Friday, January 01, 2010

A Maggot

[In the prologue to his (dreadful) 1985 novel A Maggot, author John Fowles (of the beloved The French Lieutenant’s Woman, The Ebony Tower, and The Magus) excises the title of his book from the usual associations by informing us that a “maggot” is also a “whim,” or a “notion,” or even an “obsession.” An unextravagant notion, even.]

This little earworm of a sketch crawled in, while I was doing my usual prowling: cybernetic free association.


“Accountant, Mr. Plant?” said Mr. Page.

“Certified, sir.”

“Sure that’s not certifiable?” The predictable joke.

The blonde lion is nervous, yet still not amused: “I beg you pardon?”

Eyes back to the resume: “West Bromwich, then, is it?”

Coughing, “Born, yes, but I grew up in Dudley—Halesowen, to be precise.”

“Ah, I know it well,” said Mr. Page, fiddling with his tie. He knew nothing of the sort. Pushing on, as prevarication always made him nervous: “It says here that you left King Edward’s?”

The lion blushed, but pushed on: “I developed a passion.”

“A passion, you say?”

“For numbers.”

“Ah. Yes. I see. That explains your being here, doesn’t it?”

“I came to see that tarmac wasn’t for me.”

“Oh, indeed. I think that many of us have come to that conclusion, Mr. Plant.”

“It wasn’t seemly.”

“Absolutely correct on that point, too, Mr. Plant, though I must hasten to add that Wimpey”—eying the company’s name on the résumé—“is one of our oldest clients. Their tarmac notwithstanding, we hold them in the highest esteem.”

“Yes, sir.”

Eyes back to the paper, “Woolworths also not to your liking, Mr. Plant?”

“Very short time, that.”

“I can see. A short period of time. A rather odd entry, don’t you think?”

“I was thinking of going. I had an urge for it.”

“An urge, was it, Mr. Plant? Any place in particular? Smethwick, perhaps? Walsall?”

“California, sir.”


“But, the point is, I didn’t now, did I, sir?”

Mr. Page was indignant at the tone. He leaned forward. He once dreamed of being a solicitor. He dreamed it again now.

“May I point out to you, Mr. Plant, that there is in fact no means by which I might know one way or the other?”

“But, you have it right there in front—”

“What I have here, my good sir, is a rather flimsy piece of stationer’s upon which you have dribbled as little as possible, and in such disarray, as to suggest you were writing songs upon it. Going to California, indeed.”

“If you’ll beg pardon, sir, there was a blonde.”

“A blonde. How positively delight—”

“A blonde in the bleachers, sir.”

“Well, I’m so happy that we have a location for the lady in question. And did this lady have a name?”

“I couldn’t say, sir.”

“You couldn’t—”

“No, sir, I—”

“Didn’t glitter, by any chance, did she? You did mention blonde.”

The lion paused for a moment, reflecting. “All I know is that the stores were closed.”

A Holmesian arch to Mr. Page’s right eyebrow. “Closed? All of them?”

“It was Wolverhampton. You know the Black Country—”

“Of course I do, but what makes you so sure?”

“It’s a feeling I get.”

“A feeling, is it? Well, it makes me wonder, Mr. Plant. It really makes me wonder.”



Blogger Dee Martin said...

I could see joni peeking through with her urge for going to California and smiling over Mr. Plant and the blonde in the bleachers who would have thought she was climbing the stairway to heaven. This was fun and I bet there are a lot of references here that I am missing but a closer look will have to wait a bit. Twenty five relatives in this house and several are toddlers. Life is bulging at the noisy seams and a Shrimp Po-boy and crab cakes are calling my name in this land of sugar cane, spanish moss and boudin.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

And when he got to California he discovered the Stairway to Heaven (which has a really great viola part--to play or to listen to--in the arrangement by the Hampton String Quartet).

9:00 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Dee: Two things got this thing started: reading that Plant had initially planned to be a certified accountant (Plant?) and that "Going to California" was all about the band's crush on Joni.

8:08 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Teresa: I'll be looking for the Hamptons, for sure.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Dee Martin said...

the first seems insane but the second makes complete sense LOL Have you read Long time Gone, David Crosby's autobiography? Kind of a six degrees of separation thing going on there :)

9:54 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Dee: I seem to recall several musicians with "was going to be a CPA" in their biographies. It seems even our rock gods had moments of hedging their bets. I think I did read Crosby's book: that early L.A. folk scene was a small world.

5:15 AM  
Blogger Dee Martin said...

the whole CPA thing was probably why they all ran away and joined rock bands! It was a small world wasn't it? You listened to one and found references to another in their songs. Discovering new music was simple as following a trail of bread crumbs and turning on late night fm radio. Miss those days when radio played new complete albums.

10:10 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Dee: Something had to save those boys from their cubbies. Never forget the first time I heard Crosby, Stills, and Nash in the summer of 1969 and, not knowing who they were, was able to figure out the three influences in the sound and their identities. "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes."

6:07 AM  
Blogger San said...

For a twinking of an eye, I once entertained fancies of life as a CPA. And I never made it as a rock star.

3:48 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Sister San, that musta been a teeny tiny twinkling. And, beg pardon, but you iz a rock star. And I know you. Blog on that, girl.

7:38 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home