Written for Year of Creativity
Prompt: Something familiar seen from a different perspective
My Dearest Alberforth,
I have no idea whether or not this will reach you. The nice gentleman from the Time Travel Tourist Agency has given me instructions, written down and has also assured me that this letter will arrive before my return to our time. I sincerely hope that he is right.
You know that I have always been one for new adventures and blessed, or cursed depending on your point of view, with wanderlust. I thank you for helping me indulge this and funding this trip.
I would also like to apologise from the start if my penmanship is not up to its usual standard. I am simply not used to writing with such an implement as this. There is no ink well. The ink resides inside the pen all the time. So simple and a lot cleaner. I am sorry that I will not be able to take one back with me upon my return as I feel it would be useful (knowing how many letters you have to write) but those were the rules I signed up to.
My goodness, what a lot I have to tell you! So much difference between our time and the early 21st Century. Clothing for example. The outfit I was supplied with is in keeping with the time but is still considered modest. Women think nothing of walking around dressing like men. Some of them even have manly hairstyles. But they are nothing compared to other females. Clothing of such scandalous dimensions that they can barely even be clothing at all. So much flesh is displayed that there is very little left to the imagination. The gentlemen are not much better. Arms and legs are left bare, usually displaying some kind of artwork, such as can be seen on tribesmen from recently discovered countries. Some are words, some are pictures, and some are both. Some of the women have the same decorations.
Another unusual thing, to be seen again on both genders, is metal. Not discretely through the ears, as is common, but all over! Lips, eyebrows, stomach buttons, noses, if one can place metal through it someone has. Its a wonder that they dont get some kind of poisoning from it.
The language is different as well. So many words that are unfamiliar, it is hard for me to make my meaning clear at times. And the vulgarity! My dear, some of the things that are said are enough to make even your darling brother, who fought so valiantly at sea, turn positively crimson! There is almost no sense of decorum, no regulating the language on front of the womenfolk, such as your brother has the good grace to do. Indeed, some of the women are worse than the men! Earlier on, in a local tavern, I overheard a group of women talking about how much ale they had consumed the night before. One of them, who was clearly unwed, not to mention unbetrothed, was talking in detail about her exploits the previous night with a man whom she had only just met. If she were I, the gentleman in question would have been fortunate to get the merest kiss on the cheek. From what she was saying, however, it was clear that they did a lot more. I felt that I had no choice but to leave quickly.
A lot of people wander round with strange looking devices clamped to the side of their face. Some have strange pieces of what looks like string falling down the side of their faces. Others have a funny looking thing in their ear with a flashing light. And they are talking, apparently, to themselves! Darling, at first glance I thought that these people had escaped from Bedlam! As it turns out, the devices are communication devices called mobile phones. They are used to talk to people who may even be on the other side of the world. Imagine that! The hours writing and waiting for the post you could save if you had access to such a device. Its truly a wonder.
The main entertainment is not books or the theatre although both things still exist. Instead, people sit and stare at a strange looking box which has both sound and moving photographs. There are many different moving photographs available at the same time. It is similar to the theatre only without the actors (both male and female) being in the same room as you. I was greatly intrigued to see one such moving photograph which was supposedly set during our time. How amusing to see what these people think of the way we dress and how we talk! It bears almost no resemblance to real life, except the clothing is quite accurate. I almost said something about this but decided to keep my own council. However, I did get some strange looks when I laughed at one situation.
Sometimes they even go into a darkened room to watch these pictures on a wall about the size of the side your dear mammas house. I would go to one of these places myself but Id be worried that Id fall asleep. You know how I am anywhere with no light.
I have just about got the hang of the monetary system here. There are notes, which are used for the larger part of the denomination and coins, which are the smaller ones. These are swapped for all sorts of goods and services. Sometimes, these are not used. Instead, small flat pieces of a strange substance are placed into machines. After the flat thing is removed, the person picks up what they have purchased and walks away with no sign of payment. Yet they are not stopped or accused of theft as one might expect to happen. I find this endlessly fascinating.
Transportation is another unusual thing. While there are horses, these are mostly for people wearing some kind of uniform. Judging by the size of their hat, these people have most unusually large heads. Instead, metal box like contraptions are used. There appears to be no means of propulsion although they do make an unusual and unholy noise. These differ in size from small ones that are not contained in any way to large machines containing many people. Some are not confined to the ground but instead fly in the air like a bird. They move so fast! So much so that it is simply not safe to step out on front of one but one must use the special crossing places instead.
There is so much more I want to tell you about, but I fear that I am starting to ramble. The last thing I wish to do, my love, is bore you. I will write again in a couple of days, with any luck. In the meantime, give my love to mama and papa. I hope your sister is recovering well from her bout of pox.
Yours with eternal love,
Miss Elizabeth Jane Widdesham.