Penny Blake

Extraordinary Everyday

Month: September, 2014

Aethernautation

This song is sung by Jack Diamond and his cousin Eightcups Max during chapter one of The Dangerous Exploits Of Smith And Skarry as they set off in search of The Lost Tribe Of Siberian Soup Seers on board their landship The Chronic Agro …

 

Aethernautation: A kite-flying song sung by two splendidly relentless rogues : 

 

Aethernautation is my fascination

There’s no place on this wide world I’d rather be

Than soaring up high through the billowing sky

Over green rolling valleys and white rolling sea

 

Some call it affliction

For sure it’s addiction

No fiction

My earth-bound soul harbours within

The Icarusian lust

To dance up with the dust

Of the universe, certain sure somebody must

Unfathom, uncover, dissect or discover

The avian mystery mortals call flight

But while they all tax

I will simply relax

And make do holding tight

To the strings of my kite

 

Aethernautation is my fascination

Libation at the feet of some god I’d pour

If only I could, as an aviest should

Over mountains and oceans on gilded wings soar

 

Some call it affliction

For sure it’s addiction

No fiction

My earth-bound soul harbours within

The Icarusian lust

To dance up with the dust

Of the universe, certain sure somebody must

Unfathom, uncover, dissect or discover

The avian mystery mortals call flight

But while they all tax

I will simply relax

And make do holding tight

To the strings of my kite

 

 

Aethernautation is my fascination

My pre-occupation

insation, they say

But I know if I dream

It enough it will seem

That I’m truly the stuff

Of the aether above

And I know that one day I’ll dance

Up with the universe

Though they call me perverse

Still the thing could be worse

To be enslaved

By the stuff of the grave

Well I call it a terrible

Curse

I’m dismayed

And amazed that no tinker

Or forward free thinker

With all of their springs

And their cogs and such things

Has not yet uptaken

Unless I’m mistaken

The torch from the lad

Who lies dizzied and dazed

On the pages of history

 

MOCK NOT HIS FALL

(For friends it would seem it ha come to us all)

 

But my heart will rise high

With my soul to the skies

And not be embittered by

Man’s latest gall

 

Some call it affliction

For sure it’s addiction

No fiction

My earth-bound soul harbours within

The Icarusian lust

To dance up with the dust

Of the universe, certain sure somebody must

Unfathom, uncover, dissect or discover

The avian mystery mortals call flight

But while they all tax

I will simply relax

And make do holding tight

To the strings of my kite!

 

Advertisements

Celebrating 20 years of the Fairtrade Mark #Steampunk style

Pinkies Around The World

2014 celebrates 20 years of the FAIRTRADE mark and, seeing as tea features so prominently in Steampunk culture, this is a great opportunity to celebrate the fact that we can now enjoy this delicious beverage guilt-free by choosing to make sure that the brew that stews in our pot has been ethically produced.

I’m proud that the tea in my larder is fairly traded and I want to persuade (not bully or shame but just encourage) as many other people as possible to switch to Fairtrade too.

There are lots of campaigns out there trying to do the same thing and I’m not trying to steal their thunder or tread on their toes but this is a project especially for Steampunks because, well, come on guys, we do drink a lot of tea between us… 😉  (And coffee but shhh, that’s a secret…)

Really, it’s just a bit of fun to celebrate 20 years of hard work and splendid tea. If this sounds like something you would like to be a part of then all you have to do is this:

sept20142 001

1. Pledge for one whole day (or longer if you like!) to drink only Fairtrade tea / coffee.

2. Take a photo of your pinkie finger (yeah, stick it up in salute like you would with your middle finger if you were flipping someone the bird – which of course you would never ever do I am sure.. and neither would I… ever…never…ah-hem.)

3. Put the photo on your blog, facebook wall or any other social media platform you use, with the caption “I’m Giving Unfairly Traded Tea The (pinkie) Finger” with a line or two about why you’ve chosen to drink fairly traded tea or a link to a fairly traded tea you like or something like that – anything that lets people know why you are doing this is fine. The link below will take you to the Fairtrade website where you can vote for your favourite Fairtrade product and join their official celebration events too:

www.fairtrade.org.uk

3. Tag 3 other Steampunks and challenge them to do the same (‘challenge’ here means ‘politely enquire whether they would care to partake in this worthwhile and vaguely amusing venture’ not ‘bully, shame or cajole’ – remember that some people who would like to buy Fairtrade simply can’t afford to and this isn’t about judgement it’s about raising awareness in a fun way.)

