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I have always fancied building a model of one of the SWT "silver buses", the 1958/9 Weymann front entrance AEC Regent V double deckers which were such a familiar sight in Swansea up to around 1966.

This evening I have been sawing and filing two EFE Weymann Orion double deckers to produce some of the component parts for this project. This picture shows the work so far.

The upper deck is a relatively easy cut and shut job using 2 upper decks. However I need to take out practically all of the side window pillars and replace them to give a total of 7 windows. I have sanded the roof to give a smoother profile as the EFE representation of overlapping panels is crude and in any event they will not match the repositioned window pillars. Some filling will be needed as well.

The lower deck is a single casting, cut just ahead of the rear wheel arch and stretched to give a scale 18'6" wheelbase. I will need to insert a filler panel in the space thus created, and make a complete rear end, probably in plastic card. Again the window pillars will need chopping out and repositioning, also I will have to create a front entrance by cutting out the bodywork behind the front nearside wheel and inserting a 4 panel folding door (probably a casting). The cab area will require attention; the nearside saloon window has to be set at an angle and the drivers cab door has to be filed out to create a sliding door effect. I also ned to reposition the fuel filler cap on the offside.

The chassis is made up from two separate pieces as evidenced by the different colour hubs. If you must know, the donor models wore the liveries of St Helens Corporation and Halifax Corporation. They will be held together with a joining plate cut and filed out of sheet aluminium.

Only gravity holding it together at the moment, but I thought it was worth setting up as a photo opportunity.

So there you are. I've made a start. Now let's see if I can finish it.

Had a baby boy 8 weeks ago & i breast feed him in a chair by this window several times a day. This is our view. Can't wait to see some color out there!

Turn of a Friendly Card

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Based on a true adventures of a rogue active in the waning years of the 1930’s as discovered in the criminal archives of Chatwick University.

 

Act 1

I begin my tale in the present…

 

That afternoon a soiree was given as part of the purchase price of the tickets for the annual Autumn Charity Ball to be presented later that evening at the manor’s great house. Since I was alone, I just went mainly for the free food and to rub my elbows with the wealthy guests who would be in happy attendance there, and at the Ball. I was alone, but certainly not bored. There was a game I enjoyed playing to pass the time at these affairs that entailed scoping out by their dress and day jewels worn, those ladies whom would be most likely to be wearing the better costumes and sparklers that evening. It often proved to be a most beneficial insight into the actions and mannerisms of the very rich. I walked amongst the cheerful guests, eying one here ( a lady in satin and pearls) and another there( a high spirited girl with a diamond pin at the throat of her frilly silken blouse). It was as I was passing the latter that the friend she had been talking too (dressed like a vamp), bumped up against me. I caught her, steadying her as they both giggled. I didn’t mind, for the lassie’s too tight satin sheath tea dress had been an enticement to hold, and the gold bracelet that had been dangling from her gloved wrist had been a pleasure to observe. I kissed her gloved hand, rings glittering, as I apologized gallantly for my clumsiness. Her eyes were bright, almost as bright as the twin necklaces of gold that hung swaying down pleasantly from between her ample bosom. I left them, moving on to greener pastures, and it was very green, all of it….

 

It was then that I detected another pretty lassie. It was her long fiery red hair with falling wispy curls that first captured my attention. She was wearing a fetchingly smart white chiffon party dress that commanded me to acquire a closer examination. She appeared to be a blithe spirit, seemingly content with just being by herself and roaming about with casual elegance, the extensive grounds of the manor proper. I began to discreetly follow her at a distance. Although she did not wear any jewelry, her manner and the eloquent way she moved is what attracted me the most. It would be very interesting to seek her out later that evening and she what she would have chosen to decorate herself with. I followed her as she sojourned into the depths of a traditional English garden with a maze of lushly green trimmed 8 foot high hedges

 

As I strolled through the hedgerows in her wake I allowed my mind to wander its own course. Suddenly I straightened up, my reverie broken by an epiphany of sorts. I allowed myself to grin and the lady whose enchantment I was swollen up in, at that moment turned, and seeing my beaming smile assumed it was for her and gave me a rather cute nod of her head. I answered in same, as I headed en route to a nearby stone garden bench to allow my thoughts to think through themselves.

 

But before I go on, allow me the pleasure to sojourn and reminisce about an incident that occurred several years prior:

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I was still working unaided in those days, travelling on to a new next quest that would take me just outside of Surrey.

I had just purchased my train ticket and had seen my luggage safe on board when I decided to rest in the lounge, it being some 45 minutes before allowed to enter personally aboard. Being so early the lounge was almost deserted, only one other occupant. I assumed she was waiting for someone on an incoming train due to the fact she carried no luggage. She was obviously well off, well dressed in satins and lace, and her jewels shone magnificently in the dim lights. Especially one of her rings, noticeably lying loosely around a finger, it sparkled with an expensive brilliance. I had seen one like it in a tiffanies store, worth almost 250 pounds. But she did not appreciate the show her jewelry was putting on under the lounge lights, for she was fast asleep.

 

I circled around her, aiming for a seat next to her, eyeing her and her possessions carefully. I noticed her purse had fallen off her lap and lay on the floor. An idea popped into my head, and I picked the purse up, and looked around carefully, before placing my plan into action. But I was thwarted as an older, matronly lady was spotted heading our way. I slipped the purse into my jacket and moved off before I was noticed. Of course she came in and took the empty seat across form the sleeping princess, and soon busied herself with knitting. As the older lady had sat down, not quietly, the wealthy lady stirred waking up at the noise. I went into a corner and sat, waiting. The two ladies soon fell into conversation; the minute’s ticked by excruciatingly slow. Soon I noticed we even had more company.

He was a lad of only fourteen, but with a devilish look about him that marked him a kindred spirit to meself, and his quick eyes were darting about taking it all in as he stood outside the paned glass window.

 

It was as the first announcement of boarding the train that I saw a chance for opportunity to strike.

The older lady folded up her knitting and clinching her bag, bid adieu to her new friend,( befuddled a little by the old ladies constant stream of gossip), and headed to the train. I was twenty steps ahead of her and was standing behind the youth as she left the lounge. I tapped him on the shoulder; he looked around at me suspiciously, and then caught sight of the shilling I was holding in front of his nose. I quickly whispered a few words into his ear on how he could earn it, and his grin spread as he bought into my story. I still held onto the shilling as he darted around and inside the lounge. I watched as he ran up behind the lady, circling her, then running in front of her he tripped over her leg, as she helped him up, her hand with the ring reaching down, he turned and spat onto the wrist and sleeve of that hand, than standing he ran away. Running alongside me, I handed him the shilling in passing as he ran off, disappearing in to the street.

 

I went inside and approached the astonished lady, as she was looking for her purse to get a handkerchief, confused as to its absence, while she held up her soiled hand( ring glittering furiously) in utter disbelief. I approached, catching her attention by the soothing words I uttered to her. I took her hand, unbelieving with her at just had happened, and I as I apologized for the youth of today I produced my own silk handkerchief and starting with her silky sleeve, began to wipe it off, continuing my tirade of displeasure and contempt at what had just occurred to the dear lady as I did so. As I finishing wiping her down, ending with her warm slender fingers, I kissed them, just as the last boarding announcement came over (perfect timing!) I let her go, explaining that I must catch my train. I turned and without looking back made the train just as it was letting off steam before chugging off.

 

I gained my private carriage just as the train began to lurch away. It wasn’t until after the train began its journey that I casually removed my silk handkerchief from my pocket and unwrapped it carefully, admiring up close the shimmering, valuable tiffany ring that was lying inside. I pocketed it, and then remembered the purse. I took it out and examined its contents: coin and notes equaling a handsome amount, a gold (gilded) case, embroidered lacy handkerchief, small silver flask of perfume, and ( of all things)a large shimmering prism , like one that would have dangled from a fancy crystal chandelier. A prism?, I questioned with interest as I examined it. It was pretty thing, about the circumference of a cricket ball, but shaped like a pendulum, it shimmered and glittered like the most precious of jewels. Why she had it in her purse? I couldn’t guess, and I saw no value in it, so I pocketed it and allowed it to leave my mind.

 

As I settled into my seat I began to think of the lad I had just met, I had been right on the money as far as his eagerness for mischief. Actually he reminded me of myself at that age, and I wondered if that lad with the shifty eyes would also turn out to follow the same course I had explored.

 

Which Begs the question, what had I turned out to become. And since I’m still reminiscing

I’ll give little background material about me, hopefully I don’t come across as being too conceited about my self-taught skills..

 

I had never been one to take the hard road, and even at a young age I was always looking for angles, or short cuts to make some money.

Once, while watching for some time a street magician and his acts. I observed a pick pocket working the crowd. He approached a pair of well-dressed ladies in shiny clothes, and standing behind them bided his time and then lifted a small pouch from one velvet purse, and a fat wallet from a silken one, then he moved on. Now both ladies were wearing shiny bracelets, one with jewels. I thought that he could have realized a greater profit if he had nicked one or both of the bracelets first, than try for the contents of their purses. The bracelets’ alone would have realized a far greater profit than what he lifted from their purses. It further occurred to me that by mimicking some of the sleight of hand tricks and misdirection that the magician was using on his audience, it could be accomplished. A hand placed on the right shoulder and as the lady turned right, whisk off the bracelet from her left wrist, and excuse oneself, that sort of thing.

 

So, I practiced (on my sisters, who proved to be willing accomplices to “my game”) and learned to pick their purses and pockets. I than moved onto their jewelry, starting by lifting bracelets and slipping away rings, before advancing to the brooches, necklaces and earrings they were wearing. After I was satisfied at my skill level, I went out and worked the streets. Sometimes using my one sister who was also hooked on what I was doing as a willing partner.

But I found myself still not being satisfied, in the back of my mind I thought there had to be a more lucrative way to turn a profit.

 

I’d found my answer when an attractive lady in a rustling satin gown zeroed in on me while I was “visiting” a ballroom. She was jeweled like a princess right up to the diamond band she wore holding up her piles of soft locks like a glimmering crown. The more she drank, the closer she got and I decided that her necklace would definitely help pay my expenses more than the contents of her purse (although I had already lifted the fat wallet from her small purse), and I did have very expensive tastes to pay for. So I took her onto the dance floor.

 

I was amazed at how easily I had been able to open the necklace’s clasp , slipping it over her satiny shoulder, lifting it off and placing it safely in my pocket with almost no effort. Then she decided to be playful once the song ended and brushed up against me. She felt the necklace in my pocket and before I could act she had her hand in and pulled it out.

 

The silly naive twit thought I was teasing her and told me that for my penance I had to go up to her suite in order to put it back on for her. I kept up the charade as best as I could.

 

And that’s where we ended up. A little bit of light fondling began as I placed the necklace back around her throat. I began to tease her, plied her with more and more alcohol as I tried to keep my distance, and virginity. Finally she passed out in a drunken stupor, but not before I had learned where she hid her valuables by suggesting she should lock her jewels up for the night..

 

With her safely unconscious, I began to strip her clean off all her jewels, reclaiming the necklace first. Then I visited all her jewelry casket and began looting it. I even took her small rhinestone clutch with the diamond clasp; of course I already had liberated its small wallet.

 

When I’d left her lying happily asleep in bed, still in her satin gown( the only item left to her that shined), I knew I had found a much more profitable line of “work”

 

So I began making circuits around to the haunts of the very rich, I still kept may hand in pickpocketing, so to speak, but centered only on those “pockets” containing mainly jewelry. I also began to carefully explore new ways of acquiring jewels” in masse”, so to speak.

 

Soon I had accumulated many tricks and tools, having them at my disposal to put into action once required, and for the remaining years up till the present had managed to live quite comfortably off of the ill-gotten gains using them allowed me to acquire.

 

Which brings me back to the train ride, my prism, and the rest of my background story before I retun to the present tale. Please be patient.

*****

So, anyway, I reached Surry without any further incident and disembarking, made my way out to the large country house where I would be staying to take a short rest, vacation if you will. But, pardon the play on words, for there is never any rest for the wicked, is there?

 

I had become acquainted with a servant of the old mansion ( almost a small castle, really) , that was about a mile off. I managed to learn a great deal, and soon found myself, on the pretense of visiting her, exploring the grounds. There was to be a grand ball taking place a couple of weekends away , and the maid had filled my ears with the riches that would be displayed by the multitude of regal ladies making an appearance. I began to think about trying to make a little bit of profit from my vacation. I am not sure how the idea developed, but the prism that I still had in my possession, came up centrally into my plans.

 

Late on the evening of the regal affair, I snuck over, covered head to toe in black, with my small satchel off tools by my side. I set up a candle behind an old stone ivy covered wall in a far corner of the rather large and intricate English garden that surrounded the inner circle around the mansion. I than strung the jewel-like prism in front of it. Standing behind the wall, I would strike the prism with a long stick I was holding whenever I observed sparkles emanating from silkily gowned ladies walking in the distance, solitary or in pairs. The prism would flash fire, sort of like a showy lure being used when fishing in a crooked trout stream. Only I was fishing for far sweeter game than trout. My objective was to trick certain types of jeweled ladies (scatterbrains some may call them) by luring them down onto the path beyond the wall, using their natural curiosity to my advantage.

 

I had at least two strikes rise up to my lure in the second hour.

On was a pretty lady in flowing green satin number, decorated with plenty of emeralds, which, hidden in the shadows, I observed were probably paste. I let her wonder about; as she looked and played with the shiny toy, remaining hidden until she grew bored and wandered off.

The second was a slender maiden wearing a long sleek black gown with long ivory silk gloves. I had never before seen a lady so decked out in jewels, literally head to toe. With the exception of the rhinestones adorning her heels, the rest of the lot was real, so valuably real that I could feel my mouth salivating at the thoughts of acquiring her riches. Now in Edwardian times only older, married ladies would be allowed the privilege of wearing a diamond Tiara. But in these modern times, it had become culturally acceptable for any well-to do lady, single or otherwise, to wear one out in society. Even so, they were still rarely worn, and seldom seen outside the safety of large gatherings. But there it was, a small, delicately slender piece of intricate art that glistened from the top of her head like some elegant beacon. That piece alone was probably worth more than I had made all the last four months combined!

I began to skirt around in the shadows, placing myself in position to cut off her retreat. Her diamonds blazed as she approached, eyeing the swinging prism with total concentration. Which was unfortunate, because as I was about to leave the shadows, she walked into the thorns of a rose bush, screeching out, and attracting the notice of a pair of gentlemen who had just crossed the path quite a ways off, called out when they heard the commotion. She started to become chatty with them, obviously coming on to her rescuers, my prism all but forgotten. Than before I knew it, in a swishing of her long gown, she was gone, “swimming” off before I was able to set me ”hook”.

 

Which I was able to do on the third strike, almost an hour later, just as I was beginning to ponder wither I should call it off and head back home..

 

They were a pair of young damsels in their young twenties. They may have been sisters, or cousins at the least. I still remember how my heart leapt into my throat as they observed my colourful prism and turned down the old flagstone path. I had not seen anyone out and about for some time, so I knew they would be no would be rescuers around to come to their aid

And, best of all, they were both dressed for the kill!

One, the blonde, was clad in a black velvet number that one could cannily describe as quite form fitting. As were the small ropes of pearls that hung from all points of interest, pretty with a matching pricelessness.

But her cousin, as I will refer to her, out shone black velvet quite literally.

This one, a stunning raven haired beauty, wore a long streaming gown of liquid ivory satin. A diamond brooch sparkled as it held up a fold of the gown to her waist. The fold allowed her to show a rather daring amount of a slender bare calf. The brooch was not paste, but a real jewel that had been added for the nights festivities ( To be successful, one learns to read these signs accurately) Her ears and neckline were home to a matching set of pure white diamonds. A wide diamond bracelet graced a bare right wrist ,so she must be left handed I instinctively thought, an observation that would have aided me if I were planning on having a go for slipping the bracelet from her wrist, but tonight I was planning a much more daring attempt to empty the entire jewel casket, so to speak.

 

They went to the prism, playing with it a bit, I had begun to circle around, when I noticed black velvet pointing out with multiple ringed fingers, to something further down the path past the wall.

 

With a clicking of heels I let the pair pass, they apparently wanted to see what was on the other side of the wall. I followed; it was not hard, because the necklace the raven haired one wore, diamonds fully encircling her throat, rippled and sparkled from their perch, caught in the full harvest moon’s cast, giving me more than enough light to shadow them quietly .

 

After a while they caught on that something/someone was following them, but as they turned they could see nothing. I was in black, and hooded, invisible to them in the shadows of the trees. They whispered amongst themselves, now worried, realizing that there were dangers lurking beyond the pale, in their case, the safety of the gardens , especially for ones decked out as they were. They then turned and headed right back from where they had come, right into my waiting arms.

 

It is interesting what good breeding does for young, poised ladies. For, as I stepped out of the shadows, a finger of my right hand to my lips, my Fairborn in my left hand, its black blade glinting wickedly in the moonlight , they did not scream out or shout for help. Instead the pair merely let out small gasps, and then they both, in a quite charming synchronized display of disbelief, place each one hand over their open mouths, and the other upon their perspective necklaces.

 

And as I flourished my wicked looking Fairbairn–Sykes blade in their direction, they unquestioningly reached around and undid those pretty necklaces, tremblingly handing them out to me, like actresses following a well-read script. I took the little pretties and after stuffing them into my satchel, held out again my free hand, my fingers beckoning. Not a word was spoken between us, as the frightened pair of young ladies began removing their shimmering jewels and added them in a neat little growing pile along my open palm. The raven haired girl even undid her brooch without me having to command her to do so. Once I had stashed it all away, I motioned for them to turn back around, than with a little helpful prodding on my part, they began moving forward back down the hill, away from the garden. The one in white hobbling a little now as she kept tripping over the hem of her dress, now no longer held up by the stolen brooch.

 

After we had traveled about 200 meters I had them stop, and take off their high heels. Then picking the pretty things up, I motioned them to turn back around and made them walk back the way we had come in their bare feet, watching the pair awkwardly hobble barefooted down the wooded path. They would be quite a while on their journey back, allowing me more than ample time to make me escape. I threw their shoes off to the side and went briskly the other way, reaching the place was staying at , gaining my room without notice. But not before I had hidden the jewels inside an old stump to retrieve them at a later date. I never really heard so much as a whisper of the incident, other than from the pretty lips of my friendly maiden. The wee hours of the morning before my early departure for the train station found me revisiting the stump and retrieving my satchel and its precious cargo. After hiding it all in a false bottom of my case I laid my head on the pillow and drifted off to sleep as I wondered what had happened to the little prism, marveling at how useful it had ended up proving to be.

 

So, how does this story (journey rather) relate to the one I had already started? Please read on, and enrich your curiosity… my dear readers.

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Act 2

 

So, with apologies for my lengthy elucidation, but I now return you back to the garden party I was now attending on that warm fall day. But, as you will see, my prism story needed to be told in order to add a bit of flavor to what was about to unfold.

 

As I sat on the garden bench I formulated my plans. I should be able to acquire the main piece tonight at the Ball, I would have time this afternoon to retrieve my ever handy satchel and its array of tools and have it hidden at the spot I had already selected. It was perfect, located at the end of the path I had found, or rather the charming lady in the smart chiffon dress had found for me. A gas lamp would provide adequate light for my “lure”, and it led to a back wood where I could lead any victims away and liberate them of their valuables before making my escape. I rose, just enough time to walk my escape route, before setting up and then be dressed for the evening’s festivities. I looked around, I was alone now, my lady in white had disappeared, following her own course, whatever it may have been.

 

The Autumn Ball that evening was in full swing by the time I arrived. Being a cool fall day, most of the women were wearing long gowns and dresses, and that, for whatever the reason, usually meant they were decked out with more layers of jewelry than say , if it had been the middle of summer. In order to put my plan in action I need and intrinsic piece of the trap, a prism. The one I had once had was long ago lost, a minor pawn in a game to take a pair of princesses.

 

I knew exactly the type of prism required for my plan, and so began mingling amongst the guests with that in mind.

 

I started out by walking through to the chamber like ballroom where a full orchestra was starting to play. The first person I saw from the garden party was the little tramp who had been wearing the too tight satin tea dress. That dress had been replaced with a long silky gown, her gold jewelry replaced with emeralds; including a thin bracelet that had taken the place of the gold one that she had so obligingly dangled in my larcenous path. I decided to avoid her In principle, and in doing so spied someone quite interesting.

 

That someone was a pretty lady in a long velvet gown standing off to one side, idly watching the many dancers out on the floor. The dancing couples were forming an imagery of a rainbow coloured sea of slinky swirling gowns and with erupting fireworks of sparkling jewels, ignited by pair of immensely large chandeliers that hung over the dance floor, setting them off. I made my way, skirting the dance floor to reach her, my eyes on her jewels, which were making pretty fireworks of their own. I happened to walk up just as a waiter with a tray of drinks was passing by. Plucking off a drink I offered it to the lady with one hand, my other hand placed on her back as If to steady myself. She laughed prettily, and taking the drink I met her eyes, as she was focused on reaching and holding the glass in her slippery gloved hand, mine was on the ruby and diamond necklace. My hand behind her had flicked open the simple hook and eye clasp of the antique piece and was in the process of lifting it up and whisking it away from her throat. As I said a few words to her, I pocketed it, while also taking in the rest of her lovely figure and its shiny decorations, before biding adieu. She smiled, her pale bare neckline now quite glaringly extinguished of its fire.

 

It was about an hour later, after spotting, but unable to make inroads with several likely candidates, that I finally struck gold (figuratively). It came in the form of a young couple arguing between themselves in a far corner of the chamber. She was lecturing a rather handsome man in a tux, her jeweled fingers flying in his face. If she hadn’t been moving about in such an animated fashion as she lectured, I may not have even noticed her. But as it happened I did, especially noticeable was the sanctimonious lady’s wide jeweled bracelet that was bursting out in a rainbow of colorful flickers as her hand was emphatically waving, as her long gown of silk swished around with every movement she made. Perfect. I watched for a bit, and sure enough they moved off, the man heading for the patio leading outside, the wealthy girl following him, still giving him lashes with her tongue. I moved and managed to have her bump into me simply by stepping on the hemline of her long gown. For a few seconds I was the one on the receiving end of her wrath, but I took it like a man, I could see in the eyes of her tongue lashed husband, that he was grateful for the respite. I was also grateful; grateful for the quite wide, very shimmering, bracelet that I had removed from her wrist and now was residing in my pocket.

 

I began to leave the patio, but was stopped by a matronly lady in ruffles, laces and pearls, her breath heavy with alcohol. She started to question me on what the couple had been on about. Then without waiting for an answer she launched herself into a tirade of her own, her gem encrusted, silken gloved fingers, waving in my face for emphasis. It was almost ten minutes before I was able to make my escape. Which I did, but not before slipping off one of the lecturing ladies vulgarly large cocktail rings.

 

I headed onto the patio; the time was getting ripe for my plan, which I was now ready to put into motion, now having acquired its most essential piece. I went to the end of the large patio, weaving in and out of the by now well liquored guests whom had assembled there. Across the way I saw a lady tripping over her own gown. By the time I reached her she had fallen down, giggling merrily. Two of us rushed to her aid, she was busy gushed her thanks to the rescuer she knew, while ignoring the one she didn’t! Which was unfortunate on her part, for by ignoring me, she also was ignorant of the fact that I was busy lifting the small stands of black pearls from her wrist. I left unnoticed, much like a shadow fading out of the light, or at least that’s how it seemed. Finally I reached the patios outer edge without further incident, or gain. I went on the grass and turned a corner with the intention of going, post haste around the house to reach the gardens by the long way, hoping not to be seen by anyone. But I no sooner turned the corner, when I realized that it was not to be the case.

 

It was my blithe spirit in white chiffon from the garden party, pardon me, soiree. She was unescorted, looking up at the moon above a stone turret with one lit window, so intently that my presence had not been noticed. I had been absolutely correct in my observation of her as far as what she would be wearing for the evening. For what she had lacked in ornaments at the soiree, she had more than made up for in the evening festivities. She was absolutely gorgeous, resplendent in as beautiful a silvery satin gown that I had ever witness. It was just pouring down, shimmering along her delightful figure. Her long blazing red hair was still curling down and free, but now a pair of long chandelier earrings cascading down from her earlobes, were peeking out every now and then as they swayed with her every movement. Her blazingly rippling necklace was all diamonds, dripping down the front of her tightly satin covered bosom, twinkling iridescently like an intensively glimmering waterfall. Her slender gloved wrists were home to a pair of dangling diamond bracelets that were almost outshone by her many glistening rings. All in all she was quite a lure all too herself

 

I came up to her, starling her from her reverie. Taking up her hand, I looked into her startled, suddenly blushing face. I complimented her on the fine gown she wore. She thanked me, and I could see I that she suddenly remembered she me as the chap who she thought smiled to her in the garden. She seemed to accept my compliment quite readily. I chanced it( although Lord knows I was short on time) and asked her to a dance. I did not think she would agree, so it was with a little bit of surprise, hoping she would politely decline and walk off, leaving me free to go about my business unobserved. But she accepted, and I will admit that my heart leapt as she agreed (although in the back of my mind I knew I should be off if my plan was to work). The music had stopped so we made small talk as we slowly walked back to the ballroom. Her name was Katrina. It seems she was waiting for someone, which suited my plans, but he was late and so she had time. Which may have sounded dismissive, but from the apologetic way she said it, it was anything but the sort.

 

The orchestra started to tune back up as we entered, and taking her offered hand up, was soon lost in the elegance of my appealing partner. It was a long dance, and a formal one, but I could tell she was subtly anxious to be off on her meeting, as I was to be off to my own adventure. But Katrina did not really allow it to show, which was very uncharacteristic of her someone with her obvious breeding. So I was ready when the by the end of the music she begged her condolences and took flight. I watched her as she fluidly moved away, her jewels sparkling, all of them. On her mission to meet Mr. X I thought, for whom I was already harboring a quite jealous dislike. I should be off I thought to meself.

 

But I stood, still as stone; totally mesmerized by the way Katrina’s swirling silvery satin gown was playing out along her petite, jewel sparkling figure. It wasn’t till the last of her gown swished around a corner out of sight that I moved, but not without having to shake my head to clear the thoughts of her out of it. Well old son, focus. For by now the guests were starting to wander a bit afield in the waning hours of the Autumn Ball, and my small window of opportunity was closing fast. If my little plan was going to have any chance of success it would have to be now.

 

I walked out and made my way to one of the outside exist of the garden wall. Reaching into my pocket as I did so, fingering the bracelet, now cold, that had belonged to the quarrelsome lady,and soon would be playing another role, far from one its former mistress would ever have dreamed off. I also felt my new acquisition, still warm from my dance partner’s body. I will admit that I had felt a twinge of regret for taking it from a lady I had found to be most charmingly captivating. But slipping off the diamonds up and away from her throat had been as temptingly easy as it had been automatic. I had advantageously made use of the sleekness of her scintillatingly silky gown, and with the distractions created by the movements of the dance, successfully managed to keep Katrina’s attention safely diverted from the reality of why my fingers were ever so gently, caressingly sliding along her slippery gowns neckline. The truth was I had originally placed my hand there because it had felt so right, and I was a little startled when my fingers had subconsciously started playing with her necklaces clasp. Before I knew it, they had flicked open the gemstone clasp of her obviously expensive diamond necklace, and had lifted up. As I watched out of the corner of my eye, almost like I was a spectator, as opposed to being the perpetrator, I saw the chain move up and over her shoulder; its diamonds sparkling with is as the necklace disappeared from view behind her back.

It was a favored technique that I had perfected to the point that by this stage of my career I nearly always acquired my objective. But, as odd as it sounds, I was not happy with myself on this occasion.

 

But I did not long dwell on my mixed feelings on taking the charming lass’s diamonds, for by now I had reached my place of ambush. It was in one of the farthest reaches of the garden, at a bend on the end of a long path that, with a gas lamp at its beginning just off the patio, would allow me to see from some distance off. Behind me was a break in the hedge wide enough for a person to walk through comfortably. It was here, off a tree limb, underneath a second ornate cast iron gas lamp, which was now lit, that I hung the shimmering bracelet that I had sought out and acquired for just that reason

 

I walked around and saw that it could be seen flickered off in the distance from the woods, Perfect! Earlier I had hidden my satchel with a hood and knife and bit of rope in the hollow of an old tree. I now retrieved them, and after getting ready, found my position and waited. At 10 minutes past the first hour of my wait, with nary a single glimpse of anyone, I started to fidget. My corner may be just a bit too desolated I was beginning to admit to myself. It seemed that most of the guests were staying by the patio. I was starting to think that I should pack it in, possibly rejoining the guests for one last parting( of someone from her Jewelry). I was just reaching down to pick up my satchel when I suddenly saw something flash under the gas lamp at the beginning of the path, and my senses immediately perked up. I watched as the wisps of rich shimmery satin moved closer, I stiffened, drooling with anticipation, the game was afoot.

  

I could see clearly the flickering jewels she wore, and by their blazing sparkles of rippling fire, I knew that my long vigil would not have been in vain. As the lady drew I recognized her gown of silvery satin! I knew who was making those tantalizing flashes of appealing treasures. Katrina!

 

I watched as she approached, in all her glittering elegance. My heart and conscious was in turmoil, but I knew I probably would not get a second chance. I could not let her get away unscathed. Beside, from the shock of being confronted with a masked scoundrel wielding a wicked blade, she would be in no shape to recognize her assailant. She stopped, apprehensively looking back towards the bright lights of the Manor, Then turning back I saw she had a self-satisfied smile creeping upon her face. She reached up, and undoing her hair, shook it down, curls of softness cascading down, hanging loosely down. It was as she performed this provocative act, that I saw her eyes open wide in curiosity; she had spied my pretty little “prism”. The charming fish was hooked.

 

I waited, watching her approaching ever closer to fate, and from my concealment, I basked in her glow. My heart beating fast, my adrenaline pumping, for the remaining jewels (I thought of her necklace in my custody) that she possessed I already had witnessed were quite valuable. She passed my hiding spot and went to the hanging, shimmering object. As she reached up, looking around, she failed to see me approaching in the shadows. I came up from behind, jabbing a finger in her back as I reached her, I gruffly in no uncertain terms, snarled for her to freeze and make no sound. She stiffened under my touch, but made no move or outcry. I went around; pointing my knife in her direction, looking into her sad doe wide eyes as she realized what was going to happen next. She was trembling; from fear I guessed, and knew I had her right where I wanted. As I made my demands upon her, gimme them jewels sister, she, not surprisingly, was very compliant in giving them up to me. She reached for her necklace last, and looked entirely shocked to find her throat bare, as she searched the neckline of her gown I saw her look into my hand, now dripping with her precious jewelry, almost as if to see if she had not already removed it. She looked apologetically into my eyes, startled; almost pleading that she didn’t know what had happened to it. I just played dump. She than spoke for the first time, sir, may I ask to keep my purse? Her words would have instantly melted even the coldest chunk of ice, I looked down at the little silvery clutch hanging from her arm on its rhinestone chain, I nodded, indicating that she could, and saw relief wash over her face. I told her she now needed to turn around and walk off into the woods ahead of me. She hesitated, and I told her no harm would befall her, I had no intentions along those lines.

 

About 5 meters in I stopped her, and had her remove her shoes, as she bent over to undo the high heels rhinestone clasps I watched her gown tightly outlining her figure. She tripped on the hem of her gown, and as she attempted to keep her balance, accidently let her purse slip off her shoulder. Without thinking I reached down to pick it up for her as she tried reached for it simultaneously

 

The small purse was far heavier than it should have been. Curious I opened it, finding that it contained a rather extensive array of mismatched jewelry, glittering in unbelievably expensive fire . I looked into Katrina’s horror struck eyes dumb founded, as she looked guiltily into mine. The gig was up. The jewels belonged to the lady of the manor, my muse in silver was a thief, a female version of me very self.

 

Aye, what’s this than luv? I questioned her as she looked into my eyes, hers large with a mixture of fright and disbelief. She melted before me, fainting, I caught her in my arms, and it was no ruse. I held her as she came to, holding her warm, silky figure lovingly to mine. I did not know what to think. Nor could I ever explain what possessed me to do what I did next. As she came to, her eyes opened, and I removed my mask, looking back into them deeply.

 

Oh, she gasped, I’m glad it was you, startled that she had said the words out loud. She than started to coyly blushes, quite demurely. Something sparked in me, and unless she was an incredibly good actress, it did also for Katrina. Our eyes both looked into the others, melting away in the lust of the moment. We embraced, deeply, and I held her squirming warm slick figure tight in my enveloping arms. I looked over her shoulder, eyeing the glistening bracelet hanging from its branch. To catch a thief, the thought suddenly opened in my mind, what a great title for a novel I thought to myself, as I buried my nose into Katrina’s luxuriously soft hair.

 

We talked for a bit, walking off into the woods, then she looked into my eyes again, a coy, look that melted me on the spot, and that was the end of it, we embraced again, and wholly gave ourselves to one another. What about your man I asked suddenly remembering, my man she questioned , than oh, you mean the Lord, I was waiting for him to come down from smoking in his tower study, that’s where the lady’s jewels are kept. She broke into an Irish brogue as she said the last bit, and that I guessed was her natural tongue. she laid a hand on the side of my face, thanks for being jealous though, me lad.

I should collect my lure I said, which made her smile; it was such an enticing smile at that. We started to head back and watched as it dangled in front of us flickering. With a far off look in her green eyes, Katrina spoke as if in deep though.

 

The daughter of the house, she has a bracelet on like the one you have dangling, a bracelet of diamonds that I had taken a fancy to, wishing it had been in the safe along with the rest of the ladies of manors jewelry. I knew who she was talking about. The one in green taffeta I asked? Aye lad, that’s the one. Actually her necklace would be just as easy, and worth more I said. Just then her bright green eyes gleamed, Give me about a half an hour, she told me, we will put your little lure to use again. She noticed my hesitation, don’t worry luv she said soothingly placing a gloved hand to my cheek, no longer was it sparkly with its stolen bracelet and rings. I’ll leave my purse with you, can’t very well be carrying it around now can I? I nodded my consent, my mind burning with the thoughts she had alluringly placed there.

  

She turned, and then hesitated; turning back she said I probably should not go back in naked luv. I smiled, reaching in I pulled out her necklace and placed it around her throat. With a little gasp she blurted, so it was you, I was wondering who and when it had happened. It’s not the first time I’ve had me jewels lifted, but it’s a bloody annoyance to have to let them get away with it, crawls under my skin to have pretend not to notice so that I don’t draw any attention to me self before making my move to steal the posh ones jewels.

 

But you, mister, I never felt as much as a prickling. I was ready to assume my pretties had been a victim of a broken clasp this time. I gave a little nod in acceptance. That wasn’t exactly a compliment lad, she said in what I hopped was a subtle jest. Just last summer some clumsy bugger slipped of me earrings, my favorite pearls, as we were danc… she stopped, seeing the guilt in my eyes. Men! As thieves you are all of the same skin she spat out angrily, or attempted to sound angry, for the look in her eyes to me she wasn’t. I best be off, before I change me mind about out little endeavor.

 

With that she swirled around on her heels, and started off, but not before turning and giving me an extremely coy look of interest. As she swirled back around I heard her say loud enough for my ears, I’ll learn me self to be a picker of pockets, see how males like to be taken advantage of in their vulnerabilities! She nodded to herself as she said it. Then suddenly she stopped, than twirled on her heels, her gown swirling enticingly along her figure. Looking me dead in the eye she said, “Vie ne est pas d'attendre que la tempête , mais d'apprendre à danser sous la pluie” !

 

What does that mean? I questioned in a low voice, perplexed.

 

Maybe, Mon Cheri, someday I will tell you… And with that she turned on her heel, her gown once again swirling about, and went, determinedly, swishing her way back up the path. I just watched. I had never heard anyone speak French with an Irish Brogue and I had found it to be rather provocative!

 

I watched as she swished and swayed her way back through the hedge and regained the path leading back to the manor. Her plan was simple; she would lead the daughter of the house to my corner and as she had done, go out with her to look at the swinging charm. I would then make my appearance, rob both ladies of their finery, and telling the daughter to wait until I released her friend, walk off with Katrina as a hostage, and we would both take off and make good our escape. A simple plan, so simple it should actually work.

 

So, there I was. Holding a purse with a small fortune in jewels, my pocket full of more jewels worth an additional pretty farthing, and her charms were wearing off by her leaving. And my thieving nature coming back, reawakened from the spell they had been under!

 

The devil of my conscious crept out on my shoulder, the angel markedly absent from the other.

 

Look mate, she may not be all she seems, and possibly has some other game in mind. Maybe she does have a male confidante helping her out… and was actually on her way to fetch him. He said in my inner ear. And, after all, you took her diamonds twice, didn’t ye now? Do you really think shell forgive you of that me lad?

 

And there is no honor amongst thieves, as the saying goes, he added as a closing argument...

 

I rolled it over in my mind…I could leave, absconding with it all, book a cruise to the states or down under where there lay untried fertile grounds to ply my trade. Not to mention working over my fellow passengers aboard the cruise ship while they attended the fancy affairs that were always going on, or so the brochures always seemed to show……

 

Then In the distance I caught a wisp of Katrina’s long silvery gown. She was coming, and not only with the daughter of the manor, but also with a spare. For I could see a purple coloured gown swishing alongside with the prey in rustling green taffeta.. I watched as all three ladies, resplendent with the rippling fiery gems they all possessed, came up the path, gowns sweeping out , shimmery from the now misty distance.

 

The thought of making my escape with all the loot continued to haunt me, there was still time now to take off without notice, or I could rob all three, and leave with purple silk as my hostage, Katrina would not be able to say anything on chance of giving up her part of the game, or I could just be a good lad and sty with the script that Katrina had written. Take a chance, roll the dice and believe that she was all she had me believing she could ever be.

 

As they came closer I knew my time was running out. The thoughts of just looking out for myself kept coming up playing the devil with my conscience as the precious seconds ticked away…

 

No honor amongst thieves…

What will it be, old boy I challenged myself,

What will you have it be?........

To see what his decision ultimately was, and the eventual path it led to, see the album question answered)

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Life is not about waiting out the storm, but about learning to dance in the rain.

Vie ne est pas d'attendre que la tempête , mais d'apprendre à danser sous la pluie .

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Courtesy of Chatwick University Archives

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Eiffel Tower

 

The Eiffel Tower (French: La Tour Eiffel, [tuʁ ɛfɛl], nickname La dame de fer, the iron lady) is a puddle iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. Built in 1889, it has become both a global icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower is the tallest building in Paris[10] and the most-visited paid monument in the world; millions of people ascend it every year. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the tower was built as the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair.

 

The tower stands 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building. Upon its completion, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to assume the title of the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years, until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930. However, due to the addition, in 1957, of the antenna atop the Eiffel Tower, is now taller than the Chrysler Building. Not including broadcast antennas, it is the second-tallest structure in France, after the Millau Viaduct.

 

The tower has three levels for visitors. Tickets can be purchased to ascend, by stairs or lift, to the first and second levels. The walk from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. The third and highest level is accessible only by elevator. Both the first and second levels feature restaurants.

 

The tower has become the most prominent symbol of both Paris and France, often in the establishing shot of films set in the city.

 

History

   

Eiffel Tower under construction in July 1888

  

Eiffel Tower Construction view: girders at the first storey

   

Panoramic view during ascension of the Eiffel Tower by the Lumière brothers, 1898

  

25 August 1944: American soldiers watch as the Tricolor flies from the Eiffel Tower again.

   

Franz Reichelt's preparations and fall from the Eiffel Tower.

