Box 850 done – time to transcribe!

Mi6
Mi6

It’s still a tentative title, but Book 5: Box 850 is done.

Box 850 is the colloquial term for the British Intelligence Service, specifically MI6, which wasn’t actually acknowledged as existing until 1994.

At the time of the book, the Chief of MI6 would have been Admiral Sir Hugh Sinclair (1923–1939) and operated at the time out of  54 – Broadway, off Victoria StreetLondon.

It seems that MI5 concentrated more on internal threats, and MI6 more on external, but in the case of Mr. Howard, it is not made clear what his connection is to the Secret Service, it is only intimated that he comes from those offices. MI5 has its own colloquial name: Box 500 (after its official wartime address of PO Box 500).

Mi5
Mi5

So I suppose I could scoop that as a name instead. What do you think? I don’t know why but Box 850 sounds cooler and more mysterious than Box 500. But maybe that’s just me.

Possible artwork

From Wikipedia: Colonel Acland and Lord Sydney: The Archers

One possibility for part of the collection at Lancaster House in 1931 is this piece by Sir Joshua Reynolds entitled: Colonel Acland and Lord Sydney: The Archers.

It was created in the late 1700s and was sold in 2005 for £2.5 million.

Dimensions: 238.7 cm × 184.2 cm (94.0 in × 72.5 in)

Watson and the Shark

Another option is for Watson and the Shark, which has the added link to Portia that I like, but less of an ability to easily play with the title (more cryptic than I mean it to be, but I don’t want to give away the premise of the first chapter of the book – sorry!).

This oil painting came from the same era exactly, but was painted by John Singleton Copley. The vertical copy of this piece is now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. It was sold off in 1963.

Dimensions 182.1 cm × 229.7 cm (71¾ in × 90½ in)

Problematic for a few reasons: it never seemed to make it into the London Museum (and therefore never made it to Lancaster House), there are three copies, making it less valuable and like I stated earlier, the title is harder to work with.

Apollo from Pompeii (statue, from getty.edu)
Apollo from Pompeii (statue, from getty.edu)

An additional piece that I could relate to the first painting above is the bronze statue of Apollo from the ruins of Pompeii. The following text and image is from getty.edu: “In June 1817 the majority of the Apollo, broken into three pieces, was found just north of the forum in Pompeii, not far from the Temple of Jupiter … its reconstruction was complete by 1825.

So if this could have been in the collection at Lancaster House (which I suppose it could have been, on loan from some museum in Italy I have been unable to find so far) then this could mesh nicely with the kernel of a story I have in my head.

Dimensions: 147 (h) x 55 (w) x 114 (d) cm

I’d like to know the weight of this statue, but have been so far unable to find that.

Scouting locations

In addition to always keeping my map front of mind, I spent most of today researching (yay – Wikipedia is back!) appropriate locations for Elaine Barclay’s extravagant wedding.

Elaine is of course from Book 2: A Case of Darkness, and has returned for a brief cameo in the form of her wedding that will take place in Book 5, which I am currently writing.

Lancaster House layout from Wikipedia
Lancaster House layout from Wikipedia

I think Lancaster House (renamed from its original name Stafford House in 1912) is an apt location for both such an event and for the items I need to be present during the reception (mysterious enough for you? 😉
One of the main reasons to use this building is that “From 1924 until shortly after World War II, the house was the home of the London Museum, but it is now used for government receptions and is closed to the public except on rare open days.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Perfect. Next step: figure out what could have been part of the collection being housed at the Lancaster House in 1931.