When Laetitia arrived at the Emerald Victorian, she immediately went to the computer after putting the coffee on to brew. After yesterday’s story, she wanted to find out if there was such a thing as a clown fetish. She found that there is a word for it, “coulrophilia,” although it’s not an official medical term. Then she ran across the a term in the Internet’s Urban Dictionary called “Quantum Fetish Mechanics.” It is described as “a rule which states that any conceivable fetish which can be invented or conceived already exists on the Internet, and may have been brought into existence simply by a person thinking of it.” Laetitia decided to leave it at that and went to pour a cup of coffee and plan the day’s tour.
Laetitia took her group to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum near Cultra, in County Down. The museum is a cornucopia of historic structures, machines, crafts and other memorabilia. It features a nineteenth century pub, a silent movie house, a draper’s shop, a collection of old railroad rolling stock and other types of vehicles.
Cultra is a seaside community on the shores of Belfast Lough. Tree-lined streets and lovely sea views make it one of the more desirable areas of greater Belfast. That afternoon, as was her custom, Laetitia went to a pub with a harbor view for a pre-dinner drink and to write a limerick before meeting her group for dinner. She sat at the bar and after a while was joined by a former professor of Latin who had retired to a house overlooking the sea and had stopped in for an afternoon pint.
Laetitia hadn’t studied Latin, but her grandmother had taken it in high school. When they were visiting Alhambra in Spain, her grandmother commented about the motto on the Spanish Coat of Arms done in tile on one of Alhambra’s walls. It read “Plus Ultra” meaning that the King was ruler not only of Spain but of “more beyond,” that is, the recently acquired Spanish territories in the “new world.” The professor commented that in earlier times when the known world from the European prospective did not extend far into the Atlantic Ocean, unexplored territories on ancient maps had the inscription, Ne Plus Ultra, suggesting that there was “no more beyond” that point and that sailors might encounter dragons or fall off the edge of the earth, then widely believed to be flat. He said that there is a more modern interpretation of the phrase that means, essentially, “unsurpassed in quality.” He then told her that one of his students was reported to have Ne Plus Ultra inscribed on the front of the thong that she wore when she went to the beach. He wasn’t sure whether it was an advertisement of the exceptional quality of what was underneath or whether it was a “No Trespassing” warning. He said it was likely the former because she got pregnant and she and her boyfriend, Conan, got married in a hurry. Laetitia thanked him for his story, wrote down the limerick of the day, and went to join her group for dinner.
Ancient maps oft’ steered mariners wrong
When deterred by the phrase on the thong
Of a lady from Cultra
That read, “ne plus ultra,”
But it didn’t stop Conan for long.