Thursday, 13 October 2011

RNA Regency Day

Matt the officer at the East India Club

What a marvellous time I had at the RNA Regency Day on Saturday last.

There were dancing lessons with an official 'caller', which I sat out, having two left feet - see photo and short movie clip below - but thoroughly enjoyed watching the trials and exertions of my fellow Regency buffs.

There were also fancy gowns and bonnets to try on, and guided Regency walks around London - what an eye-opener those were!

Many thanks to novelist Louise Allen for her knowledgeable talks on the hoof, and thanks to the lovely Regency soldiers who accompanied us in full uniform, much to the amusement of shopkeepers and passers-by. We saw Brooks' club and Whites on St. James' Street, and were shown many exclusive small shops, perfumeries, gentlemen's outfitters, hosiers and the like which would have been in existence back in the Regency era.

I could have done without being introduced to 'snuff' by those disreputable red-coats, but at least I know now that snuff induces, in some unfortunate ladies on walking tours, bouts of sneezing so severe and long-lasting that the expert guide taking them around the streets cannot even be heard!




There were also well-attended talks on Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Sex and the Georgians (I was on the panel for that one). I loved Jennifer Kloester's talk about her new biography of Heyer, which sounds gripping and which I cannot wait to buy - though could not afford on the day, sob!


A beautiful lunch followed, where I met up with an old friend, the fabulous Roy McMillan, an actor, writer and now a producer with Naxos Audio Books.

Trust me, you have not lived fully until you have heard Richard Armitage reading Heyer's Venetia. Oh the flutters to have Armitage drawling intimately in your ear as Damerel, the Wicked Baron! (That was 'drawling', by the way, not 'drooling', though you would be forgiven for doing the latter yourself.) He has also read Sylvester, another massive favourite of mine, so I shall be buying that one too!



High tea was served later at the famous East India Club, where the news of the great victory at Waterloo was brought hotfoot to the Prince Regent at dinner with his friends, an evening whose drama was reenacted by members of the RNA and actor Miles Barden while we enjoyed tea and dainty cakes.

It was such a memorable day, with many historical romance lovers milling about in bonnets and gowns, and me in my tatty jeans. It was lovely to meet fellow historical author Melanie Clegg for the first time 'in the flesh', as it were, after much communicating online and by email. And to see Roy again, after more than a decade.

Now if Roy could only persuade Richard Armitage to read The Earl and His Tiger and let me look in on the recording ...

Many thanks to all the organisers, who were just superb and who - as usual - gave up their time to help make the RNA Regency Day such a resounding success!