Good evening and welcome to my pulchritudinous plethora of accumulated antiquities…or as some ridiculous personages have dubbed it – my lovely library.
I am Perilous Wight and here in the bowels of the city of Lancaster, in the disused tunnels of an underground train system that never was, I have made it my mission to collect every book that our self-proclaimed ‘supreme ruler f the universe’ and his mincing minions have banned from the bookshelves of The New World.
But this is not a ‘lending library’; if you have wandered in here on the ill-advice of a ludicrous Tea Fiend and their rampant octopus, let me assure you that you will find no frivolous fancies or biscuit-based buffoonery here. Here there is only the dark and the damp, the flickering of candlelight and the ceaseless toil of a man who did not re-animate from the dead to be pestered by people wanting bedtime stories!
But wait…what’s that you say? Late Bottled Vintage Port? Ten years eh?…. well, yes perhaps it is about time I put my feet up for a while, pipe and slippers and a little drop of something to fight off the chill. And I suppose I could read a very little something,
like this perhaps…
THE TELL TALE CARP
I do not wish you to think that there was any aspect of my wife’s character or disposition which lead me to hate her. In fact, I wish to make it perfectly clear to everyone reading this testimony that I did not, at any point either in her life or death, hate my wife. I loved her. In fact I still do. What I hated, what I came eventually to abhor to the point of distraction, was the way she ate pie.
Not just any pie.
After dinner, every blasted evening since we were wed, my wife would instruct our housekeeper, Mrs. Friggart, to serve us, in a white and blue pie dish rimmed with dancing sugarplums, a damson and bilberry pie.
I cannot begin to tell you the horror with which I came to anticipate the intrusion of that monstrous thing upon my tablecloth, for no sooner had it manifested then the dreadful ritual would begin.
First, off would come the crust, plucked apart by those delicate white fingers. Fingers which I had only ever imagined stroking ivory or lingering over the last fading petals of a lotus bloom were now to be unceremoniously plunged into the moist, fruity innards of Mrs Friggart’s pie.
I could barely bring myself to watch as she licked and slurped and savoured every last, sticky drop of syrup from beneath that brown and flaky crust. I shuddered as her tongue traced each drop’s passage down the slender digits, and sometimes, oh god, down the length of her forearm to the elbow.
Such shameless abandon to the enjoyment of baked confection was not to be borne and so, one evening, after I had endured this torment for longer than any man of lesser mettle would have managed, I determined to put an end to the dreadful pie eater once and for all.
It was always customary on Fridays for us to have fish. Fish is such a beautiful food, filled with the potential for accidental death – an unseen bone lodged in the gullet…allergies…food poisoning…I had the Friggart throw in some potted shrimp in the hopes of adding the happy chance of ptomaine into the bag and then (more as an after thought really) I filled up the salt sellar with warfrin, just to be on the safe side.
I was determined, you see, that she should never in that meal, reach the wretched pie. The thought of its vast, oval presence bored into my mind like some giant and ominous eye, watching my every move.
The morning found me agitated, the afternoon more anxious still, by evening I was fairly skipping about the place in anticipation; polishing the silver ware, tripping over the cat… at last the blessed hour of dinner arrived and my darling seated herself across from me at our neatly clothed table and began to eat.
You can imagine how I eagerly I watched her brow for traces of impending fever, how closely I pressed upon her the benefits of sodium, how keenly I strained my ears to hear the slightest hint of a choke or splutter…
At last I could stand the thought of the impending pie no longer and, in some wild frenzy, I leapt upon the table, seized the carp by the tail and shoved the entire fish down, with all my might, into my wife’s throat. It was not quite the way I had planned it but the results were satisfactory and I simply informed the coroner that the poor woman had been prone to these food-gorging outbursts at ‘a certain time of the month,’ to which he nodded sympathetically.
The funeral I laid on for my beloved was magnificent, the flowers were faultless, the choir sublime, the eulogy brought tears to my eyes and not a soul suspected that she had not tragically gorged herself to death in a fit of feminine hormone-induced madness.
That, I thought, was an end of it.
Imagine my horror the following evening when, upon returning home from the office, I found my wife (still in her burial shroud and looking, I must confess, a little worse for wear) seated in her usual place and upon the table in front of her, a plate of freshly cooked carp.
I did not know what to do. The Friggart noticed nothing when she brought in my steak and potatoes (or f she did she was too polite to mention it) and so I was forced to sit and stoically ignore this apparition as it noisily slurped and sucked and crunched at the dreadful plate of carp.
