Mr. Whybrow


Thanks to a g+ post last week by Ms. Beth Ghostraven, I learned of the RL passing of the gentle being behind the avatar, Alastair Whybrow.

Mr. Whybrow was my friend and neighbor when my Evergreen Pub was located in Caledon SouthEnd in Second Life, right across the street from his fine jewelry store. I will never forget my first day in the neighborhood when Mr. Whybrow came out of his store to greet me and to comment favorably on the addition of the pub and to offer any assistance.

We chatted about neighborhood news on a regular basis, always remaining in our proper Victorian characters, even in IM. But we did drop the formality of Mr. Whybrow and Mr. Whitfield when in private convo, then it was always the more familiar, “Mr. W.” And we would delight in the fact that we were both Mr. W. and therefore the convo often became rather silly, even when serious issues were being discussed.

But my favorite memories of Mr. W, will always be the spur-of-the-moment RP he would engage in, in ISC (Caledon) Chat. Usually it was something started by someone else. Then Alastair would jump in and get the ball rolling. And soon we were off on some brief, silly, joyous Caledonian adventure. Whether I joined in the RP or just read along with others tuned in at that time, Mr. Whybrow always gave us a series of laughs.

When an opportunity to relocate my pub came up, Mr. Whybrow purchased my land and created a nice public garden, which I returned to visit a few times.

This morning I went back to the old neighborhood in SouthEnd. I knew there would be some sort of remembrance in place, as they always do these things right in Caledon. Both Bluebird Park and the parcel where his Sparkle of Sound fine jewelry store and adjacent buildings stood are now the sites of memorials and tributes. Flags in Caledon are lowered to half staff in Mr. Whybrow’s memory.

I shall raise a glass to Alastair Whybrow this evening at the new location of the Evergreen Pub. You touched me and many others with your kindness and humor. Fair winds, Mr. W.


Nix Sands

After three years in Second Life, I left the Mainland behind and moved to Winterfell. I settled in one of the southern towns, Laudanum, which at that time had a Victorian Steampunk element in its mix of eras. Within a month I made a second home in Cape Wrath in the neighboring and allied nation of Caledon.

In my Mainland years, I didn’t pay much attention to my wardrobe. I was usually seen in a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers as I puttered around my towns, installing a building or tweaking a walkway, planting a tree or hanging out in my pub.

But when I came to the Steamlands, I had to get with the program and dress the part. I picked up a few items here and there, some freebies as I started, just to have something while I continued to shop and develop a “look” or style I felt comfortable with.

One day, while browsing the shops in Caledon Penzance, I happened into Xcentricity, the shop of one Nix Sands. I purchased some trousers and a waistcoat which came with a free white shirt.

After a few days of wearing these items with a coat I had purchased elsewhere, I was back at Xcentricity, browsing the waistcoats once again. I had found the basic element of my “look.” Nix’ various waistcoats and pants became – and still are – a mainstay in my closet. I’d say I’m wearing a waistcoat, pants and (color-changing/texture-changing) shoes from Xcentricity about 80 or 90-percent of the time I am in SL. Add to that a coat or jacket from other designers – Doc Wrangler, Thadovian or Eleanor Banx’ Cosmic Steam Designs – and a conscious decision to go without a cravat except on formal occasions, and I had my “look.”

It was further enhanced when I belatedly discovered that one of the many waistcoats I had purchased in Nix’ shop had come with a bonus item – a black shirt. Ohhhh, how smart that shirt looks with the rest of the items I’ve mentioned.

The other day I learned that, as we put such things in the Steamlands, Nix Sands’ typist had passed away. Such sad news to me and so many others he had touched with his creativity and sense of humor, whether they actually knew him or not. Myself, I had only IM’d with him once that I can recall. I knew him from the clothes on my back (and elsewhere) and from his other creations.

