Twelve of Christie’s best references to the STACHE.

Several of my personal favorites, anyway.  🙂  In no particular order…

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___________________

“If only, Hastings, you would part your hair in the middle instead of at the side! What a difference it would make to the symmetry of your appearance. And your moustache. If you must have a moustache, let it be a real moustache– a thing of beauty such as mine.”

Repressing a shudder at the thought, I took the note firmly from Poirot’s hand and left the room.

-Peril at End House

___________________

“Dear me,” I said, recovering from the shock. “I suppose next time I come home I shall find you wearing false moustaches– or are you doing so now?”

Poirot winced. His moustaches had always been his sensitive point. He was inordinately proud of them. My words touched him on the raw.

“No, no, indeed, mon ami. That day, I pray the good God, is still far off. The false moustache! Quel horreur!”

He tugged at them vigorously to assure me of their genuine character.

“Well, they are very luxuriant still,” I said.

“N’est ce pas? Never, in the whole of London, have I seen a pair of moustaches to equal mine.”

A good job too, I thought privately. But I would not for the world have hurt Poirot’s feelings by saying so.

-The A.B.C. Murders

___________________

“I assure you, I am really a very humble person.”

I laughed.

“You– humble!”

“It is so. Except– I confess it– that I am a little proud of my moustaches. Nowhere in London have I observed anything to compare with them.”

“You are quite safe,” I said dryly, “you won’t.”

-Lord Edgware Dies

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[Mrs Oliver]: “Mrs Ap Jones Smythe, or whatever her name is, did make a codicil to her Will leaving all her money to the au pair girl and two witnesses saw her sign it, and signed it also in the presence of each other. Put that in your moustache and smoke it.”

-Hallowe’en Party

___________________

“Japp!” exclaimed Poirot, disengaging himself from the Countess’s arms.

“It would be better, perhaps, if I went into the other room,” said the Countess.

She slipped through the connecting door. Poirot started towards the door to the hall.

“Guv’nor,” wheezed Mr Higgs anxiously, “better look at yourself in the glass, ’adn’t you?”

Poirot did so and recoiled. Lipstick and mascara ornamented his face in a fantastic medley.

“If that’s Mr Japp from Scotland Yard, ’e’d think the worst– sure to,” said Mr Higgs.

He added, as the bell pealed again, and Poirot strove feverishly to remove crimson grease from the points of his moustache: “Wha do yer want me to do– ’ook it too?”

-The Labours of Hercules, “The Capture of Cerberus”

___________________

“Doubtless she has been informed of my identity,” said Poirot, trying to look modest and failing.

“I think it is the famous moustaches,” I said. “She is carried away by their beauty.”

Poirot caressed them surreptitiously.

“It is true that they are unique,” he admitted. “Oh, my friend, the ‘tooth-brush’ as you call it, that you wear– it is a horror– an atrocity– a wilful stunting of the bounties of nature. Abandon it, my friend, I pray you.”

-Lord Edgware Dies

___________________

“And then, figure to yourself, Hastings, an idea of the most unreasonable seized this Mr. Pearson! Nothing would suit him but that we should go ourselves to this eating house and make investigations. I argued and prayed but he would not listen. He talked of disguising himself– he even suggested that I– I should– I hesitate to say it– should shave off my moustache! Yes, rien que ça! I pointed out to him that that was an idea ridiculous and absurd. One destroys not a thing of beauty wantonly. Besides, shall not a Belgian gentleman with a moustache desire to see life and smoke opium just as readily as one without a moustache?”

-“The Lost Mine”
___________________

While the Lovely Young Thing made a suitable reply, Poirot allowed himself a good study of the hirsute adornment on Mr. Shaitana’s upper lip.

A fine moustache– a very fine moustache– the only moustache in London, perhaps, that could compete with that of M. Hercule Poirot.

“But it is not so luxuriant,” he murmured to himself. “No, decidedly it is inferior in every respect. Tout de meme, it catches the eye.”

-Cards on the Table

___________________

He looked at himself in the glass. Here, then, was a modern Hercules– very distinct from that unpleasant sketch of a naked figure with bulging muscles, brandishing a club. Instead, a small compact figure attired in correct urban wear with a moustache– such a moustache as Hercules never dreamed of cultivating– a moustache magnificent yet sophisticated.

