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Things wot I have learnt. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Things wot I have learnt.

If the author’s pen name is ‘Lady [Something]’, you’re doomed.  As is the story.  Unless the pseudonym’s something truly and clearly witty that’s a takeoff on Antonia Fraser or the Hervey twats, in which instance there may be hope.  Even so, I’d not get terribly invested: proceed with caution.


‘Hagrid and Maxime were away’ running Beauxbatons, negotiating with the last of the Giants, looking for clabberts: this translates to, ‘I cannot write Hagrid’s Forest of Dean dialect, so he will be offstage.  Deal with it’.


‘James’s father [or insert anyone appropriate and dead] had not freed the family house-elves, as they had protested the notion, but he had trained them to wear clothing and speak in the fashion of Muggle upper servants’ translates to, ‘I cannot write house-elf’.


‘Harry is a high-ranking nobleman’ invariably alerts one to the author’s utter, complete, and absolute incomprehension of the British honours system (we’ll discuss cash for peerages another time) and total inability to create a rational, British-seeming Wizarding equivalent, as well.


People who write ‘architecture porn’ about Malfoy Manor don’t grasp the social implications of ‘manor’ as opposed to, say, House, Place, Court, Abbey, and so on.  It’s the bricks and mortar – all right, the ashlar – equivalent to ‘Wizarding Armani’.


‘Martial arts Harry’ and his Honoured and Beloved Sensei at home in Little Whinging of a summer hols?  This signals that the writer is a Yank, and/or got over the fence from where we pen the anime lot.  I am given to understand that blond-haired, blue-eyed suburban sprogs in the United States, bearing such perfectly Occidental names as ‘Jason Lyndhurst’, embrace or are directed by parents to embrace these Mysteries of the Orient from the age of five.  Let me remind all concerned that, in the UK in the 1990s, there was not a shop front on every high street – as apparently there is in America – offering lessons in unpronounceable techniques of Asiatic combat.  Even now, it’s not at all common … or, rather, it’s not at all widespread, I shan’t comment on its class implications (and, yes, I know that they’ve started it up as a Minor Sport nowadays even at the King’s College of Our Lady of Eton.  Dorney(wood) Lake is bad enough – sodding wet bobs – but this is simply catchpenny, things were much better when the Minor Sports were restricted to beagling and golf and shooting and polo and All That).*


The concept of certain canonical Muggles’s being, ah, ‘kick-arse’ (if I have that term down correctly?) – e.g., Justin’s father is a former officer of Paras or SAS or a rather ruthless company of Ghurkhas – has some merit.  There are indeed possibilities there.  Unfortunately, I’ve yet to see this written by anyone with any idea of the British Army, or of British Muggle laws on weapons, or British Muggle police procedure, or – well, the whole boiling, actually.



* Were it to transpire that this mystical rubbish were useful in training cricketers, of course, things would be entirely different.

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41 comments or Leave a comment
magic_at_mungos From: magic_at_mungos Date: November 21st, 2006 03:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
And if I dare say so myself, even if there was access to martial arts of some kind Uncle Vernon would not dream of Harry doing something quite so wet and foreign. If he was going to do anything, he would be doing a proper manly sport. Like rugby union. Or just let him do like the rest of us plebs and have him play football.

He certainly wouldn’t be playing a proper sort like cricket :D Bloody time differences is all I have to say on that for the moment.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 25th, 2006 05:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Quite right.

Frankly, Vernon wouldn't say, 'foreign', at that, he'd come right out with, 'wog'.

I refuse to say anything at all about the first Test.
From: tree_and_leaf Date: November 21st, 2006 03:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Quite so

People who write ‘architecture porn’ about Malfoy Manor don’t grasp the social implications of ‘manor’ as opposed to, say, House, Place, Court, Abbey, and so on. It’s the bricks and mortar – all right, the ashlar – equivalent to ‘Wizarding Armani’.

Though I suppose it might be possible that the house itself predates the Malfoys and is quite reasonable (though probably disfigured by tasteless rebuilding), but was renamed by the Malfoy who bought it in a fit of solipsistic vulgarity.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 25th, 2006 05:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes, indeed.

I just KNOW I'll end up doing another damned essay on the issue.
dolorous_ett From: dolorous_ett Date: November 21st, 2006 04:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh. I agree with all of the above - in particular, I wonder if you read the same Zen Master Remus fic as I once did? (I gave up in Volume 2 when Harry turned up in his Japanese Zen gear at Cho's dad's house and the old gentleman was delighted.)

Having said all that, about martial arts:

"Even now, it’s not at all common …"

Still a sight more common than Quidditch, though!
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 25th, 2006 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Zen Master Remus?


I seem to have missed that. Thankfully.

And thank you, for your kind words and for your kindness in NOT linking said insanity.
eagles_rock From: eagles_rock Date: November 21st, 2006 04:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've read a Snarry where Snape teaches Harry a Martial Art of some sort, but I've not met this too often. Snape may well know who Bruce Lee was, and the whole 'Snape trains up Harry for the Last Battle' is a lovely idea (pre-HBP), but to put more into this than magic practice seems a bit of a stretch. I blame 'The Karate Kid'.