He was the man behind Gorgon Motors, building fine cars of a long bygone era. The Tinies community of the Steamlands and beyond knows him for his line of tinies outfits. He also made flying machines, radios, guns, and a selection of mustaches and beards among other things. All unique and with a dash of wit. Last night at our Summer Songs bash at Storytellers Pub, I wore a Victorian bathing outfit and matching straw hat that I bought in Nix store a couple years back.

The day I heard the news, I went over to his shop in the 1888 sim and picked up a couple more items.

Xcentricity shop in 1888 sim
Xcentricity shop in 1888 sim

Then stopped in Seraph City to see if there was any reminder of his auto dealership there.

Gorgon Motors sign in Seraph City
Gorgon Motors sign in Seraph City

And, even though I already knew it had been emptied out, I stopped at his main store in Caledon Penzance one last time. Items of tribute to Nix lined the front steps.

A lady sat on the steps quietly. I did not know her but recognized her name and said hello. We chatted about Nix.

“He was the kindest person,” she said, “wicked sense of humour. We were only creator friends, not even super close but we always exchanged silly builds and stuff. I miss that already.”

Last night in Caledon, there was a memorial tribute to Nix Sands that was attended by more than 50 avatars. Several leading citizens of The Steamlands spoke briefly and gave their memories of his role in their lives.

Audience at Nix Sands memorial in Caledon prime
Audience at Nix Sands memorial in Caledon prime

Nix Sands’ life in this virtual world is a fine example of how one person can have an important impact on the lives of others.

Book & Tankard

Just wanted to give a quick shout out (you can tell I’m just back from the 21st century, can’t you?) to the folks at one of Caledon’s newer watering holes.

Finally had the chance to hop over to the Book and Tankard Pub in Victoria City, Miss Beth Ghostraven, proprietress. It is located conveniently next to the Caledon Library buildings, from whence it gets, I suspect, the part of its name that does not come from the fact that it is a pub.

The Book and Tankard is a well-appointed spot to pass the time with a good book in a comfy chair or sofa by a nice fire, these spring nights still holding a bit of chill in Caledon. Or you can sit at the bar itself or, when the weather permits, outside on the porch with a view of the center of Victoria City and watch the librarians pass by.

Should you stop in for a tankard of ale or something else from the fine selection of beverages, do tell Miss G that Ambassador Whitfield sent you and she will see that you are well cared for, I assure you.

Book and Tankard Pub, Caledon Victoria City
Book and Tankard Pub, Caledon Victoria City

The Evergreen Pub

I have moved one of my pubs from the Steamlands to the Mainland. The Evergreen Pub, which had been located in Caledon SouthEnd for the past two-plus years, can now be found in Maia, right alongside the tracks of the SLRR. The About Land description calls it “the Duke of Evergreen’s pub away from home.”

The Evergreen has a long history, at least by this world’s standards. It was established five years ago in a village I founded in the mainland region of Quirolla. The village was called Pine Tree Square and consisted of a couple of shops, a few cottages, my office, my workshop and the pub.

A few months later The Evergreen moved along with Pine Tree Square to a larger area in the Brooks region. After opening in one building the pub moved to a new building by Teatone Catteneo that was created especially for The Evergreen Pub. It operated in Brooks for about a year and a half. During this time a second Evergreen Pub location was added in the City of Teasdale in the Suri mainland region.

Pine Tree Square in Brooks was bustling, so I moved it to a larger spot, a full region in Deitide at the intersection of two Linden roads, The Evergreen Pub moving along with it again.

It was at this point the downward turn in the RL economy came full-force to SL. Teasdale was closed and The Evergreen’s location there went dark. A few months later, Pine Tree Square followed. The Evergreen Pub was the last building to close. My friend Robyn, who lived in Pine Tree Square in both Brooks and Deitide, joined me for last call.

But it was a case of one door closing and another opening. At the same time I was closing the last of my Mainland towns and stepping down as Mayor, I was embarking on a new and completely unexpected journey. It began in Winterfell, my new home, and continued in Caledon, where The Evergreen Pub was relocated to SouthEnd. There it stood for over two years until last month when it returned to the Mainland.

