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Junk in The Trunk
Yet another tale of me finding weird stuff on the internet
Welcome to Deep Dives, a bi-monthly subsection of TMI! Here, I dive deeper into my thoughts about a topic that doesn’t fit in the weekly newsletter.
*NOTE*: Today’s Deep Dive is, as usual, too long for email, so be sure to click “View entire message” to see the whole thing.
This is a story I’ve told once before, many years ago, and in a shorter-form version. Today, I’m going to rehash it for you here in more detail. It’s a Deep Dive™, baby!
Some years back, I decided to put together a Newt Scamander cosplay for C2E2 (Chicago’s local comic-con). This was shortly after the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and long before JK Rowling decided it was a good idea to share her retched political beliefs online.
I’d always been a big Harry Potter fan, of course, and was thrilled with the idea of coming up with a costume for a character I really liked — especially one with a very cool outfit and job (Magizoologist!).
Just as a reminder, here’s what Newt Scamander looks like:
I slowly sourced bits and bobs for the costume over the course of a couple of months — the “official” blue jacket (as sold by Hot Topic 😎), a Hufflepuff scarf, a pair of similar boots from Amazon (I swapped out the laces with an older-looking pair for a more vintage vibe), a used women’s tweed suit and a separate suede vest from Poshmark, a white button-up, a wand, a little Pickett pin, the tie, a pocket watch, the perfect vintage trunk — I worked really hard on it.
And here’s how it came out:
I was so proud of it! All the textures of the fabrics are nice and hefty, I had a lot of tiny details, and I got a lot of compliments. 😇
But today, we’re not here to talk about the cosplay in its entirety — we’re going to dive deeper into just one piece: the trunk.
The trunk is a big part of Newt’s whole vibe, so it had to be perfect. For the unfamiliar: he’s got like, a whole zoo in there. It’s like a pocket dimension, but inside a trunk. He can literally climb down inside it and there are multiple rooms and spaces.
The trunk you see pictured here is the second one I purchased. It’s definitely vintage — the handle is dangerously close to ripping off at any moment — but I tried to take care of it the best I could. I hot-glued a new fabric to the inside that was as similar as I could find to the one in the film, shined it up, and actually used it as my bag all day at the con.
It was very cute except for the part where any time I wanted to get my wallet out I had to set the entire thing down on the ground to unlatch it or find a table nearby to set it on, because the entire top opens and if I tried to get into it while it was in my hands the Funko Pop and dice I bought were gonna go everywhere.
As an aside: Is this what it’s like carrying a briefcase? Why are men doing this?? Is it just to keep your important papers flat? I guess y’all dudes just keep your wallets in your pants, don’t you. Because you have actual pockets in your clothes.
Wait, do people even really have “important papers” anymore? Isn’t everything online nowadays? Is this only a nostalgic memory of the recent past, playfully passing by to make me feel old right before my birthday?? Are business boys even carrying briefcases anymore???
I’m getting distracted. Where were we?
As I said — that was the second trunk I purchased.
The first trunk I found had a great look to it, but was far too large to fit well with the costume. Not to mention that I myself am quite small, and there was no way I could carry something oversized around with me all day.
When I first spied the listing on Etsy, though, I thought it looked nice. But I was worried that the stickers might detract from the overall vibe.
There’s also the lack of handle I’d have to contend with — and after some light research, I realized replacing the handle on a vintage trunk like this is not easy. You can’t just like, go to Joann’s and buy a handle and slap it on there.
Conveniently, though the inside was surprisingly clean. (Most of the vintage trunks were absolutely heinous inside.) Then I saw this:
“Sir Alfred Butt Bart”?
Is this…a real person’s name?? I know Suffolk is real because that’s where Cruella de Vil lived in The Hundred and One Dalmatians(Obviously a fictional story but all the locations are real! Don’t @ me!). So if the place is real…
I mean…if the man’s been knighted, surely I could find some detail on him on the world wide web, right?
Sir Alfred Butt, 1st Baronet (20 March 1878 – 8 December 1962) was a British theatre impresario, Conservative politician and racehorse owner and breeder. During a fourteen-year tenure as manager of London's Palace Theatre, beginning in 1904, Butt built a theatre empire, expanding firstly with the Alhambra Theatre, Glasgow in 1910, followed by the London Victoria Palace a year later, to rival that of Edward Moss and others. He became managing director of several London West End theatres beginning in 1914, including the Adelphi Theatre, the Empire Theatre, the Gaiety Theatre and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, as well as theatres outside London. He continued as a theatre impresario until 1931.
Well hey, that’s kind of cool.
And now I’m seeing it: Sir Alfred Butt Bart is Sir Alfred Butt, Bart.
Bart, I guess, is short for Baronet.
And a politician, no less! Wild. The man was, indeed, an MP (that’s Member of Parliament for those of you that didn’t take British History in college in the summer of 2007).
I wonder what area he represented! Let’s see…
My god. What were people doing without the internet in those days??
Did anyone take a crack at him in a newspaper? That hole time he was in Parliament, did anyone ever make the connection? You can’t just ass-ume that someone else is going to take the lead on quality news like this. Surely there’s at least one cheeky little joke in the press, right? I know one thing for sure — these days, he would be getting ripped afart in the comments.
What else, what else?
Also during the First World War, he was appointed in 1917 by the new Prime Minister David Lloyd George as the Director of Food Rationing, and introduced compulsory food rationing with the support of his principal civil servant William Beveridge. He was knighted for his services to the Ministry, and for his work for war charities, in 1918.
Butt was a supporter of the Conservative & Unionist Party. After standing unsuccessfully for the party at parliamentary elections at Walworth and Paddington North, he was elected as member of parliament for Balham and Tooting at the 1922 general election. In 1929 he was created a baronet "of Westminster in the County of London" for his services to political and public life. He held the seat at successive elections until he was forced to resign from the Commons in June 1936 over a scandal concerning a leak of budget details from which he was believed to have benefited financially.
Wow. With these dates, that means he served under Prime Minister Bonar Law. (You can keep trying to tell me it’s pronounced “Bonner,” that’s fine.) I’m realizing now that American history has a devastating shortage of hilarious names.
ALSO! Our boy Butt was leakingbudget details?? For his own financial benefit?
Honey, we got ourselves a Scandalmaker!!
I bought it.
Butt’s trunk is still with us now, handle-less, even in California. It’s being used as decor and storage for a big pile of dryer sheets because it has the specific odor of an item that was last used sometime before 1962.
The property of a British baronet? In proximity to a scandal? With the name BUTT?
I love this stupid thing.
I’m off to put some junk into Butt’s trunk.
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They barked “Wuff, Wuff, Wuffolk!” to try to tell the Dearlys where their puppies were. Also, did you know there’s a sequel to the original book called The Starlight Barking? A Space Dog freezes all humans in an attempt to save dogs from eventual nuclear war, and then gives all Earth dogs telekinesis and the ability to fly so they can take over the UK government. Why didn’t Disney make a cartoon movie of that one??
BYO fecal incontinence pun.