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The fourth Plinth, Part 2b - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
The fourth Plinth, Part 2b

Field-Auror Marshal Lord Avelyn, as such, unnerved the civil power slightly by his potential, at any moment of crisis, to become an Unruly and Over-mighty Subject even without his intending it. For the Younger Generation, however, to whom he was either Father or, indiscriminately, Uncle Harry, he was to be loved dearly and handled warily. The end of the Secrecy Regime – again, as such – had meant that, with Harry’s (and Hermione’s, and Ron’s and even Draco’s) approval in principle, Muggle culture was no longer alien even to the families, or to the younger generation of the families, that had once prided themselves upon their (notional) pureblood status. That, however, was in principle. In fact and in the actual practises of daily life, what the older generation of the Victors approved in theory was not always quite so accepted. Harry, quâ Father or Uncle Harry, supported testily by Draco and in tones of strident, urban, upper-middle-class, bien-pensant horror by that born Grauniadista, Hermione, had by this time spent some years in insisting that Vampires Do Not Sparkle; that Werewolves, As a Random Cross-section of Society Who Have Simply Suffered an Infectious Misfortune, and It’s Not Polite to Stare, Are Not Inherently Sexy and Do Not Go About Shirtless Showing Off Impressive Torsos in All Weathers; that, No, There Should Be No Support for a ‘Glee’ Club at Hogwarts in Addition to the Choir; that, No, There Should Likewise Be No ‘Show Choir’ at Domdaniel, No Matter How Stuffy You Lot Find the Lassus Choir, Which Did, After All, Inspire the Muggles’ Bach Choir at Oxford, Damn It All; that, No, Kingsley and Aunt Angelina and Uncle Dean and Uncle Lee and Uncle Blaise Are Not Going to Aid in the Development of Wizarding Dub, Rap, or Trip-Hop, and You Are Not to Make These Racialist Assumptions, You Little Beggars, No Matter What the Muggles Do; and numerous other rearguard actions against encroaching (and often transatlantic) Muggle notions. (Although Harry and Ron did vacillate briefly upon the proposal of a British-Australian Quidditch rivalry similar to the Ashes, until Hermione, in her most peahen-like accents, warned them Not to Go Wobbly.)

Nevertheless, these things will creep in even in the most well-ordered of societies. (Even Draco had succumbed to the lure of lucre in contracting with Ogden’s to brew from its distilling by-products a magical equivalent to Marmite; and of course George was always unreliable when the choice was between sanity and profit.)

That is, perhaps, enough to explain the regrettable emergence, even on a very small scale, of Sociomantic Cultural Studies in the Wizarding world, with unfortunate consequences for Lady Lily Potter.

Avelyn, as a commander, knew damned well that those he commanded and the situations in which he commanded alike wanted management, and was all too willing to manage them to the hilt of the wand as necessary for the defence of the realm. As Harry, father and actual or honorary uncle, he was strongly resistant to managing anyone, having spent a childhood at the sharp end being managed and manipulated as a walking weapon of war. It was his policy to allow, as much as was possible and with due regard to actual personal safety, the Younger Set to make their own damned mistakes, and to offer comfort after.

That the result of this policy of masterful non-interference was that Ron, Hermione, Justin, Draco, Aunt Andy, Cissy, Minerva, Filius, and especially Ernie, being the sensible ones, ended by managing the Young Idea and Harry, he quite successfully ignored.


‘Thundery sort of day,’ said Millie.

Rose, who was perfectly well aware that the weather was as clear as it was bitingly cold, took this as being by way of metaphor.

‘No need to hammer the point,’ said Teddy, languidly.


If Harry pretended not to know, unless he were forced to notice, the scrapes and heartbreaks and bloody-minded insistence on creating their own cock-ups of his children and their contemporaries, he was nonetheless perfectly aware of them, and suffered through them in sympathy with them, unspoken until asked and then quite freely spoken.

‘Harry. We really do want a certain, ah, interdisciplinary approach, here.’

He glared at Hermione, who had left off being daunted by his glares several decades previously.

‘Balls.’ He paused, considered that statement, and found it insufficient. ‘Rubbish. Likewise, sod that for a game of Aurors. Durmstrang notion at bottom. Cack, all of it. Windy theory dressed as thought. It’s all shit. Get in experts from all fields, certainly, I’ve done that. But these jacks of all trades and masters of none? Nonsense. That lot haven’t an academic discipline, merely an un-academic indiscipline. Silly buggers, more wind than a crèche with the colic.’

