Monday, March 5, 2012

Clouds of Witness ch 4 cont

Sunday afternoon. Parker had gone with the car to King's Fenton, with orders to look in at Riddlesdale on the way and inquire for a green-eyed cat, also for a young man with a side-car. The Duchess was lying down. Mrs. Pettigrew-Robinson had taken her husband for a brisk walk. Upstairs, somewhere, Mrs. Marchbanks enjoyed a perfect communion of thought with her husband.

Lord Peter's pen gritted gently over the paper, stopped, moved on again, stopped altogether.
Fountain pens grit, as opposed to biros – ballpoint pens – which don’t.
A ballpoint pen is a writing instrument with an internal ink reservoir and a sphere for a point. The internal chamber is filled with a viscous ink that is dispensed at its tip during use by the rolling action of a small sphere. The sphere, usually from 0.5 mm to 1.2 mm in diameter, may be made of brass, steel, tungsten carbide, or any durable, hard (nondeformable) material.

The manufacture of economical, reliable ballpoint pens arose from experimentation, modern chemistry, and the precision manufacturing capabilities of 20th century technology. Many patents worldwide are testaments to failed attempts at making these pens commercially viable and widely available. The ballpoint pen went through several failures in design throughout its early stages.

The first patent on a ballpoint pen was issued on 30 October 1888, to John Loud, a leather tanner, who was attempting to make a writing instrument that would be able to write on his leather products, which then-common fountain pens could not do. Loud's pen had a small rotating steel ball, held in place by a socket. Although it could be used to mark rough surfaces such as leather, as Loud intended, it proved to be too coarse for letter writing and was not commercially viable.

In the period between 1904 and 1946 particularly, alternatives or improvements to the fountain pen were invented. Slavoljub Eduard Penkala invented a solid-ink fountain pen in 1907, a German inventor named Baum took out a ballpoint patent in 1910, and yet another ballpoint pen device was patented by Van Vechten Riesburg in 1916. In these inventions, the ink was placed in a thin tube whose end was blocked by a tiny ball, held so that it could not slip into the tube or fall out of the pen. The ink clung to the ball, which spun as the pen was drawn across the paper. These proto-ballpoints did not deliver the ink evenly. If the ball socket were too tight, the ink did not reach the paper. If it were too loose, ink flowed past the tip, leaking or making smears. Many inventors tried to fix these problems, but without commercial success.

László Bíró, a Hungarian newspaper editor, was frustrated by the amount of time that he wasted in filling up fountain pens and cleaning up smudged pages, and the sharp tip of his fountain pen often tore the paper. Bíró had noticed that inks used in newspaper printing dried quickly, leaving the paper dry and smudge free. He decided to create a pen using the same type of ink. Since, when tried, this viscous ink would not flow into a regular fountain pen nib, Bíró, with the help of his brother George, a chemist, began to work on designing new types of pens. Bíró fitted this pen with a tiny ball in its tip that was free to turn in a socket. As the pen moved along the paper, the ball rotated, picking up ink from the ink cartridge and leaving it on the paper. Bíró filed a British patent on 15 June 1938.
He leaned his long chin on his hands and stared out of the window, against which there came sudden little swishes of rain, and from time to time a soft, dead leaf. The Colonel snored; the fire tinkled; the Hon. Freddy began to hum and tap his fingers on the arms of his chair. The clock moved slothfully on to five o'clock, which brought tea-time and the Duchess.
Afternoon tea, is a small meal snack typically eaten between 2pm and 5pm. The custom of afternoon tea originated in England in the 1840s. At the time, the various classes in England had a divergence in their eating habits. The upper classes typically ate luncheon at about midday and dinner (if not eschewed in favor of the later supper) at 8:00 pm or later, while the lower classes ate dinner at about 11:00 am and then a light supper at around 7:00 pm.

For both groups, afternoon tea filled a gap in the meals. The custom spread throughout the British Empire and beyond in succeeding decades. However, changes in social customs and working hours mean that most 21st Century Britons will rarely take afternoon tea, if at all.

Traditionally, loose tea is brewed in a teapot and served with milk and sugar. The sugar and caffeine of the concoction provided fortification against afternoon doldrums for the working poor of 19th and early 20th century England who had a significantly lower calorie count and more physically demanding occupation than most westerners today. For laborers, the tea was sometimes accompanied by a small sandwich or baked good (such as scones) that had been packed for them in the morning. For the more privileged, afternoon tea was accompanied by luxury ingredient sandwiches (customarily cucumber, egg and cress, fish paste, ham, and smoked salmon), scones (with clotted cream and jam) and usually cakes and pastries (such as Battenberg, fruit cake or Victoria sponge).

