Biolog 1: ENTER THE IMAGINARIUM
Welcome! You've arrived in England.
"Well come on! Follow me!” says the lowly wormy worm tree.
Into the woods where the moss Muppets play.
And the bracken is yakkin’
And the trees are electric green.
Do you see that stone tower peeping through?
You do? Ha! Then you’ve found us and how do you do?
Eternally girly girl, lover of curlicue
Makes total sense
Well this is a Peta Panacea, the tonic if you will.
Needless to say: "Peter Pans" please join in the thrill
Sold on dolls, vintage toys, quirk collectors of cute, squeaky clean misfits,
crazy crafters, arty artisans, book worms, cat lovers as well
I trust you read the intro before I press the bell?
You did? Huzzah and Hooray!
The Imaginarium is now on its way...
Eternally girly girl, lover of curlicue
Makes total sense
Well this is a Peta Panacea, the tonic if you will.
Needless to say: "Peter Pans" please join in the thrill
Sold on dolls, vintage toys, quirk collectors of cute, squeaky clean misfits,
crazy crafters, arty artisans, book worms, cat lovers as well
I trust you read the intro before I press the bell?
You did? Huzzah and Hooray!
The Imaginarium is now on its way...
Ever since I was little I’ve had this gift - I can communicate with dolls with souls, charismatic cudbuds and other curious cute creatures. Cudbuds are those stuffed toys that you’ve hung on to ever since you were more or less born and loved to death so they are well worn and inebriated with your heartfelt whispers and soulful pillow talk till they have absorbed a life of their own. My cudbud started out a fluffy plush puppy when I was but a squashy pink marshmallow, pre Marcheline, back in the day...
Then the old boy ended up a baldy scruffy donkey with no name. I leaned on him a lot after Marcheline went missing and that’s probably why he got so worn out literally and figuratively. Now he’s ensconced on a chair in my studio with a vintage rescue bear. I have a reckless habit of rescuing bears from fairs and quirky cute things from car boot sales, charity shops etc when they wave wildly at me or yelp for help. As a pre-adored treasure rescuer I may also be guided by the dearly departed to go and salvage their precious (maybe not in monetary pence but sentimental sense) old things that have ended up in the junk trunk because nobody else in their tribe cared a toss but to toss. Then I get a sporadic inkling to charge off to a second hand establishment and lo and behold there is something super duper waiting for me to rescue. People present, may regard me odd way out but inside in I feel like I'm the lucky one, the one that sees the real deal, oh YES! You know what I mean?
I suppose you could say I’m a doll whisperer along the lines of horse whisperers, cat whisperers, elephant whisperers and so on. It’s a rare and special gift which some people possess. Maybe you do too? So because of this unique talent, I can exclusively bring you the never ending Cybiography of Royal Doll Town. In case you weren't aware of this major factoid, ever since the dawn of humans fashioning dolls out of all sorts of things from marrow bones to old rags, some doll makers, professional or otherwise, have been in possession of an inexplicable power of love to imbue a doll with a soul when they hand made it. Royal Doll Town is refuge for many a fait main (French for handmade) doll with a soul from the more polished traditional looking antique lady to the curious and quirky odd-bod ones devotedly created by a novice wanting to make a beautiful doll of their own, or for a loved one. You wouldn't find a mass produced plastic doll residing there, unless it was used for décor as we would use statuary, because plastic dolls have no souls, no life, and can only be decorative. Only dolls of a certain ilk, those imbued with a subtle “je ne c’est quoi?” have found their way there over time. You see, a doll inevitably ends up being loved till death, when their maker or guardian dearly departs, or it is forgotten about by the growing up of the child who adored it or it breaks and horror of horrors, may be thrown away or perhaps it is tragically lost like my beloved Marcheline. So for the most part the royal tower has become home to these disinherited old, forgotten, broken dolls and the discarded unconventional ones, to the spurned, rejected and neglected. Here their imperfection is perfection, their individuality a spirituality as it were, for there is beauty in broken, charm in chipped, character in cracked. Some dolls are extremely old, some newer, some adult looking, some super cute ranging in shape, size and design. But no matter what their appearance, they all possess an exuberance for life the likes of which I've never known before. They gleefully pursue all manner of arts, crafts and cultural undertakings. “We are ‘Palm-Hearts,’” the Queen enjoys reminding her citizens, “when love has been nestled in the palms of our makers and impressed upon the fabrics of our origins we have been born. We are forever grateful for the true value of handmade and being individual and that is why we are makers and our makings and undertakings are always in collaboration with our most cherished Mother Nature without whose bounty we would not have our county.” With a zest to make the best of things the dolls aim to please plants, insects, birds and animals with confectionery and couture in exchange for their by-products with which they can costume themselves, decorate their boudoirs and indulge their creative pursuits. A most successful mutual symbiosis exists here engendering an overall harmonious and happy hubbub of activity. The plethora of quirks and curiosities makes for a most entertaining society. A completely utopian and cuteopian place to which I was ever so ready to pack up my bags and move to if it weren’t for my big hulking presence and my seemingly boring old life back home in South Africa. Alas, like Giant Alice in the hole, well let’s just say Queen Marcheline ‘encouraged’ me to stay where I was until such time, if ever, I had acquired ‘the necessary where-with-alls' (as she diplomatically put it) to move literally nearer to her Queendom. She also pointed out the obvious, I guess, that Royal Doll Town is predominantly a colony for dolls, a ‘Dollony’, as she refers to it and clearly I do not fit the bill. So for the time being, I’m an interspatial correspondent of Royal Doll Town living abroad keeping you posted about things wherever you are for wherever you are is not too far in cyber space. I’ll post the Biologs as I write them and illustrate them as best I can. I’m forbidden to take photos at the tower, as its loco is top secret, so I’m afraid you’ll have to rely on my sporting artistic abilities to get the picture.
