Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Beautiful People: Wilfred Pickering

Use your imagination and pretend he's wearing
period-correct 1880's clothes, please. ;)
Taking my cue from an authoress I greatly admire, I'm using this month's Beautiful People to familiarize myself with a character I don't know too well.  (For those of you who aren't familiar with Beautiful People: it's a monthly questionnaire designed to help writers get to know their characters better.  You can read more here.)

This month, I decided to tackle Wilfred Alfred Pickering, a secondary character in Only a Novel, my current WIP.  (Don't hold the poor chap responsible for his middle name-- he can't help the fact that it rhymes with his first.  His parents, I'm afraid, were remarkably short-sighted.)  Wilfred lives in London, England in 1881-1882 (presumably he lived for at least twenty-some years before that time, and hopefully for many years after, but 1881-1882 is when the story takes place.  Don't be so technical), the over-privileged son of wealthy parents who isn't quite sure of what he wants to do with his life.  My little sister Laura, if she were reading this, would immediately ask "is he a good guy?" (because she asks that about everyone) and my reply would be, "Well, read the following and see for yourself... I'll let you make your own decision."

1. What is his favourite type of shoes?

Quite frankly, I don't believe Wilfred puts much thought into footwear.  His shoes are black, in all likelihood.  Sturdy and sensible, yet fashionable--but not dandified.  Selected by his Esteemed Mother and paid for by his Honored Father.  He doesn't take much notice of them-- just wears whatever the valet puts out for him in the mornings.  He's not a sloppy fellow, mind you-- he likes to be neat.  But he doesn't much care what he's wearing, as long as it's presentable.

2. Does he journal?

Not nowadays, but he used to.  When he was younger and away at boarding school, he'd fill pages of tablet paper (paper that was supposed to be used for letter-writing) with the day's events.  Only of course the events were completely made up, because nothing much interesting happened to him while he was at school (unless you count being punished for using all his tablet paper and his roommate's besides for "scribbling nonsense" instead of writing letters home).

3. What’s his favorite animal?

Wilfred likes dogs, but his mother and sister do not, because dogs tend to shed and slobber.  Therefore, Wilfred does not possess a dog.

4. What does his average day look like?

That depends on whether he's at home in London or abroad with his family.  When he's abroad, he spends the forenoon and afternoon trudging from Fashionable Meeting Place to Fashionable Meeting Place with his mother and sister, and his evening at some party or other, being polite and making rather awkward small talk.  When he's at home, he spends the day at the office with his father, conducting Business (at which he is rather adept, but does not particularly enjoy) and his evening reading at home.

5. Night owl or morning person? (Optional: What time does he usually wake up? Go to bed?)

Wilfred generally gets up about seven, so that he can have breakfast with the family at eight and be at the office by nine-- he wouldn't exactly be described as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning, but neither is he a grump at the breakfast table.  He's not precisely a night owl, but he does enjoy his evenings, because evening means that he can relax in the library with a good book.   (Undisturbed, because the rest of his family never ventures into the library--it's too dusty and dull for the ladies of the house, and the gentleman of the house hasn't picked up anything but the newspaper since Oxford.)  Wilfred goes to bed between ten-thirty and eleven--earlier than his mother and sister, later than his father.

6. Does he have a sweet tooth?

Wilfred likes sweets in moderation, but he doesn't like the kind of cake with sugar dusted all over it-- he generally manages to smear it across the front of his coat, which is most embarrassing.   He prefers plain buns or muffins.

7. What colors are in his bedroom?

Colors?  There are colors in his bedroom?  Why, to be sure, there are.  He'd never taken much notice of them before.

8. Can he cook?

Not at all-- that is, he never tried.  Or had to try.  But if he were hard put to it, he might be able to scramble an egg.  It can't be that hard of an operation, after all, and if one approaches it logically and methodically, it can surely be done.

9. What is his favorite household chore?

Wilfred doesn't have to do chores.  The servants take care of that.  He wouldn't mind trying his hand at washing the windows, however-- he was never allowed to as a child, and always thought it looked like fun.  The butler would have let him help to polish the silver, and he would have liked to be of use in that way, but his Mamma said No and that's the end of that.

10. Favorite kind of tea?

India tea, the kind with a slightly musky, smoky flavor, very exotic.  It's not fashionable, but it tastes good and makes one think of foreign lands waiting to be explored.  Not that Wilfred could ever go exploring in India or South Africa, of course-- his mother would have a conniption at the very idea!

EDIT: I had a quote from Only a Novel picked out and ready for the the end of this post, and then of course I forgot about it.  Miss Scatterbrain speaking... anyways, here it is.

Elizabeth stopped listening and focused on minutely examining Mr. Pickering’s appearance. So this was the young man whom Lady Fagles was so keen on attaching to Lavinia. He did not seem at all unpleasant—on the contrary, his face bore the marks of good humor and frequent smiling. His hair was a handsome red—Lavinia’s prejudice against it was quite ridiculous—though a bit rumpled, but of course that was due to his running his hand through it a moment ago. His eyes—fixed immovably on Lavinia, regardless of the other young ladies to whom he was being introduced—were a pleasant brown and seemed to be quite friendly indeed.

He held his teacup with the ease of one who was accustomed to elegant parlors, but his precarious perch on the edge of the sofa belied any carelessness in his manner. It was obvious that Mr. Pickering was not feeling comfortable in this company, but then who could with a sister such as his seated beside him? With the skirt of her satin afternoon dress drawn carefully away in case her brother might soil it, no less?

“I was drive—driving by,” Mr. Pickering explained, stuttering just a bit, “and—and I thought I’d come by and—and bring you home with me, Annette, and then you wouldn’t have to call a—a cab.”
~Only a Novel, chapter 24

No comments: