Tinkering with Time

George Entwhistle, a patents clerk by day, had always enjoyed tinkering.  The trouble was, tinkering could be a somewhat noisy activity.  Living as he did in a terraced property, he had to contend with frequent complaints from neighbours and visits from members of the constabulary.

In consequence, he’d been banned from hammering, sawing, welding or producing anything with a tendency to explode between the hours of 8pm and 10am, and all day on Sundays.  This, given the long hours he worked at the patents office, made it difficult for him to achieve anything of note.  George felt cheated by life.

All this changed, though, the day he realised that the blocked up door in the sitting room did not, as he’d always imagined, lead to the parlour.  Careful measuring and still more careful (and virtually silent) plan drawing showed that there was a two and a half foot gap between the blocked door and the parlour wall.

Working only between the hours of 7.30 and 8 in the evening, George carefully prised open the mysterious door and discovered, to his great amazement, a staircase leading down.  Eagerly, he availed himself of an oil lamp and the poker from the fireplace, and cautiously descended.

Cellar Outlet, Gang, Dark, CreepyImagine George’s surprise and delight as he discovered a further door at the base, which opened quite easily, revealing a large cellar!

Certainly it was cold and uninviting, but the walls were thick.  George raced upstairs, grabbed his noisiest intruder alarm – one of his most unpopular inventions amongst the neighbours during the testing stage – and took it down to his newly discovered domain.  Here he set it off and left it in the cellar, shutting the door behind him and returning to the sitting room.  Despite the deafening clang of bells and shriek of whistles echoing around the empty space below, there was virtually no sound to be heard from either the sitting room or parlour.  Despite it being 8.30, not a single neighbour banged on the wall or hammered on his front door.
“Eureka!” exclaimed George.
“Quiet in there or I’ll summon a constable!” came an angry shout from the occupant of number 28.

From that day onward, George worked to transform the cellar into a tinker’s workshop.  He extended the heating pipes downwards to power a boiler, which not only heated the workshop, but allowed him to brew a much-needed cup of tea from time to time.  He constructed a doorbell with a wire connecting it to the front of his house, so that callers could be heard.  He made himself a shelf and workbench and even installed a clock and mirror.  The result was a commodious and most agreeable work space.  George was a happy man.

He is currently busying himself with constructing a clockwork time machine.  He’d long had a plan, gleaned from a combination of the failed ideas of several other tinkers.  Working in a patents office did have certain advantages.

As you can see, his contraption is well underway, and he’s able to fire it up for short periods.

“Only a matter of time,” George mutters to himself, smiling slightly at his own wit, “Now that I no longer have to suffer time restraints, soon I shall be the master of time!”

Time will tell…

 

Should you wish to inspect George’s cellar workshop and the items he is creating there, do come to any of the Steampunk-Shrunk stalls at various events over the coming months.

The details of venues, dates and times can be found on the home page of this website.  

Oh, and if you come along, do ask George to demonstrate the time machine.  He loves to show off his workmanship.

 

 

The Grimoire

 

Should the contents of this ancient tome be made public?  We sincerely doubt it.  People approach our sales area, lovingly handle copies of the book and purchase it.  Since it measures only one inch from top to bottom, though, they are incapable of reading the text, so all remains well.

However we have been prevailed upon to make the book’s contents generally available and – with more than a few reservations – have agreed to do so.

The covers and most illustrations are by a singularly talented lady called Betsy, who virtually resides at Chocolate Rabbit.  If you click here you can visit her shop.

The text is ancient and handed down through the ages but compiled many hundreds of years ago by Messrs Aubrey and Dee.  A few copies have recently surfaced and can be purchased via Steampunk – Shrunk.

