Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Book of Future Creaivity

On the final day the residents continue with their seasonal celebrations. As the streets quieten, Rabbi Oud Ramonides approaches the roundabout with his shovel, and digs around until he finds the object of his quest. He removes the casket containing the Urim and Thummin, and takes it to his laboratorium where he cleanses the surface grime. Opening the scroll of the Book of Future Creaivity, he places the two golden cylinders on the diagram of 2014. This effectively repowers the Internet as a force for good.  Outside the gentle snow starts to scatter new year greetings, and the ciblog story ends.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Embroidery, Epigenetics, Crocheting and Taxidermy

On the day after the conflagration the residents of Seven Dials gather to view the results. The Convent of Theodora, and the premises of Madam Cosima’s Personal Services Agency are both completely destroyed. Remarkably Moudi’s, located between the two ashen sites, is relatively unharmed suffering only minor smoke damage. Hedre and Tabitha’s studio is also intact. Sister Veracitude and Madam Cosima meet to reconcile their differences, but the remaining nuns agree to move out to Little Porrit where they will join the Cruxicogentian Retreat. Meanwhile Cosima’s young ladies all decide to take up morally improved careers (embroidery, epigenetics, crocheting and taxidermy).

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Conflict - back to normality

The seasonal festivities are interrupted by increased conflict between convent and brothel.  No-one witnesses the start of the arson attack, and no-one claims responsibility, so it is never determined who has perpetrated this invidious crime. Some claim it was an accident resulting from the abbreviated five minute performance of Gotterdammerung by the Old Chapel Musical Ensemble at the start of the abortive second opening ceremony of the Seven Dials Roundabout. All the fire-fighting efforts are focused on extinguishing the flames that are threatening the Great Elm tree, so no-one notices as both the Convent and the Brothel are consumed in flames.

Friday, 27 December 2013

A week's holiday in Menorca

McGonagall’s Writer’s Café is full of scribblers attempting to beat the ‘Write a Novel in One and a half hours’ challenge sponsored by Plover’s Stationers. Competitors must use only paper and pencils purchased from the sponsor. The prize is a packet of blue index cards, but it is the sense of achievement that counts. Ahmed is fed up with his rival, and issues a ‘Write a Ph.D. thesis in two hours’ challenge. For a prize he offers a week’s holiday in Menorca. However as fares are not included, and accommodation is in an army surplus frame tent, few people are tempted.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Under the weather

Yevgeny Huxtable is playing the piano transcription of Liszt's symphonic poem Prometheus at the Old Chapel Boxing Day musical lunch, when he suddenly falls ill with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. He is overwhelmed with a stabbing headache, muscle aches, and paresthesia. The doctor who attends him takes one look at the plates of trigger fish on the tables, and the nervous faces of the audience, and declares a local epidemic of ciguatera poisoning. He is fortunately mistaken as Huxtable is a notorious hyperchondriac, and is merely suffering a regular hangover. Ciguatera is caused by a toxin which affects the nervous system.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Winterval dinners

Sister Porigamy breaks her vow of silence, and stands at the roundabout waving the flag of the Moral Crusaders of Chastity. ‘I’m calling a spade a spade,’ she declares to the empty streets, as the residents of Seven Dials sit down to their warming Winterval Dinners of braised tofu and sprouts. ‘The Personal Services Agency is nothing more than a sordid brothel!’ Concerned, the pragmatic Sister O’Higgins brings her a chalice of mulled brandy and tempts her back indoors, before cycling across the hills to visit her brother, Spartacus, for a traditional turkey and stuffing platter while they watch the Queen.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Rabbi’s quest on Christmas Eve

On Christmas eve, Rabbi Oud Ramonides visits the local Great Elm Preservation Society, and discovers a pile of dusty texts. With the help of Rev. Lanzarotte he ascertains that the Seven Dials roundabout was built on the intersection of two lay lines. This has to be the location of the camphorwood casket containing the Urim and Thummin which would have been buried here in the fourth century (after the mediterranean earthquake) on the Tuesday after the Romans left. He scuttles along to the roundabout where he hears strange emanations from the Christmas Tree – eerie sounds of meditating wildebeest singing Christmas carols.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Central Devir of the Web

Whilst the daily altercations between Madam Cosima’s ladies and Sister Veracitude’s nuns continue, Rabbi Oud Ramonides presses on with his mediation. Their intransigence however finally defeats him and in frustration he flings his sonic monkey wrench into the air. It hits his iPad and activates the Arucharian program he has been working on. This generates a password that worms its way into the central devir of the Web. Suddenly the inner workings of the Internet are revealed, and show beyond doubt that it is not a distributed system, but centrally controlled by the very Urim and Thummim that Ramonides is seeking. 