'Manor' to me suggests old Suffolk houses; big old mediaeval barns of a house turned into manageable living spaces, not grand and not palaces. These are not what one encounters in the fic, though. I'd expect Malfoy Manor to be newer, wizarding-Lutyens style. Bathrooms in the original design, not squeezed in. Or maybe some Malfoy ancestor won a candidate for 'architectural porn' in a poker game and renamed it alliteratively? That doesn't tend to feature too often either; shame really, Lucius is ripe for backstory.
eagles_rock From: eagles_rock Date: November 21st, 2006 06:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Y'know, I'm teetering around the edge of this Manor thing - I fully expect that the Malfoy ancestors were extortionists; nothing less.
nineveh_uk From: nineveh_uk Date: November 21st, 2006 05:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
* Were it to transpire that this mystical rubbish were useful in training cricketers, of course, things would be entirely different.

I can see that Tai Chi, with its central characteristic of "stand in an awkward position and concentrate" might benefit the fielders... (35 minutes of daily highlights on terrestrial TV? 35 pathetic minutes? ::weeps gently::)

From: tree_and_leaf Date: November 21st, 2006 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Is it too late to make Geraint take it up?
From: kaskait Date: November 21st, 2006 05:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I never took the Malfoy Manor reference seriously in the books. It seemed like someone who just "arrived" would use the word Manor to discuss their home. I think the Malfoy line is a bit shady, maybe just about 200 years to their provenance, if they are lucky. Plus, Lucius tries too hard. That is a giveaway.

It always amuses me that fandom pumps it up to be more.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 25th, 2006 05:39 pm (UTC) (Link)


The man's an arriviste.
serriadh From: serriadh Date: November 21st, 2006 05:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

To which I can only say...


I think that's right?

(Tho' I know a ladybella (which is based on her 'real' name, I understand, who writes very well, but she's not in HP fandom.)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 25th, 2006 05:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

I believe that IS what the 'yoofs' say.

Thanks, love.
(Deleted comment)
nineveh_uk From: nineveh_uk Date: November 22nd, 2006 09:17 am (UTC) (Link)
There's precedent, at least -- Peter Wimsey and Sherlock Holmes were both devoted to obscure Oriental martial arts.

True. But neither was much cop with a wand. Magical Oriental arts would be fun though.
(Deleted comment)
jamoche From: jamoche Date: November 21st, 2006 09:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Speaking as some one who actually taught martial arts in the '80s and '90s, it wasn't all that common in the US, either. I taught in a Dallas suburb and we barely had enough students to make ends meet, though we did get a deluge of sprogs every time one of the Karate Kid movies came out.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 25th, 2006 05:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, thank you.

Always good to know.

I'm sorry I was long in answering, but ... well, the Ashes (our version of the World Series, I believe?).
themolesmother From: themolesmother Date: November 22nd, 2006 10:08 am (UTC) (Link)

Oh my dear Wemyss! You've obviously been having a bit of a rummage around in the Pit of Voles. And thank heavens - a good dose of your dry wit is just what I need to wake me up today.

On a serious note if you were to combine "kick-arse canonical Muggle" with the oriental martial arts bit it might make some sense. I've yet to see it done with any credibility, though.


wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 25th, 2006 05:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you, love.

I regret my delay in replying: see icon.

Oddly, much of this stuff was recced by seemingly sane people and is by no means all at the Vole-pit.

And I agree, it might be possible to have Cho's uncle, say, be a former HK SPecial Branch type with a balck belt in something or other ... hmmm ... but, yes, it's yet to be done tolerably well.
woman_ironing From: woman_ironing Date: November 23rd, 2006 02:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've never read an actual martial arts fic but read a great fic that had Harry and Draco in a cave up a mountain in Tibet (or somewhere Himalayan) trying to attain enlightenment. It was fab and very funny. Can't remember where I saw it.
eagles_rock From: eagles_rock Date: November 23rd, 2006 08:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think this may be by fivil; in her memories, HP fic, called 'To travel East and Know'; I remember it because I'd enjoyed it, and she'd listed a book at the end that I'd been looking for for 10 years, but couldn't remember the title... (have directed you to her memories as she's written a stack of H/D that are off the wall in the most pleasant way.) Hope this is it.

easleyweasley From: easleyweasley Date: November 24th, 2006 12:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I agrre with you 100% here. If I could one other entirely unrelated point: your font is very difficult to read, since the spacing betwen the lines is so small that they run into each toher. Or is it just me?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 25th, 2006 05:19 pm (UTC) (Link)


My apologies for the belated reply, but, well ... see icon.

My apologies also for the text problem. Being middle-aged, I loathe and despise small and unreadable fonts; I set everything to 12 or, commonly, 14 point or better. I'm not sure why that's not coming across, I'll try to find out.
(Deleted comment)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 26th, 2006 10:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

Not a silly question in the least.

Lucius is a pretentious twat. I shouldn't like to put limits on his ability to pretend to more than he is or possesses. Even so, I think the OotP reference is meant to be typically slipshod journalistic imprecision.

As for correctly characterising manors as a social indicator, I expect there will be an essay on that quite soon.
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