  

Lightning strikes the Eiffel Tower on 3 June 1902, at 9:20 pm

  

Adolf Hitler with the Eiffel Tower in the background

The structure was built between 1887 and 1889 as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, a World's Fair marking the centennial celebration of the French Revolution. Three hundred workers joined together 18,038 pieces of puddled iron (a very pure form of structural iron), using two and a half million rivets, in a structural design by Maurice Koechlin. Eiffel was assisted in the design by engineers Émile Nouguier and Maurice Koechlin and architect Stephen Sauvestre.[11] The risk of accident was great as, unlike modern skyscrapers, the tower is an open frame without any intermediate floors except the two platforms. However, because Eiffel took safety precautions, including the use of movable stagings, guard-rails and screens, only one man died. The tower was inaugurated on 31 March 1889, and opened on 6 May.

 

The tower was much criticised by the public when it was built, with many calling it an eyesore. Newspapers of the day were filled with angry letters from the arts community of Paris. One is quoted extensively in William Watson's US Government Printing Office publication of 1892 Paris Universal Exposition: Civil Engineering, Public Works, and Architecture: "And during twenty years we shall see, stretching over the entire city, still thrilling with the genius of so many centuries, we shall see stretching out like a black blot the odious shadow of the odious column built up of riveted iron plates."[12] Signers of this letter included Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier, Charles Gounod, Charles Garnier, Jean-Léon Gérôme, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, and Alexandre Dumas.

 

Novelist Guy de Maupassant—who claimed to hate the tower[13]—supposedly ate lunch in the Tower's restaurant every day. When asked why, he answered that it was the one place in Paris where one could not see the structure. Today, the Tower is widely considered to be a striking piece of structural art.

 

One of the great Hollywood movie clichés is that the view from a Parisian window always includes the tower. In reality, since zoning restrictions limit the height of most buildings in Paris to 7 stories, only a very few of the taller buildings have a clear view of the tower.

 

Eiffel had a permit for the tower to stand for 20 years; it was to be dismantled in 1909, when its ownership would revert to the City of Paris. The City had planned to tear it down (part of the original contest rules for designing a tower was that it could be easily demolished) but as the tower proved valuable for communication purposes, it was allowed to remain after the expiry of the permit. The military used it to dispatch Parisian taxis to the front line during the First Battle of the Marne.

 

Timeline of events

10 September 1889

Thomas Edison visited the tower. He signed the guestbook with the following message—

To M Eiffel the Engineer the brave builder of so gigantic and original specimen of modern Engineering from one who has the greatest respect and admiration for all Engineers including the Great Engineer the Bon Dieu, Thomas Edison.

1910

Father Theodor Wulf measured radiant energy at the top and bottom of the tower, discovering at the top more than was expected, and thereby detecting what are today known as cosmic rays.[14]

4 February 1912

Austrian tailor Franz Reichelt died after jumping 60 metres from the first deck of Eiffel tower with his home-made parachute.

1914

A radio transmitter located in the tower jammed German radio communications during the lead-up to the First Battle of the Marne.

1925

The con artist Victor Lustig "sold" the tower for scrap metal on two separate, but related occasions.[15]

1930

The tower lost the title of the world's tallest structure when the Chrysler Building was completed in New York City.

1925 to 1934

Illuminated signs for Citroën adorned three of the tower's four sides, making it the tallest advertising space in the world at the time.

1940–1944

[citation needed] Upon the German occupation of Paris in 1940, the lift cables were cut by the French so that Adolf Hitler would have to climb the steps to the summit. The parts to repair them were allegedly impossible to obtain because of the war. In 1940 German soldiers had to climb to the top to hoist the swastika, but the flag was so large it blew away just a few hours later, and was replaced by a smaller one. When visiting Paris, Hitler chose to stay on the ground. It was said that Hitler conquered France, but did not conquer the Eiffel Tower. A Frenchman scaled the tower during the German occupation to hang the French flag. In August 1944, when the Allies were nearing Paris, Hitler ordered General Dietrich von Choltitz, the military governor of Paris, to demolish the tower along with the rest of the city. Von Choltitz disobeyed the order. Some say Hitler was later persuaded to keep the tower intact so it could later be used for communications. The lifts of the Tower were working normally within hours of the Liberation of Paris.

3 January 1956

A fire damaged the top of the tower.

1957

The present radio antenna was added to the top.

1980s

A restaurant and its supporting iron scaffolding midway up the tower was dismantled; it was purchased and reconstructed on St. Charles Avenue and Joesphine Street in the Garden District of New Orleans, Louisiana, by entrepreneurs John Onorio and Daniel Bonnot, originally as the Tour Eiffel Restaurant, later as the Red Room and now as the Cricket Club (owned by the New Orleans Culinary Institute). The restaurant was re-assembled from 11,000 pieces that crossed the Atlantic in a 40-foot (12 m) cargo container.

31 March 1984

Robert Moriarty flew a Beechcraft Bonanza through the arches of the tower.[16]

1987

A.J. Hackett made one of his first bungee jumps from the top of the Eiffel Tower, using a special cord he had helped develop. Hackett was arrested by the Paris police upon reaching the ground.[17]

27 October 1991

Thierry Devaux, along with mountain guide Hervé Calvayrac, performed a series of acrobatic figures of bungee jump (not allowed) from the second floor of the Tower. Facing the Champ de Mars, Thierry Devaux was using an electric winch between each figure to go back up. When firemen arrived, he stopped after the sixth bungee jump.[18]

New Year's Eve 1999

The Eiffel Tower played host to Paris' Millennium Celebration. On this occasion, flashing lights and four high-power searchlights were installed on the tower, and fireworks were set off all over it. An exhibition above a cafeteria on the first floor commemorates this event. Since then, the light show has become a nightly event. The searchlights on top of the tower make it a beacon in Paris' night sky, and the 20,000 flash bulbs give the tower a sparkly appearance every hour on the hour.[19]

28 November 2002

The tower received its 200,000,000th guest.[20][21]

2004

The Eiffel Tower began hosting an ice skating rink on the first floor each winter.[22]

Engraved names

Main article: The 72 names on the Eiffel Tower

Gustave Eiffel engraved on the tower seventy-two names of French scientists, engineers and other notable people. This engraving was painted over at the beginning of the twentieth century but restored in 1986–1987 by the Société Nouvelle d'exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, a company contracted to operate business related to the Tower.

 

Design of the tower

 

Material

The pig iron structure of the Eiffel Tower weighs 7,300 tonnes while the entire structure, including non-metal components, is approximately 10,000 tonnes. As a demonstration of the economy of design, if the 7,300 tonnes of the metal structure were melted down it would fill the 125 metre square base to a depth of only 6 cm (2.36 in), assuming the density of the metal to be 7.8 tonnes per cubic metre. Depending on the ambient temperature, the top of the tower may shift away from the sun by up to 18 cm (7.1 in) because of thermal expansion of the metal on the side facing the sun.

   

The third floor of the Eiffel Tower, at night, seen from Trocadéro

Wind considerations

At the time the tower was built many people were shocked by its daring shape. Eiffel was criticised for the design and accused of trying to create something artistic, or inartistic according to the viewer, without regard to engineering. Eiffel and his engineers, however, as experienced bridge builders, understood the importance of wind forces and knew that if they were going to build the tallest structure in the world they had to be certain it would withstand the wind. In an interview reported in the newspaper Le Temps, Eiffel said:

 

Now to what phenomenon did I give primary concern in designing the Tower? It was wind resistance. Well then! I hold that the curvature of the monument's four outer edges, which is as mathematical calculation dictated it should be [...] will give a great impression of strength and beauty, for it will reveal to the eyes of the observer the boldness of the design as a whole.[23]

Researchers have found that Eiffel used empirical and graphical methods accounting for the effects of wind rather than a specific mathematical formula. Careful examination of the tower shows a basically exponential shape; actually two different exponentials, the lower section overdesigned to ensure resistance to wind forces. Several mathematical explanations have been proposed over the years for the success of the design; the most recent is described as a nonlinear integral equation based on counterbalancing the wind pressure on any point on the tower with the tension between the construction elements at that point.[24][25] As a demonstration of the tower's effectiveness in wind resistance, it sways only 6–7 cm (2–3 in) in the wind.[24][25][26]

 

Maintenance

Maintenance of the tower includes applying 50 to 60 tonnes of paint every seven years to protect it from rust.

 

Aesthetic considerations

In order to maintain a uniform appearance to an observer on the ground, three separate colours of paint are used on the tower, with the darkest on the bottom and the lightest at the top. On occasion the colour of the paint is changed; the tower is currently painted a shade of bronze.[27] On the first floor there are interactive consoles hosting a poll for the colour to use for a future session of painting.

 

The only non-structural elements are the four decorative grillwork arches, added in Stephen Sauvestre's sketches, which served to reassure visitors that the structure was safe, and to frame views of other nearby architecture.[28][29][30]

 

Tourism

 

Popularity

More than 200,000,000 people have visited the tower since its construction in 1889,[31] including 6,719,200 in 2006.[26] The tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world.[32]

 

Passenger Elevators

  

View of Eiffel Tower from the Montparnasse Tower.

Ground to the second level

The original elevators to the first and second floors were provided by two companies. Both companies had to overcome many technical obstacles as neither company (or indeed any company) had experience with installing elevators climbing to such heights with large loads. The slanting tracks with changing angles further complicated the problems. The East and West elevators were supplied by the French company Roux Combaluzier Lepape, using hydraulically powered chains and rollers. Contemporary engravings of the elevators cars show that the passengers were seated at this time but it is not clear whether this was conceptual. It would be unnecessary to seat passengers for a journey of a couple of minutes. The North and South elevators were provided by the American company Otis using car designs similar to the original installation but using an improved hydraulic and cable scheme. The French elevators had a very poor performance and were replaced with the current installations in 1897 (West Pillar) and 1899 (East Pillar) by Fives-Lille using an improved hydraulic and rope scheme. Both of the original installations operated broadly on the principle of the Fives-Lille lifts.[33][34]

 

The Fives-Lille elevators from ground level to the first and second levels are operated by cables and pulleys driven by massive water-powered pistons. The hydraulic scheme was somewhat unusual for the time in that it included three large counterweights of 200 tonnes each sitting on top of hydraulic rams which doubled up as accumulators for the water. As the elevators ascend the inclined arc of the pillars, the angle of ascent changes. The two elevator cabs are kept more or less level and indeed are level at the landings. The cab floors do take on a slight angle at times between landings.

   

The Eiffel Tower illuminated in blue to celebrate the French presidency of the EU (July 2008)

The principle behind the elevators is similar to the operation of a block and tackle but in reverse. Two large hydraulic rams (over 1 metre diameter) with a 16 metre travel are mounted horizontally in the base of the pillar which pushes a carriage (the French word for it translates as chariot and this term will be used henceforth to distinguish it from the elevator carriage) with 16 large triple sheaves mounted on it. There are 14 similar sheaves mounted statically. Six wire ropes are rove back and forth between the sheaves such that each rope passes between the 2 sets of sheaves 7 times. The ropes then leave the final sheaves on the chariot and passes up through a series of guiding sheaves to above the second floor and then via a pair of triple sheaves back down to the lift carriage again passing guiding sheaves.

 

This arrangement means that the elevator carriage, complete with its cars and passengers, travels 8 times the distance that the rams move the chariot, the 128 metres from the ground to the second floor. The force exerted by the rams also has to be 8 times the total weight of the lift carriage, cars and passengers, plus extra to account for various losses such as friction. The hydraulic fluid was water, normally stored in three accumulators, complete with counterbalance weights. To make the elevator ascend, water was pumped using an electrically driven pump from the accumulators to the two rams. Since the counterbalance weights provided much of the pressure required, the pump only had to provide the extra effort. For the descent, it was only necessary to allow the water to flow back to the accumulators using a control valve. The lifts were operated by an operator perched precariously underneath the lift cars. His position (with a dummy operator) can still be seen on the lifts today.

 

The Fives-Lille elevators were completely upgraded in 1986 to meet modern safety requirements and to make the elevators easier to operate. A new computer controlled system was installed which completely automated the operation. One of the three counterbalances was taken out of use, and the cars were replaced with a more modern and lighter structure. Most importantly, the main driving force was removed from the original water pump such that the water hydraulic system provided only a counterbalancing function. The main driving force was transferred to a 320 kW electrically driven oil hydraulic pump which drives a pair of hydraulic motors on the chariot itself, thus providing the motive power. The new lift cars complete with their carriage and a full 92 passenger load weigh 22 tonnes.

 

Due to elasticity in the ropes and the time taken to get the cars level with the landings, each elevator in normal service takes an average of 8 minutes and 50 seconds to do the round trip, spending an average of 1 minute and 15 seconds at each floor. The average journey time between floors is just 1 minute.

 

The original Otis elevators in the North and South pillars in their turn proved to be inferior to the new (in 1899) French elevators and were scrapped from the South pillar in 1900 and from the North pillar in 1913 after failed attempts to re-power them with an electric motor. The North and South pillars were to remain without elevators until 1965 when increasing visitor numbers persuaded the operators to install a relatively standard and modern cable hoisted system in the north pillar using a cable-hauled counterbalance weight, but hoisted by a block and tackle system to reduce its travel to one third of the elevator travel. The counterbalance is clearly visible within the structure of the North pillar. This latter elevator was upgraded in 1995 with new cars and computer controls.

 

The South pillar acquired a completely new fairly standard electrically driven elevator in 1983 to serve the Jules Verne restaurant. This was also supplied by Otis. A further four-ton service elevator was added to the South pillar in 1989 by Otis to relieve the main elevators when moving relatively small loads or even just maintenance personnel.

 

The East and West hydraulic (water) elevator works are on display and, at least in theory, are open to the public in a small museum located in base of the East and West tower, which is somewhat hidden from public view. Because the massive mechanism requires frequent lubrication and attention, public access is often restricted. However, when open, the wait times are much less than the other, more popular, attractions. The rope mechanism of the North tower is visible to visitors as they exit from the elevator .

 

Second to the third level

  

The original spiral stairs to the third floor which were only 80 centimetres wide. Note also the small service elevator in the background.

The original elevators from the second to the third floor were also of a water-powered hydraulic design supplied by Léon Edoux. Instead of using a separate counterbalance, the two elevator cars counterbalanced each other. A pair of 81 metre long hydraulic rams were mounted on the second level reaching nearly half way up to the third level. An elevator car was mounted on top of the rams. Ropes ran from the top of this car up to a sheave on the third level and back down to a second car. The result of this arrangement was that each car only travelled half the distance between the second and third levels and passengers were required to change elevators halfway walking between the cars along a narrow gangway with a very impressive and relatively unobstructed downward view. The ten-ton cars held 65 passengers each or up to four tons.

 

One interesting feature of the original installation was that the hoisting rope ran through guides to retain it on windy days to prevent it flapping and becoming damaged. The guides were mechanically moved out of the way of the ascending car by the movement of the car itself. In spite of some antifreeze being added to the water that operated this system, it nevertheless had to close to the public from November to March each year.

   

The original Hydraulic pump for the Edoux lifts

The original elevators complete with their hydraulic mechanism were completely scrapped in 1982 after 97 years of service. They were replaced with two pairs of relatively standard rope hoisted cars which were able to operate all the year round. The cars operate in pairs with one providing the counterbalance for the other. Neither car can move unless both sets of doors are closed and both operators have given a start command. The commands from the cars to the hoisting mechanism are by radio obviating the necessity of a control cable. The replacement installation also has the advantage that the ascent can be made without changing cars and has reduced the ascent time from 8 minutes (including change) to 1 minute and 40 seconds. This installation also has guides for the hoisting ropes but they are electrically operated. The guide once it has moved out of the way as the car ascends automatically reverses when the car has passed to prevent the mechanism becoming snagged on the car on the downward journey in the event it has failed to completely clear the car. Unfortunately these elevators do not have the capacity to move as many people as the three public lower elevators and long lines to ascend to the third level are common. Most of the intermediate level structure present on the tower today was installed when the elevators were replaced and allows maintenance workers to take the elevator half way.

 

The replacement of these elevators allowed the restructuring of the criss-cross beams in upper part of the tower and further allowed the installation of two emergency staircases. These replaced the dangerous winding stairs that were installed when the tower was constructed.

 

Restaurants

The tower has two restaurants: Le 58 tour Eiffel, on the first floor 311 ft (95 m) above sea level; and the Le Jules Verne, an expensive gastronomical restaurant on the second floor, with a private lift. This restaurant has one star in the Michelin Red Guide. In January 2007, the multi-Michelin star chef Alain Ducasse was brought in to run Jules Verne.[35]

 

Attempted relocation

 

According to interviews given in the early 1980s, Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau negotiated a secret agreement with French President Charles de Gaulle for the tower to be dismantled and temporarily relocated to Montreal to serve as a landmark and tourist attraction during Expo 67. The plan was allegedly vetoed by the company which operated the tower out of fear that the French government could refuse permission for the tower to be restored to its original location.[36]

 

Reproductions

   

Replica at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel, Nevada, United States

Main article: List of Eiffel Tower replicas

As one of the most iconic images in the world, the Eiffel Tower has been the inspiration for the creation of over 30 duplicates and similar towers around the world.

 

Communications

 

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the tower has been used for radio transmission. Until the 1950s, an occasionally modified set of antenna wires ran from the summit to anchors on the Avenue de Suffren and Champ de Mars. They were connected to long-wave transmitters in small bunkers; in 1909, a permanent underground radio centre was built near the south pillar and still exists today. On 20 November 1913, the Paris Observatory, using the Eiffel Tower as an antenna, exchanged sustained wireless signals with the United States Naval Observatory which used an antenna in Arlington, Virginia. The object of the transmissions was to measure the difference in longitude between Paris and Washington, D.C.[37] Today, both radio and television stations broadcast their signals from the top of the Eiffel.

 

Source en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eiffel_Tower

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The Petronas Towers, also known as the Petronas Twin Towers (Malay: Menara Petronas, or Menara Berkembar Petronas), are twin skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH)'s official definition and ranking, they were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 and remain the tallest twin towers in the world. The buildings are a landmark of Kuala Lumpur, along with nearby Kuala Lumpur Tower.

 

HISTORY

The towers were designed by Argentine - South American architect César Pelli. They chose a distinctive postmodern style to create a 21st-century icon for Kuala Lumpur. Planning on the Petronas Towers started on 1 January 1992 and included rigorous tests and simulations of wind and structural loads on the design. Seven years of construction followed at the former site of the original Selangor Turf Club, beginning on 1 March 1993 with excavation, which involved moving 500 truckloads of earth every night to dig down 30 metres below the surface.

 

The construction of the superstructure commenced on 1 April 1994. Interiors with furniture were completed on 1 January 1996, the spires of Tower 1 and Tower 2 were completed on 1 March 1996, and the first batch of Petronas personnel moved into the building on 1 January 1997. The building was officially opened by the Prime Minister of Malaysia's Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad on 1 August 1999. The twin towers were built on the site of Kuala Lumpur's race track. Test boreholes found that the original construction site effectively sat on the edge of a cliff. One half of the site was decayed limestone while the other half was soft rock. The entire site was moved 61 metres to allow the buildings to sit entirely on the soft rock. Because of the depth of the bedrock, the buildings were built on the world's deepest foundations. 104 concrete piles, ranging from 60 to 114 metres deep, were bored into the ground. The concrete raft foundation, comprising 13,200 cubic metres of concrete was continuously poured through a period of 54 hours for each tower. The raft is 4.6 metres thick, weighs 32,500 tonnes and held the world record for the largest concrete pour until 2007. The foundations were completed within 12 months by Bachy Soletanche and required massive amounts of concrete. Its engineering designs on structural framework were contributed by Haitian engineer Domo Obiasse and colleagues Aris Battista and Princess D Battista. The Petronas Towers' structural system is a tube in tube design, invented by Fazlur Rahman Khan. Applying a tube-structure for extreme tall buildings is a common phenomenon.

 

The 88-floor towers are constructed largely of reinforced concrete, with a steel and glass facade designed to resemble motifs found in Islamic art, a reflection of Malaysia's Muslim religion. Another Islamic influence on the design is that the cross section of the towers is based on a Rub el Hizb, albeit with circular sectors added to meet office space requirements.

 

As a result of the Malaysian government specifying that the buildings be completed in six years, two construction consortiums were hired to meet the deadline, one for each tower. Tower 1, the west tower (right in the top-right photograph) was built by a Japanese consortium led by the Hazama Corporation (JA Jones Construction Co., MMC Engineering Services Sdn Bhd, Ho Hup Construction Co. Bhd and Mitsubishi Corp) while Tower 2, the east tower (left in the top-right photograph) was built by a South Korean consortium led by the Samsung C&T Corporation (Kukdong Engineering & Construction and Syarikat Jasatera Sdn Bhd). Early into construction a batch of concrete failed a routine strength test causing construction to come to a complete halt. All the completed floors were tested but it was found that only one had used a bad batch and it was demolished. As a result of the concrete failure, each new batch was tested before being poured. The halt in construction had cost US$700,000 per day and led to three separate concrete plants being set up on the site to ensure that if one produced a bad batch, the other two could continue to supply concrete. The sky bridge contract was completed by Kukdong Engineering & Construction. Tower 2 became the first to reach the world's tallest building at the time. When the structure reached about 72nd floor, tower 2 ran into problems. They discovered the structure was leaning 25 millimetres off from vertical. To correct the lean, the next 16 floors were slanted back 20 millimetres with specialist surveyors hired to check verticality twice a day until the building's completion.

 

Due to the huge cost of importing steel, the towers were constructed on a cheaper radical design of super high-strength reinforced concrete. High-strength concrete is a material familiar to Asian contractors and twice as effective as steel in sway reduction; however, it makes the building twice as heavy on its foundation as a comparable steel building. Supported by 23-by-23 metre concrete cores and an outer ring of widely spaced super columns, the towers use a sophisticated structural system that accommodates its slender profile and provides 560,000 square metres of column-free office space. Below the twin towers is Suria KLCC, a shopping mall, and Dewan Filharmonik Petronas, the home of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.

 

NOTABLE EVENTS

On 15 April 1999, Felix Baumgartner set the world record for BASE jumping (since broken) by jumping off a window cleaning crane on the Petronas Towers.

 

Thousands of people were evacuated on 12 September 2001 after a bomb threat was phoned the day after the September 11 attacks destroyed the World Trade Center towers in New York City. Bomb Disposal squads found no bomb in the Petronas towers but they evacuated everyone. Workers and shoppers were allowed to return three hours later, around noon. No one was hurt during the evacuation.

 

On the evening of 4 November 2005, a fire broke out in the cinema complex of the Suria KLCC shopping centre below the Petronas Towers, triggering panic among patrons. There were no reports of injuries. The buildings were largely empty, except the shopping mall, Suria KLCC, because of the late hour; the only people involved were moviegoers and some diners in restaurants.

 

On the morning of 1 September 2009, French urban climber Alain "Spiderman" Robert, using only his bare hands and feet and with no safety devices, scaled to the top of Tower Two in just under 2 hours after two previous efforts had ended in arrest. On 20 March 1997, police arrested him at the 60th floor, 28 floors away from the "summit". He made a second attempt on 20 March 2007, exactly 10 years later, and was stopped once again on the same floor, though on the other tower.

 

COMPARISON WITH OTHER TOWERS

The Petronas Towers were the tallest buildings in the world for six years, until Taipei 101 was completed in 2004. The height of the towers is measured to the top of their structural components such as spires, but do not include antennas. Spires are considered actual integral parts of the architectural design of buildings, to which changes would substantially change the appearance and design of the building, whereas antennas may be added or removed without such consequences. The Petronas Towers still remain the tallest twin buildings in the world. Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) and the World Trade Center towers were each constructed with 110 occupied floors – 22 more than the 88 floors of the Petronas Towers. Willis Tower's tallest antenna is 75.41 m taller than those of the Petronas Towers, however, in accordance with CTBUH regulations and guidelines, the antennas of Willis Tower were not counted as part of its architectural features. The spires on the Petronas Towers are included in the height since they are not antenna masts. Therefore, the Petronas Towers exceed the official height of Willis Tower by 10 m even though the roof of Petronas Towers at 378.6 metres is 63.4 m lower than the roof of Willis Tower at 442 metres.The Petronas Towers feature a diamond-faceted facade consisting of 83,500 square metres of stainless steel extrusions. In addition, a 33,000-panel curtain wall cladding system resides within the towers. While the stainless steel element of the towers entices the illustrious sun, highlighting the magnificent towers, they are composed of 55,000 square metres of 20.38-millimetre laminated glass to reduce heat by reflecting harmful UV rays.

 

On the top of each tower is a pinnacle standing 73.5 metres tall. The pinnacles were more than just the finishing touches to the height of the towers, each taking over 19 weeks to construct and both being assembled outside the country. One was constructed in Japan and the other in Korea. Each pinnacle is composed of 50 unique parts making up the main components: the spire, mast ball and ring ball. Together these parts weigh 176 tons. While the pinnacles may seem to be an aesthetic feature of the towers to enhance their presence and height, they also play function to aircraft warning lights and are an essential element to the overall Islamic minaret design that the towers embody.

 

The interiors of the towers highlight the Malaysian cultural inspiration to the design through traditional aspects such as fabric and carvings typical of the culture, specifically evident in the foyer of the entrance halls in the towers.

 

The construction of the Petronas Towers turned out to be a multinational effort. The structural design engineers worked out of New York City, while the wind-tunnel consultants and elevator design engineers were from Canada. To meet local safety construction codes, the towers had to be able to withstand 105 km/h winds. To assure this requirement would be fulfilled, the engineers tested the towers twice within a wind tunnel, first by computer simulation and second by building an actual model of the towers.

 

ANCHOR TENANTS

Tower One is fully occupied by Petronas and a number of its subsidiaries and associate companies, while the office spaces in Tower Two are mostly available for lease to other companies. A number of companies have offices in Tower Two, including Huawei Technologies, AVEVA, Al Jazeera English, Carigali Hess, Bloomberg, Boeing, IBM, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, McKinsey & Co, WIPRO Limited, TCS, HCL Technologies, Krawler, Microsoft, The Agency (a modelling company) and Reuters.

 

FEATURES

SURIA KLCC

Suria KLCC is a 140,000 m2 upmarket retail center at the feet of the Petronas Towers. It features mostly foreign luxury goods and high-street labels. Its attractions include an art gallery, a philharmonic theatre, an underwater aquarium and also a Science center. Suria KLCC is one of the largest shopping malls in Malaysia.

 

KLCC PARK

Spanning 6.9 ha below the building is the KLCC Park with jogging and walking paths, a fountain with incorporated light show, wading pools, and a children's playground.

 

SKYBRIDGE

The towers feature a double decker skybridge connecting the two towers on the 41st and 42nd floors, which is the highest 2-story bridge in the world. It is not attached to the main structure, but is instead designed to slide in and out of the towers to prevent it from breaking, as the towers sway several feet in towards and away from each other during high winds. It also provides some structural support to the towers in these occasions. The bridge is 170 m above the ground and 58 m long, weighing 750 tons. The same floor is also known as the podium, since visitors going to higher levels have to change elevators here. The skybridge is open to all visitors, but tickets are limited to about 1000 people per day, and must be obtained on a first-come, first-served basis. Initially, the visit was free but in 2010, the tickets started being sold by Petronas. Visitors can choose to opt for package one which is just a visit to the skybridge or go for package two to go to the skybridge and all the way to level 86. Visitors are only allowed on the 41st floor as the 42nd floor can only be used by the tenants of the building.

 

The skybridge also acts as a safety device, so that in the event of a fire or other emergency in one tower, tenants can evacuate by crossing the skybridge to the other tower. The total evacuation triggered by a bomb hoax on 12 September 2001 (the day after the September 11 attacks destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City) showed that the bridge would not be useful if both towers need to be emptied simultaneously, as the capacity of the staircases was insufficient for such an event. Plans thus call for the lifts to be used if both towers need to be evacuated, and a successful drill following the revised plan was conducted in 2005.

 

There is a two hinged arch that supports the skybridge with arch legs, each 51 metres long, that are bolted to level 29 of each of the towers. After being constructed on the ground, the skybridge was lifted into place on the towers over a period of three days in July 1995 but instead of being directly connected to the towers, the skybridge can shift or slide in and out of them to counterbalance any effect from the wind. Residing on the 41st and 42nd floors, the skybridge connects a conference room, an executive dining room and a prayer room.

 

LIFT SYSTEM

The main bank of Otis Lifts is located in the centre of each tower. All main lifts are double-decker with the lower deck of the lift taking passengers to even-numbered floors and upper deck to odd-numbered floors. To reach an odd-numbered floor from ground level, passengers must take an escalator to the upper deck of the lift.

 

There are 29 double-deck passenger elevators, but there are different sets that service certain floors of the towers, specifically two sets of six of these double-deck passenger elevators to floors 1–23 and 1–37 respectively. Another set of 5 passenger lifts transport passengers to the 41st and 42nd floors where they can switch lifts to reach the upper zones of the buildings, each double-deck passenger lift with the capacity of 52 passengers or, 26 passengers per deck. There are also 6 heavy-duty elevators for utility.

 

From the ground floor, there are three groups of lifts. The "short haul" group of 6 lifts take passengers to floors between level 2/3 and level 16/17. The "mid haul" group of six lifts take passengers to floors between level 18/19 and level 37/38. There is also a set of shuttle lifts that take passengers directly to levels 41/42. To get to levels above 41/42, passengers must take the shuttle lifts, then change to lifts to the upper floors. These connecting lifts are directly above the lifts that serve levels 2 to 38. The pattern now repeats with the upper levels, one set serving levels 43/44 to 57/58 and one set serving levels 59/60 to levels 73/74.

 

Apart from this main bank of lifts, there are a series of "connecting" lifts to take people between the groups. Unlike the main lifts, these are not the double-decker type. Two lifts are provided to take people from levels 37/38 to levels 41/42 (levels 39 and 40 are not accessible as office space). This spares someone in the lower half of the building from having to go back to the ground floor to go to the upper half of the building.

 

The lifts contain a number of safety features. It is possible to evacuate people from a lift stuck between floors by manually driving one of the adjacent lifts next to it and opening a panel in the wall. It is then possible for people in the stuck lift to walk between lift cars. During an evacuation of the buildings, only the shuttle lift is allowed to be used, as there are only doors at levels G/1 and levels 41/42; therefore should there be a fire in the lower half of the building, this enclosed shaft would remain unaffected. Firefighter lifts are also provided in case of emergency.

 

The lift operating chart of the Petronas Towers

 

PL7A-PL7C (Tower 1) & PL8A-PL8C (Tower 2)(Parking & Podium Passenger Lift): P5-P1, C, G, 1, 2, 2M, 3-5 (PL7A & PL8A non-stop at level 2M)

SL6 (Tower 1) & SL7 (Tower 2) (Parking & Podium Service Lift): P5-P1, 1, 2, 2M, 3-5 (SL7 non-stop at level 2M)

PL14 (Tower 1) & PL15 (Tower 2) (Concert Passenger Lift): G, 2, 2M, 3, 4

A1-A6 (Tower 1) & A7-A12 (Tower 2) (Bank A Passenger Lift): G/1, 8/9-22/23

B1-B6 (Tower 1) & B7-B12 (Tower 2) (Bank B Passenger Lift): G/1, 24/25-36/37

CF1-CF2 (Tower 1) & CF3-CF4 (Tower 2) (Conference Shuttle Lift): 36, 37, 40-42

C1-C6 (Tower 1) & C7-C12 (Tower 2) (Bank C Passenger Lift): 41/42, 43/44-57/58

D1-D3 (Tower 1) & D4-D6 (Tower 2) (Bank D Passenger Lift): 41/42, 59/60-73/74

E1-E3 (Tower 1) & E4-E6 (Tower 2) (Bank E Passenger Lift): 41/42, 75-83

TE1-TE2 (Tower 1) & TE3-TE4 (Tower 2) (Upper Level Passenger Lift): 83, 85-88

S1-S2 (Tower 1) & S4-S5 (Tower 2) (Service Lift): P1, C, G, 2-6, 8-38, 40-84

S3 (Tower 1) & S6(Tower 2) (Lower Level Service Lift): P1, C, G, 2-6, 8-36

F1-F2 (Tower 1) & F3-F4 (Tower 2) (Fireman Service Lift): P1, C, G, 1-6, 8-38, 40-88 (F1 & F3 non-stop at Level 1)

 

SERVICE BUILDING

The service building is to the east of the Petronas Towers and contains the chiller plant system and the cooling towers to keep the Petronas Towers cool and comfortable.

 

TICKETING SYSTEM

In order to visit Petronas towers, visitors must first purchase the tickets. Tickets of adults and children can be purchased via online web portal or at the counter. Discounted tickets for seniors are available for those 55 years of age and above. Queues for tickets can get quite long sometimes. The complete Ticketing System or Automated Fare Collection system is provided by a Malaysian-based solution company called Longbow Technologies Sdn Bhd.

 

IN POPULAR CULTURE

- The towers are prominently featured and mentioned by name in the 1999 film Entrapment, with numerous scenes filmed at the towers, with the climax set on the skybridge.

- The Towers appear in the first episode of the US TV series 24.

- Several scenes of the Bollywood film Don: The Chase Begins Again were also filmed in the Petronas Towers and its skybridge.

- In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas and Ferb Save Summer!", the towers are visible during the musical number "Summer All Over the World".

- Eidos Interactive has twice used the towers for inspiration in their video games. In the 2002 Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, the Malaysia-based levels Basement Killing, The Graveyard Shift, and The Jacuzzi Job all take place in the Petronas Towers. In 2010's Just Cause 2, the fictional Panau Falls Casino is based on the Petronas Towers.

- A 2002 episode of the animated series Jackie Chan Adventures titled "When Pigs Fly" (Season 3, Episode 6), features the towers.

- The towers made its appearance, in the animated series Totally Spies episode titled "Man or Machine".

 

WIKIPEDIA

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

Career

Name: RMS Olympic

Owner: White Star flag NEW.svg White Star Line 1911–1934

Cunard White Star Line Logo.JPG Cunard White Star Line 1934–1935

Port of registry: United Kingdom Liverpool, United Kingdom

Route: Southampton to New York

Ordered: 1906

Builder: Harland and Wolff, Belfast

Yard number: 400

Laid down: 16 December 1908

Launched: 20 October 1910

Completed: May 1911

Maiden voyage: 14 June 1911

In service: 1911

Out of service: 1935

Identification: Official Number 131346

Code Letters HSRP

ICS Hotel.svgICS Sierra.svgICS Romeo.svgICS Papa.svg

Radio callsign "MKC"

Fate: Retired at Southampton after 24 years service & scrapped. Superstructure dismantled at Jarrow, England, and the hull at Inverkeithing, Scotland.

Status: scrapped (besides the Second Class Lounge)

General characteristics

Class & type: Olympic-class ocean liner

Tonnage: 45,324 gross register tons; 46,358 after 1913; 46,439 after 1920

Displacement: 52,067 tons

Length: 882 ft 6 in (269.0 m)

Beam: 92 ft 6 in (28.2 m)

Height: 175 ft (53.3 m) (keel to top of funnels)

Draught: 34 ft 7 in (10.5 m)

Decks: 10 decks (1 crew deck)

Installed power: 24 double-ended (six furnace) and 5 single-ended (three furnace) Scotch boilers. Two four-cylinder triple-expansion reciprocating engines each producing 15,000 hp for the two outboard wing propellers at 75 revolutions per minute. One low-pressure turbine producing 16,000 h. 59,000 hp produced at maximum revolutions.[1]

Propulsion: Two bronze triple-blade wing propellers. One bronze quadruple-blade centre propeller.

Speed:

 

21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph)

23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph) (maximum)

 

Capacity: 2,435 passengers

Crew: 950

 

RMS Olympic was a transatlantic ocean liner, the lead ship of the White Star Line's trio of Olympic-class liners. Unlike her younger sister ships, the Olympic enjoyed a long and illustrious career, spanning 24 years from 1911 to 1935. This included service as a troopship during World War I, which gained her the nickname "Old Reliable". Olympic returned to civilian service after the war and served successfully as an ocean liner throughout the 1920s and into the first half of the 1930s, although increased competition, and the slump in trade during the Great Depression after 1930, made her operation increasingly unprofitable.

 

She was the largest ocean liner in the world for two periods during 1911–13, interrupted only by the brief tenure of the slightly larger Titanic (which had the same dimensions but higher gross tonnage due to revised interior configurations), and then outsized by the SS Imperator. Olympic also retained the title of the largest British-built liner until the RMS Queen Mary was launched in 1934, interrupted only by the short careers of her slightly larger sister ships.[2][3]

 

By contrast with Olympic, the other ships in the class, Titanic and Britannic, did not have long service lives. On the night of 14/15 April 1912, Titanic collided with an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank, claiming 1,500 lives; Britannic struck a mine and sank in the Kea Channel in the Mediterranean on 21 November 1916, killing 30 people.

 

Background

 

Built in Belfast, Ireland, the RMS Olympic was the first of the three Olympic-class ocean liners – the others were the RMS Titanic and the HMHS Britannic.[4] They were by far the largest vessels of the British shipping company White Star Line's fleet, which comprised 29 steamers and tenders in 1912.[5] The three ships had their genesis in a discussion in mid-1907 between the White Star Line's chairman, J. Bruce Ismay, and the American financier J. Pierpont Morgan, who controlled the White Star Line's parent corporation, the International Mercantile Marine Co. The White Star Line faced a growing challenge from its main rivals Cunard, which had just launched Lusitania and Mauretania – the fastest passenger ships then in service – and the German lines Hamburg America and Norddeutscher Lloyd. Ismay preferred to compete on size rather than speed and proposed to commission a new class of liners that would be bigger than anything that had gone before as well as being the last word in comfort and luxury.[6] The company sought an upgrade in their fleet primarily in response to the Cunard giants but also to replace their largest and now outclassed ships from 1890, the SS Teutonic and SS Majestic. The former was replaced by Olympic while Majestic was replaced by Titanic. Majestic would be brought back into her old spot on White Star's New York service after Titanic's loss.

 

The ships were constructed by the Belfast shipbuilders Harland and Wolff, who had a long-established relationship with the White Star Line dating back to 1867.[7] Harland and Wolff were given a great deal of latitude in designing ships for the White Star Line; the usual approach was for the latter to sketch out a general concept which the former would take away and turn into a ship design. Cost considerations were relatively low on the agenda and Harland and Wolff was authorised to spend what it needed on the ships, plus a five percent profit margin.[7] In the case of the Olympic-class ships, a cost of £3 million for the first two ships was agreed plus "extras to contract" and the usual five percent fee.[8]

The launch of Olympic on 20 October 1910

 

Harland and Wolff put their leading designers to work designing the Olympic-class vessels. It was overseen by Lord Pirrie, a director of both Harland and Wolff and the White Star Line; naval architect Thomas Andrews, the managing director of Harland and Wolff's design department; Edward Wilding, Andrews' deputy and responsible for calculating the ship's design, stability and trim; and Alexander Carlisle, the shipyard's chief draughtsman and general manager.[9] Carlisle's responsibilities included the decorations, equipment and all general arrangements, including the implementation of an efficient lifeboat davit design.[10]

 

On 29 July 1908, Harland and Wolff presented the drawings to J. Bruce Ismay and other White Star Line executives. Ismay approved the design and signed three "letters of agreement" two days later authorising the start of construction.[11] At this point the first ship – which was later to become Olympic – had no name, but was referred to simply as "Number 400", as it was Harland and Wolff's four hundredth hull. Titanic was based on a revised version of the same design and was given the number 401.[12] Bruce Ismay's father Thomas Henry Ismay had previously planned to build a ship named Olympic as a sister ship to the Oceanic. The senior Ismay died in 1899 and the order for the ship was cancelled.[13]

 

Construction of the Olympic began three months before Titanic to ease pressures on the shipyard. Several years would pass before Britannic would be launched. In order to accommodate the construction of the class, Harland and Wolff upgraded their facility in Belfast; the most dramatic change was the combining of three slipways into two larger ones. Olympic's keel was laid in December 1908 and she was launched on 20 October 1910.[4] For her launch, the hull was painted in a light grey colour for photographic purposes; a common practice of the day for the first ship in a new class, as it made the lines of the ship clearer in the black and white photographs. Her hull was repainted black following the launch.[3]

 

Features

 

The Grand Staircase of Olympic.