There were times when Harry was very difficult to distinguish from his more Blimpish Muggle counterparts.


‘What, precisely, are you two on about – and do not tell me I needn’t know.’ Rose was as prickly as her father when she felt her position or dignity threatened, and as implacable as her mother when she was seeking knowledge.

It was Lily who answered. ‘The Muggle trend for the wearing of jewellery by men – necklaces and that sort of thing – has been one the few crazes that hasn’t caught on with us, I think. Unless – Freddie?’

‘What, you wish me to pronounce as Gay Oracle?’

‘Frederick….’ Aunt Millie’s ‘no-nonsense-damn-you’ voice was an exceptionally no-nonsense one at the best of times.

‘Er. Right. Desperately fashionable glitter-ball types, yes, but not even commonly with them.’

‘And,’ said Teddy, ‘this was found in his other set of rooms, not the ones he anticipated should be ransacked.’

‘And therefore,’ said Lils, ‘its significance is in what it represents.’

‘Well,’ said Rose, unthinkingly combining her father’s and her mother’s particular gifts of tactlessness, ‘I suppose you’d know best, Lils, I mean about Muggle-Wizard cultural crossover.’

Lil paled – which with her colouring was positively alarming – and stood abruptly, and walked quite stiffly to and through the door, which she pointedly did not slam behind her.


The bad odour in which Sociomantic Cultural Studies, as a discipline, was held in the Wizarding world had, naturally, several sources, but the primary reason it had come to pong exceedingly in the nostrils of all right-thinking Witches and Wizards was currently resident in her native Australia.

Florean Fortescue, pursuing his researches into the past even as he sold ice-cream to happy schoolchildren (and far greedier adults), had been a true and ripe scholar. Violet Crummles, who had ascended from the Antipodes after the War to rival, for a time, La Skeeter as what was politely called a journalist and more commonly called a gossipmonger, had at best pretensions to scholarship. As dung beetles unerringly find their element, so had she, all for the sake of power, preferment, and self-promotion, been instantly attracted to the intellectual dung of Sociomancy. Determined to be regarded as something other than the muckraker she loudly and brassily was, she had attracted notice by submitting incomprehensible ravings to various journals and magazines who habitually published such impenetrable gibberish: ‘Towards a magical realisation of post-Lacanian semiotics as a grammar of dialectical sexuality’, and that sort of thing.

Lamentably, there were those who could be, and were, seduced, bouleversé, by such wiles, and amongst these had been one of Lils’ tutors and mentors. Which had meant, in the fullness of time, that Lils also had bought in to the fad. It had been when Lils – working as an unpaid Crupsbody for Crummles in hopes of impressing her academic mentors and earning praise for her worthily multidisciplinary approach – had been literally seduced by Crummles as well, that things had gone pear-shaped.

Lils had worked like a House-Elf – and for as little reward – on such curiosa as Magical Modernism and the Construct of Witch-Adolescence, Schoolmaidens in School Robes, the Politics of Sex Magic, Witchly Maidenhood, Popular Culture and the Ideal of the Virgin Witch, and all the rest. (Crummles, clearly, liked ’em young. When Harry had later found all this out, he had made certain that Laura Madley learnt of it, and had been at once relieved and, in a way, disappointed, that the Australian Witch had been careful to confine her seductions to school leavers who had been of age. He’d have quite liked to have seen her banged up in Azkaban.)

It was on the strength of Lils’ researches – Crummles was utterly incapable of looking up a reference herself – that Crummles had published her doorstopper of a book, The Witches’ Gaze: Homo-eroticism in the Martin Miggs the Mad Muggle Comics (in twelve volumes). It may well have been well-researched: indeed, Lils having done the research, it undoubtedly was: yet no one had ever been able to read it, Crummles’ prose being what it was. Hermione had tried, gamely, but encounters with such passages as

