Crane Mansions will be available, initially for Kindle, in a few weeks. Here is a taste from the opening of the book.
Dr Hubert Crane, Headmaster of Crane Mansions Regulatory School for the Indigent, master of this whole world of pupils, staff and servants, sat at his desk peering through his telescope at the pigeon loft outside his window. He could see a group of three birds. One had the iridescent band around its throat, another a russet and white body, the other, a lower type, probably female, was dark grey. They perched on the edge of the loft, iridescent band hopped down a square, russet followed, and then, ‘What impudence,’ whispered Dr Crane, inferior grey squeezed in next to iridescent band so he had to move aside. Then the dance began again. Dr Crane scribbled feverishly in a large red volume. These morning sessions were often his best work for the day and from them he formed new Axioms that he set the students to study for the next day.
‘Why the windward whirling?’ he declaimed as he wrote. ‘And whence the nodder on the utmost perch?’
He was a plump, imposing figure in his academic gown, his curling white hair standing out round his red cheeks, his voice rich and mellow. He liked the sound of his own voice. He liked order and obedience, and he disliked being bothered with the details of running the school, for he was a scholar, a seer, a visionary.
Visitors to the school often said, ‘What a handsome man. And so like his father.’ In a general way, they were right. Dr Crane’s crown of curly white hair and his noble Roman nose were a replica of his father’s, and the Texts, Precepts and Axioms according to which he ran his school had their origins in his father’s Rational and Regular Education System. But to the relentless exactitude of his father’s regime, the second Dr Crane had brought the spirit of Poetic Inspiration. From its origins in his adored, long-lost Little Mummy’s tales of fairies, ducklings changing into swans, children changing into bluebirds, through his youthful passion for the works of the poet Blake, to its culmination in a vision of Blake in old Nat Dodge’s pigeon loft, of which we will hear more later in this story, Pigeonnic Augury had become his entire life. Slowly, infinitely slowly, he was advancing closer and closer to the Great Truth at the heart of things, the Truth that his pigeons signalled to him in their hoppings and bobbings, their cooings and wheelings and the patterns their colours made as they huddled on their perches. His volumes of Texts and Axioms grew ever fatter and the pattern of truth they revealed more perfect the more he reflected on them. It was strange then that on this bright morning his pigeons gave him no warning that the stately progress of his life was about to become a furious merry-go-round. Sighing as a bell sounded below, he made his way downstairs towards the Break-fast hall, thinking of kidneys, bacon and porridge with double cream.