Countess BraStrap and GhostSlut
Seriously, you cannot imagine the excitement I felt when the internet became available generally and I started meeting and contacting others who were as desperate as I was for news of authors Anne and Serge Golon and the conclusion of the story of Angélique! The story of Ghostslut has never before been told, not publicly at least; but as it is an inherent part of my involvement with these books I believe it is time to open up and get over the embarrassment that first accompanied the whole adventure.
It was one of those nights when it seemed to me that I had been glued to the computer forever, fruitlessly searching for any tiny piece of new information! I had already been at work that day, and it was well into the 'wee' hours when my tired eyes suddenly saw something remarkable - a non-pornographic reference to the name Angélique! * I followed the links, found Harvey's magnificent 'secret pleasure' - and read everything he had to say. I discovered that there were 5 films in total and was so gratified that someone, other than myself, knew about the three untranslated volumes. I was fleetingly disappointed that he did not know anything more or less than I did about the books, but he had already expanded my personal knowledge, so that was a bonus. The next step was to try the 'message board' - something totally new to me. I quickly lost my way and could not find the link back to his site. I was not yet savvy enough to know about 'back pages' or 'history' or any of those useful little aids that we all use without thinking these days! Luckily, I had scribbled down an e-mail address while I was browsing because I wanted to follow up a remark or ask a question of the person making the statement. I had no idea that a message board meant you could respond directly to the conversation. Naturally I am glad I wrote the mail address down as I didn't know how to get back to Harvey. I also had no idea whether the tentative remark I had made on the message board had survived. Luckily the mail address belonged to Steve Hall who resided in Australia.
These were still the days of 'dial-up' in the UK, broadband was unheard of so the cheapest time to use the internet was after 6pm and at weekends! Lucky for me, Steve happened to be around and sent me a very nice message and a link back to Harvey's page. I spent ages reading people's comments not caring that I still had to get up for work the next day. When I got home the next day and powered up the computer, I nearly fell off my chair, there, waiting for me was a welcome message from Harvey! I didn't realise 'Gods' of the Internet spoke to mere humans! Not only spoke, but were friendly and real and in this case a US Marine who had an office overlooking Vesuvius - that did impress me.
Harvey had a habit of teasing you when he got to know you and was sure you wouldn't 'come over all unnecessary'. (The fact that he was a US Marine takes on a whole new significance now that the entire female world is in love with Mark Harmon's Leroy Jethro Gibbs).
In due time the 'Friends of Angélique' became a reality, a functioning group and as we got to know each other genuine friendships were forged. Harvey was voted in as President (although I always referred to him as 'Excellency' in private conversations), Steve was declared his vice-President, Joyce became the senior Admin Officer and I became Treasurer, dealing with the money - membership fees, fund-raising etc. Not bad for four people spread across the world from Boston, USA via the UK, Italy and stretching over to Australia. Our membership had nationals from all points in between and considering the euro did not yet exist, collecting money was no mean feat!
Apart from enthusing about the books, wondering what would happen next, discussing our favourite characters, moaning about the lack of new translations, admitting to secretly enjoying the films even if they were nothing like the books, wishing like mad that someone would discover a hidden translation somewhere, we also had a lot of fun comparing book covers! The hardbacks all seemed to be uniform with the exception of Angélique and the Sultan which was renamed Angélique in Barbary in the United States and as such had a separate dustjacket.
Harvey then suggested that we send images of our books to him so that he could start compiling a library of different covers for us to view. We were all astonished at the number of covers (all soft/paperbacks) that existed in the English translations alone. Scanning images was completely new to me, so I was amazed when I managed to scans some of the covers but did not understand what else to do with them - like give them an identifying name! I also had no idea how to compress pictures so was sending the full MB variations which took forever to load and forever to receive - not even Harvey's military server was able to cope with some of the stuff I sent through! Anyway, as luck would have it, the image of Angélique and the Ghosts made its way to Harvey in Italy via the ether.
Some days later Harvey told us that sufficient books had arrived and that he would soon be showcasing them on his site. All went well until this master of mischief announced that he had two book covers he was particularly fond of because they had nothing whatever to do with the period of time in which they were set. The first was an American cover of The Countess Angélique which he had named 'CountessBraStrap' as there is a bra strap clearly visible in the image and my offering of Angélique and the Ghosts which he had renamed 'GhostSlut'. Nothing wrong with a bit of imagination and these days I enjoy giving my jpegs and gifs intelligent and recognisable names. What horrified me was that Harvey, who up to that point, had not identified the owners of any of the books suddenly chose to attribute the slutty 'Ghosts' cover to me. I was mortified! But I quickly came to realise that it had all been done in fun and from then on he referred to me as 'Ghost' when I called him 'Ex' and when we became formal in our exchanges we swapped to 'Ghostslut' and 'Excellency'.
It could all have ended there and just been between the two of us, but at the time I shared an office with a police officer who also occasionally liked to have a bit of fun with me - we were very firm friends (just as well considering the amount of time we spent together) as we both shared an interest in tennis and went down to Wimbledon on several occasions. He also has an extremely talented wife, who, although I didn't know it at the time, was the secret cartoonist known as 'Black Dog' for Nottinghamshire Police. Her work lampooned howlers committed by various individuals - no-one and no rank of officer was spared! Mick often used to ask me what the fascination with late night internet was and of course I couldn't help but enthuse about Harvey and the books and everything else. Mick knew I was a bit of a Francophile and he himself migrated there after he and Sue retired so it was easy to chat and give away details without realising their value. Then he sprang a little surprise on me in the form of a very original cartoon based on the Harvey-Ghostslut adventure. There is everything in that cartoon, just look and enjoy the humour and the wit of the artist. (Black Dog is identified as the stamp on the envelope on the central screen which gives it its provenance).
I'm glad I was able to give Harvey a copy and that he enjoyed the experience as much as I did and hope you will.
* A friend told me that on one occasion, doing similar searches, she had somehow managed to get herself into a loop of pornographic sites one of which was particularly persistent, called something like Angélique Legs, that she was unable to shut down! And .... she did not dare ask her husband for help for obvious reasons!
After rummaging about in my hard copy files, I found the very announcement made by Harvey to the group!
Page updated :17th August 2016