And that’s all there is to it! Hopefully we can make a lovely chain of pinkies around the world and celebrate 20 years of good work on the part of The Fair Trade Foundation and its supporters 🙂

Hopefully Not Necessary Disclaimer:

Now before anyone decides to get shirty and remind me that Fairtrade isn’t always as ‘Fair’ as it makes out or that any form of tea growing isn’t really ethical or blah blah blah, if that is your opinion, fine, you are certainly entitled to it, possibly correct and if you can restrain yourself from consuming any amount of tea whatsoever on those grounds, or if you have discovered the world’s one and only brand of truly ‘ethical’ tea then I take my hat of to you sir, or madam, please feel free to share your wisdom politely. But otherwise, please remember that each of us can only do the small things we can do. And this is one small thing I can do. So I’m doing it. You are in no way obliged to join me but if you would like to then you are most welcome.

Weapons Of Choice And Missileaneous Combatalia

The release day for our long awaited LARP book ‘The Everyday Extraordinaries’ is almost upon us. The production of this has been an amazing roller coaster ride involving so many wonderful, talented and exuberant Steampunk enthusiasts (and some awesome friends and family who had never heard of Steampunk before in their lives) who have suffered stoically through frantic days and sleepless nights welding, stitching, hotgluing, spray painting, manically guzzling tea, roaming various open spaces and cityscapes in search of elusive china teasets, playtesting and generally listening to me waxing idiotic about fruitcake theories and dystopian parallel dimensions. This book is a collaborative labour of love and my most enormous amounts of gratitude go out to all the extraordinary ladies and gentlemen who have made it possible.

And so, like the veritable magpie I am, ‘on to the next treasure’ …

In this case:

Weapons Of Choice And Missileaneous Combatalia For Extraordinary Ladies And Gentlemen; A useful hand guide to my Waistcoat-Pocket Arsenal including many of my most nefarious, eccentric and useless inventions, several of which feature in the Ashton’s Kingdom series and all of which can be easily constructed by armchair-inventors and  used when playing The Everyday Extraordinaries (Or indeed any other LARP system or event which will allow them).

As each entry is completed I will post it on here so if you want to go ahead and have a go at making and using any of these crazy creations you can go right ahead and do so. Similarly if you want to share them that’s fine too, all I ask is that you make sure folks know they are my brain-children so they know to come and incarcerate me and not you 😉

Section One: Miscellaneous Millitant Millineria:

1. Top Hat Of Imposing Mental Prowess

This essential piece of headwear may come in many guises, all of them tall and many of them black. The Top Hat Of Imposing Mental Prowess infuses the brain of the wearer with the ability to outwit, outsmart and outthink (although unfortunately not outrun) his or her opponents in any challenge requiring a superior or more rapid intellect.

How does it work?

The underlying mechanical and alchemical principles are similar to those used in the recent development of Titter Technology.

The hat is equipped with an aerial which channels thought waves from the aether into a box attached to the side of the hat. This box holds a Statistical Alchemical Translation Device coupled to a Synaptic Frequency Filter. The Synaptic Frequency Filter provides an adaption to the traditional function of the SATD so that, instead of harvesting thought and sound waves, distilling them into their constituent parts and then recombining them using a comparison-based logic system into another language, the SATD now collates only thought waves, separates them into ‘idiotic’, ‘average’ and ‘ingenious’ and feeds only the ‘ingenious’ waves into the mind of the wearer via a series of electrodes concealed within the lining of the hat. The hat’s range is adjustable up to a distance of approximately 1,000 square miles.

Power Source?

One GORGON theremythium battery is enough to power this hat for approximately six months, depending on usage.

Possible set backs and limitations?

At present, the ability of the SATD to discriminate between ingenious thoughts that will be useful to the wearer and ingenious thoughts that will nonetheless be completely irrelevant is severely limited. This may occasionally lead to the wearer spouting utter incomprehensible and illogical nonsense at inopportune moments and has, unfortunately, lead to one or two cases of accidental incarceration on the grounds of mistaken madness. There is also, as such, no linguistic preference setting which has also proved problematic for some.

 

Graphic Novel Update

The first instalment of the Ashton’s Kingdom graphic novel series is in the process of being illustrated but in the meantime you can now read and share the story for free on my books page. The MS still has to undergo a final draft before the pics go in so do feel free to scream at me if you spot anything annoying.

