Friday, 29 August 2008

Titian Encryption

This has provided me with a perfect excuse to recycle shamelessly this parody which I wrote a few years back.


A short story by Now Brand, the famous author.

Author's note: "All buildings and paintings in this story exist and are faithfully represented.
Furthermore, I did not make up any of the analysis or history whatsoever. None at all. Honest."


Robbie felt confused. He'd been called at night to the National Gallery of Scotland in an emergency, but he couldn't understand why. An academic, he was dressed in his usual festive reindeer woolly jumper with leather patches on the elbows. He couldn't understand why he had been called in so urgently. Why have I been called in urgently? I don't understand it.

The gallery had a Titian (the famous artist) exhibition running, but had been emptied by police chief Vache due to an incident. Robbie entered the gallery, his Oxford Brogues with half-inch heel and carefully-tied laces resounding against the white marble stone floor as he walked at 72 steps per minute. Vache lead him into the gallery, which the forensic team had lit dramatically with spotlights perfect for the forthcoming film. On the floor lay a dead female deer, and next to it was written, in blood, the following legend:


"Incriminate yourself" barked Vache.
"No." replied Blagdon.
"Here is Scaffy Nephew, our resident cruciverbalist."
Robbie's eyes moved across the room and met Scaffy's. Hastily putting them back in their sockets, Robbie shook her hand. Scaffy was like an Egyptian obelisk - she was tall, slim, attractive and moved with the lithe grace of a hummingbird.
"I will leave you alone for no good reason" said Vache, leaving them alone for no good reason.
"What does this writing mean?" enquired Robbie.
"The number is only pi"
"But pi is the divine number! That has symbolic significance of the highest order!"
"No it hasn't."
"But the words! All about dogs - we should look at local pet cemetaries for hidden messages on dogs' tombs!"
"No. They are anagrams. They say 'Tiziano Vecellio' and 'Diana and Actaeon'."
"The famous Titian painting! It's right here in this gallery!"
"What a coincidence."

They left the female deer carcass and moved to the famous painting. It depicts the myth of Actaeon hunting in the woods with his dogs and chancing upon Diana (Artemis in Roman myth) bathing with her nymphs in a stream. Diana was embarrassed to be seen naked, and changed him into a deer. His own dogs then chased and killed him.

"This painting has hidden meaning. Look from Actaeon's point-of-view - Diana is not recoiling but opening her legs to him! Renowned scholars consider these two as a couple. Also Actaeon's legs meet a nymph's legs at right-angles, signifying unity between the sexes - male and female in perfect balance, black and white, yin and yang, Torville and Dean. Actaeon is gesturing towards the stag's head on the pillar, suggesting how 'dear' Diana is to him. This entire painting is intended as a hidden message that Diana did not kill Actaeon, but was his lover."
"But I thought there were contradictory hidden messages in another famous paintings by the same artist? Doesn't this cause a major symbolic dichotomy?"
"A clash of the Titians? No - I ignore all evidence that doesn't support my claims. Perhaps the dead deer is a message from the mysterious Brotherhood of Oxfam"
"The brotherhood of what?"
"Oxfam - an ancient charity order with spurious links to freemasonry. Although everyone rightly thinks they are a great force for good, soon stupid people will believe they are evil because of the following blatant falsehoods."
"What does Oxfam mean?"
"Ox in Portuguese is 'boi' and 'fam' is a contraction of 'familiar'. Conspiracy nuts say it means 'familiar with boys' - suggesting this group may practice secret sex rites with children. Incidentally, Titian was once head boi of Oxfam, as were Renoir and Da Vinci. Also, Titian, Renoir and Da Vinci were in the group, as were Titian, Renoir and Da Vinci."
"So they painted and deflorated? Fascinating."
"So much in life is hidden in plain sight. Like the symbolic significance of tobacco packaging"
"But sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."
"Shut up." Robbie sensed his incessant lecturing was losing people's attention.
"So, back to the message. What does RSVP mean?"
"RSVP is a mystical abbreviation used in brotherhood communication to confirm attendance at meetings."
"Wow - my grandfather used to call me 'Really Silly Villy Pilly' - does that mean this message is for me?"
"It must do - perhaps he is in the order!"
"I once saw him in a sex rite, but I just thought he was a pervert."
"For centuries Oxfam has concealed the secret that Actaeon and Diana married, and that their descendants are still alive today. They hid their family tree, called the Gruel, and one day they will use its secrets to fight all the other charities!"
"Gruella warfare?"
"The Gruel is like Pandora's box - it is just the tip of the iceberg, and when the ice is broken, a can of worms will be opened and all hell will break loose!". Robbie didn't tell the whole story yet to build dramatic tension.
"Where do we go now?"
"Someone has written 'Go to Teviot' on the wall next to the painting."
"Let's go!"

