1. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    What would a realistic daily rent be for a Scottish inn during the 60s?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Aaron Smith, Jun 17, 2015.

    A question even Google doesn't answer. It's not terribly important, but a rough estimation would be nice.
     
  2. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    This is a tricky one, and it'll probably be in shillings or some shit.

    I can tell you that it won't be a lot, especially if it's just some room above a tavern.
     
  3. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    I sat it to a pound a night for now. Seems reasonable as inflation has changed the British pound significantly.
     
  4. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    I was going to guess something along the lines of three shillings a night, but I'm not actually sure how valuable a shilling was.

    A pound a night seems fine I guess. To be honest, I doubt anyone would even know, anyway. :D
     
  5. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    I didn't want to overshoot by a lot. It's only mentioned once, but the details matter.
     
  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I sat down with confidence last night, and began googling. About an hour later, I gave up! It really isn't an easy thing to google, is it? However, I live in Scotland, and may be able to come up with a ball-park figure for you, as I have many friends who were around at the time. Give me a few days?
     
  7. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sure. I started the first draft yester, 4000 words in, and a strong start. It's a dialogue piece, and is less than five words, but I feel like overshooting such a detail will ruin the mood.

    Thanks.
     
  8. rincewind31
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    I think back then a typical rent would have been about three jocks and a sporran. You certainly wouldn't have got much change from four drams or even a Nessie. All really depends on whether they served food and whether the smoking ban was in effect.
     
  9. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    The story is about a journalist who works for a small branch of the Atlantis (hence he's from Boston). It's 1966, and he sent to Wormwood, a fictional Scottish bog town situated all the way out in the country. Everything looks like something out of the 1800's century, and everyone is unfriendly. He's there to write an article about an American author who has gone incognito after a sudden spurt of fame a few years back, so he decides to stay at the inn for a fortnight. His room has mice humping in the walls, rat shit in the corner, cobwebs full pre-historic arachnoids and a mattress stained with menstrual blood. Somehow, he thinks, this is still the cleanest room of them all.

    I don't know if that helps.
     
  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, dear. That doesn't sound like the Scotland I know. Please don't use dirty-Jock cliches. All of the B&Bs I've stayed at in Scotland (since the mid 1980's) have been whistle-clean. With two exceptions.

    One was in the far north, run by a couple from London who didn't give a damn ...worst B&B I've ever been in—unfriendly people, cold, dirty room, uncomfortable bed ...and 'charges' added on that weren't in the original contract.

    And the other was one of my best experiences. Run by a wee old (local) man in a northeast farm town, who burned my breakfast and left swipe marks where he 'dusted' the room hastily before my arrival. BUT he was the most entertaining and congenial host. He asked me to join him in his wee living room beside the fire, gave me a few drams, and gave me an insight into his life. He'd been a coal miner in his younger days (and had a blue nose, which apparently came with the coal dust) and had been a shepherd as well, since just before he retired and started his B&B. He still had his old collie dog, who eagerly watched the TV, hoping to see sheep on it! When the dog sees TV sheep, he tries to herd them! While we were talking, another old man arrived, and the three of us had quite an evening, chatting. It was the cheapest B&B I ever stayed at, but the most memorable and the most pleasant. So ...please don't fall into cliches. It's not fair to Scotland.
     
  11. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Story is told in first person past tense. The journalist is a kind person, but he grew up in Boston in a middle class family where fresh air smelled like gasoline. Everything is seen from his perspective, so coming to a poor more or less indepedent town in the bog feels so distant to him. I'm considering changing to to Ireland since I've heard that there is a lot of bogs and open fields. I really should do some more research on the cities.

    Anyway, the picture I'm trying to create is that something's strange is going on. People start going missing, they show up mutilated in different places. This is a picture I can't seem paint in America. The rainy UK feels like the obvious choice.

    But, first drafts are first drafts. There'll be a second draft, a third, and fourth ... the first three chapters span over ten short pages, and I wish to expand it to at least tenfold more. It's summer, but where I live the sky is gray, the weather is cold and it feels as if the daylight never grows old. I also saw a picture on reddit of a sheep that had partially rotted away: http://i.imgur.com/S6Hn8i6.jpg (mildly NSFW, get off writingforums and back to work)

    The location isn't so important, it just needs to be distant from a America and English-speaking.
     
