As you approach the imposing red brick facade of The Manor, the front door glides effortlessly open to reveal the gaunt, hunched figure of Snodgrass the Self-Reflexive Butler. He peers at you myopically over his enormous beak of a nose until he manages to place your features and, with a sudden flash of recognition in his tiny black eyes, his quizzical, downturned mouth transforms into a sideways smile (that could perhaps be more correctly described as a leer).
“Ah, there you are! We’ve been waiting for you! Welcome to The Manor – do come in.”
With trepidation, you step over the threshold into the gloom of the entrance hall. You dimly perceive the shape of an umbrella stand made out of an elephant’s foot, and halfway down the hall there appears to be an enormous Ming vase stuffed with peacock feathers. As your eyes adjust to the gloom, which is punctuated by a single, sputtering gas lamp somewhere off to your right, you realise you are standing near the foot of an enormous, finely carved stairway, decorated with various African flora and fauna. There are many, many doors leading from the hallway in front of you and the landing above…
“As you’ve no doubt realised by now, you’ve walked into an elaborate metaphor”, says Snodgrass as he fixes you with his beady eyes, “Don’t worry, we know it’s a bit much to take in at first, but just go with it – trust us.”
Snodgrass lights the triple candelabra on the side table next to him, then picks it up and sweeps it in a big arc across the hallway, revealing the many doors radiating away into the blackness. He turns to address you.
“You’ve stumbled into The Manor of Lucius P. Merriweather and Sir Gaulian – two Victorian gentlemen who are rather partial to the delights of video gaming.” He sneers the words ‘video gaming’ as if he were describing the contents of the water closet. With a barely perceivable shake of the head to clear his thoughts, he continues: “The many rooms leading from this humble hallway each represent a different topic related to video games. For example, in The Library you can find all sorts of pretent… stimulating discussion about the nature of gaming, whereas in The Cellar you’ll find a treasure trove of long-lost gaming delights. Then there’s The Mantelpiece, on which you can find the embarrassingly large pile of video games that Messrs. Merriweather and Gaulian have hoarded but haven’t quite got round to playing yet. By the way, we know The Mantelpiece isn’t a room, but just go with it OK? It’s hard enough to keep this metaphor sustained without you picking holes in it all the time…”
Snodgrass suddenly looks a bit sheepish and his gaze drops to the floor, before he adds in a muted voice: “Oh, and speaking of exploding metaphors, you might notice that Mr Merriweather and Sir Gaulian don’t always write their posts in the same elaborate, faux Victorian dialogue they describe the rooms in… But give them a break all right, it’s hard enough to keep this metaphor propped up as it is!”
The curious butler clears his throat with an officious ‘ahem’, gathers himself up to his full height (although with his hunch he barely reaches to your chin) and continues: “If you’re curious to meet the gentlemen owners of The Manor, hasten forthwith to The Drawing Room, where you’ll find them engaged in deep conversation, as per usual. Finally, I believe Mr. Bradbrook, our resident artist, can be found painting in The Gallery. Oh, and we’ll probably add more rooms as we think of more things to write about – that’s the beauty of an entirely metaphorical manor you see, it can be as big as you want it to be and we don’t have to seek planning permission if we want to extend.”
Snodgrass pauses and looks at you expectantly. Suitably bewildered, you look around at the many doors, baffled as to which one to try first.
“Well, I’ll leave you to get on with exploring then… Enjoy!”
The sinister butler withdraws down a side corridor, then half turns and whispers menancingly: “Stay a while… STAY FOREVER!!!”
You stare at him in a mixture of shock and incomprehension.
“Ah. Sorry… I’m not sure why I said that,” he admits sheepishly, before shuffling out of sight.