Inchmale's club in Portman Square

William Gibson's fragment of text published on his blog on New Year's Day mentions the character Inchmale from Spook Country

quote:


CABINET (HAPPY NEW YEAR) posted 12:09 AM

Inchmale’s club, in Portman Square, was called Cabinet. It was a peculiarly narrow place, apparently occupying half of the vertical volume of a townhouse whose expensively forgettable façade reminded her of a sleeping face.

[...]


There are other places called "Portman Square", but the one in London, at the south end of Baker Street, just north of Oxford Street, is the one which springs to my mind.

There does actually appear to be a posh new club (drinking , dining and schmoozing rather than a rock club) which opened in November 2008 behind the 18th Century listed building Adams facades façades of 20 to 21 Portman Square i.e. two whole town houses, rather than just half of one. (Number 19 is also part of the complex, but may not actually be interconnected).

Home House Club








Mona Lisa Overdrive described the home of the London ally of the Yakuza clan thus:

quote:

Swain's Notting Hill residence consisted of three interconnected Victorian townhouses situated somewhere in a snowy profusion of squares, crescents, and mews.


Has William Gibson predicted the future again, or did he pick up a rumour from his Hubertus Bigend like contacts in London ?
Original Post
It seems that the Home House Club (presumably pronounced "hume", after the Scottish / Northumbrian Berwickshire Border clan chiefs and aristocrats) has an Anthony Blunt bedroom:



quote:

Anthony Blunt Bedroom

Named after a former resident of House No 20 who had an apartment here after the Second World War during his tenure as Master of the Queen's Art Collection.


This conveniently forgets to mention Anthony Blunt's espionage career as a KGB spook, linked to the notorious Philby, Maclean and Burgess spy scandals.
I will never get you folks.

Bill posts a fragment from his new book and the first questions are about what gadget is in this picture or if the club is prescient of a real club or what.

I am trying to figure out who the pronoun "she" refers to and what said she is doing having to visit Inchamle in London and if that brings back in Damien or Hobbs or Voytek or....

Seriously, I will never understand you.

Eek
quote:
Originally posted by UberDog:
I will never get you folks.

Bill posts a fragment from his new book and the first questions are about what gadget is in this picture or if the club is prescient of a real club or what.


Another question arises:

Does "Inchamale's club" imply his ownership of, or just membership of, the Cabinet club ?
quote:
Originally posted by UberDog:
I will never get you folks.

Bill posts a fragment from his new book and the first questions are about what gadget is in this picture or if the club is prescient of a real club or what.

I am trying to figure out who the pronoun "she" refers to and what said she is doing having to visit Inchamle in London and if that brings back in Damien or Hobbs or Voytek or....

Seriously, I will never understand you.

Eek


Well, I'm not quite certain who you mean by "you folks" (Mimetic Engineer and me? Wigbers in general? Anyone here but you?) so I can only say that I like the fact that someone's able to find something interesting based on just these snippets, as in ME's post above. Especially something so Gibsonian. Hell, if that club's not in the novel then it should be.

Now, I realize you're something special, but if you could come up with an equally interesting theory about who the "she" is, I, for one, would be just as interested. Really.

@ME: A bar?! I thought it was a bobsleigh.
quote:
Originally posted by theminx:
Half the vertical volume to me means half the height...I wonder who lives upstairs.


From the blog

It was a peculiarly narrow place, apparently occupying half of the vertical volume of a townhouse...

Narrow = tall and thin in this context I think. Suggests that they've done something odd with the stairs.

Do you think the narrator could be Cayce for reasons of symmetry?
quote:
Originally posted by BK/DK:
quote:
Originally posted by theminx:
Half the vertical volume to me means half the height...I wonder who lives upstairs.


From the blog

It was a peculiarly narrow place, apparently occupying half of the vertical volume of a townhouse...

Narrow = tall and thin in this context I think. Suggests that they've done something odd with the stairs.
I understand what he means, but he's said it a bit sideways; I think he means half the horizontal space, not vertical.
It's ambiguous...space is volume..there's really no such thing as vertical vs. horizontal volume - there is only height and width.

If we want to be nitpicking grammarians, (not implying you are Minx, but they can be found here) the grammaticaly and mathematically correct phrase would be "It was a peculiarly narrow place, apparently occupying half of the width of a townhouse..."

For me Gibson's phrase suggests a tall narrow space. By using the phrase "vertical volume" I think he means to imply that the space is higher than it is wide, thus making it a "vertical space" - when emphasizing on 2 narrow spaces.

