Saturday, May 15, 2010


Monsters of the Victorian Age #2

Making the Beast with Two Backs

Victorian gentlemen greatly enjoyed making the Beast with Two Backs. In their spare time they studied engineering especially for this purpose. It is not clear why the activity was kept secret from their wives, but so it was. Hangars were erected in every major city to house the equipment needed for the regular making of Beasts with Two Backs. In 1883, some of the finished Beasts escaped and had to be legislated against. They were hunted down by Coppers and other steam-powered robotic policemen and sent to operate treadmills in the workhouse, grinding urchins.

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I can hardly help suspecting.....
Do you also live in Swansea, Burrus? It's a great place for hardly suspecting!
I want to know what's on joven's blog, but I suspect I'm hardly brave enough to go there.

Did either of you find malware or prevarication?
Thanks for pointing that out, Steven! I ought to go through all the comments and delete any spam I find. I'd hate for readers of my blog to end up on a suspicious website by following a dodgy link!
Did Stenbock and Wilde ever engage in mechanical experimentation together? The evidence is scant but the theory is seductively speculative. I am inclined to believe it simply because I want to.

I am now obliged to look at Stevenson's Rocket in a different light. Was the engineering merely a euphemism for penetrating dark tunnels in the mistaken quest for creationism?

They say that the penis is merely an extension of a man's wish to dominate a Ferrari. Those who favour Citroen 2CVs are suffering from a mechanical dysfunction that renders them all but celibate.
When you say "mechanical experimentation" do you mean of the carnal kind? If so, then yes, certainly, or at least probably, they did. Stenbock and Wilde. How could they not?
More likely they were Siamese twins joined at the lip. As Wilde would aphorise Stenbock would imbibe opiates administered to him by a frog which resided on his shoulder. Stenbock would don a mask of Lord Alfred Douglas in public to create the illusion that Oscar was merely engaged in a witty tete-a-ete with his malicious paramour, whilst occasionally reciprocating by pretending to be a stuffed doll plaything of Stenbock's. Only in Estonia could they truly be free.

I appreciate this sidesteps the tricky issues of mehanics and sexual dalliance, but we are after all talking about the gibberish that dare not speak its name.

Tangentally a friend told me that truly bixsexual people can often be the most unpleasant and psychologically twisted individuals you are ever likely to meet, rather than the gentle & tolerant libertines you might expect them to be. This made me wonder whether the Beast With Two Faces was not as valid a tag as the Beast With Two Backs.
"The Beast with Two Faces"? Yes, like Janus, the Roman god of gates and doorways.

I seem to recall a nice statue of Janus in the Roman baths in the elegant city of Bath, but I might be wrong about this. It has been a long time since I went there.
I am aware of a publisher who could legitimately qualify as being a Beast Of Two Faces, but it would be discourteous to expand further. Suffice to say I hope that you never have cause to encounter this hellish other face in your career.

As Orwell never said, one face good, two faces bad.
"The Rodens" are certainly the worst people I have ever dealt with in the publishing business. I don't have enough words at my disposal to express my contempt of that slimy pair.
The Rodens with a silent "T"?

Here are some suitable words:

Spineless cantankers, hubrinauseous, hypotwats, mockiavellian, arrogrates, phartistes.

The female of the species - the Broden - is more slippery than the male. Gorgon, Medusa, Harpy - all are prettier and more feminine. The Croaking Croden is a creation of Alan Moore, spitting venom one part juvenile to two parts geriatric.

Despite having churned small press publishing into a factory of tedium, they have spent years pontificating about the failures of others, then proceed to crank out unreadable, derivative literary vomitfest whilst driving the Ghost Story Society over a cliff.

The deeply unpleasant Rodents heaped bucketloads of vitriolic scorn upon The Haunted River (and others) for modest delays in production (weeks rather than months), even though "All Hallows" aka "All Shallow" ran years overdue.

Of course, it hardly needs to be said that there is no truth in the rumour that the Rodens have been caricatured in Reggie Oliver's story A NIGHTMARE SANG. His casting of a deeply unpleasant married couple called the Crowdens is pure coincidence.
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