The Sartrean ‘premodernist paradigm of narrative’ interpolates what is considered constructively to be reality into a hyper- or meta-reality in which a reality is but a reality amongst others: a part of a holistic mythopoetical totality. The dialectical process is superseded where multiple realities are subsumed into a totality that embraces contradiction and in which, therefore, various realities are purely symbols, signifiers, within the totality; in consequence – or, rather, concurrently, in that cause and effect are eliminated and consequence becomes a meaningless term – a (not the) collapse of context renders futile any Debordist capitalist discourse between the creator and the consumer of the work. It is from this that derivative works derive. Accordingly, the deconstruction of post-textual hierarchies creates a semiotic reality within the Batailleist cultural totality, the accessibility of which, as a form of Lyotardist narrative….

had left her standing. It had been Hermione who had said, ‘Most academical persons, and many scholars – the classes are not coterminous – adhere to one or another school of thought. She’s the first person known to belong to an Approved School’: which, Violet Crummles and the greater part of her acolytes not speaking actual English, but rather one or another colonial dialect, La Crummles had actually taken to be a compliment until it was explained to her.

Nevertheless, Lils’ labours, insofar as they had led to the publication of this arrant nonsense, had in the end freed her, for it had been on the strength of that interminable and unreadable work that Minerva and Filius, backed by Andromeda, Narcissa, Hermione, and Elspeth Dursley (Bulstrode-as-was), had been able to pull the necessary strings to remove the Witch from Britain. Minerva’s great-nephew knew a chap who knew a chap … and the result was that Violet Crummles, with a smile of stupid self-satisfaction on her face, had tripped merrily off to become the Coolibar Professor of Ninth-Wave-Feminist Media Studies at the Wizarding University of Mount Buggery, whence she had far less frequently sent an imperative Owl to Lils expecting an immediate reply on an abstruse point: quite commonly in the small hours, as she insisted that she couldn’t possibly keep all these time differences in her mind, darling.

This family drama shouldn’t have been of concern outwith the family had it not played a ponderable part in Harry’s stiffened resistance to the use of interdisciplinary experts in crises such as that now unfolding – and in Lils’ difficulties in attending to her duties.


‘Neville. You’ve taken it to yourself to countermand my dispositions. I presume you’d a reason, and now have a result to report, preferably without resort to your Priestley-cum-Boycs music-hall turn as an incarnation of Cunning Northern Common Sense.’

Neville wagged his head, indulgently. ‘All these years and you still don’t know your Yorkshiremen from your Lanky lads. Well, Harry m’lad, you’ll have it your way, I don’t doubt. Listen, then.

‘You can’t get a pint of London Pride here, and for all its reputation, this isn’t the sort of public house much patronised by Pride London, is it, Al. Nay, but: there’s London Pride here, and its magical cousin: Saxifraga x urbium and Saxifraga merlinsiana, Merlin’s Saxifrage. And rosebay willowherb, buddleia, Oxford ragwort, spear thistle, gallant soldiers – and our own gallant aurorherb – dandelions, the lot. And then there’re the wood-sorrels. And – but, there, I’ll put it in report. Point being, the place has known fire and sacking and much disturbance of the earth.

‘Fair enough, you’ll say. There’s not a place in Britain hasn’t been burnt, razed, rebuilt, dug, and all that. But there’s something here, and it’s always been rebuilt to same pattern and footprint, and the plants tell me it’s been dug and burnt and rebuilt a good many times, from a very early period. Xeno?’

Mr Lovegood turned his unnerving gaze upon them. ‘What? Oh. Yes, yes, it’s a site. It is assuredly a site. I wonder if Melling knew….’

‘Knew what, precisely?’ Harry was not overly patient with Xeno’s tendency to trail off and retreat into dreams.

‘When he put up that rude statue. This was assuredly a pre-Roman site, Celto-Belgic, and quite likely whoever were here prior…. Oh, no doubt about it, I should think. This was a place where need-fire was kindled yearly.’


Lils, bitterly composed, was in the doorway. ‘Rose, you weren’t to know. Aunt Millie, do feel free to explain. I shall be back fairly soon: the Pater in his military capacity wants me to stop at the London scene of crime for an hour or so. And, Rose, what that pendant is, is a representation of Thor’s hammer.’

Before anyone had a chance to ask her anything further, she was gone, Apparated back to the Floo-point.

‘Aunt Mil?’ Rose was clearly torn between not wishing to know and her bred-in-the-bone need to Know Everything.

‘The Crummles wench. Messy. Broke up. Ghastly Witch always claimed not to be able to calculate what time it was here when it was tea in Oz or some damn’ thing, but she bloody well managed to time her Owl announcing that she’d moved on – and in – with Lily’s old tutor, if you please, so that the news reached Lils just as she was starting her hols.’