You might be wondering just how a ‘graphic novel’ can have enough to text to make it worth the while creating a digital copy before pictures – well, this particular graphic novel is jumping aboard the new (or perhaps actually extremely ancient) bandwagon of combining chapters of prose with a combination of full page illustrations, comic strips and smaller illustrations amongst the text to create something unique and, hopefully, appealing on a number of artistic levels. Yes it’s a little ambitious but what is life if we don’t push the boundaries? (Heh! – hopefully not my ‘famous last words’ )

Also, if you like what you read and would be interested in reviewing the final finished article, drop me an email and I will add you to the list to receive a review copy – ladywiththewyvern@gmail.com

Lessons in Chai Latin (A useful trick for #Steampunks Engaging In Espionage)

The Wyvern and I were recently made aware of a  rather unfortunate incident in a certain  botanical garden, which ended in a most adequately and  intrepidly attired personage being pelted with pensioners’ packed lunches and ousted from the premises purely as a result of his companion not being fluently conversant with the coded language he was using to communicate.

This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue.

We therefore thought it might be useful to share this simple, amusing and aptly-themed method for covert conversation to be used in any setting where there are other Steampunks present who wish to converse covertly. If you were ever forced to learn Latin at school, or if you grew up anywhere near East London, you will find this very easy to get the hang of…

Chai Latin

1. Take the word you intend to speak

(for example ‘Buffoon’)

2. Remove the initial consonants

(in this case leaving ‘uffoon’)

3. Choose the title of a well know tea (for example Assam) and insert this into the new word after the next consonant (if there is no other consonant just stick it at the end of the word)

(leaving uffassamoon)

4. Finally replace the initial consonants after the last letter of the title of the tea,

(Giving us ‘uffassamboon’)

5. If this now sounds utterly unutterable (eg tea might end up as ‘eaassamt’) you may insert an extra tea name on the end (thus making ‘eaassamtoolong’ which sounds much better.)

This code is vastly superior to Pig Latin because every word can have as many variations as there are types of tea and still be decipherable by the person you are speaking to, assuming they have a fairly healthy obsession with hot beverages (and, frankly, what Steampunk doesn’t?)

I will try and make a post in the near future entirely in Chai Latin but, for now, do feel free to use it in your own adventures (or simply to irritate your boss / geography teacher … )

Chin-chin for now, Penny 🙂

larping around #Steampunk style

LARP – or ‘Live Action Role Play’ – has been around since the very first child in the universe picked up the very first stick that had fallen from the very first tree (probably the infamous apple one) and cried “Sir, You are being hunted!” 

Certainly when I was at school I remember every Friday and Saturday night was ‘larp night’ (actually I think the locals used to call it ‘freak night’ – how pleasant some folks can be eh? -) Of course the notion of actually paying hard earned paper-round money to acquire expensive cosplay equipment had not yet trickled down the geek mill to reach our UK-based urban jungle and, on reflection, perhaps we did look a little disconcerting; large mob of teenagers wearing their mother’s eyeliner and their father’s welly boots with strange tin-foil contraptions strapped to their backs, wielding mutilated household appliances and chatting nonchalantly about escaped dragons, invading zombie hoards, dark elf rebellions and their next dimension leap as we queued for our fish and chips.

This was urban fantasy come to life – the town with all its parks and play areas (no I promise we didn’t graffiti and drop fag ends everywhere, we were far too busy fighting for our lives), its abandoned warehouses and multi-story carparks, its back-alleys and rooftops, was the perfect setting for our adventures and our imaginations ran wild without the restriction of rules or dice or ‘I’m sorry but your character doesn’t get that ability until level five-hundred-and-nobody-cares-what.’ We’d spent our whole childhoods thus far playing games. We were pro at it. We didn’t need a costume manufacturer, rpg system designer or player’s handbook to teach us how. And we didn’t want to stop because the dreaded bald pate of adulthood was leering its repugnant self over the horizon of our not-so-far-off-future.

Since those days larp has grown up – a lot! – and although I think it absolutely splendid to be able to tootle off to a country manor house, an underground cave system or even acres of fantasy-inspired landscaped countryside and totally immerse oneself in some excellent adventures, there is a small (…oh OK rather a LARGE) part of me that resents paying hundreds of pounds for costumes and camping and petrol and then to actually play the game… it soon adds up doesn’t it.