The original custom build of The Evergreen was updated by Ms. Catteneo last year and presented to me as a gift. The new version was wonderful but I still loved the old one too. What to do? Oh, what I wouldn’t have done for two locations at that point! I settled for a hybrid version with some of my favorite elements from both. A new and expanded version of the hybrid sits in Maia today.

Stop by soon.

Mr. Secretary

Danko Afterthought, Secretary to Amb. Whitfield

At the celebrated kaffeeklatsch often referred to in Caledon as “ISC chat,” the local gentry were discussing the shortcomings of their typists. The common problems of grammatical and spelling errors were discussed and it was agreed all around that the current crop of typists leaves much to be desired.

I ventured to add another issue involved in dealing with this class of servants that goes beyond the mere performance of their duties. According to my notes, my contribution to the exchange went as follows…

If I may add caution regarding our “typists” — and I can only say this as my own has Mondays off, so I must enter these words myself, I put “typist” in quotes as I once referred to my typist as my typist while he was actually paying attention to me for a change. This led to a discussion about his years of service and a minor argument ensued. I will spare you the details but when it was over, he was elevated to “Secretary” (it must always be capitalized) and his renumeration increased more than twofold. Just a word to the wise about cavaliere references to “typists.”

Of course, my entry contained typos and spelling errors, not to mention my usual failings with punctuation. Yet, others chimed in. Mr. Hax noted the penchant of typists to blame others for their own mistakes. Miss Rain likewise stated that she had come up against that issue. I have seen it myself. A typist…err, Secretary…can get away with that blame game but God forbid we should try it. Surely a double standard exists.

But all at the gathering agreed we are helpless to do anything about these matters. We remain at the mercy of our typists. For me, that would be Mr. Afterthought, full name: Danko Afterthought. (Yes, as incredible as it seems, we do share the same first name. And yes, we have heard all of the jokes, thank you very much.) I must admit, however, that Mr. Afterthought’s value was underlined this very day. I’m not sure now whether his promotion to Secretary is quite enough. I may, after my experience in his absence, have to refer to him as Mr. Secretary to fully honor his place in this world.

For example, in polishing this article for publication, I found that the word used above, “renumeration,” is not in the dictionary. Messrs. Merriam and Webster contend it is “remuneration.” Have I heard this word incorrectly all these years? No, in fact. I have heard it correctly even though the word itself may be incorrect. Or not.

I researched this problem for a much longer period of time than seemed appropriate. Many, many others write the word as I do, renumeration, but a search through other dictionaries found agreement with both Merriam and Webster. I have elected to continue to say renumeration and be in good company with many others, even if we are all wrong.

If this were not Monday, Mr. Afterthought would be here and would tend to such a matter as this and I would not have been put through this torture. Nor would I have passed it on to you.

My sincere apologies.

A Night For Mystery And Secrets

(Editor’s Note: With the help of his friend, Prof. Wagstaff, Mr. Whitfield has taken steps to transport the reader to the future for the following article from his memoirs, which have not yet been written. This information would not have been available to the general public at the time the events took place for matters of state were involved. When you finish reading the article you will be automatically transported back to your original time point. You may feel a brief tingling sensation in certain areas of the body. Some have found this to be pleasant though a small percentage of readers do report a minor nausea. Please stay seated during the time transport. Thank you.)

Excerpt From The Book:



A Night For Mystery And Secrets

It was a quiet, foggy night in Cape Wrath. A cigar, a stout, my newspaper and classical music on the wireless. A fine ending to a busy day.

At one point I happened to look out my window and through the fog I could see a light on the water. This is not unusual as I live right on the route of the Caledon National Ferry line. But this light did not look like that of the ferry. It was fast approaching as well, a speed the ferry might be capable of but which it would not have reason to achieve. I stepped toward the window for a closer look just as the vessel came close to the house and saw this was no ferry boat. This was a battleship!

“Ahoy, Mr. Whitfield!” a voice called from the ship.