I was terrified, of course, that my wife, having finished her meal, would now think it proper to ascend the stairs to bed with me but, once the plates and cloth were cleared away, and since no pie was forthcoming, she vanished.
The following night however, she appeared again and this grim pantomime of a last fish supper was re-enacted on my behalf again and again until after about a week of it I could very well see the work the worms had done on her. By the time a month was up her eyes were utterly devoured and the housemaids were beginning to raise their eyebrows at me and remark, behind their hands, about the smell.
But she did no harm other than give off a little funk and I was very nearly getting used to her nightly appearances when a dreadful – and I mean truly dreadful – thing happened.
It was my own fault entirely. I had been too bold, too jovial in my expressions, to light in my step. Aunts had raised their disproving eyebrows at my zealous chorusing in church – and one aunt in particular (a bitter old battleaxe who had been the utter scourge of my childhood and was evidently not going to rest in peace until she had blighted my manhood in some or other fashion) decided she would Pay Me A Visit.
The date I reluctantly arranged for the 3rd at 7pm and, in order that this examination of my mind and morals might seem merely an innocuous dinner party, my Aunt insisted on bringing with her a few, select, guests – her trusted physician Dr Jacobs, our vicar Dr Hall and Professor Gilbertson the noted psychiatrist.
When I rose on the morning of fateful third I was ask easy and carefree as ever –for what had I to fear? My confidence in my own ability to set my guests at their ease was absolute; all day I practiced my wan smile, committed to memory several touching monologues describing my strenuous efforts to keep my British ‘chin up’ despite the inner pain I was harbouring secretly within my broken heart. That, I was certain, would make them ashamed that they had ever questioned my devotion as a husband and throw them off my back forever.
So assured was I in my own abilities, I had even set my wife’s shade a place at the table and bade the house keeper prepare us the same meal of carp that had been my wife’s last meal on earth – two touching tributes which I felt sure my aunt would appreciate.
When my guests arrived I bid them welcome with that same smile, touched with melancholy, that I had been perfecting. Throughout the dinner I was the perfect host, reciting my rehearsed responses to their probing questions with a natural ease. Even when my wife made her customary appearance and began to crunch her way through her own spectral plate of carp, I did not bat an eyelid.
But at length, as the meal wore on, I began to grow weary and pale, the weight of all this acting weighed heavily on my soul and I fervently wished the dinner to be over and my guests all gone home.
When the last mouthful was vanished and the last fork clattered to its plate I fairly sprang from my seat, ready to protest my fatigue and the lateness of the hour, my fears for the safety of travellers after dark and, oh, anything which might expedite their departure. But all my carefully planned excuses were cut short by the sudden appearance of the treacherous Mrs Friggart and her damnable damson pie! I stared in abject horror as she placed it in the centre of the table and laid before me the silver serving knife.
My eyes narrowed. So. The old bird knew all and she was now trying to torment me into a confession. Well, I would show her that I was made of stronger stuff!
Carefully I dished out the pie to my guests (and if my hand trembled a little I am sure nobody could have noted it) and when the grizzly ghost of my wife plunged her own spectral spoon into the pot I forced down my fears, willed the sweat from my brow and talked animatedly about the weather in an effort to block the dreadful sound of her gorging and slurping from my ears.
No doubt I had at this point turned very pale indeed. I talked ever more fluently and loudly, yet the sound of her savoury sucking increased – and what could I do? I gasped for breath, I clattered the crocks, I rose and paced the floor, I gesticulated wildly, I ranted, I swore! – and yet my guests still seemed not to notice anything awry.
My wife, on the other hand, seemed to relish my agitation and her animated enjoyment of the housekeeper’s fruit pie only increased. She grew more and more absorbed, plunging her fist into the pie bowl, sending the purple juices flying so that they rained down over the table and the guests in a demonic storm.
And yet still my guests smiled and talked and got on with their meal – could it truly be they were witnessing none of this fiasco? … Or was it that they saw all and were simply mocking me, smirking inwardly at my torture? This, I became certain, must be the case!
Well, anything was better than this agony!
“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit, I confess the deed –I have murdered the hideous pie eater with a carp!”
Oh dear Goddess! It appears that, once again, we are dealing with an ape! I shall have to call in my good friend Dupin to fathom this mystery and catch the fiend who keeps entering my library, butchering my treasured tomes, and replacing them with this irreverent drivel!