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Cleromantic objects rediscovered

Rabbi Oud Ramonides has always known about the Urim and Thummim - האורים והתומים - the cleromantic objects used in the First Temple, and long thought to be used for divination. The Talmudic view (despite Josephus) is that they were lost when the Babylonians sacked the Temple. However from his dusty scrolls Ramonides has discovered that they were safely carried into exile, and thereafter moved around the area of the Caspian Sea in a camphorwood casket, until they reached Daşoguz in Turkmenistan. During the 365 AD earthquake they floated across the Mediterranean, and round Gibraltar to the South Coast of England.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Trailing the end

As part of the seasonal festivities, Moudi's and McGonagall’s join forces to serve mulled Guinness to the queues outside the literary event  at the Yifitsin Print Bookshop where Samuel Quinine has arranged a  massive book-signing for the publication of Ophelia Hedre’s new novel ‘Barely Kedgeree’. Meanwhile Rabbi Oud Ramonides has realised that he only need the Convoluted Space-Time equation in order to find the exact location of the holy object of his lifetime quest. He consults his Theoretical Arucharian mentor, Demon Baal, who has just flown in (from New Caledonia) for another delayed celebratory re-opening of the new Seven Dials Roundabout.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The iPad of Oud Ramonides

In the cold rain Rabbi Oud Ramonides is again wandering around the newly completed Seven Dials Roundabout. And not without reason. His study of the Kabbalah has pointed to one thing. The object of his life's quest is hereabouts. He is not sure where, or how it reached here, but he is certain beyond belief (yes, even Ramonides himself would say 'beyond belief'). Curiously he has with him, his iPad, for he has discovered something about the Internet that will throw all belief into doubt, and all doubt into belief. He must now fit together the final pieces of the puzzle.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Björk's first full-length remix album

Malviolio Claxendell, in his annual history lecture, praises the humble telegram. Without it Germany would have won the First World War (no Zimmermann telegram), Gershwin's first jazz opera, Blue Monday, would have had no plot (so no Rhapsody in Blue), and Dr. Crippen would probably have lived into his eighties. More curiously, no-one would have found amongst the belongings of Emperor Norton the First of the United States the telegram from Emperor Alexander II of Russia, congratulating him on his secret wedding to Queen Victoria. After declaring himself Emperor, Joshua Abraham Norton, a frustrated businessman, abolished the US Congress in 1859. 

Friday, 13 December 2013

The Kocibey File

When Khan Hacı I Giray of Crimea (1441–1466) was threatened by the Golden Horde, he agreed to cede the town of Kocibey to Lithuania. Many years later, after it was conquered by Russian forces in 1789, Catherine the Great rebuilt it as a port-city, and renamed it Odessa. Maksim Chmerkovskiy, professional ballroom & Latin dancer on ‘American Dancing With the Stars’ and Ze'ev Jabotinsky ( זאב ז'בוטינסקי‎ ) the leading right-wing Revisionist Zionist leader were both born there. Today Yevgen Huxtable, on his winter cruise, is in Odessa visiting the Stolyarsky Music School where he studied as a child prodigy.  

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Construction Industry

Parmenides knew what was what. Or at least he thought he did. If, in reality, he knew (and commas might be important here) was another question, (and whether Donald Rumsfeld was a follower of Parmenides is a matter of opinion). These were the issues that were swirling through the mind of Rabbi Oud Ramonides as he tried to mediate between the increasingly violent sisters of the Cruxicogentes Convent of Theodora, and the Personal Services’ Workers employed by Madam Cosima next door. Now however the whole community has taken sides, dividing Frab and Felix, Hedre and Tabitha, and even Marx and Spender.