One of the interesting things about Gibson's narrative is that when he's phrasing things in the 3rd person he's often using the POV of one of his characters, and not some omniscient narrator. So when he writes "reminded her of a sleeping face" the whole narrative is in the POV of the woman in the club. It doesn't matter if something is factually or grammatically wrong - Gibson views it as the knowledge that the character has, not his actual knowledge.

I'll give another example of this in my next post.
quote:
Spook Country, Chapter 12. THE SOURCE
Milgrim dreamed he was naked in Brown’s room, while Brown lay sleeping.

It wasn’t ordinary nakedness, because it involved an occult aura of preternaturally intense awareness, as though the wearer were a vampire in an Anne Rice novel, or a novice cocaine user.

Brown lay beneath New Yorker sheets and one of those beige hotel blankets that sandwich a sheet of plastic foam between layers of polyester moleskin. Milgrim regarded him with something he recognized as akin to pity. Brown’s lips were parted slightly, the upper one quivering slightly with each exhalation


When I pointed out to WG that it was actually polyester mohair not moleskin used in those hotel blankets, he replied:

"Moleskin is wrong, but it's the wrong of Milgrim's personal database."
quote:
Originally posted by Boogerhead:
I was wondering who she was too, and if Inchmale was going to be a protagonist.


I think Inchmale owns the club, I think "she" is Cayce. I do not think Inchmale is a protag, he isn't the sort that Gibson usually puts over the readers eyes as filter. There is something unknowable and, well, jaded about him that his protagonists have not had of late.
quote:
Originally posted by Gringo:

Now, I realize you're something special, but if you could come up with an equally interesting theory about who the "she" is, I, for one, would be just as interested. Really.


"She" is Inchmale's 'Willy' who is actually called Willemina and is now 25 and a fashion model in 2034 London which reels under the weight of a Blue Ant brokered fascist national uniform designed by Tommy Hilfigger.
quote:
Originally posted by Memetic Engineer:
quote:
Originally posted by ArkanGL:
quote:
@ME: A bar?! I thought it was a bobsleigh.


[...]

(I suck at Photoshop. And I'm even worse with the Gimp...)


Have a play with these other images of the bar then:

The Moment: Now Serving | Zaha Hadid’s Latest



The Bar



The lounge.



The reception desk.


This club is really, really trying to hard. I doubt if Gibson would have any interest in it beyond the ironic. It is, desigwise, kind of devoidn of "actual" history and goes merely for the implied history. Gibson is into texture, he's into the details of scuffs that alight a plastic table in a Chiba club while you are on speed...

This place looks wholly manufactured, arrived in a kit, set to specifications, it's something Bigend might design, were he to design a club: without organic evolution and having a shorter-than-usual shelf-life.
quote:
Originally posted by Fashionpolice:

If we want to be nitpicking grammarians, (not implying you are Minx, but they can be found here) the grammaticaly and mathematically correct phrase would be "It was a peculiarly narrow place, apparently occupying half of the width of a townhouse..."

For me Gibson's phrase suggests a tall narrow space. By using the phrase "vertical volume" I think he means to imply that the space is higher than it is wide, thus making it a "vertical space" - when emphasizing on 2 narrow spaces.


OK, this is what I mean above.

I just cannot read the text in this way, it's... I don't know, unnatural to me.
FWIW, I read "occupying half the vertical volume" as just that: half of the volume that is vertical. In other words, all of the left side or all of the right.

Doesn't confuse me at all.

But I think it was written because of the way 'vertical volume' looks. Alliteration of voiced fricatives aside, although that's quite an allure in itself, there is the neat hollowness implied by all those vowels (words that start with v! woohoo!) implying space, filling said volume, and also the verticality of a text volume (see: letter l, twice iterated).

Not that I think any of this consciously went through his head other than a) hmmm...alliteration... OK in this instance, even quite good, and b) it looks/sounds right.

Which indeed it does and is an example of a big part of why I enjoy reading Gib's work.
quote:
Originally posted by IndividualFrog:
I don't see, UberDog, how speculating about who "she" is or whether Voytek returns or whatever, is any different from speculating about the possible real-life location of the club.

Both are completely uninteresting to me.


Not the location of the club, the doodads inside the club. One, to me, is about character and thrust, the other is about gadgets.

If you aren't interested in either, what's the point of reading the book when it does come out?

You do not care if he brings back Hollis, or Cayce, or neither? You don't care about where the book is set?

Do you just read him for the prose alone? I can get behind that.

But, my point is, I am more interested in the characters, prose and confluence of possibility he usually manifests whereas most readers here appear to be into the gadgets, the details and the otaku bent.

