M is for Marlinspike Hall


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Marlinspike Hall is the stately home, that as a child, I wanted to visit more than any of the others I was taken to – and I seemed to be taken to a lot. Or indeed any that I have visited since. But that could never happen as it it is entirely fictitious, a small piece of the genius that was Hergé, the inventor of Tintin.

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For those not in the know Marlinspike Hall is the ancestral home of Captain Haddock, Tintin’s long time, if not exactly most reliable of trustworthy companion.

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We come across Marlinspike Hall first in the Secret of the Unicorn when it is owned by two crooks, the Bird Brothers. A lot of the important elements of the story centre around the basement vaults. A treasure trove of antiques and artefacts and beautifully drawn. How I wanted to rummage in its dusty corners as a child.

The two part story – the second book is Red Rackham’s Treasure and also features other stalwarts Professor Cuthbert Calculus who provides Tintin with the shark-styed submarine necessary for the treasure hunt and the hapless Thompson and Thomson – the Thompson Twins, detectives in name only.

It is a tremendous story. Hergé had done some adventure stories – The Black island set in Scotland, the Blue Lotus – a wacky drug infused tale set in the Far East and a really weird one, The Shooting Star with magic mushrooms and hallucinations. But this double header saw him develop his story telling to a new level and, as a child I simply adored it.

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Later we revisit the hall in the Casterfiori Emerald and The Calculus Affair.  The humour in the former is more adult, subtle in its character-plays whereas the latter is another ripping yarn.

The Hall itself is modelled on a French Chateau but set in the English countryside. I can close my eyes and see it now, looming large with the faithful retainer Nestor by the main doors and the beautiful if sinister grounds all around.

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Captain Haddock did one other thing for me. He provided me with a lexicography of swear words that are still useful to this day. He had 212! Here’s the link to the Tintinologist for you. How to choose a favourite from Bashi-Bazouks, to Anthracite and Vegetarians. Aardvarks to Coelcanth, Jobbernowl to Odd-toed ungulate? I think if there’s one it has to be:

Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles in a thundering typhoon

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The archetypical Haddock, furious and incontinent, one minute, schoolboy excited the next

I aim to grow old disgracefully but I do not aim to grow up.  Vivre Tintin, Vivre Le Vieux Haddock!!

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in A to Z blogging challenge, miscellany and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to M is for Marlinspike Hall

  1. willowdot21 says:

    Bravo!! I love Snowy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. noelleg44 says:

    This is something I completely missed!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Archaeologist says:

    What can I say, I too enjoyed (and occasionally still enjoy) exploring Marlinspike Hall, from its antique filled basements to its owl haunted attics. Avoiding the dangers of Professor Calculus’s laboratory and occasionally tripping over a body in the grounds.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. roweeee says:

    I totally echo your sentiments about growing up. I’ve getting more immature and irresponsible with every passing year. At the same time, my body tells some terrible lies. I was at Whale Beach where my parents had a place in my 20s and the kids are climbing all over these huge slabs of rock which had fallen from the cliffs overhead. Og how I struggled to move where once I had bounded and run!! I could blame my mobility issues but it could also be 20 years down the toilet as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Charli Mills says:

    I’m determined to introduce my grand-nephews to Tintin as I missed out on the fun!


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