I’m in NO WAY belittling organised larp events – they are awesome and should never ever stop. Especially they should be celebrated because there are not many places in this enormous planetary playground where extraordinary ladies and gentlemen can safely meet together and be themselves without fear of being pelted with verbal abuse and air-borne takeaways by The Mundanes.

What I am saying is that, as this ‘grown-up-larping’ becomes ever more popular, lets not lose sight of what larp truly is.

“FUN – WITH – BIG – BRASS – KNOBS – ON”

I say this because recently there have been rather a lot of internet posts around belittling people for the inadequacy of their larp attire or their ineptitude at ‘playing by the rules.’ It’s my sneaking suspicion that these comments have come from folks who are new to the wonderful-world-of-geekdom and its all-embracing nature but, nevertheless, I think it’s plain that we need to address this early (and I was happy to see some sci-fi panels doing just that a few months ago which is grand.)

One of the beautiful things about Steampunk larp is its ‘home-spun’ aesthetic that really works well in that genre. Mad inventors make stuff, they don’t buy it pre-perfectly-fabricated from ebay and thus, genuine mad inventions often have bits that spring hazardously apart at inopportune moments. Lord Archie’s intergalactic armour might be looking a bit weather-beaten, but then that’s a mark of all the wear and tear it has seen in space-battle and as for Lady Tabitha Wingship’s crinoline, well she had to make that unsightly repair to the seam when it caught on the propeller of the dirigible she was leaping out of to escape the evil Barron-Von-übertrieben… have you ever had to make an emergency seam repair whilst dangling from your petticoats at 40,000ft? Well have you? Oh … well then you know exactly what I’m talking about. 

So strap on your tin-foiled shoebox and grab your welly boots and your spray-painted nerfgun, or garb yourself in your thousands of pounds worth of chainmail and pristine-polished armour my friends, whichever you prefer, and lets smile at eachothers style instead of putting eachother down.

I’ll leave you with this wonderful Professor E song which my son showed me at the weekend and which really captures what I am trying to say here – larp is about grown ups being able to continue having the fun we still need even though we’re not kids anymore. Lets just remember that that is what it is all about and not sneer at eachother because, frankly, geeks don’t sneer at diversity – we celebrate it.

Published on Jun 19, 2014

All In Together appears on the teaSea records double album ‘The Giddy Limit’
Available now at http://www.professorelemental.com and the usual internet emporiums.
@prof_elemental

#Steampunk Alchemy

What Is Steampunk Alchemy?

The truth is that both alchemy and Steampunk can mean different things to different people and s o a definitive answer to the above question must, like the temple of heaven itself,* officially remain eternally elusive.

However, don your pith helmet and fire up your Aethereal-disruption-long-ranged-transponder, and we will embark upon a little investigative journey into the hazardous jungles of the collective conciousness, which should end in us either being quite close to a vague understanding of what Steampunk Alchemy could possibly be, or with us being boiled alive in a steaming pot of earl grey by a lynch mob of philosophers, wizards, airship pilots and dames in crinoline… are we game? …. right then, chocks away…

First let’s tackle the alchemy bit… **

In essence, alchemy is all about change, or transmutation. The change of base metals into gold, the change of plant materials into an elixir of life, the change of the mortal, fallible human self into a divine and worthy spirit. Most alchemical investigation is also conducted under the umbrella of the philosophical understanding that all that exists in the physical world, including ourselves, is merely the manifestation, or echo, of the spiritual reality of the universe – thus anything we create on earth is merely an attempt to re-create that which already exists in the spiritual realm.

Although there have been several different branches of alchemy over the centuries, and although many alchemists have chosen to devote themselves exclusively to one of these paths, even a very cursory study of the subject suggests that these branches constantly strive, throughout history and experience, to join together – creating an almost undeniable sense that the riches or eternal good health promised through working with metals and plants are always symbolic of the real and vital changes which take place within the alchemist’s soul.

Alchemy then becomes a very personal and sacred art, as all work and progress effected in the lab is seen as symbolic of the changes wrought within the personal, spiritual or psychological life of the alchemist.

‘Work and Pray’ was the constant mantra of the alchemists of old and it remains so to this day.