Monday, 9 December 2013

After the Winterval, it will be the Estival Festival

The question is, what can be done to avoid the strife at Seven Dials? Ton Purdue stands at the gate and sighs. He is trying to think creatively, and wonders if a Joint Symposium of Friendship at the Old Chapel Arts Centre would work. He contacts junior representatives of the brothel and the convent. Rosetta agrees to speak, and Sister Porigamy (who has taken a vow of silence) will sign. However a dispute arises as the hall is booked for a planning meeting of the Aestival Festival Committee, and anyway no-one can interpret Porigamy’s idiosyncratic Lapslan (a Northern Sign Language Dialect).

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Things happen.

According to Sister Veracitude, Richard the Second was a much maligned monarch, as libelled by Shakespeare as Richard the Third. His marriage to Anne of Bohemia (daughter of the most cultured of Holy Roman Emperors) was considered an ill-omen when, on her arrival in England, her ship was smashed in a storm. The marriage was intimately bound up with the struggle between the two Popes, a conflict as uncomfortable as that now erupting between the convent and the brothel in Seven Dials. However the marriage became a love match;  it was only after Anne’s death that Richard went off the rails.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Seven minutes too long.

Sadly, it can not be ignored. A full scale civil war has broken out in Seven Dials.  Ahmed is in despair, sandwiched as he is between the convent and the brothel. The nuns picket Madam Cosima's, and a pitched battle ensues, spreading over into the McGonagall's Writers Cafe, which is wrecked. The police cordon off a huge swathe of Brighton-Hove with billowing ribbons and flashing blue lights. The festive reopening of the roundabout has to be postponed, whilst the five hour outdoor performance of Wagner's Parsifal (in St. Scruple's graveyard) is shortened to seven minutes for logistical reasons.  Tant pis!

Friday, 6 December 2013

The mystical experience (ichthyological)

Dubysa ichthyological reserve was established in 1974 to protect valuable fish spawning areas. The River Dubysa, at 131 km, is the 15th longest river in Lithuania, originating near Šiauliai city, which is the fourth largest city in Lithuania. In 1929, Tom Purdue’s grandmother, who was born in Šiauliai, claimed to have walked on foot from her family home to Vilnius (then in Poland) in order to find her errant husband. It was a journey of 250 kilometres. When Hedre was young she often told him stories of that journey (though in fact she took the train - a four hour journey).

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Gossip from Zangwill's Bazaar

Cortally Bakewell is an Ungrowth enthusiast. His ancestor, Isaac Singer, was famous for inventing sewing machines (rather than writing Yiddish books) and one of Singer's many sons was the lover of Isadora Duncan, and father of one her two tragic children. The father of the other was Gordon Craig, son of actress Ellen Terry, who married the artist, George Frederick Watts. That marriage didn’t work out (30 years age difference), but he later married Mary Tytler (33 years age gap) and they eagerly embraced the Arts and Crafts Movement. They would undoubtedly have approved of the current Decroissance movement in Europe. 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Appalachian Snoring (edited by Augustus Albi)

Sister Perfectry grows medicinal herbs in the convent garden, and consults the 1721 edition of the London Pharmacopoeia (the one which omitted many of the earlier remedies, though it did include important ones such as dogs’ excrement, earthworms, and moss from the human skull. This was the edition that introduced botanical names). Perfectry is also guided by the works of early edaphologists such as Xenophon and Cato, and is constantly urging her cousins in the Appalachian mountains to send her (in plain wrapping of course) packets of Ultramafic soils. These are perfect for the herbs from which she brews her tinctures.

Monday, 2 December 2013

I've got other things on my mind.

When the gods looked down from Mount Olympus and saw the goings on at Seven Dials they shook their theocratic heads. ‘So it’s come to this,’ they tutted. ‘Convent and brothel at war with each other! What has the world come to?’
True, Jove himself was more sceptical, but then he had seen more of life than many. Anyway, his concern for Nigella was preoccupying him at that moment, and all that bother in Rechov Hayarkon didn’t help.
The muddy waters that flowed through the blocked sewers around the Great Elm reflected the mood of many ‘Why take it to heart?’

