Friday, February 18, 2011

Looking Up the Garderobe Chute

Good afternoon.

I am sequestered in one of the Guest Wings, the unfortunate theme of which seems to be PAISLEY. It boggles the mind how many apartments are secreted, intact, nestling like pearls, within the complex and complicated walls of Marlinspike Hall. As much as the Haddocks are dedicated to employing local talent, the family gave up on Tête-de-Hergéen electricians and plumbers long ago, resorting instead to their tried-and-true method of Inherited Indentureship -- that's right, they breed their own electricians and plumbers, who then are genetically prepared to deal with the unique intricacies of antique wiring that dates from the onset of the Industrial Revolution and the immeasurable joys of medieval pipes.

Château de Tonquédec: Garderobes by CopperPhoenix  This French château has kept its chutes short, placing them in a tres chic staggered
sequence that prevented them from discharging onto each other.

[Gorfram has a tidy photographic collection documenting early plumbing measures, something she calls The Glory of the Garderobe.  An excellent survey of Garderobe Chutes. If you are wondering about the intersection of functions in the Garderobe, Gorfram also clears that up, noting "they were called 'garderobes' because people often kept clothing in them. The inevitably-associated smell helped to deter fleas and other cloth-eating critters." Crikey!]

True, in 1951, during a spell of sexual overindulgence, condom failure, and an unexplained exposure to megadoses of radiation, there was a consequent period of Manor Maintenance Mayhem, beginning with the Generation of 1967. The Haddock Clan has steadily reasserted its secular rule over the Persuasions of Rome (and Rome's Minions, our cloistered next door neighbors, the Cistercians) and the birth rate among the indentured tradespeople again took on the trappings of restraint.  It was quite the lesson learned, and we now know, and have it suitably displayed in all our onsite signage, that [t]he [radiation] dose limit for the embryo/fetus (during entire gestation period) is 0.500 rem!

Anyway, in keeping with the paisley motif, I am wrapped up in a Kashmiri shawl -- this one the more in-your-face sort, its thin metallic threads of gold and silver hinting at a secret party life.  Our paisleys were born of boteh designs, a stylized pine cone motif native to India but popularized by the Persian Safavid dynasty.  If you are wondering [and who would blame you?], the difference between Pashmina and Kashmiri shawls is in the wool.  Kashmiri wool, or King's wool, is gathered from bushes in the spring, where shedding mountain goats rub to rid themselves of excess. Pashmina shawls are made with a coarser wool, though still a very fine cashmere fiber.

The bedding is paisley;  Two of the five antique wall hangings are paisley -- well, one of the two might better be called an "hommage" to paisley, an over-stylized pastiche; There's a Victorian era chaise longue upholstered in an amazing purple velvet with a border of eye-crossing vintage Persian paisley; And then, of course, there's me, so shawled as to blend into this hidden pearl of a guest nook.

Are you curious as to why I've been unceremoniously stashed back here, never mind the rationale behind the paisley binge? Obviously, I've been hinting like crazy that this situation is not of my doing -- note the verbal accoutrements! "Sequestered." "Stashed," for heaven's sake!

Yes, I was PUT here, hauled away from the centers of activity in The Manor, relegated to a wing with which I am barely familiar.

My feet are supposed to stay up, my body warm, my various humours unprovoked. There is no phone to irk my phone-phobic self; No television blares. Oddly, there is an annoying drip::drip::drip but this section of Marlinspike Hall has no plumbing (which brings up a whole other issue...).

That singular mystery may occupy most of my time.

If you don't hear from me before the end of the weekend, send help. If there are no representatives from the Domestic Manor Staff available, no Fred, no Bianca Castafiore, and if the Extant Felines are less than forthcoming?

Make like Nancy Drew: look for paisley, listen for intramural wetness. Get help: alert The Cistercians, drag Abbot Truffatore away from his illuminated manuscripts, contact Tante Louise!

[Remember, that cell phones have hit-and-miss reception here, though if you stay as close as possible to the Computer Turret -- and make of it, in fact, your personal centrifuge -- you'll be able to reach, at least, Tante Louise -- the Tête de Hergé version of 911. Reach Tante Louise, reach the world!]

Sigh. The battery is low on this thing. There's no reliable electricity in this wing... and I don't have time to illuminate you to the dangers of the unreliable kind. I am meant to dissolve in paisley pools of languid sloth... dream in the low light of candles...

I'm gonna miss the new episode of Animal Hoarder. Crap.

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