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Wemyss, reporting. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Wemyss, reporting.



After a – shall we say Glorious – week, by and large, we return to earth with a thump.


Firstly, of course, God rest Aleksandr Isayevich.  Years after the tyrants have been all but forgotten, Solzhenitsyn’s name shall be remembered.


So also will be the delicacy and purity of line that was the hallmark of Pauline Baynes, who beat Fragonard and Poussin hollow in that respect.  May her soul, and Solzhenitsyn’s, and the souls of all the faithful departed, be at rest with God.


Then, naturally, there’s the infighting, the collapse of the prince (by common consent fit to rule – had he never ruled), the rise of the young challenger to displace him, the systemic shock of the coming revolution in affairs….  Of course, one hears that Labour are also facing something of the sort, but I am speaking just now of England cricket.


And then there’s this:




– in which an overseas reader suggested to our own blamebrampton that a story of hers would have been better still had she stopped in the midst of the action for a nice expository essay on what, precisely, the Thames Barrier is.


Oh, my paws and whiskers.


If this is to be the standard to which we are to be held, we shall be forced to resort to Pterrian, Pratchettic footnotes.  In that wise, I give a sample from my own work, annotated for the benefit of the overseas reader:


When forced to go up

[conventionally, one always goes ‘up’ to London, as to Oxford, from which one may be sent ‘down’: the ‘up’ trains go to London or Oxford, the down trains, from these]

to London

[the capital of the United Kingdom; Oxford is a cathedral

[a place of Christian worship that is the seat of a bishop and his diocese

[a bishopric]]


[a conurbation with a specific charter from the Crown or which has had a university or cathedral on the site since ‘time immemorial’

[defined as since before the reign of Richard 2d

[an English king deposed in rather a nasty fashion]]]

and home to the only university

[an institution of higher learning, conferring academic degrees, composed of colleges

[constituent elements of a university; those worth mentioning are Univ

[University College],

Oriel, Exeter

[the traditional West Country college, not to be confused with the place in Exeter at which JK Rowling spent her academic terms],

Worcester, and the House

[Christ Church]]

in England

[one of the constituent nations of the United Kingdom]

worth speaking of, although there is a place in East Anglia

[a flat, muddy area in the East of England, noted for historical Puritanism and current inbreeding]

with certain pretensions],

and not forced by crisis and exigency

[i.e., events of sudden importance; emergencies]

to apparate, portkey, or floo

[Wizarding modes of transport in JK Rowling’s series],


[Potter, a character created by JK Rowling

[a popular if sometimes ill-edited English authoress]]:

a boy Wizard, now, as of the setting of this story, an adult]

preferred either to take to his broom

[a Wizarding mode of transport in JK Rowling’s series, based upon folk beliefs that witches and warlocks flew through the air on brooms.  A broom is a cleaning implement composed of a longish stick to one end of which straw or twigs have been affixed, used for sweeping floors],

or to avail himself of the Wizarding train

[a conveyance moving on fixed rails]

system: the secret network of railways

[in America, these are called ‘railroads’]

that had been restored to a solely Wizarding use by a wave of Dr Beeching’s wand

[Dr Beeching – formally, Richard, Baron

[a peerage title]

Beeching of East Grinstead

[a town in Sussex]

in the County

[the primary second-tier geopolitical division in England, cognate in many ways to an American state]

of Sussex

[a coastal county in Southeast England],

but universally known as ‘Dr Beeching’ – was a physicist and engineer who was chairman of British Rail in the early 1960s, and recommended the closure of unprofitable runs and lines, which recommendations became known as Beeching’s Axe.  It is here feigned that these disused rail lines were in fact moved to Wizarding control: thus ‘Beeching’s Wand’]. 

From the halt

[a small, generally unstaffed rail station]

at Twatford Mulliner

[a fictional place in Wiltshire

[a county in the Southwest of England

[the ‘West Country’, noted for cider

[an alcoholic drink made of fermented apples

[Malus spp.],

and called, in America, ‘hard cider’]

and pigs and rustic humour and lots of backwoods peers

[members of the House of Lords until recently, hereditary peers, who do not much participate in public life]]]]

to the last fields

[an area of agricultural usage, cultivation: arable land]

between Baulking

[a village, formerly in Berkshire but now in Oxfordshire.  Berks and Oxon are counties in England]

and Challow

[a former rail station in Oxfordshire],

he would look with interest at the doings of his neighbours and fellow farmers.  Thereafter, he looked with fascination upon the increasing instances of industry, as, heading eastwards, he approached its fringes at Grove Wick

[the area just northeast of the village of Grove, in Oxon, formerly in Berks, near Wantage],

just before the A338

[a major trunk road, running from Bournemouth, in Dorset, to Besselseigh in Oxon]

passed over the line, with the sewage works

[also, ‘sewerage works’: best not to ask]

to the northwards and an industrial estate

[in American, an ‘industrial park’: an area set aside for medium and heavy industry]

to southwards.  This, he always felt, with a quiver of excitement, formed the first few bars of the symphony of labour and manufacture, a symphony few others of all his acquaintance could hear.  After Didcot

[a large town in Oxon, formerly in Berks],

the strains of the new

[a quotation; the ‘strains’ here refer to music]

ever swelled, the tempo driving relentlessly, intricate harmonies played fortissimo: the countryside was now behind him, and the land was now less Lark Rise to Candleford

[the title of a fictionalised autobiography by Flora Thompson, celebrating the English countryside in the early part of the last century]

than Lent Rise

[a small community in Bucks, near Burnham]

to Cippenham

[a painfully built-up suburb of Slough, located now in Slough as its unitary authority

[a metropolitan area outside the usual county structure, or a legally deformed county authority]

and Berks as its ceremonial county, but formerly in Bucks

[Buckinghamshire, an English county]]. 