Friday, 29 November 2013

The Spine of a Sting Ray

An unfortunate battle has erupted opposite the newly completed Seven Dials roundabout, between Sister Veracitude’s Convent of Theodora, and Madam Cosima’s Personal Services Agency, over the fate of the illustrated manuscript of the Great Book of Kildare. Everyone knows (of course) that Penelope has sold it for thirty-six pieces of gold (which she has used to buy wool for her blue-red-black crochet blanket). Unwittingly she sold it to Telegonus (a colleague of Felix Karlosoroff). Inevitably a secondary battle breaks out between Telegonus, and Telemachus  - who strides in from the Downs to take up battle on behalf of the Cruxicogentian Sisters.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Together, you and I will change the world

There was a moment of silence by the sea-shore when the music stopped.  Two men - one old and one young - sat looking out to the horizon, consoling each other.
'Every wave carries a memory for me,' said one. 'Yes,' replied the other, 'Those days are coming back to us - those long, sad days.'
'If you want me to show you the city in grey, come, let's walk along the pavements, as the autumn leaves fall, and the evening breeze whispers.' 
'Take me under your wing.  Together, you and I will change the world...'
 Can you hear my voice?

Sunday, 24 November 2013

The Great Book in Kildare

In Topographia Hibernica, Gerald of Wales described seeing a great Gospel Book in Kildare. Whilst many people assume that this refered to the Book of Kells (now kept at Trinity College in Dublin), the Sisters of the Cruxicogentes Convent of Theodora at Seven Dials know otherwise, for they have the real manuscript which Sister Veracitude guards carefully in her cell. On Sunday, Sister Gertrude smuggled the manuscript out to show to Madam Cosima’s most popular young lady, Penelope. Unlike her fellow temptresses, Penelope has few scruples, and though she has it on loan, she sells it for thirty-six pieces of gold.

Friday, 22 November 2013

A bientot, Madame.

Hedre and Tabitha are in France, stocking up on calvados and camembert for the festive season. In the local village they stop off at the boulangerie and bump into a little old lady. It is Madame Recherche, who is looking for an old friend.  They chat for a while, and she gives them a lettuce and some blackberries, and a CD of folk music played on the traditional pipes of Normandy.  For an old gossip, she says very little, and there is a tear in her eye as she puts her baguette under her arm, and cycles off into the past.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Smoke gets in your eyes

‘I thought I was the last smoker on the planet,’ grumbles Sister Gertrude, and she puffs a cloud of nicotine across the entrance to Moudi’s. Ahmed frowns at her, but she takes no notice. She is carrying the oldest of the Convent’s illuminated manuscripts, this one containing illustrations that even Ahmed would blush at. And he does. She lays it out carefully on the wooden table in front of Rosetta. Ahmed brings out three glasses of his special tantric tisane, and sits with them. The three companions peered at the stunning parchment, and discuss the viability of the various positions demonstrated.

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Prokaryotic Wizard

Malvolio Claxendell spots Tsetse, the bass guitarist of Scabby Felix, accidentally knock over Sister Metamoreful outside the bookmaker where she is heading in order to put a bet on the 2.40 at Lincoln. He (Malvolio) rushes forward to help her, and yells after the departing hoodie, ‘You’re a prokaryotic worm!’ Of course semantically he is wrong, but it sounds good. Sister Metamoreful sits up and rubs her knee. Thinking that Claxendell is some sort of assailant and not realising that he is trying to help, she clobbers him fiercely with her silk umbrella (since she is under an oath of silence).

Saturday, 16 November 2013

The 459 huts of Actsherley-on-Sea

Today is Tom Purdue's birthday (can you believe he's that old?). All the residents of the 459 beach huts of neighbouring Actsherley-on-Sea are out celebrating, in part because they know that the autumn is over and the snow is coming (the winter turtle is heard throughout the land).  The annual 'Make Yourself a Mantegna' competition is reaching a climax, and triumphant fresco series (plural) by local graffiti artists are appearing around Seven Dials. As they tend to do on his birthday, Telemachus and Hedre also turn up to the celebrations, though the former is depressed and the latter drunk. Ah, memories!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Noces Bretons

Let us forget the tribulations of Wosni Galbraith and She who mauls, and return to the gentler climes of Seven Dials, and celebrations. This week the Rev. Lanzarotte conducted a double wedding. Algernon Guanine finally married Serena Cytosine, and Melgram Adenine wed her childhood sweetheart, Oscar Thymine (the harpsichordist from hell). The length of Addlestrop Lane was set in the style of Noces Bretons (Norman culture now being out of favour) and despite the ferocious weather, the local residents danced the night  away to the music of Scabby Felix and their  Iron Grunge spectacular. But sadly, Rev Lanzarotte embarrassed himself again.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