PS: This is me, pre Marcheline, with my sweet ever innocent sister (the angel whisperer) at my Belgian Grandparents' farm in Port Elizabeth, South Africa when we received these dolls for Christmas. Being a doll whisperer, I was rather disgruntled for that doll had no soul and never uttered one single word! It was only a few years later when visiting my British Grandparents in Cape Town, South Africa that I met and fell instantly in love with Marcheline.
Biolog 2: RDT A "BEAUCRATIC" QUEENDOM
Modus Operandi: "Beaucracy". "Beau" in French means "beautiful" and as you may already know: "Life is Beautiful". Queen Marcheline is an Aesthete through and through and an incurable romantic. The machinations of Marcheline abound and dictate the order of the day in Royal Doll Town. For instance, she declared with much fervour during the early days of the town’s inception: “I’m leaving out the "ur" in "bureaucracy". It’s so urrrrgh! Life is beautiful. By our lives we are beautiful so therefore we are a "beaucracy"! We simply must live beautifully!” She then proceeded to assign official "beaucratic" names to the Royal Founders which constituted their full "beautanical" names to be used for official purposes to impart a sense of delectable decorum. She titled herself: "Queen Marcheline Joi de Vivre Chrysanthemum" because she is so full of the joys of being alive and chrysanthemums are the official flowers of Royal Doll Town.
Let's face it chrysanthemums are the candy flowers of the natural Kingdom as they come in so many delicious colours and shapes and sizes. They are sublime - chrysantheYUM - yummy! Now, at Royal Doll Town, where they possess the secret revolutionary technology of petal preservation, the vast variety of chrysanthemums can be made into any texture and colour way of fancy plush fabric imaginable. Queen Marcheline almost exclusively wears floppy chrysanthemum fur mantles, fluffular petallic hats or pom-pommy wigs and chopines on her feet. For elegant official occasions she selects feathery Duke of Kent chrysanthemum fabrics which tend to be shades of white with a hint of the palest pink or a tinge of cream. She prefers this mode of attire in order to match and complement the King’s albino white feathers and she feels that the Duke of Kent chrysanthemum petals mimic his feathers superbly well. Setting aside the irresistible candy allure of yum mums and getting back to beautanical names; the Queen gave her darling everlasting husband the title: ‘King Fisher Filigrane Philosophique’ because he is so philosophical and officially endorses his stately paper works with water marks made from his soul searching metaphysical tears - ‘filigrane’ means ‘water mark’ in French. You see, when the King is so greatly and stately moved to tears he can metaphysically conjure forth an alchemical trade mark tear from his otherwise dry lachrymal glands. It is the current dire state of the planet earth that prompts these tears to flow so much more easily these days. It took a lot more effort in the older days prior to human overpopulation and suffocating pollution. Next the graceful mannequin received the title: ‘Libertine Laisser-Faire Lingerie Luminaire’ because she is so free spirited and enlightened and mostly sports filmy, boudoir ensembles which are an eclectic Bohème-Japonisme-Chinoiserie come Mary Quantish blend. The mandrake root manikin simply retained his name ‘Count Melancole Mandrake’ as it suited his solemn sombre air and the mysterious demeanour of his discreet engagement in his personal underground mission. Being verbose, these titles are reserved for formal proceedings and ceremonies where fanciful wording is called for. In general, Queen Marcheline considers herself more a queen of hearts and the wondrous arts, so she isn't overly ostentatious - bling ain't her thing. In fact, she finds regalia and royal pomp quite stressful but a necessary duty she can’t neglect and a tempting charm she simply can’t resist. Within the privacy of her own palace she can let down her guard, throw off her great big wigs, postiches and busbyish hats and go bare hair, her original painted black curlicue hairdo, but publicly she graciously guards the royal relish of her town. But if her royal wig unforeseeably were to blow off on a blustering gale day, while out chicken riding for instance, or she forgot to dress her head that day she wouldn't be overly perturbed. Capricious is delicious too.