I quickly opened the front door and stepped outside, “Ahoy!” I called. It was Wrath Constantine at the helm, Commodore of
the Imperial Navy of Caledon. Was this a training mission for his crew or was he following up on some report? He was headed north toward Winterfell, I had to quickly get ‘some’ information before he passed out of earshot “Any trouble tonight?” I  hollered. “Routine patrol,” he hollered back.

I watched him go. He continued to head north past the big rock island, not following the coast of Cape Wrath, headed into the night, toward Winterfell. Routine patrol, crossing international waters? Yes, Caledon and Winterfell are partners in the Realm of the Roses but still… We have our own navy. I am the Winterfell Ambassador, if this is routine I would know about it. Wouldn’t I? And I have been reporting about Caledon’s preparations for war all this time. How come none of my sources have told me about this? Whatever ‘this’ is? It is suspicious. No, wait, it’s not! The Commodore did give ‘ahoy’ as he was passing the house, just from seeing the light on. He certainly was not trying to slip by unnoticed. What is going on here? I must contact the Seneschelf in the morning but I must alert our navy immediately.

I dashed off an informal report of the battleship’s passing and hurried into town to the Winterfell Embassy to send the report by messenger on the next ferry.

As I walked toward town – I hadn’t even left my own neighborhood yet – you wouldn’t believe who I bumped into!

“Guv’nah?!!” It was a very dark night with the thick fog blocking the moonlight. “Des? Is that you?”

“Ambassador Whitfield, what a pleasure! Such a lovely night to be out for a walk, don’t you think?!” said the Guv’nah of Caledon.

“Well, the fog is quite thick sir,” I replied.

“Indeed! A night for mystery and secrets,” he said with a laugh.

What is he getting at? I had to ask straight out —

“Guv’nah, Wrath Constantine just went by in a battleship, headed for Winterfell waters and now I find you in the same general area just after he has passed through. As Winterfell Ambassador, I must ask sir: Is there anything going on tonight I should know about?”

“Haha! Oh not to worry, Danko. Just peaceful activities of a close ally,” he reassured me.

He was being serious now and had just been joking about the mystery and secrets. Just a joke about the foggy night. I think.

Still, after I said my goodbyes to the Guv’nah, I continued on to the embassy and sent my note off to Admiral Beaumont. I added Guv Shang’s comment to the note and told the messenger – a trusted courier who has worked for the embassy for some time – that it was to go to Adm. Beaumont and no one else.

I returned to my Cape Wrath residence and made some notes on the matter to follow up with the Admiral and Lady Twilight. I then went back to my cigar, stout, newspaper and music. As I was about to sit down I looked out the window and was amazed to see the battleship of. Cmdr. Constantine passing by in the other direction.

Well, whatever he was doing in Winterfell, it didn’t take him long.

Later, as I prepared for sleep, there was a knock at the back door. The ‘back’ door?

I opened it with a slight hesitation.

“Sorry to disturb, Ambassador.” It was the messenger. He had not delivered the message as the Admiral was unavailable. I hid any sign of disbelief from my face so as not to let on to the messenger how I was reacting inside to what he was saying. We finished talking and I closed the door.

Unavailable to receive urgent naval intelligence from the Ambassador?

This was one curious night.

There was nothing to do at this point but go up to bed and get an early start in the morning.

Caledon To Rely Heavily On Air Force

By Danko Whitfield, War Correspondent

(VICTORIA CITY) — It is clear that the coming war on the Mainland cannot be won by Caledon if the emphasis is placed on naval power and the landing of ground troops via ship. No, it is air power that Caledon must rely upon if its hopes of victory can be achieved. And Caledon’s air strength is considered by most observers I have spoken with as second to none.

These photographs of some of Caledon’s air machinery were acquired from my source some time ago but only now would military censors allow their publication…

Still, in spite of Caledon’s obvious air superiority, multiple sources continue to question whether Caledon’s naval capabilities can meet the requirements necessary simply to support the air war, much less to control the Mainland waters in the battle zone and land ground troops.

The Store

What have I gotten myself into now?