-The Labours of Hercules

___________________

What was even more humiliating was that he had no real ideas, even now, as to what had actually happened. It was ignominious. And tomorrow he must return to London defeated. His ego was seriously deflated– even his moustaches drooped.

-Dead Man’s Folly

___________________

Poirot stroked his own magnificent mustache tenderly. “It is an art,” he murmured, “the growing of the moustache! I have sympathy for all who attempt it.”

It is always difficult with Poirot to know when he is serious and when he is merely amusing himself at one’s expense. I judged it safest to say no more.

-“Double Sin”

___________________

“Poirot,” I said, as he remained rapt in thought. “Hadn’t we better go on? Everyone is staring at us.”

“Eh? Well, perhaps you are right. Though it does not incommode me that people should stare. It does not interfere in the least with my train of thought.”

“People were beginning to laugh,” I murmured.

“That has no importance.”

I did not quite agree. I have a horror of doing anything conspicuous. The only thing that affects Poirot is the possibility of the damp or the heat affecting the set of his famous moustache.

-Lord Edgware Dies

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Poirot Christmas humor, via screenshot

Being the very silly person that I am, I could not help but notice that certain moments in Hunter’s Lodge and Hercule Poirot’s Christmas presented an irresistible opportunity for silly holiday screenshots. Here’s three for you, featuring Poirot with a Christmas bow and he and Hastings sprouting antlers. You’re welcome.  😀

Poirot would totally kill me if he ever saw these.

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***UPDATE***

Feedback, a.k.a. Hugh Fraser retweets it and makes a really silly pun:

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Too nerdy for Poirot…

I had to share this because it’s hilarious. I found these cufflinks on Etsy made out of bits of Marple and Poirot books– pretty awesome. But I recognized the Poirot book reference and thought I’d throw it out as a bit of trivia on Twitter. Someone unexpected chimed in on the conversation…

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The moral of the story is: post inane trivia on Twitter; get picked on by David Suchet.

Love that guy!!

“Agatha Christie’s Great Detectives Poirot and Marple” – Poirot goes anime

Okay, I’ve just laughed myself stupid this evening, and it’s because I’ve finally watched some of that Poirot/Marple anime series that originally came out in 2004-2005. The series adapts a number of Poirot and Marple stories and sort of blends them together through this primary character of a 16-year-old girl who is Miss Marple’s grand-niece, Maybelle West. She becomes a Poirot fangirl and desperately aspires to be (and becomes) the detective’s “junior assistant,” eventually sharing house with Miss Lemon and tagging along with Poirot and Hastings on their expeditions.

And she has a pet duck named Oliver.

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Does this sound like the classic makings of a Mary Sue fanfic? Why yes, yes it does!

When you see the theme opening, you’d be excused for thinking that you’ve shown up to the wrong party. The focus is almost entirely on this Maybelle West character and her faithful duck companion, with Christie’s detectives appearing almost incidental . And the theme song is, well… you really do have to hear it to believe it. I daren’t give away all the glories that await you, but here’s a tiny sample.  🙂

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I may sound critical, but it’s got a few cute things going for it. The stories, except for all things connected with the insertion/wish-fulfillment style of character that Maybelle resembles, are at least fairly close to Christie’s originals. The attempt to blend the Poirot/Marple universes together through an external, unifying character is a valiant one. And it turns out that Anime!Hastings is kind of hot.

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I say that Maybelle is Mary Sue-esque, but she doesn’t have a huge range of super-skills or anything like that (however, sometimes she is annoyingly quick to hit on certain clues that prove vital to the solving of the case). There are many, many moments in this series of “what is this, I can’t even.” She’s trying to “find herself” and Miss Marple gives her tremendously cheesy advice and… there’s the recurring duck…

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You have to laugh.  😀  If your interest is piqued, you can watch “The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan” here.

 

 

 

Poirot anagrams

You know I like wordplay and its unique aesthetics. Now that we’ve covered ambigrams, how about… anagrams?