Biolog 3: The Nebubbular of Beautannia you say?
When I arrived on the scene of Royal Doll Town, it threw a spanner in the works and Queen Marcheline had to quickly resolve my official position in the proceedings of things. I absolutely begged and pleaded and pitched and pitched for a purpose and place at court. Eventually, I ingeniously mapped out the cyber route for her. The idea of extending her Queendom to the limitless corridors, paths and nebulous nephological pockets of cyberspace greatly appealed to her especially if it meant she could reach out and embrace a whole new encrypted populace of satellite partisans swearing allegiance to beautify things. She was clueless about the internet and modern technology and the closest analogy she could fathom with regards cyberspace was derived from a splendid pictorial book in Libertine’s Library presenting multi-coloured photographs depicting breath-taking stellar nebulae. I think she somehow pictured cyberspace to be some sort of fandangled, spangled, candy coloured nebular with her new cyberspace cadet fans spectrally wafting calmly about on cotton candy clouds, stroking hirsute kittens, sampling heavenly pastel frosted cakes and sipping misty Crème de menthe cocktails, while being ethereally beautiful and doing ethereally beautiful things. This vignette evidently inspired her to conceptualize the expansion of her Dollony into a new dimension. She stood staring dreamily into space for hours, literally, as dolls can do that. She was musing and mapping out her great ambitions while I lay napping on Libertine’s chaise longue. Wait! What am I saying? There was no time for napping I was furiously taking notes and making sketches. The wheedling had paid off. I was just about to be gainfully employed as her Cybiographer. At last a real job! I had to look busy. The King swooped by and startled his dear wife’s reverie. “Oh my Love!” She enthused. “Imagine this,” and alluded to the stellar canopy, as it was quite night by now. “A grand and bubbly extension of my Queendom out there. A frothy milkshaky, municipalacey burgeoning majestically on the fringes of the Milky Way. A Xanadu with your beautiful thought bubbles.” She indicated moi. “You see, we truly do require a bubbly network of beautiful minds because the negative mental health of humans is affecting the well-being of the planet not to mention my Queendom! I need you people to cyber route your imaginations into one big great massive Nebubbular of Beautannia! And the Nebubbular of Beautannia could be part of the Common Health of Royal Doll Town!” She gleefully squealed and stared wide eyed at the King and I. The King, with an air of grace and intense philosophical stoicism which he perennially displays, dryly remarked: “My Darling, sorry to uh burst your bubble, as it were, but do we really need to include the Consumans into our schemata? Mightn’t they prove to be our downfall?” The Queen vexed and I perplexed: “I beg your pardon Your Majesty? The who are you talking about?” And His Highness tactfully explained to me that on account of the unbridled consumerism of humans, we were alluded to as "Consumans" by the Avian Reconnaissance Monitoring Earth Network. You see, the King has flown the skies for centuries and from his perspective, humans have gradually spread across the planet like an ugly cancerous growth decimating and disfiguring the once beautiful face of the planet. I was highly embarrassed and uncomfortable, as truth be told, I fitted the bill. Why oh why did I always want more stuff? Why is enough never enough? Why do the dearly departed get me to dash off and buy their old knick knacks? I jotted down an immediate mental note to self: transitioning Consuman. I was going to change my ways just as soon as I bought a new stepper machine and better vegetable juicer at least. The King regarded me straight in the eyes and asked: "Are you ever going to take stock?" I squirmed not knowing where to look. I remorsefully apologised and promised to improve my bad habits, all the time wondering if it was actually possible at all. Libertine had by now appeared upstairs like an angelic apparition in her lacy white garb silhouetted against the porcelain full moon. She had overheard my awkward apology. Being the compassionate, laissez-faire mannequin she is, she gave me a great shove against the shoulder and playfully scolded "YOU, are going to need a whole lot of buffing before you twinkle!" "I know. My Nebubbular!" The Queen looked anxious and equally doubtful.
I don’t think the King was entirely blown away by his wife’s new venture, but he let her get her way and she finally made me her official Cybiographer in order to get the Nebubbular machine up and blowing into the cyber world as it were. Initially she was perfectly sceptical of my writing abilities and artistic merits and inquired whether I was actually a professional artist or writer. I couldn’t very well fib, so I flouted the unremarkableness of an endless and aimlessly long professional painting or penning career amounting to nothing spectacular in favour of a fledgling novice one filled with hope and possibility because it was fuelled by passion and a heart pumping zest to create something special for her. Besides, who else was there? Her confounded glare gave way and she stringently remarked: “Very well, that will do, but I’m in charge.” “Naturally Your Majesty.” I replied and danced the mental funky chicken dance. Cluck cluck what LUCK! Finally I nailed that job! Although daunted by the King's severity and the nebulous description of my task at hand, it was going to be great. I could feel it. Rule Beautannia, Beautannia rule the world - well the Milkshakey Way at least! I can just catch a glimpse of it over Libertine's shoulder, way out there - Queen Marcheline's Nebubbular - a bedazzling bubbly fest of beautiful twinkling thoughts. Come and think for yourself - the view from here is Spectacular Stellarcular!