Spells and Charms    W. Aubrey & J. Dee

Introductory Notes
This being hopefully too small to be viewed with the naked eye, it is to be hoped that what follows will not be taken in too literal a sense by any readers, since following these recipes could result in all manner of foul and unpleasant effects, which could render the reader or his subject insensible or possibly deceased.
You have been warned.
The second reason for keeping to this miniscule size is that we can’t spare the time to write an entire book on a subject of which our knowledge is sadly lacking in any case.
Some preliminary notes on the Philosophers’ Stone.
safely unreadableShould the apostrophe come before or after the s there?  We are not entirely sure whether we speak here of one or multiple philosophers.  Certainly it may be the case that the esteemed authors of this tome were able to conjure this miraculous substance, but we are not telling.  How stupid do you think we are?  History will be able to judge whether or not we have been successful in our attempt to discover the source of eternal youth.  Should this volume be published posthumously, or read in a time when one or both is no longer incarnate, then the reader may judge for himself our lack of success in this area.
So anyway, we digress.  Let us set out a simple recipe for the preparation of the substance you require.  Easy as making scrambled eggs, honestly.
Take equal parts of blood from a recently slaughtered beast – sorry vegetarians and vegans, we’ve lost you already.  Anyway, as we said, blood, mixed with equal parts of phosphorous, zinc, yellow sulphur and spirits of aqua vitae.  The stench will be beyond your wildest imaginings and will reduce grown men to tears and fits of the vapours.  Nevertheless, it is vital to persevere.  Perhaps placing a handkerchief or a nosegay of country herbs close to your nose will be of some assistance.  We sincerely doubt it.  We suspect this will be about a useful as it was in preventing individuals from catching the plague.
Once you have your mixture, it must be distilled at least three times.  We’re assuming you have access to a still.  If not, why on earth are you bothering to read this book?  Honestly – amateurs.  We have no regard for such people.
After the distillation process, you will be left with a clear substance the colour of dark urine.  To this, add an equal quantity of – you guessed it – dark urine.  This should preferably be collected from a virgin at full moon.  However, in our experience, such ladies seem strangely reticent to provide said liquid to honest students of natural science and you may find you have to use your own, or pay the young woman handsomely for the substance.
Next the mixture must be left to putrefy for at least seven weeks.  You will probably find, as we did, that long before this time has elapsed, you will have been evicted from your lodgings and all neighbours within a hundred yard radius will have fled to the countryside, since the odour is rather pungent.
Persevere, dear reader.  You are inching ever closer to the miraculous substance you wish to produce.
The next stage is to obtain one dozen of the finest hens’ eggs, as freshly laid as may be.  Break the eggs into a bowl and do with them as you will.
This might be a good time to make those scrambled eggs we mentioned earlier.  Now retrieve all the eggshells you have just cast upon your midden or added to your recycling bin (depending on the era in which you are reading this).  Place in a mortar – or is it a pestle?  Never really figured out which bit was which.  Anyhow, put them in the bowl-shaped one and pound them vigorously with the other thing.
When they are well smashed, add to them 4 drams of camphor.
Continue to pound vigorously, or simply stick the whole mess in the blender if you have one.  We’re giving ourselves away a bit here, aren’t we?  I think you’ve probably rumbled us by now.  Either this book is an elaborate hoax or we stumbled upon the secrets of time travel and have visited the XX1 century.  Since you don’t know which, though, you’ll just have to keep reading.
each page individually agedNow since this book – which no one will be able to read in any case – is taking an inordinate amount of time to write, we will now do some judicious cutting and pasting.  Kindly pass me the dagger and a pot of the boiled calves’ foot glue, Mr Aubrey, if you’d be so kind.
Take equal parts of blood from a recently slaughtered beast – sorry vegetarians and vegans, we’ve lost you already.  Anyway, as we said, blood, mixed with equal parts of phosphorous, zinc, yellow sulphur and spirits of aqua vitae.  The stench will be beyond your wildest imaginings and will reduce grown men to tears and fits of the vapours.  Nevertheless, it is vital to persevere.  Perhaps placing a    handkerchief or a nosegay of country herbs    close to your nose will be of some assistance.  We sincerely doubt it.  We suspect this will be about a useful as it was in preventing individuals from catching the plague.
Once you have your mixture, it must be distilled at least three times.  We’re assuming you have access to a still.  If not, why on earth are you bothering to read this book?  Honestly – amateurs.  We have no regard for such people.
After the distillation process, you will be left with a clear substance the colour of dark urine.  To this, add an equal quantity of – you guessed it – dark urine.  This should preferably be collected from a virgin at full moon.  However, in our experience, such ladies seem strangely reticent to provide said liquid to honest students of natural science and you may find you have to use your own, or pay the young woman handsomely for the substance.
Next the mixture must be left to putrefy for at least seven weeks.  You will probably find, as we did, that long before this time has elapsed, you will have been evicted from your lodgings and all neighbours within a hundred yard radius will have fled to the countryside, since the odour is rather pungent.
As you will doubtless have gathered, that was a rather longwinded way of saying you need to repeat the initial process.  You now have two vats of very smelly liquid and one of almost as smelly powder.
The next step is to combine all of these in a large iron cauldron.  This must then be heated over a fire, stirring continuously for the first fifteen hours.
After that, leave it to simmer until all the liquid has evaporated and you are left with a blackened crust at the bottom of the cauldron.  This must be scraped from the vessel and pounded.  We do like a good bit of pounding.
We suggest mixing this with half a jar of Modge Podge.  This is a wondrous substance available in the XX1 century and does the job like no other.
Congratulations.  Once it has set, you will have your very own philosopher’s or philosophers’ stone.
As you will see in the illustration, you will now be able to grow an extra head and stand atop a fire-breathing dragon with total impunity.

