Thursday, November 10, 2011

Clouds of Witness cont

He leaned forward and stared into the grate.

“There's some burnt paper here, Charles.”

“I know. I was frightfully excited about that yesterday, but I found it was just the same in several of the rooms. They often let the bedroom fires go out when everybody's out during the day, and relight them about an hour before dinner.
Although central heating was in existence in the 1920s, it was very expensive. Most large homes therefore had fireplaces in the bedrooms for warmth, or, failing that, a hot water bottle would be placed at one’s feet, under the covers, or a bedwarmer (a metal container filled with hot coals) would be run underneath the sheets for a while to warm them.

There's only the cook, housemaid, and Fleming here, you see, and they've got a lot to do with such a large party.”

Lord Peter was picking the charred fragments over.

“I can find nothing to contradict your suggestion,” he sadly said, “and this fragment of the Morning Post rather confirms it. Then we can only suppose that Cathcart sat here in a brown study, doing nothing at all. That doesn't get us much further, I'm afraid.” He got up and went to the dressing-table.
The Morning Post, as the paper was named on its masthead, was a conservative daily newspaper published in London from 1772 to 1937, when it was acquired by The Daily Telegraph.

The expression "brown study" is old, dating at least from the sixteenth century. We’ve now lost the original meanings of both halves of the phrase and so it has long since turned into an idiom. Brown does refer to the colour, but it seems that in the late medieval period it could also mean no more than dark or gloomy and it was then transferred figuratively to the mental state. A study at that time could be a state of reverie or abstraction, a sense of the word that is long since obsolete.

The first example is a surprisingly modern-sounding bit of sage advice in a book called Dice-Play of 1532: “Lack of company will soon lead a man into a brown study”. (From Word Wide Words)

“I like these tortoiseshell sets,” he said, “and the perfume is 'Baiser du Soir'—very nice too.
'Baiser du Soir’ is French for “Kiss of the evening.”

New to me. I must draw Bunter's attention to it.
Wimsey often tels Bunter to flirt with the servants in the households where he is investigating a crime.

A charming manicure set, isn't it? You know, I like being clean and neat and all that, but Cathcart was the kind of man who always impressed you as bein' just a little too well turned out. Poor devil! And he'll be buried at Golders Green after all. I only saw him once or twice, you know. He impressed me as knowin' about everything there was to know. I was rather surprised at Mary's takin' to him, but, then, I know really awfully little about Mary. You see, she's five years younger than me.

When the war broke out she'd just left school and gone to a place in Paris, and I joined up, and she came back and did nursing and social work, so I only saw her occasionally.
Social Work has its roots in the social and economic upheaval wrought by the Industrial Revolution; in particular the struggle of society to deal with poverty and its resultant problems. Dealing with poverty was the main focus of early social work and therefore social work is intricately linked with the idea of charity work; but must now be understood in much broader terms. For instance it is not uncommon for modern social workers to find themselves dealing with the consequences arising from many other 'social problems' such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and age and physical/ mental ability discrimination. Modern social workers can be found helping to deal with the consequences of these, and many other social maladies, in all areas of the human services; and many other fields besides.

Whereas social work started on a more scientific footing aimed at controlling and reforming individuals; (at one stage supporting the notion that poverty was a disease) it has, in more recent times, adopted a more critical and holistic approach to understanding and intervening in social problems. This has lead, for example, to the re-conceptualisation of poverty as more a problem of the haves versus the have nots rather than its former status as a disease, illness, or moral defect in need of treatment. This also points to another historical development in the evolution of social work; evolving from a profession engaged more in social control to one more directed at social empowerment. That is not to say that modern social workers do not engage in social control (consider statutory child protection workers) and many, if not, most social workers would likely agree that this is an ongoing tension and debate.

The concept of charity goes back to ancient times, and the practice of providing for the poor has roots in many major ancient civilizations and world religions.

At that time she was rather taken up with new schemes for puttin' the world to rights and hadn't a lot to say to me. And she got hold of some pacifist fellow who was a bit of a stumer, I fancy.
Pacifism is the opposition to war and/or violence. The term "pacifism" was coined by the French peace campaigner Émile Arnaud (1864 - 1921) and adopted by other peace activists at the tenth Universal Peace Congress in Glasgow in 1901

Stumer is something bogus or fraudulent. In use since 1885–90; origin uncertain.

Then I was ill, you know, and after I got the chuck from Barbara I didn't feel much like botherin' about other people's heart-to-hearts, and then I got mixed up in the Attenbury diamond case—and the result is I know uncommonly little about my own sister. But it looks as though her taste in men had altered. I know my mother said Cathcart had charm; that means he was attractive to women, I suppose. No man can see what makes that in another man, but mother is usually right. What's become of this fellow's papers?”

“He left very little here,” replied Parker. “There's a cheque-book on Cox's Charing Cross branch, but it's a new one and not very helpful.
Cox is a fictional bank. Charing Cross denotes the junction of Strand, Whitehall and Cockspur Street, just south of Trafalgar Square in central London. It is named after the now demolished Eleanor cross that stood there, in what was once the hamlet of Charing. The site of the cross is now occupied by an equestrian statue of King Charles I. Since the second half of the 18th century Charing Cross has been seen as the centre of London. It is the primary of the central datum points for measuring distances from London along with the London Stone, Hicks Hall and the doors of St Mary-le-Bow church.

By the 17th century, bills of exchange were being used for domestic payments in England. Cheques, a type of bill of exchange, then began to evolve. Initially they were called drawn notes, because they enabled a customer to draw on the funds that he or she on account with a banker and required immediate payment.[10] These were handwritten, and one of the earliest known still to be in existence was drawn on Messrs Morris and Clayton, scriveners and bankers based in the City of London, and dated 16 February 1659.

