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Thread: The worlds end.

  1. #1
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    The worlds end.

    THE WORLDS END.
    Chapter 1:

    At a quarter to six o'clock, on a wet Sunday evening, Silas Darby left his house in Upper Manor Street, for a quiet drink at the Worlds End Pub in Chelsea. This Victorian built establishment had apparently taken its name from the fact that it had stood, for as far as most people could remember, like an isolated oasis at the more unfashionable end of the Kings Road, London.

    The morning had been fine for November; but before midday the clouds had gathered, the rain had begun, and the inveterate fog of the season had closed dingily over the wet streets, far and near. The gardens in the middle of Beauchamp Square—with its close-cut turf, its vacant beds, its rustic seats, its young trees that had not yet grown as high as the railings around them—seemed to be absolutely rotting away in yellow mist and softly-steady rain. It was deserted, even by the cats.

    Blinds were drawn down for the most part over windows; what light came from the sky came like light seen through dusty glass; the grim brown hue of the brick houses looked more dirtily mournful than ever; the smoke from the chimney-pots was lost mysteriously in deepening superincumbent fog; the muddy gutters gurgled; the heavy rain-drops dripped into empty areas audibly. No object great or small appeared anywhere, to break the dismal uniformity of line and substance in the perspective of the square. No living being moved over the watery pavement, save the solitary Darby.

    He plodded on into a Crescent, and still the awful Sunday solitude spread grimly humid all around him. Entering next a street with some closed shops in it; here, at last, some consoling signs of human life attracted his attention. He now saw the sweeper of the district smoking a pipe under the covered way that led to a mews and detected, through half closed shutters, a chemist's apprentice yawning over a large book. He passed an ostler, and two costermongers wandering wearily and apparently, aimlessly. Then was heard the heavy clop clop of thickly-booted feet advancing behind him, and a stern voice growling, "Now then! be off with you, or you'll get locked up!"—and, looking round, saw an orange-girl, guilty of having obstructed an empty pavement, driven along before a policeman, who was followed admiringly by a ragged boy gnawing a piece of orange-peel.

    At the nearby church portico, a page waited sulkily among his fellow servants and their umbrellas for the congregation to come out.

    Silas had left behind a house where his wife, twelve children (mainly girls) and in-laws all lived under one roof. It was by definition of circumstances, a family house and in which the father ruled. The parlor was neat, clean, comfortably and sensibly furnished. It was of the average size. It had the usual side-board, dining-table, looking-glass, scroll fender, chimney-piece with a clock on it, carpet with a drugget over it, and window-blinds to keep people from looking in, characteristic of all respectable London parlors of the middle class. The mother, May as all knew her, was one of those women that were never happier than when they had a new baby in their arms to make a fuss of. To Silas though, a certain amount of discipline was required. The boys were OK, but his girls had to be kept on a tighter leash due to their sporadic, somewhat lavish displays of exuberance. And thus Silas, although a gentle man by character, invariably looked severe.

    He approached the pub and looked up at the familiar large sign between the 2nd and 3rd floors, which read “Welch Ale Brewery.” He entered quietly through the centralized double swing doors and crossed over the saw-dusted wooden floor to the main bar. Across to the left was an empty snug, where pensioners normally nursed their Guinness’s in a manner reminiscent of trespassing upon eternity. To the right was the saloon, but Silas was unable to see if anyone was there.

    The barman shuffled up, cleaning a fresh glass as he approached. His open necked shirt seemed three days old, whilst the collar was without doubt, a stranger to any intimate relationship with something called “starch.”

    “Usual is it, Mr. Darby sir?”

    Silas nodded.

    Passing a penny across the counter, he waited for his pint of mild & bitter, whilst carefully watching that the measure was pulled from the taps and not the swill bucket dregs.

    “There you go, Mr. Darby sir, your usual.”

    “The change is wrong,” said Silas.

    “No Mr. Darby sir, it’s gone up from a half penny to three farthings a pint now. Sorry Brewery orders.”

    “Day-light robbery,” muttered Silas and took his drink to a table by the corner where he sat alone from any other dubious characters that were known to frequent the place.