‘How dreadful. But – surely Lily was intending to break it off? And she’s well shed of her.’

‘Oh, yes, but that’s rather the point. Vast difference between your breaking it off and the other-un’s breaking it off before you can do.

‘But enough of that. Mjöllnir. Thor’s hammer. Is that the real thing, Teddy, or a copy?’

‘Authentic Ninth-Century work, Millie. Muggle-not-Magical – it has a sacral signature, but the magical signature on it’s contemporary, indeed quite recent. You see, it’s a Portkey now.’


To be continued…





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17 comments or Leave a comment
From: tree_and_leaf Date: January 16th, 2011 07:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
George was always unreliable when the choice was between sanity and profit.

Yes, that's George for you!
wemyss From: wemyss Date: January 16th, 2011 09:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

It really is, isn't it.

George so dislikes sanity in any case....
noeon From: noeon Date: January 16th, 2011 07:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

Could not be bettered

Or othered. Or...

wemyss From: wemyss Date: January 16th, 2011 09:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

Or bothered?

Thankee, lass.
noeon From: noeon Date: January 16th, 2011 09:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Or feathered. Or fathered.

Or furthered. Or fêted. Or ....

IN any case. Flavulus.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: January 16th, 2011 09:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Actually, the saxifrages...

... are rarely yallery.
noeon From: noeon Date: January 16th, 2011 09:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

Greenery, rather?

Although S. integrifolia looks to be flavulus.

Seaxe thing.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: January 16th, 2011 10:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

This is why I worry when Femme gives you sweets.

A three-day sugar-high in the Grosvenor Gallery....
noeon From: noeon Date: January 16th, 2011 10:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Tis true.

She says she worries too. (In a brief respite from essay-writing mode)

I'll practice Patience, then, shall I?

ED. Forgot the slash.

Edited at 2011-01-16 10:22 pm (UTC)
femmequixotic From: femmequixotic Date: January 16th, 2011 10:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

*eyes you both*

You guys are so weird.
femmequixotic From: femmequixotic Date: January 16th, 2011 07:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Sartrean ‘premodernist paradigm of narrative’ interpolates what is considered constructively to be reality into a hyper- or meta-reality in which a reality is but a reality amongst others...

Oh, you are wicked. WICKED. The whole thing--you are just wicked.

Poor Lily...

wemyss From: wemyss Date: January 16th, 2011 09:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Why, thank you. Have an icon.

It's an interesting exercise in the use of language to conceal thought - or rather in their case an absence of thought, isn't it.
femmequixotic From: femmequixotic Date: January 16th, 2011 10:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, you can keep throwing that icon at me. Please. :D

I have to say I've read some things along those lines that make less sense than Jabberwocky.
kestrelsparhawk From: kestrelsparhawk Date: January 16th, 2011 08:35 pm (UTC) (Link)


I do like your voice in these things. I shall have to go back and look for the other parts, I think. The frightening thing is that I can actually deconstruct the postmodernist prose.

(BTW, speaking as a cultural studies scholar, the ones who write that are NOT British Cultural Studies as I knew and loved it -- they were marxists, and while hard to read because they wrote like Marx in Das Kapital, definitely not the ethereal writers of this pastiche of French Psychoanalytical Theory and American Postmodern Film Theory. I had to read all that just to draw lines with my friends, who honestly thought if someone didn't understand their writing, they'd done something radical, instead of merely cruel.) I do hope they didn't win and that's what cultural studies looks like now.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: January 16th, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

I'm vy glad you liked it.

And shall refrain from entering into my own views of This Sort of Thing.
kestrelsparhawk From: kestrelsparhawk Date: January 16th, 2011 09:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: I'm vy glad you liked it.

--And shall refrain from entering into my own views of This Sort of Thing.--

LOL. I thought they were fairly clear by the satire and parody. But I like such, and am not such a fool as to think only people who agree with me are clever. In fact, not such a fool as to think all who agree with me are clever! And I love it when you set Harry up as a good, traditional Englishman who has been Honoured. He deserved to be.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: January 16th, 2011 09:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, he deserves it, yes.

And cannot possibly avoid it. One cannot go on saving the realm and avoid gongs. Look at Wellington.
17 comments or Leave a comment