In hotels and tea shops the food is often served on a tiered stand; there may be no sandwiches, but bread or scones with butter or margarine and optional jam or other spread, or toast, muffins or crumpets. Nowadays, a formal afternoon tea is usually taken as a treat in a hotel or tea shop. In everyday life, many Britons take a much simpler refreshment consisting of tea (and occasionally biscuits) as one of many short tea breaks throughout the day.

While visiting Belvoir Castle, Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford, is credited as the first person to have transformed afternoon tea in England into a late-afternoon meal rather than a simple refreshment.

Isabella Beeton, whose books on home economics were widely read in the 19th Century, describes afternoon teas of various kinds: the old-fashioned tea, the at-home tea, the family tea and the high tea and provides menus.

High tea
High tea (also known as meat tea) is an early evening meal, typically eaten between 5pm and 7pm. It is now largely followed by a lighter meal later in the evening.

High tea typically consists of a hot dish such as fish and chips, shepherd's pie, or macaroni cheese, followed by cakes and bread, butter and jam. Occasionally there would be cold cuts of meat, such as ham salad. Traditionally high tea was eaten by middle to upper class children (whose parents would have a more formal dinner later) or by labourers, miners and the like when they came home from work. The term was first used around 1825 and high is used in the sense of well-advanced (like high noon, for example) to signify that it was taken later in the day.

In its origin, the term “high tea” was used as a way to distinguish it from afternoon tea. It is stated that the words 'low' and 'high' refer to the tables from which either meal was eaten. Afternoon tea was served in the garden where possible; otherwise it was usually taken in a day room, library or salon where low tables (like a coffee table) were placed near sofas or chairs generally (hence the fallacy about it being low tea). Most quality hotels in Britain serve afternoon tea, frequently in a palm court, and more recently have offered the option of champagne instead of tea.

“How's Mary?” asked Lord Peter, coming suddenly into the firelight.

“I'm really worried about her,” said the Duchess. “She is giving way to her nerves in the strangest manner. It is so unlike her. She will hardly let anybody come near her. I have sent for Dr. Thorpe again.”

“Don't you think she'd be better if she got up an' came downstairs a bit?” suggested Wimsey. “Gets broodin' about things all by herself, I shouldn't wonder. Wants a bit of Freddy's intellectual conversation to cheer her up.”

“You forget; poor girl,” said the Duchess, “she was engaged to Captain Cathcart. Everybody isn't as callous as you are.”

“Any more letters, your grace?” asked the footman, appearing with the post-bag.

“Oh, are you going down now?” said Wimsey. “Yes, here you are—and there's one other, if you don't mind waitin' a minute while I write it. Wish I could write at the rate people do on the cinema,” he added, scribbling rapidly as he spoke. “'Dear Lilian,—Your father has killed Mr. William Snooks, and unless you send me £1,000 by bearer, I shall disclose all to your husband.—Sincerely, Earl of Digglesbrake.' That's the style; and all done in one scrape of the pen. Here you are, Fleming.”

The letter was addressed to her grace the Dowager Duchess of Denver.
• • • • • • • • • •
From the Morning Post of Monday, November —, 19—:

“Abandoned Motor-cycle
“A singular discovery was made yesterday by a cattle-drover.
A drover in Australia is a person, typically an experienced stockman, who moves livestock, usually sheep or cattle, "on the hoof" over long distances. Reasons for droving may include: delivering animals to a new owner's property, taking animals to market, or moving animals during a drought in search of better feed and/or water. Moving a small mob of quiet cattle is relatively easy, but moving several hundred head of wild station cattle over long distances is a completely different matter

He is accustomed to water his animals in a certain pond lying a little off the road about twelve miles south of Ripley. On this occasion he saw that one of them appeared to be in difficulties. On going to the rescue, he found the animal entangled in a motor-cycle, which had been driven into the pond and abandoned. With the assistance of a couple of workmen he extricated the machine. It is a Douglas, with dark-grey side-car.

The number-plates and license-holder have been carefully removed. The pond is a deep one, and the outfit was entirely submerged. It seems probable, however, that it could not have been there for more than a week, since the pond is much used on Sundays and Mondays for the watering of cattle. The police are making search for the owner. The front tire of the bicycle is a new Dunlop, and the side-car tyre has been repaired with a gaiter. The machine is a 1914 model, much worn.”

“That seems to strike a chord,” said Lord Peter musingly. He consulted a time-table for the time of the next train to Ripley, and ordered the car.

“And send Bunter to me,” he added.

That gentleman arrived just as his master was struggling into an overcoat.

“What was that thing in last Thursday's paper about a number-plate, Bunter?” inquired his lordship.

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