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Anagrams are more common and involve rearranging the letters of words or phrases to make new words or phrases. For the extra-nerdy effect, one seeks for anagrams that actually sort of make sense! You can work them out by hand or use anagram generators. Here are a few fun ones I found, based on names relating to Agatha Christie’s Poirot.

Hercule Poirot:

-Hip Clue-Rooter
-Uh, Retro Police
-Peril or Touché
-Poor Ethic Rule
-Our Helicopter
-Procure the Oil (Note: I have no idea what this has to do with ANYTHING but it made me laugh. My friend Aaron suggests that it relates to the grooming of the moustache.)  🙂

Arthur Hastings:

-Stating Hurrahs
-Truth as Sharing
-Harrassing Truth
-Gain Harsh Trust

Inspector Japp:

-Cop Tips Pen Jar

Felicity Lemon

-Comely Tin File
-File Nicely, Tom

Ariadne Oliver:

-I Arrived Alone
-A Violin Reader

Agatha Christie:

-A Tragic Heist– Aha!

A cake for Agatha Christie’s 125th

Back in September, Agatha Christie’s Twitter put a sort of “cake challenge” out there: make a cake in celebration of Agatha Christie’s 125th. No need to ask twice– I make fan art on the most ridiculously slight of provocations. And I’d never tried making fan art via cake. The very prospect sounded so insanely nerdy I just had to try. Anyway, CAKE!

It would have to be something Poirot-esque. I had used edible marker on fondant for cookies once or twice in the past, and I’d used gel food coloring for tinting molded cookies, but I’d never tried anything like a portrait in gel coloring on fondant, nor had I made decorative, edible flowers. I decided to try both. You also need to know that I am terrible at baking…

In spite of me, the cake made it out of the pan more-or-less successfully. It was (necessarily) square-shaped, in keeping with the Poirot motif. With a great deal of frustration I sliced the square cake in half and iced it together again, finally breathing a sigh of relief that the complicated, unpredictable, and aggravating part was over. Now I just had to paint the portrait and sculpt some flowers and stuff, which as far as I’m concerned is infinitely easier than fighting with cake ingredients.

The white fondant was rolled out and trimmed to be a little smaller than the cake top. The picture on which I was basing my image was obtained from the episode Death in the Clouds. Gel food coloring was mixed with vodka to paint on the portrait. (The Countess Rossakoff approves.) The actual painting part was a sort of learn-as-you-go experience. I cautiously added thin layers and built it up gradually. And as Poirot slowly came into focus, I shuddered to think how positively mental Suchet would think me if he ever found out that he was being painted in costume, onto a piece of fondant, with vodka… and for no particular reason except for what was essentially a Twitter dare.

Oh well.

I found a tutorial on the internet for the creation of molded poppies, but used fondant instead of gum paste just to make life more interesting. (Poppies are a flower I identify with Poirot. If you decide to use this tutorial, intrepid reader, follow their instructions as written!) An additional amount of my white fondant was heavily tinted, turning my hands bright red, and I managed to get some poppies made. The frilly centers turned out nicely and helped to give the false impression that I knew what I was doing. Long, thin, green poppy stems were also rolled out.

The fondant portrait was eventually anchored to the center of the cake with some sort of gel icing. The original plan was to have the green poppy stems attached to the flowers right on the cake itself, but it suddenly seemed like a better idea to add a thin green “stem” border all the way around the portrait. A second border was added of tiny silver candy balls, vaguely reminiscent of Poirot’s brooch, or whatever. They looked bling-y, anyway. A couple of poppies were added to wherever they might fit on top of the cake. I had a little bit of my red fondant left over, so I thought I’d make a “125” to attach somewhere onto the cake. I didn’t own any number cutters for fondant or anything handy like that, so I cut them out by hand and gel-glued them to the front side of the cake.

The final poppy, which wouldn’t have fit onto the cake anyway, I arranged decoratively in front of the cake (as though that was what I meant to do all along, ha) with its stem, which is actually not even attached to the flower. I forged Christie’s autograph onto a stray piece of fondant using edible marker so that, just maybe, the theme of the cake might be slightly more obvious.

Voilà… cake!