It is right or wrong (except that I am more equal Wink) but I think it serves as a handy line between a certain kind of forum thinking (generally) and my own. It was synchronous with me having a conversation about this place with a friend who came by to look around and I was trying to explain my perspective on this virtual AstroTurf.
If Hollis or Cayce come back I am content to find it out when I read the book itself. I mean I'm not interested in speculating. Anyway, the same character in a new book, in my opinion, usually amounts to a new character.

When it comes to the gadgets and so on, it's not their gadget-ness that I like, it's the way he fills them with emotion enough for them to be characters themselves, in a way. It doesn't matter if it's some imaginary high-tech doodad or a salt shaker.
@Arkan: Catweazle in a bobsleigh!
(Nice photoshopping)

quote:
Originally posted by UberDog:

"She" is Inchmale's 'Willy' who is actually called Willemina and is now 25 and a fashion model in 2034 London which reels under the weight of a Blue Ant brokered fascist national uniform designed by Tommy Hilfigger.


I like it! Except for the fact that Eenchmale's Willy is a boy (unless he had a sex change) and couldn't possibly be 25 in 2034. 29, I'd say. Smile
One very large difference between the PR (presumed) trilogy and it's predecessors is shown by their names -- Sprawl, Bridge -- and the presumed PR sequence, which at this point I would have to name the Bigend trilogy.

The previous had a sense of uniquely defining time and place, the Sprawl in an '80s envisioned world centered around the eastern seaboard and Japan, the Bridge centered around a 90s envisioned Bay area and Japan.

The Bigend trilogy, if trilogy it is to be, so far centers around Bigend/Blue Ant, and is located any old where, including dear old Vancouver, and in the temporality we loosely call contemporary.

If he brings back Cayce or Hollis or whomever, I'm pretty sure it will be as cameo touchstones, much like Rydell passed the ball to Laney in the beginning of Idoru. Neither Cayce nor Hollis are vital mysteries anymore, nor is Gibson a creator of characters for serial adventures like in detective and other genres.

The Old Man has some cachet, particularly via speculation he's Cayce's missing father, but a) I don't believe Cayce's dad would be so cruel to her as to disappear unless b) there was some Jack Bauer crisis situation, which c) I don't see Gibson wanting to touch with even a 24-hour pole, and d) I think it's really a minor coincidence, easily dispelled by the evidence that in SC, the OLd Man was having a bit of sporting fun, not saving Los Angeles or Vancouver from nuclear annihilation or anthrax-laden locusts.

The only enduring mystery of significant merit I see in the previous two is brash, banal Bigend who, even if he seems to pursue mysterious arcana solely for the money, has been established as being firmly committed to doing so time and again. It seems to be his M.O.

One thing I adore about the past two novels is that their villains are so much less larger than life than the first six books' villains, who were vile, ruthless, callously murders, often bordering on comic stock supervillains/masters of crime. Beginning with Wintermute and ending with the villain in ATP.

Instead, we get Russian plutocracy, dear demented Dorotea (a pitiable character), and good old Brown (Karl Rove with a decent physique and adequate martial arts skills). Fantastically intelligent evil is gradually being replaced by more common modestly bent, self-deluding dumbasses of the sort who inflict so much damage on our world.

Considering the fiasco that was 911's execution and subsequent investigation, this makes more, and more endearing, sense to me. Osama bin Laden is no Dr. Fu Manchu but more like the CIA as run by an extremist wing of the Southern Baptist Convention (if the SBC hated America).

One must admit, though, that he was the first global bad guy to even approach Hitler's amazing pulp imagery. And both were last seen in an underground bunker, mortality unknown. (I believe Hitler's death was confirmed by DNA or something after many years? I gotta get a memory. I forget where I lost mine.)
quote:
If he brings back Cayce or Hollis or whomever, I'm pretty sure it will be as cameo touchstones, much like Rydell passed the ball to Laney in the beginning of Idoru. Neither Cayce nor Hollis are vital mysteries anymore, nor is Gibson a creator of characters for serial adventures like in detective and other genres.



You forget THE PATTERN. Rydell passed the baton to Laney in the SECOND book. By ATP, Rydell and Chevette were again the main characters, or, nearly so in the ensemble. In the third Sprawl book, Molly came back as a major figure and one other character from the last book who was not a POV (Angie) became a POV. Thus, there is strong evidence for a return of two characters from books one and two as POV characters or major players.

We see Inchmale is on board for somehting already.

THE PATTERN shifts, to be sure, but we start in Neuro with a single POV through the book. In PR we have the same thing. He breaks this tradition with VL. Now, if PR mirrors Neuromancer, Cayce will not be back. But, Cayce is one of the strongest characters he has made and I say she will be back and back as connective tissue, as a POV character.