Even the industrial estate between Slough

[an increasingly grubby borough in Bucks, part of the slopping over of London]

and Langley

[another Slough suburb, in Berks-formerly-Bucks],

hard by Little Whinging

[an appalling fictional suburb created by JK Rowling, noted for its small-minded conformism],

in which Grunnings

[a fictional drill manufacturer created by JK Rowling, by whom Harry’s ghastly uncle Vernon Dursley was employed]

had their lair, was to him, now, an occasion of mild interest and not of old hurts remembered.


There.  That should do to be going on with.

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44 comments or Leave a comment
wren_chan From: wren_chan Date: August 4th, 2008 05:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh help!

A bit peeved, love? I can't do more than glance at this for collapsing in giggles, particularly when I saw that you'd defined 'city'. This makes me feel rather better about having asked what a Buttercross was--really, dears, if you're so confused, try wikipedia first and then bother the author. Too much defining takes their energies from writing!
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 4th, 2008 06:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Not peeved, precisely.

Bemused, rather.
serriadh From: serriadh Date: August 4th, 2008 07:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
*laughs hysterically*

What's a lair?

*runs away*
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 4th, 2008 08:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Lair, n.

A lurking-place or den, often where a druidical prelate waits to spring upon the unwary (see icon).

So you are wise to run.
the_gentleman From: the_gentleman Date: August 4th, 2008 08:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Depressing, if only for highlighting how Oxfordshire steals all the best places in Berkshire while Buckinghamshire offloads their worst on us.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 4th, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC) (Link)


It's because they secretly think you all to be, er, Berks. Terrible snobs, the Ox and Bucks.
froganon From: froganon Date: August 4th, 2008 10:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Hi [a casual word for "hello" denoting a greeting upon arrival]

I'm glad you've gotten all of that sorted out. A broom being something to sweep with indeed.

and Alexandr I shall miss him. Faithfully I read several of his books.

wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 5th, 2008 02:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Hullo [a British response to an American's saying, 'hi'].

'Hi' of course being a subset of 'any loud cry' as used in hunting snarks.

And there are some true sweeps about, arent't there.

We will all of us miss Solzhenitsyn, shan't we: particularly those who don't realise it.

Edited at 2008-08-05 02:13 pm (UTC)
17catherines From: 17catherines Date: August 5th, 2008 02:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, lovely. I especially liked the reference to Richard II.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 5th, 2008 02:14 pm (UTC) (Link)


I rather thought you might enjoy that.

Thank you for yr kind words.
viridescence From: viridescence Date: August 5th, 2008 02:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Hahaha, love this.

I am forever awed by your command of the English language.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 5th, 2008 02:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

How vy kind.

I'm delighted you were amused and diverted.
fpb From: fpb Date: August 5th, 2008 11:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Naughty! Actually, there is a way to tell a story AND describe alien places for people who do not know them: use the Thames Barrier (say) as a prop and stage and slip descriptions in while describing the action and the dialogue.
blamebrampton From: blamebrampton Date: August 5th, 2008 01:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I DID! But the reader was a little lazy. Since they were reading it on a web archive, I did think it was reasonable that they could Google if they were still at a loss ... Apparently not.
blamebrampton From: blamebrampton Date: August 5th, 2008 01:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am now totally thrilled to have received such a silly comment, because it has called this post into being. I could not love this post more if it was coated in chocolate and wrapped in foil. An increasingly grubby Slough and deposed in a nasty fashion will warm me on cold nights for years to come! Thank you!

wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 5th, 2008 02:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Coated in chocolate, you say?

Hmmm. Sounds a nice way to enjoy a lad (who, obviously, wd also warm one on cold nights for years to come).

Thank you for yr kind words, and yr inspiring this.

(Footnotes omitted.)
absynthedrinker From: absynthedrinker Date: August 5th, 2008 01:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Blamebrampton sent me over for a looksee and I am delighted I came. This has to be one of the cleverest things I've read in an age. Thank you so very much

wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 5th, 2008 02:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

I'm very much obliged. Thank you.

Any friend of blamebrampton, and so on, you know the drill. Most kind of you to say such nice things.

And what a VERY fetching icon.
From: beatnikspinster Date: August 5th, 2008 02:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hahaha! Too too funny.

(directed here from blamebrampton.)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 5th, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

And a very good direction from which to come, I may say.

(Better than Swindon, certainly.)

Glad you were amused; charmed that you kindly took time to say so.
44 comments or Leave a comment