilight Zone', with aerialists, a three-channel audio experience and perhaps a twist of Lynch…? Over-18s only.

The Double R Club Southbank Centre, London Wonderground This evening of mystery and nightmares inspired by the films of David Lynch is a dark and twisted treat, often groping into territory where other cabaret nights fear to tread. The reliably sinister Benjamin Louche presides over a mix of comedy, crooning, burlesque and some stronger stuff.

Shuffle St Clement's Hospital Thu Aug 8 - Sun Aug 18 Venues don’t come more spooky than a disused psychiatric unit and former Victorian workhouse. Danny Boyle is backing this ten-day film and arts festival where films will be shown inside and out, including Boyle’s ‘Shallow Grave’ and ‘Attack the Block’, as well as a number of outdoor screenings organised by Time Out Live - details to follow. There’ll also be food, drink and art.

EXHIBITIONS War Games V&A Museum of Childhood Until Sun Mar 9 2014 Free An exhibition exploring the history and role of warfare in play from 1800 to the present day. Some 100 objects will cover toy weapons, strategy games, fake guns, computer games and popular fighting 8 | Litro Magazine

action figures in a bid to shed light on how toys have helped recreate and represent war through the ages, and how their design mirrors the technology, uniform and weaponry of their time.

Science Museum Lates: Science of Communication Science Museum Wed Aug 28 Free At this adults-only themed evening you can have the Science Museum, its collections and interactive galleries all to yourself and enjoy special events, music and a bar all evening. Some events require advance booking: see the website for more details.

Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology Department of Egyptology, University College London 1-5pm Tue-Sat Free The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, set up in 1892 by eccentric traveller and diarist Amelia Edwards, is named after Flinders Petrie, tireless excavator of ancient Egypt. Where the British Museum's Egyptology collection is strong on the big stuff, the Petrie is dim case after dim case of minutiae. Its aged wooden cabinets are full of pottery shards, grooming accessories, jewellery and primitive tools. Highlights include artefacts of from the heretic pharoe Akhenaten's short-lived capital Tell el Amarna. Among the oddities is a 4,000-year-old skeleton of a man who was buried in an earthenware pot.

elBulli: Ferran Adrià and the Art of Food Somerset House Until Sun Sep 29 This summer, Somerset House is hosting a major retrospective exhibition on a global icon of gastronomy, Ferran Adrià, and the restaurant he built to become the world’s best, elBulli. In partnership with Estrella Damm, elBulli: Ferran Adrià and The Art of Food is the world’s first exhibition dedicated to a chef and his restaurant. The retrospective showcases the art of cuisine and cuisine as art by taking a behind-the-scenes look at the legendary laboratory and kitchen of the internationally renowned restaurant, which delighted diners in Cala Montjoi, a small picturesque bay on the Catalan coast near Roses, for over 50 years.

Victoriana Issue, July 2013 | 9

Visions of the Universe National Maritime Museum Until Sun Sep 15 More than 100 images documenting the development of telescopy, photography and our understanding of our place in the universe make up this exhibition, but the centrepiece isn't an image at all, but a series of continuous ones—the 13-metrelong 'Mars Window' will show images being beamed to us by NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover, creating the impression of looking through a giant window out onto the red planet itself.

ART Estuary Museum of London Docklands Until Sun Oct 27 Free This exhibition of work by 14 renowned and emerging contemporary artists marks the 10th anniversary of the Museum of London Docklands with pieces inspired by the outer limits of the river Thames, where the river becomes the sea. Using a broad range of media such as film, photography, painting and printmaking, the artists featured in this exhibition offer unexpected and thoughtful insights into this often overlooked but mesmerising environment and its inhabitants and workers. Among the artworks are pieces by Jock McFadyen, Gayle Chong Kwan, Bow Gamelan Ensemble and Christiane Baumgartner.

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2013 Royal Academy of Arts Until Sun Aug 18 Thu Jun 13 2013 For its annual, open-submission ‘Summer Exhibition’, the Royal Academy sticks to the simple formula of exhibiting well-known artists alongside unknowns. It’s a winning idea. And when the majority of works are for sale – ranging from the reasonable to the ludicrous – to support the Royal Academy’s Schools bursaries scheme, the knowledge that your purchase will support the talents of tomorrow makes it even more rewarding.