She Who Mauls

Wosni Galbraith, stopping off on his journey down the Nile could not  resist the temptation to pay obeisance to the Mistress of Dread, the Lady of Slaughter or She Who Mauls. Daily, dental hygienists everywhere are practising their roles behind closed curtains or darkened windows, before emerging, triumphant in magnificent attire, with retinue of many a knight and squire, to minister their underlings. In 2006, Betsy Bryan, excavating at the temple of Mut (who absorbed many characteristics of Sekhmet) discovered illustrations of the priestesses being served to excess in festivals attended by tens of thousands.  So let us all praise Sekhmet!

Monday, 11 November 2013

20.00% of Y-Dna haplogroups found in Cyprus are E1b1b

Wosni Galbraith (curator of the Institute of Lyrian Archeology and Kabbalah scholar) is in Myluthkia (to the north of Kissonerga) to examine the Chalcolithic ruins. The Chalcolithic period occured in 3157 BCE due to a surfeit of bananas (the name chalcolithic refers to copper artefacts which first appeared alongside stone implements designed by Grayson Perry). Not far away from the site are the ruins of a tiny chapel dedicated to Saints Zinovia and Filonilli whose images appear at the beginning of the illuminated manuscripts now being perused  in Seven Dials by Sister Gertrude and Rosetta as they drink Ahmed's exotic tisane. 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Breakfast at McGonagall's

Rosetta peers into McGonagall's Writer’s Cafe stop. It is the heart of darkness. In the corner, Wry Mo (the man with the Irish grandmother) is busily scribbling pages of his roman á clef about Belgian imperialism.

Tom Purdue (who is drinking cappuccino in the Local Coffee House) once bumped into King Baudouin. He was not impressed. The monarch did not have the chic of Hercules Poirot, the charm of Tintin, the genius of Jacques Brel or the skill of Rogier van der Weyden. Wry Mo finishes another 1667 words. Rosetta goes to sit next to him, and softly hums Moon River.

The Perils of All Saints Day

Sister Maleze (the Blue Nun) is hobbling around Seven Dials. She was a bit too sprightly in the All Saints Day Musical Soiree and (according to Augustus Albi) she twisted her uncle. However, needs must, and she is now heading towards the Betting Shop and Holy Oil dispensary next to the Post Office, where she puts £17 each way on 'Good Looking' (28 to 1 at Brighton) and buys a phial of Holy Oil from Zanzibar. On her way back she bumps into Frab Lotus, who offers her a free massage. She growls, 'Facile omnes quom valemus recta consilia aegrotis damus.'

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Esso Extra

Ahmed asks Augustus Albi to help him research Marconi, so Albi visits the pasta museum at Shoreham-by-sea. Hedre (who always has an identity problem when Albi is around) explains the mistake to Ahmed, and promises to help.

However in the end it is Yamima who brings the crucial knockout nugget of information. She tells everyone that not only was Marconi a fascist, but Il Duce was the best man at the inventor's second wedding. When this information is broadcast (ironically on community radio), the manager of McGonagall’s writer's cafe beats a hasty retreat and the Marconi theme is discontinued.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

The Man from Villa Griffone

Ahmed watches nervously as customers stroll into McGonagall’s café. He collars Sister Gertrude and demands to know what has happened to her loyalty. ‘Just checking out the competition for you,’ she replies, ‘I’ll let you know where his weakness is.’ But Ahmed isn’t sure. Twenty minutes later Gertrude sneaks back into Moudi’s.  ‘It’s full of old wireless receivers,’ she says. ‘The man is obsessed with Marconi.’ Claxendell overhears the comment. ‘Did you know that Marconi’s mother was Irish.’ Gertrude smiles – and pulls from under her habit a half-empty bottle of Jameson’s whiskey. Ahmed shrugs, and resolves to check out this Marconi.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Chanukah Money and Munuka Honey

There is a wailing from Moudi’s. The next door branch of Sherman’s Bank is closing and the manager is developing it as McGonagall’s writer’s café. Ahmed is distraught. He starts offering green shield stamps. The mood at the Local Coffee House is similarly sombre. They start offering free Wi-Fi and for the month of November rebrand themselves as ‘Infusions’. McGonagall’s responds by distributing little bags of chocolate coins as Chanukah Money. So Ahmed gives out free pots of Munuka Honey. The Local Coffee House offers each customer a freetraid chocolate rabbit called a Santa Monica Bunny. The Coffee War has erupted.

