What Pegman Saw : Spangles and sparkles and rainbow shells

‘Roll up, my babber!

‘Wanna forget that pox-scarred mug of yours for a time? The face that scares the pretty maids and leaves you thrashing alone in your truckle bed, sweating and wracked with a guilty glow at your own sinning?

‘Wanna leave that slum you call home, choked with jaspers and river stink in the summer, crumbling into the Avon with the black damp in winter?

‘You wanna see a mermaid, my dove, her tail flash with sparkles, head acrowned with abalone shells bright as a rainbow?

‘Wanna see a prince, all ‘andsome, bedecked with spangles, limbs straight at a plumb line, not like mine that’s bent as a sail in full blow.

‘Forget the dog eggs and horse shit, forget the rent’s past due and you’ll soon be toshing to make ends meet. Inside’s love and loss and happy endings ever after.

‘And who don’t want that?’


Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Streetview.

Well, how could I resist this one? I know this fair city rather well, having lived here for the last thirteen years. There are many rundown, twisting alleys to inspire dark tales, there’s the harbour with its seafaring history, local pubs like the Llandoger Trow (supposedly the inspiration for the Admiral Benbow Inn in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island), or the Hatchett Inn on Frogmore Street, where the door is reputedly covered in human skin.

But I chose the historic Bristol Old Vic Theatre. Built in 1766, it’s Britain’s oldest continually working theatre and during recent refurbishments a gutter was discovered down which cannon balls could be rolled to mimic the sound of thunder.

And for those of you not from the southwest of England …

Brizzle Dictionary

Avon – main river running the centre of the city, separating North Bristol from South Bristol.

Babber – mate, pal.

Brizzle – Bristol

Jaspers – wasps


General and historical notes

Dog eggs – canine faeces

Toshing – searching the sewer for lost valuables.

Truckle bed – low wooden bed, often on casters, that can slide under another bed when not in use. Often used by servants.








21 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw : Spangles and sparkles and rainbow shells

  1. Thank you, Lynn, for putting a smile on my face, as I willingly line up for my two hour escape from toshing! The extreme poverty you describe is dark to be sure, but the escape into the theatre must have seemed magical, and you conjure it up so well. I love the title, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thank you Penny. I’ve often thought theatre –
      travelling or static – must have been a light shining into dull, hard lives. I was given a Tudor sixpence as a gift years ago and learned it would have been enough to buy standing room in the Groundlings at the Globe theatre – imagine the magic of that! So glad you liked it and thank you for the kind comment


      1. Still expensive though! I read somewhere online a labourer could earn a shilling a day (12 pence) so not the cheapest day out, but affordable to many. And I’m sure many thought it was worth it

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thank you so much Karen! I’m sort of drawn to carnival, theatrical types in fiction – I once wrote a story about a Victorian lady wrestler with a straw wig! There is something otherwordly about it all – with a hint of sinister too. Thanks so much for the kind comment

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thank you so much! Nights at the theatre must have felt like magic to ordinary folk, mustn’t they? We’re so lucky to have access to magic everyday now. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True… we are lucky (which makes us a bit more nonchalant about the whole thing at times!)


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