A Surreal Moment

A call from George Walker for some woodworking proverbs and Laws according to Murphy caused me to reflect on a few moments during my career. I will recount some of the more amusing occurrences at a later time, but I’d like to relate one particular anecdote now.

In the mid-eighties I had the pleasure of meeting the legendary jazz musician, critic and raconteur, George Melly and his long-time friend, bohemian, painter and journalist, Molly Parkin. The combined presence of these two larger-than-life characters was energizing.

Not having previously met Molly, I can’t be certain she was completely sober; the pervasion of her aroma overwhelmed the workshop’s usual odour of animal glue, methylated spirits and turpentine. She spoke very seductively and seemed genuinely interested in a chest of drawers I was working on. She ran her fingertips slowly along the glowing mahogany and enquired how I managed to obtain such a lustrous finish as all her attempts at waxing had apparently ended up with duller looking furniture.

Uncharacteristically, but swept up in the moment, I furtively glanced first to the left and then to the right and leaning in close to Molly, I demanded “Can you keep a secret?”

“Yes! Yes!” replied Molly.

“I have a very good friend who is the Head Elephant Keeper at Chester Zoo and twice a year he smuggles me out a quantity of elephant’s cerumen which I blend with beeswax and turpentine. It produces the definitive furniture wax; the results of which you see here.”

Molly’s mouth was agape and her eyes stuck out like organ stops. “You know.” She said, “The director of London Zoo is a very dear friend of mine. I shall call him the moment I get back to London.”

Did I go too far? Probably. Was the situation retrievable? Unlikely… so I had to let it go.

The upside was, that from that day forth, I have sold Elephant’s Earwax© and given small jars of it as lagniappes to favoured customers, all of whom, if they enquired, have been told the story of ‘my friend in Chester’. It is, despite its less than exotic ingredients, a genuinely good furniture wax!

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About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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