Now, enough of this nonsense I have pie to eat…I…I mean work to do…
all images from http://www.freeimages.com
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome, once again, to Max and Collin’s, catastrophically cat-ridden yet still charmingly chi chi parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.
True, perhaps, some have called it a perilous pit of depravity populated by monsters whose morals follow the wild swinging arc of Time’s own pendulum, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.
You find us, on this bleak and bewildering afternoon still having kittens about our desperate cat situation to the end that Max is now standing on the makeshift balcony screaming ‘Who will rid us of these cats?’
Meanwhile I am going to light a pipe and see if we can smoke them out.
Oh, but enough of this feline foolishness, despite our desperate situation it is undeniably Thursday Afternoon and we are All Punked Up With No Place To Go so let me see if I can find the society papers, beneath the writhing piles of fur and claws, and desipher where the action is this weekend…
Steampunks in Space is taking place at the National Space Centre on 12th – 13th November and on 12th November there is also the alternative steampunks in space at the old horse ‘clockwork infirmary’ www.facebook.com/steampunksinspace
And looking a little further ahead, on the 18th , 19th and 20th November we have the Haworth steampunk weekend
But before we hit the town, there is just a little time left to kick our tentacles up on the table with a good book and an energising cup of Firefly browncoat pilot’s blend by Friday teas. Fortunately the 5th of November saw the release of Den Of Antiquity – the new Steampunk Story Collection by members of The Steampunk Empire’s ‘Scribbler’s Den’ . The collection includes stories by Karen J Carlisle, Jack Tyler, Alice E Keyes, David Lee Summers and all the proceeds are being donated to the International Red Cross so if you haven’t already got your tentacles on a copy, there’s a very good reason to do so!
We will be back in the parlour on monday but please do stop by and visit Peril in his lovely library tomorrow where he will be sharing something of Momentous Magnitude…hopefully it isn’t his Tiffin bill… so, until we see you next please be always,
Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!
Helping me this morning is Kylie Dexter, creator of the amazing Dolldrums – grown up dolls for strange boys and creepy girls! Good morning Kylie, thankyou so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Tell me, have you brought along some soup to share with us?
“Of course! Here is recipe for Curried Lentil and Pumpkin Soup!
1 Tsp Olive oil 1 Garlic clove crushed 1 Onion, finely chopped 2 tsp Curry Powder 1 ½ cups dried red lentils 2kg Butternut pumpkin, chopped 5 cups vegetable stock
Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cooking for 2 to 3 minutes until soft. Stir in curry powder and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
Add lentils, pumpkin, and stock. Stir until well-combined. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, partially covered, for about 20 minutes, stirring regularly until pumpkin is just tender.
Serve immediately, topped with a dollop of natural yoghurt, YUM!”
Mmm, it smells delicious, I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t you tell us all a little more about your creations, when did you first become interested in making art dolls?
“Well, I found myself making “changes” to all my dolls as a child, the possibilities were endless! Then about 15 years ago I stated making clay dolls, and that progressed into needle felting! I am huge fan of Jim Henson, so I had a special place for puppets, I wanted a softer looking character, and this was where Dolldrums was born! I wanted to create an endearing soul that made you want to love it and look after it.”
Looking at your dolls, they each have a marvellous character of their own, what inspires you most when you sit down to create a new doll?
“I do spend a lot of time looking at art and sculpture in my other job at beautiful.bizarre magazine, so it’s often easy to get ideas from paintings and photographs. But I would have to say mostly from the dolls themselves. I always start with their little faces, and then they kind of tell me where to go from there! We try different “looks” and usually one will work the best!”
Your dolls really are adorable, where can we buy them and is it possible to request custom orders?
“Thank you so much! I occasionally have them in my Etsy store, every 5 months or so and I do gallery shows throughout the year, which I share on my socials. I supply the dolls as much as I can keep up to MONA gallery in Tasmania and Art Boy Gallery in Melbourne. I have actually closed my custom orders from now but I am hoping to re-open that sometime soon when things slow down!”
You recently took part in a special exhibition at the Poe Museum could you tell us a little more about that project?
“I was so excited to work with Nancy from The Good Goat gallery, and this amazing opportunity presented itself to make a little “Edgar” as part of the celebrations at the Poe Museum. It was a real honour to be asked and to show my work with other incredible artists in such an amazing space! Nancy asked me to make a little caricature doll as a tribute, and I had so much fun with him and his crows and black cats. The photo shoot down at the cemetery was especially fun!”