  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Nothing wrong with the location at all—bogs, open fields, etc. By all means, set the story in Scotland, if you want. (Or the moors of England, etc.) It's just the characteristic of a Scottish B&B being dirty and horrible that kind of hits the wrong note. Is there a reason in your story why the B&B needs to be like this? If so, it would be nice if you could make it clear that ALL B&Bs are definitely NOT like this (maybe your character could stay in others beforehand?) Scotland (and Ireland) both suffer from negative cliches so often, it would be refreshing if somebody didn't portray the inhabitants as always being backward. They're not.

    Actually you could work well with the contrast. Clean B&B, lovely, friendly host/hostess, cute little village, happy villagers who are very friendly and helpful ...but something dark is happening behind the scenes. Dum da dum dum ...DUMMMMMM.....
     
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  13. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Since my salary now is approximately 20 times what I could have expected it to be when I started work in 1965, and the cheapest Holiday Inn offered me tonight in Greenock for one person, one night was £53, I'd suggest your hero is paying two pounds, maybe two pounds ten shillings. Britain went decimal in 1971, so you would be talking £.s.d in the sixties.

    I'd echo @jannert about the standards of hospitality. To be honest, I'd take her second "experience" of the hospitable wee auld man as the template for your hero's stay, unless you've a compelling reason why not.

    There's a negative impression of the Scots as being tight-fisted and unfriendly.

    But picture a backwoods farmer in the US. He's got a big old fight on making his crops and making them make enough money to live on. And then up turns this government representative who's trying to tax him. Damn right he's tight-fisted and unfriendly!
     
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  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks for that! Yes. Tight fisted and unfriendly is SUCH an erroneous stereotype. The village I stay in most frequently in the north of Scotland, Ullapool, holds some kind of record for the amount the village donates annually to charities. They do fundraising events for so many good causes and are never too poor to dip into their pockets to help other people in need. Its an eye-opener. They do this on a personal level as well. Somebody in the village has trouble, and there is always somebody who offers to do errands, to look after things to help. People in Scotland are in more danger of giving a stranger their last penny than they are of being tight-fisted. Such a horrible thing to perpetrate about a country. As to being personally friendly ...some are incredibly friendly, some are cooler. Just like people are anywhere. But so many Scots go the extra mile for people all the time. It really upsets me that the stereotype is so entirely wrong.
     
  15. Aaron Smith
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    Chapter 1: The Arrival

    Train

    Yadayadayada MC is on train on his way to Wormhood, backstory, introduction. It ends with him arriving at the town. The image I'm trying to create is an independent off-the-grid town that lives off its own crops and its own cattle. The sun hardly ever shines, the nights are brighter than the days and the people are xenophobic.

    You make a point. The reason the B&B is dirty is to emphathize the poor state of the town. I like your idea, but having him stay in others before wouldn't help the story, I feel. Although I will briefly state that he had stated in motels before, and none were of this poor quality. Of course can't see the whole picture yet. I could send you a copy of the first draft, but I'm not sure if it would be that interesting to you yet.
    Broad strokes: He arrives in Wormwood, he thinks it's a shithole, everyone is xenophobic. Next day, everybody seems happier - as if they all had been laid (his actual words). The sky was clearer, the city seemed brighter. And it gave me an interesting idea that will take some time to write.

    It should also be noted that the daughter of the innkeeper is uncannily friendly with him. So not all the people are terrible, but there is something rotten is brewing in the state of Wormwood...

    Again, there's a lot of work going into the setting, the characters. I want to create tension, suspense, a horrifying mystery that a guy from the middle of Boston could never imagine.
     
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  16. Aaron Smith
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    By the way all this is gold. Thanks. Never been to Scotland, can't really say I know anyone from there either. Just shows the power of stereotypes.
     
  17. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    How big are you imagining this "city" to be? Take a small town on a main road, Fort Augustus. Population 646. Take the second largest settlement in the highlands, Fort William. Population around 10,000. Take a small town with a whisky distillery, Dalwhinnie. Look at it on Google Earth. You can estimate the population from the houses you can count (I got to about twenty).

    Population will be small. Everybody will know everybody else. Nobody will be rich. In the 60s cars will be few and far between (the Mini came along in 1959 and helped make cars affordable to more people, but car ownership wasn't that widespread)

    Incidentally, I searched for B&B in Scottish highlands, most of them seem to be around the coast, and about 50% MORE than Holiday Inn.