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The Press Photographer's Year 2013 National Theatre, Lyttelton Until Sat Aug 31 Free Now in its seventh year, this popular free exhibition highlights the most memorable photographic images used in the UK media in 2011 and 2012. Categories include news, portraits, sports, arts and entertainment, and the results often offer a snapshot of a year in history.

Cover Story: Radio Times at 90 Museum of London Fri Aug 2 - Sun Nov 3 Free An absorbing visual history of Britain through the covers of the hugely popular listings magazine would be quite enough to draw us to this exhibition, but this being the Museum of London, there are also landmark broadcasts, archive clips, and broadcast artefacts. For Dr Who fans, there's a dedicated Doctor Who display and the chance to become a cover star with a life-sized Dalek against a backdrop of Westminster Bridge, recreating the famous 2005 Vote Dalek 'Radio Times' cover.

Memory Palace V&A - Until Sun Oct 20 Something alarming is underway at the V&A. Collecting, recording and writing (the lifeblood of museum culture) are all to be outlawed. A blanket ban on technology, books, art – any sort of mark-making, in fact – will herald an era of extreme simplicity, one in which the act of remembering will become an act of rebellion. Thankfully, this bleak scenario is not a controversial change of policy but a new exhibition, a collaboration between the museum and Sky Arts Ignition. Based on a story by novelist and journalist Hari Kunzru, it imagines a scenario that, like much dystopian fiction, has its roots in the reality of some repressive regimes, past and present. The story’s narrator, imprisoned for being a member of a banned sect dedicated to reviving the ancient art of memory, hoards fragments of retrieved knowledge and dubs his cell a ‘Memory Palace’.

Victoriana Victoriana VictorianaIssue, Issue, Issue,July July July2013 2013 2013| |119

LOVE IN TWO DIMENSIONS I loved him best when he was most starkly contrasted…

by Eva Holland I fell in love with his silhouette. It stood on the mantelpiece in his aunt’s parlour, a slice of monochromatic masculinity in the floral cocoon of the room. ‘It’s such a true likeness, Viola. I do so look forward to you meeting him,’ his aunt said. Then we sat in silence, admiring the shape of his hair, the jut of his nose and the shy curve that joined his chin to his mouth. ‘Viola, allow me to introduce you to Henry,’ she said on the day that he arrived; her anxiety steepled and collapsed her hands as she spoke. Beside her was the silhouette brought to life: as flat and inky and papery as his portrait on the mantel. When he moved to greet me I was faced for a moment with his missing dimension and had to crane my neck to catch sight of him again. I loved him best when he was most starkly contrasted. Before we married I had the walls of our house papered from eaves to cellar in brutal shades of white. I replaced the dark-wood furniture with high-backed chairs upholstered in snow drift velvet, and marble tables like blocks of ice. I dressed our bed with swans’ feathers. We honeymooned in Lyme Regis. We watched couples striding out across the Cobb, ladies’ skirts billowing into abstract shapes and men clutching tall hats to their heads. The wind blew their laughter over us. ‘I can’t. I’ll blow away,’ he said. ‘I’ll hold onto you,’ I replied. So he held my arm and I sheltered him from the grasping wind as we set out down the stony walkway. But half way down I stumbled on the salt-slick path and a little gust reached past me and caught him in its teeth. For a moment he billowed like a sail, then the full force of the wind took him, tumbling him and rolling him before it carried him out over the sea. His dark shape was printed for a moment on a cloud and then he was gone. He left nothing behind but a tiny corner of himself that had torn off between my fingers; it is impossibly black against the whiteness of my palm. Eva Holland is a freelance PR consultant and fledgling writer of fiction from North London. Her work has appeared in the National Flash-Fiction Day anthology Scraps and been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. She is currently writing a novel for young adults. 12 | Litro Magazine

Swan Feather by Colin See-Paynton

Victoriana Issue, July 2013 | 13

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THE HOUSE RULES The house always, always wins.