 

The Olympic was designed as a luxury ship; her passenger facilities, fittings, deck plans and technical facilities were largely identical to those of her more famous sister Titanic, although with some small variations.[14] The first-class passengers enjoyed luxurious cabins, and some were equipped with private bathrooms. First-class passengers could have meals in the ship's large and luxurious dining room or in the more intimate A La Carte Restaurant. There was a lavish Grand Staircase, built only for the Olympic-class ships, along with three elevators that ran behind the staircase down to E deck,[15] a Georgian-style smoking room, a Veranda Café decorated with palm trees,[16] a swimming pool, Turkish bath,[17] gymnasium,[18] and several other places for meals and entertainment.

 

The second-class facilities included a smoking room, a library, a spacious dining room, and an elevator.[3][19]

 

Finally, the third-class passengers enjoyed reasonable accommodation compared to other ships, if not up to the second and first classes. Instead of large dormitories offered by most ships of the time, the third-class passengers of the Olympic travelled in cabins containing two to ten bunks. Facilities for the third class included a smoking room, a common area, and a dining room.[3][19]

 

Olympic had a cleaner, sleeker look than other ships of the day: rather than fitting her with bulky exterior air vents, Harland and Wolff used smaller air vents with electric fans, with a "dummy" fourth funnel used for additional ventilation. For the power plant Harland and Wolff employed a combination of reciprocating engines with a centre low-pressure turbine, as opposed to the steam turbines used on Cunard's Lusitania and Mauretania.[20] White Star had successfully tested this engine set up on an earlier liner SS Laurentic, where it was found to be more economical than expansion engines or turbines alone. Olympic consumed 650 tons of coal per 24 hours with an average speed of 21.7 knots on her maiden voyage, compared to 1000 tons of coal per 24 hours for both the Lusitania and Mauretania.[21]

 

Although Olympic and Titanic were nearly identical, and were based on the same design, a few alterations were made to Titanic (and later on Britannic) based on experience gained from Olympic's first year in service. The most noticeable of these was that the forward half of the Titanic's A Deck promenade was enclosed by a steel screen with sliding windows, to provide additional shelter, whereas the Olympic's promenade deck remained open along its whole length. Also the promenades on the Titanic's B Deck were reduced in size, and the space used for additional cabins and public rooms, including two luxury suites with private promenades. A number of other variations existed between the two ships layouts and fittings. These differences meant that Titanic had a slightly higher gross tonnage of 46,328 tons, compared to Olympic's 45,324 tons.[22]

Olympic on her sea trials in Belfast in 1911

Career

 

Following completion, Olympic started her sea trials on 29 May 1911, which she successfully completed; Olympic then left Belfast bound for Liverpool, her port of registration, on 31 May 1911. As a publicity stunt the White Star Line deliberately timed the start of this first voyage to coincide with the launch of Titanic. After spending a day in Liverpool, open to the public, Olympic sailed to Southampton, where she arrived on 3 June, to be made ready for her maiden voyage.[23] The deep-water dock at Southampton, then known as the "White Star Dock" had been specially constructed to accommodate the new Olympic-class liners, and had opened in 1911.[24]

 

Her maiden voyage commenced on 14 June 1911 from Southampton, calling at Cherbourg and Queenstown, reaching New York on 21 June.[25] The maiden voyage was captained by Edward Smith who would lose his life the following year in the Titanic disaster.[26] Designer Thomas Andrews was present for the passage to New York and return, along with a number of engineers, as part of Harland and Wolff's "Guarantee Group" to spot any problems or areas for improvement. Andrews would also lose his life in the Titanic disaster.[27]

 

As the largest ship in the world, and the first in a new class of superliners. Olympic's maiden voyage attracted considerable worldwide attention from the press and public. Following her arrival in New York, Olympic was opened up to the public and received over 8,000 visitors. More than 10,000 spectators watched her depart from New York harbour, for her first return trip.[28]

Hawke collision

Photographs documenting the damage to the Olympic (left) and the Hawke (right) following their collision (alternate view)

 

Olympic's first major mishap occurred on her fifth voyage on 20 September 1911, when she collided with a British warship, HMS Hawke off the Isle of Wight. The collision took place as Olympic and Hawke were running parallel to each other through the Solent. As Olympic turned to starboard, the wide radius of her turn took the commander of the Hawke by surprise, and he was unable to take sufficient avoiding action.[29] The Hawke's bow, which had been designed to sink ships by ramming them, collided with Olympic's starboard side near the stern, tearing two large holes in Olympic's hull, below and above the waterline respectively, resulting in the flooding of two of her watertight compartments and a twisted propeller shaft. HMS Hawke suffered severe damage to her bow and nearly capsized. Despite this, Olympic was able to return to Southampton under her own power, and no-one was seriously injured or killed.[14][30]

 

Captain Edward Smith was still in command of Olympic at the time of the incident. One crew member, Violet Jessop, survived not only the collision with the Hawke but also the later sinking of Titanic and the 1916 sinking of Britannic, the third ship of the class.[31]

 

At the subsequent inquiry the Royal Navy blamed Olympic for the incident, alleging that her large displacement generated a suction that pulled Hawke into her side.[32][33] The Hawke incident was a financial disaster for Olympic's operator. A legal argument ensued which decided that the blame for the incident lay with Olympic, and although the ship was technically under the control of the pilot, the White Star Line was faced with large legal bills and the cost of repairing the ship, and keeping her out of revenue service made matters worse.[29] However, the fact that Olympic endured such a serious collision and stayed afloat, appeared to vindicate the design of the Olympic-class liners and reinforced their "unsinkable" reputation.[29]

Olympic (left) returning to Belfast for repairs in March 1912, and Titanic (right) This was the last time the two sister ships would be seen together

 

It took two weeks for the damage to Olympic to be patched up sufficiently to allow her to return to Belfast for permanent repairs, which took just over six weeks to complete. To speed up the repairs, Harland and Wolff was forced to delay Titanic's completion in order to use her propeller shaft for Olympic. By 29 November she was back in service, however in February 1912, Olympic suffered another setback when she lost a propeller blade on an eastbound voyage from New York, and once again returned to her builder for repairs. To get her back to service as soon as possible, Harland & Wolff again had to pull resources from Titanic, delaying her maiden voyage from 20 March 1912 to 10 April 1912.[34]

Titanic disaster

Main article: Sinking of the RMS Titanic

 

On 14 April 1912, Olympic, now under the command of Herbert James Haddock, was on a return trip from New York. Wireless operator Ernest James Moore[35] received the distress call from her sister Titanic, when she was approximately 500 nautical miles (930 km; 580 mi) west by south of Titanic's location.[36] Haddock calculated a new course, ordered the ship's engines to be set to full power and headed to assist in the rescue.[37]

 

When Olympic was about 100 nautical miles (190 km; 120 mi) away from Titanic's last known position, she received a message from Captain Rostron captain of Cunard Liner RMS Carpathia, explaining that continuing on course to Titanic would gain nothing, as "All boats accounted for. About 675 souls saved [...] Titanic foundered about 2.20 am."[36] Rostron requested that the message be forwarded to White Star and Cunard. He said that he was returning to harbour in New York.[36] Subsequently, the wireless room aboard the Olympic operated as a clearing room for radio messages.[36]

 

When Olympic offered to take on the survivors, she was heatedly turned down by an appalled Rostron, who was concerned that it would cause panic amongst the survivors of the disaster to see a virtual mirror-image of the Titanic appear and ask them to board. Olympic then resumed her voyage to Southampton, with all concerts cancelled as a mark of respect, arriving on 21 April.[3]

 

Over the next few months, Olympic assisted with both the American and British inquiries into the disaster. Deputations from both inquiries inspected Olympic's lifeboats, watertight doors and bulkheads and other equipment which were identical to those on Titanic.[38] Sea tests were performed for the British enquiry in May 1912, to establish how quickly the ship could turn two points at various speeds, to approximate how long it would have taken the Titanic to turn when it sighted the iceberg.[39]

1912 "mutiny"

 

Olympic, like Titanic, did not carry enough lifeboats for everyone on board, and was hurriedly equipped with additional, second-hand collapsible lifeboats following her return to Britain. Toward the end of April 1912, as she was about to sail from Southampton to New York, 284 of the ship's firemen went on strike because of fears that the ship's new collapsible lifeboats were not seaworthy. 100 non-union crew were hastily hired from Southampton as replacements, with more being hired from Liverpool.[40]

 

The 40 collapsible lifeboats were secondhand, having been transferred from troopships, and many were rotten and could not open. The crewmen instead sent a request to the Southampton manager of the White Star Line that the collapsible boats be replaced by wooden lifeboats; the manager replied that this was impossible and that the collapsible boats had been passed as seaworthy by a Board of Trade inspector. The men were not satisfied and ceased work in protest.[41]

 

On 25 April a deputation of strikers witnessed a test of four of the collapsible boats. Only one was unseaworthy and they said that they were prepared to recommend the men return to work if it was replaced. However the strikers now objected to the non-union strikebreaker crew which had come on board, and demanded that they be dismissed, which the White Star Line refused. 54 sailors then left the ship, objecting to the non-union crew who they claimed were unqualified and therefore dangerous, and refused to sail with them. This led to the scheduled sailing being cancelled.[40][42]

 

All 54 sailors were arrested on a charge of mutiny when they went ashore. On 4 May 1912 Portsmouth magistrates found the charges against the mutineers were proven, but discharged them without imprisonment or fine due to the special circumstances of the case.[43] Fearing that public opinion would be on the side of the strikers, the White Star Line let them return to work and the Olympic sailed on 15 May.[39]

Refit

Olympic as she appeared after her refit following the Titanic disaster, with a full complement of lifeboats

 

On 9 October 1912 White Star withdrew Olympic from service and returned her to her builders at Belfast to be refitted to incorporate lessons learned from the Titanic disaster 6 months prior, and improve safety.[44] The number of lifeboats carried by Olympic was increased from twenty to sixty four (per Carlisle's original number), and extra davits were installed along the boat deck to accommodate them. Also, an inner watertight skin was constructed in the boiler and engine rooms, to create a double hull. Five of the watertight bulkheads were extended up to B-Deck, extending to the entire height of the hull. This corrected a flaw in the original design, in which the bulkheads only rose up as far as E or D-Deck, a short distance above the waterline. This flaw had been exposed during Titanic's sinking, where water spilled over the top of the bulkheads as the ship sank and flooded subsequent compartments. In addition, an extra bulkhead was added to subdivide the electrical dynamo room, bringing the total number of watertight compartments to seventeen. Improvements were also made to the ship's pumping apparatus. These modifications meant that Olympic could survive a collision similar to that of Titanic, in that her first six compartments could be breached and the ship could remain afloat.[45][46]

 

At the same time, Olympic's B-Deck underwent a refit, which necessitated eliminating her B-Deck promenades – one of the few features that separated her from her sister ship. The refit included extra cabins (the parlour suites which proved popular on the Titanic were added to the Olympic), more cabins were fitted with private bathing facilities, and a Cafe Parisian (another addition that had proved popular on the Titanic) was added, offering another dining option to first class passengers. With these changes, Olympic's gross tonnage rose to 46,359 tons, 31 tons more than Titanic's.[47]

 

In March 1913, Olympic returned to service and briefly regained the title of largest ocean liner in the world, until the German liner SS Imperator entered passenger service in June 1913. Following her refit, Olympic was marketed as the "new" Olympic and her improved safety features were featured prominently in advertisements. [48][3]

World War I

 

In August 1914 World War I began. Olympic initially remained in commercial service under Captain Herbert James Haddock. As a wartime measure, Olympic was painted in a grey colour scheme, portholes were blocked, and lights on deck were turned off to make the ship less visible. The schedule was hastily altered to terminate at Liverpool rather than Southampton, and this was later altered again to Glasgow.[3][49]

 

The first few wartime voyages were packed with Americans trapped in Europe, eager to return home, although the eastbound journeys carried few passengers. By mid-October, bookings had fallen sharply as the threat from German U-boats became increasingly serious, and White Star Line decided to withdraw Olympic from commercial service. On 21 October 1914, she left New York for Glasgow on her last commercial voyage of the war, though carrying only 153 passengers.[50][49]

Audacious incident

 

On the sixth day of her voyage, 27 October, as the Olympic passed near Lough Swilly off the north coast of Ireland, she received distress signals from the battleship HMS Audacious, which had struck a mine off Tory Island and was taking on water.[51]

The crew of the stricken Audacious take to lifeboats to be rescued by Olympic

 

The Olympic took off 250 of the Audacious' crew, then the destroyer HMS Fury managed to attach a tow cable between Audacious and Olympic and they headed west for Lough Swilly. However, the cable parted after the Audacious' steering gear failed. A second attempt was made to tow the warship, but the cable became tangled in HMS Liverpool's propellers and was severed. A third attempt was tried but also failed when the cable gave way. By 17:00 the Audacious' quarterdeck was awash and it was decided to evacuate the remaining crew members to Olympic and Liverpool, and at 20:55 there was an explosion aboard the Audacious and she sank.[52]

 

Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, Commander of the Home Fleet, was anxious to suppress the news of the sinking of Audacious, for fear of the demoralising effect it could have on the British public, so ordered Olympic to be held in custody at Lough Swilly. No communications were permitted and passengers were not allowed to leave the ship. The only people departing her were the crew of the Audacious and Chief Surgeon John Beaumont, who was transferring to RMS Celtic. Steel tycoon Charles M. Schwab, who was travelling aboard the liner, sent word to Jellicoe that he had urgent business in London with the Admiralty, and Jellicoe agreed to release Schwab if he remained silent about the fate of Audacious. Finally, on 2 November, Olympic was allowed to go to Belfast where the passengers disembarked.[53]

HMT Olympic in dazzle camouflage while in service as a troopship during World War I

Naval service

 

Following Olympic's return to Britain, the White Star Line intended to lay her up in Belfast until the war was over, but in May 1915 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty, to be used as a troop transport, along with the Cunard liners Mauretania and Aquitania. The Admiralty had initially been reluctant to use large ocean liners as troop transports because of their vulnerability to enemy attack, however a shortage of ships gave them little choice. At the same time, Olympic's other sister ship Britannic, which had not yet been completed, was requisitioned as a hospital ship. In that role she would strike a mine and sink the following year.[54]

 

Stripped of her peacetime fittings, and armed with 12-pounders and 4.7-inch guns, Olympic was converted to a troopship, with the capacity to transport up to 6,000 troops. On 24 September 1915 the newly designated HMT (Hired Military Transport) 2810, now under the command of Bertram Fox Hayes left Liverpool carrying 6,000 soldiers to Mudros, Greece for the Gallipoli Campaign. On 1 October she sighted lifeboats from the French ship Provincia which had been sunk by a U-boat that morning off Cape Matapan and picked up 34 survivors. Hayes was heavily criticised for this action by the British Admiralty, who accused him of putting the ship in danger by stopping it in waters where enemy U-boats were active. The ship's speed was considered to be its best defence against U-boat attack, and such a large ship stopped would have made an unmissable target. However the French Vice-Admiral Louis Dartige du Fournet took a different view, and awarded Hayes with the Gold Medal of Honour. Olympic made several more trooping journeys to the Mediterranean until early 1916, when the Gallipoli Campaign was abandoned.[55]

Olympic in dazzle at Halifax, Nova Scotia painted by Arthur Lismer

 

In 1916, considerations were made to use Olympic to transport troops to India via the Cape of Good Hope. However on investigation it turned out she was unsuitable for this role, because her coal bunkers, which had been designed for transatlantic runs, lacked the capacity for such a long journey at a reasonable speed.[56] Instead, from 1916 to 1917, Olympic was chartered by the Canadian Government to transport troops from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Britain.[57] In 1917 she gained 6-inch guns and was painted with a "dazzle" camouflage scheme to make it more difficult for observers to estimate her speed and heading. Her dazzle colours were brown, dark blue, light blue, and white. Her many visits to Halifax Harbour carrying Canadian troops safely overseas, and back home after the war, made her a favourite symbol in the City of Halifax. Noted Group of Seven artist Arthur Lismer made several paintings of her in Halifax. A large dance hall, "Olympic Gardens" was also named in her honour. After the United States declared war on Germany in 1917, Olympic also transported thousands of U.S. troops to Britain.[58]

 

In the early hours of 12 May 1918, while en route for France with US troops under the command of Captain Hayes, Olympic sighted a surfaced U-boat 500 m (1,600 ft) ahead.[59] Her gunners opened fire at once, and she turned to ram the submarine, which immediately crash dived to 30 m (98 ft) and turned to a parallel course. Almost immediately afterwards Olympic struck the submarine just aft of her conning tower and her port propeller sliced through U-103's pressure hull. The crew of U-103 blew her ballast tanks, scuttled and abandoned the submarine. Olympic returned to Southampton with at least two hull plates dented and her prow twisted to one side, but not breached.[60]

 

Olympic did not stop to pick up survivors, but continued on to Cherbourg. The USS Davis sighted a distress flare and picked up 31 survivors from U-103. It was discovered that U-103 had been preparing to torpedo the Olympic when she was sighted, but the crew could not flood the two stern torpedo tubes.[61] For this service, Captain Hayes was awarded the DSO.[62] Some American soldiers on board paid for a plaque to be placed in one of Olympic's lounges to commemorate the event, it read:

 

This tablet presented by the 59th Regiment United States Infantry commemorates the sinking of the German submarine U103 by the Olympic on May 12th 1918 in latitude 49 degrees 16 minutes north longitude 4 degrees 51 minutes west on the voyage from New York to Southampton with American troops...[63]

 

During the war, Olympic is reported to have carried up to 201,000 troops and other personnel, burning 347,000 tons of coal and travelling about 184,000 miles.[64] Her impressive World War I service earned her the nickname Old Reliable.[65] Her captain was knighted in 1919 for "valuable services in connection with the transport of troops".[66]

Post-war

 

In August 1919 Olympic returned to Belfast for restoration to civilian service. Her interior was modernised and her boilers were converted to burn oil rather than coal. Oil was cheaper than coal, it lowered the refuelling time from days to hours, and allowed the engine room personnel to be reduced from 350 to 60 people.[67] During the conversion work and drydocking, a dent with a crack at the centre was discovered below her waterline which was later concluded to have been caused by a torpedo that had failed to detonate.[68]

Olympic at Southampton in 1929

 

Olympic emerged from her refit with an increased tonnage of 46,439, allowing her to retain her claim to the title of largest British built liner afloat, although the Cunard Line's Aquitania was slightly longer. In 1920 she returned to passenger service, on one voyage that year carrying 2,249 passengers.[69] Olympic transported a record 38,000 passengers during 1921, which proved to be the peak year of her career. From 1922 she was joined for an express service by Majestic and Homeric; two former German liners which had been ceded to Britain as war reparations, operating successfully until the Great Depression reduced demand after 1930.[70]

 

During the 1920s, Olympic remained a popular and fashionable ship, and often attracted the rich and famous of the day; Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, and Prince Edward, then Prince of Wales, were among the celebrities that she carried.[71] Prince Edward and Captain Howarth were filmed on the bridge of the Olympic for Pathé News.[72] One of the attractions of the Olympic was the fact that she was nearly identical to the Titanic, and many passengers sailed on the Olympic as a way of vicariously experiencing the voyage of the Olympic's ill-fated sister ship.[73]

 

On 22 March 1924, Olympic was involved in another collision with a ship, this time at New York. As Olympic was reversing from her berth at New York harbour, her stern collided with the smaller liner Fort St George, which had crossed into her path. The collision caused extensive damage to the smaller ship. At first it appeared that Olympic had sustained only minor damage, but it was later revealed that her sternpost had been fractured, necessitating the replacement of her entire stern frame.[74]

 

Changes in immigration laws in the United States in the 1920s greatly restricted the number of immigrants allowed to enter. This led to a major reduction in the immigrant trade for the shipping lines, forcing them to cater to the tourist trade to survive.[3] At the turn of 1927–28, Olympic was converted to carry tourist third cabin passengers as well as first, second and third class.[75] Tourist third cabin was an attempt to attract travellers who desired comfort without the accompanying high ticket price. New public rooms were constructed for this class, although tourist third cabin and second class would merge to become 'tourist' by late 1931.

 

A year later, Olympic's first class cabins were again improved by adding more bathrooms, a dance floor was fitted in the enlarged first class dining saloon, and a number of new suites with private facilities were installed forward on B-deck.[76] More improvements would follow in a later refit, but 1929 saw Olympic's best average passenger lists since 1925.

 

On 18 November 1929, as the Olympic was travelling westbound near to Titanic's last known position, the ship suddenly started to vibrate violently, and the vibrations continued for two minutes. It was later determined that this had been caused by the 1929 Grand Banks earthquake.[77]

Last years

 

The shipping trade was badly affected by the Great Depression. Until 1930 there had generally been around one million passengers a year on the transatlantic route, but by 1934 this had dropped by more than half. Furthermore, by the early 1930s, increased competition emerged, in the form of a new generation of larger and faster liners such as Germany's SS Bremen and SS Europa, Italy's SS Rex and France's SS Île de France, and the remaining passengers tended to prefer the more up to date ships. Olympic had averaged around 1,000 passengers per journey until 1930, but this declined by more than half by 1932.[78]

 

Olympic's running mate Homeric was withdrawn from the transatlantic route as early as 1932, leaving only Olympic and Majestic maintaining White Star Line's Southampton-New York service, although this was occasionally augmented during the summer months by either the MV Britannic or MV Georgic. [79]

 

At the end of 1932, with passenger traffic in decline, Olympic went for an overhaul and refit that took four months. She returned to service in March 1933 described by her owners as "looking like new." Her engines were performing at their best and she repeatedly recorded speeds in excess of 23 knots, despite averaging less than that in regular transatlantic service. Passenger capacities were given as 618 first class, 447 tourist class and only 382 third class after the decline of the immigrant trade.[80]

 

Despite this, during 1933 and 1934, Olympic ran at a net operating loss for the first time. 1933 was Olympic's worst year of business – carrying just over 9,000 passengers in total.[81] Passenger numbers rose slightly in 1934, but many crossings still lost money.[79]

Olympic in 1934, passing the lightvessel she struck and sank a few months later

Lightship collision

 

In 1934, Olympic again struck a ship. The approaches to New York were marked by lightships and Olympic, like other liners, had been known to pass close by these vessels. On 15 May 1934, Olympic, inbound in heavy fog, was homing in on the radio beacon of Nantucket Lightship LV-117.[82] Now under the command of Captain John Binks, the ship failed to turn in time and sliced through the smaller vessel, which broke apart and sank.[83] Four of the lightship's crew went down with the vessel and seven were rescued, of whom three died of their injuries – thus there were seven fatalities out of a crew of eleven.[84] The lightship's surviving crew and the Olympic's captain were interviewed soon after reaching shore. One crewman said it all happened so quickly that they didn't know how it happened. The captain was very sorry it happened but said the Olympic reacted very quickly lowering boats to rescue the crew, which was confirmed by an injured crewman.[85]

Retirement

Olympic (left) and Mauretania laid up in Southampton prior to their scrapping.

 

In 1934, the White Star Line merged with the Cunard Line at the instigation of the British government, to form Cunard White Star.[86] This merger allowed funds to be granted for the completion of the future RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth. When completed, these two new ships would handle Cunard White Star's transatlantic business, and so their fleet of older liners became redundant and were gradually retired.

 

Olympic was withdrawn from the transatlantic service, and left New York for the last time on 5 April 1935, returning to Britain to be laid up.[when?] Her new owners considered using her for summer cruises for a short while, but this idea was abandoned and she was put up for sale. Among the potential buyers was a syndicate who proposed to turn her into a floating hotel off the south coast of France, but this came to nothing.[87] After being laid up for five months alongside her former rival Mauretania, she was sold to Sir John Jarvis – Member of Parliament for £97,500, to be partially demolished at Jarrow to provide work for the depressed region.[88] Her superstructure was demolished in 1936, and in 1937, Olympic's hull was towed to Inverkeithing to T.W. Ward's yard for final demolition.[89]

 

By the time of her retirement, Olympic had completed 257 round trips across the Atlantic, transporting 430,000 passengers on her commercial voyages, travelling 1.8 million miles.[87][90]

Olympic artefacts

Fittings from the ship installed in the Olympic Suite at the White Swan Hotel, Alnwick

The marble fireplace from the Olympic now at the White Swan, Alnwick

 

The Olympic's fittings were auctioned off immediately before she was scrapped; some of her fittings, namely those of the first-class lounge and part of the aft grand staircase, can be found in the White Swan Hotel, in Alnwick, Northumberland, England. The rest of her fittings found homes in scattered places throughout Great Britain.[91]

 

In 2000, Celebrity Cruises purchased some of Olympic's original wooden panels to create the RMS Olympic restaurant on board their new cruise ship, Millennium. According to Celebrity Cruise Line, this wood panelling once lined Olympic's à la carte restaurant.[91]

 

The clock depicting "Honour and Glory Crowning Time" from Olympic's grand staircase is on display at Southampton's SeaCity Museum.[92][93]

The Petronas Towers, also known as the Petronas Twin Towers (Malay: Menara Petronas, or Menara Berkembar Petronas), are twin skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH)'s official definition and ranking, they were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 and remain the tallest twin towers in the world. The buildings are a landmark of Kuala Lumpur, along with nearby Kuala Lumpur Tower.

 

HISTORY

The towers were designed by Argentine - South American architect César Pelli. They chose a distinctive postmodern style to create a 21st-century icon for Kuala Lumpur. Planning on the Petronas Towers started on 1 January 1992 and included rigorous tests and simulations of wind and structural loads on the design. Seven years of construction followed at the former site of the original Selangor Turf Club, beginning on 1 March 1993 with excavation, which involved moving 500 truckloads of earth every night to dig down 30 metres below the surface.

 

The construction of the superstructure commenced on 1 April 1994. Interiors with furniture were completed on 1 January 1996, the spires of Tower 1 and Tower 2 were completed on 1 March 1996, and the first batch of Petronas personnel moved into the building on 1 January 1997. The building was officially opened by the Prime Minister of Malaysia's Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad on 1 August 1999. The twin towers were built on the site of Kuala Lumpur's race track. Test boreholes found that the original construction site effectively sat on the edge of a cliff. One half of the site was decayed limestone while the other half was soft rock. The entire site was moved 61 metres to allow the buildings to sit entirely on the soft rock. Because of the depth of the bedrock, the buildings were built on the world's deepest foundations. 104 concrete piles, ranging from 60 to 114 metres deep, were bored into the ground. The concrete raft foundation, comprising 13,200 cubic metres of concrete was continuously poured through a period of 54 hours for each tower. The raft is 4.6 metres thick, weighs 32,500 tonnes and held the world record for the largest concrete pour until 2007. The foundations were completed within 12 months by Bachy Soletanche and required massive amounts of concrete. Its engineering designs on structural framework were contributed by Haitian engineer Domo Obiasse and colleagues Aris Battista and Princess D Battista. The Petronas Towers' structural system is a tube in tube design, invented by Fazlur Rahman Khan. Applying a tube-structure for extreme tall buildings is a common phenomenon.

 

The 88-floor towers are constructed largely of reinforced concrete, with a steel and glass facade designed to resemble motifs found in Islamic art, a reflection of Malaysia's Muslim religion. Another Islamic influence on the design is that the cross section of the towers is based on a Rub el Hizb, albeit with circular sectors added to meet office space requirements.

 

As a result of the Malaysian government specifying that the buildings be completed in six years, two construction consortiums were hired to meet the deadline, one for each tower. Tower 1, the west tower (right in the top-right photograph) was built by a Japanese consortium led by the Hazama Corporation (JA Jones Construction Co., MMC Engineering Services Sdn Bhd, Ho Hup Construction Co. Bhd and Mitsubishi Corp) while Tower 2, the east tower (left in the top-right photograph) was built by a South Korean consortium led by the Samsung C&T Corporation (Kukdong Engineering & Construction and Syarikat Jasatera Sdn Bhd). Early into construction a batch of concrete failed a routine strength test causing construction to come to a complete halt. All the completed floors were tested but it was found that only one had used a bad batch and it was demolished. As a result of the concrete failure, each new batch was tested before being poured. The halt in construction had cost US$700,000 per day and led to three separate concrete plants being set up on the site to ensure that if one produced a bad batch, the other two could continue to supply concrete. The sky bridge contract was completed by Kukdong Engineering & Construction. Tower 2 became the first to reach the world's tallest building at the time. When the structure reached about 72nd floor, tower 2 ran into problems. They discovered the structure was leaning 25 millimetres off from vertical. To correct the lean, the next 16 floors were slanted back 20 millimetres with specialist surveyors hired to check verticality twice a day until the building's completion.

 

Due to the huge cost of importing steel, the towers were constructed on a cheaper radical design of super high-strength reinforced concrete. High-strength concrete is a material familiar to Asian contractors and twice as effective as steel in sway reduction; however, it makes the building twice as heavy on its foundation as a comparable steel building. Supported by 23-by-23 metre concrete cores and an outer ring of widely spaced super columns, the towers use a sophisticated structural system that accommodates its slender profile and provides 560,000 square metres of column-free office space. Below the twin towers is Suria KLCC, a shopping mall, and Dewan Filharmonik Petronas, the home of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.

 

NOTABLE EVENTS

On 15 April 1999, Felix Baumgartner set the world record for BASE jumping (since broken) by jumping off a window cleaning crane on the Petronas Towers.

 

Thousands of people were evacuated on 12 September 2001 after a bomb threat was phoned the day after the September 11 attacks destroyed the World Trade Center towers in New York City. Bomb Disposal squads found no bomb in the Petronas towers but they evacuated everyone. Workers and shoppers were allowed to return three hours later, around noon. No one was hurt during the evacuation.

 

On the evening of 4 November 2005, a fire broke out in the cinema complex of the Suria KLCC shopping centre below the Petronas Towers, triggering panic among patrons. There were no reports of injuries. The buildings were largely empty, except the shopping mall, Suria KLCC, because of the late hour; the only people involved were moviegoers and some diners in restaurants.

 

On the morning of 1 September 2009, French urban climber Alain "Spiderman" Robert, using only his bare hands and feet and with no safety devices, scaled to the top of Tower Two in just under 2 hours after two previous efforts had ended in arrest. On 20 March 1997, police arrested him at the 60th floor, 28 floors away from the "summit". He made a second attempt on 20 March 2007, exactly 10 years later, and was stopped once again on the same floor, though on the other tower.

 

COMPARISON WITH OTHER TOWERS

The Petronas Towers were the tallest buildings in the world for six years, until Taipei 101 was completed in 2004. The height of the towers is measured to the top of their structural components such as spires, but do not include antennas. Spires are considered actual integral parts of the architectural design of buildings, to which changes would substantially change the appearance and design of the building, whereas antennas may be added or removed without such consequences. The Petronas Towers still remain the tallest twin buildings in the world. Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) and the World Trade Center towers were each constructed with 110 occupied floors – 22 more than the 88 floors of the Petronas Towers. Willis Tower's tallest antenna is 75.41 m taller than those of the Petronas Towers, however, in accordance with CTBUH regulations and guidelines, the antennas of Willis Tower were not counted as part of its architectural features. The spires on the Petronas Towers are included in the height since they are not antenna masts. Therefore, the Petronas Towers exceed the official height of Willis Tower by 10 m even though the roof of Petronas Towers at 378.6 metres is 63.4 m lower than the roof of Willis Tower at 442 metres.The Petronas Towers feature a diamond-faceted facade consisting of 83,500 square metres of stainless steel extrusions. In addition, a 33,000-panel curtain wall cladding system resides within the towers. While the stainless steel element of the towers entices the illustrious sun, highlighting the magnificent towers, they are composed of 55,000 square metres of 20.38-millimetre laminated glass to reduce heat by reflecting harmful UV rays.

 

On the top of each tower is a pinnacle standing 73.5 metres tall. The pinnacles were more than just the finishing touches to the height of the towers, each taking over 19 weeks to construct and both being assembled outside the country. One was constructed in Japan and the other in Korea. Each pinnacle is composed of 50 unique parts making up the main components: the spire, mast ball and ring ball. Together these parts weigh 176 tons. While the pinnacles may seem to be an aesthetic feature of the towers to enhance their presence and height, they also play function to aircraft warning lights and are an essential element to the overall Islamic minaret design that the towers embody.

 

The interiors of the towers highlight the Malaysian cultural inspiration to the design through traditional aspects such as fabric and carvings typical of the culture, specifically evident in the foyer of the entrance halls in the towers.

 

The construction of the Petronas Towers turned out to be a multinational effort. The structural design engineers worked out of New York City, while the wind-tunnel consultants and elevator design engineers were from Canada. To meet local safety construction codes, the towers had to be able to withstand 105 km/h winds. To assure this requirement would be fulfilled, the engineers tested the towers twice within a wind tunnel, first by computer simulation and second by building an actual model of the towers.

 

ANCHOR TENANTS

Tower One is fully occupied by Petronas and a number of its subsidiaries and associate companies, while the office spaces in Tower Two are mostly available for lease to other companies. A number of companies have offices in Tower Two, including Huawei Technologies, AVEVA, Al Jazeera English, Carigali Hess, Bloomberg, Boeing, IBM, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, McKinsey & Co, WIPRO Limited, TCS, HCL Technologies, Krawler, Microsoft, The Agency (a modelling company) and Reuters.

 

FEATURES

SURIA KLCC

Suria KLCC is a 140,000 m2 upmarket retail center at the feet of the Petronas Towers. It features mostly foreign luxury goods and high-street labels. Its attractions include an art gallery, a philharmonic theatre, an underwater aquarium and also a Science center. Suria KLCC is one of the largest shopping malls in Malaysia.

 

KLCC PARK

Spanning 6.9 ha below the building is the KLCC Park with jogging and walking paths, a fountain with incorporated light show, wading pools, and a children's playground.

 

SKYBRIDGE

The towers feature a double decker skybridge connecting the two towers on the 41st and 42nd floors, which is the highest 2-story bridge in the world. It is not attached to the main structure, but is instead designed to slide in and out of the towers to prevent it from breaking, as the towers sway several feet in towards and away from each other during high winds. It also provides some structural support to the towers in these occasions. The bridge is 170 m above the ground and 58 m long, weighing 750 tons. The same floor is also known as the podium, since visitors going to higher levels have to change elevators here. The skybridge is open to all visitors, but tickets are limited to about 1000 people per day, and must be obtained on a first-come, first-served basis. Initially, the visit was free but in 2010, the tickets started being sold by Petronas. Visitors can choose to opt for package one which is just a visit to the skybridge or go for package two to go to the skybridge and all the way to level 86. Visitors are only allowed on the 41st floor as the 42nd floor can only be used by the tenants of the building.

 

The skybridge also acts as a safety device, so that in the event of a fire or other emergency in one tower, tenants can evacuate by crossing the skybridge to the other tower. The total evacuation triggered by a bomb hoax on 12 September 2001 (the day after the September 11 attacks destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City) showed that the bridge would not be useful if both towers need to be emptied simultaneously, as the capacity of the staircases was insufficient for such an event. Plans thus call for the lifts to be used if both towers need to be evacuated, and a successful drill following the revised plan was conducted in 2005.

 

There is a two hinged arch that supports the skybridge with arch legs, each 51 metres long, that are bolted to level 29 of each of the towers. After being constructed on the ground, the skybridge was lifted into place on the towers over a period of three days in July 1995 but instead of being directly connected to the towers, the skybridge can shift or slide in and out of them to counterbalance any effect from the wind. Residing on the 41st and 42nd floors, the skybridge connects a conference room, an executive dining room and a prayer room.

 

LIFT SYSTEM

The main bank of Otis Lifts is located in the centre of each tower. All main lifts are double-decker with the lower deck of the lift taking passengers to even-numbered floors and upper deck to odd-numbered floors. To reach an odd-numbered floor from ground level, passengers must take an escalator to the upper deck of the lift.

 

There are 29 double-deck passenger elevators, but there are different sets that service certain floors of the towers, specifically two sets of six of these double-deck passenger elevators to floors 1–23 and 1–37 respectively. Another set of 5 passenger lifts transport passengers to the 41st and 42nd floors where they can switch lifts to reach the upper zones of the buildings, each double-deck passenger lift with the capacity of 52 passengers or, 26 passengers per deck. There are also 6 heavy-duty elevators for utility.

 

From the ground floor, there are three groups of lifts. The "short haul" group of 6 lifts take passengers to floors between level 2/3 and level 16/17. The "mid haul" group of six lifts take passengers to floors between level 18/19 and level 37/38. There is also a set of shuttle lifts that take passengers directly to levels 41/42. To get to levels above 41/42, passengers must take the shuttle lifts, then change to lifts to the upper floors. These connecting lifts are directly above the lifts that serve levels 2 to 38. The pattern now repeats with the upper levels, one set serving levels 43/44 to 57/58 and one set serving levels 59/60 to levels 73/74.

 

Apart from this main bank of lifts, there are a series of "connecting" lifts to take people between the groups. Unlike the main lifts, these are not the double-decker type. Two lifts are provided to take people from levels 37/38 to levels 41/42 (levels 39 and 40 are not accessible as office space). This spares someone in the lower half of the building from having to go back to the ground floor to go to the upper half of the building.

 

The lifts contain a number of safety features. It is possible to evacuate people from a lift stuck between floors by manually driving one of the adjacent lifts next to it and opening a panel in the wall. It is then possible for people in the stuck lift to walk between lift cars. During an evacuation of the buildings, only the shuttle lift is allowed to be used, as there are only doors at levels G/1 and levels 41/42; therefore should there be a fire in the lower half of the building, this enclosed shaft would remain unaffected. Firefighter lifts are also provided in case of emergency.

 

The lift operating chart of the Petronas Towers

 

PL7A-PL7C (Tower 1) & PL8A-PL8C (Tower 2)(Parking & Podium Passenger Lift): P5-P1, C, G, 1, 2, 2M, 3-5 (PL7A & PL8A non-stop at level 2M)

SL6 (Tower 1) & SL7 (Tower 2) (Parking & Podium Service Lift): P5-P1, 1, 2, 2M, 3-5 (SL7 non-stop at level 2M)

PL14 (Tower 1) & PL15 (Tower 2) (Concert Passenger Lift): G, 2, 2M, 3, 4

A1-A6 (Tower 1) & A7-A12 (Tower 2) (Bank A Passenger Lift): G/1, 8/9-22/23

B1-B6 (Tower 1) & B7-B12 (Tower 2) (Bank B Passenger Lift): G/1, 24/25-36/37

CF1-CF2 (Tower 1) & CF3-CF4 (Tower 2) (Conference Shuttle Lift): 36, 37, 40-42

C1-C6 (Tower 1) & C7-C12 (Tower 2) (Bank C Passenger Lift): 41/42, 43/44-57/58

D1-D3 (Tower 1) & D4-D6 (Tower 2) (Bank D Passenger Lift): 41/42, 59/60-73/74

E1-E3 (Tower 1) & E4-E6 (Tower 2) (Bank E Passenger Lift): 41/42, 75-83

TE1-TE2 (Tower 1) & TE3-TE4 (Tower 2) (Upper Level Passenger Lift): 83, 85-88

S1-S2 (Tower 1) & S4-S5 (Tower 2) (Service Lift): P1, C, G, 2-6, 8-38, 40-84

S3 (Tower 1) & S6(Tower 2) (Lower Level Service Lift): P1, C, G, 2-6, 8-36

F1-F2 (Tower 1) & F3-F4 (Tower 2) (Fireman Service Lift): P1, C, G, 1-6, 8-38, 40-88 (F1 & F3 non-stop at Level 1)

 

SERVICE BUILDING

The service building is to the east of the Petronas Towers and contains the chiller plant system and the cooling towers to keep the Petronas Towers cool and comfortable.

