We let the cat make the decision although it was some time before she/he climbed the ladder on her own to select a book. “The Tale of Two Cities” Not a Dickens I had read in years but we play by the rules.
Opening on page 85 we found the exact story we were looking for, a story that matched our discussion of the Fates in conjunction with the Fabricator’s impressive output of knitted textiles.
Respectively, the Spinner, the Alloter and the Inflexible (together the Moirai), spinning, measuring, cutting. “That fits the bill.”
What I liked about her knitted textiles was more than merely appreciating an almost industrial production but her disengagement from the complex making mechanisms, allowing her to converse widely while knitting or hooking, while watching a film and tapping other worldly rhythms with the feet. Had she the extra limbs of Shiva they would have been drawing, cutting paper and pastry, playing the keyboard and scratching her nose. All of us had seen that episode of Fantomas where the Master of Terror with arms raised produced a gun from inside his coat, revealing that at least one visible arm was prosthetic.
I admire most of all her mitten case, a custom made box decorated with ormolu cartouches in which were mounted on white porcelain hands her recent production of mittens, abstract and figurative. Her scarves were legendary. Spelling out certain adages which changed drastically in meaning when wound around the neck. Then there were the over jackets whose pockets had pockets, her matinee coats, purses and pelmets, all craft made, exact in colour and purpose.
The Cat’s choice was apposite. “Well done Marlowe.” He/she squirmed, slumped and slept. So the scene was set, the Moirai and the Guillotine as the Month’s Big Picture from the inhabitants of the House.
My responsibility was the making of a tiny guillotine that would complete the Moirai. In deference to Marlowe and to the others in the house, it had to function but not prove a source of danger. Ironically it was the Cat Charity by the War Memorial that provided the Meccano from which the structure was made, using a patina of putty painted with varnish to disguise the rows of holes. I flattened a tin of sardines to fashion a blade and we were ready.
The Star of the Show went into a purdah of practice ready for the big day, needles and hooks laid out in perfect symmetries as if they were surgical instruments. Only later did the Scrutineer confess to me she had never spun wool but on the day nobody would have known.
The scene was set. We chose the Conservatory which had an ideal light and a blank wall against which our three silhouettes would be most effective while accommodating the culmination of the Threesome in the Guillotine scene .
The cameras were ready, the cat was seated in her/his allotted position. I realised that the effect of the guillotine’s descent might send out the wrong message without something cut in half. An empty gesture. There was a frantic search during which a Barbie Doll, and a Carrot were rejected as inappropriate and not suitable for children.
To represent my essential Clubbability, we chose a large Cuban cigar, an object of luxury that it was expected decapitatation in the process of consumption. The example of the revolutionary Print on our landing was ingeniously avoided.
The Scrutineer pulled the yarn with agile tensile strength, in a pair of dungarees that had a certain classical formality to the cloth folds. Neither grave nor overjoyed, her features exactly set the solemn but cheerful tone.
The Fabricator started slowly and hit optimum rhythm that seemed to cause Marlowe to gaze ruminatively out of the window, presenting his/her best profile. By the time the cameras were activated by the time switches , there was sufficient footage of patterned textile with legible text. I had set the microphones with care, to balance the sound of the wind through the keyhole with the sibyllant click of the needles. Was that an underlying purring noise I could hear?
The music track would be post production but we hummed a sea shanty that converged on my activation of the Guillotine. With scarcely a shudder, the tiny ivory catch was slipped and as my lace gloved finger pointed to the cigar, the blade flashed, rumbled and fell, almost in slow motion.
What a triumph! The cigar barely moved as its crusted tip rose in the air, turned twice and fell obediently into the little wicker basket. “TRICOTEUSES…” we chanted until the film in the cannister ran out.
Mission accomplished. We would not disappoint our many followers. Within the year a similar sequence was to be repeated in a new film by Jonathan Glancy, but, much encouraged, we were reluctant to sue.