by Jane Roberts It is a model of Victorian architecture—solid with foundations of moral fibre; unlike modern houses. Mike said he didn’t fit in with the house. He said it didn’t like him. You let Mike go because you love the house, because you think he will return, because you don’t realise how weak you are. The house lets Mike go because you aren’t married, because he abbreviates his Christian name, because he wears white Nike trainers. The house spits the flat-pack blonde wood and plastic furniture into the front garden—done with the sin-eating of Scandinavian deforestation Chinese workhouses and. Inside, the furniture is all Victorian—sobriety-heavy oaks and drapes. The house will not allow the enlightenment of electricity, so no one comes round for Friday night drinks anymore; they say it is too dark, too dingy. You find temperance in solitude framed by the leaded windows; the stained glass shadowing the blush of a brazen sun attempting friendship. You hand in your notice at work. Victorian ladies do not lower themselves to menial tasks; they marry. Now you live in a Victorian house, now you’re Victorian, you need to find yourself a Victorian husband—one with an exterior of genteel manners and a seedy alter ego that frequents brothels and expects you to stay at home with needlework and Bible readings. But each day the industrially-revolutionised bricks girdle you into submission. The house expects you to marry, but the house will not allow you outside. Not without a chaperone. If Mike—or anyone—can decode the language of flowers in your window boxes, will they see your SOS? Zinnia thinks of absent friends, whilst purple hyacinth weeps, until Virginia Creeper snakes around them, asphyxiating.

Jane Roberts is a freelance writer living in Shropshire, UK. Under her own name—and a variety of pseudonyms—she has been published in magazines, ezines and anthologies—including: Subtext (2009), 100 Stories for Haiti (2010), New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan (2012), and Dark Clouds by Collective Unconscious (2013). Long-listed for Fish Publishing Flash Fiction 2013, Winner of Writers and Artists Flash Fiction 2013. Victoriana Issue, July 2013 | 15

TO THE READER The ultimate escape story

by John Keating By now, you know me. You know what I’m like. And so, when I received an urgent letter from Lescaut during my own birthday supper, I’m sure you won’t think less of me for not jumping out of my chair, extinguishing the candles and escorting the best and brightest of Parisian society to the street, right in the middle of the second course. Lescaut was by this time a social pariah despite my best efforts to endear him to others. My social standing was already in question, guilt by association, and I do not think it is vain to feel proud of the fact that I had not abandoned him all together. My manservant slipped me the letter, I read it discreetly yet in full view so as not to arouse suspicion, and I handed it back to him without show, all the while laughing at an amusing anecdote being told by Mlle. B—. In short, I bit my tongue and waited until supper had ended, the last carriage had been hailed and my servant had retired to bed. By the sole lamp of the library, I took the letter and read it again: “Dearest Pierre, I am not long for this world. This time, I’m serious. God knows what will be met on the other side. Please come immediately. The only thing keeping me here is the bond of our friendship. I would hate to cut it so abruptly without showing you the proper courtesies of our long and dear association. Lescaut.” It was now gone midnight and the letter had been received at half past ten. Yes, if you must know, I did feel guilty, but in my defense this wasn’t the first such letter I had received and despite the late hour, I donned coat, hat, and umbrella, braved the lamplit streets (on foot, hired carriages being few and far between at that hour) and made my way to my old friend’s house as quickly as I could go. *** I knocked on the door—once, twice, thrice—with no satisfaction. I felt my temper rise. The hallway was dark through the front door window. Hardly surprising. It was no secret that he had had squandered his inheritance—a vast fortune—on his machinery and his toys. It was the talk of high-society, how he had dismissed all of his servants and now lived alone. Indeed, he owed me several hundred francs, which I hadn’t the least hope of reclaiming.

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Beauty's Toilette. The Finishing Touch by M. J. Lawless

Clockwork Goggles Jason C Sonia 20 LitroMagazine Magazine 18 | |Litro

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THE LEGACY OF STEEPLE HILL A gothic tale of apparitions and madness