    ETA: Wormwood doesn't sound remotely Scottish. Any ideas, @jannert ? Glenalban? Invermoray?
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2015
  18. Aaron Smith
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    I want to use a fictional town so I don't have to adhere to any geographical constants. It's a small town, mainly made from bogwood that is fished up from the bogs and swamps that surround. I imagine the population to be small, in the 300s or so. Probably less. It really is more of a village than anything, but it does have a proper church and a rather large town hall, which contains the city archives, police station, and library.

    The town isn't connected to a mainroad. Blacktop is unheard of, and the only transport is by train. There isn't even a proper trainstation, only mud. It's the end of the line. Perfect for someone who wants to get away. The inn only holds twelve rooms, and its primary source of income comes from drunks in the bar. The town should have a distillery, though. Good point. I think that would be a realistic source of income that would provoke the need for money.

    I don't imagine that there's a lot of cars. Most transport happens on foot, and considering the size of the town it isn't unrealistic either.
     
  19. jannert
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    Woops. You really need to do more research before you embark on this. Just for starters ...motels don't exist in Scotland, even today. Definitely wouldn't have done, back in the 60s. You would stay at a small hotel or a B&B, if you were out in the countryside. Many people didn't have access to cars, and a lot of travel was done via bus and train. (Those services were better than they are now. They ran more frequently and went to smaller, more out-of-the way places than they do now.)

    It's a slightly more modern film, but you could do worse than watch the movie Local Hero (0ne of my favourites of all time) or the movie Ring of Bright Water. Both of these show Scotland in a good light, but not a Brigadoonish light. And both involve stays at small hotels, if memory serves me right. Certainly Local Hero does. Also the TV show Hamish MacBeth (with Robert Carlisle) is good fun. It's filmed in Plockton, just south of Ullapool, although the setting is fictitious. Local Hero is filmed on the west coast beaches near Mallaig, but the wee fishing village with the red telephone box is actually Pennan, on the Aberdeenshire coast ...which recently experienced a landslide that wiped out a few of the houses.

    The one thing to be a bit careful of, with any of these shows, though, is the accents. Most of these actors are NOT from the highlands. In fact many of them are from Glasgow or Edinburgh, or Perthshire, etc. So the accents aren't reliably highland, even when the characters are supposed to be.

    Definitely do a lot of research, though. Talking about motels is a dead giveaway that you don't know the area you're writing about. I'm afraid that's the downside of writing what you don't already know. You have to get to know it! Watching films is a good start, but then reading books is also a good thing to do, to get a flavour of the place. If there is any help I can give you there, I'd be glad to.

    Of course if your main character is a Bostonian, he WILL make mistakes ...so if you portray the story through his eyes, you can get away with certain incorrect observations. However, if he's standing in front of his accomodation calling it a motel, when it clearly is not, then you'll need to be able to describe what it looks like to the reader. This can actually be funny, because he's making a big mistake. The readers will know this, but he doesn't.
     
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  20. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, research is on the weak side at the moment. Thanks for the tip. I'll need to do some research on wildlife, bogs, swamps, bogwood, alcohol (purely professional, I swear!), etc. for the later drafts. At the moment I'm focusing on driving the story forwards, which seems to be going smoothly at the moment.
     
