Penny Blake

Extraordinary Everyday

Category: Uncategorized

The Tea Activist’s Handbook: Introduction To Winter

The first day of winter may be taken as the first day you need to turn your heating on indoors, or the first time you catch a cold, whichever is sooner. Winter is traditionally a time of good cheer amongst tea fiends. Strange rituals that we are forced to keep secret for most of the year, for example dressing our cups in fashionable knitted jackets or brewing chai in large cauldrons over a smoldering fire, suddenly acquire a certain festive charm and are not likely to subject us to social ridicule or death by angry pitch forks.

On a serious note, winter is the time when guerrilla tea activism is most needed because for many it is a cold, bleak and lonely period when  the line between those who are able to skip through life on rainbow-spangled wings, and those who are forced to crawl belly down in the dirt to make way for them is at its starkest.

This darkest, coldest, cruelest time of the year is when we must step up to the mark in earnest and make our presents felt…or wool, or wax or anything that comes to hand that is good for present making will do actually, doesn’t have to be felt at all…

We must look around at our nearest and dearest, at our neighbors and friends, at those in our community, and yes sometimes maybe even our enemies… and see who is in need and how we can help them.

Winter is also a time to recognize if we are in need and to seek out nourishment, comfort, companionship and the gentleness of deep dreaming and wild imagining that only sitting by the fire with a blanket and a mug of hot chai can bring.

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Bellicose Pocket Watch

A Little Background:

This is the item that began this collection of waistcoat-pocket weaponry and, to be fair, all credit for it lies with the fateful day, several years ago now…2009 perhaps?…. that I read a disparaging article (which I cannot now for the life of me locate to reference) claiming that Steampunks were (I paraphrase)

“wannabe Goths without the savvy to embrace skulls, chains and spikes and instead have developed an unhealthy obsession with pocket watches – ooo how scary! What are they going to do? Aggressively tell us the time?”

And so, me being utterly myself, instead of getting hot under the collar decided to develop a set of weapons that would enable me to do just that…and more… and the Bellicose Pocket Watch was born…

Entry taken from Weapons Of Choice And Miscellaneous Combatalia For Extraordinary Ladies And Gentlemen:

Bellicose Pocket Watch:

This looks like any ordinary pocket watch but woe betide the villain who vexes the extraordinary lady or gentlemen carrying this little beauty amongst their arsenal. Want to aggressively inform someone that ‘their time is up’ ? This is the weapon for you.

How does it work?

The actual clockwork mechanism has been compressed so that it now takes up only half the given space inside the standard casing. Behind the mechanism, is concealed a 2mm gun barrel loaded with a single hatpin, the tip of which has been dipped in the deadliest poison known to human kind. Under the pretext of winding the watch, the user can activate a tiny push button which fires the pin into any personage standing in close proximity. Death is instantaneous.

Possible limitations and setbacks:

A large number of accidental deaths have occurred due to the fact that it is easy to confuse the Bellicose Pocket Watch with a common time piece and attempt to wind it up without being aware of the consequences.

The Opprobrious Pith Helmet

Entry from Weapons Of Choice And Miscellaneous Combatalia For Extraordinary Ladies And Gentlemen

Opprobrious Pith Helmet

Due to the fact that this item of militant millinery must be created using some of the most powerful and nefarious magic known to human kind, it is an extremely rare (though curiously not much sought after) article. Although the Opprobrious Pith Helmet looks much like any run of the mill piece of expeditional headwear, it is in fact merely a vessel (something akin to a bottle of jinn, if you will) for housing the pugnacious spirits of various deceased, demonic matriarchs.

How does it work?

The spirit of the deceased may be that of a mother, aunt, grandmother or any other female relative of the one who is to wear the helmet. The effectiveness of the helmet depends entirely upon the relationship between the spirit and the wearer so in some cases a closer relationship is more desirable, whilst in others, clearly, not.  (It has been known for helmets to fall into the possession of those with no family connection to the deceased but the results have usually been catastrophic.) When the wearer is in dire need, the spirit within the hat is bound to leap to their defense – this is the condition of a contract created between the magic user who created the helmet and the spirit. In exchange for this service, the spirit obviously benefits from the deal by being allowed back into the world to voice its opinions and interact with the populous at large, albeit in the restrictive form of a hat.