 

On Traversing Time
This is obviously the real reason you purchased this volume.
That [illustration – you’d need to buy the book to see it] is a very lame attempt to make this look vaguely mathematical, but since you won’t be able to read it (and nor will the guy we lifted the page from) there’s no harm in it really and we have almost half a book to fill.
Some preliminary notes on traversing time:
Basically, time is no more than a convenient form of measurement.  We are accustomed to using it in one direction only, from past, through the present and towards an uncertain and – as most common people believe – unknowable future.
However there is far more to time than that.  If you are in doubt, we suggest a visit to Old Mother Hambledon at the third cottage after the gallows on Black Heath Common.
Half an hour in the company of this good woman will convince you of one of two things – either that time is quite capable of standing still, since half an hour in her company is equivalent to several days in the company of any other, or – should she be having one of her good days – that she is capable of seeing into the future as easily as you can see this book in front of your face.
Once it has become apparent to you that time can be – let us say – manipulated, you will be eager to experiment further.
It would be tempting to explore metaphysics at this point and talk some real sense, as we have in fact performed some fascinating experiments in this area.  This is, however a grimoire, and as such, you will be expecting a set of arcane charms, spells and other superstitious twaddle.
Far be it from us to disappoint a willing audience.  We get royalties on this book.  They are derisory, of course, but nevertheless, they keep the banshees, hobgoblins and other nasties from the door.
So, a spell you will get.
A Spell to Traverse Time
One groat’s worth of raw liver, chopped finely
A generous handful of henbane
111 fly agaric mushrooms
11 spoons of goose grease
A pinch of white arsenic
A quart of fine ale
Pulverise and mix all the ingredients, then heat in your cauldron.  It may be advisable to wash out the cauldron if you have recently prepared the philosopher’s or philosophers’ stone.
Please note, in this volume we use Roman numerals.  It is an ancient grimoire, after all.  We are just slightly concerned that some readers may have read the recipe as one hundred and eleven mushrooms, as opposed to three.  Believe us, three will be plenty.
Anyway, back to the spell.  Stir the mixture seventy-five times widdershins by a waning moon.
Continue to pound vigorously, or simply stick the whole mess in the blender if you have one.  We’re giving ourselves away a bit here, aren’t we?  I think you’ve probably rumbled us by now.  Either this book is an elaborate hoax or we stumbled upon the secrets of time travel and have visited the XX1 century.  Since you don’t know which, though, you’ll just have to keep reading.
Yes, we admit it.  Another cut and paste job.  It’s getting late.
Allow the mixture to cool.
Imbibe as much as you can without vomiting too profusely and remain seated.  If you have followed the recipe exactly, you will find your head begins to spin.  No, that wasn’t figurative.  We mean it.  You will then find yourself rising into the aether and experiencing life in a very different time frame to the one you normally inhabit.
Do not be overly alarmed, unless of course you find yourself in a particularly alarming period of the past or future.  In which case, feel free to be as alarmed as seems prudent.
The effects of the potion will wear off at some point, but not – naturally – a point in time, since you have traversed that medium, remember?
We hope you find the experience as edifying and instructive as you wish it to be.  There are a few side effects, so if you should experience nausea, dizziness, ringing in the ears, or any other appendage, don’t attempt litigation.  We – remember – are highly experienced time travellers and you will never catch up with us.