In 1717, the Bank of England pioneered the first use of a pre-printed form. These forms were printed on "cheque paper" to prevent fraud, and customers had to attend in person and obtain a numbered form from the cashier. Once written, the cheque was brought back to the bank for settlement.

Until about 1770, an informal exchange of cheques took place between London banks. Clerks of each bank visited all the other banks to exchange cheques, whilst keeping a tally of balances between them until they settled with each other. Daily cheque clearing began around 1770 when the bank clerks met at the Five Bells, a tavern in Lombard Street in the City of London, to exchange all their cheques in one place and settle the balances in cash. See bankers' clearing house for further historical developments.

In 1811, the Commercial Bank of Scotland, it is thought, was the first bank to personalise its customers' cheques, by printing the name of the account holder vertically along the left-hand edge.[11] In 1830 the Bank of England introduced books of 50, 100, and 200 forms and counterparts, bound or stitched. These cheque books became a common format for the distribution of cheques to bank customers.

In the late 19th century, several countries formalised laws regarding cheques. The UK passed the Bills of Exchange Act in 1882, and India passed the Negotiable Instruments Act (NI Act) 1881; which both covered cheques.

In 1931 an attempt was made to simplify the international use of cheques by the Geneva Convention on the Unification of the Law Relating to Cheques. Many European and South American states as well as Japan joined the convention. Some countries, including the U.S. and members of the British Commonwealth, did not participate.

In 1959 a standard for machine-readable characters (MICR) was agreed and patented in the U.S. for use with cheques. This opened the way for the first automated reader/sorting machines for clearing cheques. As automation increased, the following years saw a dramatic change in the way in which cheques were handled and processed. Cheque volumes continued to grow; in the late 20th century, cheques were the most popular non-cash method for making payments, with billions of them processed each year. Most countries saw cheque volumes peak in the late 1980s or early 1990s, after which electronic payment methods became more popular and the use of cheques declined.

Apparently he only kept a small current account with them for convenience when he was in England. The cheques are mostly to self, with an occasional hotel or tailor.”
“Any pass-book?”
A passbook or bankbook is a paper book used to record bank transactions on a deposit account. Depending on the country or the financial institution, it can be of the dimensions of a chequebook or a passport.

Traditionally, a passbook is used for accounts with a low transaction volume, such as a savings account, and this is the term in which Wimsey uses it.
“I think all his important papers are in Paris. He has a flat there, near the river somewhere. We're in communication with the Paris police. He had a room in Albany.
Albany, Piccadilly, London – a Housing Development in the West End of London, initially designed by architect Robert Adam.

I've told them to lock it up till I get there. I thought of running up to town to-morrow.”

“Yes, you'd better. Any pocket-book?”
Men once carried coin purses, and the oldest known purse dates back more than 5000 years, and was worn by a man, Ötzi the Iceman. In early Modern Europe, when women's fashions moved in the direction of using small ornamental purses -- which evolved into handbags -- men's fashions were moving in another direction. Men's trousers replaced men's breeches during the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, and pockets were incorporated in the loose, heavy material. This enabled men to continue carrying coins, and then paper currency, in small leather wallets, called pocketbooks.

“Yes; here you are. About £30 in various notes, a wine-merchant's card, and a bill for a pair of riding-breeches.”

“No correspondence?”

“Not a line.”

“No,” said Wimsey, “he was the kind, I imagine, that didn't keep letters. Much too good an instinct of self-preservation.”

“Yes. I asked the servants about his letters, as a matter of fact. They said he got a good number, but never left them about. They couldn't tell me much about the ones he wrote, because all the outgoing letters are dropped into the post-bag, which is carried down to the post-office as it is and opened there, or handed over to the postman when—or if—he calls. The general impression was that he didn't write much. The housemaid said she never found anything to speak of in the waste-paper basket.”

“Well, that's uncommonly helpful. Wait a moment. Here's his fountain-pen. Very handsome—Onoto with complete gold casing.
Onoto was a brand of fountain pen manufactured by De La Rue until 1958. De La Rue had made their name as high quality printers, responsible for the printing of bank notes and postage stamps. They had printed British and Indian stamps since 1865 and had started printing bank notes in 1860. By the first few years of the 20th Century, the directors had recognised that they may not hold on to the UK postage stamp contract and were actively looking for other sources of income. It was not surprising then, that the opportunity to move into the pen manufacturing business was met with such enthusiasm.

Sweetser's pen was openly embraced by Evelyn Andros De La Rue, a Director of the company who himself had recently patented a similar pen. Recognising the opportunity which such an invention would give his company the patent was purchased from Sweetser. At the time, the insertion of ink into fountain pens was undertaken largely with eye-droppers and was, at best, a clumsy and time-consuming affair. By making the ink-filling operation simple, Evelyn De La Rue recognised that his company would have an overwhelming advantage over all other pen manufacturing companies at a time when there was huge growth in the use of fountain pens.

Onoto is still making fountain pens today.

Dear me! entirely empty. Well, I don't know that one can deduce anything from that, exactly. I don't see any pencil about, by the way. I'm inclined to think you're wrong in supposing that he was writing letters.”

“I didn't suppose anything,” said Parker mildly. “I daresay you're right.”

Lord Peter left the dressing-table, looked through the contents of the wardrobe, and turned over the two or three books on the pedestal beside the bed.

1 comment:

  1. I am just reading this book, and was curious about the "all my whiskers" phrase. A Google search brought me here. But maybe we'll never know what it means.