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The cake was finished just before Christie’s birthday, and it seemed like a good idea to take it to our local library, an institution to which I owe a great debt and where I had first blasted through a large number of Christie’s works. My husband called the library and asked if they knew it was Christie’s birthday. They didn’t. He told them to be on the lookout for cake. We dropped it off that afternoon, the 15th of September.

The library (which is a fairly small one) got into the spirit of the thing and posted on their Facebook page that they had cake, inviting people to come celebrate Dame Agatha’s birthday. They apparently made tea and set the cake out with stacks of Christie books to encourage visitors to check them out. We missed out on the party, but it seemed to have been a sweet little affair. I was told later that when they were cutting the cake, they carefully cut around Poirot first to avoid damaging the portrait. It’s hard to blame them– attempts to stick a knife into Poirot are not going to end well. But the cake did completely disappear in the end.

Later they sent me a cute little thank-you card.  🙂

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The only moment of cringe once the cake was done was the comment of one gentleman on the library Facebook page, who, upon seeing the cake, helpfully informed us all that Agatha Christie was, in fact, a woman. OH, did I cringe. Several wincing cringes. Someone at the library set him straight though.  😉

Hypochondria, and patronizing Poirot to your peril (a.k.a. “Hastings gets told”)

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the paternalistic tendency of Poirot to organize other people’s lives for them, and the condescending way this sometimes played out in his interactions with Hastings in the series.

What happens when a character dares to do the same with Poirot? Much entertainment!  In short, whenever there is fuss, Hastings invariably gets told off.

In the books, Poirot sometimes allows himself to be condescended to by behaving more naively “foreign” than he really is, to deceive others in the course of an investigation. For all his vanity, he is willing to buy success by (temporarily) enduring scorn, or being thought a mountebank.

‘It is true that I can speak the exact, the idiomatic English. But, my friend, to speak the broken English is an enormous asset. It leads people to despise you. They say– a foreigner– he can’t even speak English properly. It is not my policy to terrify people– instead I invite their gentle ridicule. Also I boast! An Englishman he says often, “A fellow who thinks as much of himself as that cannot be worth much.” That is the English point of view. It is not at all true. And so, you see, I put people off their guard.’

-Three Act Tragedy

Not much of this particular quality makes itself blatant in the course of the series, but other forms of condescension present themselves– sometimes welcome, and sometimes not.

Hypochondria is just one of Poirot’s irritating-but-much-loved traits, and one particular expression of his vanity. Generally, he is only too delighted to be fussed over. But there are various scenarios in which he dislikes the attentions, such as when his personal dignity is affronted, or when being fussed over prevents him from doing what he would rather be doing (such as investigating), or when blatant opportunists want to take advantage of him. In those situations, coddlers, fussers, and patronizers beware. Unless you’re Miss Lemon, who can get away with anything.

Classic examples in The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge…

Hastings: “You get back into bed now. You can leave this to me.”
Poirot: “Comment?”
Hastings: “This investigation. You can leave it to me. I’ll report back to you, of course. I know these people, Poirot. I’ve got one or two ideas already.”
Poirot: “What are these ideas, Hastings?”
Hastings (holding up a finger): “You just relax.”
Poirot: “Hastings, will you please stop tapping your nose in that theatrical manner and tell me all that you know!”

Hastings gets told.

Likewise, he later snaps at Japp who asks him if shouldn’t be in bed: “Possibly, but please, do not fuss!” But he happily accepts blackberry tea from a paternal railway operator as he wheedles information out of him for the sake of the case.

Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan is comprehensive in showing how Poirot deals with “fusses” of both the patronizing and non-patronizing variety. The first time he encounters someone playing the newspaper game of hunting for “Lucky Len,” he is pleased at being recognized as someone whose face has often been in the papers (later to be disillusioned). But when Mr. Opalsen uses Poirot’s presence at his play for the sake of newspaper publicity, he is outraged and takes his revenge by later getting the otherwise innocent Mr. Opalsen arrested. Comparatively, in The A.B.C. Murders, Poirot receives somewhat unflattering newspaper coverage to Hastings’ concern, but does not himself seem to mind, as he hopes it will help the murderer relax his guard.

Jewel Robbery suggests something else of Hastings’ very occasional patronizing air. Extremely laid-back compared to his ever-interfering and micro-organizing friend, Hastings only seems to present this attitude in the case of serious illness or, notably, faced with the terrifying prospect of Miss Lemon coming down on him like a ton of bricks for dereliction of duty.