 

TICKETING SYSTEM

In order to visit Petronas towers, visitors must first purchase the tickets. Tickets of adults and children can be purchased via online web portal or at the counter. Discounted tickets for seniors are available for those 55 years of age and above. Queues for tickets can get quite long sometimes. The complete Ticketing System or Automated Fare Collection system is provided by a Malaysian-based solution company called Longbow Technologies Sdn Bhd.

 

IN POPULAR CULTURE

- The towers are prominently featured and mentioned by name in the 1999 film Entrapment, with numerous scenes filmed at the towers, with the climax set on the skybridge.

- The Towers appear in the first episode of the US TV series 24.

- Several scenes of the Bollywood film Don: The Chase Begins Again were also filmed in the Petronas Towers and its skybridge.

- In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas and Ferb Save Summer!", the towers are visible during the musical number "Summer All Over the World".

- Eidos Interactive has twice used the towers for inspiration in their video games. In the 2002 Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, the Malaysia-based levels Basement Killing, The Graveyard Shift, and The Jacuzzi Job all take place in the Petronas Towers. In 2010's Just Cause 2, the fictional Panau Falls Casino is based on the Petronas Towers.

- A 2002 episode of the animated series Jackie Chan Adventures titled "When Pigs Fly" (Season 3, Episode 6), features the towers.

- The towers made its appearance, in the animated series Totally Spies episode titled "Man or Machine".

 

WIKIPEDIA

 

The Petronas Towers, also known as the Petronas Twin Towers (Malay: Menara Petronas, or Menara Berkembar Petronas), are twin skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH)'s official definition and ranking, they were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 and remain the tallest twin towers in the world. The buildings are a landmark of Kuala Lumpur, along with nearby Kuala Lumpur Tower.

 

HISTORY

The towers were designed by Argentine - South American architect César Pelli. They chose a distinctive postmodern style to create a 21st-century icon for Kuala Lumpur. Planning on the Petronas Towers started on 1 January 1992 and included rigorous tests and simulations of wind and structural loads on the design. Seven years of construction followed at the former site of the original Selangor Turf Club, beginning on 1 March 1993 with excavation, which involved moving 500 truckloads of earth every night to dig down 30 metres below the surface.

 

The construction of the superstructure commenced on 1 April 1994. Interiors with furniture were completed on 1 January 1996, the spires of Tower 1 and Tower 2 were completed on 1 March 1996, and the first batch of Petronas personnel moved into the building on 1 January 1997. The building was officially opened by the Prime Minister of Malaysia's Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad on 1 August 1999. The twin towers were built on the site of Kuala Lumpur's race track. Test boreholes found that the original construction site effectively sat on the edge of a cliff. One half of the site was decayed limestone while the other half was soft rock. The entire site was moved 61 metres to allow the buildings to sit entirely on the soft rock. Because of the depth of the bedrock, the buildings were built on the world's deepest foundations. 104 concrete piles, ranging from 60 to 114 metres deep, were bored into the ground. The concrete raft foundation, comprising 13,200 cubic metres of concrete was continuously poured through a period of 54 hours for each tower. The raft is 4.6 metres thick, weighs 32,500 tonnes and held the world record for the largest concrete pour until 2007. The foundations were completed within 12 months by Bachy Soletanche and required massive amounts of concrete. Its engineering designs on structural framework were contributed by Haitian engineer Domo Obiasse and colleagues Aris Battista and Princess D Battista. The Petronas Towers' structural system is a tube in tube design, invented by Fazlur Rahman Khan. Applying a tube-structure for extreme tall buildings is a common phenomenon.

 

The 88-floor towers are constructed largely of reinforced concrete, with a steel and glass facade designed to resemble motifs found in Islamic art, a reflection of Malaysia's Muslim religion. Another Islamic influence on the design is that the cross section of the towers is based on a Rub el Hizb, albeit with circular sectors added to meet office space requirements.

 

As a result of the Malaysian government specifying that the buildings be completed in six years, two construction consortiums were hired to meet the deadline, one for each tower. Tower 1, the west tower (right in the top-right photograph) was built by a Japanese consortium led by the Hazama Corporation (JA Jones Construction Co., MMC Engineering Services Sdn Bhd, Ho Hup Construction Co. Bhd and Mitsubishi Corp) while Tower 2, the east tower (left in the top-right photograph) was built by a South Korean consortium led by the Samsung C&T Corporation (Kukdong Engineering & Construction and Syarikat Jasatera Sdn Bhd). Early into construction a batch of concrete failed a routine strength test causing construction to come to a complete halt. All the completed floors were tested but it was found that only one had used a bad batch and it was demolished. As a result of the concrete failure, each new batch was tested before being poured. The halt in construction had cost US$700,000 per day and led to three separate concrete plants being set up on the site to ensure that if one produced a bad batch, the other two could continue to supply concrete. The sky bridge contract was completed by Kukdong Engineering & Construction. Tower 2 became the first to reach the world's tallest building at the time. When the structure reached about 72nd floor, tower 2 ran into problems. They discovered the structure was leaning 25 millimetres off from vertical. To correct the lean, the next 16 floors were slanted back 20 millimetres with specialist surveyors hired to check verticality twice a day until the building's completion.

 

Due to the huge cost of importing steel, the towers were constructed on a cheaper radical design of super high-strength reinforced concrete. High-strength concrete is a material familiar to Asian contractors and twice as effective as steel in sway reduction; however, it makes the building twice as heavy on its foundation as a comparable steel building. Supported by 23-by-23 metre concrete cores and an outer ring of widely spaced super columns, the towers use a sophisticated structural system that accommodates its slender profile and provides 560,000 square metres of column-free office space. Below the twin towers is Suria KLCC, a shopping mall, and Dewan Filharmonik Petronas, the home of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.

 

NOTABLE EVENTS

On 15 April 1999, Felix Baumgartner set the world record for BASE jumping (since broken) by jumping off a window cleaning crane on the Petronas Towers.

 

Thousands of people were evacuated on 12 September 2001 after a bomb threat was phoned the day after the September 11 attacks destroyed the World Trade Center towers in New York City. Bomb Disposal squads found no bomb in the Petronas towers but they evacuated everyone. Workers and shoppers were allowed to return three hours later, around noon. No one was hurt during the evacuation.

 

On the evening of 4 November 2005, a fire broke out in the cinema complex of the Suria KLCC shopping centre below the Petronas Towers, triggering panic among patrons. There were no reports of injuries. The buildings were largely empty, except the shopping mall, Suria KLCC, because of the late hour; the only people involved were moviegoers and some diners in restaurants.

 

On the morning of 1 September 2009, French urban climber Alain "Spiderman" Robert, using only his bare hands and feet and with no safety devices, scaled to the top of Tower Two in just under 2 hours after two previous efforts had ended in arrest. On 20 March 1997, police arrested him at the 60th floor, 28 floors away from the "summit". He made a second attempt on 20 March 2007, exactly 10 years later, and was stopped once again on the same floor, though on the other tower.

 

COMPARISON WITH OTHER TOWERS

The Petronas Towers were the tallest buildings in the world for six years, until Taipei 101 was completed in 2004. The height of the towers is measured to the top of their structural components such as spires, but do not include antennas. Spires are considered actual integral parts of the architectural design of buildings, to which changes would substantially change the appearance and design of the building, whereas antennas may be added or removed without such consequences. The Petronas Towers still remain the tallest twin buildings in the world. Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) and the World Trade Center towers were each constructed with 110 occupied floors – 22 more than the 88 floors of the Petronas Towers. Willis Tower's tallest antenna is 75.41 m taller than those of the Petronas Towers, however, in accordance with CTBUH regulations and guidelines, the antennas of Willis Tower were not counted as part of its architectural features. The spires on the Petronas Towers are included in the height since they are not antenna masts. Therefore, the Petronas Towers exceed the official height of Willis Tower by 10 m even though the roof of Petronas Towers at 378.6 metres is 63.4 m lower than the roof of Willis Tower at 442 metres.The Petronas Towers feature a diamond-faceted facade consisting of 83,500 square metres of stainless steel extrusions. In addition, a 33,000-panel curtain wall cladding system resides within the towers. While the stainless steel element of the towers entices the illustrious sun, highlighting the magnificent towers, they are composed of 55,000 square metres of 20.38-millimetre laminated glass to reduce heat by reflecting harmful UV rays.

 

On the top of each tower is a pinnacle standing 73.5 metres tall. The pinnacles were more than just the finishing touches to the height of the towers, each taking over 19 weeks to construct and both being assembled outside the country. One was constructed in Japan and the other in Korea. Each pinnacle is composed of 50 unique parts making up the main components: the spire, mast ball and ring ball. Together these parts weigh 176 tons. While the pinnacles may seem to be an aesthetic feature of the towers to enhance their presence and height, they also play function to aircraft warning lights and are an essential element to the overall Islamic minaret design that the towers embody.

 

The interiors of the towers highlight the Malaysian cultural inspiration to the design through traditional aspects such as fabric and carvings typical of the culture, specifically evident in the foyer of the entrance halls in the towers.

 

The construction of the Petronas Towers turned out to be a multinational effort. The structural design engineers worked out of New York City, while the wind-tunnel consultants and elevator design engineers were from Canada. To meet local safety construction codes, the towers had to be able to withstand 105 km/h winds. To assure this requirement would be fulfilled, the engineers tested the towers twice within a wind tunnel, first by computer simulation and second by building an actual model of the towers.

 

ANCHOR TENANTS

Tower One is fully occupied by Petronas and a number of its subsidiaries and associate companies, while the office spaces in Tower Two are mostly available for lease to other companies. A number of companies have offices in Tower Two, including Huawei Technologies, AVEVA, Al Jazeera English, Carigali Hess, Bloomberg, Boeing, IBM, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, McKinsey & Co, WIPRO Limited, TCS, HCL Technologies, Krawler, Microsoft, The Agency (a modelling company) and Reuters.

 

FEATURES

SURIA KLCC

Suria KLCC is a 140,000 m2 upmarket retail center at the feet of the Petronas Towers. It features mostly foreign luxury goods and high-street labels. Its attractions include an art gallery, a philharmonic theatre, an underwater aquarium and also a Science center. Suria KLCC is one of the largest shopping malls in Malaysia.

 

KLCC PARK

Spanning 6.9 ha below the building is the KLCC Park with jogging and walking paths, a fountain with incorporated light show, wading pools, and a children's playground.

 

SKYBRIDGE

The towers feature a double decker skybridge connecting the two towers on the 41st and 42nd floors, which is the highest 2-story bridge in the world. It is not attached to the main structure, but is instead designed to slide in and out of the towers to prevent it from breaking, as the towers sway several feet in towards and away from each other during high winds. It also provides some structural support to the towers in these occasions. The bridge is 170 m above the ground and 58 m long, weighing 750 tons. The same floor is also known as the podium, since visitors going to higher levels have to change elevators here. The skybridge is open to all visitors, but tickets are limited to about 1000 people per day, and must be obtained on a first-come, first-served basis. Initially, the visit was free but in 2010, the tickets started being sold by Petronas. Visitors can choose to opt for package one which is just a visit to the skybridge or go for package two to go to the skybridge and all the way to level 86. Visitors are only allowed on the 41st floor as the 42nd floor can only be used by the tenants of the building.

 

The skybridge also acts as a safety device, so that in the event of a fire or other emergency in one tower, tenants can evacuate by crossing the skybridge to the other tower. The total evacuation triggered by a bomb hoax on 12 September 2001 (the day after the September 11 attacks destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City) showed that the bridge would not be useful if both towers need to be emptied simultaneously, as the capacity of the staircases was insufficient for such an event. Plans thus call for the lifts to be used if both towers need to be evacuated, and a successful drill following the revised plan was conducted in 2005.

 

There is a two hinged arch that supports the skybridge with arch legs, each 51 metres long, that are bolted to level 29 of each of the towers. After being constructed on the ground, the skybridge was lifted into place on the towers over a period of three days in July 1995 but instead of being directly connected to the towers, the skybridge can shift or slide in and out of them to counterbalance any effect from the wind. Residing on the 41st and 42nd floors, the skybridge connects a conference room, an executive dining room and a prayer room.

 

LIFT SYSTEM

The main bank of Otis Lifts is located in the centre of each tower. All main lifts are double-decker with the lower deck of the lift taking passengers to even-numbered floors and upper deck to odd-numbered floors. To reach an odd-numbered floor from ground level, passengers must take an escalator to the upper deck of the lift.

 

There are 29 double-deck passenger elevators, but there are different sets that service certain floors of the towers, specifically two sets of six of these double-deck passenger elevators to floors 1–23 and 1–37 respectively. Another set of 5 passenger lifts transport passengers to the 41st and 42nd floors where they can switch lifts to reach the upper zones of the buildings, each double-deck passenger lift with the capacity of 52 passengers or, 26 passengers per deck. There are also 6 heavy-duty elevators for utility.

 

From the ground floor, there are three groups of lifts. The "short haul" group of 6 lifts take passengers to floors between level 2/3 and level 16/17. The "mid haul" group of six lifts take passengers to floors between level 18/19 and level 37/38. There is also a set of shuttle lifts that take passengers directly to levels 41/42. To get to levels above 41/42, passengers must take the shuttle lifts, then change to lifts to the upper floors. These connecting lifts are directly above the lifts that serve levels 2 to 38. The pattern now repeats with the upper levels, one set serving levels 43/44 to 57/58 and one set serving levels 59/60 to levels 73/74.

 

Apart from this main bank of lifts, there are a series of "connecting" lifts to take people between the groups. Unlike the main lifts, these are not the double-decker type. Two lifts are provided to take people from levels 37/38 to levels 41/42 (levels 39 and 40 are not accessible as office space). This spares someone in the lower half of the building from having to go back to the ground floor to go to the upper half of the building.

 

The lifts contain a number of safety features. It is possible to evacuate people from a lift stuck between floors by manually driving one of the adjacent lifts next to it and opening a panel in the wall. It is then possible for people in the stuck lift to walk between lift cars. During an evacuation of the buildings, only the shuttle lift is allowed to be used, as there are only doors at levels G/1 and levels 41/42; therefore should there be a fire in the lower half of the building, this enclosed shaft would remain unaffected. Firefighter lifts are also provided in case of emergency.

 

The lift operating chart of the Petronas Towers

 

PL7A-PL7C (Tower 1) & PL8A-PL8C (Tower 2)(Parking & Podium Passenger Lift): P5-P1, C, G, 1, 2, 2M, 3-5 (PL7A & PL8A non-stop at level 2M)

SL6 (Tower 1) & SL7 (Tower 2) (Parking & Podium Service Lift): P5-P1, 1, 2, 2M, 3-5 (SL7 non-stop at level 2M)

PL14 (Tower 1) & PL15 (Tower 2) (Concert Passenger Lift): G, 2, 2M, 3, 4

A1-A6 (Tower 1) & A7-A12 (Tower 2) (Bank A Passenger Lift): G/1, 8/9-22/23

B1-B6 (Tower 1) & B7-B12 (Tower 2) (Bank B Passenger Lift): G/1, 24/25-36/37

CF1-CF2 (Tower 1) & CF3-CF4 (Tower 2) (Conference Shuttle Lift): 36, 37, 40-42

C1-C6 (Tower 1) & C7-C12 (Tower 2) (Bank C Passenger Lift): 41/42, 43/44-57/58

D1-D3 (Tower 1) & D4-D6 (Tower 2) (Bank D Passenger Lift): 41/42, 59/60-73/74

E1-E3 (Tower 1) & E4-E6 (Tower 2) (Bank E Passenger Lift): 41/42, 75-83

TE1-TE2 (Tower 1) & TE3-TE4 (Tower 2) (Upper Level Passenger Lift): 83, 85-88

S1-S2 (Tower 1) & S4-S5 (Tower 2) (Service Lift): P1, C, G, 2-6, 8-38, 40-84

S3 (Tower 1) & S6(Tower 2) (Lower Level Service Lift): P1, C, G, 2-6, 8-36

F1-F2 (Tower 1) & F3-F4 (Tower 2) (Fireman Service Lift): P1, C, G, 1-6, 8-38, 40-88 (F1 & F3 non-stop at Level 1)

 

SERVICE BUILDING

The service building is to the east of the Petronas Towers and contains the chiller plant system and the cooling towers to keep the Petronas Towers cool and comfortable.

 

TICKETING SYSTEM

In order to visit Petronas towers, visitors must first purchase the tickets. Tickets of adults and children can be purchased via online web portal or at the counter. Discounted tickets for seniors are available for those 55 years of age and above. Queues for tickets can get quite long sometimes. The complete Ticketing System or Automated Fare Collection system is provided by a Malaysian-based solution company called Longbow Technologies Sdn Bhd.

 

IN POPULAR CULTURE

- The towers are prominently featured and mentioned by name in the 1999 film Entrapment, with numerous scenes filmed at the towers, with the climax set on the skybridge.

- The Towers appear in the first episode of the US TV series 24.

- Several scenes of the Bollywood film Don: The Chase Begins Again were also filmed in the Petronas Towers and its skybridge.

- In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas and Ferb Save Summer!", the towers are visible during the musical number "Summer All Over the World".

- Eidos Interactive has twice used the towers for inspiration in their video games. In the 2002 Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, the Malaysia-based levels Basement Killing, The Graveyard Shift, and The Jacuzzi Job all take place in the Petronas Towers. In 2010's Just Cause 2, the fictional Panau Falls Casino is based on the Petronas Towers.

- A 2002 episode of the animated series Jackie Chan Adventures titled "When Pigs Fly" (Season 3, Episode 6), features the towers.

- The towers made its appearance, in the animated series Totally Spies episode titled "Man or Machine".

 

WIKIPEDIA

 

Turn of a Friendly Card

************************************************************

Based on a true adventures of a rogue active in the waning years of the 1930’s as discovered in the criminal archives of Chatwick University.

 

Act 1

I begin my tale in the present…

 

That afternoon a soiree was given as part of the purchase price of the tickets for the annual Autumn Charity Ball to be presented later that evening at the manor’s great house. Since I was alone, I just went mainly for the free food and to rub my elbows with the wealthy guests who would be in happy attendance there, and at the Ball. I was alone, but certainly not bored. There was a game I enjoyed playing to pass the time at these affairs that entailed scoping out by their dress and day jewels worn, those ladies whom would be most likely to be wearing the better costumes and sparklers that evening. It often proved to be a most beneficial insight into the actions and mannerisms of the very rich. I walked amongst the cheerful guests, eying one here ( a lady in satin and pearls) and another there( a high spirited girl with a diamond pin at the throat of her frilly silken blouse). It was as I was passing the latter that the friend she had been talking too (dressed like a vamp), bumped up against me. I caught her, steadying her as they both giggled. I didn’t mind, for the lassie’s too tight satin sheath tea dress had been an enticement to hold, and the gold bracelet that had been dangling from her gloved wrist had been a pleasure to observe. I kissed her gloved hand, rings glittering, as I apologized gallantly for my clumsiness. Her eyes were bright, almost as bright as the twin necklaces of gold that hung swaying down pleasantly from between her ample bosom. I left them, moving on to greener pastures, and it was very green, all of it….

 

It was then that I detected another pretty lassie. It was her long fiery red hair with falling wispy curls that first captured my attention. She was wearing a fetchingly smart white chiffon party dress that commanded me to acquire a closer examination. She appeared to be a blithe spirit, seemingly content with just being by herself and roaming about with casual elegance, the extensive grounds of the manor proper. I began to discreetly follow her at a distance. Although she did not wear any jewelry, her manner and the eloquent way she moved is what attracted me the most. It would be very interesting to seek her out later that evening and she what she would have chosen to decorate herself with. I followed her as she sojourned into the depths of a traditional English garden with a maze of lushly green trimmed 8 foot high hedges

 

As I strolled through the hedgerows in her wake I allowed my mind to wander its own course. Suddenly I straightened up, my reverie broken by an epiphany of sorts. I allowed myself to grin and the lady whose enchantment I was swollen up in, at that moment turned, and seeing my beaming smile assumed it was for her and gave me a rather cute nod of her head. I answered in same, as I headed en route to a nearby stone garden bench to allow my thoughts to think through themselves.

 

But before I go on, allow me the pleasure to sojourn and reminisce about an incident that occurred several years prior:

*******************

I was still working unaided in those days, travelling on to a new next quest that would take me just outside of Surrey.

I had just purchased my train ticket and had seen my luggage safe on board when I decided to rest in the lounge, it being some 45 minutes before allowed to enter personally aboard. Being so early the lounge was almost deserted, only one other occupant. I assumed she was waiting for someone on an incoming train due to the fact she carried no luggage. She was obviously well off, well dressed in satins and lace, and her jewels shone magnificently in the dim lights. Especially one of her rings, noticeably lying loosely around a finger, it sparkled with an expensive brilliance. I had seen one like it in a tiffanies store, worth almost 250 pounds. But she did not appreciate the show her jewelry was putting on under the lounge lights, for she was fast asleep.

 

I circled around her, aiming for a seat next to her, eyeing her and her possessions carefully. I noticed her purse had fallen off her lap and lay on the floor. An idea popped into my head, and I picked the purse up, and looked around carefully, before placing my plan into action. But I was thwarted as an older, matronly lady was spotted heading our way. I slipped the purse into my jacket and moved off before I was noticed. Of course she came in and took the empty seat across form the sleeping princess, and soon busied herself with knitting. As the older lady had sat down, not quietly, the wealthy lady stirred waking up at the noise. I went into a corner and sat, waiting. The two ladies soon fell into conversation; the minute’s ticked by excruciatingly slow. Soon I noticed we even had more company.

He was a lad of only fourteen, but with a devilish look about him that marked him a kindred spirit to meself, and his quick eyes were darting about taking it all in as he stood outside the paned glass window.

 

It was as the first announcement of boarding the train that I saw a chance for opportunity to strike.

The older lady folded up her knitting and clinching her bag, bid adieu to her new friend,( befuddled a little by the old ladies constant stream of gossip), and headed to the train. I was twenty steps ahead of her and was standing behind the youth as she left the lounge. I tapped him on the shoulder; he looked around at me suspiciously, and then caught sight of the shilling I was holding in front of his nose. I quickly whispered a few words into his ear on how he could earn it, and his grin spread as he bought into my story. I still held onto the shilling as he darted around and inside the lounge. I watched as he ran up behind the lady, circling her, then running in front of her he tripped over her leg, as she helped him up, her hand with the ring reaching down, he turned and spat onto the wrist and sleeve of that hand, than standing he ran away. Running alongside me, I handed him the shilling in passing as he ran off, disappearing in to the street.

 

I went inside and approached the astonished lady, as she was looking for her purse to get a handkerchief, confused as to its absence, while she held up her soiled hand( ring glittering furiously) in utter disbelief. I approached, catching her attention by the soothing words I uttered to her. I took her hand, unbelieving with her at just had happened, and I as I apologized for the youth of today I produced my own silk handkerchief and starting with her silky sleeve, began to wipe it off, continuing my tirade of displeasure and contempt at what had just occurred to the dear lady as I did so. As I finishing wiping her down, ending with her warm slender fingers, I kissed them, just as the last boarding announcement came over (perfect timing!) I let her go, explaining that I must catch my train. I turned and without looking back made the train just as it was letting off steam before chugging off.

 

I gained my private carriage just as the train began to lurch away. It wasn’t until after the train began its journey that I casually removed my silk handkerchief from my pocket and unwrapped it carefully, admiring up close the shimmering, valuable tiffany ring that was lying inside. I pocketed it, and then remembered the purse. I took it out and examined its contents: coin and notes equaling a handsome amount, a gold (gilded) case, embroidered lacy handkerchief, small silver flask of perfume, and ( of all things)a large shimmering prism , like one that would have dangled from a fancy crystal chandelier. A prism?, I questioned with interest as I examined it. It was pretty thing, about the circumference of a cricket ball, but shaped like a pendulum, it shimmered and glittered like the most precious of jewels. Why she had it in her purse? I couldn’t guess, and I saw no value in it, so I pocketed it and allowed it to leave my mind.

 

As I settled into my seat I began to think of the lad I had just met, I had been right on the money as far as his eagerness for mischief. Actually he reminded me of myself at that age, and I wondered if that lad with the shifty eyes would also turn out to follow the same course I had explored.

 

Which Begs the question, what had I turned out to become. And since I’m still reminiscing

I’ll give little background material about me, hopefully I don’t come across as being too conceited about my self-taught skills..

 

I had never been one to take the hard road, and even at a young age I was always looking for angles, or short cuts to make some money.

Once, while watching for some time a street magician and his acts. I observed a pick pocket working the crowd. He approached a pair of well-dressed ladies in shiny clothes, and standing behind them bided his time and then lifted a small pouch from one velvet purse, and a fat wallet from a silken one, then he moved on. Now both ladies were wearing shiny bracelets, one with jewels. I thought that he could have realized a greater profit if he had nicked one or both of the bracelets first, than try for the contents of their purses. The bracelets’ alone would have realized a far greater profit than what he lifted from their purses. It further occurred to me that by mimicking some of the sleight of hand tricks and misdirection that the magician was using on his audience, it could be accomplished. A hand placed on the right shoulder and as the lady turned right, whisk off the bracelet from her left wrist, and excuse oneself, that sort of thing.

 

So, I practiced (on my sisters, who proved to be willing accomplices to “my game”) and learned to pick their purses and pockets. I than moved onto their jewelry, starting by lifting bracelets and slipping away rings, before advancing to the brooches, necklaces and earrings they were wearing. After I was satisfied at my skill level, I went out and worked the streets. Sometimes using my one sister who was also hooked on what I was doing as a willing partner.

But I found myself still not being satisfied, in the back of my mind I thought there had to be a more lucrative way to turn a profit.

 

I’d found my answer when an attractive lady in a rustling satin gown zeroed in on me while I was “visiting” a ballroom. She was jeweled like a princess right up to the diamond band she wore holding up her piles of soft locks like a glimmering crown. The more she drank, the closer she got and I decided that her necklace would definitely help pay my expenses more than the contents of her purse (although I had already lifted the fat wallet from her small purse), and I did have very expensive tastes to pay for. So I took her onto the dance floor.

 

I was amazed at how easily I had been able to open the necklace’s clasp , slipping it over her satiny shoulder, lifting it off and placing it safely in my pocket with almost no effort. Then she decided to be playful once the song ended and brushed up against me. She felt the necklace in my pocket and before I could act she had her hand in and pulled it out.

 

The silly naive twit thought I was teasing her and told me that for my penance I had to go up to her suite in order to put it back on for her. I kept up the charade as best as I could.

 

And that’s where we ended up. A little bit of light fondling began as I placed the necklace back around her throat. I began to tease her, plied her with more and more alcohol as I tried to keep my distance, and virginity. Finally she passed out in a drunken stupor, but not before I had learned where she hid her valuables by suggesting she should lock her jewels up for the night..

 

With her safely unconscious, I began to strip her clean off all her jewels, reclaiming the necklace first. Then I visited all her jewelry casket and began looting it. I even took her small rhinestone clutch with the diamond clasp; of course I already had liberated its small wallet.

 

When I’d left her lying happily asleep in bed, still in her satin gown( the only item left to her that shined), I knew I had found a much more profitable line of “work”

 

So I began making circuits around to the haunts of the very rich, I still kept may hand in pickpocketing, so to speak, but centered only on those “pockets” containing mainly jewelry. I also began to carefully explore new ways of acquiring jewels” in masse”, so to speak.

 

Soon I had accumulated many tricks and tools, having them at my disposal to put into action once required, and for the remaining years up till the present had managed to live quite comfortably off of the ill-gotten gains using them allowed me to acquire.

 

Which brings me back to the train ride, my prism, and the rest of my background story before I retun to the present tale. Please be patient.

*****

So, anyway, I reached Surry without any further incident and disembarking, made my way out to the large country house where I would be staying to take a short rest, vacation if you will. But, pardon the play on words, for there is never any rest for the wicked, is there?

 

I had become acquainted with a servant of the old mansion ( almost a small castle, really) , that was about a mile off. I managed to learn a great deal, and soon found myself, on the pretense of visiting her, exploring the grounds. There was to be a grand ball taking place a couple of weekends away , and the maid had filled my ears with the riches that would be displayed by the multitude of regal ladies making an appearance. I began to think about trying to make a little bit of profit from my vacation. I am not sure how the idea developed, but the prism that I still had in my possession, came up centrally into my plans.

 

Late on the evening of the regal affair, I snuck over, covered head to toe in black, with my small satchel off tools by my side. I set up a candle behind an old stone ivy covered wall in a far corner of the rather large and intricate English garden that surrounded the inner circle around the mansion. I than strung the jewel-like prism in front of it. Standing behind the wall, I would strike the prism with a long stick I was holding whenever I observed sparkles emanating from silkily gowned ladies walking in the distance, solitary or in pairs. The prism would flash fire, sort of like a showy lure being used when fishing in a crooked trout stream. Only I was fishing for far sweeter game than trout. My objective was to trick certain types of jeweled ladies (scatterbrains some may call them) by luring them down onto the path beyond the wall, using their natural curiosity to my advantage.

 

I had at least two strikes rise up to my lure in the second hour.

On was a pretty lady in flowing green satin number, decorated with plenty of emeralds, which, hidden in the shadows, I observed were probably paste. I let her wonder about; as she looked and played with the shiny toy, remaining hidden until she grew bored and wandered off.

The second was a slender maiden wearing a long sleek black gown with long ivory silk gloves. I had never before seen a lady so decked out in jewels, literally head to toe. With the exception of the rhinestones adorning her heels, the rest of the lot was real, so valuably real that I could feel my mouth salivating at the thoughts of acquiring her riches. Now in Edwardian times only older, married ladies would be allowed the privilege of wearing a diamond Tiara. But in these modern times, it had become culturally acceptable for any well-to do lady, single or otherwise, to wear one out in society. Even so, they were still rarely worn, and seldom seen outside the safety of large gatherings. But there it was, a small, delicately slender piece of intricate art that glistened from the top of her head like some elegant beacon. That piece alone was probably worth more than I had made all the last four months combined!

I began to skirt around in the shadows, placing myself in position to cut off her retreat. Her diamonds blazed as she approached, eyeing the swinging prism with total concentration. Which was unfortunate, because as I was about to leave the shadows, she walked into the thorns of a rose bush, screeching out, and attracting the notice of a pair of gentlemen who had just crossed the path quite a ways off, called out when they heard the commotion. She started to become chatty with them, obviously coming on to her rescuers, my prism all but forgotten. Than before I knew it, in a swishing of her long gown, she was gone, “swimming” off before I was able to set me ”hook”.

 

Which I was able to do on the third strike, almost an hour later, just as I was beginning to ponder wither I should call it off and head back home..

 

They were a pair of young damsels in their young twenties. They may have been sisters, or cousins at the least. I still remember how my heart leapt into my throat as they observed my colourful prism and turned down the old flagstone path. I had not seen anyone out and about for some time, so I knew they would be no would be rescuers around to come to their aid

And, best of all, they were both dressed for the kill!

One, the blonde, was clad in a black velvet number that one could cannily describe as quite form fitting. As were the small ropes of pearls that hung from all points of interest, pretty with a matching pricelessness.

But her cousin, as I will refer to her, out shone black velvet quite literally.

This one, a stunning raven haired beauty, wore a long streaming gown of liquid ivory satin. A diamond brooch sparkled as it held up a fold of the gown to her waist. The fold allowed her to show a rather daring amount of a slender bare calf. The brooch was not paste, but a real jewel that had been added for the nights festivities ( To be successful, one learns to read these signs accurately) Her ears and neckline were home to a matching set of pure white diamonds. A wide diamond bracelet graced a bare right wrist ,so she must be left handed I instinctively thought, an observation that would have aided me if I were planning on having a go for slipping the bracelet from her wrist, but tonight I was planning a much more daring attempt to empty the entire jewel casket, so to speak.

 

They went to the prism, playing with it a bit, I had begun to circle around, when I noticed black velvet pointing out with multiple ringed fingers, to something further down the path past the wall.

 

With a clicking of heels I let the pair pass, they apparently wanted to see what was on the other side of the wall. I followed; it was not hard, because the necklace the raven haired one wore, diamonds fully encircling her throat, rippled and sparkled from their perch, caught in the full harvest moon’s cast, giving me more than enough light to shadow them quietly .

 

After a while they caught on that something/someone was following them, but as they turned they could see nothing. I was in black, and hooded, invisible to them in the shadows of the trees. They whispered amongst themselves, now worried, realizing that there were dangers lurking beyond the pale, in their case, the safety of the gardens , especially for ones decked out as they were. They then turned and headed right back from where they had come, right into my waiting arms.

 

It is interesting what good breeding does for young, poised ladies. For, as I stepped out of the shadows, a finger of my right hand to my lips, my Fairborn in my left hand, its black blade glinting wickedly in the moonlight , they did not scream out or shout for help. Instead the pair merely let out small gasps, and then they both, in a quite charming synchronized display of disbelief, place each one hand over their open mouths, and the other upon their perspective necklaces.

 

And as I flourished my wicked looking Fairbairn–Sykes blade in their direction, they unquestioningly reached around and undid those pretty necklaces, tremblingly handing them out to me, like actresses following a well-read script. I took the little pretties and after stuffing them into my satchel, held out again my free hand, my fingers beckoning. Not a word was spoken between us, as the frightened pair of young ladies began removing their shimmering jewels and added them in a neat little growing pile along my open palm. The raven haired girl even undid her brooch without me having to command her to do so. Once I had stashed it all away, I motioned for them to turn back around, than with a little helpful prodding on my part, they began moving forward back down the hill, away from the garden. The one in white hobbling a little now as she kept tripping over the hem of her dress, now no longer held up by the stolen brooch.

 

After we had traveled about 200 meters I had them stop, and take off their high heels. Then picking the pretty things up, I motioned them to turn back around and made them walk back the way we had come in their bare feet, watching the pair awkwardly hobble barefooted down the wooded path. They would be quite a while on their journey back, allowing me more than ample time to make me escape. I threw their shoes off to the side and went briskly the other way, reaching the place was staying at , gaining my room without notice. But not before I had hidden the jewels inside an old stump to retrieve them at a later date. I never really heard so much as a whisper of the incident, other than from the pretty lips of my friendly maiden. The wee hours of the morning before my early departure for the train station found me revisiting the stump and retrieving my satchel and its precious cargo. After hiding it all in a false bottom of my case I laid my head on the pillow and drifted off to sleep as I wondered what had happened to the little prism, marveling at how useful it had ended up proving to be.

 

So, how does this story (journey rather) relate to the one I had already started? Please read on, and enrich your curiosity… my dear readers.

****************************************************************************

Act 2

 

So, with apologies for my lengthy elucidation, but I now return you back to the garden party I was now attending on that warm fall day. But, as you will see, my prism story needed to be told in order to add a bit of flavor to what was about to unfold.

 

As I sat on the garden bench I formulated my plans. I should be able to acquire the main piece tonight at the Ball, I would have time this afternoon to retrieve my ever handy satchel and its array of tools and have it hidden at the spot I had already selected. It was perfect, located at the end of the path I had found, or rather the charming lady in the smart chiffon dress had found for me. A gas lamp would provide adequate light for my “lure”, and it led to a back wood where I could lead any victims away and liberate them of their valuables before making my escape. I rose, just enough time to walk my escape route, before setting up and then be dressed for the evening’s festivities. I looked around, I was alone now, my lady in white had disappeared, following her own course, whatever it may have been.

 

The Autumn Ball that evening was in full swing by the time I arrived. Being a cool fall day, most of the women were wearing long gowns and dresses, and that, for whatever the reason, usually meant they were decked out with more layers of jewelry than say , if it had been the middle of summer. In order to put my plan in action I need and intrinsic piece of the trap, a prism. The one I had once had was long ago lost, a minor pawn in a game to take a pair of princesses.

 

I knew exactly the type of prism required for my plan, and so began mingling amongst the guests with that in mind.

 

I started out by walking through to the chamber like ballroom where a full orchestra was starting to play. The first person I saw from the garden party was the little tramp who had been wearing the too tight satin tea dress. That dress had been replaced with a long silky gown, her gold jewelry replaced with emeralds; including a thin bracelet that had taken the place of the gold one that she had so obligingly dangled in my larcenous path. I decided to avoid her In principle, and in doing so spied someone quite interesting.

 

That someone was a pretty lady in a long velvet gown standing off to one side, idly watching the many dancers out on the floor. The dancing couples were forming an imagery of a rainbow coloured sea of slinky swirling gowns and with erupting fireworks of sparkling jewels, ignited by pair of immensely large chandeliers that hung over the dance floor, setting them off. I made my way, skirting the dance floor to reach her, my eyes on her jewels, which were making pretty fireworks of their own. I happened to walk up just as a waiter with a tray of drinks was passing by. Plucking off a drink I offered it to the lady with one hand, my other hand placed on her back as If to steady myself. She laughed prettily, and taking the drink I met her eyes, as she was focused on reaching and holding the glass in her slippery gloved hand, mine was on the ruby and diamond necklace. My hand behind her had flicked open the simple hook and eye clasp of the antique piece and was in the process of lifting it up and whisking it away from her throat. As I said a few words to her, I pocketed it, while also taking in the rest of her lovely figure and its shiny decorations, before biding adieu. She smiled, her pale bare neckline now quite glaringly extinguished of its fire.

 

It was about an hour later, after spotting, but unable to make inroads with several likely candidates, that I finally struck gold (figuratively). It came in the form of a young couple arguing between themselves in a far corner of the chamber. She was lecturing a rather handsome man in a tux, her jeweled fingers flying in his face. If she hadn’t been moving about in such an animated fashion as she lectured, I may not have even noticed her. But as it happened I did, especially noticeable was the sanctimonious lady’s wide jeweled bracelet that was bursting out in a rainbow of colorful flickers as her hand was emphatically waving, as her long gown of silk swished around with every movement she made. Perfect. I watched for a bit, and sure enough they moved off, the man heading for the patio leading outside, the wealthy girl following him, still giving him lashes with her tongue. I moved and managed to have her bump into me simply by stepping on the hemline of her long gown. For a few seconds I was the one on the receiving end of her wrath, but I took it like a man, I could see in the eyes of her tongue lashed husband, that he was grateful for the respite. I was also grateful; grateful for the quite wide, very shimmering, bracelet that I had removed from her wrist and now was residing in my pocket.

 

I began to leave the patio, but was stopped by a matronly lady in ruffles, laces and pearls, her breath heavy with alcohol. She started to question me on what the couple had been on about. Then without waiting for an answer she launched herself into a tirade of her own, her gem encrusted, silken gloved fingers, waving in my face for emphasis. It was almost ten minutes before I was able to make my escape. Which I did, but not before slipping off one of the lecturing ladies vulgarly large cocktail rings.

 

I headed onto the patio; the time was getting ripe for my plan, which I was now ready to put into motion, now having acquired its most essential piece. I went to the end of the large patio, weaving in and out of the by now well liquored guests whom had assembled there. Across the way I saw a lady tripping over her own gown. By the time I reached her she had fallen down, giggling merrily. Two of us rushed to her aid, she was busy gushed her thanks to the rescuer she knew, while ignoring the one she didn’t! Which was unfortunate on her part, for by ignoring me, she also was ignorant of the fact that I was busy lifting the small stands of black pearls from her wrist. I left unnoticed, much like a shadow fading out of the light, or at least that’s how it seemed. Finally I reached the patios outer edge without further incident, or gain. I went on the grass and turned a corner with the intention of going, post haste around the house to reach the gardens by the long way, hoping not to be seen by anyone. But I no sooner turned the corner, when I realized that it was not to be the case.