    He had a calm, imaginable expression on his face and he crossed one of his legs over the other, rested an elbow on each arm of his chair, and clasped his hands in front of him. On the wall opposite hung several lithographed portraits of distinguished individuals of that time —mostly represented as very sturdily-constructed men with bristly hair, fronting the spectator interrogatively.

    Silas got out his bacci tin of “Digger Shag” and started to roll one. He normally got his second youngest girl to do this, as she had just the right knack of coming up with a nice neat roll, with neither too little, nor too much bacci in the cigarette.

    Silas now fixed his eyes on one of the portraits, with a faint approach to a smile on his face, (he never was known to laugh), and with a look and manner which said as plainly as if he had spoken it: "That old man in the picture is about to say something improper or absurd to me; but I’ll bear with him."
    Last edited by MANICHAEAN; 04-21-2012 at 07:40 PM.

  2. #2
    Clinging to Douvres rocks Gilliatt Gurgle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MANICHAEAN View Post
    ...Blinds were drawn down for the most part over windows; what light came from the sky came like light seen through dusty glass; the grim brown hue of the brick houses looked more dirtily mournful than ever; the smoke from the chimney-pots was lost mysteriously in deepening superincumbent fog; the muddy gutters gurgled; the heavy rain-drops dripped into empty areas audibly. No object great or small appeared anywhere, to break the dismal uniformity of line and substance in the perspective of the square. No living being moved over the watery pavement, save the solitary Darby.

    ...He passed an ostler, and two costermongers...

    ...in a manner reminiscent of trespassing upon eternity....

    ... "That old man in the picture is about to say something improper or absurd to me; but I’ll bear with him."
    I enjoyed that Manichaean, thanks for sharing. I highlited a few parts that I particularly enjoyed plus two words I'll have to look up; "ostler" and "costermongers"
    I'll keep an eye out for future installments.

    .
    Last edited by Gilliatt Gurgle; 04-21-2012 at 07:58 PM. Reason: left out an "a" in the authors name
    "Mongo only pawn in game of life" - Mongo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKRma7PDW10

  3. #3
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Thanks GG.

    Both "ostler" and "costermonger" are now very much defunct in usage, unless you are a 150 year old Brit!

    The former refers to someone who was employed in a stable to take care of the horses.

    The latter was a hawker of fruit and vegetables from a barrow. Where I grew up in London, we called them "barrow-boys."

    Best regards
    M.

  4. #4
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Chapter 2:

    Liam Walker knew that when he was planning his trip into London, that it would be a waste of time to drive up in the Audi 8. It would have undoubtedly been more comfortable, but London these days with the traffic, parking meters, road works & congestion charges was invariably too much of a bind. So he decided to take the train into Kings Cross and then jump about on the tube from there.

    He was to have his annual checkup with Dr. Ravi in Harley Street, and then thought he would pop across to the Worlds End Pub in Chelsea to see where his granddad, (as told by his late Mum), used to go for a drink to escape a house full of kids and relatives. The appointment for the doctor was at 10am, so that allowed plenty of time to sink a swift pint in Chelsea, and then get back out of London before the rush hour built up.

    There was a choice of Tube Stations, all pretty much the same distance of just under a mile from the pub; Fulham Broadway, South Kensington or West Brompton. The first one seemed the best choice keeping in mind the good doctors morning admonitions on the need to: lose weight, get more exercise & drink less. He resolved to address the first two by taking a slow walk from the Tube to the pub. The drinking restriction bit would have to be saved for more austere days!

    When he came out of the Fulham Broadway Underground Station he expected some changes, but was nonetheless surprised at their extent. He knew the area well from his London childhood, but had still not been in the area for some time, apart from driving through occasionally en route to Knightsbridge or South London via Battersea Bridge. The houses had all been, what is the expression, “gentrified?”

    It was common knowledge that this area now encompassed some of the most expensive chunks of residential real estate in the UK. Bars on most ground floor windows and prominent burglar alarm boxes on the outsides provided testimony to such. The inhabitants seemed a bit more “poncy” than when he last recalled as well, though perhaps he was being unduly harsh on the deliberate display of expensive “smart, casual” dress and an abundance of nubile, young things in designer jeans, “Ray Band” shades & “Gucci” accessories. Apart from a smattering of young studs, there appeared to be a sub-base of wealthy older men and much younger “trophy” wives/girl-friends.