Set backs and possible limitations:

Obviously, as the hat, or at least the spirit inside it, has a mind of its own it may not be relied upon to always provide the most appropriate or helpful support to the wearer in times of jeopardy. In some cases, the spirit within has even been known to bring vast quantities of jeopardy upon the wearer, particularly where the spirit is one who takes a certain malicious delight in vexing the wearer or causing them physical harm or social embarrassment.

A true Opprobrious Pith Helmet is a rare thing indeed and, sadly, fakeries abound. The most common of these use a concealed voice recording played on an intermittent loop and concealed within the lining of the helmet in order to emulate the voice of a spirit, however there was once a case of an African grey parrot being concealed inside the lining which was only discovered when the creature died and began to smell.

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

What is #Steampunk ?

Select one hundred Steampunk enthusiasts at random from various corners of the globe, place them in a parlour with sufficient supplies of tea, cake (and of course a little La Fee Verte) and ask them to come up with a definitive answer to the universal quandary: ‘What Is Steampunk?’ and you will likely still find them in a state of cordial dispute when the final trumpet sounds and the apocalyptic horsemen clear their throats and ask politely if anyone would care to open the parlour door and take note that the world had, in fact, come to an end and could they all please be so kind as to step outside and commence panicking?

Of course apocalyptic prophesies have not yet taken account of the evolution of Steampunks.

At this point every Lady and Gentleman in the room will swiftly tip their last shot of absinthe into their cup of chai, drain it in a gulp, whip out their pith helmet, top hat, goggles, aether-ray-blunderbuss, rapid-shot-fire-parasol, automated energy detecting vambrace dowser, tool belt, specially adapted crochet hook and steel wool, acid-repelling lace or leather gloves, pet octopus, portable cartography set, smelling salts, picnic-hamper-of-holding, magnifying monocular device, favourite poetry book, breathing mask, radiation detecting wrist bands, aethertronic encyclopaedia, calling cards and pack of emergency biscuits and provide a perfectly practical demonstration of exactly what Steampunk is and precisely who is a Steampunk.

If however you do not have all the time in the universe to conduct such an experiment, let me direct you to some excellent articles which give a pretty first class account of the Steampunk phenomenon:

Around The World In 800 Steampunks by Professor Elemental

More Thoughts On Steampunk by Mark Hodder

 

Lastly, if you really are in desperate, immediate need of clarification and haven’t a moment to spare before your airship departs, threatening to catapult you into a world of which you have absolutely no comprehension, I can only offer you my own, humble, completely un-definitive and obviously non-comprehensive definition.

And here it is:

In my own humble experience, Steampunks are a community who differ from most other fan-bases in the world because we are not fans of a single book, film, author, character, soft drink, band, designer or artist.

We are fans of an idea.

A concept.

We are fans of asking: “What If…?”

You remember that annoying kid from school who always sat at the back and gave the teacher hives every time he stuck his hand in the air?

“But, Sir! What if Churchill and Hitler had fallen in love and run away to join the circus together?”

“But, Sir! What if cave men had built time machines?”

“But, Sir! What if Guy Fawkes had blown up parliament?”

“What if we’d all evolved with fish heads?”

“What if Bach had invented electro-house music?”

“What if….?”

I am willing to bet that delightfully curious child is now a Steampunk.

As Steampunks we might be particularly interested in fashion, literature, music, technology, science, art or tea and cake.

Our preferred settings might be Victorian England or Post-Apocalyptic Mars, futuristic underwater cities or dense uncharted rainforests and lost temples on high mountain peaks.

But the underlying principle – in my experience – which seems to unite us all is this incurable, unbounded sense of curiosity and creativity and the perpetual propensity to ask ‘what if…?’ not only of our past but also of our present and future.

More about this incurable ‘what-if-itis’ another day, but for now I must go and appease my persistent clockwork companion who’s maniacal mantra haunts my waking dreams

… ‘one cup more… just one cup more’…