 

It was my blithe spirit in white chiffon from the garden party, pardon me, soiree. She was unescorted, looking up at the moon above a stone turret with one lit window, so intently that my presence had not been noticed. I had been absolutely correct in my observation of her as far as what she would be wearing for the evening. For what she had lacked in ornaments at the soiree, she had more than made up for in the evening festivities. She was absolutely gorgeous, resplendent in as beautiful a silvery satin gown that I had ever witness. It was just pouring down, shimmering along her delightful figure. Her long blazing red hair was still curling down and free, but now a pair of long chandelier earrings cascading down from her earlobes, were peeking out every now and then as they swayed with her every movement. Her blazingly rippling necklace was all diamonds, dripping down the front of her tightly satin covered bosom, twinkling iridescently like an intensively glimmering waterfall. Her slender gloved wrists were home to a pair of dangling diamond bracelets that were almost outshone by her many glistening rings. All in all she was quite a lure all too herself

 

I came up to her, starling her from her reverie. Taking up her hand, I looked into her startled, suddenly blushing face. I complimented her on the fine gown she wore. She thanked me, and I could see I that she suddenly remembered she me as the chap who she thought smiled to her in the garden. She seemed to accept my compliment quite readily. I chanced it( although Lord knows I was short on time) and asked her to a dance. I did not think she would agree, so it was with a little bit of surprise, hoping she would politely decline and walk off, leaving me free to go about my business unobserved. But she accepted, and I will admit that my heart leapt as she agreed (although in the back of my mind I knew I should be off if my plan was to work). The music had stopped so we made small talk as we slowly walked back to the ballroom. Her name was Katrina. It seems she was waiting for someone, which suited my plans, but he was late and so she had time. Which may have sounded dismissive, but from the apologetic way she said it, it was anything but the sort.

 

The orchestra started to tune back up as we entered, and taking her offered hand up, was soon lost in the elegance of my appealing partner. It was a long dance, and a formal one, but I could tell she was subtly anxious to be off on her meeting, as I was to be off to my own adventure. But Katrina did not really allow it to show, which was very uncharacteristic of her someone with her obvious breeding. So I was ready when the by the end of the music she begged her condolences and took flight. I watched her as she fluidly moved away, her jewels sparkling, all of them. On her mission to meet Mr. X I thought, for whom I was already harboring a quite jealous dislike. I should be off I thought to meself.

 

But I stood, still as stone; totally mesmerized by the way Katrina’s swirling silvery satin gown was playing out along her petite, jewel sparkling figure. It wasn’t till the last of her gown swished around a corner out of sight that I moved, but not without having to shake my head to clear the thoughts of her out of it. Well old son, focus. For by now the guests were starting to wander a bit afield in the waning hours of the Autumn Ball, and my small window of opportunity was closing fast. If my little plan was going to have any chance of success it would have to be now.

 

I walked out and made my way to one of the outside exist of the garden wall. Reaching into my pocket as I did so, fingering the bracelet, now cold, that had belonged to the quarrelsome lady,and soon would be playing another role, far from one its former mistress would ever have dreamed off. I also felt my new acquisition, still warm from my dance partner’s body. I will admit that I had felt a twinge of regret for taking it from a lady I had found to be most charmingly captivating. But slipping off the diamonds up and away from her throat had been as temptingly easy as it had been automatic. I had advantageously made use of the sleekness of her scintillatingly silky gown, and with the distractions created by the movements of the dance, successfully managed to keep Katrina’s attention safely diverted from the reality of why my fingers were ever so gently, caressingly sliding along her slippery gowns neckline. The truth was I had originally placed my hand there because it had felt so right, and I was a little startled when my fingers had subconsciously started playing with her necklaces clasp. Before I knew it, they had flicked open the gemstone clasp of her obviously expensive diamond necklace, and had lifted up. As I watched out of the corner of my eye, almost like I was a spectator, as opposed to being the perpetrator, I saw the chain move up and over her shoulder; its diamonds sparkling with is as the necklace disappeared from view behind her back.

It was a favored technique that I had perfected to the point that by this stage of my career I nearly always acquired my objective. But, as odd as it sounds, I was not happy with myself on this occasion.

 

But I did not long dwell on my mixed feelings on taking the charming lass’s diamonds, for by now I had reached my place of ambush. It was in one of the farthest reaches of the garden, at a bend on the end of a long path that, with a gas lamp at its beginning just off the patio, would allow me to see from some distance off. Behind me was a break in the hedge wide enough for a person to walk through comfortably. It was here, off a tree limb, underneath a second ornate cast iron gas lamp, which was now lit, that I hung the shimmering bracelet that I had sought out and acquired for just that reason

 

I walked around and saw that it could be seen flickered off in the distance from the woods, Perfect! Earlier I had hidden my satchel with a hood and knife and bit of rope in the hollow of an old tree. I now retrieved them, and after getting ready, found my position and waited. At 10 minutes past the first hour of my wait, with nary a single glimpse of anyone, I started to fidget. My corner may be just a bit too desolated I was beginning to admit to myself. It seemed that most of the guests were staying by the patio. I was starting to think that I should pack it in, possibly rejoining the guests for one last parting( of someone from her Jewelry). I was just reaching down to pick up my satchel when I suddenly saw something flash under the gas lamp at the beginning of the path, and my senses immediately perked up. I watched as the wisps of rich shimmery satin moved closer, I stiffened, drooling with anticipation, the game was afoot.

  

I could see clearly the flickering jewels she wore, and by their blazing sparkles of rippling fire, I knew that my long vigil would not have been in vain. As the lady drew I recognized her gown of silvery satin! I knew who was making those tantalizing flashes of appealing treasures. Katrina!

 

I watched as she approached, in all her glittering elegance. My heart and conscious was in turmoil, but I knew I probably would not get a second chance. I could not let her get away unscathed. Beside, from the shock of being confronted with a masked scoundrel wielding a wicked blade, she would be in no shape to recognize her assailant. She stopped, apprehensively looking back towards the bright lights of the Manor, Then turning back I saw she had a self-satisfied smile creeping upon her face. She reached up, and undoing her hair, shook it down, curls of softness cascading down, hanging loosely down. It was as she performed this provocative act, that I saw her eyes open wide in curiosity; she had spied my pretty little “prism”. The charming fish was hooked.

 

I waited, watching her approaching ever closer to fate, and from my concealment, I basked in her glow. My heart beating fast, my adrenaline pumping, for the remaining jewels (I thought of her necklace in my custody) that she possessed I already had witnessed were quite valuable. She passed my hiding spot and went to the hanging, shimmering object. As she reached up, looking around, she failed to see me approaching in the shadows. I came up from behind, jabbing a finger in her back as I reached her, I gruffly in no uncertain terms, snarled for her to freeze and make no sound. She stiffened under my touch, but made no move or outcry. I went around; pointing my knife in her direction, looking into her sad doe wide eyes as she realized what was going to happen next. She was trembling; from fear I guessed, and knew I had her right where I wanted. As I made my demands upon her, gimme them jewels sister, she, not surprisingly, was very compliant in giving them up to me. She reached for her necklace last, and looked entirely shocked to find her throat bare, as she searched the neckline of her gown I saw her look into my hand, now dripping with her precious jewelry, almost as if to see if she had not already removed it. She looked apologetically into my eyes, startled; almost pleading that she didn’t know what had happened to it. I just played dump. She than spoke for the first time, sir, may I ask to keep my purse? Her words would have instantly melted even the coldest chunk of ice, I looked down at the little silvery clutch hanging from her arm on its rhinestone chain, I nodded, indicating that she could, and saw relief wash over her face. I told her she now needed to turn around and walk off into the woods ahead of me. She hesitated, and I told her no harm would befall her, I had no intentions along those lines.

 

About 5 meters in I stopped her, and had her remove her shoes, as she bent over to undo the high heels rhinestone clasps I watched her gown tightly outlining her figure. She tripped on the hem of her gown, and as she attempted to keep her balance, accidently let her purse slip off her shoulder. Without thinking I reached down to pick it up for her as she tried reached for it simultaneously

 

The small purse was far heavier than it should have been. Curious I opened it, finding that it contained a rather extensive array of mismatched jewelry, glittering in unbelievably expensive fire . I looked into Katrina’s horror struck eyes dumb founded, as she looked guiltily into mine. The gig was up. The jewels belonged to the lady of the manor, my muse in silver was a thief, a female version of me very self.

 

Aye, what’s this than luv? I questioned her as she looked into my eyes, hers large with a mixture of fright and disbelief. She melted before me, fainting, I caught her in my arms, and it was no ruse. I held her as she came to, holding her warm, silky figure lovingly to mine. I did not know what to think. Nor could I ever explain what possessed me to do what I did next. As she came to, her eyes opened, and I removed my mask, looking back into them deeply.

 

Oh, she gasped, I’m glad it was you, startled that she had said the words out loud. She than started to coyly blushes, quite demurely. Something sparked in me, and unless she was an incredibly good actress, it did also for Katrina. Our eyes both looked into the others, melting away in the lust of the moment. We embraced, deeply, and I held her squirming warm slick figure tight in my enveloping arms. I looked over her shoulder, eyeing the glistening bracelet hanging from its branch. To catch a thief, the thought suddenly opened in my mind, what a great title for a novel I thought to myself, as I buried my nose into Katrina’s luxuriously soft hair.

 

We talked for a bit, walking off into the woods, then she looked into my eyes again, a coy, look that melted me on the spot, and that was the end of it, we embraced again, and wholly gave ourselves to one another. What about your man I asked suddenly remembering, my man she questioned , than oh, you mean the Lord, I was waiting for him to come down from smoking in his tower study, that’s where the lady’s jewels are kept. She broke into an Irish brogue as she said the last bit, and that I guessed was her natural tongue. she laid a hand on the side of my face, thanks for being jealous though, me lad.

I should collect my lure I said, which made her smile; it was such an enticing smile at that. We started to head back and watched as it dangled in front of us flickering. With a far off look in her green eyes, Katrina spoke as if in deep though.

 

The daughter of the house, she has a bracelet on like the one you have dangling, a bracelet of diamonds that I had taken a fancy to, wishing it had been in the safe along with the rest of the ladies of manors jewelry. I knew who she was talking about. The one in green taffeta I asked? Aye lad, that’s the one. Actually her necklace would be just as easy, and worth more I said. Just then her bright green eyes gleamed, Give me about a half an hour, she told me, we will put your little lure to use again. She noticed my hesitation, don’t worry luv she said soothingly placing a gloved hand to my cheek, no longer was it sparkly with its stolen bracelet and rings. I’ll leave my purse with you, can’t very well be carrying it around now can I? I nodded my consent, my mind burning with the thoughts she had alluringly placed there.

  

She turned, and then hesitated; turning back she said I probably should not go back in naked luv. I smiled, reaching in I pulled out her necklace and placed it around her throat. With a little gasp she blurted, so it was you, I was wondering who and when it had happened. It’s not the first time I’ve had me jewels lifted, but it’s a bloody annoyance to have to let them get away with it, crawls under my skin to have pretend not to notice so that I don’t draw any attention to me self before making my move to steal the posh ones jewels.

 

But you, mister, I never felt as much as a prickling. I was ready to assume my pretties had been a victim of a broken clasp this time. I gave a little nod in acceptance. That wasn’t exactly a compliment lad, she said in what I hopped was a subtle jest. Just last summer some clumsy bugger slipped of me earrings, my favorite pearls, as we were danc… she stopped, seeing the guilt in my eyes. Men! As thieves you are all of the same skin she spat out angrily, or attempted to sound angry, for the look in her eyes to me she wasn’t. I best be off, before I change me mind about out little endeavor.

 

With that she swirled around on her heels, and started off, but not before turning and giving me an extremely coy look of interest. As she swirled back around I heard her say loud enough for my ears, I’ll learn me self to be a picker of pockets, see how males like to be taken advantage of in their vulnerabilities! She nodded to herself as she said it. Then suddenly she stopped, than twirled on her heels, her gown swirling enticingly along her figure. Looking me dead in the eye she said, “Vie ne est pas d'attendre que la tempête , mais d'apprendre à danser sous la pluie” !

 

What does that mean? I questioned in a low voice, perplexed.

 

Maybe, Mon Cheri, someday I will tell you… And with that she turned on her heel, her gown once again swirling about, and went, determinedly, swishing her way back up the path. I just watched. I had never heard anyone speak French with an Irish Brogue and I had found it to be rather provocative!

 

I watched as she swished and swayed her way back through the hedge and regained the path leading back to the manor. Her plan was simple; she would lead the daughter of the house to my corner and as she had done, go out with her to look at the swinging charm. I would then make my appearance, rob both ladies of their finery, and telling the daughter to wait until I released her friend, walk off with Katrina as a hostage, and we would both take off and make good our escape. A simple plan, so simple it should actually work.

 

So, there I was. Holding a purse with a small fortune in jewels, my pocket full of more jewels worth an additional pretty farthing, and her charms were wearing off by her leaving. And my thieving nature coming back, reawakened from the spell they had been under!

 

The devil of my conscious crept out on my shoulder, the angel markedly absent from the other.

 

Look mate, she may not be all she seems, and possibly has some other game in mind. Maybe she does have a male confidante helping her out… and was actually on her way to fetch him. He said in my inner ear. And, after all, you took her diamonds twice, didn’t ye now? Do you really think shell forgive you of that me lad?

 

And there is no honor amongst thieves, as the saying goes, he added as a closing argument...

 

I rolled it over in my mind…I could leave, absconding with it all, book a cruise to the states or down under where there lay untried fertile grounds to ply my trade. Not to mention working over my fellow passengers aboard the cruise ship while they attended the fancy affairs that were always going on, or so the brochures always seemed to show……

 

Then In the distance I caught a wisp of Katrina’s long silvery gown. She was coming, and not only with the daughter of the manor, but also with a spare. For I could see a purple coloured gown swishing alongside with the prey in rustling green taffeta.. I watched as all three ladies, resplendent with the rippling fiery gems they all possessed, came up the path, gowns sweeping out , shimmery from the now misty distance.

 

The thought of making my escape with all the loot continued to haunt me, there was still time now to take off without notice, or I could rob all three, and leave with purple silk as my hostage, Katrina would not be able to say anything on chance of giving up her part of the game, or I could just be a good lad and sty with the script that Katrina had written. Take a chance, roll the dice and believe that she was all she had me believing she could ever be.

 

As they came closer I knew my time was running out. The thoughts of just looking out for myself kept coming up playing the devil with my conscience as the precious seconds ticked away…

 

No honor amongst thieves…

What will it be, old boy I challenged myself,

What will you have it be?........

To see what his decision ultimately was, and the eventual path it led to, see the album question answered)

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Life is not about waiting out the storm, but about learning to dance in the rain.

Vie ne est pas d'attendre que la tempête , mais d'apprendre à danser sous la pluie .

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Courtesy of Chatwick University Archives

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The Petronas Towers, also known as the Petronas Twin Towers (Malay: Menara Petronas, or Menara Berkembar Petronas), are twin skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH)'s official definition and ranking, they were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 and remain the tallest twin towers in the world. The buildings are a landmark of Kuala Lumpur, along with nearby Kuala Lumpur Tower.

 

HISTORY

The towers were designed by Argentine - South American architect César Pelli. They chose a distinctive postmodern style to create a 21st-century icon for Kuala Lumpur. Planning on the Petronas Towers started on 1 January 1992 and included rigorous tests and simulations of wind and structural loads on the design. Seven years of construction followed at the former site of the original Selangor Turf Club, beginning on 1 March 1993 with excavation, which involved moving 500 truckloads of earth every night to dig down 30 metres below the surface.

 

The construction of the superstructure commenced on 1 April 1994. Interiors with furniture were completed on 1 January 1996, the spires of Tower 1 and Tower 2 were completed on 1 March 1996, and the first batch of Petronas personnel moved into the building on 1 January 1997. The building was officially opened by the Prime Minister of Malaysia's Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad on 1 August 1999. The twin towers were built on the site of Kuala Lumpur's race track. Test boreholes found that the original construction site effectively sat on the edge of a cliff. One half of the site was decayed limestone while the other half was soft rock. The entire site was moved 61 metres to allow the buildings to sit entirely on the soft rock. Because of the depth of the bedrock, the buildings were built on the world's deepest foundations. 104 concrete piles, ranging from 60 to 114 metres deep, were bored into the ground. The concrete raft foundation, comprising 13,200 cubic metres of concrete was continuously poured through a period of 54 hours for each tower. The raft is 4.6 metres thick, weighs 32,500 tonnes and held the world record for the largest concrete pour until 2007. The foundations were completed within 12 months by Bachy Soletanche and required massive amounts of concrete. Its engineering designs on structural framework were contributed by Haitian engineer Domo Obiasse and colleagues Aris Battista and Princess D Battista. The Petronas Towers' structural system is a tube in tube design, invented by Fazlur Rahman Khan. Applying a tube-structure for extreme tall buildings is a common phenomenon.

 

The 88-floor towers are constructed largely of reinforced concrete, with a steel and glass facade designed to resemble motifs found in Islamic art, a reflection of Malaysia's Muslim religion. Another Islamic influence on the design is that the cross section of the towers is based on a Rub el Hizb, albeit with circular sectors added to meet office space requirements.

 

As a result of the Malaysian government specifying that the buildings be completed in six years, two construction consortiums were hired to meet the deadline, one for each tower. Tower 1, the west tower (right in the top-right photograph) was built by a Japanese consortium led by the Hazama Corporation (JA Jones Construction Co., MMC Engineering Services Sdn Bhd, Ho Hup Construction Co. Bhd and Mitsubishi Corp) while Tower 2, the east tower (left in the top-right photograph) was built by a South Korean consortium led by the Samsung C&T Corporation (Kukdong Engineering & Construction and Syarikat Jasatera Sdn Bhd). Early into construction a batch of concrete failed a routine strength test causing construction to come to a complete halt. All the completed floors were tested but it was found that only one had used a bad batch and it was demolished. As a result of the concrete failure, each new batch was tested before being poured. The halt in construction had cost US$700,000 per day and led to three separate concrete plants being set up on the site to ensure that if one produced a bad batch, the other two could continue to supply concrete. The sky bridge contract was completed by Kukdong Engineering & Construction. Tower 2 became the first to reach the world's tallest building at the time. When the structure reached about 72nd floor, tower 2 ran into problems. They discovered the structure was leaning 25 millimetres off from vertical. To correct the lean, the next 16 floors were slanted back 20 millimetres with specialist surveyors hired to check verticality twice a day until the building's completion.

 

Due to the huge cost of importing steel, the towers were constructed on a cheaper radical design of super high-strength reinforced concrete. High-strength concrete is a material familiar to Asian contractors and twice as effective as steel in sway reduction; however, it makes the building twice as heavy on its foundation as a comparable steel building. Supported by 23-by-23 metre concrete cores and an outer ring of widely spaced super columns, the towers use a sophisticated structural system that accommodates its slender profile and provides 560,000 square metres of column-free office space. Below the twin towers is Suria KLCC, a shopping mall, and Dewan Filharmonik Petronas, the home of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.

 

NOTABLE EVENTS

On 15 April 1999, Felix Baumgartner set the world record for BASE jumping (since broken) by jumping off a window cleaning crane on the Petronas Towers.

 

Thousands of people were evacuated on 12 September 2001 after a bomb threat was phoned the day after the September 11 attacks destroyed the World Trade Center towers in New York City. Bomb Disposal squads found no bomb in the Petronas towers but they evacuated everyone. Workers and shoppers were allowed to return three hours later, around noon. No one was hurt during the evacuation.

 

On the evening of 4 November 2005, a fire broke out in the cinema complex of the Suria KLCC shopping centre below the Petronas Towers, triggering panic among patrons. There were no reports of injuries. The buildings were largely empty, except the shopping mall, Suria KLCC, because of the late hour; the only people involved were moviegoers and some diners in restaurants.

 

On the morning of 1 September 2009, French urban climber Alain "Spiderman" Robert, using only his bare hands and feet and with no safety devices, scaled to the top of Tower Two in just under 2 hours after two previous efforts had ended in arrest. On 20 March 1997, police arrested him at the 60th floor, 28 floors away from the "summit". He made a second attempt on 20 March 2007, exactly 10 years later, and was stopped once again on the same floor, though on the other tower.

 

COMPARISON WITH OTHER TOWERS

The Petronas Towers were the tallest buildings in the world for six years, until Taipei 101 was completed in 2004. The height of the towers is measured to the top of their structural components such as spires, but do not include antennas. Spires are considered actual integral parts of the architectural design of buildings, to which changes would substantially change the appearance and design of the building, whereas antennas may be added or removed without such consequences. The Petronas Towers still remain the tallest twin buildings in the world. Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) and the World Trade Center towers were each constructed with 110 occupied floors – 22 more than the 88 floors of the Petronas Towers. Willis Tower's tallest antenna is 75.41 m taller than those of the Petronas Towers, however, in accordance with CTBUH regulations and guidelines, the antennas of Willis Tower were not counted as part of its architectural features. The spires on the Petronas Towers are included in the height since they are not antenna masts. Therefore, the Petronas Towers exceed the official height of Willis Tower by 10 m even though the roof of Petronas Towers at 378.6 metres is 63.4 m lower than the roof of Willis Tower at 442 metres.The Petronas Towers feature a diamond-faceted facade consisting of 83,500 square metres of stainless steel extrusions. In addition, a 33,000-panel curtain wall cladding system resides within the towers. While the stainless steel element of the towers entices the illustrious sun, highlighting the magnificent towers, they are composed of 55,000 square metres of 20.38-millimetre laminated glass to reduce heat by reflecting harmful UV rays.

 

On the top of each tower is a pinnacle standing 73.5 metres tall. The pinnacles were more than just the finishing touches to the height of the towers, each taking over 19 weeks to construct and both being assembled outside the country. One was constructed in Japan and the other in Korea. Each pinnacle is composed of 50 unique parts making up the main components: the spire, mast ball and ring ball. Together these parts weigh 176 tons. While the pinnacles may seem to be an aesthetic feature of the towers to enhance their presence and height, they also play function to aircraft warning lights and are an essential element to the overall Islamic minaret design that the towers embody.

 

The interiors of the towers highlight the Malaysian cultural inspiration to the design through traditional aspects such as fabric and carvings typical of the culture, specifically evident in the foyer of the entrance halls in the towers.

 

The construction of the Petronas Towers turned out to be a multinational effort. The structural design engineers worked out of New York City, while the wind-tunnel consultants and elevator design engineers were from Canada. To meet local safety construction codes, the towers had to be able to withstand 105 km/h winds. To assure this requirement would be fulfilled, the engineers tested the towers twice within a wind tunnel, first by computer simulation and second by building an actual model of the towers.

 

ANCHOR TENANTS

Tower One is fully occupied by Petronas and a number of its subsidiaries and associate companies, while the office spaces in Tower Two are mostly available for lease to other companies. A number of companies have offices in Tower Two, including Huawei Technologies, AVEVA, Al Jazeera English, Carigali Hess, Bloomberg, Boeing, IBM, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, McKinsey & Co, WIPRO Limited, TCS, HCL Technologies, Krawler, Microsoft, The Agency (a modelling company) and Reuters.

 

FEATURES

SURIA KLCC

Suria KLCC is a 140,000 m2 upmarket retail center at the feet of the Petronas Towers. It features mostly foreign luxury goods and high-street labels. Its attractions include an art gallery, a philharmonic theatre, an underwater aquarium and also a Science center. Suria KLCC is one of the largest shopping malls in Malaysia.

 

KLCC PARK

Spanning 6.9 ha below the building is the KLCC Park with jogging and walking paths, a fountain with incorporated light show, wading pools, and a children's playground.

 

SKYBRIDGE

The towers feature a double decker skybridge connecting the two towers on the 41st and 42nd floors, which is the highest 2-story bridge in the world. It is not attached to the main structure, but is instead designed to slide in and out of the towers to prevent it from breaking, as the towers sway several feet in towards and away from each other during high winds. It also provides some structural support to the towers in these occasions. The bridge is 170 m above the ground and 58 m long, weighing 750 tons. The same floor is also known as the podium, since visitors going to higher levels have to change elevators here. The skybridge is open to all visitors, but tickets are limited to about 1000 people per day, and must be obtained on a first-come, first-served basis. Initially, the visit was free but in 2010, the tickets started being sold by Petronas. Visitors can choose to opt for package one which is just a visit to the skybridge or go for package two to go to the skybridge and all the way to level 86. Visitors are only allowed on the 41st floor as the 42nd floor can only be used by the tenants of the building.

 

The skybridge also acts as a safety device, so that in the event of a fire or other emergency in one tower, tenants can evacuate by crossing the skybridge to the other tower. The total evacuation triggered by a bomb hoax on 12 September 2001 (the day after the September 11 attacks destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City) showed that the bridge would not be useful if both towers need to be emptied simultaneously, as the capacity of the staircases was insufficient for such an event. Plans thus call for the lifts to be used if both towers need to be evacuated, and a successful drill following the revised plan was conducted in 2005.

 

There is a two hinged arch that supports the skybridge with arch legs, each 51 metres long, that are bolted to level 29 of each of the towers. After being constructed on the ground, the skybridge was lifted into place on the towers over a period of three days in July 1995 but instead of being directly connected to the towers, the skybridge can shift or slide in and out of them to counterbalance any effect from the wind. Residing on the 41st and 42nd floors, the skybridge connects a conference room, an executive dining room and a prayer room.

 

LIFT SYSTEM

The main bank of Otis Lifts is located in the centre of each tower. All main lifts are double-decker with the lower deck of the lift taking passengers to even-numbered floors and upper deck to odd-numbered floors. To reach an odd-numbered floor from ground level, passengers must take an escalator to the upper deck of the lift.

 

There are 29 double-deck passenger elevators, but there are different sets that service certain floors of the towers, specifically two sets of six of these double-deck passenger elevators to floors 1–23 and 1–37 respectively. Another set of 5 passenger lifts transport passengers to the 41st and 42nd floors where they can switch lifts to reach the upper zones of the buildings, each double-deck passenger lift with the capacity of 52 passengers or, 26 passengers per deck. There are also 6 heavy-duty elevators for utility.

 

From the ground floor, there are three groups of lifts. The "short haul" group of 6 lifts take passengers to floors between level 2/3 and level 16/17. The "mid haul" group of six lifts take passengers to floors between level 18/19 and level 37/38. There is also a set of shuttle lifts that take passengers directly to levels 41/42. To get to levels above 41/42, passengers must take the shuttle lifts, then change to lifts to the upper floors. These connecting lifts are directly above the lifts that serve levels 2 to 38. The pattern now repeats with the upper levels, one set serving levels 43/44 to 57/58 and one set serving levels 59/60 to levels 73/74.

 

Apart from this main bank of lifts, there are a series of "connecting" lifts to take people between the groups. Unlike the main lifts, these are not the double-decker type. Two lifts are provided to take people from levels 37/38 to levels 41/42 (levels 39 and 40 are not accessible as office space). This spares someone in the lower half of the building from having to go back to the ground floor to go to the upper half of the building.

 

The lifts contain a number of safety features. It is possible to evacuate people from a lift stuck between floors by manually driving one of the adjacent lifts next to it and opening a panel in the wall. It is then possible for people in the stuck lift to walk between lift cars. During an evacuation of the buildings, only the shuttle lift is allowed to be used, as there are only doors at levels G/1 and levels 41/42; therefore should there be a fire in the lower half of the building, this enclosed shaft would remain unaffected. Firefighter lifts are also provided in case of emergency.

 

The lift operating chart of the Petronas Towers

 

PL7A-PL7C (Tower 1) & PL8A-PL8C (Tower 2)(Parking & Podium Passenger Lift): P5-P1, C, G, 1, 2, 2M, 3-5 (PL7A & PL8A non-stop at level 2M)

SL6 (Tower 1) & SL7 (Tower 2) (Parking & Podium Service Lift): P5-P1, 1, 2, 2M, 3-5 (SL7 non-stop at level 2M)

PL14 (Tower 1) & PL15 (Tower 2) (Concert Passenger Lift): G, 2, 2M, 3, 4

A1-A6 (Tower 1) & A7-A12 (Tower 2) (Bank A Passenger Lift): G/1, 8/9-22/23

B1-B6 (Tower 1) & B7-B12 (Tower 2) (Bank B Passenger Lift): G/1, 24/25-36/37

CF1-CF2 (Tower 1) & CF3-CF4 (Tower 2) (Conference Shuttle Lift): 36, 37, 40-42

C1-C6 (Tower 1) & C7-C12 (Tower 2) (Bank C Passenger Lift): 41/42, 43/44-57/58

D1-D3 (Tower 1) & D4-D6 (Tower 2) (Bank D Passenger Lift): 41/42, 59/60-73/74

E1-E3 (Tower 1) & E4-E6 (Tower 2) (Bank E Passenger Lift): 41/42, 75-83

TE1-TE2 (Tower 1) & TE3-TE4 (Tower 2) (Upper Level Passenger Lift): 83, 85-88

S1-S2 (Tower 1) & S4-S5 (Tower 2) (Service Lift): P1, C, G, 2-6, 8-38, 40-84

S3 (Tower 1) & S6(Tower 2) (Lower Level Service Lift): P1, C, G, 2-6, 8-36

F1-F2 (Tower 1) & F3-F4 (Tower 2) (Fireman Service Lift): P1, C, G, 1-6, 8-38, 40-88 (F1 & F3 non-stop at Level 1)

 

SERVICE BUILDING

The service building is to the east of the Petronas Towers and contains the chiller plant system and the cooling towers to keep the Petronas Towers cool and comfortable.

 

TICKETING SYSTEM

In order to visit Petronas towers, visitors must first purchase the tickets. Tickets of adults and children can be purchased via online web portal or at the counter. Discounted tickets for seniors are available for those 55 years of age and above. Queues for tickets can get quite long sometimes. The complete Ticketing System or Automated Fare Collection system is provided by a Malaysian-based solution company called Longbow Technologies Sdn Bhd.

 

IN POPULAR CULTURE

- The towers are prominently featured and mentioned by name in the 1999 film Entrapment, with numerous scenes filmed at the towers, with the climax set on the skybridge.

- The Towers appear in the first episode of the US TV series 24.

- Several scenes of the Bollywood film Don: The Chase Begins Again were also filmed in the Petronas Towers and its skybridge.

- In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas and Ferb Save Summer!", the towers are visible during the musical number "Summer All Over the World".

- Eidos Interactive has twice used the towers for inspiration in their video games. In the 2002 Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, the Malaysia-based levels Basement Killing, The Graveyard Shift, and The Jacuzzi Job all take place in the Petronas Towers. In 2010's Just Cause 2, the fictional Panau Falls Casino is based on the Petronas Towers.

- A 2002 episode of the animated series Jackie Chan Adventures titled "When Pigs Fly" (Season 3, Episode 6), features the towers.

- The towers made its appearance, in the animated series Totally Spies episode titled "Man or Machine".

 

WIKIPEDIA

 

Turn of a Friendly Card

************************************************************

Based on a true adventures of a rogue active in the waning years of the 1930’s as discovered in the criminal archives of Chatwick University.

 

Act 1

I begin my tale in the present…

 

That afternoon a soiree was given as part of the purchase price of the tickets for the annual Autumn Charity Ball to be presented later that evening at the manor’s great house. Since I was alone, I just went mainly for the free food and to rub my elbows with the wealthy guests who would be in happy attendance there, and at the Ball. I was alone, but certainly not bored. There was a game I enjoyed playing to pass the time at these affairs that entailed scoping out by their dress and day jewels worn, those ladies whom would be most likely to be wearing the better costumes and sparklers that evening. It often proved to be a most beneficial insight into the actions and mannerisms of the very rich. I walked amongst the cheerful guests, eying one here ( a lady in satin and pearls) and another there( a high spirited girl with a diamond pin at the throat of her frilly silken blouse). It was as I was passing the latter that the friend she had been talking too (dressed like a vamp), bumped up against me. I caught her, steadying her as they both giggled. I didn’t mind, for the lassie’s too tight satin sheath tea dress had been an enticement to hold, and the gold bracelet that had been dangling from her gloved wrist had been a pleasure to observe. I kissed her gloved hand, rings glittering, as I apologized gallantly for my clumsiness. Her eyes were bright, almost as bright as the twin necklaces of gold that hung swaying down pleasantly from between her ample bosom. I left them, moving on to greener pastures, and it was very green, all of it….

 

It was then that I detected another pretty lassie. It was her long fiery red hair with falling wispy curls that first captured my attention. She was wearing a fetchingly smart white chiffon party dress that commanded me to acquire a closer examination. She appeared to be a blithe spirit, seemingly content with just being by herself and roaming about with casual elegance, the extensive grounds of the manor proper. I began to discreetly follow her at a distance. Although she did not wear any jewelry, her manner and the eloquent way she moved is what attracted me the most. It would be very interesting to seek her out later that evening and she what she would have chosen to decorate herself with. I followed her as she sojourned into the depths of a traditional English garden with a maze of lushly green trimmed 8 foot high hedges

 

As I strolled through the hedgerows in her wake I allowed my mind to wander its own course. Suddenly I straightened up, my reverie broken by an epiphany of sorts. I allowed myself to grin and the lady whose enchantment I was swollen up in, at that moment turned, and seeing my beaming smile assumed it was for her and gave me a rather cute nod of her head. I answered in same, as I headed en route to a nearby stone garden bench to allow my thoughts to think through themselves.

 

But before I go on, allow me the pleasure to sojourn and reminisce about an incident that occurred several years prior:

*******************

I was still working unaided in those days, travelling on to a new next quest that would take me just outside of Surrey.

I had just purchased my train ticket and had seen my luggage safe on board when I decided to rest in the lounge, it being some 45 minutes before allowed to enter personally aboard. Being so early the lounge was almost deserted, only one other occupant. I assumed she was waiting for someone on an incoming train due to the fact she carried no luggage. She was obviously well off, well dressed in satins and lace, and her jewels shone magnificently in the dim lights. Especially one of her rings, noticeably lying loosely around a finger, it sparkled with an expensive brilliance. I had seen one like it in a tiffanies store, worth almost 250 pounds. But she did not appreciate the show her jewelry was putting on under the lounge lights, for she was fast asleep.

 

I circled around her, aiming for a seat next to her, eyeing her and her possessions carefully. I noticed her purse had fallen off her lap and lay on the floor. An idea popped into my head, and I picked the purse up, and looked around carefully, before placing my plan into action. But I was thwarted as an older, matronly lady was spotted heading our way. I slipped the purse into my jacket and moved off before I was noticed. Of course she came in and took the empty seat across form the sleeping princess, and soon busied herself with knitting. As the older lady had sat down, not quietly, the wealthy lady stirred waking up at the noise. I went into a corner and sat, waiting. The two ladies soon fell into conversation; the minute’s ticked by excruciatingly slow. Soon I noticed we even had more company.

He was a lad of only fourteen, but with a devilish look about him that marked him a kindred spirit to meself, and his quick eyes were darting about taking it all in as he stood outside the paned glass window.

 

It was as the first announcement of boarding the train that I saw a chance for opportunity to strike.

The older lady folded up her knitting and clinching her bag, bid adieu to her new friend,( befuddled a little by the old ladies constant stream of gossip), and headed to the train. I was twenty steps ahead of her and was standing behind the youth as she left the lounge. I tapped him on the shoulder; he looked around at me suspiciously, and then caught sight of the shilling I was holding in front of his nose. I quickly whispered a few words into his ear on how he could earn it, and his grin spread as he bought into my story. I still held onto the shilling as he darted around and inside the lounge. I watched as he ran up behind the lady, circling her, then running in front of her he tripped over her leg, as she helped him up, her hand with the ring reaching down, he turned and spat onto the wrist and sleeve of that hand, than standing he ran away. Running alongside me, I handed him the shilling in passing as he ran off, disappearing in to the street.

 

I went inside and approached the astonished lady, as she was looking for her purse to get a handkerchief, confused as to its absence, while she held up her soiled hand( ring glittering furiously) in utter disbelief. I approached, catching her attention by the soothing words I uttered to her. I took her hand, unbelieving with her at just had happened, and I as I apologized for the youth of today I produced my own silk handkerchief and starting with her silky sleeve, began to wipe it off, continuing my tirade of displeasure and contempt at what had just occurred to the dear lady as I did so. As I finishing wiping her down, ending with her warm slender fingers, I kissed them, just as the last boarding announcement came over (perfect timing!) I let her go, explaining that I must catch my train. I turned and without looking back made the train just as it was letting off steam before chugging off.

 

I gained my private carriage just as the train began to lurch away. It wasn’t until after the train began its journey that I casually removed my silk handkerchief from my pocket and unwrapped it carefully, admiring up close the shimmering, valuable tiffany ring that was lying inside. I pocketed it, and then remembered the purse. I took it out and examined its contents: coin and notes equaling a handsome amount, a gold (gilded) case, embroidered lacy handkerchief, small silver flask of perfume, and ( of all things)a large shimmering prism , like one that would have dangled from a fancy crystal chandelier. A prism?, I questioned with interest as I examined it. It was pretty thing, about the circumference of a cricket ball, but shaped like a pendulum, it shimmered and glittered like the most precious of jewels. Why she had it in her purse? I couldn’t guess, and I saw no value in it, so I pocketed it and allowed it to leave my mind.

 

As I settled into my seat I began to think of the lad I had just met, I had been right on the money as far as his eagerness for mischief. Actually he reminded me of myself at that age, and I wondered if that lad with the shifty eyes would also turn out to follow the same course I had explored.

 

Which Begs the question, what had I turned out to become. And since I’m still reminiscing

I’ll give little background material about me, hopefully I don’t come across as being too conceited about my self-taught skills..

 

I had never been one to take the hard road, and even at a young age I was always looking for angles, or short cuts to make some money.

Once, while watching for some time a street magician and his acts. I observed a pick pocket working the crowd. He approached a pair of well-dressed ladies in shiny clothes, and standing behind them bided his time and then lifted a small pouch from one velvet purse, and a fat wallet from a silken one, then he moved on. Now both ladies were wearing shiny bracelets, one with jewels. I thought that he could have realized a greater profit if he had nicked one or both of the bracelets first, than try for the contents of their purses. The bracelets’ alone would have realized a far greater profit than what he lifted from their purses. It further occurred to me that by mimicking some of the sleight of hand tricks and misdirection that the magician was using on his audience, it could be accomplished. A hand placed on the right shoulder and as the lady turned right, whisk off the bracelet from her left wrist, and excuse oneself, that sort of thing.

 

So, I practiced (on my sisters, who proved to be willing accomplices to “my game”) and learned to pick their purses and pockets. I than moved onto their jewelry, starting by lifting bracelets and slipping away rings, before advancing to the brooches, necklaces and earrings they were wearing. After I was satisfied at my skill level, I went out and worked the streets. Sometimes using my one sister who was also hooked on what I was doing as a willing partner.

But I found myself still not being satisfied, in the back of my mind I thought there had to be a more lucrative way to turn a profit.

 

I’d found my answer when an attractive lady in a rustling satin gown zeroed in on me while I was “visiting” a ballroom. She was jeweled like a princess right up to the diamond band she wore holding up her piles of soft locks like a glimmering crown. The more she drank, the closer she got and I decided that her necklace would definitely help pay my expenses more than the contents of her purse (although I had already lifted the fat wallet from her small purse), and I did have very expensive tastes to pay for. So I took her onto the dance floor.

 

I was amazed at how easily I had been able to open the necklace’s clasp , slipping it over her satiny shoulder, lifting it off and placing it safely in my pocket with almost no effort. Then she decided to be playful once the song ended and brushed up against me. She felt the necklace in my pocket and before I could act she had her hand in and pulled it out.

 

The silly naive twit thought I was teasing her and told me that for my penance I had to go up to her suite in order to put it back on for her. I kept up the charade as best as I could.

 

And that’s where we ended up. A little bit of light fondling began as I placed the necklace back around her throat. I began to tease her, plied her with more and more alcohol as I tried to keep my distance, and virginity. Finally she passed out in a drunken stupor, but not before I had learned where she hid her valuables by suggesting she should lock her jewels up for the night..

 

With her safely unconscious, I began to strip her clean off all her jewels, reclaiming the necklace first. Then I visited all her jewelry casket and began looting it. I even took her small rhinestone clutch with the diamond clasp; of course I already had liberated its small wallet.

