Thursday, October 25, 2012

Clouds of Witness, Chapter 6

“I am striving to take into public life what any man gets from his mother.”
Lady Astor

Nancy Witcher Astor, Viscountess Astor, CH, (19 May 1879 – 2 May 1964) was the first woman to sit as a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) in the British House of Commons.She was the wife of Waldorf Astor, 2nd Viscount Astor.

On the opening day of the York Assizes, the Grand Jury brought in a true bill against Gerald, Duke of Denver, for murder. Gerald, Duke of Denver, being accordingly produced in the court, the Judge affected to discover—what, indeed, every newspaper in the country had been announcing to the world for the last fortnight—that he, being but a common or garden judge with a plebeian jury, was incompetent to try a peer of the realm. He added, however, that he would make it his business to inform the Lord Chancellor (who also, for the last fortnight, had been secretly calculating the accommodation in the Royal Gallery and choosing lords to form the Select Committee). Order being taken accordingly, the noble prisoner was led away.

· · · · · · · · · ·
                A day or two later, in the gloom of a London afternoon, Mr. Charles Parker rang the bell of a second-floor flat at No. 110a Piccadilly. The door was opened by Bunter, who informed him with a gracious smile that Lord Peter had stepped out for a few minutes but was expecting him, and would he kindly come in and wait.
                “We only came up this morning,” added the valet, “and are not quite straight yet, sir, if you will excuse us. Would you feel inclined for a cup of tea?”
                Parker accepted the offer, and sank luxuriously into a corner of the chesterfield.

A couch or sofa, is a piece of furniture for seating two or more persons in the form of a bench, with or without armrests, that is partly or wholly upholstered, and often fitted with springs and tailored cushions. Although a couch is used primarily for seating, it may be used for reclining.

In homes, couches are normally found in the family room, living room, den, sitting room or the lounge. They are also found in hotels, lobbies of commercial offices, waiting rooms, furniture stores, etc.

The term 'couch' is used in North America, Australia, New Zealand,[4] and Ireland whilst the term 'sofa' is generally used in the United Kingdom. The word originated in Middle English from the Old French noun couche, which derived from the verb meaning 'to lie down'.[5] It originally denoted an item of furniture for lying or sleeping on, somewhat like a chaise lounge, but now refers to sofas in general.

Other terms synonymous with the above definition of couch are sofa, settee, chesterfield, divan, davenport, and canapé. The word sofa is from Turkish derived from the Arabic word suffa for 'carpet' or 'divan', originating in the Aramaic word sippa for 'mat'.[8] The word settee comes from the Old English word, 'setl', which was used to describe long benches with high backs and arms, but is now generally used to describe upholstered seating  

After the extraordinary discomfort of French furniture there was solace in the enervating springiness beneath him, the cushions behind his head, and Wimsey's excellent cigarettes. What Bunter had meant by saying that things were “not quite straight yet” he could not divine. A leaping wood fire was merrily reflected in the spotless surface of the black baby grand; the mellow calf bindings of Lord Peter's rare editions glowed softly against the black and primrose walls; the vases were filled with tawny chrysanthemums; the latest editions of all the papers were on the table—as though the owner had never been absent.

In grand pianos, the frame and strings are horizontal, with the strings extending away from the keyboard. The action lies beneath the strings, and uses gravity as its means of return to a state of rest.

There are many sizes of grand piano. A rough generalization distinguishes the concert grand (between 2.2 and 3 metres long, about 7–10 feet) from the parlor grand or boudoir grand (1.7 to 2.2 metres long, about 6–7 feet) and the smaller baby grand (around 1.5 metres (5 feet)).

All else being equal, longer pianos with longer strings have larger, richer sound and lower inharmonicity of the strings. Inharmonicity is the degree to which the frequencies of overtones (known as partials or harmonics) sound sharp relative to whole multiples of the fundamental frequency. This results from the piano's considerable string stiffness; as a struck string decays its harmonics vibrate, not from their termination, but from a point very slightly toward the center (or more flexible part) of the string. The higher the partial, the further sharp it runs. Pianos with shorter and thicker string (i.e. small pianos with short string scales) have more inharmonicity. The greater the inharmonicity, the more the ear perceives it as harshness of tone.

Inharmonicity requires that octaves be stretched, or tuned to a lower octave's corresponding sharp overtone rather than to a theoretically correct octave. If octaves are not stretched, single octaves sound in tune, but double—and notably triple—octaves are unacceptably narrow. Stretching a small piano's octaves to match its inherent inharmonicity level creates an imbalance among all the instrument's intervallic relationships, not just its octaves. In a concert grand, however, the octave "stretch" retains harmonic balance, even when aligning treble notes to a harmonic produced from three octaves below. This lets close and widespread octaves sound pure, and produces virtually beatless perfect fifths. This gives the concert grand a brilliant, singing and sustaining tone quality—one of the principal reasons that full-size grands are used in the concert hall. Smaller grands satisfy the space and cost needs of domestic use.

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