    Liam approached the Worlds End Pub from the south, noting that refurbishment must have recently taken place and that it was now renamed, “The Worlds End Distillery and Restaurant,” under the patronage of the “Hall and Woodhouse Brewery.”

    God,” he thought, “Not another one of those South West London's overpriced, refitted Gastro pubs!”

    A small group of smokers caught bang to rights, gathered guiltily to one side of the front entrance like wildebeest ready to be moved on at the first scent of danger.

    Liam paused to read the glass covered transcript to one side of the front doors:
    • Quiz Night, Live music, Karaoke, Sky TV, Big screens (Two Plasma’s.)
    • Food served, Sunday roast, Real Ale, Cocktails.
    • Outside seating, Dogs allowed, (at Manager’s discretion.)
    • Children allowed, Credit cards accepted.
    • Function room for hire, Wireless internet access, Air conditioning.

    He entered. It was a modern stylish bar with, lots of chrome, even chandeliers on the ceiling and it was empty.

    The barman, who looked Mexican was busy on his laptop, surfing, whilst what looked like the cook stood aimlessly to one side in his whites.

    “Can I see the menu please,” asked Liam.

    The barman finished what he was doing, looked up and said, “Sorry, times up,” and snorted in the direction of the cook, who reciprocated with a snort of his own.

    “A pint of Speckled Hen then,” said Liam, taking it all in.

    “That will be four pounds, seventy.”

    “I asked for a pint of beer, not the bleeding deeds to this place!” responded Liam in some heat.

    Both men eyed Liam warily. He was big, with scar tissue around the eyes and looked like he could handle himself if push came to shove.

    “I’m sorry sir, that’s the price,” said the barman, now a bit less flippant in his manner.

    “Not sure how to deal with this one,” he thought. “Never seen him before around here & the bouncer don’t come on duty till later in the evening.”

    Liam took his drink to a corner table and looked around. Football was on the wall mounted TV’s, whilst the boy-band look alike staff went back to doing nothing.

    “Most probably they are backpackers passing through and rarely last,” he thought and then his eye was caught by an old print on the wall, albeit ensconced in a new frame, of a severe looking cove.

    He crossed one of his legs over the other, rested an elbow on each arm of his chair, and clasped his hands in front of him. A voice seemed to come to his head from the realms of eternity.

    “If this is the Worlds End young un, best let it tip over the edge!”

    Then the voice was gone. Liam finished his pint, rose and walked out looking neither to left nor right.

    The barman turned to his companion.

    “Elvis has left the building.” he said, and snorted.


    THE END.
    Last edited by MANICHAEAN; 04-23-2012 at 04:04 PM.

  5. #5
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    I found this to be a vivid and endearing portrait of a member of a economic group of folks customarily ignored by well-regarded authors of fiction. Of course there are exceptions, and they're great-- Dickens, of course, and the wonderfully sad story, "Clay" by James Joyce. In a moving way your story shows how rapid commercial change can affect people emotionally.

    I love how the British have such colorful names for pubs and inns. Place names are the best, as good as some of the names of little towns down south over here in the states. But old English towns-- "Cotswold-on-the Dee" (something- something- on-the -something) fascinate me. The title of your story reminded me of England's coastline place name, "Land's End."


    There are a couple really, really minor quibbles. Expressions such as "for the most part" in that line should appear at the beginning of the phrase about the window blinds. A hypen in "wall-mounted" in "wall-mounted TVs." For the past couple of decades, I've seen the nouns, such as CDs, VDRs, etc. formed by initials without the apostrophe. (Which is amusing, since some writers put apostrophes in simple, non-possessive plurals!) One thing I don't do anymore is put inverted quotes around single letters, as in "How many ls are in 'parallel'?"

    You'll have to take my word on this, but it's strictly a coincidence that today's posting for "Thirty Poems in Thirty Days" --a poor excuse for an Elizabethan sonnet --uses the word "costard." I hadn't read your story before writing it, but read it for the first time just now. The poem took me most of the day, but considerably less time than my "Casey at the Bat" parody, which took 14 hours on Saturday. I didn't mind-- but when I logged onto the LitNet just now, I see that nobody commented on it! Probably just as well.

    Now it's time to catch the second game of the Double-Header, with the Giants agin my beloved Mets.