 

When I’d left her lying happily asleep in bed, still in her satin gown( the only item left to her that shined), I knew I had found a much more profitable line of “work”

 

So I began making circuits around to the haunts of the very rich, I still kept may hand in pickpocketing, so to speak, but centered only on those “pockets” containing mainly jewelry. I also began to carefully explore new ways of acquiring jewels” in masse”, so to speak.

 

Soon I had accumulated many tricks and tools, having them at my disposal to put into action once required, and for the remaining years up till the present had managed to live quite comfortably off of the ill-gotten gains using them allowed me to acquire.

 

Which brings me back to the train ride, my prism, and the rest of my background story before I retun to the present tale. Please be patient.

*****

So, anyway, I reached Surry without any further incident and disembarking, made my way out to the large country house where I would be staying to take a short rest, vacation if you will. But, pardon the play on words, for there is never any rest for the wicked, is there?

 

I had become acquainted with a servant of the old mansion ( almost a small castle, really) , that was about a mile off. I managed to learn a great deal, and soon found myself, on the pretense of visiting her, exploring the grounds. There was to be a grand ball taking place a couple of weekends away , and the maid had filled my ears with the riches that would be displayed by the multitude of regal ladies making an appearance. I began to think about trying to make a little bit of profit from my vacation. I am not sure how the idea developed, but the prism that I still had in my possession, came up centrally into my plans.

 

Late on the evening of the regal affair, I snuck over, covered head to toe in black, with my small satchel off tools by my side. I set up a candle behind an old stone ivy covered wall in a far corner of the rather large and intricate English garden that surrounded the inner circle around the mansion. I than strung the jewel-like prism in front of it. Standing behind the wall, I would strike the prism with a long stick I was holding whenever I observed sparkles emanating from silkily gowned ladies walking in the distance, solitary or in pairs. The prism would flash fire, sort of like a showy lure being used when fishing in a crooked trout stream. Only I was fishing for far sweeter game than trout. My objective was to trick certain types of jeweled ladies (scatterbrains some may call them) by luring them down onto the path beyond the wall, using their natural curiosity to my advantage.

 

I had at least two strikes rise up to my lure in the second hour.

On was a pretty lady in flowing green satin number, decorated with plenty of emeralds, which, hidden in the shadows, I observed were probably paste. I let her wonder about; as she looked and played with the shiny toy, remaining hidden until she grew bored and wandered off.

The second was a slender maiden wearing a long sleek black gown with long ivory silk gloves. I had never before seen a lady so decked out in jewels, literally head to toe. With the exception of the rhinestones adorning her heels, the rest of the lot was real, so valuably real that I could feel my mouth salivating at the thoughts of acquiring her riches. Now in Edwardian times only older, married ladies would be allowed the privilege of wearing a diamond Tiara. But in these modern times, it had become culturally acceptable for any well-to do lady, single or otherwise, to wear one out in society. Even so, they were still rarely worn, and seldom seen outside the safety of large gatherings. But there it was, a small, delicately slender piece of intricate art that glistened from the top of her head like some elegant beacon. That piece alone was probably worth more than I had made all the last four months combined!

I began to skirt around in the shadows, placing myself in position to cut off her retreat. Her diamonds blazed as she approached, eyeing the swinging prism with total concentration. Which was unfortunate, because as I was about to leave the shadows, she walked into the thorns of a rose bush, screeching out, and attracting the notice of a pair of gentlemen who had just crossed the path quite a ways off, called out when they heard the commotion. She started to become chatty with them, obviously coming on to her rescuers, my prism all but forgotten. Than before I knew it, in a swishing of her long gown, she was gone, “swimming” off before I was able to set me ”hook”.

 

Which I was able to do on the third strike, almost an hour later, just as I was beginning to ponder wither I should call it off and head back home..

 

They were a pair of young damsels in their young twenties. They may have been sisters, or cousins at the least. I still remember how my heart leapt into my throat as they observed my colourful prism and turned down the old flagstone path. I had not seen anyone out and about for some time, so I knew they would be no would be rescuers around to come to their aid

And, best of all, they were both dressed for the kill!

One, the blonde, was clad in a black velvet number that one could cannily describe as quite form fitting. As were the small ropes of pearls that hung from all points of interest, pretty with a matching pricelessness.

But her cousin, as I will refer to her, out shone black velvet quite literally.

This one, a stunning raven haired beauty, wore a long streaming gown of liquid ivory satin. A diamond brooch sparkled as it held up a fold of the gown to her waist. The fold allowed her to show a rather daring amount of a slender bare calf. The brooch was not paste, but a real jewel that had been added for the nights festivities ( To be successful, one learns to read these signs accurately) Her ears and neckline were home to a matching set of pure white diamonds. A wide diamond bracelet graced a bare right wrist ,so she must be left handed I instinctively thought, an observation that would have aided me if I were planning on having a go for slipping the bracelet from her wrist, but tonight I was planning a much more daring attempt to empty the entire jewel casket, so to speak.

 

They went to the prism, playing with it a bit, I had begun to circle around, when I noticed black velvet pointing out with multiple ringed fingers, to something further down the path past the wall.

 

With a clicking of heels I let the pair pass, they apparently wanted to see what was on the other side of the wall. I followed; it was not hard, because the necklace the raven haired one wore, diamonds fully encircling her throat, rippled and sparkled from their perch, caught in the full harvest moon’s cast, giving me more than enough light to shadow them quietly .

 

After a while they caught on that something/someone was following them, but as they turned they could see nothing. I was in black, and hooded, invisible to them in the shadows of the trees. They whispered amongst themselves, now worried, realizing that there were dangers lurking beyond the pale, in their case, the safety of the gardens , especially for ones decked out as they were. They then turned and headed right back from where they had come, right into my waiting arms.

 

It is interesting what good breeding does for young, poised ladies. For, as I stepped out of the shadows, a finger of my right hand to my lips, my Fairborn in my left hand, its black blade glinting wickedly in the moonlight , they did not scream out or shout for help. Instead the pair merely let out small gasps, and then they both, in a quite charming synchronized display of disbelief, place each one hand over their open mouths, and the other upon their perspective necklaces.

 

And as I flourished my wicked looking Fairbairn–Sykes blade in their direction, they unquestioningly reached around and undid those pretty necklaces, tremblingly handing them out to me, like actresses following a well-read script. I took the little pretties and after stuffing them into my satchel, held out again my free hand, my fingers beckoning. Not a word was spoken between us, as the frightened pair of young ladies began removing their shimmering jewels and added them in a neat little growing pile along my open palm. The raven haired girl even undid her brooch without me having to command her to do so. Once I had stashed it all away, I motioned for them to turn back around, than with a little helpful prodding on my part, they began moving forward back down the hill, away from the garden. The one in white hobbling a little now as she kept tripping over the hem of her dress, now no longer held up by the stolen brooch.

 

After we had traveled about 200 meters I had them stop, and take off their high heels. Then picking the pretty things up, I motioned them to turn back around and made them walk back the way we had come in their bare feet, watching the pair awkwardly hobble barefooted down the wooded path. They would be quite a while on their journey back, allowing me more than ample time to make me escape. I threw their shoes off to the side and went briskly the other way, reaching the place was staying at , gaining my room without notice. But not before I had hidden the jewels inside an old stump to retrieve them at a later date. I never really heard so much as a whisper of the incident, other than from the pretty lips of my friendly maiden. The wee hours of the morning before my early departure for the train station found me revisiting the stump and retrieving my satchel and its precious cargo. After hiding it all in a false bottom of my case I laid my head on the pillow and drifted off to sleep as I wondered what had happened to the little prism, marveling at how useful it had ended up proving to be.

 

So, how does this story (journey rather) relate to the one I had already started? Please read on, and enrich your curiosity… my dear readers.

****************************************************************************

Act 2

 

So, with apologies for my lengthy elucidation, but I now return you back to the garden party I was now attending on that warm fall day. But, as you will see, my prism story needed to be told in order to add a bit of flavor to what was about to unfold.

 

As I sat on the garden bench I formulated my plans. I should be able to acquire the main piece tonight at the Ball, I would have time this afternoon to retrieve my ever handy satchel and its array of tools and have it hidden at the spot I had already selected. It was perfect, located at the end of the path I had found, or rather the charming lady in the smart chiffon dress had found for me. A gas lamp would provide adequate light for my “lure”, and it led to a back wood where I could lead any victims away and liberate them of their valuables before making my escape. I rose, just enough time to walk my escape route, before setting up and then be dressed for the evening’s festivities. I looked around, I was alone now, my lady in white had disappeared, following her own course, whatever it may have been.

 

The Autumn Ball that evening was in full swing by the time I arrived. Being a cool fall day, most of the women were wearing long gowns and dresses, and that, for whatever the reason, usually meant they were decked out with more layers of jewelry than say , if it had been the middle of summer. In order to put my plan in action I need and intrinsic piece of the trap, a prism. The one I had once had was long ago lost, a minor pawn in a game to take a pair of princesses.

 

I knew exactly the type of prism required for my plan, and so began mingling amongst the guests with that in mind.

 

I started out by walking through to the chamber like ballroom where a full orchestra was starting to play. The first person I saw from the garden party was the little tramp who had been wearing the too tight satin tea dress. That dress had been replaced with a long silky gown, her gold jewelry replaced with emeralds; including a thin bracelet that had taken the place of the gold one that she had so obligingly dangled in my larcenous path. I decided to avoid her In principle, and in doing so spied someone quite interesting.

 

That someone was a pretty lady in a long velvet gown standing off to one side, idly watching the many dancers out on the floor. The dancing couples were forming an imagery of a rainbow coloured sea of slinky swirling gowns and with erupting fireworks of sparkling jewels, ignited by pair of immensely large chandeliers that hung over the dance floor, setting them off. I made my way, skirting the dance floor to reach her, my eyes on her jewels, which were making pretty fireworks of their own. I happened to walk up just as a waiter with a tray of drinks was passing by. Plucking off a drink I offered it to the lady with one hand, my other hand placed on her back as If to steady myself. She laughed prettily, and taking the drink I met her eyes, as she was focused on reaching and holding the glass in her slippery gloved hand, mine was on the ruby and diamond necklace. My hand behind her had flicked open the simple hook and eye clasp of the antique piece and was in the process of lifting it up and whisking it away from her throat. As I said a few words to her, I pocketed it, while also taking in the rest of her lovely figure and its shiny decorations, before biding adieu. She smiled, her pale bare neckline now quite glaringly extinguished of its fire.

 

It was about an hour later, after spotting, but unable to make inroads with several likely candidates, that I finally struck gold (figuratively). It came in the form of a young couple arguing between themselves in a far corner of the chamber. She was lecturing a rather handsome man in a tux, her jeweled fingers flying in his face. If she hadn’t been moving about in such an animated fashion as she lectured, I may not have even noticed her. But as it happened I did, especially noticeable was the sanctimonious lady’s wide jeweled bracelet that was bursting out in a rainbow of colorful flickers as her hand was emphatically waving, as her long gown of silk swished around with every movement she made. Perfect. I watched for a bit, and sure enough they moved off, the man heading for the patio leading outside, the wealthy girl following him, still giving him lashes with her tongue. I moved and managed to have her bump into me simply by stepping on the hemline of her long gown. For a few seconds I was the one on the receiving end of her wrath, but I took it like a man, I could see in the eyes of her tongue lashed husband, that he was grateful for the respite. I was also grateful; grateful for the quite wide, very shimmering, bracelet that I had removed from her wrist and now was residing in my pocket.

 

I began to leave the patio, but was stopped by a matronly lady in ruffles, laces and pearls, her breath heavy with alcohol. She started to question me on what the couple had been on about. Then without waiting for an answer she launched herself into a tirade of her own, her gem encrusted, silken gloved fingers, waving in my face for emphasis. It was almost ten minutes before I was able to make my escape. Which I did, but not before slipping off one of the lecturing ladies vulgarly large cocktail rings.

 

I headed onto the patio; the time was getting ripe for my plan, which I was now ready to put into motion, now having acquired its most essential piece. I went to the end of the large patio, weaving in and out of the by now well liquored guests whom had assembled there. Across the way I saw a lady tripping over her own gown. By the time I reached her she had fallen down, giggling merrily. Two of us rushed to her aid, she was busy gushed her thanks to the rescuer she knew, while ignoring the one she didn’t! Which was unfortunate on her part, for by ignoring me, she also was ignorant of the fact that I was busy lifting the small stands of black pearls from her wrist. I left unnoticed, much like a shadow fading out of the light, or at least that’s how it seemed. Finally I reached the patios outer edge without further incident, or gain. I went on the grass and turned a corner with the intention of going, post haste around the house to reach the gardens by the long way, hoping not to be seen by anyone. But I no sooner turned the corner, when I realized that it was not to be the case.

 

It was my blithe spirit in white chiffon from the garden party, pardon me, soiree. She was unescorted, looking up at the moon above a stone turret with one lit window, so intently that my presence had not been noticed. I had been absolutely correct in my observation of her as far as what she would be wearing for the evening. For what she had lacked in ornaments at the soiree, she had more than made up for in the evening festivities. She was absolutely gorgeous, resplendent in as beautiful a silvery satin gown that I had ever witness. It was just pouring down, shimmering along her delightful figure. Her long blazing red hair was still curling down and free, but now a pair of long chandelier earrings cascading down from her earlobes, were peeking out every now and then as they swayed with her every movement. Her blazingly rippling necklace was all diamonds, dripping down the front of her tightly satin covered bosom, twinkling iridescently like an intensively glimmering waterfall. Her slender gloved wrists were home to a pair of dangling diamond bracelets that were almost outshone by her many glistening rings. All in all she was quite a lure all too herself

 

I came up to her, starling her from her reverie. Taking up her hand, I looked into her startled, suddenly blushing face. I complimented her on the fine gown she wore. She thanked me, and I could see I that she suddenly remembered she me as the chap who she thought smiled to her in the garden. She seemed to accept my compliment quite readily. I chanced it( although Lord knows I was short on time) and asked her to a dance. I did not think she would agree, so it was with a little bit of surprise, hoping she would politely decline and walk off, leaving me free to go about my business unobserved. But she accepted, and I will admit that my heart leapt as she agreed (although in the back of my mind I knew I should be off if my plan was to work). The music had stopped so we made small talk as we slowly walked back to the ballroom. Her name was Katrina. It seems she was waiting for someone, which suited my plans, but he was late and so she had time. Which may have sounded dismissive, but from the apologetic way she said it, it was anything but the sort.

 

The orchestra started to tune back up as we entered, and taking her offered hand up, was soon lost in the elegance of my appealing partner. It was a long dance, and a formal one, but I could tell she was subtly anxious to be off on her meeting, as I was to be off to my own adventure. But Katrina did not really allow it to show, which was very uncharacteristic of her someone with her obvious breeding. So I was ready when the by the end of the music she begged her condolences and took flight. I watched her as she fluidly moved away, her jewels sparkling, all of them. On her mission to meet Mr. X I thought, for whom I was already harboring a quite jealous dislike. I should be off I thought to meself.

 

But I stood, still as stone; totally mesmerized by the way Katrina’s swirling silvery satin gown was playing out along her petite, jewel sparkling figure. It wasn’t till the last of her gown swished around a corner out of sight that I moved, but not without having to shake my head to clear the thoughts of her out of it. Well old son, focus. For by now the guests were starting to wander a bit afield in the waning hours of the Autumn Ball, and my small window of opportunity was closing fast. If my little plan was going to have any chance of success it would have to be now.

 

I walked out and made my way to one of the outside exist of the garden wall. Reaching into my pocket as I did so, fingering the bracelet, now cold, that had belonged to the quarrelsome lady,and soon would be playing another role, far from one its former mistress would ever have dreamed off. I also felt my new acquisition, still warm from my dance partner’s body. I will admit that I had felt a twinge of regret for taking it from a lady I had found to be most charmingly captivating. But slipping off the diamonds up and away from her throat had been as temptingly easy as it had been automatic. I had advantageously made use of the sleekness of her scintillatingly silky gown, and with the distractions created by the movements of the dance, successfully managed to keep Katrina’s attention safely diverted from the reality of why my fingers were ever so gently, caressingly sliding along her slippery gowns neckline. The truth was I had originally placed my hand there because it had felt so right, and I was a little startled when my fingers had subconsciously started playing with her necklaces clasp. Before I knew it, they had flicked open the gemstone clasp of her obviously expensive diamond necklace, and had lifted up. As I watched out of the corner of my eye, almost like I was a spectator, as opposed to being the perpetrator, I saw the chain move up and over her shoulder; its diamonds sparkling with is as the necklace disappeared from view behind her back.

It was a favored technique that I had perfected to the point that by this stage of my career I nearly always acquired my objective. But, as odd as it sounds, I was not happy with myself on this occasion.

 

But I did not long dwell on my mixed feelings on taking the charming lass’s diamonds, for by now I had reached my place of ambush. It was in one of the farthest reaches of the garden, at a bend on the end of a long path that, with a gas lamp at its beginning just off the patio, would allow me to see from some distance off. Behind me was a break in the hedge wide enough for a person to walk through comfortably. It was here, off a tree limb, underneath a second ornate cast iron gas lamp, which was now lit, that I hung the shimmering bracelet that I had sought out and acquired for just that reason

 

I walked around and saw that it could be seen flickered off in the distance from the woods, Perfect! Earlier I had hidden my satchel with a hood and knife and bit of rope in the hollow of an old tree. I now retrieved them, and after getting ready, found my position and waited. At 10 minutes past the first hour of my wait, with nary a single glimpse of anyone, I started to fidget. My corner may be just a bit too desolated I was beginning to admit to myself. It seemed that most of the guests were staying by the patio. I was starting to think that I should pack it in, possibly rejoining the guests for one last parting( of someone from her Jewelry). I was just reaching down to pick up my satchel when I suddenly saw something flash under the gas lamp at the beginning of the path, and my senses immediately perked up. I watched as the wisps of rich shimmery satin moved closer, I stiffened, drooling with anticipation, the game was afoot.

  

I could see clearly the flickering jewels she wore, and by their blazing sparkles of rippling fire, I knew that my long vigil would not have been in vain. As the lady drew I recognized her gown of silvery satin! I knew who was making those tantalizing flashes of appealing treasures. Katrina!

 

I watched as she approached, in all her glittering elegance. My heart and conscious was in turmoil, but I knew I probably would not get a second chance. I could not let her get away unscathed. Beside, from the shock of being confronted with a masked scoundrel wielding a wicked blade, she would be in no shape to recognize her assailant. She stopped, apprehensively looking back towards the bright lights of the Manor, Then turning back I saw she had a self-satisfied smile creeping upon her face. She reached up, and undoing her hair, shook it down, curls of softness cascading down, hanging loosely down. It was as she performed this provocative act, that I saw her eyes open wide in curiosity; she had spied my pretty little “prism”. The charming fish was hooked.

 

I waited, watching her approaching ever closer to fate, and from my concealment, I basked in her glow. My heart beating fast, my adrenaline pumping, for the remaining jewels (I thought of her necklace in my custody) that she possessed I already had witnessed were quite valuable. She passed my hiding spot and went to the hanging, shimmering object. As she reached up, looking around, she failed to see me approaching in the shadows. I came up from behind, jabbing a finger in her back as I reached her, I gruffly in no uncertain terms, snarled for her to freeze and make no sound. She stiffened under my touch, but made no move or outcry. I went around; pointing my knife in her direction, looking into her sad doe wide eyes as she realized what was going to happen next. She was trembling; from fear I guessed, and knew I had her right where I wanted. As I made my demands upon her, gimme them jewels sister, she, not surprisingly, was very compliant in giving them up to me. She reached for her necklace last, and looked entirely shocked to find her throat bare, as she searched the neckline of her gown I saw her look into my hand, now dripping with her precious jewelry, almost as if to see if she had not already removed it. She looked apologetically into my eyes, startled; almost pleading that she didn’t know what had happened to it. I just played dump. She than spoke for the first time, sir, may I ask to keep my purse? Her words would have instantly melted even the coldest chunk of ice, I looked down at the little silvery clutch hanging from her arm on its rhinestone chain, I nodded, indicating that she could, and saw relief wash over her face. I told her she now needed to turn around and walk off into the woods ahead of me. She hesitated, and I told her no harm would befall her, I had no intentions along those lines.

 

About 5 meters in I stopped her, and had her remove her shoes, as she bent over to undo the high heels rhinestone clasps I watched her gown tightly outlining her figure. She tripped on the hem of her gown, and as she attempted to keep her balance, accidently let her purse slip off her shoulder. Without thinking I reached down to pick it up for her as she tried reached for it simultaneously

 

The small purse was far heavier than it should have been. Curious I opened it, finding that it contained a rather extensive array of mismatched jewelry, glittering in unbelievably expensive fire . I looked into Katrina’s horror struck eyes dumb founded, as she looked guiltily into mine. The gig was up. The jewels belonged to the lady of the manor, my muse in silver was a thief, a female version of me very self.

 

Aye, what’s this than luv? I questioned her as she looked into my eyes, hers large with a mixture of fright and disbelief. She melted before me, fainting, I caught her in my arms, and it was no ruse. I held her as she came to, holding her warm, silky figure lovingly to mine. I did not know what to think. Nor could I ever explain what possessed me to do what I did next. As she came to, her eyes opened, and I removed my mask, looking back into them deeply.

 

Oh, she gasped, I’m glad it was you, startled that she had said the words out loud. She than started to coyly blushes, quite demurely. Something sparked in me, and unless she was an incredibly good actress, it did also for Katrina. Our eyes both looked into the others, melting away in the lust of the moment. We embraced, deeply, and I held her squirming warm slick figure tight in my enveloping arms. I looked over her shoulder, eyeing the glistening bracelet hanging from its branch. To catch a thief, the thought suddenly opened in my mind, what a great title for a novel I thought to myself, as I buried my nose into Katrina’s luxuriously soft hair.

 

We talked for a bit, walking off into the woods, then she looked into my eyes again, a coy, look that melted me on the spot, and that was the end of it, we embraced again, and wholly gave ourselves to one another. What about your man I asked suddenly remembering, my man she questioned , than oh, you mean the Lord, I was waiting for him to come down from smoking in his tower study, that’s where the lady’s jewels are kept. She broke into an Irish brogue as she said the last bit, and that I guessed was her natural tongue. she laid a hand on the side of my face, thanks for being jealous though, me lad.

I should collect my lure I said, which made her smile; it was such an enticing smile at that. We started to head back and watched as it dangled in front of us flickering. With a far off look in her green eyes, Katrina spoke as if in deep though.

 

The daughter of the house, she has a bracelet on like the one you have dangling, a bracelet of diamonds that I had taken a fancy to, wishing it had been in the safe along with the rest of the ladies of manors jewelry. I knew who she was talking about. The one in green taffeta I asked? Aye lad, that’s the one. Actually her necklace would be just as easy, and worth more I said. Just then her bright green eyes gleamed, Give me about a half an hour, she told me, we will put your little lure to use again. She noticed my hesitation, don’t worry luv she said soothingly placing a gloved hand to my cheek, no longer was it sparkly with its stolen bracelet and rings. I’ll leave my purse with you, can’t very well be carrying it around now can I? I nodded my consent, my mind burning with the thoughts she had alluringly placed there.

  

She turned, and then hesitated; turning back she said I probably should not go back in naked luv. I smiled, reaching in I pulled out her necklace and placed it around her throat. With a little gasp she blurted, so it was you, I was wondering who and when it had happened. It’s not the first time I’ve had me jewels lifted, but it’s a bloody annoyance to have to let them get away with it, crawls under my skin to have pretend not to notice so that I don’t draw any attention to me self before making my move to steal the posh ones jewels.

 

But you, mister, I never felt as much as a prickling. I was ready to assume my pretties had been a victim of a broken clasp this time. I gave a little nod in acceptance. That wasn’t exactly a compliment lad, she said in what I hopped was a subtle jest. Just last summer some clumsy bugger slipped of me earrings, my favorite pearls, as we were danc… she stopped, seeing the guilt in my eyes. Men! As thieves you are all of the same skin she spat out angrily, or attempted to sound angry, for the look in her eyes to me she wasn’t. I best be off, before I change me mind about out little endeavor.

 

With that she swirled around on her heels, and started off, but not before turning and giving me an extremely coy look of interest. As she swirled back around I heard her say loud enough for my ears, I’ll learn me self to be a picker of pockets, see how males like to be taken advantage of in their vulnerabilities! She nodded to herself as she said it. Then suddenly she stopped, than twirled on her heels, her gown swirling enticingly along her figure. Looking me dead in the eye she said, “Vie ne est pas d'attendre que la tempête , mais d'apprendre à danser sous la pluie” !

 

What does that mean? I questioned in a low voice, perplexed.

 

Maybe, Mon Cheri, someday I will tell you… And with that she turned on her heel, her gown once again swirling about, and went, determinedly, swishing her way back up the path. I just watched. I had never heard anyone speak French with an Irish Brogue and I had found it to be rather provocative!

 

I watched as she swished and swayed her way back through the hedge and regained the path leading back to the manor. Her plan was simple; she would lead the daughter of the house to my corner and as she had done, go out with her to look at the swinging charm. I would then make my appearance, rob both ladies of their finery, and telling the daughter to wait until I released her friend, walk off with Katrina as a hostage, and we would both take off and make good our escape. A simple plan, so simple it should actually work.

 

So, there I was. Holding a purse with a small fortune in jewels, my pocket full of more jewels worth an additional pretty farthing, and her charms were wearing off by her leaving. And my thieving nature coming back, reawakened from the spell they had been under!

 

The devil of my conscious crept out on my shoulder, the angel markedly absent from the other.

 

Look mate, she may not be all she seems, and possibly has some other game in mind. Maybe she does have a male confidante helping her out… and was actually on her way to fetch him. He said in my inner ear. And, after all, you took her diamonds twice, didn’t ye now? Do you really think shell forgive you of that me lad?

 

And there is no honor amongst thieves, as the saying goes, he added as a closing argument...

 

I rolled it over in my mind…I could leave, absconding with it all, book a cruise to the states or down under where there lay untried fertile grounds to ply my trade. Not to mention working over my fellow passengers aboard the cruise ship while they attended the fancy affairs that were always going on, or so the brochures always seemed to show……

 

Then In the distance I caught a wisp of Katrina’s long silvery gown. She was coming, and not only with the daughter of the manor, but also with a spare. For I could see a purple coloured gown swishing alongside with the prey in rustling green taffeta.. I watched as all three ladies, resplendent with the rippling fiery gems they all possessed, came up the path, gowns sweeping out , shimmery from the now misty distance.

 

The thought of making my escape with all the loot continued to haunt me, there was still time now to take off without notice, or I could rob all three, and leave with purple silk as my hostage, Katrina would not be able to say anything on chance of giving up her part of the game, or I could just be a good lad and sty with the script that Katrina had written. Take a chance, roll the dice and believe that she was all she had me believing she could ever be.

 

As they came closer I knew my time was running out. The thoughts of just looking out for myself kept coming up playing the devil with my conscience as the precious seconds ticked away…

 

No honor amongst thieves…

What will it be, old boy I challenged myself,

What will you have it be?........

To see what his decision ultimately was, and the eventual path it led to, see the album question answered)

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Life is not about waiting out the storm, but about learning to dance in the rain.

Vie ne est pas d'attendre que la tempête , mais d'apprendre à danser sous la pluie .

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Courtesy of Chatwick University Archives

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These photos and stories are works of fiction. Any resemblance to people, living or deceased, is purely coincidental.

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Snapped this routemaster bus in King William street today, still in regular service, mainly as a tourist attraction but still going strong nevertheless

 

Routemaster

Manufacturer

 

Associated Equipment Company

   

Capacity

 

57/64/65/69/72 seated

   

Operator(s)

 

London Transport

Northern General Transport Company

British European Airways

   

Specifications

   

Length

 

27 ft 6 in (8.38 m)

30 ft 0 in (9.14 m)

   

Width

 

8 ft (2.44 m)

   

Height

 

14 ft 4 1⁄2 in (4.38 m)

   

Floor type

 

Step-entrance

   

Doors

 

1 door

   

Weight

 

7.35 long tons (7.47 t)

   

Chassis

 

Integral, with front and rear subframes

   

Engine(s)

 

AEC AV590 9.6 L or

AEC AV690 11.3 L or

Leyland O.600 9.8 L

6-cylinder diesel

Retrofits:

Cummins C-series/ISBe

DAF

Iveco

Scania

   

Power output

 

115 hp (86 kW) (AEC AV590)

   

Transmission

 

AEC 4-speed automatic/semi-automatic

  

The AEC Routemaster is a model of double-decker bus that was built by Associated Equipment Company (AEC) in 1954 (in production from 1958) and produced until 1968.[1] Primarily front-engined, rear open-platform buses, a small number of variants were produced with doors and/or front entrances. Introduced by London Transport in 1956, the Routemaster saw continuous service in London until 2005, and currently remains on two heritage routes in central London.

 

The Routemaster was developed by AEC in partnership with London Transport, the customer for nearly all new Routemasters, although small numbers were also delivered to the airline British European Airways (BEA) and the Northern General Transport Company. In all, 2,876 Routemasters were built,[1] with approximately 1,000 still in existence.

 

A pioneering design, the Routemaster outlasted several of its replacement types in London, survived the privatisation of the former London Transport bus operators and was used by other operators around the UK. In modern UK public transport bus operation, the unique features of the standard Routemaster were both praised and criticised. The open platform, while exposed to the elements, allowed boarding and alighting away from stops; the presence of a conductor allowed minimal boarding time and optimal security, although the presence of conductors incurred greater labour costs.

 

The Routemaster became one of London's most famous symbols, with much tourist paraphernalia continuing to bear Routemaster imagery, and with examples still in existence around the world. Despite its fame, the earlier London bus classes that the Routemaster replaced (the RT-type AEC Regent and Leyland Titan RTL and RTW counterparts) are often mistaken for Routemasters by the public and by the media.[2]

 

Despite the retirement of the original version, the Routemaster has retained iconic status, and in the late 2000s work began on an updated version, which is set to enter service in 2012.

 

The driver's cab of an early Routemaster RM8.

The Routemaster bus was developed during the years 1947–1956 by a team directed by A. A. M. Durrant and Colin Curtis, with vehicle styling by Douglas Scott. The design brief was to produce a vehicle that was lighter (hence more fuel efficient), easier to operate and that could be maintained by the existing maintenance practices at the recently opened Aldenham Works. The resulting vehicle could seat 64 passengers despite being three-quarters of a ton lighter than the preceding RT, which seated only 56. The first task on delivery to service was to replace London's trolleybuses, which had themselves replaced trams, and to begin to replace the older types of diesel motor bus. The Routemaster was primarily intended for London use, being designed by London Transport and constructed at the AEC Works in Southall, Middlesex, with assembly at bodybuilder Park Royal Vehicles, a subsidiary company of AEC.

     

Rear platform of Routemaster RM 1776, with updated hand-rails for Heritage Route operation.

It was an innovative design and used lightweight aluminium and techniques developed in aircraft production during World War II.[3] As well as a novel weight-saving integral design, the Routemaster also introduced (for the first time on a bus) independent front suspension, power steering, a fully automatic gearbox and power-hydraulic braking.[4] This surprised some early drivers who found the chassis unexpectedly light and nimble compared with older designs, especially as depicted on film on tests at the Chiswick Works "skid pan". Footage of Routemaster RM200 (VLT 200) undergoing the skid test at Chiswick was included in the 1971 film On the Buses.[5]

 

The Routemaster design was a departure from the traditional chassis/body construction method. With London Transport being the primary customer, the option to use different bodybuilders was unimportant. The design was one of the first "integral" buses,[4] with the bus being a combination of an "A" steel sub-frame (including engine, steering and front suspension) and a rear "B" steel sub-frame (carrying rear axle and suspension), connected by the aluminium body.[1] The gearbox was mounted on the underside of the body structure with shafts to the engine and back axle.

 

Prototypes

     

FRM1 at the LT Museum Depot

London Transport received four prototype Routemasters, which were placed in service between 1956 and 1958. The first two were built at the London Transport works at Chiswick, the third at Addlestone by Weymann and the fourth, an experimental Green Line coach, at Eastern Coach Works at Lowestoft. The third and fourth had Leyland engines.[4] The Routemaster was first exhibited at the Earl's Court Commercial Motor Show in 1954.[3]

 

In 1961, a small batch of 24 longer RMLs (30 ft compared with the standard 27 ft 6in) were built as a test, before eventually going into production from 1965.

 

In 1962, the front entrance RMF concept was tried, with a single bus RMF1254 based on the trial RMLs. This was exhibited and toured, leading to a small number of orders as the RMF and RMA class.

 

In 1964, just before mainstream production of the RML, the final front-engined Routemaster model, AEC started work on a front-entrance, rear-engined Routemaster, the FRM class.[6] Completed in 1966, it was not produced beyond an initial prototype, FRM1. This saw regular London service, then on tour operations, before being withdrawn in 1983. This vehicle acquired the nickname "Fruitmaster".

 

Production

 

Production of mechanical components was undertaken chiefly at AEC's Southall site (though a significant number had Leyland engines) throughout the life of the Routemaster, with body construction and final assembly at Park Royal. AEC itself was taken over by Leyland Motors in 1962,[7] Routemaster production ceased in 1968.[7]

 

The majority of production examples were 27 feet 6 inches (8.4 metres) long to meet the then maximum length regulations. The regulations were later relaxed and 30 feet (9.1 metres) "long" types were produced, although these were delayed by union resistance to the extra work for conductors.[8]

 

The production classes were designated as follows:

RM - standard bus (27.5 feet (8.4 m))

RML - (lengthened) bus (30 feet (9.1 m))

RMC - coach (27.5 feet (8.4 m))

RCL - (lengthened) coach (30 feet (9.1 m))

RMF - front entrance bus (essentially a demonstrator to encourage sales outside London)

RMA - front entrance bus (designated by LT when purchased from British Airways)

 

RM and RML class

RML class RML 2304 owned by Millwall Football Club, painted blue in the club's colours.

At 2,120 RMs and 524 RMLs, these make up the majority of Routemasters. The RML class was simply a standard RM with a distinctive and seemingly out of place half-window section added in the middle giving eight extra seats. This was not a dramatic change, as it took advantage of the modular design approach of the Routemaster that would be copied in the future by other manufacturers.[8] The RML was originally to be the "Routemaster Leyland" designation, with ER to signify "Extended Routemaster".[8] The RM and RML featured a cubby hole beneath the rear staircase where the conductor could stand while not collecting fares without obstructing boarding/alighting passengers.

 

RMC and RCL class

Preserved RCL 2233 in London Transport Green Line livery.

The RMC was a coach version, produced for the "Green Line" routes. RMCs had modified suspension and interiors to allow a longer range and more comfortable running, and were fitted with an electrically operated door instead of an open platform.[9] The RCL was a long version of the RMC with a larger engine and similar coach style features.[10]

 

[edit] RMF and RMA class

 

The RMF and RMA class were production versions of a front entrance model Routemaster, primarily for non-London use.[11] Like the coach class, they featured an electrically operated door, although the staircase was moved to the front of the bus along with the door. After being exhibited and demonstrated to other operators, the RMF attracted little interest, apart from an order from Northern General Transport Company as the RMF and, in a short version, from British European Airways (BEA) as the RMA class.

 

Northern General

Preserved Northern General "RMF" Routemaster in two tone red and cream pre-NBC livery.

The British Electric Traction subsidiary, the Northern General Transport Company, introduced the RMF class in 1964/1965, with an initial batch of 18, followed by another 32 and later joined by the prototype RMF1254.[11] This order created considerable interest and raised eyebrows within the bus industry, as Northern had been one of the biggest investors in the new rear-engined Leyland Atlanteans. However Northern shared many routes with their Tilling brothers United who operated the Bristol Lodekka and the Atlantean just didn't match the performance and passenger satisfaction of United's Bristols, so Northern brought in the front-entrance Routemaster as a better match for it. The fleet were fitted with Leyland engines and a higher-ratio rear axle for operation on longer trunk routes.[12] Other notable differences were a standard single panel front destination blind screen, sliding windows and a one-piece driver's windscreen.

     

Northern General 2105 Preserved in livery as delivered new.

They operated in various Northern red and cream liveries[13][14] before surviving into the National Bus Company era receiving the poppy red corporate livery and NBC Northern fleetnames. The RMF fleet wore long standing adverts, "Shop at Binns". Northern Routemasters where well liked by their crews, the high axle ratio meant a good turn of speed on some of the long distance routes such as the Newcastle-Darlington, and the advantage of power steering was well appreciated on the heavy urban services in Gateshead and Sunderland. Their service in the north also produced the odd sight of a Routemaster with a rollsign for service "X1 to Scandinavia", by virtue of the connection to the ferry line from North Shields to Scandinavia.[15] However throughout the 1970s it became increasingly uneconomic for conductor-operated buses on inter-urban services, and despite the driver and customer satisfaction for the Routemaster in the North East, the management had little option but to replace them. Ultimately Northern placed a large order for Bristol VRs featuring a combination of both ECW highbridge and Willowbrook bodywork in 1977 to replace them. The last Routemasters were used until 1980, when they were disposed of in a variety of ways,[11] some finding use in London, although none were deemed suitable for regular London service.

 

British European Airways

 

BEA introduced the RMA class buses built to the shorter length (with trailers) in various liveries in 1966/1967 for use on airport bus service between the West London Air Terminal (above the London Underground triangle between High Street Kensington, Gloucester Road and Earl's Court stations) and Heathrow Airport.[16] These were all eventually sold to London Transport after being withdrawn in stages in the 1970s, finding various roles.[17]

 

Colourful Routemasters

RM 6 in Golden Jubilee colours.

With the Routemaster's longevity, there have been Routemaster buses painted to celebrate both the Queen's Silver and Golden Jubilee, in 1977 and 2002, i.e. 25 and 50 years on the throne respectively. 25 buses were painted Silver to celebrate the Silver Jubilee,[18] and out of 50 buses painted gold in London in 2002, 15 (12 RML, 3 RM) were Routemasters.[19]

 

During privatisation in London, from 1986, several private operators won contracts to operate London bus services, some of which including Routemaster operated routes. Before an 80% red rule for liveries was reintroduced in 1997 by LT, the contract tendering authority, some of these new entrants proceeded to run Routemasters in their own non-red liveries, most notably Kentish Bus on Route 19 and Borehamwood Travel Services (BTS) (now part of London United Busways) on Route 13.

 

The iconic nature of the Routemaster also appealed to the many new operators outside of London that appeared post-1986 in the UK following bus deregulation. Several operators took second hand Routemasters from London as a cheap way of expanding their fleets to stave off competition from new operators emerging after deregulation.[20] Likewise, start up operators also chose the Routemaster as a distinctive looking bus for their own start up operations. Subsequently, Routemasters were seen around the country painted in a variety of proprietary colours, and were used in regular service in Southampton, Blackpool, Glasgow, Perth, Dundee, Hull, Carlisle, Bedford, Corby, Manchester (Stagecoach), Southend and Burnley.[4] During this era, several Routemasters found their way through more than one company and were also often loaned between operators.

 

One of the earliest, if not the earliest, examples of deregulated use of Routemasters was early in the history of the Stagecoach Group. Now one of the largest post-deregulation operators in the UK, Stagecoach combined the vintage Routemaster with their new and striking corporate livery of all-over white with red, orange and blue stripes,[21] to start one of their first operations, Magic Bus, in Glasgow, Scotland, in the late 1980s. This contrasted with the traditional identities still in use at the time.

     

Two preserved Reading Mainline Routemasters.

Towards the end of this period, in 1994 in Reading, new operator Reading Mainline built up a forty five strong Routemaster fleet to compete with the established operator Reading Buses, in the process becoming the largest operator of Routemasters outside London. They used conductors to compete on speed in the town centre and, in the outskirts, took advantage of the rear platform to operate hail and ride sections of route. After building up a network covering nearly the whole town, Reading Buses posted their first ever financial loss to purchase the company in 1998, with Reading Buses continuing Routemaster operation for another two years albeit reduced in number, until 2000.