  21. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    1/ Fictional town good. Wormwood bad name! I'm not great on Scottish place names, which is why I'm inviting @jannert to the party. My suggestions sound more Scottish - to me - if a bit generic.
    2/ A small Scottish town in the highlands would be built of stone - locally-quarried, or, more probably, found when they were clearing the fields for cultivation. Population of 300 is fine. Church would be small. Town hall? Think about how the town evolved, and try to explain the period of prosperity when they could afford a town hall. City archives? More likely parish records - kept in the church. Police station? There's a small Scottish town that's just experienced its first crime in 20 years. I know that times were slower back then, but...really? Library? Same comment.
    3/ Blacktop? Of course there would be. We don't get a lot of dirt roads over here. In the boggy interior of Scotland, even fewer. Any vehicle would be bogged down. And much of Scotland's road infrastructure dates back to times when it was, comparatively, a wealthier country. Aided by General Wade and his roadbuilding to march soldiers to counter the next Jacobite rebellion. So there are some VERY good roads in surprising places.
    4/ Railway. Again, built in happier times, Scotland is very well represented, although much of it was single-track. It's unrealistic to make it the end of the line. After all, if it's such an out-of-the way hole as you've painted, who would bother? Over boggy terrain, the engineering would have been uneconomic. Scottish stations tended to be rather less sturdily-built than their English counterparts, but "just mud"? There would have been a station, although probably wooden, and probably somewhat ramshackle by the 60s. Bear in mind that the 60s were a time of great change on Britain's railways...modernisation was replacing steam trains with diesels, and Beeching's axe was cutting branch lines at a rate of knots. However, a guaranteed source of business such as a distillery would have kept the line open - but passenger services might well go.
    5/ An inn with 12 rooms? A bit oversized in a village of 300. A coaching inn, which I think is what you've got in mind, would only have existed on a trunk road; they existed to provide changes of horses for the coaches, and accommodation for the travellers. You'd probably have a pub with a couple of upstairs rooms. Most business from the drunks? Drinkers, yes. Occasional drunks. But they wouldn't have been earning enough, and would have been working too hard, to get drunk regularly.
    6/ Distillery. What makes great whisky great is, ironically, the water. Stagnant water, which you might expect in a boggy area, would NOT make great whisky.
     
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  22. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wormwood is just a placeholder, noted nonetheless. I'm appreciating the help a lot, man.
    The Town Hall is inhabitated by a well dressed gentleman whose name is W. Wallace. He is in his sixties, has glasses, and reads a lot of books on natural sciences. The library is his own private collection. He's the kind of guy you'd suspect knows a shit load about medicine, perhaps he's even a doctor, but something tells you he lost his medical license, and there may be a good reason for that...
    So far I've only introduced two police officers, and they come from a larger city, and were stationed here for reasons that I have yet not determined.
    Blacktop noted.

    I'm considering changing the time to the 40s. It seems less lenient in terms of technology, which won't hurt the image I'm trying to create. Radios and pens. Some research will need to be done on this.

    No whisky, got it. Beer, perhaps?

    Loads of great points. A lot of editing to be done when I get home.

    Jeez. Subtext is hard, haha.
     
  23. jannert
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    Yes, all of what @Shadowfax has just said. Particularly liked the notion of rooms over a pub. Yes. They still exist. This would make sense, if your location is one that tourists would not usually go to. A village of 300 would likely have a pub. A village hall (not a town hall) might exist, but in a village that small it might not, either.

    My advice would be to pick a location in Scotland. Island or highland? If it's an island, especially a small one, you would need to get to it by ferry. If it's on the mainland, you would need to get to it by car. As Shadowfax pointed out, dirt roads don't really exist here, unless they are forestry commission roads, which don't lead from village to village. Here, the out-of-the-way places are often reached by paved single-track roads. Single track roads with passing places, so cars can get past one another. I don't know how these worked in the 196os, but I was driving on a few just last week. Fun. Actually, really fun. And they lead to such fantastic places.

    Anyway, pick a general location in Scotland. Then pick a few villages in the area from a map, and do google searches on the villages. Do the Wikipedia searches, the Scottish Tourist Board searches, get history of these places and do a photo search as well. See what you can find out about them. Then begin to construct your fictitional village. That will be a good start. If they are northwest coast villages or Hebridean island villages, Gaelic will figure in place names, and probably in what the villagers speak to each other as well. If you pick a village on the East Coast of Scotland, or in the south of Scotland (the Ayrshire Coast) however, Gaelic won't really be an issue. With the exception of the northeast coast (north of Inverness) you won't be dealing with very isolated places, though. The Ayrshire coast and the Aberdeenshire, Angus, Fife and East Lothian coasts are well populated and very different from the west highlands and islands. The north coast is also worth considering. It's fantastic, actually. Lots of scope for the kind of thing you're writing. In fact, I can recommend a GREAT book to get you started on local folklore. It's called Tales of the North Coast, and it's so good I've got several copies. Link to USA Amazon:
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0705000451/?tag=writingfor07a-20

    Anyway ...if I can be of any help, let me know. Remember, doing research is not a drag. What you find out can very easily give you more ideas about your story. It makes it easier to write, not harder to write.
     
  24. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Appreciate it. I think calling the pub an inn is a funny little detail, in that a Bostonian may not be very familiar with England.
     
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  25. jannert
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    England??? !!! :eek:
     
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