My brother Levon is in for a visit. He could always talk me into just about anything. I don’t mean to compare him to the carnival barker nor is he the wheeler-dealer type. He is just the nicest man and so damn sincere and so smart when it comes to people and how to “connect” with them that you can not doubt him, you can not argue with him, you can not ignore him, you have no choice but to agree with everything he says. The man has good ideas, that’s all there is to it!

So I told him about my idea for the store. I told him knowing full well he would say something that would change my plan completely. He did. Of course.

It was going to be Whitfield’s Mens Shoppe. Now it will be Whitfield Bros. General Stores. Well, it makes sense. If you heard Levon tell it you would be saying the same thing, believe me.

So we will not just be the place I envisioned – one stop shopping for men. No, we will have ladies items and we will have…everything. “Diversification” he called it. (Yes, he is a time traveller too. In fact, while he was here, we formed the Time Travellers Guild – a group for our brother and sister time jumpers.)

So, my “little” shop where I would make a few sales and mostly just putter and tinker when I needed a “time out” frrom the rest of my life…will now be a bit more. But the best news is that I won’t have to run it! Once I have it set up and going, Levon will manage the day to day. He will be “Vice President of Customer Satisfaction.” He came up with that title. (In my travels it was called the Complaint Dept.) Yes, he will handle all customer inquiries. Well now, how bad can this be? “‘np’ Levon! Go get ’em bro!” (He is not the only time traveller in the family.)

I’ll just sit here, smoke my cigar and count the money.

Caledon Builds Secret Air Base

Caledon's secret air base on Mainland
Caledon has secretly built an air base on the Mainland.

By Danko Whitfield, War Correspondent

(DATELINE CENSORED) — While Guv. Desmond Shang of Caledon gives the outward appearance  of calm as if things are
quiet on the war front, this reporter has discovered a clandestine project that will play a key role in the coming hostilities.

I am standing on the landing strip of a secret airbase on the coast of the Mainland continent known as (CENSORED). The base appears to be complete and operational. There were no airships on the base when I visited and I cannot say whether it has been used thus far, whether for scouting flights or training. It could be that the base will sit here quietly until military action is required.

This “lull before the mighty storm,” as one of my sources put it, may in fact be a strategic ploy on the part of the Guv’nah to
cause the enemy to slip into a period of complacency just before Caledon strikes with the element of surprise as an added weapon in its arsenal.

Your correspondent will continue to monitor the situation.

Circa 1955

I am writing from Glengarry in Caledon, sitting at the bar in the Timetraveller’s Rest, a new pub that has just opened. Time travellers who are familiar with the 1950s will be at home with the retro décor here which includes a sign designating it a bomb shelter in the event of an atomic holocaust. Fancy that, taking refuge in a pub as the world ends. You could certainly do worse.

What an odd time the 1950s must be. I have heard some call it the “good old days,” a simpler time. I suppose it was if you were white and male and did not question authority. Although I was born in that decade I do not recall it. From my vantage point it seems a nice time to visit but I wouldn’t want to live then.

But the pub is quite nice with a rather sexy waitress in attire one would not normally see in the steamlands, at least not in public. I try to charm her a bit with conversation but she does not seem much for talk. While the building befits the Steampunk style, the interior is decorated with the classic ’50s furniture – red leather couch and comfy chairs, the requisite icons of Route 66, Budweiser and the like in the decorations. It is cozy and friendly. This will surely be a watering hole I will visit again when travelling through these parts.

I have stopped for a brew and a time out from my travels and activities of these past five days. I have been so busy trying to catch up with my duties and projects after several weeks visiting that other world from which I hail. It is so good to be back. There has been so much happening in these past few days I can barely keep up. But it has all been fun. Catching up with my friends, hearing their news, tending to my homes and offices, pursuing a diplomatic matter for the Seneschelf and even finding time for a little exploring.

As I sip my beer, I take out my notebook and go through my recent scribbling. So many stories to tell, so much going on, where to begin? I shall just jump in and let the pen go where it goes…

Check these pages again soon.