Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlefolk.

This blog will be devoted to my literary and cosplay interests and stories set in my own alternative historical steampunk background. I hope people enjoy the stories, as much as I enjoy devising and writing them and that it stimulates their own artistic interests, entertains them or if nothing else fires their own imaginations.

A special note to new readers of this blog, the entries "Nation States" are gazetteers of the nations as they exist in the An Age of Steam, Steel and Iron background, each with a few remarks/observations about each nation as they exist within. Any post headed by the title containing the words "Story Snippet" or "Fragments" is a stand alone, snapshot of the background, they will be developed into fuller stories in future, but at present they serve to give the viewer/reader a measure of what this world is like, what is going on in it and who some of the players are. Full stories, will be headed by their title and a roman number, as they will generally be in several parts.

Comments, suggestions or remarks by readers are welcomed.

I would like to thank the following people:

Yaya Han, for getting me seriously interested in cosplay at a time when things were looking very glum for me back in 2006 with several extended stays in hospital due to illness, and motivating me to get actively involved.

Ashley Du aka UndeadDu, for her unfailing friendship and cheerful support since we first met in 2014 at the Hamilton Comic Con, and for being my Cosplay mentor and advisor.

Sara Marly, for her interest in and support for my writings, since we first met in 2016 at the Hamilton Comic Con and incidently helping me make up my mind to finally do this.

Stephen Thomson, my friend, for his advise and assistance with creating and setting up this blog.

Daniel Cote, my friend and co-worker for his advise and friendship over the years.

The People of the The Aegy's Gathering (particularly Jonathan Cresswell-Jones, Scott Washburn and Jenny Dolfen, all of whom I have kept in contact with over the years), who were brought together in friendship by a certain randomness of chance and a common interest in the Honor Harrington books and stayed together despite distance and the strains of life.

The People of the Wesworld Alternative History website, who gave me the opportunity to sharpen my writing and story telling skills while directing the affairs of Lithuania and briefly France during their 1930s timelines.

My parents Mary Ellen and Logan, my siblings Adam and Danika and various friends both online and at work and play for putting up with me, encouraging and supporting me both in the very good times and the very bad times.

I remain as always yours very sincerely, your obedient servant, Matthew Baird aka Sir Leopold Stanley Worthing-Topper

Friday, January 6, 2017

Attendence at the Kendal Ball (Part VII)

Grosvenor Square, London, Great Britain: January 1886

The next four days had flowed by following their own predetermined course dictated by custom, social standing and occupation. For Sir Leo, reflected wryly as his carriage trundled towards the Wraithdale residence through the streets of West London. The Duchess of Kendal's Ball, was to be one of the first society balls of what was considered the London Season. Most of fashionable London had begun filtering back into the capital right after Christmas, most of them to take their seats in Parliament either as members of the House of Lords or the House of Commons. The real social season did not get underway until after Parliament's Easter Recess, then it when straight on hell for leather until August 12, when everyone in London who was part of the aristocracy, gentry and fashionable set quit the city for the countryside for the grouse season. Parliamentary adjournments for the following  partridge season on September 1, pheasant season October 1 and fox hunting on the first Monday in November acted as periodic breaks on the London Season, which amounted to some one-hundred days, and one-hundred nights of non-stop parties, balls, dances, and sporting, artistic, theatre and musical events.

Most people in society did not realize how regulated their lives were by custom and habit, most people of his own class rose at 7:30 or 8:00 am, and their day did not often end until 3:00 am that night. Sir Leo had grown to manhood in a military family, many of his forebears had been generals, admirals, estate owners, governmental councilors and the like, so a life guided by details, regulations and system did not particularly bother him, but his was all too aware how a clock and a calendar could and did rule his life. Most of the aristocracy and gentry did not think about: it was the way things were, the way things were always going to be. Sir Leo for his part often found London Society; smug, conceited and vapidly stupid, it's obsessive concern with outward appearances, oh so poised manners and things that were not of the slightest moment. Sir Leo put it down to the fact that all too many of people in London Society, had never had their lives endangered, never had to face what was really important or worthy in life. Sir Leo had served Queen and Country for fourteen years; he had seen a side of life, in all it's darks, shadows and lights, that few of his pampered fellow aristocrats had ever seen.

Sir Leo shook the thoughts aside, he was not going to turn up at Ursula's first ball in a black mood, it would spoil the evening's ambiance if nothing else. Tonight promised to be as bright, lively and entertaining an evening one could have. His carriage continued down the line of mansions, palaces and courtly houses of Gorsvenor Square. Their architectural styles were as varied as the great families that resided within them, Tudor, Gothic, Baroque and Rocco, amoung other styles could be seen and distinguished against the glow of the street lamps. Finally he came to the imposing Wraithdale Gate, the entrance to Basilscourt, the great courtyard that joined the older Wraithdale House, the slightly  newer Wraithdale Hall and the Kendal Palace, which made up the Duchess of Kendal's new ducal palace in London. Originally the three buildings had been separate buildings in their own rights, the Wraithdale House, as it was called, was more like a medieval castle then a house, it glowed over its surroundings with turrets and battlements, it's architecture neo-Romanesque and Gothic in tone. Wraithdale Hall was lighter, more Baroque with a touch of the Rocco about it, more the splendid urban palace or chateau then fortress. Kendal Palace, the London home of the various Dukes and Duchesses of Kendal was just as imposing as it's two neighbours, mixing Baroque, Rocco and Gothic features.

The carriage rattled up to the gate, stopping briefly to present his invitation to the Wraithdale family attendants guarding the gateway. Current social custom required, a guest who was invited to a ball, to arrive approximately thirty minutes to ninety minutes of hour of the time specified on the invitation. Sir Leo snapped his pocket watch open, he was in good time the ball was set to start for 10:00 pm exactly. The bulk of the guests coming to the Kendal Ball had already dined at 8:00 pm in a series of sumptuous dinner parties arranged in Sir Geoffrey's honour by the Duchess of Kendal's staff, at Calvary's. The place had been packed to bursting, Sir Leo thought with amusement and George had made more then a pretty penny on it too, if that night's receipts were anything to go by. Still everyone had enjoyed the evening meal, the music and the shared memories of the late Duke and Duchess of Kendal. Still the attendants did nothing by halves, they were on the watch for party crashers of various sorts, and checked his invitation against a master list. The attendant passed back his invitation and gave Sir Leo a crisp salute, and then waved Sir Leo's carriage on and into the great courtyard. Various carriages were already drawn up in the paved space before him. A glance even with the with his vision hindered by the winter darkness, revealed several of the carriages had coats-of-arms as ornate as his own. The society gossips and reporters watching the gateway would be flipping through Burke's Peerage and the Royal Calendar before morning trying to identify all the attending aristocrats and gentry.

Sir Leo alighted from the carriage with practiced ease, the pavement was slick with patches of ice and frost, his breath fogging in the night air. Straightening his long dark cloak and inverness coat, which covered his full dress uniform, Sir Leo paused long enough to don his black cloth and yellow metaled spiked helmet. The badge of the British Army, combined with the badge of the Royal Corps of Engineers gleamed dully in the lamp light of the courtyard. Right, best foot forward, Sir Leo thought, two attendants trailed him making sure he would come to no harm if he took a miss step on the pavement on his way to the main doorway.

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