Parkaboy is a natural to come back as he is a music producer like Inchmale and Tito looked to be heading in the direction of musician at the end of SC.

Whatever Bill does or doesn't do in his books he has a fascination with synchrony and connectedness between disparate things.

Becuase I do like to speculate I will toss out the return of these characters:

Bigend
Cayce
Inchmale (nearly given)
Bobby Chombo (as some sort of facilitator in the plot)
Damien
Voytek or Magda
Tito
quote:
You forget THE PATTERN. Rydell passed the baton to Laney in the SECOND book. By ATP, Rydell and Chevette were again the main characters, or, nearly so in the ensemble.


'deed i DO! I don't recall Rydell or Chevette in ATP at ALL. I assume it was Rydell who fires that ooky chain-nail gun that resembles a milk carton.

Nope. Don't remember at all. I remember the chrono-savant kid, the watch-dealer, some girls with God's Little Toy, the mighty Boomzilla, the elegant assassin, the evil rich villain who'd taken the stochastic pattern recognition drugs that had given Laney his gift...maybe that says something about bringing characters back like that.

I mean, I DIG Rydell. Most sympathetic character for me of all Gib's works, although Cayce comes close. And I don't remember him in that book at ALL. It's like he becomes a type of himself. And how many adventures can an innocent bystander get sucked into, anyway?

Nah, I hope he doesn't bring 'em back. Maybe fleeting references to them, retrospective character signal attenuations, but that's it. Apparently, reusing them as primary figures wears them out?

Oh well. I'm weird.
Speaking as a Brit (and a long-time reader of the works of P G Wodehouse) I understood the reference to "Inchmale's Club" to be the club that Inchmale is a member of, not that he necessarily owned. For example, Bertie Wooster's club was The Drones; he could go there to sleep off a bender without having to stagger home, and it was a place where he was sure of getting decent food and drink in the company of like-minded chaps. Once fictional, The Drones now occupies premises in Mayfair in RL. Quite a few gentlemen's clubs from Jeeves and Wooster's time still survive in London.

Then again, Inchmale being Inchmale, I suspect he probably would own the place.

Those Zaha Hadid chairs are gorgeous - what lovely organic shapes. When I saw Luigi Colani at a talk in London, he noted how Hadid has moved away from the very regimented angular shapes of her earlier work. Colani turned to Ross Lovegrove and said "it used to be all 'klick-klack' but now its organic. We've won!"

best,
Chris H
quote:

There are other places called "Portman Square", but the one in London, at the south end of Baker Street, just north of Oxford Street, is the one which springs to my mind.

There does actually appear to be a posh new club (drinking , dining and schmoozing rather than a rock club) which opened in November 2008 behind the 18th Century listed building Adams facades façades of 20 to 21 Portman Square i.e. two whole town houses, rather than just half of one. (Number 19 is also part of the complex, but may not actually be interconnected).


It turns out that the three 18th Century town houses which have been renovated into the Home House Club are numbered anti-clockwise at the north west corner of Portman Square.

Number 21 (with the Zaha Hadid designed bar and sofa lounge) is on the western, Gloucester Place side of the block, with Number 20 being the one with the columnar porch entrance in the middle, and Number 19 to the right (east) of the main Portman Square façade.





The Home House Club's combination of English aristocratic antiques and artifacts, together with very modern fittings and architectural designs, does seem to fit in with the impression evoked in the description of the "Number Four" bedroom in the second new fragment of text on William Gibson's blog: HOLD THE COPROPHAGIA. This again mentions Inchmale, whilst remaining obscure about the identity of the female character, or characters, who are not necessarily the same person in each of the two text samples.
quote:
Originally posted by colin:
My impression, totally unsubstantiated, was that Inchmale's club was a different place from the one mentioned in HOLD THE COPROPHAGIA.


That is certainly possible, and had also occurred to me.

quote:

Sounded to me like the second place might actually be Inchmale's house, or something of that sort.


That seems a bit less likely, as it would be rather pretentious to refer to a bedroom in a private house, even a guest bedroom, as "Number Four", which sounds more likely for a hotel or inn or club with several bedrooms for hire, unless it is an "Upstairs Downstairs" style nickname by the servants and butler etc. e.g. referring to "her upstairs in Number Four", something which the guests would not be expected to be aware of.

A Cell in a police station or prison might also be referred to as "Number Four".

"each tiny bulb focused on one or another of Number Four’s many artifacts" does seem to refer to the room rather than the whole building, which would have put it in the "Number 10" or "Number 11" Downing Street category of fame or notoriety.

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