Hastings: “This was meant to be a rest, you know. Heaven knows what Miss Lemon’s going to say when she arrives.”

Miss Lemon (arriving later and meeting Hastings with a snarl): “I thought this was meant to be a holiday, Captain Hastings. I’ll talk to you later.”

Hastings gets told... again. Chap just can't win.

Hastings gets told… again. Chap just can’t win.

Then there’s Evil Under the Sun, in which the script writers decided to invent the pretext of a health concern for sending Poirot and Hastings off to the Sandy Cove Hotel. While Poirot sits in leisure, conversely moaning pitifully and then complaining that everyone knows he’s ill, Miss Lemon is at her most sternly efficient. Call it maternal rather than paternal– she’s in league with the doctor and brooks no denial as she arranges for the pair to head to the island without a word of consent from either of them. Undoubtably, Hastings’ subsequent hovering at the hotel is due largely to the fear of the wrath of Miss Lemon.

Hastings: “How are you feeling, Poirot? Not too tired after the journey?”
Poirot: “Hastings, I am recovered, I am not the invalid. There’s no need to act like a mother chicken.”

No longer under the spectre of Miss Lemon, Poirot tells off Hastings. Again.

No longer directly under the spectre of Miss Lemon, Poirot– surprise– tells off Hastings.

Later, we have further evidence of what lies behind Hastings’ concern…

Hastings: “So, how are you feeling, Poirot?”
Poirot: “Do you refer to my health, Hastings, or to my feelings concerning the events on this island to which I am confined?”
Hastings: “Well, both, really. I’m going to have to phone Miss Lemon today. She wanted a daily report.”
Poirot: “You may tell to her that I am not sure.”

Miss Lemon eventually shows up, grumbling: “He was meant to be having a rest.” But as Christie readers (and viewers) know, Poirot does not actually need coddling to get better– just opportunities to exercise the little grey cells, a tisane or two, and a good boost to the ego. The opening scenes of The Third Floor Flat feature more of Miss Lemon making a fuss.

Miss Lemon: “Ah– Mr. Poirot. You’ve only done seven minutes. You’ll never cure your cold if you don’t obey the instructions.”
Poirot: “I can’t imagine a method so undignified can cure anything, Miss Lemon. And now also I have the backache, eh!”

Hastings doesn't get told here, but he gets told later when Poirot blames riding in the Lagonda for his "present malady." #BlameHastings

Hastings doesn’t get told here, but he gets told later when Poirot blames riding in the Lagonda for his “present malady.” #BlameHastings

Sure enough, the stimulation of the case soon has him on his feet again: “Poirot does not have colds, Miss Lemon. It is well-known that Poirot scorns all but the gravest afflictions.”

Then, again, there’s Curtain. So many of these themes that wind through the Poirot canon come full circle in that book and episode. In the final story, Poirot is faced with the ultimate in coddling, and expresses his disgust openly at being treated like a child– although some of it is a ruse. And of course, he’s forever howling at Hastings, alternately for his stubbornness, his denseness, or even his inability to coddle properly.

One thing is not a ruse: Poirot’s arthritis. In the critical scene of Hastings’ confession to Poirot of his nearly-attempted murder, something is happening throughout the course of the conversation. It is not commented on, but in many ways, it is just as meaningful and gut-wrenching as the dialog. Poirot is sitting in front of an ancient mirror, attempting to tie his perfect bow tie. He can’t quite manage it. Finally, wordlessly, he appeals to Hastings for help– the one whose tie he had been straightening for so many years.

Full circle.

Full circle.

When David Suchet unexpectedly guest-stars in Agatha Christie’s Poirot.

Those split-seconds when you’re watching Poirot and suddenly think: “I say, that guy bears a shocking resemblance to David Suchet!… Nope, nope, I was wrong, it’s Poirot…”

😉

He seems to materialize in Death in the Clouds

…and The Mystery of the Spanish Chest

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…and The Adventure of the Cheap Flat

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…and Curtain, of course…

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…and probably in several other spots as well. Terribly sneaky.