Biolog 4: REGALISED TITLES
When Queen Marcheline noted how exuberant I was about being her Official Cybiograher it set her off down another dreamy path and she waxed lyrical about how she thought it befitting for me to have an Official Beaucratic name. After much mental meandering and mulling over my details she regalised me thus: Within the realms of the Royal Doll Town Queendom there are four noteworthy official queens. Queen Marcheline is THE Queen of Queens of course, but there are also the two queen bees, Queen Bulbinella of Northern Hive House and her twin sister Queen Bulbarella of Southern Hive House. They are pretty much identical except for the way they wear their monogrammed medals and broaches. Queen Bulbinella always uses upper case 'B' and Queen Bulbarella always selects lower case 'b'. Otherwise it is pretty difficult to tell them apart. They are most unusual bees, being corally pink and fluffular but I'll relate their back story in another post, so make sure to buzz by again.
You'll also hear more of the termite queen, Queen Antwoinine, who is ensconced in Propylaeum Palace inside the roof cavity of the tower entrance portico. So those are the four noteworthy queens. As I mentioned previously, Queen Marcheline felt it prudent that I have a more royally suitable name and decided that I should be an honorary queen in name-without-claim, so much simpler than making me a dame with claim as I had yet to prove myself and I could not be granted residency at the tower as I am such a consumptive big nuisance to the system, what with having to eat, sleep, ablute and occupy so much space. You see, the dolls don’t eat, don’t have to contend with digestive repercussions and don’t have to sleep. Bypassing Maslow’s first rung of the hierarchical ladder of survival allows them to be so much more progressive and they kind of frown down on us needy-greedy-feedy folk. As you know, the King and the Avian Reconnaissance Monitoring Earth Network (A.R.M.E.N) disparagingly call us "Consumans". When I first sojourned at the tower I irritated the living daylights out of some of the citizens with my big cumbersome presence. The worst was when I accidentally trod on what felt like a matchbox but turned out to be the antique travel case of an eighteenth century doll containing all her prized possessions. Her stentorian lamentations were gut-wrenching and I don’t think I was ever really forgiven. So even though I turned out to be a godzillian nuisance to most, Queen Marcheline positioned me as the not so noteworthy but hopefully more trustworthy token fifth queen of nothing, with artistic license to make up everything and have the beautanical title of Re:gina c'est la V. She contrived this by taking my usual signature gina V and giving it a Marchelinese twist ‘regina’ of course means ‘queen’ and ‘V’ could be either the Roman numeral ‘5’ or the first letter of my surname. So there you have it, by Her Majesty’s decree. I haven’t had any occasion whatsoever to make use of it and probably never will, it's just that she's a stickler for detail, and truth be told, she can ramble on. These introductory Biologs can be somewhat of a marathon read and laborious to say the least, but that is what I was appointed to do and I'm only trying to do my job as best I can for in these days of uncertainty you certainly hang onto a good job when it comes along!
Biolog 5: TOWN PLANNING AND PRETTY PENNIES
Queen Marcheline’s Queendom is extremely organised, partly because dolls can devote more energy to it as they don’t have to continually put food on the table, water the veggie patch and chase after the chicken who insists on making salads out of your edible prize antique Flemish poppies. Also her Queendom is super duper efficient as there are four noteworthy queens in total and they have their feminine wiles and wits about them. Originally the town planning of Royal Doll Town was conducted by Count Mandrake as he had had major experience engineering his subterranean labyrinth, although he was strictly guided by Queen Marcheline’s back seat driving aesthetic directive with bits and pieces thrown in by the King, while Libertine pretty much played architect and engineer because of her innate papier-mâché sensibility. You see, the Parisian artist who fashioned her in his dishevelled and crammed attic atelier recycled papers from comprehensive old architectural and design tomes as well as botanical books and other intriguingly mysterious pages which provided her psyche with a wealth of information for psychic extrapolation and physical application. Then as soon as the inception and creation of the tower town commenced, the King was encouraged by his wife to meet with the creatures of the woods and begin setting up guilds and associations. Queen Marcheline strategically realized the need to engage the superlative industry of bird and insect and so trade relations began. By the time Libertine, on account of her large size, had most capably constructed the main infrastructures of the tower interiors, she was ably assisted by The Weaver Bird Company; The Woodpeckers, Bee and Termite Carpentry Guild; The Swallows and Termite Mud Builders Association and The Mason and Potter Wasp Society amongst others, to proceed with intricate detailing and crafting work according to the new royal subjects’ specifications as they moved in.