 

A Charm to Cure Warts
Every spell book has one of these.  We have no idea why.  What’s the problem with warts anyway?  Surely a charm to cure smallpox or world poverty or something would be far more useful, but our editor insisted.
“Give them a wart spell, boys,” he told us, and who are we to argue?
Here you are then:
      Tie a piece of white muslin around the affected area.  Spit upon it copiously and turn around 111 (that’s three) times, repeating this ditty:
Begone thou warty and mendicant wart.
I wish to see thee no more
As thou offendst mine eyen.
Drop from my body and sink in the dust
There to be consumed
By a ravaging cur or starving she-wolf
Or a rampaging hedgehog or badger.
In fact I’m not fussed what eats thee
So long as thou leavest me in peace.
I trust thou hast the message by now.
Begone thou foul and loathly wart.
 If that doesn’t do the trick, we are sorry to say that you are stuck with the wart.  But hey, it could be a plague of boils, so really, just be happy with your lot.

 

We hope you have enjoyed our grimoire.  Do visit our Amazon page if you ever find yourself in a time when such things exist.

 

Illustrated copies of the Grimoire are available From Steampunk – Shrunk at £4.50 each and can be shipped for the cost of a large letter.  Please use the contact form on our home page.  This is a limited edition of 99 books and each is individually compiled and aged by hand.

 

 

A Letter for Gertie

Did I hear a squeal emit from your lips, Gertrude?

“Yes, you most certainly did!  And with good reason!  I’ve just received the most extraordinary letter.”

Have you now?  Do tell us more.

“It’s from a lord!  A genuine lord!  It has his coat of arms at the top and his name and address (a very prestigious address) in curly writing embossed beneath it.  And – oh! – he says the most astonishing things about me.”

I think you’d better share the contents of this letter with us, Gertie dear.

My dear Miss Jekyllton-Smythe,

No doubt you will be somewhat surprised to hear from me.  Allow me to introduce myself:  I am Horatio, the fifth Lord Backgammon, of Charlton Regis.  I have a rather interesting project, with which I would be most honoured if you felt able to assist me.

You came to my attention through a friend who dabbles in temporal transportation – a ‘time traveller’ in common parlance.  His favourite era is the first half of the twentieth century, upon which he has become something of an expert.  Henry tells me that in that time, you are a lady of some renown.  In fact he says you are the most sought-after garden designer in this nation of ours and have published some quite excellent books on the subject.  Obviously, this will be news to you, since we have not had the privilege of visiting the future, but no doubt you will greet the information with some delight.

Now to the purpose:  I have, in my grounds, a small piece of land known as ‘The Board’.  It was laid out by my great-great-grandfather to the dimensions of a backgammon board (a pun on the family name, obviously).  Since his time, it has fallen into disrepair and I recently had it cleared.  I enclose a photographic print for your perusal.  Each of the two sections measures 8 x 17½ foot and is enclosed by a low wall, approximately one foot high.  I would be delighted if you would agree to design and oversee the construction of a garden in this area for me.

The brief is as follows:

  • The layout of the original backgammon board is to be retained, in deference to my ancestor.
  • There will need to be a lake or pond of some kind, to house a pet of mine.
  • I should like a small glasshouse or orangery, since I am most partial to exotic fruits.
  • Mechanical systems should be incorporated wherever possible for watering, grass-cutting etcetera.          I will gladly undertake to design and manufacture these elements myself.

Please contact me at the above address, should you feel willing to undertake this project.

Yours very sincerely,

Backgammon

“Just imagine!  I’m to become famous!  And successful!  And – well certainly it’s a very small space – but what an exciting proposal.  So much more entertaining and creative than designing red, white and blue bedding plant displays in municipal parks, as I do at the moment.”

Certainly it is an interesting project, Gertie.  Congratulations.  I wonder what sort of aquatic pet his lordship owns…