Treacle and Ink

May 9, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — adrian @ 4:51 pm

The phone woke me at midday today. I was deep in a dream, surfacing through layers of sleep to the insistent ringing. I reached out my hand and picked up the receiver.

“Hello?”
“Hello darling!” It was the voice of my editor, Charlie. Seems like half a lifetime since I last spoke to her.
“Oh,” I said, “hi.”
“Darling,” she said, “I’ve just seen finished copies. They’re magnificent. You should be very proud of your clever self!”
“I, um”. If a question mark could be pronounced, it would be the sound I made.
“Second novels are so hard, sweetie. And this is such a cracker. You’ve done wonderfully well!”
“Charlie,” I said, hoisting myself up in bed, “what are you talking about?”
“Your book, darling, your wonderful book! I’m putting copies on a bike to you now, and you can see for yourself!”

I didn’t question anymore. Something had happened but it didn’t seem to be imminently threatening to either my body or my mind, so I drifted back to sleep again, only to be woken when the motorbike courier arrived at my door.

Apparently, I’ve written my second novel. At least, according to Penguin I have.

http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780141885025,00.html

And in the front of the copy I’d been sent, written in a hand that looked very familiar to me, were the following lines:

“In a wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream–
Lingering in the golden gleam–
Life, what is it but a dream?”

I think it must be the final gift from Thomas and Hattie. They’ve written themselves into a book, and made a place to live in it. I hope they’re happy there – by the sound of the book, they are.

Like Dr Doom, they seem to be becoming more fictional by the moment. When I went outside to stand in the sun I noticed that the sign above the door has changed. The bookshop’s called Marsh-Ayre and Klein Books now. I think it’s mine. Although I find I have a lot of ideas for novels bubbling up inside me. More than I’ve ever had before. It’s like a dam has broken in me, and all the ideas are flowing. So if the shop’s really mine, I might leave Jacques to run it while I get on with writing. And Dorcas seems like the perfect person to run the antiques shop.

I went to see Hattie in the hospital again this afternoon. Or at least, I tried to. When I arrived at the ward I’d found her on before, she wasn’t there. I asked one of the nurses for help.
“I’m looking for a red-haired woman? Hattie Loon? She was in a coma?”
The nurse looked surprised. She laughed.
“Red-haired woman in a coma? But that’s just a story some of the nurses tell!”
I thought for a moment.
“How does the story end,” I said, “when they tell it?”
“She wakes up,” said the nurse. “The red-haired woman wakes up when her lover realises that he’s in love with her. That was all she was waiting for. And they go and live together far away. But it’s just a story.”
“Yes,” I said, “just a story. Sorry to trouble you.”

When I got back to the shop, I checked. The store-room boxes are already labelled Muse Antiques.

But, we won’t forget them, Jacques, Dorcas and I. And we won’t forget the help you gave us. I’d like to send gifts to all of you who helped so much, but I don’t think we really can, so I have a final favour to ask of all of you. Would you email me, at marshayrebooks@gmail.com (for some reason, that address still works) and nominate someone (not yourself!) who you think has really done sterling work on solving these mysteries and puzzles and deserves a prize? I’ve got a couple of little things that I’d like to send to deserving people, and you’ve all worked so collaboratively on this that I can’t possibly make this decision myself.

By the way, I know some of you are worried about the second mirror, in the British Museum. But I think we can trust them to take care of their own exhibits. I think it’s really over.

Now, the sun is shining, and Jacques and Bella and Dorcas and I are going to go for a walk. And if we happen to take with us a bag of broken black stone shards that we’ve smashed to powder with a hammer, and if we should happen to empty that bag into the river, who’s to know? We had a strange and wonderful adventure together, but now it’s over and we can just relax and enjoy the happy summer days.

May 8, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — adrian @ 10:45 am

Today’s the day! Many thanks to Melinda Seckington, who emailed me with the “true names” of the Doctors: Xblanque and Hunahpu, which you found in a copy of The Mirror of Ink at 80 The Strand.

So, the plan is this. I’m going alone. We had a long conversation about this, in which Jacques tried to be all gallant and insist that “a lady cannot go alone into such danger”. But I did point out to him that, much as I hope to be able to sneak around, the likelihood is that I will meet this Dr Dee, and if I took Jacques with me, he’d instantly recognise him, and so probably be alerted to what we were up to. And Dorcas clearly can’t come – if she falls asleep in the heat of battle she’s not going to be much use to anyone.

However, Jacques’ girlfriend Bella turns out to be some kind of tech whizz. She’s set us up with a “liveblog”, which will pick up and transcribe what I say into my mobile phone, and will relay texts back from Jacques and Dorcas at the bookshop. That way, they’ll be able to give me advice and, more importantly, you will all be able to watch and help too. You’ve been so brilliant at finding solutions for these problems, I’m sure you’ll be invaluable in this final stage.