Two old prim dolls, one lady, one gentleman, who'd cohabited many a year with a certain shopkeepers’ daughters and were well versed in the agile art of wheeling and dealing were regalised with the names of Buyzantine and Sellbert and made head of Royal Marketing. They were very good at their new jobs and began creating most excellent trade relations with willing creatures in the neighbouring countryside. The Queen’s philosophy is: “Nobody is equal. You are unequally unique individuals. Remember your qualities forget your inequalities and embrace your positions in our society whole heartedly. You do not have to be queen to be regally seen.” By residing and abiding by the ethos of Royal Doll Town one is considered a sterling subject, but not in the sense of subjugation, more along the lines that you are actually a subject in the making and you need to create your own content and curriculum in accordance with your contentment. In other words, it is considered your royal prerogative to uphold Fair Beauty and Fait Main. “Life is beautiful. Life is what you make”, followed by: “Beautiful is elastic - make it your fantastic!” are probably the most ubiquitous Queen Marcheline by-lines. She tends to reiterate her by-lines a lot in order to urge her citizens to be creative par excellence pursuing their heart’s love and joy freely but their pursuits are not for free either. There is a complex monetary remuneration and bartering system involved, which is kept beautiful of course. One may be paid handsomely with pretty pennies forged by Nickeline and Aubert of the Royal Mint, or one may partake in fair trades of sweet treats (as gastronomy is an economy), even light hearted dealings in funny money and pinky-promise promissory notes.
Biolog 6: PERMANENT RESIDENCY
Perhaps a cat has dragged a homeless doll to Royal Doll Town. It happens every now and then, as plenty of local cats are in contact with RDT. You never know what your cat gets up to while you’re away do you? I mean, if you reside somewhere along the coast of Kent this could be your cat. You know what they say - when the mouse is away the cat will play dress up and cart an anxious abandoned doll to a safe place, where after a rigorous screening, said doll may be granted permanent residency and issued with an official Properlisting Card by the Queen Bees Bulbinella and Bulbarella. These coveted cards appropriately vary in size according to the scale of the resident as you could not possibly expect a teeny tiny penny doll to carry around an official document ten times bigger than herself could you? The cards are quite charming made of beeswax coated wasp-paper veneered to paper-bark with butterfly glue and have the Queen Bees’ properlis seals of approval at the top. The backsides of the cards are finely etched with: "The Terms, Mights and Mightn’ts" of being a resident and is officially bitten by the Termite Queen Antwoinine, not so much as a sign of indenturement but more as a mark of her dental record of authenticity. The Properlisting Card is like a title deed specifying the exact boudoir, apartment, nook or cranny which serves as a particular doll’s official abode and what their official role is. Every dwelling space and social position is meticulously documented, detailed and proportioned within certain gauges like an ideal Quetelet Index by the Bee Queens and their secretaries and sects committees. Their intrinsic knowledge of hive organisation makes them extremely good at the job.
Bears often try their luck at the secret back door, but as Royal Doll Town is predominantly a Dollony, they are cordially advised to seek out the Hundred Acre Wood and speak to Winnie or Piglet. Queen Marcheline flusters about an ursine over flow as there seriously is a stupendous amount of old bear souls bumbling around out there. It’s not to say the odd lone Cudbud hasn’t made its adorably tattered way into the populace of Royal Doll Town, because there are a few happily ensconced, especially if they arrived as the inseparable lifelong bestie of a doll from a disbanded Victorian nursery. It is paramount that the town be kept in balance and overpopulation never allowed. The bear facts I'm afraid. It's briskly off to Pooh corner for them. "Go on! Spit spot!" as the floaty Miss Poppins would say on a hurriedly windy day.
Biolog 7: A TWEEN and A PRE QUEEN BACK THEN...
Firstly Congratulations to QE 2 on her epic Swan Song - reign record breaker, woo hoo! QM is most impressed. We used to get so excited about celebrating QE 2's jubilees and such. We remember her 25th so well, whilst visiting my British grandmother, Lydia, in her small Victorian house perched above the rocks of Bantry Bay in Cape Town. Gran was a great fan of the queen and liked to dress like her in matching twin sets and smart lady hats. We would carefully collect the silver jubilee stamps that arrived by post from England. Then we would dress my Gran up as the Queen, eat cucumber sandwiches, drink copious cups of tea and curtsey till the cows came home, and round it all off with whispered conversations about Marcheline's secret history, her royal affiliations and how she came to be in our family. Maybe one day you'll read all about it in a book, but until then, mum's the word.