 

With the costs involved in running elderly two-man buses and with a general reduction in the number of operators, buses and services in the years following in the deregulated industry as competitors merged or sold out, these examples of use outside London declined through the 1990s. Many of these buses found their way back to London to assist with the refurbishment program or as basic spares donors or to increase the fleet size generally.

 

The final withdrawal from mainstream London service saw another resurgence in the use of Routemasters outside of London[20] but, this time on a smaller scale than the post deregulation public transport fleets. Post 2000, usage was characterised by small novelty or seasonal routes.

 

Green livery

Preserved RMC 1476 coach with rear folding doors, in the "NBC Green" livery of London Country Bus Services, lighter than London Transport "Country" green.

The "green Routemasters" originally worked for LT's "country division", which took coach type RMC and RCL buses, for Green Line services, and later standard bus RMLs. The RMC class were initially used on Green Line routes in outlying towns.[9] Similarly, the RCL entered service in areas where the RMC was not introduced.[10]

 

These vehicles passed to the nationalised National Bus Company's subsidiary London Country Bus Services (known simply as London Country) in 1969, which took over outlying areas of LT bus operation resulting from the 1968 Transport Act. The transfer comprised 69 RMCs, 43 RCLs and 97 RMLs.[4]

 

By the latter half of the 1970s, most of these vehicles had been re-acquired by London Transport, as London Country modernised and standardised its fleet and as increased car usage and improved commuter railways reduced suburban bus demand. Most of the RMLs found use on red London bus routes,[4] and the RMC and RCL class were cascaded into the training fleet.[9] As the RCL class was relatively new (in Routemaster terms) and LT was suffering from lack of parts, between 1980 and 1984 several of the RCLs were converted to standard bus use.[22]

RT 1702 and RT 227 buses, as distinguished from Routemasters

The heyday of Routemaster operation was its first 25 years of operation, until September 1982,[23] when the type started to be withdrawn and transferred to training fleets, due to service reductions.

 

The RM class was placed in service from 1959 to replace trolleybuses, which finished in May 1962. Subsequent Routemasters, the last 500 of which were the RML types, began replacing the previous generation of buses, the RT-type AEC Regent and Leyland Titan RTL and RTW. RMLs also displaced RMs on central routes to cope with higher loadings.[8] The last Routemaster, RML 2760, entered service in March 1968.

 

The original London Transport concept included the routine overhaul and refurbishment of the Routemaster fleet at London Transport's Aldenham Works, usually every five years. Here the buses were completely stripped down and rebuilt, and left the works almost as new. As the number of Routemasters in London declined, however, and newer bus designs not suited to this practice were introduced, the overhaul routine was abandoned and Aldenham Works closed in the mid-1980s.

 

Decline in London

A Routemaster next to a DMS class one man operated bus. The Fleetline was slated to replace the Routemaster, but eventually was outlived by it.

Many of London's bus routes were converted to one-person operation (then known as one-man operation, or OMO) in the 1970s, out of a desire to reduce operating costs and address staff shortages. There was also, for a time, a parts shortage for Routemasters, aggravated by the closure of AEC.[24] With the introduction of single-deck Red Arrow services in London and successful conversion to modern rear-engined OMO buses around the country, LT was considering replacing Routemasters with modern buses. The operation of the Routemaster (very) gradually contracted to central areas only, with RMLs replacing RMs, where LT felt that the Routemaster still provided an efficient means of transporting large enough numbers of people to justifying the economics of two-man operation.[25] The rapid acceleration and rugged construction of the Routemasters also proved to be more suited to urban conditions than some more modern designs.[25]

 

The Routemaster fleet remained largely intact for around fifteen years after production ended in 1968, with withdrawals mainly due to fires. Following the defeat of the GLC in the House of Lords regarding their subsidised fare scheme, major service reductions followed in September 1982. Consequently, the first withdrawals commenced, with many of these early disposals being for scrap. The continued practice of route conversion to one person operation resulted in a steady trickle of withdrawals. This practice had largely halted by 1988, with comparatively few withdrawn up to 1992.

 

In the 1980s, several of the returned Routemasters purchased from Northern General, BEA and London Country, which had doors rather than an open platform, were put to use on London Transport's revived sightseeing operation The Original London Sightseeing Tour, alongside the RCL class (some converted to open top buses),[22] the RMF class,[11] and the RMA class.[17]

 

Privatisation of London buses

Routemasters RML 2724 and RML 2680 wearing First London and London General post-privatisation paint schemes, 2005.

In 1984, the process of privatisation of London bus services began and the Routemasters were transferred from London Transport operation to several different arms-length business units based on different garages, leading to minor additions to the standard red livery. Nine of the twelve new operating units inherited Routemasters, Centrewest, Leaside, London Central, London General, London United, Metroline, London Northern, South London and East London.[26] During this time, following the failure and premature withdrawal of heralded replacement vehicle classes such as the DM/DMS class Daimler Fleetline, the Routemasters that had not yet been disposed of saw their lives extended for use until privatisation. Where new route tenders called for Routemaster operation, these were leased from London Buses.[26]

 

By 1994, all the operating units had been sold and this produced some colour livery variations and additions to some Routemasters from their previous all-over red liveries. In the new London route tendering process, all but one of the Routemaster operated routes were allowed to keep their now privately-owned Routemasters[4] for the five-year contract period and further refurbishments resulted.

 

Life extensions

Routemaster RML 2619 in 2003.

Since the ending of production at Southall and later closure of the Aldenham works, new options for extending the life of the Routemaster became necessary if they were to continue to run. This made sense as even by 1987, when some buses looked decidedly worn out, inspections by London Buses revealed the basic structure of the buses was still sound,[24] requiring only replacement of engines and interior/exterior renewal.

 

From 1992 to 1994, all but two of the RML type were refurbished for ten years further service. This work, which included updating the interior to modern tastes and substituting Iveco or Cummins engines, was carried out by Mainline, TB Precision, Nottingham truck & Bus and by one of the new London Buses business units, Leaside Buses. 100 RM class vehicles were also re-engined.[4] Post-privatisation, in 1996, the Routemasters on London Central's RMs on route 36, Stagecoach London's RMLs for routes 8 and 15, and Arriva's RMs for route 159, all received new Scania engines.[4] Between 2001 and 2004, under new mayor Ken Livingstone and Transport for London, the replacement authority for London Buses, further refurbishment saw TfL buy back forty nine RMs from a variety of sources. Initially started by Marshall Bus, this was continued by Arriva London when Marshall ceased trading in 2002.

 

Withdrawal from London

A Routemaster seen with its replacements, a modern double decker and a bendy bus. Final 159 journey, December 2005.

    

Routemaster on Route 12 towards Dulwich, South London, in 2000.

During the new millennium, debates surrounded the issue of whether to replace or retain the Routemaster in London service. Supporters cited its continued mechanical fitness, speed of boarding and tourist potential, while opponents pointed to the economics of running increasingly elderly buses when newer, larger and more modern designs were now on the market following a resurgence in the bus manufacturing industry after recession in the 1990s. Opponents also pointed specifically to the lack of accessibility of the Routemaster in light of impending relevant legislation, which meant all new buses now entering service in London were of a low-floor design. The emergence of off-bus ticketing technology also reduced the argument for better dwell times, whereby the Oyster card and off-bus ticket machines would reduce the time it took to board the bus.

 

In 2004, following his second election campaign, Mayor of London Ken Livingstone announced the phasing out of the type in order to provide a bus service in the capital fully accessible to wheelchair users. Government legislation requires full accessibility by 2017 under the Disability Discrimination Act. As a consequence, the Routemaster was officially withdrawn from general service on 9 December 2005, although it remains in regular service on two "heritage" routes (see below).

 

Withdrawals began on the dates below as the routes' five-year contracts expired.

Route 15: 29 August 2003

Route 11: 31 October 2003

Route 23: 14 November 2003

Route 94: 23 January 2004

Route 6: 26 March 2004

Route 98: 26 March 2004

Route 8: 4 June 2004

Route 7: 2 July 2004

Route 137: 9 July 2004

Route 9: 3 September 2004

Route 390: 3 September 2004

Route 73: 3 September 2004; replaced by bendy buses

Route 12: 5 November 2004; replaced by bendy buses

Route 36: 28 January 2005

Route 19: 1 April 2005

Route 14: 22 July 2005

Route 22: 22 July 2005

Route 13: 21 October 2005

Route 38: 28 October 2005; replaced by bendy buses

Route 159: 9 December 2005

 

The Routemaster was gradually phased out of service by the end of 2005. A television documentary shown that year revealed that Livingstone had commented in 2001 that "only some sort of ghastly dehumanised moron would want to get rid of Routemasters".[27] By December 2005, only one route was left, the 159 (Marble Arch — Streatham). Friday, 9 December 2005 would be the last official running day.[28] On Thursday 8th, 24 special buses, including preserved RMs and RMLs, plus a number of their predecessors from the "RT" bus family, made guest appearances on the 159 route.

     

RM2217 arrives for the last time, surrounded by crowds. December 9, 2005.

On Friday, instead of doing a normal shift, with crews ending normally at around 11pm, on police advice,[29] the day was split into two duty shifts,[29] a Routemaster shift, and a VLA class shift (Volvo B7TL/Alexander ALX400), the replacement bus for route 159, with the Routemasters due to be replaced in the middle of the day.

 

Towards the last runs to the garage, crowds blocked the four-lane road,[28] bringing all traffic to a standstill. RM2217 was set to be the last official running bus, as per the timetable. Heavily delayed, RM2217 even took 10 minutes to turn the final corner into Brixton Garage.

 

The bus left the public highway at 14:07, accompanied by duplicates provided by preserved buses RM5 and RM6. Due to the delays, RM54 was actually the last in service, running into Streatham Station stand a few minutes later,[29] before running dead to Norwood Garage.

 

Later, RM5 and RM6, followed by RM2217 were moved to the old LCC Tramways depot at Brixton for press photographs in the quieter surroundings of the old tramways depot which, at the time, was complete with still visible tramlines.

Heritage Routemaster running off service on Route 9.

Two heritage routes were immediately introduced in London, recognising the nostalgia for the type among ordinary Londoners and their appeal to tourists. Although these buses are operated under contract to TfL and accept standard Travelcards, Oystercards or cash fares, they only operate for a limited time during the day duplicating short sections of two regular London bus routes. The Heritage routes operate around ten buses each,[30] with five each in reserve.

Heritage route 9: Olympia-Warwick Gardens - High Street Kensington - Royal Albert Hall — Hyde Park Corner — Piccadilly Circus — Trafalgar Square.

Heritage route 15: Trafalgar Square — Strand — Aldwych — Fleet Street — Cannon Street — Monument — Tower Hill.

 

The buses used were specially restored from remaining examples for this service and have clean environmental engines, modern electrics and sealed windows.

 

Other public transport uses

 

Most use of Routemasters in UK public transport service has now ceased.

     

Nottingham & District Omnibus Routemaster followed by a Nottingham City Transport bus.

On 7 April 2008 Routemasters were also introduced on a regular bus route in Nottingham, England.[31] They were operated by Bellamy's Coaches Ltd with red Routemasters branded as the Nottingham & District Omnibus,[32][33] on route 20 on a 20 minute frequency from 7am to 7pm, six days a week.[34] Bellamy's positioned the conductor and open platform features of the Routemaster as being able to compete with the incumbent operator's Nottingham City Transport (NCT) services, on increased speed of travel through the city centre bus stops, and through hail and ride operation in the suburbs. The Routemasters were withdrawn on 28 June 2008 with the company citing low passenger demand, although to satisfy bus service registration requirements, the service continued using single-decker buses into August.[35] The council, which has an 82% stake in NCT, was criticised for not doing enough to provide information about the service in public facilities, and for increasing the competition selectively on the Routemaster route.[34]

 

The London and South East of England operator Metrobus had retained a green-liveried Routemaster, RML 2317 (CUV 317C), obtained from sister company London General, which is sometimes used on regular routes as well as private and preservation appearances. This RML has however, now passed to Brighton and Hove Buses where is was painted into the livery of Thomas Tilling Ltd. Cavendish Motor Services operate RML 2324 in a light green and green livery, for special journeys as well as a relief bus for a number of their routes in the Eastbourne area.

 

Wilson's Coaches of Greenock operate three Routemasters (one open-top) mainly on private hire workings, but also see service on the company's routes from Greenock to Clydebank, Helensburgh and on Saturdays prior to Christmas on the company's local Greenock service.

 

Non-public service use

A Routemaster in use as a cafe in Brick Lane, London.

Aside from the London heritage routes, the last major operator of Routemasters in service in the UK, is in Edinburgh, Scotland. Local operator Lothian Buses tour operation Mac Tours[36] uses a variety of closed and open top Routemasters on regular tour bus duties.[30] Another tour operation, York Pullman, currently use two Routemasters on a city tour of York.[37]

 

Several operators in the UK maintain Routemasters for private hire usage, with the majority held by the successors to the former London Bus units, Ensignbus, London Bus Company Ltd (formerly Blue Triangle) and Timebus Travel.[30]

 

Many cities around the world have a Routemaster or an older RT variant somewhere, often privately owned and used for many different purposes (from Preservation to Hot Dog stands, tour bus to shop). Routemasters can be found far from Britain in places such as Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, China, Canada, Croatia, Southern California, Malaysia, Fairbanks, Alaska and Stanley in the Falkland Islands.

 

A number of Stagecoach-owned Routemasters have been exported to Montreal in Canada, where Stagecoach now provides a tourist service around the city. This is a unique case of London Routemasters being operated on a daily service in a foreign country by a former London Routemaster operator.

  

Source Wikipedia

Turn of a Friendly Card

************************************************************

Based on a true adventures of a rogue active in the waning years of the 1930’s as discovered in the criminal archives of Chatwick University.

 

Act 1

I begin my tale in the present…

 

That afternoon a soiree was given as part of the purchase price of the tickets for the annual Autumn Charity Ball to be presented later that evening at the manor’s great house. Since I was alone, I just went mainly for the free food and to rub my elbows with the wealthy guests who would be in happy attendance there, and at the Ball. I was alone, but certainly not bored. There was a game I enjoyed playing to pass the time at these affairs that entailed scoping out by their dress and day jewels worn, those ladies whom would be most likely to be wearing the better costumes and sparklers that evening. It often proved to be a most beneficial insight into the actions and mannerisms of the very rich. I walked amongst the cheerful guests, eying one here ( a lady in satin and pearls) and another there( a high spirited girl with a diamond pin at the throat of her frilly silken blouse). It was as I was passing the latter that the friend she had been talking too (dressed like a vamp), bumped up against me. I caught her, steadying her as they both giggled. I didn’t mind, for the lassie’s too tight satin sheath tea dress had been an enticement to hold, and the gold bracelet that had been dangling from her gloved wrist had been a pleasure to observe. I kissed her gloved hand, rings glittering, as I apologized gallantly for my clumsiness. Her eyes were bright, almost as bright as the twin necklaces of gold that hung swaying down pleasantly from between her ample bosom. I left them, moving on to greener pastures, and it was very green, all of it….

 

It was then that I detected another pretty lassie. It was her long fiery red hair with falling wispy curls that first captured my attention. She was wearing a fetchingly smart white chiffon party dress that commanded me to acquire a closer examination. She appeared to be a blithe spirit, seemingly content with just being by herself and roaming about with casual elegance, the extensive grounds of the manor proper. I began to discreetly follow her at a distance. Although she did not wear any jewelry, her manner and the eloquent way she moved is what attracted me the most. It would be very interesting to seek her out later that evening and she what she would have chosen to decorate herself with. I followed her as she sojourned into the depths of a traditional English garden with a maze of lushly green trimmed 8 foot high hedges

 

As I strolled through the hedgerows in her wake I allowed my mind to wander its own course. Suddenly I straightened up, my reverie broken by an epiphany of sorts. I allowed myself to grin and the lady whose enchantment I was swollen up in, at that moment turned, and seeing my beaming smile assumed it was for her and gave me a rather cute nod of her head. I answered in same, as I headed en route to a nearby stone garden bench to allow my thoughts to think through themselves.

 

But before I go on, allow me the pleasure to sojourn and reminisce about an incident that occurred several years prior:

*******************

I was still working unaided in those days, travelling on to a new next quest that would take me just outside of Surrey.

I had just purchased my train ticket and had seen my luggage safe on board when I decided to rest in the lounge, it being some 45 minutes before allowed to enter personally aboard. Being so early the lounge was almost deserted, only one other occupant. I assumed she was waiting for someone on an incoming train due to the fact she carried no luggage. She was obviously well off, well dressed in satins and lace, and her jewels shone magnificently in the dim lights. Especially one of her rings, noticeably lying loosely around a finger, it sparkled with an expensive brilliance. I had seen one like it in a tiffanies store, worth almost 250 pounds. But she did not appreciate the show her jewelry was putting on under the lounge lights, for she was fast asleep.

 

I circled around her, aiming for a seat next to her, eyeing her and her possessions carefully. I noticed her purse had fallen off her lap and lay on the floor. An idea popped into my head, and I picked the purse up, and looked around carefully, before placing my plan into action. But I was thwarted as an older, matronly lady was spotted heading our way. I slipped the purse into my jacket and moved off before I was noticed. Of course she came in and took the empty seat across form the sleeping princess, and soon busied herself with knitting. As the older lady had sat down, not quietly, the wealthy lady stirred waking up at the noise. I went into a corner and sat, waiting. The two ladies soon fell into conversation; the minute’s ticked by excruciatingly slow. Soon I noticed we even had more company.

He was a lad of only fourteen, but with a devilish look about him that marked him a kindred spirit to meself, and his quick eyes were darting about taking it all in as he stood outside the paned glass window.

 

It was as the first announcement of boarding the train that I saw a chance for opportunity to strike.

The older lady folded up her knitting and clinching her bag, bid adieu to her new friend,( befuddled a little by the old ladies constant stream of gossip), and headed to the train. I was twenty steps ahead of her and was standing behind the youth as she left the lounge. I tapped him on the shoulder; he looked around at me suspiciously, and then caught sight of the shilling I was holding in front of his nose. I quickly whispered a few words into his ear on how he could earn it, and his grin spread as he bought into my story. I still held onto the shilling as he darted around and inside the lounge. I watched as he ran up behind the lady, circling her, then running in front of her he tripped over her leg, as she helped him up, her hand with the ring reaching down, he turned and spat onto the wrist and sleeve of that hand, than standing he ran away. Running alongside me, I handed him the shilling in passing as he ran off, disappearing in to the street.

 

I went inside and approached the astonished lady, as she was looking for her purse to get a handkerchief, confused as to its absence, while she held up her soiled hand( ring glittering furiously) in utter disbelief. I approached, catching her attention by the soothing words I uttered to her. I took her hand, unbelieving with her at just had happened, and I as I apologized for the youth of today I produced my own silk handkerchief and starting with her silky sleeve, began to wipe it off, continuing my tirade of displeasure and contempt at what had just occurred to the dear lady as I did so. As I finishing wiping her down, ending with her warm slender fingers, I kissed them, just as the last boarding announcement came over (perfect timing!) I let her go, explaining that I must catch my train. I turned and without looking back made the train just as it was letting off steam before chugging off.

 

I gained my private carriage just as the train began to lurch away. It wasn’t until after the train began its journey that I casually removed my silk handkerchief from my pocket and unwrapped it carefully, admiring up close the shimmering, valuable tiffany ring that was lying inside. I pocketed it, and then remembered the purse. I took it out and examined its contents: coin and notes equaling a handsome amount, a gold (gilded) case, embroidered lacy handkerchief, small silver flask of perfume, and ( of all things)a large shimmering prism , like one that would have dangled from a fancy crystal chandelier. A prism?, I questioned with interest as I examined it. It was pretty thing, about the circumference of a cricket ball, but shaped like a pendulum, it shimmered and glittered like the most precious of jewels. Why she had it in her purse? I couldn’t guess, and I saw no value in it, so I pocketed it and allowed it to leave my mind.

 

As I settled into my seat I began to think of the lad I had just met, I had been right on the money as far as his eagerness for mischief. Actually he reminded me of myself at that age, and I wondered if that lad with the shifty eyes would also turn out to follow the same course I had explored.

 

Which Begs the question, what had I turned out to become. And since I’m still reminiscing

I’ll give little background material about me, hopefully I don’t come across as being too conceited about my self-taught skills..

 

I had never been one to take the hard road, and even at a young age I was always looking for angles, or short cuts to make some money.

Once, while watching for some time a street magician and his acts. I observed a pick pocket working the crowd. He approached a pair of well-dressed ladies in shiny clothes, and standing behind them bided his time and then lifted a small pouch from one velvet purse, and a fat wallet from a silken one, then he moved on. Now both ladies were wearing shiny bracelets, one with jewels. I thought that he could have realized a greater profit if he had nicked one or both of the bracelets first, than try for the contents of their purses. The bracelets’ alone would have realized a far greater profit than what he lifted from their purses. It further occurred to me that by mimicking some of the sleight of hand tricks and misdirection that the magician was using on his audience, it could be accomplished. A hand placed on the right shoulder and as the lady turned right, whisk off the bracelet from her left wrist, and excuse oneself, that sort of thing.

 

So, I practiced (on my sisters, who proved to be willing accomplices to “my game”) and learned to pick their purses and pockets. I than moved onto their jewelry, starting by lifting bracelets and slipping away rings, before advancing to the brooches, necklaces and earrings they were wearing. After I was satisfied at my skill level, I went out and worked the streets. Sometimes using my one sister who was also hooked on what I was doing as a willing partner.

But I found myself still not being satisfied, in the back of my mind I thought there had to be a more lucrative way to turn a profit.

 

I’d found my answer when an attractive lady in a rustling satin gown zeroed in on me while I was “visiting” a ballroom. She was jeweled like a princess right up to the diamond band she wore holding up her piles of soft locks like a glimmering crown. The more she drank, the closer she got and I decided that her necklace would definitely help pay my expenses more than the contents of her purse (although I had already lifted the fat wallet from her small purse), and I did have very expensive tastes to pay for. So I took her onto the dance floor.

 

I was amazed at how easily I had been able to open the necklace’s clasp , slipping it over her satiny shoulder, lifting it off and placing it safely in my pocket with almost no effort. Then she decided to be playful once the song ended and brushed up against me. She felt the necklace in my pocket and before I could act she had her hand in and pulled it out.

 

The silly naive twit thought I was teasing her and told me that for my penance I had to go up to her suite in order to put it back on for her. I kept up the charade as best as I could.

 

And that’s where we ended up. A little bit of light fondling began as I placed the necklace back around her throat. I began to tease her, plied her with more and more alcohol as I tried to keep my distance, and virginity. Finally she passed out in a drunken stupor, but not before I had learned where she hid her valuables by suggesting she should lock her jewels up for the night..

 

With her safely unconscious, I began to strip her clean off all her jewels, reclaiming the necklace first. Then I visited all her jewelry casket and began looting it. I even took her small rhinestone clutch with the diamond clasp; of course I already had liberated its small wallet.

 

When I’d left her lying happily asleep in bed, still in her satin gown( the only item left to her that shined), I knew I had found a much more profitable line of “work”

 

So I began making circuits around to the haunts of the very rich, I still kept may hand in pickpocketing, so to speak, but centered only on those “pockets” containing mainly jewelry. I also began to carefully explore new ways of acquiring jewels” in masse”, so to speak.

 

Soon I had accumulated many tricks and tools, having them at my disposal to put into action once required, and for the remaining years up till the present had managed to live quite comfortably off of the ill-gotten gains using them allowed me to acquire.

 

Which brings me back to the train ride, my prism, and the rest of my background story before I retun to the present tale. Please be patient.

*****

So, anyway, I reached Surry without any further incident and disembarking, made my way out to the large country house where I would be staying to take a short rest, vacation if you will. But, pardon the play on words, for there is never any rest for the wicked, is there?

 

I had become acquainted with a servant of the old mansion ( almost a small castle, really) , that was about a mile off. I managed to learn a great deal, and soon found myself, on the pretense of visiting her, exploring the grounds. There was to be a grand ball taking place a couple of weekends away , and the maid had filled my ears with the riches that would be displayed by the multitude of regal ladies making an appearance. I began to think about trying to make a little bit of profit from my vacation. I am not sure how the idea developed, but the prism that I still had in my possession, came up centrally into my plans.

 

Late on the evening of the regal affair, I snuck over, covered head to toe in black, with my small satchel off tools by my side. I set up a candle behind an old stone ivy covered wall in a far corner of the rather large and intricate English garden that surrounded the inner circle around the mansion. I than strung the jewel-like prism in front of it. Standing behind the wall, I would strike the prism with a long stick I was holding whenever I observed sparkles emanating from silkily gowned ladies walking in the distance, solitary or in pairs. The prism would flash fire, sort of like a showy lure being used when fishing in a crooked trout stream. Only I was fishing for far sweeter game than trout. My objective was to trick certain types of jeweled ladies (scatterbrains some may call them) by luring them down onto the path beyond the wall, using their natural curiosity to my advantage.

 

I had at least two strikes rise up to my lure in the second hour.

On was a pretty lady in flowing green satin number, decorated with plenty of emeralds, which, hidden in the shadows, I observed were probably paste. I let her wonder about; as she looked and played with the shiny toy, remaining hidden until she grew bored and wandered off.

The second was a slender maiden wearing a long sleek black gown with long ivory silk gloves. I had never before seen a lady so decked out in jewels, literally head to toe. With the exception of the rhinestones adorning her heels, the rest of the lot was real, so valuably real that I could feel my mouth salivating at the thoughts of acquiring her riches. Now in Edwardian times only older, married ladies would be allowed the privilege of wearing a diamond Tiara. But in these modern times, it had become culturally acceptable for any well-to do lady, single or otherwise, to wear one out in society. Even so, they were still rarely worn, and seldom seen outside the safety of large gatherings. But there it was, a small, delicately slender piece of intricate art that glistened from the top of her head like some elegant beacon. That piece alone was probably worth more than I had made all the last four months combined!

I began to skirt around in the shadows, placing myself in position to cut off her retreat. Her diamonds blazed as she approached, eyeing the swinging prism with total concentration. Which was unfortunate, because as I was about to leave the shadows, she walked into the thorns of a rose bush, screeching out, and attracting the notice of a pair of gentlemen who had just crossed the path quite a ways off, called out when they heard the commotion. She started to become chatty with them, obviously coming on to her rescuers, my prism all but forgotten. Than before I knew it, in a swishing of her long gown, she was gone, “swimming” off before I was able to set me ”hook”.

 

Which I was able to do on the third strike, almost an hour later, just as I was beginning to ponder wither I should call it off and head back home..

 

They were a pair of young damsels in their young twenties. They may have been sisters, or cousins at the least. I still remember how my heart leapt into my throat as they observed my colourful prism and turned down the old flagstone path. I had not seen anyone out and about for some time, so I knew they would be no would be rescuers around to come to their aid

And, best of all, they were both dressed for the kill!

One, the blonde, was clad in a black velvet number that one could cannily describe as quite form fitting. As were the small ropes of pearls that hung from all points of interest, pretty with a matching pricelessness.

But her cousin, as I will refer to her, out shone black velvet quite literally.

This one, a stunning raven haired beauty, wore a long streaming gown of liquid ivory satin. A diamond brooch sparkled as it held up a fold of the gown to her waist. The fold allowed her to show a rather daring amount of a slender bare calf. The brooch was not paste, but a real jewel that had been added for the nights festivities ( To be successful, one learns to read these signs accurately) Her ears and neckline were home to a matching set of pure white diamonds. A wide diamond bracelet graced a bare right wrist ,so she must be left handed I instinctively thought, an observation that would have aided me if I were planning on having a go for slipping the bracelet from her wrist, but tonight I was planning a much more daring attempt to empty the entire jewel casket, so to speak.

 

They went to the prism, playing with it a bit, I had begun to circle around, when I noticed black velvet pointing out with multiple ringed fingers, to something further down the path past the wall.

 

With a clicking of heels I let the pair pass, they apparently wanted to see what was on the other side of the wall. I followed; it was not hard, because the necklace the raven haired one wore, diamonds fully encircling her throat, rippled and sparkled from their perch, caught in the full harvest moon’s cast, giving me more than enough light to shadow them quietly .

 

After a while they caught on that something/someone was following them, but as they turned they could see nothing. I was in black, and hooded, invisible to them in the shadows of the trees. They whispered amongst themselves, now worried, realizing that there were dangers lurking beyond the pale, in their case, the safety of the gardens , especially for ones decked out as they were. They then turned and headed right back from where they had come, right into my waiting arms.

 

It is interesting what good breeding does for young, poised ladies. For, as I stepped out of the shadows, a finger of my right hand to my lips, my Fairborn in my left hand, its black blade glinting wickedly in the moonlight , they did not scream out or shout for help. Instead the pair merely let out small gasps, and then they both, in a quite charming synchronized display of disbelief, place each one hand over their open mouths, and the other upon their perspective necklaces.

 

And as I flourished my wicked looking Fairbairn–Sykes blade in their direction, they unquestioningly reached around and undid those pretty necklaces, tremblingly handing them out to me, like actresses following a well-read script. I took the little pretties and after stuffing them into my satchel, held out again my free hand, my fingers beckoning. Not a word was spoken between us, as the frightened pair of young ladies began removing their shimmering jewels and added them in a neat little growing pile along my open palm. The raven haired girl even undid her brooch without me having to command her to do so. Once I had stashed it all away, I motioned for them to turn back around, than with a little helpful prodding on my part, they began moving forward back down the hill, away from the garden. The one in white hobbling a little now as she kept tripping over the hem of her dress, now no longer held up by the stolen brooch.

 

After we had traveled about 200 meters I had them stop, and take off their high heels. Then picking the pretty things up, I motioned them to turn back around and made them walk back the way we had come in their bare feet, watching the pair awkwardly hobble barefooted down the wooded path. They would be quite a while on their journey back, allowing me more than ample time to make me escape. I threw their shoes off to the side and went briskly the other way, reaching the place was staying at , gaining my room without notice. But not before I had hidden the jewels inside an old stump to retrieve them at a later date. I never really heard so much as a whisper of the incident, other than from the pretty lips of my friendly maiden. The wee hours of the morning before my early departure for the train station found me revisiting the stump and retrieving my satchel and its precious cargo. After hiding it all in a false bottom of my case I laid my head on the pillow and drifted off to sleep as I wondered what had happened to the little prism, marveling at how useful it had ended up proving to be.

 

So, how does this story (journey rather) relate to the one I had already started? Please read on, and enrich your curiosity… my dear readers.

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Act 2

 

So, with apologies for my lengthy elucidation, but I now return you back to the garden party I was now attending on that warm fall day. But, as you will see, my prism story needed to be told in order to add a bit of flavor to what was about to unfold.

 

As I sat on the garden bench I formulated my plans. I should be able to acquire the main piece tonight at the Ball, I would have time this afternoon to retrieve my ever handy satchel and its array of tools and have it hidden at the spot I had already selected. It was perfect, located at the end of the path I had found, or rather the charming lady in the smart chiffon dress had found for me. A gas lamp would provide adequate light for my “lure”, and it led to a back wood where I could lead any victims away and liberate them of their valuables before making my escape. I rose, just enough time to walk my escape route, before setting up and then be dressed for the evening’s festivities. I looked around, I was alone now, my lady in white had disappeared, following her own course, whatever it may have been.

 

The Autumn Ball that evening was in full swing by the time I arrived. Being a cool fall day, most of the women were wearing long gowns and dresses, and that, for whatever the reason, usually meant they were decked out with more layers of jewelry than say , if it had been the middle of summer. In order to put my plan in action I need and intrinsic piece of the trap, a prism. The one I had once had was long ago lost, a minor pawn in a game to take a pair of princesses.

 

I knew exactly the type of prism required for my plan, and so began mingling amongst the guests with that in mind.

 

I started out by walking through to the chamber like ballroom where a full orchestra was starting to play. The first person I saw from the garden party was the little tramp who had been wearing the too tight satin tea dress. That dress had been replaced with a long silky gown, her gold jewelry replaced with emeralds; including a thin bracelet that had taken the place of the gold one that she had so obligingly dangled in my larcenous path. I decided to avoid her In principle, and in doing so spied someone quite interesting.

 

That someone was a pretty lady in a long velvet gown standing off to one side, idly watching the many dancers out on the floor. The dancing couples were forming an imagery of a rainbow coloured sea of slinky swirling gowns and with erupting fireworks of sparkling jewels, ignited by pair of immensely large chandeliers that hung over the dance floor, setting them off. I made my way, skirting the dance floor to reach her, my eyes on her jewels, which were making pretty fireworks of their own. I happened to walk up just as a waiter with a tray of drinks was passing by. Plucking off a drink I offered it to the lady with one hand, my other hand placed on her back as If to steady myself. She laughed prettily, and taking the drink I met her eyes, as she was focused on reaching and holding the glass in her slippery gloved hand, mine was on the ruby and diamond necklace. My hand behind her had flicked open the simple hook and eye clasp of the antique piece and was in the process of lifting it up and whisking it away from her throat. As I said a few words to her, I pocketed it, while also taking in the rest of her lovely figure and its shiny decorations, before biding adieu. She smiled, her pale bare neckline now quite glaringly extinguished of its fire.

 

It was about an hour later, after spotting, but unable to make inroads with several likely candidates, that I finally struck gold (figuratively). It came in the form of a young couple arguing between themselves in a far corner of the chamber. She was lecturing a rather handsome man in a tux, her jeweled fingers flying in his face. If she hadn’t been moving about in such an animated fashion as she lectured, I may not have even noticed her. But as it happened I did, especially noticeable was the sanctimonious lady’s wide jeweled bracelet that was bursting out in a rainbow of colorful flickers as her hand was emphatically waving, as her long gown of silk swished around with every movement she made. Perfect. I watched for a bit, and sure enough they moved off, the man heading for the patio leading outside, the wealthy girl following him, still giving him lashes with her tongue. I moved and managed to have her bump into me simply by stepping on the hemline of her long gown. For a few seconds I was the one on the receiving end of her wrath, but I took it like a man, I could see in the eyes of her tongue lashed husband, that he was grateful for the respite. I was also grateful; grateful for the quite wide, very shimmering, bracelet that I had removed from her wrist and now was residing in my pocket.

 

I began to leave the patio, but was stopped by a matronly lady in ruffles, laces and pearls, her breath heavy with alcohol. She started to question me on what the couple had been on about. Then without waiting for an answer she launched herself into a tirade of her own, her gem encrusted, silken gloved fingers, waving in my face for emphasis. It was almost ten minutes before I was able to make my escape. Which I did, but not before slipping off one of the lecturing ladies vulgarly large cocktail rings.

 

I headed onto the patio; the time was getting ripe for my plan, which I was now ready to put into motion, now having acquired its most essential piece. I went to the end of the large patio, weaving in and out of the by now well liquored guests whom had assembled there. Across the way I saw a lady tripping over her own gown. By the time I reached her she had fallen down, giggling merrily. Two of us rushed to her aid, she was busy gushed her thanks to the rescuer she knew, while ignoring the one she didn’t! Which was unfortunate on her part, for by ignoring me, she also was ignorant of the fact that I was busy lifting the small stands of black pearls from her wrist. I left unnoticed, much like a shadow fading out of the light, or at least that’s how it seemed. Finally I reached the patios outer edge without further incident, or gain. I went on the grass and turned a corner with the intention of going, post haste around the house to reach the gardens by the long way, hoping not to be seen by anyone. But I no sooner turned the corner, when I realized that it was not to be the case.

 

It was my blithe spirit in white chiffon from the garden party, pardon me, soiree. She was unescorted, looking up at the moon above a stone turret with one lit window, so intently that my presence had not been noticed. I had been absolutely correct in my observation of her as far as what she would be wearing for the evening. For what she had lacked in ornaments at the soiree, she had more than made up for in the evening festivities. She was absolutely gorgeous, resplendent in as beautiful a silvery satin gown that I had ever witness. It was just pouring down, shimmering along her delightful figure. Her long blazing red hair was still curling down and free, but now a pair of long chandelier earrings cascading down from her earlobes, were peeking out every now and then as they swayed with her every movement. Her blazingly rippling necklace was all diamonds, dripping down the front of her tightly satin covered bosom, twinkling iridescently like an intensively glimmering waterfall. Her slender gloved wrists were home to a pair of dangling diamond bracelets that were almost outshone by her many glistening rings. All in all she was quite a lure all too herself

 

I came up to her, starling her from her reverie. Taking up her hand, I looked into her startled, suddenly blushing face. I complimented her on the fine gown she wore. She thanked me, and I could see I that she suddenly remembered she me as the chap who she thought smiled to her in the garden. She seemed to accept my compliment quite readily. I chanced it( although Lord knows I was short on time) and asked her to a dance. I did not think she would agree, so it was with a little bit of surprise, hoping she would politely decline and walk off, leaving me free to go about my business unobserved. But she accepted, and I will admit that my heart leapt as she agreed (although in the back of my mind I knew I should be off if my plan was to work). The music had stopped so we made small talk as we slowly walked back to the ballroom. Her name was Katrina. It seems she was waiting for someone, which suited my plans, but he was late and so she had time. Which may have sounded dismissive, but from the apologetic way she said it, it was anything but the sort.

 

The orchestra started to tune back up as we entered, and taking her offered hand up, was soon lost in the elegance of my appealing partner. It was a long dance, and a formal one, but I could tell she was subtly anxious to be off on her meeting, as I was to be off to my own adventure. But Katrina did not really allow it to show, which was very uncharacteristic of her someone with her obvious breeding. So I was ready when the by the end of the music she begged her condolences and took flight. I watched her as she fluidly moved away, her jewels sparkling, all of them. On her mission to meet Mr. X I thought, for whom I was already harboring a quite jealous dislike. I should be off I thought to meself.

 

But I stood, still as stone; totally mesmerized by the way Katrina’s swirling silvery satin gown was playing out along her petite, jewel sparkling figure. It wasn’t till the last of her gown swished around a corner out of sight that I moved, but not without having to shake my head to clear the thoughts of her out of it. Well old son, focus. For by now the guests were starting to wander a bit afield in the waning hours of the Autumn Ball, and my small window of opportunity was closing fast. If my little plan was going to have any chance of success it would have to be now.

 

I walked out and made my way to one of the outside exist of the garden wall. Reaching into my pocket as I did so, fingering the bracelet, now cold, that had belonged to the quarrelsome lady,and soon would be playing another role, far from one its former mistress would ever have dreamed off. I also felt my new acquisition, still warm from my dance partner’s body. I will admit that I had felt a twinge of regret for taking it from a lady I had found to be most charmingly captivating. But slipping off the diamonds up and away from her throat had been as temptingly easy as it had been automatic. I had advantageously made use of the sleekness of her scintillatingly silky gown, and with the distractions created by the movements of the dance, successfully managed to keep Katrina’s attention safely diverted from the reality of why my fingers were ever so gently, caressingly sliding along her slippery gowns neckline. The truth was I had originally placed my hand there because it had felt so right, and I was a little startled when my fingers had subconsciously started playing with her necklaces clasp. Before I knew it, they had flicked open the gemstone clasp of her obviously expensive diamond necklace, and had lifted up. As I watched out of the corner of my eye, almost like I was a spectator, as opposed to being the perpetrator, I saw the chain move up and over her shoulder; its diamonds sparkling with is as the necklace disappeared from view behind her back.

It was a favored technique that I had perfected to the point that by this stage of my career I nearly always acquired my objective. But, as odd as it sounds, I was not happy with myself on this occasion.