And do you have any new projects or exhibitions planned in the coming months?
“I am currently getting dolls ready for Christmas and hoping to have some in the shop soon! I am also working on some dolls for Exhibitions next year. I always like to have something new in the works, but it’s often hard to find time to experiment, but I have got some sneaky projects in the works and also working with another amazing artist and animator on a short film.”
That sounds very exciting I hope you’ll come back and tell us more about the film in the new year? And lastly, the all important question, when you are making your beautiful dolls, what fuels your imagination most, coffee or tea? (and how do you take it?)
“Tea, Black no sugar. I make it a rule to only get coffee if someone else makes me a lovely frothy latte!”
Delightful, I’m sure Max and Collin would approve! Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Kylie, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and the little urchins have certainly enjoyed seeing all your marvelous dolls! Now I think that soup must be about ready now so shall we start dishing it up?
Max and Collin will be back in the parlour tomorrow with some tentacle-tingling tea at three, I will of course be back in the soup kitchen next Wednesday so until then,
Blessings on your brew my dears!
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to Max and Collin’s fearlessly feline friendly and glamorously gothic parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.
True, perhaps, some have called it the decimated shell of a disused fish factory where the stench of its previous occupants lingers like a putrid clarion call to every feral cat within a five mile radius, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.
You find us on this strange and calamitous Monday morning utterly overrun with cats. When we rented this place from the dashing scarecrow downstairs we did think we heard him mumble something about cats but we weren’t quite sure what it was. Now we would rather like to question him further on this point, however we’re a little nervous of disturbing him in case he asks for the rent, which of course we do not yet have.
The unhappy truth is that we have been gaining a new feline friend each morning since we moved in and, well, much as we adore their softness and purriness they are stretching our milk ration to the limit. Not to mention the fact that we are running out of names…hm? What’s that? Oh, Max says I should stop naming them and feeding them our milk ration. You know, for a Very Quiet Gentleman you can be quite cold Max. Quite, Cold.
We are listening to another Audaciously Awesome Audio tale in celebration of Poevember, this time read by Christopher Lee, and to accompany it , our nerve-settling brew this morning is Gin and tonic tea from Urban earth teas, This splendid green mate is bursting with juniper berries and complimented with a dash of citrus and mint.
Hm, you know after listening to that tale I can’t help thinking that it might be better if we could rid ourselves of these cats, you’d think that having a werewolf butler would be something of a deterrent but apparently not. Well perhaps our Oracular Cephalopterois will have some ideas…
Well I’m not sure what it thinks we can do, build a robot guard dog? Really that creature is absurd.
Ah, but now I think our tea is brewed and so there is nothing left for us to say except ‘chin chin’, we cordially invite you join us in the parlour again tomorrow for elevenses and so, until then be always,
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome, once again, to Max and Collin’s, splendidly spiffin and utterly unique parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.
True, perhaps, some have called it a cryptic place where carrion feast on the minds and souls of those foolish enough to enter … but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.
You find us, on this murky and macabre afternoon, all Punked Up With No Place To Go … or should we say ‘no place to Poe?’ …. What’s that? Oh, Max says that has a completely different connotation and should be uttered Nevermore…
Well, whatever the case we are still celebrating Poevember here in the parlour and consequently we are just about to kick our tentacles up on the table with a steaming cup of Coconut rush yerba mate from ujjay boutique (Yes we know it has Assam in it but we’re feeling extremely daring and adventurous this afternoon) and peruse the society papers to find somewhere gloriously gothic to spend the weekend…
Ah, now here is a blast from the past! If you are anywhere near the midlands (and even if you are not) and have a penchant for Poe then you absolutely MUST visit this little pocket of perfection…
The pit And The Pendulum Public House is every Gothic fiction fan’s dream come true with gothic furniture and decor throughout, gruesome gargoyles, live music and even secret passage ways and hidden doors!
Or, looking ahead intot he distant future that is February, Witby is going to have its very own Steampunk Weekend!
Appearing for your delight, delectation, titillation and amusement there will be…
ALICE’S NIGHT CIRCUS – http://www.alicesnightcircus.com/
VICTOR AND THE BULLY – http://victorandthebully.com
PROFESSOR ELEMENTAL – http://professorelemental.com/
Daytime entry to the spa pavilion market is free, evening entertainment tickets are £15 (plus booking fee).
We will be back in the parlour on Monday with some more Poevember Splendour but we wish you a gloriously gothtastic weekend and please remain always,