"The Teviot Row House building is a renowed and historic building, built as a building for students as a student union building. It is the oldest purpose-built student union building in the world." explained Blagdon as they entered the building. Robbie looked tense. He looked at Scaffy and saw that she was just as tense as he was. This made him feel equally tense, and when she noticed she also became as tense as him, which made him similarly tense.
"I have an idea" said Robbie, tensely. He lead them upstairs to the canteen and joined the queue for lunch (it suddenly no longer being night). After a long wait, he arrived at the counter and was served some venison pie.
"I told you pi had some significance! Pi sounds like pie, and Venison is deer meat. Also, pi comes from circles, and this pie is circular! Pi is an an irrational transcendental number, and my arguments are irrational and transcend logic. The symbolic links are irrefutable! I am very clever indeed!"
Scaffy didn't look impressed. They took the pie to a table and sat down. Cutting open the pastry, Scaffy pulled out a filled pancake from inside.
"I have seen these before! My grandfather cooks them. They are very difficult pancakes to open and contain hidden messages. It's a crepe-tex! But why would Teviot have them?"
"Perhaps they are in the conspiracy as well! Maybe they are funded by Oxfam? Or the Freemasons?!"
Robbie was excited now.
"There is a note inside the pie:"


"The meaning of this is obvious - a bitch is a female dog, and black Collies have long noses, and if you tell them to go away, they do! The password is definitely Collie! This is easy!"
"A collie-dog's cakewalk?" Scaffy carved 'Collie' into the pancake using a knife, which then opened. So did the pancake. Inside the crepe-tex was another note:


"So, what is the symbolic meaning of that then, smarty-pants?"
"Erm, I'm not sure. We should consult Surly Teabag, the renowned English stereotype."

They walked downstairs to a large, mounted, moose's head. Underneath was a handful of off-white, gooey mess stuck to the wall.

"Ah, one of Oxfam's secret methods to hide documents, having symbolic meaning referencing the sacred feminine deer. Diana and Actaeon were united as humans, but also as deer, and Oxfam use the feminine deer as a symbol of unity between the two gods".
Scaffy pulled the sticky mess off the wall and found a note underneath.
"But why use this floury goo to attach things to walls?"
"The symbolic links are obvious. Dough adhere: a female deer".

At that moment, Bishop Ringaringaroses, international man of ministry, burst through the door with his sidekick Silage, who snatched the message from Scaffy's hand and gave it to the Bishop.
"Hahahaha! I have the gruel", shouted the Bishop, enunciating his words like the report of a Heckler & Koch MP5/10A1 submachinegun (the special version chambered for a 10mm hollow-point round rather than the usual 9mm with full-metal-jacket) in three-round-burst mode.
"But this is not enough - please sir, I want some more! Give me the crepe-tex" said the Bishop, taking the pancake from Scaffy. "Thank-you Silage. Have some cognac". Silage drank from the proffered flask, and collapsed on the floor.
"He is fatally allergic to the carpet-fluff I put in the cognac. I am from the RSPCA and want to take the Gruel from Oxfam and use it against them!". He opened the slip of paper.


"You fool, you just killed the only surviving descendant of Diana and Actaeon. The holy bloodline is lost forever".
"Oh well. Anyone fancy a game of pool?"


And so, with the pointless destruction of thousands of years of history, the holy and wholly holey plot comes to an abrupt end. Silage lies dead, Robbie and Scaffy look lovingly into each others' eyes in a crude attempt at inserting romantic undertones and Ringaringaroses continues his cunning diagonal moves. Tune in next week for "Cherubs and Imps", an identical adventure by the same author starring Robbie and some snazzy upside-down writing. Now the mysteries of Titian's paintings remain hidden in plain sight, waiting to be discovered again.

Titian Pish.

No comments: