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Victorian Steampunk

     I probably should reveal a few things that have hitherto, remained latent. I do have a penchant for the days of yore. Not particularly for sentimental reasons; although inevitably there is a modicum of that. It seems perhaps inevitable that an island such as Old Blighty, not emasculated by her (wink) loss of Empire should have a yearning for the former glory.

Mappa Tuesday

Mappa Tuesday

     However, the zeitgeist of the day is cheap and cheerless – the land of the miserable shopper. Our £1 lands have replaced our Woolworths. Yes cheap tat and proud of it. Brunel would be spinning in his grave.

     But let me take you back to a land that served a purpose with style. You just have to think of the Crossness pumping station.

     Yes indeed, the Victorians even ensured that their turds* travelled in style, albeit to end up washing up on the sandy shores of bathers at Southend-on-Sea. It is true, however, that their wives and children fared well they could not bear for any of their fine erections to be looked down up.

it's a shitehouse

it's a shitehouse

     Wot ho! It was indeed, as old Charlie would say the best of time & the worst of times. In fact it had a hint of the Curate’s Egg about it, albeit encased in a Faberge suit. It was a time when a gentleman would toss his cape into a geographically inconvenient Dr. Foster, and hang the bill the Chinese laundry man would threaten him with. Exactly why the Chinese crossed half the world to stir steaming tubs of shirts, well, that’s another story….

     It was a time when a gentleman would dress for dinner, and after he had retired to the Smoking Room, (as opposed to sitting on the back porch and hoping an Easterly didn’t send wafts of aromatic Arabian tobacco back into the sitting room for fear of the asthmatic cat having another attack,) and gazing out at the gas lit pea-souper. Conversation would fall on affairs of state, the Empire and, of course the latest invention that one was tinkering with. Yes, for dandyness, etiquette and style aside, it was at least a time when one could have a stab at inventing a unique contraption with out possessing several degrees in advanced Squibullery. A time of crystal phials and shining brass. A time of sparks, whirring engines, and – by God – proper noises. A gentleman could travel from King’s Cross to Edinburgh in a proper mode of transport, a Steam-powered train. The sort of vehicle, that one could well imagine, could at any point leave the tracks and end up Le Voyage dans la lune.

     The Victorian Age was the Age of Invention. The zeitgeist of boundless optimism and achievement, where anything is possible. Of course, you had to be rich enough to benefit from it, but then I’m sure the Great Pyramid wasn’t that impressive if you spent all day shoving tons of granite up a slope all day. As the bard has it, “it’s the rich wot gets the pleasure, and the poor wot gets the pain.”

     Please, give me a little indulgence fair reader of a time when at least you knew where you stood, even if that meant with both feet in raw sewage, dying of typhus. Look at use now; gone is the age of Oak, of Iron, the MFI age is our day. Can you imagine the Swedish selling wood to us, for cripes sake.

     Let me end today’s entry with a few places to visit to recapture that certain style.

Hey Ho. It’s time I should be winding my collection of crystal chronometers.


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June 2018
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