I’ve been running this blog for seven years and nothing has featured here more than pictures taken from my living room window. Mostly of skies, but sometimes of the big tree that grows by my house. You’d think I’d know everything there is to know about the tree (except what it actually is as I have zero knowledge of botany). Starlings hang out on its branches, as well as crows. The tree is also good for observing the changing seasons. In spring, when the leaves start growing, in autumn, when they turn and eventually fall. However, it wasn’t until September 2022 that I, for the first time, noticed that…
You are invited to Heaton Hall, the country seat of Lord Ballingdon, for a weekend of good old fashioned fun.
The house is imposing and painted cheerful yellow.
After dinner, the host informs his guests he prepared a fun murder mystery game. It kicks off the next morning.
And so the next morning, after breakfast–rich, delicious full English–Lord Ballingdon gives his instructions.
You are to find the dead body.
It is no easy task. The grounds are vast and the body could be anywhere.
But that doesn’t discourage you. Let’s start!
Careful it gets steep!
You think the body might have rolled down this hill. But there’s nothing at the bottom.
Ooh look, a bench! Not very comfortable sitting on that stone. You reckon the victim must have sat here at some point, before they were killed.
Were they pushed off the ha-ha? If so, the murderer must have moved the body because it is not here.
You check under the ferns for clues. Nothing here.
Aaah, look, a folly. You bet that’s where the body was hidden.
The folly is locked. You peer through the windows, but the only thing you see is a broken electric heater.
It occurs to you that the body might actually be inside the house. Your host never said it was on the grounds.
Hmmm, your host… This is the first time you’ve been invited to Lord Ballingdon’s party. You’ve heard of him a lot, of course, everyone gushes how entertaining he is, people leave his gatherings with smiles on their faces. And he’s so charming! “He’s the biggest prankster I’ve ever met,” says your cousin, and coming from him, it means something. Your cousin has been playing pranks on people since he was eight.
Prankster. Of course!
You got it. Murder? Here’s the murder:
Lord Ballingdon bursts into booming laughter. You win the game.
Pictures are from Heaton Park in Manchester. The house is indeed called Heaton Hall, but it is not a seat of any lord, as it belongs to the city council. Lord Ballingdon is a fictional character. No murder mystery games take place at Heaton Park, however the place does share initials with the great Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, so make of it what you will.
I went back and forth about whether to post this or not. It made sense to do so, yet–as you can see, it’s not the best photograph:
That’s the problem with photographing displays in museum that are behind glass. The reflection. And not the kind of reflection I usually go for!
The label up close:
So this lab coat is displayed in the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. It’s right next to the Baby, the first computer ever constructed. Geoff Tootill worked on it, together with Alan Turing and others. Alan Turing is, of course, the best known one, the father of modern computing. I’ve previously posted pics of his statue in Sackville Gardens in Manchester. You might also know him from the film The Imitation Game, where he was played by Benedict Cumberbatch.
I’ve been to the Science and Industry Museum many times. But it was only on my last visit there, in June, that I paid any attention to the lab coat. I immediately thought: that looks like something from an old sci-fi, like Isaac Asimov! But I think it was a different short story I read recently that made me look at the lab coat. It is by an author who you would not think of when it comes to sci-fi–Daphne du Maurier! The story’s title is The Breakthrough. It’s included as a bonus in my Kindle version of The Birds and Other Stories. I was very surprised to read it, it has almost a dystopian feel, but fiction set in labs and science institutes evokes that feel in me. Basically, it’s like Frankenstein, except two centuries later. Proves that Daphne du Maurier had a range.