You can participate in the liveblog here: http://www.coveritlive.com/index2.php?option=com_altcaster&task=viewaltcast&altcast_code=e8b78cbab5

As for the rest of the plan, it’s very simple. I’m going to break into Dr Dee’s office at 8pm tonight. Jacques has been there. He says there’s a small outer office where the receptionist sits – she’s not likely to be there at 8pm. Then behind that there’s a plush-looking office where Jacques has met and spoken to Dr Dee. But behind that, Jacques once spotted “when I was selling him ze book, ze Christolina Minaret” a secret third room, door hidden behind a screen. He says he glimpsed odd things in there “bottles of ze strange liquids, some cage made of wire on ze floor…” so we think that’s where he’ll be tonight.

It’s up to me to get in there somehow. And then, when I’m in, we’re going to signal to Thomas and Hattie to jump out of the mirror! Hopefully they’ll surprise Dr Dee long enough for us to get the mirror away from him, perform the ritual Dorcas has taught me and break the blasted thing forever. And then… well, then hopefully we can all get on with our lives.

So, are you with me?

May 6, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — adrian @ 12:21 pm

Wow, thank you all for your help with that cryptic note. Thanks to Thomas Sissons in particular, who was the first to email me  to say that the correct answer to the clue was “The Mirror of Ink”, which is apparently the book we’re looking for.

Now, I’ve been through Marsh-Ayre’s filing and stock-taking system. I say “system”, I really mean “big box of notes on blue paper which might perhaps make sense if they’re all put together.” Honestly, I don’t know how this man manages to do his taxes.

I’ve found some notes stapled together that mention The Mirror of Ink.  They relate to five books that were sent out to five different customers recently. From this bundle of confusion, can you work out where the Mirror of Ink’s been sent and go there to retrieve it? You can ignore the other four books – they didn’t come from same box as the mirror, the tarot cards, and the other bits and pieces that Hattie bought at the same time, so they’re definitely not relevant. When you’ve worked out where The Mirror of Ink is, all I can suggest is that you head there as quickly as possible and see if you can find some names hidden in the book.

Thanks so much for all your help. We’re still working hard here – Dorcas thinks she has a way to destroy the mirror (or, as she keeps on saying “de-story” it), so all we need are those names and then we’re set for Thursday!

Here are the notes:

Michelle at no. 96 wasn’t interested in Stories of Your Life and Others and I couldn’t give her Art of Love as that had gone to Charing Cross Road already.

Jacques, girl from Euston Rd will be by to pick up that copy of The Bridge whilst I’m out. TM-A

Muddled two addresses while sending 0-765-30418-X to the Great Russell Street shop; thought that it was at number 80 for a minute!! Must remember also that it’s Mark at no. 113 not Simon.

Remember to call girl at The Strand.

Sent Umberto Eco book to charity shop on Marylebone High Street.

Ginger chap from 46 Great Russell Street called saying he doesn’t want The Bridge but definitely will be taking 0-765-30418-X, 0-375-76117-9 or 0-15-144647-4. He will call back to confirm before the end of the week.

Sent Sadie 0-141-02213-2 instead of 0-333-41285-0 in the end.

Rachel at no.13 called to say she had found a copy of Mirror of Ink elsewhere and no longer wanted this one.

May 2, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — adrian @ 4:54 pm

Today’s update is going to have to be short, I’m afraid – we’re all working so hard here.

I’ve been pumping Jacques for all the information he can give me about this Doctor he sold the mirror to. He’s very apologetic, now he knows how important it was to me.  He knows that the Doctor’s offices are somewhere off Harley Street. The plan is for me to go there and get the mirror back, and then for us to destroy it (Dorcas is working on how exactly to do that – she thinks she knows, but we have to get Thomas and Hattie out first).

The problem, of course, is how to make sure that the two Doctors don’t just use their scary powers to stop me taking the mirror. Now that Thomas has his full set of cards, he has some power too, and has been able to get some information for us too. He sent me an email! He and Hattie are able to communicate much more easily with us now. He says that Dr Dee and Dr Doom are working towards a date and time – 8pm on the 8th of May, a time at which, apparently, Dr Dee’s powers are especially strong. (Apparently that was a day when he did a lot of his prognosticating?). Although his powers are strong, he’s likely to be distracted then, so it’s then we plan to strike.

But, to defeat them, we’re sure we’re going to need their “real names”, as the Caterpillar mentioned. I know you’ve emailed me already to say that they’re “Tweedledee” and “Tweedledum” but knowing those names hasn’t given us any special power over them so I don’t think that can be right. I’ve been searching through the boxes of books that Hattie bought at the same time she bought the mirror – that was where they found the instructions for the game of tarot.  But… many of those books have already been sent out in mail orders! As far as I can tell, they’ve only been sent to London, but I may have to ask you to do some running-around at the start of next week, when we’ve worked out if the information we need has been sent out, and where it’s gone.

So far, though, all I’ve found that looks relevant is this crumpled note, tucked among the packing. Can you make anything of it?

Re: real names for the brothers. Have hidden them in a book.

Need my own faithful representation of Coprinus’ hat.

Got garbled OK from inheritor; nothing missing.

3,6,2,3

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.