Archive for flay

Titus Groan: Swelter receives a surprise

Posted in Gormenghast journey with tags , , , , , , , on March 15, 2010 by echostains

Titus Groan, read but still writing about it

Well I finished Titus Groan  a several weeks ago.  I saw him safely come into his Kingdom and I have been propelled five years into the future.  Ghosts haunt Gormenghast – but some aren’t dead.  Flay is living, not roughly but quite nicely thank you.  He has now acquired two caves for himself, which he has furnished sparsely.  He had become a keen hunter, he cooks, he cleans, he still slips into Gormenghast from time to time, he watches and he waits – but what for, he doesn’t know.  But he has survived.

So has Steerpike.  he has dispensed with the Doctors dispensary and spare room and ensconced himself in a nice apartment befitting his new position – but I am getting beyond myself: far into Gormenghast.  I am following on from Keda, Titus’s wet-nurse.

sepulchrave played by Ian Richardson

Sepulchrave haunts the burnt out library.  He travels from shelf to shelf reciting the classics.  he is joined by burnt up Barquentine – minus head.  If you remember, his head had to be replaced with that of a small calf as the original had been stolen.  Well, the original does turn up again, in a further chapter…

Swelter is another ghost.  He has been replaced by a bow-legged chef with a mule shaped head and mouthful of metal teeth!  Where do they get their staff from?  I digress.  Back to Titus Groan.

It is the morning of the Titus’s christening and all are preparing for the event.  Even the head gardener Pentecost (where does Peake get these names from) is cutting flowers and polishing the apples in his little leather cape.

In Gormenghast violet eyes are an unfortunate disfigurement.  Titus’s are mentioned quite a few times in a uncomplimentry way.  It’s a good job Elizabeth Taylor wasn’t born in Gormenghast – her career would never have taken off.  But I digress…..

flay

Nannie Slagg is trying to awaken Fuschia, Sepulchrave and Sourdust are eating breakfast together.  Rottcodd is still dusting and the Dr is singing away in his bath.  The main action in this chapter comes from Flay and Swelter though:-

Suddenly the door opened and Flay came in.  He was wearing his long black moth-eaten suit, but there had been some attempt on his part at getting rid of the major stains and clipping the more ragged edges of cuff and trouser into straight lines.  Over and above these improvements he wore around his neck a heavy chain of brass.  In one hand, he balanced on a tray, a bowl of water.  The negative dignity of the room threw him out in relief as a positive scarecrow.  Of this he was quite unconscious.  He has been helping to dress Lord Sepulchrave. and had made a rapid journey with the christening bowl as his lordship stood polishing his nails by the window of his bedroom……..

I love this encounter between these old adversaries, but Flay is no match for Swelter’s dripping sarcasm..

A voice came out of the face: ‘Well. well well,’ it said, ‘may I be boiled to a frazzle if it isn’t Mr Flee.  ‘The one and only Mr Flee, Well, well, well.  Here before me in the Cool Room.  Dived through the keyhole I do believe.  Oh, my adorable lights and liver, if it isn’t the Flee itself.’

swelter as played brilliantly by Richard Griffiths

To add insult to injury, Swelter then proceeds to introduce Mr Flay to his kitchen boys:-

‘Mr Flee, I will introduce you,’ said Swelter as the boys approached, glueing their frightened eyes on their precarious cargoes.  ‘Mr Flee – Master Springers – Mater Springers – Mr Flee.  Mr Flee – Master Wrattle, Master Wrattle – Mr Flee.  Mr Flee – Master Spurter – Mr Flee…….

For Flay, this proves too much.  He strikes Swelter across the face with the heavy chain.  But before there can be any retaliation, Flee manages to escape.  The next encounter between the two enemies is interrupted by Sourdust being there, so there can be no return match.  Later.

‘Titus Groan: Dr through the spyhole’

Posted in Flashback challenge, Gormenghast journey with tags , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2010 by echostains

Dr Alfred Prunesquallor by Mervyn Peake

Several clues to the next characters of the castle are given in this chapter.  Flay approaches one of the portraits in the octagonal room, pushes the frame to one side, to reveal a round hole in the panelling;-  

From his vantage point he was able to get a clear view of three doors in a corridor, the central one belonging to the chamber of her Ladyship, the seventy sixth Countess of Groan.  It was stained black and had painted upon it an enormous White cat.  The wall of the landing was covered with pictures of birds and there were three engravings of cacti in bloom.  This door was shut, but as Flay watched the doors on either side were being constantly opened and closed and figures moved quickly in and out or up and down the landing or conversed with many gesticulations or stood with their chins in their curled palms of their hands as though in profound medication.  

We are then introduced to Dr Prunsquallor and Lord Sepulchrave.   The whinneying laugh which the Dr interjects into his dialogue is strange (to say the least).  But this gives his character a uniqueness – it’s the sort of individuality that Dickens imbues in his own characters – a kind of quirkyness which Dickens exploits mercilessly.  I adore the description of the neighing Dr Prunsquallor;-  

His great vague eyes swam about beneath the magnifying lenses like a pair of jellyfish seen through a fathom of water.  His dark grey hair was brushed out over his eyes like a thatch.  For all the indignity of his position it was with a great sense of style that he became seated following with his eyes the gentleman who had begun to walk around him slowly………  

There is not much detail of Lord Sepulchrave’s personality, except that he carries a silver stick with a black jade knob and is prone to melancholia.  But more about him later.  

Best dialogue;-  

“Still here are you?  Still following me?”  

“You suggested that I should,” said Steerpike.  

“Ch! Ch!” said Flay, “What do you want Swelter’s boy?”  

“Nauseating Swelter,’ said Steerpike between his teeth but with one eye on Mr Flay, “vile Swelter.”  

There was a pause during which Steerpike tapped the iron banister with his thumb nail.  

“Name?” said Mr Flay.  

“My name?” asked Steerpike.  

“Your name, yes, your name.  I know what my name is.”  Mr Flay put a knuckly hand on the banisters preparatory to mounting the stairs again, but waited, frowning over his shoulder, for the reply.  

“Steerpike sir,” said the boy.  

“Queerpike eh? eh?” said Flay.  

“No Steerpike.”  

“What?”  

“Steerpike, Steerpike.”  

“What for?” said Flay.  

“I beg your pardon?”  

“What for, eh?  Two Squeertikes, two of you.  Twice over.  What for?  One’s enough for a Swelter’s boy.”……..

Apart from this early misunderstanding, these two characters come to understand each other only too well…..

HERE is the wonderful website of Gormenghast

Lot’s of information about Peake and his work at Peake Studies