The Time-Traveller’s Companion

Well ‘excited’ is putting it mildly.  Henry and Charles have been leaping around Steampunk Towers all day, slapping each other on the back, chortling, yelling and banging their fists triumphantly on the workbench.

Henry and Charles' first bookI really can’t blame them, though.  First, they sold another of their time machines – and to a university lecturer in the United States who teaches time-travel, no less – and secondly, they have published their first book!

It’s a slender volume, comprising just twelve pages of text, but it constitutes an essential guide for any time-travellers who wish to journey through London’s past and future.

a fascinating readOh, there will be those who purchase the book and then complain that its print is too small to read.  So as is our custom, we will reproduce the text here in its entirety.

However we strongly suggest heading to The Steampunk DollsHouse and downloading a copy for yourself.  Not only is it a delightful little item to own, but if you do so, our little authors here will be quite ecstatic.

 

THE TIME- TRAVELLER’S COMPANION
London Edition
Charles and Henry Fortescue

Preface

Having travelled extensively through time from our workshop in the city of London, we humbly offer this volume to fellow temporal voyagers, in the earnest hope that they may avoid some of the pitfalls and experience some of the delights which we ourselves have encountered. We feel that this will quickly become an indispensable aid for all serious time-travellers.  London 1885

Section One: Dangers

Clearly, one of the most useful services we can render to our readers is to provide warning of times to avoid, when calibrating your time machine.

As all serious time travellers will be aware, your geographical location will not change – only your temporal one.

Consequently, this volume will be invaluable, should you be located in London or its environs.

 

A List of Dates to Avoid

AD 43   Moderate risk. Roman military invasion underway.  Pretty ruthless bunch.

AD 61 Extreme danger. Iceni tribe sacking the city.  Slaughtering everyone they see.

1066 Moderate risk. Unsettled times as Normans take control.

1381 High risk.  Gangs of peasants rampaging.  Some chap called Tyler in charge.  Avoid.

1642-9 High risk. Civil war.

1664-6 High risk.  Plague is rife.  People dropping like flies.

1666 Extreme danger.  London is ablaze.  Do not attempt to stop in early September.

1888 Low risk.  A spate of grizzly murders taking place in the capital.

1915 High risk.  War! Airships and futuristic flying machines dropping fire bombs on London.

1940-41 Extreme danger. London ablaze and virtually destroyed by fire bombs from flying craft.  Do not stop.

 

N.B.

Having seen the devastation of 1941, we have chosen not to travel further into the future, since we feel there is a very real possibility that some dreadful post-apocalyptic times lie ahead and that the world will indeed end in the year AD 2012.

Should any readers dare to venture into those uncertain times – and survive – by all means notify us of your findings upon your return and we will incorporate them in a future edition, with due credit to the authors, obviously.

 

Section Two: Highlights

Whilst it is only prudent to take due care, we wish to emphasise the uplifting and informative experiences that can be gained through judicious time-travelling.

In this section, therefore, we will outline some of the most fascinating and instructional journeys which we ourselves have experienced within the historic and fascinating city of London.

c.600,000 BC: We have found this to be a surprisingly warm and pleasant period in our capital’s history.  The astonished traveller can expect to encounter herds or mammoth, hippopotamus, deer, wild horses and much other wildlife strolling around the banks of the Thames.  A remarkable experience.

c.200 AD:  Should you wish to view London’s origins as a city, this would be an excellent time to stop.  A golden age of prosperity exists as London is being laid out by its Roman leaders.  They appear more mellow in this age.

c.884: The chance to see King Alfred the Great setting London up as his capital should not be missed.  The traveller is warned to avoid any encounters with the warlike Danes, but it is most instructive to see the Roman city being expanded and improved upon by a truly enlightened monarch.

1588 -1600:  It would be foolish, in our humble opinion, not to visit London at the time of the flowering of the world’s most esteemed playwright – William Shakespeare.  One of us was fortunate to watch a performance of Macbeth at a playhouse, with Mr Shakespeare himself taking the role of Duncan.

1838:  Should you be able to calibrate your machine to arrive in London on a specific date, why not attend the coronation of our beloved Queen Victoria on June 28th?  A stunning occasion.

1920-30:  For those requiring a relatively safe journey into the future, the wonders of this era should not be missed.  You will find locomotives running in tunnels beneath London’s streets, astonishing vehicles travelling at great speed on said streets and wonders which we can barely dream of.

Perhaps, in the far future – should the world survive – there will again be halcyon days of great splendour and achievements.  We earnestly hope that this will be the case.

Let us end this slim volume with a short, and by no means exhaustive list of items it would be wise to take with you on any adventures into other times. 

Reading about time travelUseful items for time-travel 

A supply of candles and lucifers.

A tin of dry biscuits.

A hip flask of brandy.

A supply of fine gold chains to exchange for currency.

Spare breeches and hose.

A firearm for self-protection.

This volume!

We wish you safe journeys.

 

 

A Case in Point

Well there’s always a story.  The Case of the Balloon Journey had one, naturally.  Harvey Cholmondeley, the intrepid and rather dishevelled traveller had been a minor, though pivotal, character in the story of The Vital Chapter.