So what do modern alchemists do then? …

Classical alchemy is still practised today and it is an extremely complex – often dangerous – art, requiring years of study and dedication. One of the more widely practised branches in the modern world is herbal alchemy – which has its roots in the desire to effect physical, spiritual or mental healing through work with plant matter.***

In herbal alchemy, the plant matter is first reduced to its constituent parts. These are often referred to as The White Queen and The Red King. Once separated, the elements are ritually purified and then re-combined, in a process symbolically known as The Alchemical Wedding, to produce a stronger, more potent, perhaps even magical, substance which can be used to evoke positive change and healing in the body and life of the alchemist.****

Steampunk Alchemy though? I mean REALLY? Are you sure…

Alchemy  suffered a dramatic decline during the eighteenth century as Chemistry emerged, like some acne-ridden upstart adolescent , to scoff at its archaic and mis-informed parent and renounce the connection between the physical world of science and the magical world of spiritual religion.

By the nineteenth century, classical alchemy had been all but eclipsed by modern science and it may therefore seem strange to suggest that there is a valid place for alchemists within the world of Steampunk, which is heavily influenced by nineteenth century culture.

However, alchemy didn’t just disappear and the works of Mary Atwood – “A Suggestive Enquiry Into The Hermetic Mystery” published in 1850 – testifies that there were still dedicated alchemists struggling against the tide of modern rational and scientific thought.

(That in itself is a fascinating niche to explore: the place of the dedicated classical alchemist seeking spiritual enlightenment through experimentation with the elements of the natural world in a steam-powered retro-futuristic society where mechanical monstrosities and infernal devices are threatening to make gods of the men and women who designed and constructed them. )

In fact, despite the decline of those practising alchemical ritual, this crescendoing power of humanity over the rest of the natural world***** curiously caused the essence and symbolism of alchemical thought to pervade the nineteenth century consciousness almost like a divinely gifted antidote – from every corner of the rapidly industrialising globe, poets, artists, writers and those with very loud voices and a lot of opium in their bodies were wagging their cautionary fingers at the doctors and professors and tinkers and shouting “Ah-ha! But supposing you DO succeed in building that strange new device? What if your greed overrides your ethics? Hm? What if your idea of heaven turns out to be hell? What if you realise you have built a monster? What if you BECOME a monster?”

Certainly alchemical notions of symbolic transmutation are prolific both in nineteenth century works and also in modern Steampunk literature, with men becoming to various extents mechanical and machines becoming increasingly autonomous. At which point do we separate the machine from the man and the man from the machine? According to alchemical philosophy, we are the base metal that must be refined and moulded, we are the cogs which connect to make the societal machine, and we are that machine as the components of ourselves whir together to produce our industry in the world.

(At which point do we find ourselves seated in a carriage, like Jeter’s hero, facing the mechanical replica of ourselves – the magnificent or monstrous manifestation of all we could have been or have the potential to yet become? )

The doorway towards Steampunk Alchemy is now beginning to creek open before our very eyes, like the hidden chamber of unfathomable treasures deep within the lost temple … No doubt you spotted the gleam a paragraph or two ago?

If the early alchemists saw the deconstruction and recombination of plant and mineral elements as symbolic of spiritual enlightenment, the road for the Steampunk alchemist seems clear:

 

To immediately put the kettle on and begin dissecting teabags?

No. ******

To explore the notion that the reduction of metals in the forge, their refinement in the furnace, their reconstruction into ‘cogs and springs and whirry things’ and further composition into mechanical wonders could be viewed in the same symbolic way?****** *

But what, then, would a Steampunk alchemist actually do? Especially if it’s not allowed to involve tea! …

If ,in herbal alchemy, the plant is dissembled into its three constituent parts – the alcohol, oil and salt- which represent the spirit, the persona and the body, then perhaps the Steampunk alchemist can begin to work with machinery in the same symbolic way?

In a clockwork machine, for example, the coil might represent the spirit, the shaft the persona and the cogs the body. This analogy seems to work if we take the philosophical view that it is the spirit which shapes the actions of the persona and the persona which controls the body. Of course a clockwork machine winds down and must be constantly wound and oiled to keep it functioning and in the same way the spirit must be constantly kept healthy otherwise the persona, and even the health of the body, can begin to deteriorate.

So far so good. However life is never so simple and satisfactory for long is it?

Let’s take the iconic Steam engine for example –

In a steam engine this analogy becomes more complex and potentially problematic. Where there is fuel involved, can that fuel be considered a part of the machine? The answer to this question is obviously debatable but whatever the proposed answer: What, then, would the fuel symbolise ?

(No doubt one could write an entire book of such problems and form a collegium so as to torment young people with pages and pages of the stuff. They are questions each would-be Steampunk alchemist must grapple with for themselves.)

