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Musings, Steamfantasy, Steampunk

Steampunk Modelling and Roman Baths


This weekend was glorious for a number of reasons. The first was the weather, it was bloody lovely and absolutely perfect for a trip to Bath with the family.

I haven’t been to Bath for pleasure for a long, long time. In fact, the last time I went was with my parents and I remember vividly the tour guide at the Roman Baths saying how the Romans lit one of the rooms by burning slaves alive. Unfortunately there was no mention of that sort of shenanigans this time around. I must admit I was a tad disappointed.

However, I’m getting to the end first. Which I shouldn’t. No, the beginning starts with the reason we went up there in the first place. Because we were, alongside a friend, modelling for the amazing photographer, Lou Abercrombie.

The drive, as ever, took slightly longer than anticipated as we had to deviate around Shepton Mallet due to the Bath and West show, so we were grateful to finally arrive at Lou’s house. Even before we were settled in, Lord Grimdark aka Jo Abercrombie, author of the amazing ‘First Law Trilogy’ was offering to get us all ice creams, something that my daughters would never, ever, turn down.

After that, it was down to hard work. Surprisingly, I don’t have to work too hard to be awesome. No, truly. The hard work was in not smiling for the camera as this was a shoot based on old victorian photographs and, let’s be honest, the victories were a very grumpy bunch. Unless they were off colonising countries, in which case, I’m sure they smiled losts. And rightfully so, they civilised most of the world by all accounts, whether it wanted it or not. Huzzah!

Once the shoot was over, ice creams and kit kats eaten, I managed to corner Joe and get him to sign the books that I had, and was blown away when he gave me a lettered collector’s edition of ‘Best Served Cold’, a review of which I shall be putting up in the near future. Needless to say, it’s very good.

Actually, Joe of writing that I wish I could match at just 50%, he really is very good. There are a relatively small number of authors that I enjoy reading, a large number of authors that I’ve read, an even larger number that I’ve read and wondered how on earth they got published when I couldn’t and then there is a very, very small number of authors who I wished I could write like. Those that capture words and hammer them on the anvil of word smithing into beautiful +3 dwarven word hammers. Robert Rankin is one such author, ‘Character x, although he was tall, stopped short.’ Amazing. Joe Abercrombie is another such author.

The start of Best Served Cold, for example, had me hooked from the start. I’ve seen a lot of hard core violence, participated in some mild fracas as a student and whilst working the doors and think that I’m fairly inured to it all. However, this opening was shocking, violent and graphic. How I wish I could write like that!

So, having posed as a model, spoken to a word smithing hero and had a jolly good day, we spent the next day walking around Bath. Bath is as beautiful as Exeter was before the Victorians (bastards), Germans (Bastards) and 1960s town planners (BASTARDS) got their shitty little mitts on it.

Even McDonalds, KFC and Pizza Hut are ensconced in buildings that are works of art. Don’t get me started on the Roman Baths, the Circus or the Royal Crescent. They are everything that every other city should have. This instant.

Nothing that has been built – that I know of – in the 20th and 21st centuries will ever have the class, the beauty or even the longevity of those built by the Romans, or the Georgians. People who believed in a pantheon of gods, people who thought that pinching was a combative sport, built cities and public bath houses that we can only admire and envy. It’s pathetic.

So, needless to say, I await with eager anticipation the publication of the photos on Facebook, Twitter, Lou’s website etc, as I know that we looked bloody awesome. A bit like the buildings of Bath.

About mattsylvester

Father of two beautiful daughters and married to the beautiful Karen, Matthew has been reading and writing fantasy and science fiction since he first read the Hobbit at the age of 7. Matthew was Features Editor, Technical Consultant and regular columnist for magazines such as ‘Fighters’, ‘Combat’, ‘TKD & Korean Martial Arts’ and ‘Traditional Karate’. These are the four leading martial arts magazines in the United Kingdom. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed 'Practical Taekwondo: Back to the Roots', which has been sold around the world. With regard to his martial arts background he has been studying martial arts since 1991. In 1995 he hosted Professor Rick Clark of the ADK and since then has been studying pressure points and their uses in the martial arts and on the street (initially as a Special Constable and as a Door Supervisor). All of this practical hands-on experience means that he is uniquely placed to write fight scenes that are not only plausible but some of which are based on personal or anecdotal experience. Matthew has had a number of short stories published by Fringe Works, KnightWatch Press, Anderfam Press and Emby Press.

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  1. Pingback: Steampunk Photography at its best | Matthew Sylvester - June 7, 2013

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