That was back in the day when it was me, a tween and Marcheline and Choquet The Cat. We were the three inseparables. Sometimes my sister, the angel whisperer, would tag along, but she found us a puzzle and would prefer making puzzles instead. She puzzled about our meandering philosophical discussions. For instance, the first time we heard the ditty "Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a dream," we panicked. We were catatonic, especially Choquet. What if we were in Somebody's dream? What would happen to us when they abruptly awoke and who exactly was this Somebody? We spent days in the rock garden discussing it. It was an epic marathon debate with an open ended conclusion and that's why my sister prefers puzzles, she couldn't stand the boredom any more. We three inseparables would spend ages admiring the miracle of flowers and butterflies and nature. Choquet was a tad deviant though. We had to turn a blind eye if we noticed the tip of a wing (butterfly or bird) residual in the corner of his mouth. We also spent a catrillion (nebulous feline measurement) convos trying to reason the savageness of the food chain. Marcheline was superior, as she doesn't have to eat and would look down her nose at Choquet and me and roll her eyes and shake her head and tisk tisk. As I've mentioned before, she's an incurable romantic, an Aesthete, an idealist and a brilliant Queen with a heart of gold who has this grand plan for humans to respect their the world instead of consuming it and to beautify their thinking aka her vision of The Nebubbular of Beautannia. How I wish it were so...
Biolog 8: QUEEN MARCHELINE'S "ines"
Another Queen Marcheline machination upon establishing her court was her insistence upon awarding her new citizens or more accurately "citizines" with regally befitting names devised by her as they arrived at court. The development of the town-court was an organic evolution. A doll or more would arrive and be thoroughly screened to make sure that he/she/they resonated with the spirit of Royal Doll Town. Initially various Royal Departments had to be organized and the King, the Queen, the Count and Libertine would decide the most apt position for the new royal subject, whereupon Queen Marcheline would pronounce a nomenclature most befitting the doll. The first officially appointed dolls were presented with names ending in ‘ine’ for ladies and ‘bert', pronounced ‘bear’, for gentlemen. The suffix word ‘bert’ signifies light and with Queen Marcheline being very much into the lightness of being this suited her very much. She had resorted to employing French sounding names simply because after all her years residing as a chair at the Palace of Versailles she adored the sound of French names. Queen Marcheline is quite ‘Franglish’ - a blend of French and English. This is because of her starting out as a Versailles chair and ending up a royal English doll. Also, owing to its location on the Kentish coast of England, the tower of Royal Doll Town is but a waifish body of water away from France, so consequently there is a lot of cross pollination in the mix, especially with birds flying to and fro over the Channel.
Now to sneak in a snippet of back story from our history together: when I was young and madly in love with Marcheline and we did everything together, one of the things we found most quirky and cute was when my father, the Hairy Captain, related the names of his cousins back in Belgium. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, my father was born in Belgium and my mother was born in England and they stumbled upon each in South Africa where their families had relocated to following the devastation of the Second World War in Europe. My father was born into that war and spent the first years of his life terrified and half starved hiding in bunkers while the bombing went on. When he was a bit older but not ever fully recovered from the evils of war, he loved to spend time with his eleven cousins who were relegated to the commodious attic of their farm house. Naturally chaos and naughtiness reigned supreme up there under the chunky hand planed wooden trusses and dormer windows spilling golden summer honey sun and aromas of fresh cut grasses into the open plan room brimming with bunk beds bundled with patchwork blankets and Grandma's Flemish lace. If only Nanny McPhee had been fluent in Flemish she may well have infused the confusion with some semblance of sense. One thing about that rowdy crowded chaotic collection of Belgian cousins that was ordered though, was their names. The boys were called Gilbert, Noribert, Albert, Floribert, Robert, Hilderbert and Adelbert and the girls were called Odette, Evette, Antoinette and Bernadette. When Marcheline and I heard of this we found the uniform device of naming the dozen less one quite fabulous and would debate at length whether we preferred French girls names ending in ‘ette’ or ‘ine’ the best. Evidently the ‘ines’ won at the end of the day, which isn’t too surprising as that’s what the Queen’s name ends in. Anyhoo back to the palace. Once the formal positions were all filled and the Queen had tired of this quirk, for she can get bored easily, there was a relaxation of the practice. The change happened most notably with the arrival of the first social butterfly, Madame Betsy Butterfly. Not only is a doll’s royal name generally suffixed with an ‘ine’ or ‘bert’ but it also provides an indication of which Royal Department a doll oversees. For example, the Royal Head Dressers are Madeline Moptop and Norbert Noodledoo. The Royal Make-up Artists are Rougerine Jolie and Talcbert Poef de Poudre. The Royal Seamstresses are Bombazine, Velvetine, Elastine, Crimpline and Satine while Mrs Zippy joined at the time of the Social Butterflies as there was an enormous amount of zips needing stitching and sew on… and so on… There are soooo many dolls and departments that it could take me a season of siestas with you snoozing all the way through to explain it all in one go. But if you keep peeking in for nibbles and cat naps we may just manage and you might just snuggle very cosily in to the royal scheme of things around here. So pop back soon for another snack and a snippet!