Another inherent problem with using the machine as our alchemical symbol is that, unlike the plant, the animal or the mineral, the machine is a human construct, not a divine one. The machine is our own attempt to mimic divine constructs, whereas the plant, animal and mineral are manifestations of aspects of the divine universal spirit.

Steampunk alchemy may then be seen as very limited in the benefits its symbolism can provide for a marriage of the spirit, body and persona and a transformation and perfection of the soul towards divine spiritual enlightenment.

But let’s consider, for no apparent reason, the Steiner-Waldorf method of teaching and learning which teaches children first to write words and then to read what they have written.

Are you considering?

You are?

Marvellous.

There is evidently, then, a certain spiritual benefit in the prayerful attempt to construct machinery and the meditative contemplation of what we have created, provided, of course, that we work into our understanding the acceptance that we are only ever creating poor replicas of the divine.

The Chamber Door Creeks Open, The Fool’s Gold Gleams…

The obvious trap for those who would play at divine mimicry, whether their creations and aims be in the realm of the physical, the spiritual or, as in the case of the alchemist, both, is that once we achieve any amount of perceived success, we may begin to consider ourselves to be gods, forgetting that our physical form is only ever an echo of one small spiritual ‘cog’ in the ‘Great Universal Machine.’ We can therefore look upon all our creations as nothing but small, imperfect copies of some small aspect of the thing we are claiming to have become masters of.

And for this reason it is sobering, as we embark upon our Steampunk alchemical adventures, to keep our library shelves stocked high with those blessed volumes of gothic fiction – Poe, Stoker, Shelley et al… – who will constantly remind us of the ‘Lore Of Transmutation’ which is the pit that awaits us if we do not allow the pendulum of our egos to remain in motion. ******* *

So, fellow intrepid adventurers, we arrive back at base camp, hopefully all in one piece and possibly even a little more enlightened for our troubles. If I have done my job as tour guide well, you will hopefully have had a fairly good glimpse into the hidden treasure room wherein the possibilities for Steampunk alchemical exploration lie. If not, you may proceed to the small tumble down hut behind that cluster of mangrove trees over there, where free tiffin is being served, ******** and demand your money back from the woman with biceps the size of coconuts. And coconuts the size of watermelons. You can’t miss her – her pet tiger is usually draped around her shoulders like a fashionable fur stole.

What’s that you say?

Perfectly satisfied?

Splendid!

 

 

The Footnotes, should you choose to accept them, are as follows:

*I am well aware that a certain members of The Everyday Extraordinaries CLAIM to have discovered the lost temple of pingshui, however in view of the distinct lack of evidence to back up this claim, the wyvern and I must remain sceptical and assume they were simply ‘larping around.’

** (If you are a classically trained and practising alchemist you can go make yourself a brew right now and return in a few paragraphs time because, quite frankly, you’re going to be grinding your teeth to pixie dust at my oversimplification of the subject. )*

*** Herbal Alchemy is not to be confused with the medicinal administration of herbal remedies. Reaching for a few peppermint leaves and a kettle at the onset of a headache is not the alchemist’s cup of tea. So to speak. That’s not to say, of course, that there isn’t a certain alchemical methodology that can be applied to the artistry of the tisane. .. an avenue for another time perhaps…**

****Yes it is a sort of philosopher’s stone. Yes it can be used to produce elixirs. Yes it is a bit like that bit in Harry Potter. No you cannot try this at home.  (At least not without proper training. Which, happily, you can get right here Alchemy Guild) ***

***** (brought on no doubt by an undocumented, yet epically proportioned,  plague of the disease ‘what-if-itis’ which I have mentioned previously on various soap boxes in various parlours) ****

****** Note to self: Construct article detailing alchemy of tea in near future.

*******In fact, we are actually touching here upon a much more ancient concept. The Celts, for example, certainly viewed the blacksmith as a spiritual artisan or magician and the forge as a place of reverent spiritual symbolism  where base materials were shaped through sweat and toil into treasure and tools that would benefit the whole tribe.*****

********If we become too deluded by our own genius, our house will crumble, we will become monsters and our undead wives will devour us, leaving nothing but our black tell-tale hearts.******

*********Never turn down free tiffin.

More footnotes, to alleviate general malaise which may ecru due to the droning and monotonous nature of the text, are provided here for use in medical emergency:

*4

**tea

***7

****ginger

*****nut

******ted*******

*******wind********

********jammers