Years ago I read Thomas More's Utopia. One thing I remember very clearly about More's vision for an ideal world is that instead of currency, there was a trade in precious things. I think mention is made of a cloak of feathers being the most intricate and time-consuming garment and therefore of great value. Last night some friends came to supper, and one of them gave me a pop-up card he'd made of the Storming of the Bastille. The French Revolution has been such a topic among us, thanks to my book, that in the end he decided to take action and find a way of presenting it in pictures. The card is beautiful, delicate and intricate and a gift I shall always treasure. There are few ways of reflecting the toil of writing a book, and how it gets into the blood, but this card does.
It also harks back to the eighteenth century itself, a hand-made world. Fans figure quite large as a theme in my book, and the skill and craftsmanship and time that went into making a fragile accessory makes your eyes water. But we are always in such a hurry, and doing so many things at once, it's quite an effort to imagine the lack of speed in the past, particularly among the leisured classes.