Biolog 9: The King and I
The King and I were born in South Africa a few centuries apart. He was born an extremely rare albino giant kingfisher in 1688 and grew up to be an expert fisherman fishing the magnificent unspoilt coastal pools of the bay of the Cape of Good Hope. That was when the first European settlers started arriving in fantastical ships unlike anything he'd ever seen before. Most intrigued by the mysterious strange new people, he decided to stow away on board a ship returning back to Britain, much to his dear mother's chagrin, and embark on an epic and audacious adventure. At sea, he experienced an exciting series of escapades, the most perilous of which was almost being devoured by a scurvy ravaged sailor on the last leg of the journey. Fortunately, he managed to fly ashore and land safely in Kent. After surreptitiously rambling around and reconnoitring the lie of the land at that historic time, he encountered Count Mandrake, the magical mandrake root manikin, equally surreptitiously rambling around the English country side. Naturally they became best friends, as you know, because you read ABOUT it and how he came to be on his last legs and then get his new legs, yes? Perhaps one day you'll get to read a more detailed embellishment of their intrigues in an epistolary or epic scholarly researched book, depending on which format the Queen decides upon. Otherwise, the King is Head of the Avian Reconnaissance Monitoring Earth Network aka A.R.M.E.N and spends most of his time consorting with birds to discuss the plight of the planet at large. He receives messages about the state of affairs across the globe from the migratory birds. Currently there's not much good news at all as far as we Consumans are concerned. Sadly we're NOT in their good books!
The King is an international connoisseur of books with good looks and reads and is guardian of The Book of Bird, an ever expanding set of volumes begun centuries ago. Today the latest copies are beautifully hand written by the King’s official Royal Calligrapher, a commanding wooden doll called Berdine Blotbottom who has whale travelled the world. Her wooden hand made whale is named Captain Will. He has legs so he's also land worthy. Berdine now limits her whale riding to weekends partly because she was getting annoyed with having a soggy sea bottom all the time and partly because she now writes for the King most of the time. Berdine is completely fluent in Bird. The Book of Bird books, hardly bigger than match boxes, are beautifully bound with chocolate habanero chilli leather and stored in an extra special library in the King’s Palace. This has to be the most fascinating book collection in all the world, unfortunately I haven't been privy to any of its content, as the ruling founders don't believe I'm "quite of the right ilk as yet". The delicate pliable yet strong golden orb spider silk pages are scribed with teensy tiny twiggy text legible to birds and Berdine but totally unfathomable to humans. The scripts are recorded tales from birds from all over the world for they are the true truth seekers and tweeters of our world wide web of intrigue and human league of confusion and corruption. Each precious book, once completed, is watermarked with a solitary sad tear discharged by the King to make it official. This practice inspired his wife to honour him with the beautanical name, Filigrane meaning ‘watermark’ in French. It's heart breaking to see the King so sad. What can we do Consumans?
Biolog 10: Of Mice and Mannequin
Libertine the mannequin is approximately 1,6m tall with willowy and graceful limbs. She was made by a Parisian artist at the onset of La Belle Époque and so possesses a great fondness for the Art Nouveau Style although one could say she's veered more to the Mary Quant quarters over time until this very day. She has a penchant for go-go boots in exotic mushroom leathers and wears all sorts of wigs as she's bald. It's said the papers saturated to make the papier-mâché that moulded her were torn from old weathered books on architecture, art, design, natural history and botany and that's why she's got a keen eye for design, an affinity with nature and the most amazing intrinsic knowledge. It's said her maker’s particular blend of resinous glues used in her paper clay creation possessed a peculiar ageing property that imbued her very pliable and not at all stiff as one might suppose a mannequin to be. She is the Savoir-Faire of the town and when she feels so inclined, she will call for a conversation evening in her Salon situated in the Southern Greenhouse where her chaise longue is kept. All the sage and savy, cultured and coutured and even those downright rowdy, ridiculous and rambunctious congregate for sublime T’s (talks). When she was at the height of her career as a mannequin in that renowned London department store, she would overhear the overly posh and trendy socialites bragging about their invitations to 27 rue de Fleurus during their Parisian excursions and escapades. It sounded so exquisite. It fired her imagination. If Gertrude Stein could salonnière then why shouldn’t she? Indeed why not? With her inherent knowledge and trendy personality, she certainly has a knack and a flair for it.