Thursday, 31 October 2013


Ophelia Hedre is finishing her daunting ordeal. Now, protected from the winter's keen tooth, she can face the world with the satisfaction of achievement. She visits Wosni Galbraith (the curator of the Institute of Lyrian Archeology and Kabbalah scholar) who greets her thus: 'Blessings upon your knees, may you see the face of the king.  Be aware than the Qabbala weaves connections between 'blessings'(ברכות) and 'knees'(ברכיים).' She is puzzled, and asks in reply 'Who is this guy called Wry Mo, who has a famous Irish Grandmother?'  To this the sage again responds, 'Words are only letters, and letters are only words.'

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Balfour Graffiti

The storm passes and the locals gather around the scraggy once-proud roundabout to check the welfare of the Great Elm. Here and there a minor branch has disappeared, as have many of the leaves, but essentially the tree is intact. A collective sigh of relief. Loretta finishes painting graffiti outside the post-office before hurrying off to continue her current research into the Balfour Declaration (1926) which defined the role of the British monarch as symbolic head of the Commonwealth, and the autonomy of nations within that framework. She can’t understand why this so upsets the inhabitants of the Middle East.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Spot the Apostroph

In the new spirit of openness, Sister Veracitude invites Chattalot and Winkworth to discuss the Secret Texts of the Convent. Both the awakened kaballist and the conscious pataphysician (hence the apostroph) try not to desire, but to elevate the value of the world they adapt themselves to by the way they consider it. (This teddy-bear of a quote from MAYBE QUARTERLY 2.1 is cited by Sister Bebarabilia when she gives her emotional vote of thanks). The unusual archeological commentator and the quirky curator of archeology  later quench their thirst with an excellent mulled brew at the 'Never a True Word' snug.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Winkworth remembers Harrison

What lies beyond the realm of metaphysics?  Obviously this is where we enter the realm of Pataphysics which Alfred Jarry (1873–1907) described as "the science of imaginary solutions".  He wasn't alone. Amongst others who considered the symbolic links between the properties of objects and their lineaments was Boris Vian, singer-songwriter-philosopher-engineer-novelist who penned the controversial peace song 'The Deserter'. For many years he lived with his partner, Ursula Kübler, in the shadow of the Moulin Rouge.  However according to Mandible Winkworth  it was Legrand, Bergman and Bergman who wrote 'Like a circle in a spiral Like a wheel within a wheel'.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Jueju poetry - you either like it or hate it.

Augustus Albi has restarted his Creaive Thuikining class, now focussing on Writing. Yamima is writing poetry, and so far has come up with a single line ‘Rough winds do keel the greasy pot’.  Balustrade Chattalot is sure he has heard these words before, perhaps in some past remembrance of sweet silent thought.  He himself is turning his hand to Jueju ( 絕句; literally: "broken off lines"), a style of jintishi poetry that was popular among Chinese poets in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It consists of a matched pair of couplets, with each line consisting of five or seven syllables.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Here's looking at you kid.

One is so used to seeing Telemachus striding across the wood-engraved hills that it comes as a shock to see him stumble slowly into the local coffee shop where he orders a mint and nettle tisane.  He has just returned from Casablanca where he contracted a local infection. He smiles shyly as he describes the problems he had with his travel permit. Winkworth is puzzled for he has read a similar story about Albert Camus. Although he preferred football to philosophy, Camus believed that the absence of religious belief can simultaneously be accompanied by a longing for salvation and meaning.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


Sister Veracitude has decided that the ways of the convent are too fixed, and that if the community is to survive they will need to introduce innovation regardless of need (a common misconception to which not only governments are prone). She decides therefore to formalise the links that have been established between the sisters and ladies next door. She therefore asks Mandible Winkworth to arrange a meeting between herself and Madam Cosima. The two women discover a shared interest in the Book of Pleasant Journeys into Faraway Lands, or الآفاق اختراق في المشتاق نزهة (most often known as the Tabula Rogeriana).