    P.S. --Would you have happened to come across a reference (from late medieval England) of a
    married couple named "Darby and Joan"?
    Last edited by AuntShecky; 04-23-2012 at 08:52 PM.

  6. #6
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Dear Aunty

    Regards the Darby and Joan query.

    Nothing medieval that I can find.

    There are two versions regards the origin of the subject:

    1. An old couple who lived in Healaugh, near York in the UK, where Lord Philip Wharton (1613-1696), The Marquis of Wharton called them “The happy couple," in a poem. They were buried together in the village churchyard.

    2. A ballad that was supposed to have been written by Henry Woodfall, while an apprentice to Darby. The Darbys were printers time out of mind—one Robert Darby was probably an assistant to Wynkyn de Worde. The latter died in 1543 and had worked with William Caxton. The Woodfalls, too, can be traced up as printers for nearly two centuries. The Darby, and Joan, his wife, were probably John Darby, printer, in Bartholomew Close, who was prosecuted in 1684 for printing "Lord Russell's Speech," and died in 1704.

    Hope that helps.

    Regards
    M.

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    Thank you. The term "Darby and Joan" refers to an old married couple, settled in their ways, but still devoted to each other into their dotage. I was going to use the term for a poem set in Elizabethan times, but I see now that it would be an anachronism. Incidentally "Darby and Joan" show up in a song
    by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein III, and another one by Cole Porter.

  8. #8
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    A pity. It would have been good coming from your pen.

    We have in fact in the UK something called Darby & Joan Clubs for such couples.

    Might I then suggest as an alternative in another era:

    1. Abélard and Héloïse, persecuted 12th-century lovers.
    2. Atala and Chactas Indian lovers whose passion goes unconsummated.
    3. Aucassin and Nicolette a love story of 12th-century France.
    4. Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett, 19th-century love of one of the most celebrated of literary romances.
    5. Celadon and Astree, bywords for lovers in pastoral poetry.
    6. Ceyx and Halcyone who to perpetuate love, changed into kingfishers after the former’s drowning.
    7. Daphnis and Chloë, innocent though passionate love of two children.
    8. Deirdre and Noisi celebrated lovers of the Ulster Cycle.
    9. Edward VIII (1894–1972) and Wallis Warfield Simpson (1896—). British king abdicates throne to marry divorcee (1936).
    10. Helen and Paris, whose elopement caused the Trojan war.
    11. Hero and Leander love affair on the Hellespont tragically which ends with the latter’s drowning.
    12. Jacob and Rachel. He worked fourteen years to win her hand.
    13. Lescaut, Manon, and the Chevalier des Grieux who accompanies Manon to Louisiana when she is exiled for prostitution.
    14. Petrarch and Laura, lovers in spirit only.
    15. Rinaldo and Armida. Virgin witch seeks revenge but falls in love.
    16. Romeo & Juillet.
    17. Tristan and Iseult whose pact of undying love has tragic consequences.
    18. Yuri Zhivago and Lara. Passion between idealistic doctor and nurse during Russian revolution.

    Regards
    M.

  9. #9
    The puddytat you saw Hawkman's Avatar
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    I really enjoyed this, Man. A nice, tight little piece in two parts and neatly rounded off. Some great description and observation going on, although I did wonder at one point if you'd been paid to advertise the place - LOL. However, by the time I got to the end I was reassured that you hadn't!

    Live long and prosper - H
    Oh no, not again...

  10. #10
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    Thank you for your extensive list, Man.

    Certainly I will allude to some of them in my upcoming, though dementedly
    ambitious, epyllion, modeled on Shakespeare's over-the-top love story,
    "Venus and Adonis." (OMG-- I just committed myself. Maybe somebody should commit me.)

    I've read that Dante only saw his beloved Beatrice twice in his life, and both when they were little children. A favorite is Swift's love for his Celia, was that the chick's name? Me memory fails. Anyway, he makes fun of idealized courtly love, with the line "Celia -----!" (a crude and widely-employed term for "defecates.")

  11. #11
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    H
    After endeavouring to speculate on Adolf's mind in a former thread, I needed to find solace in a more balanced subject. What better than an English pub!

    Aunty
    When in doubt, revert to the refuge of another language. In this case, sanctuary may be sought in the French word "merde."

    Best regards to you both.

    M.

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