During her most unpleasant sojourn in that department store's storeroom she had befriended generations of field mice who brought her gifts of seeds and pips in exchange for tickles and Tai massages. Mice are nice when you know what tickles their fancy and the mannequin had them all figured out. The mice would present her with beautifully packaged seeds. She loved watching them germinate into tiny sprouts before her eyes for she could meditatively scrutinize them for days on end without taking a break, because as you know, the only break she ever had was when her nose was damaged in the department store brawl. Being papier-mâché, she doesn’t need to eat or sleep. She only needs to fuel her soul contemplating the miracle of life. The mice would return and plant her delicate seedlings in the nearby gardens and fields and when they'd fulfilled their towering ambitions, the mice would shower Libertine with their flowers. She'd relish and cherish them and then dry them out for potpourri as an antidote for the stale stuffiness of the store room. Over the decades she learnt a lot about plants and flowers and had a particular penchant for heirloom seeds. Now that she is resident in Royal Doll Town she continues with her study of plants, flowers, biology, nature and design. She has a bursting library of books, a well-stocked bank of seeds and a herbarium. Her personal mission, to stock and guard as many traditional seeds in her bank as possible is even more driven since she learnt about the heinous practice of genetically modifying seeds, effectively ruining an ecology that nature took millions of years to establish and eliminating self seeding plants. Iniquitous is the bid of big corporation to own seed production and deprive people of ground root level of sustenance. Natural seeds, free to everyone, are enormous treasures in Libertine's department-store dummy opinion and I concur, don't you? The first magical night I spent at RDT, Libertine leant me her bed. I was so inebriated with the beauty and detail of it all that I felt compelled to live there forever. However, it became clear as the hours and night drew on, that my presence was presenting a nuisance. The Throne Room, which was the original ‘water closet’ for the Marcellos, still operates with running water supplied from a spring well and pump system, so I was able to use it. However, Paulo Pavonazzo, the magnificent albino peacock resident in the rest room was most offended whenever he was ushered out so I could use the toilet. I would hear him muttering and gesturing in irate Italianate expletives and such to Dolores the taxidermied Dodo in the bathtub. She was equally riled by the inconvenience of my presence and emphatically dictated that on no account would I be using her bath tub. The notion of not bathing for days was not on my cards, so my trip was cut short particularly after tripping over the carousel carts in the stairwell and leaving some dolls perilously dangling and hanging over the edges. I immediately rescued them and restored them to the safety of the landing, but that was not much appreciated. Neither was my stepping on the little doll’s portmanteau, leaving crumbs in Libertine’s bed, wolfing down a packet of terrible raw peanuts that were in retrospect actually some prized heirloom seeds and accidentally sitting on Doorine, the antique stuffed dormouse who safeguards Count Mandrake’s back door, when she was going to exchange dolls-house books in the nursery library at Marzipan Mansion.
Their agitation was an immediate signal to me that any romantic premise I had had of perhaps permanently ensconcing myself at the tower was not going to happen. Queen Marcheline strategically repeated that: “If there were any way I could build you a Marzipan Mansion at the tower I would but somehow... er... you don’t really fit in. I mean not that you don’t fit in, you fit in but you’re just well... too big! And there’s nothing anyone can do about that is there?” She exchanged knowing looks with the co-founders. I noticed Count Mandrake seemed a bit uncomfortable. I looked him in the eyes and he looked away. Something never quite adds up with the Count. I hid my upset, my feelings of rejection and the humiliation of the situation. I apologized for my inconvenience, assured them I had written plenty of notes, scribbled umpteen sketches and committed virtually an entire scrapbook of mental snapshots to memory which should keep me going. “Going being the operative word,” I joked gathering together my scattered collection of papers, pens and notebook, “besides, I suppose I’d better get back to my ordinary everyday obligations anyway.” Their relief was palpable and did my esteem no good whatsoever, but I suppose it made me more determined to prove myself to them. Presently, when I was adieu-ing and all that jazz, Libertine gripped my little finger and secretly slipped a delicate pink scroll into my palm. I tearfully departed. With blurred vision I scrabbled through the dense prickly holly and ivy which protectively surrounds the tower, sustaining scratches and puncture wounds on my fight through. I stopped in the less vicious company of trees further on, to check what I was clutching. It was a pinky-promise promissory note. It read "Your Lifetime’s worth of Life Lessons, with Love, Libertine."
Categories and Cats (Off the record - Not an official Biolog...)
Yesterday we spoke about Libertine and her penchant for salon in what happened to be the tenth Biolog, and two interesting facts have surfaced post script. Firstly, the Weebly Blogging System seems to allow only nine categories which means I can't continue with the chronological Blue Link List to the right. Oh what to do? (I shouldn't think the Queen'll be pleased. Knowing her, she'll send a delegation to Weebly HQ to kick up a fuss!) Nevertheless, secondly, cats have nine lives but do they like to talk about them and wax lyrical at say a salon?
You see, goldfish LOVE to salon. Way way way more interesting than swimming in circles all day, is to talk in circles and cats can seem so captivated the way they catatonically stare at you through the bowl...
So what trickety trick to do? Firstly, I'm going to add sub pages to the ABOUT page and paste 10 Biologs a page, enabling new fans to read them in order instead of using the confusing up-down yo-yo mechanism of blogging which Queen Marcheline finds so daft. And FYI, cats don't like to salon which is why you'll find the goldfish are gone - yum's the word!