Day 3 of “The beast from the East” – that’s currently covering the UK in snow and freezing conditions – dawned over the East side of Paradise. I sat myself down at the computer to try to get some work done and NOT be distracted by the snowflakes dancing outside.
I noticed the message box bouncing dots trying to catch my eye.
“OUT,” said the message from Dok.
He’s not one to use ten words when one will do.
“What, you’re out? Go carefully out there,” I answered.
Immediately the reply came back: “NO. CRAZY. OUT.”
Between the lack of lines, I worked out that Dok was going nuts being shut indoors and needed out.
Nobody needs to see Dok go psycho – just think Jack Nicholson in “The Shining” and you get the picture.
Taking the jalopy out wasn’t an option. The night before, Dok had almost rolled back down a hill in the snow, so the wheels were safely garaged for the time being.
“OK, get your snowshoes on and catch the bus,” I said, “I’ll meet you in the city and we can grab a coffee.”
I’m not sure which words caused Dok most distress, “snowshoes” or “bus.” But he finally agreed.
So we met up at a new steampunk cafe – Alchemista – in the city. The windows were fogged with condensation and vape clouds. We both grabbed a concoction and settled at a table.
“I don’t know why they have to have those damn things,” Dok said. “In my day, we were happy with a good old fashioned pipe and a glass of cognac.”
After he calmed down a little, I suggested that we finish our coffee and hit the antiques and curios market across the way in a de-consecrated church. Dok was really happy, he loves nothing more than poking around for old maps and antiquarian books.
Peace and calm were restored.
In one of the glass display cabinets, there was a collection of tiny, slightly creepy looking porcelain dolls.
“What are those?” he asked me, noticing my interest. “Are they ‘the little people’ you keep telling me about de Belfry?”
Dok has been known to poke fun at me for my firm belief in faeries and sprites of the elements.
“No”, I said. “They’re known as Frozen Charlottes.”
“Isn’t that some sort of ice cream dessert?” he teased, but I wasn’t rising to his bait. It pays not to, believe me.
I filled him, saying:
“They were originally made mainly in America, in the Victorian era. They were manufactured after the publication of a ballad Fair Charlotte, based on a poem by Seba Smith called A corpse going to a ball.
There is some debate over whether it was based on fact, but what is known is that they would be given to children as a cautionary reminder about taking the advice of your parents.
The poem tells how Charlotte is invited to a ball by her beau. In her vanity she refuses to wear a coat over her pretty dress despite the fact that it is snowing, and freezes to death on the journey. We all know what it’s like; didn’t you ever venture out in freezing weather in not much more than your t-shirt and jeans? I know I did. Ah such is the folly of youth.”
“That’s a bit macabre,” Dok pondered.
I then pointed out that what was even more creepy was that people took to baking them into birthday cakes, and often when they were given as a gift. They were presented in a coffin just to make sure that the message got through.
However, they also offer protection, and can be used as talismans. They are ideal for using in pocket shrine tins. The shrines can be tailored to whatever you wish, be it a love shrine, or a money-attracting shrine, for example, and are designed to be carried around with you, making it easy to take your magick with you wherever you go.
Dok and I are on the hunt for them, so they may appear soon, or if you would like to register interest, let us know. It may take a while, as we can’t guarantee sourcing them. But in future, we hope to find our own, when we go on a Mud Larking adventure (searching for treasures from the past along the banks of the River Thames).
Dok went off to haggle over a couple of old Ordnance Survey maps that he’d discovered in a trunk, while I wandered around taking in the atmosphere that the old church still holds.
When we were finally done, I saw Dok onto the bus safe in the knowledge that I’d hopefully managed to avert his metamorphosing into Jack Nicholson…well at least until the next full moon.