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Book of Atsilut (ספר אצילות)

Sister Gertrude’s mission was successful, and the two residual cats (Rethenu and Djhai) are duly rehoused in the two-home solution. But the manuscript of the Book of Atsilut remains with Sister Gertrude who every now and then peeps at an enticing pasuk. By the end of the week she is completely engrossed in kabbalah but the resulting emotion gives her a fever. By Monday morning she is running a high temperature and feels like a Soaked Sponge. Sister Perfectry tries to cure her with tarot cards. She sits with her and draws out a card. It is the Ace of Wands.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Masereel as Velltisch Reelism

When Zebedee Thurlough, landlord of the 'Never a True Word' pub, advertised for a part-time bar assistant, he was overwhelmed by the number of applicants.  Eventually he appointed Yamima, who now works full time at Moudis, but still needs a few extra evening hours to pay for her Art Degree.

She is specialising in printing techniques, and is studying the woodcuts of Frans Masereel. She hopes to create a modern velltisch version of 'Mon Livre d'Heures' with lino cuts for her degree. However she must also write a dissertation so today she is interviewing Madam Cosima (who knew Masereel in Saarbrücken).

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Solomon's Way - Catch up (3)

Yadidiah predicts that 'The Way will be' (Solomon was famously trained in the Dao). When Gertrude returns to the convent it transpires therefore that the fattest cat, Khuru,has died. The nuns assemble for a special mass. Of the remaining nuns, only Sister Maleze still speaks fluent Latin (due to her frequent bouts of depression and her penchant for sacrimental wine, Gertrude calls her the Blue Nun). Sisters Porigamy, Metamoreful and Gretal are all bound by an oath of silence, Sister Perfectry is a little strange, and Sister Bebarabilia is from Huddersfield, so only Veracitude, Gertrude and Sister O'Higgins are really normal.

J'irai cracher sur vos tombes

Ethel is shocked by Vian’s novel, ‘J'irai cracher sur vos tombes’, which she borrowed from Sister Gertrude. Unlike her erstwhile co-nun, for Gertrude life at the convent  is satisfying and comfortable. Basically she does what she wants. However today she is serving her community, and has travelled to the Institute of Lyrian Archeology where Curator Wosni Galbraith has an archive of Kabbalah related documents. Gertrude  is following up an esoteric interpretation of Solomon's judgement (Kings I Verse 3) that is suggested in the lost book of Atsilut, so that she can advise Sister Veracitude in the matter of the three cats. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Beyond the River

The Sisters of the Cruxicogentes Convent of Theodora (Order of the Purple Relic) thought they had overcome the problem of an infestation of mice by acquiring three rotund tabby cats called Rethenu, Djhai and Khuru. Unfortunately the only Sister capable of dealing with the moggies was Sister Frida who as we know has now departed (and is planning what Sister Maleze calls ‘an unholy union’ with ex-Sister Ethel). The remaining Sisters have various cat allergies. Sister Veracitude decides to divide the cats between two local spinsters. The remaining problem is who should receive two and who should receive one, and which. 

Monday, 14 October 2013

Erotic Woodcuts - Catch up (2)

In these pages, for reasons of modesty (sic),  we have only occasionally mentioned Madam Cosima’s Personal Services Agency (especially the erotic art collection).  Madam Cosima herself was born in Saarbrücken where her father taught at the Art school together with Frans Masereel the illustrator who can justifiably regarded as the father of the illustrated wordless novel.  Loretta has received copies of Masereel’s 1919 ‘Passionate Journey’ and the 1592 English edition of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili from a secret admirer who is aware of her interest in woodcuts. Rosetta however has lavishly coloured illuminated manuscripts she has borrowed from the convent.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Afarn. Seatre!

During the restoration works at the Regency Pile, Malvolio Claxendell is staying in a small (bijou) b&b.  Although it is comfortable, each night at about 2.30 am he is woken by the same loud farewell conversation.
He cannot sleep trying to interpret the message. Tonight, to divert himself, he works on a new idea. Behind the Pile is a plot of land ideal for an open air theatre. He sketches some designs, then turns to the glass of iced vodka that awaits him.  As he falls asleep he works out the message.
‘Have fun.’
‘See you later.’