 

But I did not long dwell on my mixed feelings on taking the charming lass’s diamonds, for by now I had reached my place of ambush. It was in one of the farthest reaches of the garden, at a bend on the end of a long path that, with a gas lamp at its beginning just off the patio, would allow me to see from some distance off. Behind me was a break in the hedge wide enough for a person to walk through comfortably. It was here, off a tree limb, underneath a second ornate cast iron gas lamp, which was now lit, that I hung the shimmering bracelet that I had sought out and acquired for just that reason

 

I walked around and saw that it could be seen flickered off in the distance from the woods, Perfect! Earlier I had hidden my satchel with a hood and knife and bit of rope in the hollow of an old tree. I now retrieved them, and after getting ready, found my position and waited. At 10 minutes past the first hour of my wait, with nary a single glimpse of anyone, I started to fidget. My corner may be just a bit too desolated I was beginning to admit to myself. It seemed that most of the guests were staying by the patio. I was starting to think that I should pack it in, possibly rejoining the guests for one last parting( of someone from her Jewelry). I was just reaching down to pick up my satchel when I suddenly saw something flash under the gas lamp at the beginning of the path, and my senses immediately perked up. I watched as the wisps of rich shimmery satin moved closer, I stiffened, drooling with anticipation, the game was afoot.

  

I could see clearly the flickering jewels she wore, and by their blazing sparkles of rippling fire, I knew that my long vigil would not have been in vain. As the lady drew I recognized her gown of silvery satin! I knew who was making those tantalizing flashes of appealing treasures. Katrina!

 

I watched as she approached, in all her glittering elegance. My heart and conscious was in turmoil, but I knew I probably would not get a second chance. I could not let her get away unscathed. Beside, from the shock of being confronted with a masked scoundrel wielding a wicked blade, she would be in no shape to recognize her assailant. She stopped, apprehensively looking back towards the bright lights of the Manor, Then turning back I saw she had a self-satisfied smile creeping upon her face. She reached up, and undoing her hair, shook it down, curls of softness cascading down, hanging loosely down. It was as she performed this provocative act, that I saw her eyes open wide in curiosity; she had spied my pretty little “prism”. The charming fish was hooked.

 

I waited, watching her approaching ever closer to fate, and from my concealment, I basked in her glow. My heart beating fast, my adrenaline pumping, for the remaining jewels (I thought of her necklace in my custody) that she possessed I already had witnessed were quite valuable. She passed my hiding spot and went to the hanging, shimmering object. As she reached up, looking around, she failed to see me approaching in the shadows. I came up from behind, jabbing a finger in her back as I reached her, I gruffly in no uncertain terms, snarled for her to freeze and make no sound. She stiffened under my touch, but made no move or outcry. I went around; pointing my knife in her direction, looking into her sad doe wide eyes as she realized what was going to happen next. She was trembling; from fear I guessed, and knew I had her right where I wanted. As I made my demands upon her, gimme them jewels sister, she, not surprisingly, was very compliant in giving them up to me. She reached for her necklace last, and looked entirely shocked to find her throat bare, as she searched the neckline of her gown I saw her look into my hand, now dripping with her precious jewelry, almost as if to see if she had not already removed it. She looked apologetically into my eyes, startled; almost pleading that she didn’t know what had happened to it. I just played dump. She than spoke for the first time, sir, may I ask to keep my purse? Her words would have instantly melted even the coldest chunk of ice, I looked down at the little silvery clutch hanging from her arm on its rhinestone chain, I nodded, indicating that she could, and saw relief wash over her face. I told her she now needed to turn around and walk off into the woods ahead of me. She hesitated, and I told her no harm would befall her, I had no intentions along those lines.

 

About 5 meters in I stopped her, and had her remove her shoes, as she bent over to undo the high heels rhinestone clasps I watched her gown tightly outlining her figure. She tripped on the hem of her gown, and as she attempted to keep her balance, accidently let her purse slip off her shoulder. Without thinking I reached down to pick it up for her as she tried reached for it simultaneously

 

The small purse was far heavier than it should have been. Curious I opened it, finding that it contained a rather extensive array of mismatched jewelry, glittering in unbelievably expensive fire . I looked into Katrina’s horror struck eyes dumb founded, as she looked guiltily into mine. The gig was up. The jewels belonged to the lady of the manor, my muse in silver was a thief, a female version of me very self.

 

Aye, what’s this than luv? I questioned her as she looked into my eyes, hers large with a mixture of fright and disbelief. She melted before me, fainting, I caught her in my arms, and it was no ruse. I held her as she came to, holding her warm, silky figure lovingly to mine. I did not know what to think. Nor could I ever explain what possessed me to do what I did next. As she came to, her eyes opened, and I removed my mask, looking back into them deeply.

 

Oh, she gasped, I’m glad it was you, startled that she had said the words out loud. She than started to coyly blushes, quite demurely. Something sparked in me, and unless she was an incredibly good actress, it did also for Katrina. Our eyes both looked into the others, melting away in the lust of the moment. We embraced, deeply, and I held her squirming warm slick figure tight in my enveloping arms. I looked over her shoulder, eyeing the glistening bracelet hanging from its branch. To catch a thief, the thought suddenly opened in my mind, what a great title for a novel I thought to myself, as I buried my nose into Katrina’s luxuriously soft hair.

 

We talked for a bit, walking off into the woods, then she looked into my eyes again, a coy, look that melted me on the spot, and that was the end of it, we embraced again, and wholly gave ourselves to one another. What about your man I asked suddenly remembering, my man she questioned , than oh, you mean the Lord, I was waiting for him to come down from smoking in his tower study, that’s where the lady’s jewels are kept. She broke into an Irish brogue as she said the last bit, and that I guessed was her natural tongue. she laid a hand on the side of my face, thanks for being jealous though, me lad.

I should collect my lure I said, which made her smile; it was such an enticing smile at that. We started to head back and watched as it dangled in front of us flickering. With a far off look in her green eyes, Katrina spoke as if in deep though.

 

The daughter of the house, she has a bracelet on like the one you have dangling, a bracelet of diamonds that I had taken a fancy to, wishing it had been in the safe along with the rest of the ladies of manors jewelry. I knew who she was talking about. The one in green taffeta I asked? Aye lad, that’s the one. Actually her necklace would be just as easy, and worth more I said. Just then her bright green eyes gleamed, Give me about a half an hour, she told me, we will put your little lure to use again. She noticed my hesitation, don’t worry luv she said soothingly placing a gloved hand to my cheek, no longer was it sparkly with its stolen bracelet and rings. I’ll leave my purse with you, can’t very well be carrying it around now can I? I nodded my consent, my mind burning with the thoughts she had alluringly placed there.

  

She turned, and then hesitated; turning back she said I probably should not go back in naked luv. I smiled, reaching in I pulled out her necklace and placed it around her throat. With a little gasp she blurted, so it was you, I was wondering who and when it had happened. It’s not the first time I’ve had me jewels lifted, but it’s a bloody annoyance to have to let them get away with it, crawls under my skin to have pretend not to notice so that I don’t draw any attention to me self before making my move to steal the posh ones jewels.

 

But you, mister, I never felt as much as a prickling. I was ready to assume my pretties had been a victim of a broken clasp this time. I gave a little nod in acceptance. That wasn’t exactly a compliment lad, she said in what I hopped was a subtle jest. Just last summer some clumsy bugger slipped of me earrings, my favorite pearls, as we were danc… she stopped, seeing the guilt in my eyes. Men! As thieves you are all of the same skin she spat out angrily, or attempted to sound angry, for the look in her eyes to me she wasn’t. I best be off, before I change me mind about out little endeavor.

 

With that she swirled around on her heels, and started off, but not before turning and giving me an extremely coy look of interest. As she swirled back around I heard her say loud enough for my ears, I’ll learn me self to be a picker of pockets, see how males like to be taken advantage of in their vulnerabilities! She nodded to herself as she said it. Then suddenly she stopped, than twirled on her heels, her gown swirling enticingly along her figure. Looking me dead in the eye she said, “Vie ne est pas d'attendre que la tempête , mais d'apprendre à danser sous la pluie” !

 

What does that mean? I questioned in a low voice, perplexed.

 

Maybe, Mon Cheri, someday I will tell you… And with that she turned on her heel, her gown once again swirling about, and went, determinedly, swishing her way back up the path. I just watched. I had never heard anyone speak French with an Irish Brogue and I had found it to be rather provocative!

 

I watched as she swished and swayed her way back through the hedge and regained the path leading back to the manor. Her plan was simple; she would lead the daughter of the house to my corner and as she had done, go out with her to look at the swinging charm. I would then make my appearance, rob both ladies of their finery, and telling the daughter to wait until I released her friend, walk off with Katrina as a hostage, and we would both take off and make good our escape. A simple plan, so simple it should actually work.

 

So, there I was. Holding a purse with a small fortune in jewels, my pocket full of more jewels worth an additional pretty farthing, and her charms were wearing off by her leaving. And my thieving nature coming back, reawakened from the spell they had been under!

 

The devil of my conscious crept out on my shoulder, the angel markedly absent from the other.

 

Look mate, she may not be all she seems, and possibly has some other game in mind. Maybe she does have a male confidante helping her out… and was actually on her way to fetch him. He said in my inner ear. And, after all, you took her diamonds twice, didn’t ye now? Do you really think shell forgive you of that me lad?

 

And there is no honor amongst thieves, as the saying goes, he added as a closing argument...

 

I rolled it over in my mind…I could leave, absconding with it all, book a cruise to the states or down under where there lay untried fertile grounds to ply my trade. Not to mention working over my fellow passengers aboard the cruise ship while they attended the fancy affairs that were always going on, or so the brochures always seemed to show……

 

Then In the distance I caught a wisp of Katrina’s long silvery gown. She was coming, and not only with the daughter of the manor, but also with a spare. For I could see a purple coloured gown swishing alongside with the prey in rustling green taffeta.. I watched as all three ladies, resplendent with the rippling fiery gems they all possessed, came up the path, gowns sweeping out , shimmery from the now misty distance.

 

The thought of making my escape with all the loot continued to haunt me, there was still time now to take off without notice, or I could rob all three, and leave with purple silk as my hostage, Katrina would not be able to say anything on chance of giving up her part of the game, or I could just be a good lad and sty with the script that Katrina had written. Take a chance, roll the dice and believe that she was all she had me believing she could ever be.

 

As they came closer I knew my time was running out. The thoughts of just looking out for myself kept coming up playing the devil with my conscience as the precious seconds ticked away…

 

No honor amongst thieves…

What will it be, old boy I challenged myself,

What will you have it be?........

To see what his decision ultimately was, and the eventual path it led to, see the album question answered)

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Life is not about waiting out the storm, but about learning to dance in the rain.

Vie ne est pas d'attendre que la tempête , mais d'apprendre à danser sous la pluie .

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Courtesy of Chatwick University Archives

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All rights and copyrights observed by Chatwick University, Its contributors, associates and Agents

 

The purpose of these chronological photos and accompanying stories, articles is to educate, teach, instruct, and generally increase the awareness level of the general public as to the nature and intent of the underlying criminal elements that have historically plagued humankind.

 

No Part of this can reprinted, duplicated, or copied be without the express written permission and approval of Chatwick University.

 

These photos and stories are works of fiction. Any resemblance to people, living or deceased, is purely coincidental.

As with any work of fiction or fantasy the purpose is for entertainment and/or educational purposes only, and should never be attempted in real life.

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Manna House

Jeremy Levine Design

 

Photo Shoot for Los Angeles Magazine: www.lamag.com/photo-essays-2/houses-hill/

 

Sustainable Systems and Green Materials

 

Sustainable Systems and Green Materials

1) Photovoltaic solar energy system

2) Grey water recycling system - takes water from the -bathroom sinks and showers, and the washing machine, filtering it and pumping it to the fruit trees in the garden

3) Rain water collection system

4) Passive Cooling - uses low windows on the windward side and high windows on the leeward side of the house. Cross ventilation is maximized by eliminating most of the interior walls and aligning windows and sliding glass doors. Ceiling fans are distributed across the ceiling to move the warm air out when there is no natural breeze.

5) In order to reduce the size of the house, we used efficient efficient custom storage system of movable shelves and cabinets runs through the length of the house. This allows for a smaller, but smarter building.

6) Natural Daylighting - uses interior clerestory windows and transoms to allow all of the rooms to borrow light from each other.

  

Materials

1) recycled flooring for the first structure, patched together and left roughly finished.

2) plywood floors for the second structure

3) Ceilings of both structures are plywood, cut into horizontal boards.

4) Composite decking made of recycled content.

5) All of the Interior doors are made of recycled flooring from the existing house

6) Poured in place concrete countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms, use recycled fly ash

8) Non VOC Paints and Stains

9) All plumbing fixtures are low-flow energy efficient

10) All electrical appliances are energy star rated

-LED and fluorescent lighting fixtures

11) Ductless Mini-Split HVAC system zoned for maximum efficiency

 

Credits:

Jeremy Levine Design

Designer: Jeremy Levine, Assoc. AIA, Principal

Associate Designer: Jonathon Pickup

Structural Engineer: Micheal Ciortea

General Contractor: Juan Macias Construction

Photography by Tom Bonner

faure/macassar, western cape- kramat of sheikh yussuf

 

A Kramat is a shrine or mausoleum that has been built over the burial place of a Muslim who's particular piety and practice of the teachings of Islam is recognised by the community. I have been engaged in documenting these sites around Cape Town over several visits at different times over the last few years. They range widely from graves marked by an edge of stones to more elaborate tombs sheltered by buildings of various styles. They are cultural markers that speak of a culture was shaped by life at the Cape and that infuses Cape Town at large.

 

In my searches used the guide put out by the Cape Masaar Society as a basic guide to locate some recognised sites. Even so some were not that easy to find.

 

In the context of the Muslims at the Cape, historically the kramats represented places of focus for the faithful and were/are often places of local pilgrimage. When the Dutch and the VOC (United East India Company aka Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie) set up a refuelling station and a settlement at the Cape, Muslims from their territories in the East Indies and Batavia were with them from the start as soldiers, slaves and 'Vryswarten'; (freemen). As the settlement established itself as a colony the Cape became a useful place to banish political opponents from the heart of their eastern empire. Some exiles were of royal lineage and there were also scholars amongst them. One of the most well known of these exiles was Sheik Yusuf who was cordially received by Govenor van der Stel as befitted his rank (he and his entourage where eventually housed on an estate away from the main settlement so that he was less likely to have an influence over the local population), others were imprisoned for a time both in Cape Town and on Robben island. It is said that the first Koran in the Cape was first written out from memory by Sheik Yusuf after his arrival. There were several Islamic scholars in his retinue and these men encouraged something of an Islamic revival amoung the isolated community. Their influence over the enslaved “Malay” population who were already nominally Muslim was considerable and through the ministrations of other teachers to the underclasses the influence of Islam became quite marked. As political opponents to the governing powers the teachers became focus points for escaped slaves in the outlying areas.

 

Under the VOC it was forbidden to practice any other faith other than Christianity in public which meant that there was no provision for mosques or madrasas. The faith was maintained informally until the end of the C18th when plans were made for the first mosque and promises of land to be granted for a specific burial ground in the Bo Kaap were given in negotiations for support against an imminent British invasion. These promises were honoured by the British after their victory.

 

There is talk of a prophecy of a protective circle of Islam that would surround Cape Town. I cannot find the specifics of this prophecy but the 27 kramats of the “Auliyah” or friends of Allah, as these honoured individuals are known, do form a loose circle of saints. Some of the Auliyah are credited with miraculous powers in legends that speak of their life and works. Within the folk tradition some are believed to be able to intercede on behalf of supplicants (even though this more part of a mystical philosophy (keramat) and is not strictly accepted in mainstream contemporary Islamic teaching) and even today some visitors may offer special prayers at their grave sites in much the same way as Christians might direct prayer at the shrine of a particular saint.

  

photographer's note-

 

sheikh yussuf was the brother of the king of Goa (Gowa) with it's capital of Makassar. yussuf fought in battles against the Dutch and was eventually captured. he was transferred to the cape of good hope in 1693. he died in 1699. he had 2 wives, 2 concubines, 12 children and 14 male and female slaves.

 

*********************************************

 

Die Kramat van Sjeg Yusuf, Faure

 

Die Kramat1 van Sjeg Yusuf (Abadin Tadia Tjoessoep)2 op 'n klein heuwel naby die mond van die Eersterivier in Makassar, Faure, is 'n terrein waarheen Kaapse Moslems oor die laaste drie eeue pelgrimstogte onderneem. Yusuf is op 23 April 1699 oorlede en op die heuwel begrawe. Volgens predikant en skrywer, Francois Valentyn (1666-1727), wat sy graf in 1705 besoek het, was dit "een cierlyke Mohammedaansch tombe, wat van zeer hoog opgezette steenen, verheerlykt was".3 Dit is nie heeltemal duidelik of hy van 'n hoog opgeboude graf of 'n struktuur daaroor praat nie.

 

Dié tombe moes mettertyd veranderings en verbouings het en volgens Biskop Patrick Griffith (1798-1862) wat dit meer as 'n eeu later op 25 Januarie 1839 besoek het, het dit heel anders daar uitgesien...

 

and proceeded to a Mr Cloete's where we took horses and road (sic) to a Malay Mosque [i.e. the kramat] situated on the summit of a hill, to which we ascended by a rude Stone Stair Case, rather Circular and partly cut out of Limestone rock, by an hundred steps. We left our horses below tied to the door of a Caravansery where the Pilgrims who come every year from Cape Town and all around, lodge while they go thro' their devotions. Both Lodging House and Mosque are at present deserted and we cd. only see the Exterior of both. The Mosque has a small Mineret (sic) in the centre and contains the Tomb of some Prince and Priest of the Sect. The Building is square and low with a portico: the windows are screened within and all that could be seen through some chinks in the walls was some drapery. A curious sight, however, exists outside: graves covered with white Clothes, five or six of which graves are enclosed together with a low wall round them; two or three more are apart; each has a round black stone at the head round which a Malay handkerchief is tied, with another black stone at foot, represents the feet, so that with the white sheet over the body, one wd. imagine at first view that it was a corpse was directly before him, the representation of it is so like reality. These White cloths (of calico) are renewed every year and we found some sixty or more rotten ones under each of the last white Coverings."1

 

Die terrein is in 1862 deur die imam van die Jamia-moskee in Chiappinistraat, Abdol Wahab, aangekoop,5 maar die gebou het tot vroeg in die 20ste eeu bewaar gebly, hoewel dit by verskeie geleenthede klein veranderings en herstelwerk moes ondergaan het.

 

Die Oostenrykse wetenskaplike, diplomaat en ontdekkingsreisiger, Karl Ritter von Scherzer (1821-1903) het die Kaap in Oktober 1857 aan boord die Novara, op 'n omseilingstog van die wêreld, aangedoen. Hy het die volgende waardevolle beskrywing, deurdrenk met sy eie voor- en afkeure, nagelaat:

 

"The following morning we drove to a hill, ahout a mile and a half distant from Zandvliet, known as Macassar Downs, on which is the spot of interment, (Krammat or Brammat), of a Malay prophet.

 

This individual, so honoured in death, was, if we are to believe the Malays, a direct descendant of Mahomet, named Sheikh Joseph, who, expelled from Batavia by the Dutch Government for political reasons, settled in the colony about a century and a half ago, and died and was buried in the neighbourhood of Zandvliet. An especial deputation came over from Malacca to Cape Colony to fetch away the corpse of the defunct prophet, for conveyance to the land of his birth; but at the disinterment it happened that the little finger of the prophet, in spite of the most persevering research, could nowhere be found. This circumstance appeared to those simple believers sufficient reason for erecting a monument over the spot in which the finger of a Malay prophet lay hid from view. Even to this day the Malays from time to time perform a pilgrimage to the Colony and celebrate their religious ceremonies at the Mausoleum. Four followers of the prophet are buried with him, two of them Mahometan priests, who are regarded with much veneration by the Malays.

 

An extensive flight of stone steps leads to the tomb, the exterior of which is very insignificant, and, but for a small pointed turret, hardly differs from an ordinary dwelling-house. On entering, a low-roofed vault is visible, a sort of front outhouse, which rather disfigures the facade, and much more resembles a cellar than the portal of a Mausoleum. Above the arch of this vault an Arabic inscription has been engraved with a stylus but this is so painted over in brick colour that it has already become almost illegible. Judging by the few words that have been deciphered, it seems to consist of the first propositions of the Koran.

 

The inner room, provided on two sides with modern glazed windows at irregular intervals, is about the size of an ordinary room of 12 feet long, 9 wide, and 7 high (3.66m long, 2.74 wide, and 2.13 high). In the middle rises the monument, to which access is had by some more brick steps. Immense quantities of unwashed white linen cloth are heaped upon it, which seem occasionally sprinkled with a brown odoriferous liquid (dupa). As at the head of Sheikh Joseph, so at his feet several figures, resembling those in enamel used to ornament tarts, are drawn upon the linen cloth with the overflowings of the unguent. These have undoubtedly been formed accidentally, and it appears wrong and unfair to attribute to them any more recondite significance. The monument rests upon four wooden pillars, with pyramidal pinnacles or ornaments, and is richly decorated with fine white muslin, which gives to the whole very much the appearance of an old-fashioned English "fourposter," with its costly drapery and curtains. While the curtains are spread out all around, several small green and white bannerets stand at the upper and lower end of the sarcophagus. The whole interior is, as it were, impregnated with the incense which devout Malay pilgrims from time to time burn here, especially after the forty days' fast (Ramadan), or leave behind upon the steps of the tomb in flasks or in paper-boxes. On such occasions, they always bring wax-candles and linen cloth as an offering, with the latter of which they deck the tomb afresh, so that a perfect mountain of white linen rises above the stone floor. During their devotions they unceasingly kiss this white mass of stuff, and as they are continually chewing tobacco, this filthy habit produces disgustingly loathsome stains.

 

On the same hill which boasts the tomb of Sheikh Joseph, there are also, in ground that is common property, nine other graves of eminent Malays, enclosed with carefully-selected stones, and likewise covered over with large broad strips of bleached linen cloth, protected by stones from any injury by weather or violence. At the head and foot of each individual interred, is a single stone of larger size. Formerly the black inhabitants of the neighbourhood made use of this store of linen cloth to make shirts for themselves, without further thought upon the propriety of the matter. Latterly, however, a shrewd Malay priest spread a report that one of these ebony linen stealers had lost all the fingers off one hand, since which the graves of those departed worthies remain inviolate and unprofaned.

 

At the foot of the hill are some small half-fallen-in buildings, near a large hall, painted white, red, and yellow, consisting of a small apartment and a kitchen, the whole in a most dirty, neglected, and desolate condition. At this point the Moslems must have accomplished certain prayers, before they can climb the hill and proceed to visit the tomb. Over the door of this singular house of prayer some words are likewise engraved in the Arabic character, which, however, are now entirely illegible.

 

On quitting the Malay Krammat, we next undertook a tolerably difficult walk to the Downs or sand-dunes, which at this point extend along the entire coast line, on which the wax-berry shrub, as already mentioned, grows wild in vast quantities, and visibly prevents the further encroachments of the moving sand. The Eerst Rivier (First River) may be regarded as the limit of demarcation between the sand-dunes and the soil adapted for vegetation."6

 

'n Britse joernalis en historikus, Ian Duncan Colvin (1877-1938), beskryf sy besoek aan die Kramat vyftig jaar later in die begin van die 20ste eeu:

 

"It was in springtime that we made the pilgrimage, in October, the springtime of the south... We passed through cow-scented pasture and the cornlands of Zandvliet, and so towards the sea, guided by the white star of the tomb.

 

It stands upon a sandstone rock which the Eerste River bends round on its way to the sea, and you can hear the breakers roaring, though unseen behind the sand-dunes. A little wooden bridge crosses the river beside the drift... On the farther side the little hill rises steeply, and under it nestles a row of very ancient and dilapidated cottages. One of them is used as a stable by the pilgrims and another as a mosque, and upon its porch you will see a little notice in English that 'women are not allowed inside the church', a warning signed with all the weight and authority of the late Haji Abdul Kalil... Inside, this little chapel is touchingly primitive and simple, with blue sky showing through the thatched roof, and a martin's nest plastered on the ceiling of the little alcove. Between these cottages and the stream is a field of sweet marjoram, no doubt grown for the service of the shrine, and the way up the hill is made easy by a flight of steps build perhaps centuries ago, and ruinous with age. With their white balustrades, and overgrown as they are with grass and wild-flowers, they are very beautiful, and in pilgrimage-time we may suppose them bright with Malays ascending and descending. We mounted them to the top, where they open on a little courtyard roughly paved and encinctured by a low white wall. On the farther side, opposite the top of the stairs, is the tomb itself, a little white building with an archway leading into a porch. Beyond is a door, of the sort common in Cape farm-houses, divided into two across the middle. Of course, we did not dare to open it and peep inside; but I am told by a Mahomedan friend that the inner tomb is of white stucco with four pillars of a pleasant design. It is upholstered in bright-coloured plush, and copies of the Koran lie open upon it. The inside of the room is papered in the best Malay fashion, and over the window is a veil of tinselled green gauze. From the roof several ostrich eggs hang on strings, and altogether it is the gayest and brightest little shrine. The ostrich eggs hanging on their strings made me think of a much more splendid tomb which Akbar, the first greatest of the Moguls, build for his friend Selim Chisti, a humble ascetic, in the centre of the mosque at Fatehpur Sikri.7 If any of my readers have made a pilgrimage to that wonderful deserted city, they will remember the tomb build of fretted marble, white and delicate as lace, in the centre of the great silent mosque of red sandstone – surely the finest testimonial to disinterested and spiritual friendship that exists in the world. And, if they look inside, they will recollect that around the inner shrine of mother o’pearl hang ostrich eggs just as they hang in Sheik Joseph’s tomb on the Cape Flats. But this digression is only to show that the Malay of Cape Town knows what is proper to the ornamentation of kramats. The shrine is tended with pious care, kept clean and white by the good Malays – a people of whom it may be said truly that they hold cleanliness as a virtue next to godliness."8

 

Hierdie beskrywing kom ooreen met dié van Scherzer en 'n foto in die Elliot-versameling in die Kaapse argief. Die minaret wat deur Biskop Griffith genoem en deur Scherzer geïllustreer is, en moontlik van hout gemaak was, het intussen verdwyn.

 

In 1925 het die Indiese filantroop, Hadji Sulaiman Sjah Mohamed Ali, opdrag vir 'n nuwe tombe gegee en is die huidige vierkantige en gekoepelde Moghul- of Delhi-inspireerde struktuur opgerig. Die argitek was F.K. KENDALL wat van 1896 tot 1918 in vennootskap met Herbert BAKER praktiseer het.

 

Die kramat vorm deel van die sogenaamde beskermende "Heilige Sirkel van Islam" wat strek van die kramatte teen die hange van Seinheuwel bo die klipgroef waar die eerste openbare Moslemgebede aan die Kaap gehou is, deur die kramatte op die rug van die heuwel en die kramat van Sjeg Noorul Mubeen by Oudekraal, en om die berg na die kramatte van Constantia, Faure, Robbeneiland, terug na Seinheuwel.

 

Sjeg Yusuf van Makassar (1626-1699)

 

Sjeg Yusuf (Abadin Tadia Tjoesoep) is in 1626 te Gowa by Makassar (Mangkasara), op die suidwestelike punt van die Sulawesi-eiland (voorheen Celebes) langs die Straat van Makassar, gebore. Toe die Portugese dit vroeg in die sestiende eeu bereik het, was dit 'n besige handelshawe waar Arabiese, Indiese, Javaanse, Maleise Siamese en Chinese skepe aangedoen en hulle produkte geruil en verkoop het. Met die koms van die Nederlanders, wat die speseryhandel wou monopoliseer en Britse deelname daaraan wou stuit, is die tradisie van vrye handel aan die begin van die 17de eeu omvergewerp. Nadat hulle die fort van Makassar ingeneem het, is dit herbou en as Fort Rotterdam herdoop. Van hier het hulle die vestings van die Sultan van Gowa geteiken.

 

Toe hy agtien jaar oud was, het Yusuf op 'n pelgrims- en studietog na Mekka vertrek waar hy verskeie jare deurgebring het. Met sy terugkeer het hy die Nederlanders in Makassar vermy en hom in Bantam in Wes-Java aan die hof van Sultan Ageng (Abulfatah Agung, 1631-1695) as onderwyser en geestelike rigter gevestig. Hy het die sultan se seuns onderrig en met een van sy dogters getrou. Hy was deeglik in die Shari'ah (Moslem kode en godsdienstige wet) onderlê en diep betrokke by die mistieke aspekte van sy geloof met die gevolg dat sy reputasie as 'n vrome persoon en heilige kenner en geleerde vinnig versprei het.

 

Hoewel die Nederlanders die handel op Java beheer het, het Bantam 'n sterk mate van onafhanklikheid behou. Yusuf was 'n vurige teenstander van die VOC en het en ook 'n rebellie teen die Europeërs gelei toe 'n ouer vredesooreenkoms tussen hulle in 1656 gebreek is. 'n Nuwe ooreenkoms is in 1659 bereik, maar 'n interne tweestryd in die Sultanaat het in die VOC se kraam gepas. Die sultan se seun, later as Sultan Hadji bekend, het met die hulle saamgespan teen sy vader en jonger broer wat voorkeur aan die Britse en Deense handelaars gegee het. Die breuk het in 1680 gekom toe Ageng oorlog teen Batavia (Jakarta) verklaar het. Hadji het 'n opstand teen sy vader gelei wat Ageng tot sy woning beperk het. Hoewel sy volgelinge teruggeveg het, het die Nederlanders Hadji te hulp gesnel en is Ageng na die hooglande verdryf waar hy in Maart 1683 oorgegee het. Hierna is hy na Batavia geneem waar hy oorlede is.

 

Yusuf het die verset voortgesit en is eers teen die einde van 1683 gevange geneem waarna hy ook na Batavia geneem is. Sy invloed in die Moslemgemeenskap van die VOC se hoofkwartier in die Ooste, waar hy as heilige vereer is, asook die aandrang op sy vrystelling deur die vorste van Gowa (Makassar) – wat toe bondgenote van die VOC was – het daartoe gelei dat Yusuf en sy gevolg eers na Ceylon (Sri Lanka) en daarna na die Kaap verban is. Sjeg Yusuf en sy "aanhang", soos in die notules van die Politieke Raad aangedui is, het op 31 Maart 1694 aan boord die Voetboog in Tafelbaai aangekom. Hier is hulle gul deur goewerneur Simon van der Stel ontvang, maar in die Kasteel gehou totdat daar in Junie besluit is om hulle na die mond van die Eersterivier, wat oor die plaas Zandvliet van ds P. Kalden uitgekyk het, te stuur.9

 

Hier in die duine, wat later as Makassar en Makassarstrand bekend sou word, het Yusuf en sy gevolg hulle gevestig. Volgens oorlewering was dit die eerste sentrum van Islam en Islamitiese onderrig in Suid-Afrika en het die terrein 'n sakrosante ereplek gebly na Yusuf se afsterwe op 23 April 1699 en sy begrafnis op die heuwel. Hoewel sommige skrywers nie oortuig is dat ook Yusuf se oorskot na die Ooste terug is nie, argumenteer André van Rensburg dat dit wel gebeur het.

 

"Hoewel 'n aanvanklike versoek van 31 Desember 1701 dat Yusuf se oorskot opgegrawe en na Indonesië gestuur word, geweier is, is in 'n verslag van 26 Februarie 1703 deur die Here XVII gelas dat die sjeg se naasbestaandes en sy oorskot na Indonesië weggebring moes word.

 

Op 26 Februarie 1704 het die amptelike geskrewe instruksies van die VOC in die Kaap aangekom. Die weduwee van Yusuf, hul jong kinders en ander lede van sy gevolg moes toegelaat word om na Indonesië terug te keer.

 

Daar is ook bepaal dat die oorskot van Yusuf onopsigtelik opgegrawe moes word sodat die naasbestaandes dit kon saamneem. Voorsorg moes egter getref word dat ander Oosterse bannelinge nie ontsnap deur voor te gee dat hulle naasbestaandes van sjeg Yusuf is nie."10

 

Die gevolg van Sjeg Yusuf het op 5 Oktober 1704 aan boord van De Spiegel uit Tafelbaai met sy oorskot vertrek en op 10 Desember in Batavia anker gegooi. Hierna is sy hulle na Makassar waar sy oorskot op 6 April 1705 op Lakiung in Ujung Pandang herbegrawe is. Bo-oor Yusuf se nuwe graf is 'n kramat of ko'bang deur die Chinese bouer Dju Kian Kiu opgerig. Ook hierdie Kramat word druk deur pelgrims besoek.

 

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Kramat is die algemeen Kaapse term vir die tombe van 'n [Moslem] heilige of Wali van Allah; in Urdu verwys karamat of keramat na die wonderwerking van 'n heilige, soms word dit ook as sinoniem vir heilige gebruik.

Die meer algemeen gebruikte spelling word hier in plaas van die erkende Afrikaanse "Joesoef" gebruik.

Raidt, E.H. 1971. François Valentyn Beshryvinge van de Kaap der Goede Hoop met de zaaken daar toe behoorende. Kaapstad: Van Riebeeck Vereniging, Vol. 1, p. 198.

Brain, J.S. (ed.). 1988. The Cape diary of bishop Patrick Raymond Griffith for the years 1837-1839. Cape Town: Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, pp. 189-90.

Aktekantoor, Kaapstad, Akte 6/3/1862, no. 121.

Scherzer, K. 1861. Narrative of the circumnavigation of the globe by the Austrian frigate Novara, (commodore b. Von Wullerstorf-Urbair,): undertaken by order of the imperial government, in the years l857,1858, & 1859. London: Saunders, Otley & Co, pp. 244-248.

Seremoniële hoofstad [Fatehpur = stad van oorwinning] van 1569 tot 1574 deur die Mughale Keiser Akbar (1542-1605) by Sikri, die hermitage van sy spirituele gids, Sjeg Salim Chisti, opgerig. Die tombe wat deur Colvin beskryf word, is deur Shah Jahan (1592-1666) herbou.

Colvin, I.D. 1909. Romance of Empire, South Africa. London: TC & EL Jack, pp. 16168.

Böeseken, A.J. 1961. Resolusies van die Politieke Raad III 1681-1707. Kaapstad: Argiefkomitee, p. 283 (14.06.1694).

Van Rensburg, A. & Van Bart, M. 2004. Waar rus Sjeg Yusuf: van die Kaap tot in Makassar. Kultuurkroniek, Bylae by Die Burger, 10 Julie, pp. 12-13

Van Rensburg, A. & Van Bart, M. 2004. Waar rus Sjeg Yusuf: van die Kaap tot in Makassar. Kultuurkroniek, Bylae by Die Burger, 10 Julie, p.13.

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Schalk W le Roux, Gordonsbaai, Februarie 2013

 

See also Van Bart, M. & Van Rensburg A.

 

________________________________

 

Wording on Minaret:

 

IN MEMORY OF

SHEIKH YUSUF

MARTYR & HERO

OF BANTAM

1629 - 1699

THIS MINARET

WAS ERECTED BY

HAJEE SULLAIMAN

SHAHMAHOMED

IN THE REIGN OF

KING GEORGE V

MAY 1925

 

_____________________

 

THIS MEMORIAL WAS UNVEILED

19TH DECEMBER 1925 BY

SIR FREDERIC DE WAAL

KCMG:LLD:FIRST ADMINISTRATOR

OF THE CAPE PROVINCE

IN THE YEAR WHEN THIS

DISTRICT WAS VISITED BY

HIS ROYAL HIGNESS

THE PRINCE OF WALES

4TH MAY 1925

 

_____________________

 

THE "DARGAN" OF ASHBAT

[COMPANIONS] OF SAINT SHEIKH YUSSUF

[GALERAN TUANSE] OF MACASSAR.

_____

 

HERE LIE THE REMAINS OF FOUR OF FORTY-NINE

FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS WHO AFTER SERVING

IN THE BANTAM WAR OF 1682-83, ARRIVED WITH

SHEIKH YUSSUF AT THE CAPE FROM CEYLON,

IN THE SHIP "VOETBOOG" IN THE YEAR 1694.

_____

 

THIS COMMEMORATION TABLET WAS ERECTED

DURING THE GREAT WAR ON 8 JANUARY 1918.

BY HAJEE SULLAIMAN SHAHMAHOMED.

SENIOR TRUSTEE.

 

Wording on plaque:

 

PRESIDENT SOEHARTO

OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA

VISITED THIS SHRINE ON 21 NOVEMBER 1997

TO PAY RESPECT TO THE LATE SHEIKH YUSSUF OF

MACASSAR UPON WHOM THE TITLE OF NATIONAL

HERO WAS CONFERRED BY THE INDONESIAN GOVERNMENT

ON 7 AUGUST 1995

 

Writings about this Kramat of Sheikh Yusuf

 

Davids, Achmat. 1980. The Mosques of Bo-Kaap - A social history of Islam at the Cape. Athlone, Cape: The South African Institute of Arabic and Islamic Research. pp 37-40.

_______________________________________________

De Bosdari, C. 1971. Cape Dutch Houses and Farms. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pp 73.

_______________________________________________

De Kock, WJ. 1976. Suid-Afrikaanse biografiese woordeboek : Deel 1. Kaapstad: RGN/Tafelberg. pp 429-430.

_______________________________________________

Du Plessis, Izak David. 1944. The Cape Malays. Cape Town: Maskew Miller. pp 4-7.

_______________________________________________

Jaffer, M. 2001. Guide to the Kramats of the Western Cape. Cape Town: Cape Mazaar (Kramat) Society. pp 17-19.

_______________________________________________

Jaffer, Mansoor. 1996. Guide to the Kramats of the Western Cape. Cape Town: Cape Mazaar Kramat Society. pp 17.

_______________________________________________

Le Roux, SW. 1992. Vormgewende invloede op die ontwikkeling van moskee-argitektuur binne die Heilige Sirkel aan die Kaap tot 1950 . Pretoria: PhD-verhandeling: Universiteit van Pretoria. pp 201-202.

_______________________________________________

Oxley, John. 1992. Places of Worship in South Africa. Halfway House: Southern Book Publishers. pp 63-64.

_______________________________________________

Potgieter, DJ (Editor-in-chief). 1975. Standard Encyclopaedia of South Africa [SESA] Volume 11 Tur-Zwe. Cape Town: Nasou. pp 567.

_______________________________________________

Potgieter, DJ (Editor-in-chief). 1972. Standard Encyclopaedia of South Africa [SESA] Volume 6 Hun-Lit. Cape Town: Nasou. pp 454-455.

_______________________________________________

Rhoda, E. 2010. Hajee Sullaiman Shahmahomed and the shrine of Shayk Yusuf of Macassar at Faure. : Unpublished manuscript.

_______________________________________________

Van Selms, A. Joesoef, Sjeik: in De Kock, WJ. 1976. Suid-Afrikaanse biografiese woordeboek : Deel 1: pp 429-430

________________________________________

 

Shaykh Yusuf was born at Macassar in 1626. He was also known as Abadin Tadia Tjoessoep. He was of noble birth, a maternal nephew of King Biset of Goa. He studied in Arabia under the tutelage of several pious teachers.

 

When Shaykh Yusuf arrives at the Cape, on the Voetboeg, he was royally welcomed by Governor Simon van de Stel. His Indonesian background necessitated that he and his 49 followers be settled well away from Cape Town. They were housed on the farm Zandvliet, near the mouth of the Eeste River, in the general area now called Macassar. He received an allowance of 12rix dollars from the Cape authorities for support of himself and his party. At Zandvliet Shaykh Yusuf’s settlement soon became a sanctuary for fugitive slaves. It was here that the first cohesive Muslim community in S.A. was established. The first settlement of Muslims in South Africa was a vibrant one, despite its isolation. It was from here that the message of Islam was disseminated to the slave community living in Cape Town. When Shaykh Yusuf died on 23 May 1699, he was buried on the hill overlooking Macassar at Faure. A shrine was constructed over his grave. Over the years this shrine has been rebuilt and renewed. Today it remains a place of pilgrimage.