It was he who flew from somewhere in Africa, at the bidding of his sister-in-law, to rescue his brother Algernon from a bout of depression.  Quite what he did, we never discovered. After his visit, however, Algy became the Lord Admiral of the High Skies and hero of our proud nation.

So what did Harvey do after that mysterious intervention?  Well, to be honest, he trailed around many Steampunk-Shrunk stalls, where he often took pride of place at the centre of the displays.  He drew people in.  They admired his case, complete with clouds, balloon basket, flickering burner, hip flask, map and other necessities.  They often wished they had the funds or the room in their crowded houses for his case, but departed instead with some smaller trinket.

All this changed last weekend, though.  A delightful gentleman, with a twinkle in his eye, gazed at the case for some time, then announced, “I rather think I need to buy that.”
“I rather think you do,” agreed his good lady.

The gentleman had, it transpired, been an aviator in his younger days and it was clear that Harvey was off to an excellent new home.

Imagine our surprise, though, when an illustrated message reached Steampunk Towers a few days later.

additions to the basket

The ladies and gentlemen gathered around eagerly to discover news of their erstwhile companion.  Algy was, understandably, particularly interested.

Harvey had, it appeared, changed his name to Bertie, hoisted a Union Flag on one of the ropes, acquired an anchor and a travelling companion in the form of a seagull, which had made itself quite at home in a coil of rope.  The hip flask, we noted, was still in the pocket of his greatcoat, but perched on the side of the gondola was an almost certainly alcoholic iced drink, complete with curly straws.

Algernon spoke for us all when he announced, “I see that my brother has found a home with a true British eccentric who shares our taste for the minutely absurd.  How perfectly delightful.”

And it was so very thoughtful of the gentleman to think to share with us the further adventures of one of our own.

 

Upping the Date

Greetings to all from the grey, damp and murky land of Avalon, where life, myth and mystery combine curiously amongst the swirling mists (well, actually thundering hail storms at the moment, but that’s a temporary glitch, I’m sure).

We felt the arrival of a new year merited an update on how things are progressing here at Steampunk-Shrunk HQ.  When I say ‘we’ I refer to myself – a slightly eccentric but mostly harmless white-haired writer-and-educator-turned-miniaturist – and the cluster of (far more eccentric) 1/12 scale figures who share this compact and slowly sinking residence.
Yes, it is indeed sinking. It used to be level with the road outside when it was built, a mere three-hundred-and-something years ago. Alas, it has failed to keep pace with the world around it and is now reached by stepping down from the pavement into our semi-subterranean world. It all adds to the general weirdness…

We are currently working alone, since the Steampunk Dolls’ House – our fellow enterprise based in Shropshire – almost sold out over Christmas and its few remaining residents are in the process of moving to new premises.  Nothing daunted, and buoyed up by moderate successes last year, we have decided to take to the road this year and flaunt our wares in far-flung areas of the United Kingdom.

Sadly, we possess only two vehicles between us, and both of those are at 1/12 scale.  Determined not to allow that to dissuade us, however, we have purchased a suitcase of gargantuan proportions and one of those magical devices for taking card payments from customers.  Many hours perusing bus and train timetables and hunting out bargain-priced accommodation means that we are about to commence our Grand Tour.

Messrs Crackington and Balsover are busily creating an emporium filled with a host of cunning contrivances and devious devices, which will be available for purchase at our forthcoming sales.

Some of their wonders, including the mysterious Oracular Device and the dangerous-looking Phosphorus Pump are displayed here.

Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting more of the delights you can expect to discover on the Steampunk-Shrunk stalls which will be appearing around the land.

Our first venue will be the Thame Miniatures Fair (in Oxfordshire) on Saturday 17th February,  followed by a weekend Steampunk Convention on March 24th and 25th in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

We’d be delighted to meet you at one of these events and hope you’ll be able to join us.

 

 

 

 

 

Miniature Fair!

Nervous, us?   Do we look nervous?  Well maybe Penelope, slightly – but the rest of us will take good care of her.

We’re leaving the delights of rural Somerset, with its green leafy lanes and pretty stone cottages, and heading for a similarly leafy place in the middle of England somewhere.  Unfortunately, though, we don’t have a single method of transportation between us and need to use a mixture of buses, trains and something called a tube to traverse London in order to get there.

Mrs S is being very upbeat about it all.  She’s carefully packed us, the room boxes and all the little pieces she makes into a large suitcase and an equally large carrier bag.  There’s plenty of padding, so we won’t be knocked about too much.   She’s spent hours on the phone to find the easiest route across London – with no staircases.  She insists it will be a breeze.

Image may contain: textWhen we finally arrive at the destination – a village called Haddenham in a place called Buckinghamshire – she’s promised us that we will meet other people of a similar size to ourselves.

Some of us may even find new homes to go to.  Lord Horatio became rather angry at that.
“Like being at Battersea Dogs’ Home, waiting for an owner,” he growled.

The rest of us would love it, though.  So if you happen to live anywhere around this Buckinghamshire place and are free on Saturday 23rd September, do come along to and call by the Steampunk-Shrunk stall.

We’d love to meet you.