I have limited experience of this modern marvel that is called television. And for what it can deliver, I have to agree that it is a marvel, even if the word itself, a bastard hybrid of Latin and Greek offends me somewhat. I am, it would seem, not the only one to think so. I was quite surprised to discover that C.P. Scott, a journalist and politician from my own time, experienced this marvel, presumably after I left that particular timeline, and commented something along the lines of “Television? The word is half Greek, half Latin. No good can come of it.”
I have to disagree with the latter part, but perhaps he did not live to see all that it could offer in terms of drama, documentaries (these programmes about the natural world are quite stunning) and even comedy, although I lack the cultural context that would enable me to understand much of the latter. Among the offerings that this medium offers seem to be rather a large number of programmes (I believe that is the correct word, although it seems that Americans prefer programs) devoted to the construction, acquisition, remodelling, refurbishment, decoration and furnishing of houses and homes. Father would have perhaps enjoyed the construction programmes; although I think he might have disapproved of the fascination such things seem to hold for people who would not know one face of a brick from the other.
Mother would probably have enjoyed those programmes about decorating and furnishing. This latter was something she often sought my opinion on, when we would sometimes travel to London to browse the stores for such things. I do not know why. Perhaps she enjoyed the company, or perhaps she appreciated my contrasting, if less well informed, opinion. On music, poetry and literature, I can at least offer an informed opinion, but when it comes to soft furnishings and drapes and other such things, I could only offer an entirely subjective reaction. Perhaps that was all she needed. I was certainly happy enough to indulge her. I can almost hear her voice, commenting on the decisions made in some of these redecorating programmes and decrying their choice of colours or fabrics. Or perhaps she wouldn’t. While she was not a slavish follower of the latest fashions, she was well enough informed about them and understood the reasons for them, so she would probably have adapted well to the modern aesthetic.
One minor aspect of some of these programmes seems to involve the presenters, or possibly the potential buyers of a property, walking through and commenting on the use of the rooms. “This will make a great study” and “this would be ideal for the children’s bedroom” and such like. Now there I am on a firmer footing. Only a short while ago, my darling Gwyn summoned me to solicit my opinions with regard to our new official residence in Awenia, which opinions I was happy to supply, and she was seemingly happy to accept. Of course, we have both been somewhat busy since then, so implementation of those ideas is very much a work in progress. That is not an issue, since our private spaces are already established, and the more “public” areas of the castle are unlikely to be needed for a while.
In the meanwhile, I found myself attending to a similar task at another castle. My old home, the Castle of Mysthaven, is slowly reconstructing itself, albeit in a rather strange manner more reminiscent of a Perpendicular Gothic cathedral than a castle. Nevertheless, my castle is what it will be until such time as I can find a successor to the Lordship of Mysthaven. I took myself across the realms a few days ago, to see how things progressed. I did not encounter Aoibheann or my daughter, but I did meet with my stewards. They, much as Gwyn did recently, solicited my opinion of the allocation of function to the various rooms.
The entrance to the castle is suitably grand and imposing and will serve well as a general reception/waiting area, though obviously, it will need some furniture – bench seats, occasional tables and such like. A raised area, near the window, and at the bottom of the stairs looks like a good place to have informal meetings and discussions. A place for comfortable chairs and low tables, for chats with my stewards and people from the town over a pot of coffee and a few pastries. There was a large, impressive seat there. A magnificent construction of wood and leather, perhaps intended as some kind of throne. If I have to have a throne, I would rather something such as this than a gaudy affair of gilded, carved wood and red velvet. Maybe it will look better once in the proper place, rather than left here, presumably put down for some reason and not subsequently moved.
I was less pleased by the next room, which had a raised area at one side, clearly intended as some sort of dais for a throne, or possibly for an altar. I dismissed the latter out of hand, since I have no intention of taking up any religion for myself, much less imposing such on anybody else. For my personal preference, I would as soon dismiss the former idea out of hand too. I have no desire to sit upon a throne of any sort, much less hold audience from one in such a grand and imposing room. That said, much as the concept repels me, I can see there may be a necessity for such things. The people of Mysthaven are used to my informal ways, but visitors from elsewhere, even Faerie, may need to see the trappings of power and authority. Mornoth probably expects such things, and Bronwyn probably accepts the necessity, although I hope that what she will see is still her father, outside the formalities of court.
A semi-circular area off the throne room would serve well for gatherings and perhaps feasting and a more convivial setting for after the formal business of court. This should be a multipurpose area, and when not otherwise in use, will be a nice place to stand and look out over the town.
On the other side of the reception area, there are a couple of rooms that can be a meeting room, for more business-like meetings, and my office, for I should still have such in this new castle. Here I could receive visitors in a more private setting and sit and discuss matters of state, of trade, of treaties etc without the trappings of court. I could also have smaller formal meals here, which will be a little more cosy and comfortable than the main court room.
Up the stairs, of which there were many, were rooms that would serve well as guest quarters for those of my visitors I could not politely lodge at the tavern, and rooms that will serve well as my private chambers. I do not imagine that I will be spending a great deal of time here as my primary residence is always going to be the castle in Awenia, but, a Lord should have his private chambers, where I can retire from the business of being Lord of Mysthaven, and perhaps where I can receive more intimate guests, should I ever have any.
The vaults themselves do not seem to have changed that much. Maric’s laboratory looks pretty much as I remember it, as do the quarters for the men. I do not know why. Perhaps it is by design, but if that is so, then I might ask the question, as did Blake, “What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” It could be that the presence of the laboratory, and the aura of magic that surrounds it, have somehow protected them from change. Or, perhaps the process of change is not yet complete. For now, it is enough that there is some place familiar to me.
That logical part of my mind that was shaped by Father’s influence tells me that there should be further rooms to explore at the higher levels, especially given the height of the main tower, but I could not find any way to them. Perhaps, that too is a work in progress.
I did not see many others around the town. At the moment, the town seems subdued, quiet, with the townsfolk going about their business quietly scuttling from one place to another in case a building falls on their heads. Given the fluid mature of the realm, this is entirely possible and I can not blame them. They were pleased enough to see me, and some had questions regarding the disposition of the other buildings around the town square, but overall, they seemed as content as could be expected given the changes they are undergoing. My stewards have been doing an excellent job in my absence. Much as I would like to claim credit for that, they were already more than competent before I took the reigns. I would like to think, however, that they have learned something from me. Perhaps they have.
I gave further suggestions regarding the disposition and furnishing of the various rooms of the castle, and regarding the other buildings, but they were only suggestions. The townsfolk and my stewards have been a part of the town a lot longer than I have, and they likely know what is best. I took my leave then, and returned to Awenia and to my wife. There at least, although the castle is still new to me, is home.
A Room for Everything – 10,000 Maniacs