mistress of the magical bus

Number 22 to Putney Common

    Number 22 to Putney Common


Being an extract from "The Amazing Adventures of Iris Wildthyme on Neptune" - Paul Magrs


Iris, in her Beryl Reid incarnation, is mysteriously relocated from Earth to Neptune.

The story itself appears to be drawn from the John Carter of Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs (better known as the creator of Tarzan). In the first John Carter book, A Priness of Mars, he's mysteriously drawn to Mars where he arrives naked, and shortly thereafter finds himself in a fight with the green-skinned and four-armed Martians, where his prowess in combat soon wins their respect. Like Iris, he wakes on a bed of moss-like vegetation (yellow-green rather than blue) with the sun beating down hotly on his skin. The text of the novel is available online.

Thanks to Greg both for sending me a photocopy of 'Tales of the Solar System' and for pointing out the Burroughs links.


P63 - Neptune - Neptune is the outermost planet of the gas giants and has an equatorial diameter of 49,500 kilometres. If Neptune were hollow, it could contain nearly 60 Earths. The planet orbits the Sun every 165 years. It has eight moons and a day on Neptune is 16 hours and 6.7 minutes. Neptune was discovered on September 23rd 1846 by Johann Gottfried Galle, of the Berlin Observatory, and Louis d'Arrest, an astronomy student, through mathematical predictions made by Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier.

Two thirds of Neptune is composed of a mixture of molten rock, water, liquid ammonia and methane. The outer third is a mixture of heated gases comprised of hydrogen, helium, water and methane. Methane gives Neptune its blue cloud colour.

All of which suggests that Iris is stretching the truth somewhat in her description of the planet (or that Earth astronomers don't know what they're talking about).

P63 - "...the dawn on Yorkshire I had left behind" - An unrecorded adventure, with Iris' friend, Harriet.

P63 - "The sun was intense and blasting" - I'm no astronomer, but shouldn't the sun be a little distant and cold on Neptune? this is probably a reference to some classic novel I've never read.

P63 - "carpetbag" - A portable travel bag, so called because it was originally made of carpet.

P63 - "hip flask of gin" - A hip flask is a small metal flask generally carried in a pocket and containing alcohol. Gin is an alcoholic spirit, which tends to be drunk with soda or tonic. It always makes me throw up, regardless of mixer.

P63 - "bloody gravity" - The gravity on Neptune is 1.19 times of the gravity on Earth, so a person on Neptune who weighs 100 pounds on Earth would weight 119 pounds there and would be unlikely to be able to jump 30 yards at a time (unless they could jump somewhat further than that on Earth, I suppose).

P63 - Harriet - An otherwise unknown friend or companion on Iris.

P64 - Eve Arnold - Eve Arnold [b. 1913] was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania of immigrant Russian parents. She began photographing while working at a photo-finishing plant in New York City in 1946, then studied photography (for 6 weeks) with Alexei Brodovitch at New York City's New School for Social Research in 1948.

Mrs. Arnold first became associated with Magnum Photos in 1951, becoming a full member in 1955. She was based in America during the 1950s and came to England in 1962 to put her son to school at Bedales. Except for a six year hiatus, (when she worked in America and China to prepare a book on each of those countries), Mrs. Arnold has been based in Britain.

She is particularly well known for her photographs of Marilyn Munroe.

P64 - Joan Crawford - Actress [1904-1977] of whom Bette Davis once said, "She's slept with every male star at MGM except Lassie"

P64 - "Gulliver in Lilliput" - Lemuel Gulliver, hero of Jonathon Swift's satirical novel, Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World in Four Parts, more commonly known as Gulliver's Travels. In Lilliput, Gulliver encounters a race of very small people, to whom he is a giant.

P64 - Gunther Grass - German noevlist, social agitator and poet [b. 1927], Grass is best known in English for his novel The Tin Drum. The line "We are all inside the Egg" comes from his poem, "In the Egg" from his 1977 collection, In the Egg and Other Poems.

P64 - Nepotists - A different kind of Nepotist features in the Iris novel, The Blue Angel.

P66 - Scylla and Charybdis - In Greek mythology, Scylla was a sea monster who lived underneath a dangerous rock at one side of the Strait of Messia, opposite the whirlpool Charybdis. She threatened passing ships and in The Odyssey ate six of Odysseus' companions.

Fonda Iris