by Steven Mace The mansion on Steeple Hill had stood there for almost a century, overlooking the village below—Robert Walsingham had built the building to stand the course of time and resist the harshest weather. The winds that beat against the exterior of the building from the coastline were powerful. The perimeter of the steep cliffs that looked out to sea was close to the grounds of the mansion, and the storms could be ferocious. Yet despite the inclement weather, the building still stood, and although the original architect—old Walsingham—was long dead, there were those who still dwelt within it. The carriage drew up outside the old house, stopping by a white marble fountain that gently trickled water. The driver clucked with his mouth and pulled on the reins to still the horses. He looked up at the sky and contemplated the half-crescent moon that had risen before glancing back over his shoulder to see if the occupant of his carriage had deigned to move. Almost at that same moment, the carriage door opened. A tall gentleman stepped out on to the mansion driveway. He carried a cane and a small travel case. When he walked it was with a slight limp—the permanent reminder of an old war wound sustained in the Crimea. His whiskers were fine and silvery, and underneath his bowler hat his hair was grey and perfectly combed. He paused for a moment to adjust his cravat, while the driver lashed his whip upon the horses. The carriage behind him jolted forward, and the horses pulled the carriage around the fountain and out of the mansion grounds. The gentleman looked up at the building looming above him, nodding his appreciation at the elegant Gothic architecture, the ornate, towering spires. By the time he had reached the doorway, the heavy oak door had swung open. The butler, a small, cadaverous man with a wrinkled face and shiny bald head, was waiting. He had loyally served two generations of Walsinghams. “Ah, Mr Barrington,” he said, in a well spoken voice. “Lord Walsingham has been expecting you.”

Victoriana Issue, July 2013 | 23


w ww. l o cand a o t t o e me z z o.c o.u k

Victoriana Issue, July 2013 | 31

32 | Litro by Magazine Postcard Maud Stumm

GAMMON AND SPINACH Discover one of the Victorian period’s least significant voices.

by Sam Carter A middle-aged woman with a sad, plump face stands at the drawing-room window of 70 Gloucester Crescent, Camden-town, London. It is the year 1859, and she is forty-four years old. Over the last twenty-three years she has borne her husband ten children, and buried one: a wonderful tribute to her qualities as a mother, that only Dora died in infancy, though He sometimes chose not to see it that way. She also lost her darling sister Maria, aged just seventeen, within a few months of her first child’s birth: that was more than twenty years ago, now, but she still feels it, wishing gentle Maria was here to comfort her in her newly single state. She does not look like a figure of tragedy, this short fat woman in widow’s weeds: with her round face, sagging curls and soft jowls, she is more like a minor comic character in one of His novels – sometimes sinister, sometimes pitiful, but always faintly ridiculous. It is not the fate of the fat to be tragic; they don’t suit it. When they are dying they still seem robust, gross even. As the portly gentleman or the corpulent lady coughs their last one cannot help feeling rather sorry for the poor pallbearers, which tends to rob the moment of its morbid grandeur. Do not expect posterity to mourn you, the obese dead, for it will not! Romantic death belongs to the thin and beautiful, like Maria; anyone else’s passing is usually more sordid than sorrowful. This sad fat woman, whose name is Catherine, does not expect to be mourned. She wonders whether He would even allow it. She has suffered much in her married life, and although it is over now, she feels as though her poor heart, stout as a little pony’s, has only just begun to break. Why? This is why: she is standing at the window, drooping blue eyes glazed with tears, because she is listening to her two daughters singing. Their mingled voices rise like sweet perfume from the windows of the tall white house across the street, where they have their weekly music-lessons. Every Wednesday she stands just so, staring, straining until her eyes blur and smart, to try and catch a glimpse of them through the window. She has not spoken to her two girls, Mary and Kate, in over a year—or rather, they have not spoken to her. Or more precisely still, He has not let them. Her neighbours know her as Mrs. Hogarth, a widow—but Hogarth is in fact her maiden name. She does not use His name any more— it is too well-known by far—and so Miss Bates the music teacher has not the faintest idea that she is hosting her opposite neighbour’s estranged daughters, and that is how it must be. Victoriana Issue, July 2013 | 33

38 | Litro Magazine

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Victoriana Issue, July 2013 | 39

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LITRO | 127 Victoriana

I fell in love with his silhouette. It stood on the mantelpiece in his aunt’s parlour, a slice of monochromatic masculinity in the floral cocoon of the room. ‘It’s such a true likeness, Viola. I do so look forward to you meeting him,’ his aunt said. Then we sat in silence, admiring the shape of his hair, the jut of his nose and the shy curve that joined his chin to his mouth. From Love in Two Dimensions by Eva Holland Cover Art: Sir Samuel Luke Fildes, KCVO, RA (1844-1927) Portrait of Mrs Lockett Agnew signed, oil on canvas, 56 x 42 in / 142.2 x 106.7 cm © courtesy Richard Green Gallery, London ISBN 978-0-9554245-5-7

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Litro #127 sp teaser  

Litro's theme this month is Victoriana, with writing from, Eva Holland, Jane Roberts, John Keating, Steven Mace and Sam Carter.

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