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.

They wandered around the workshop taking in the ambiance and pausing to look at the various works in progress. Molly seemed genuinely interested in a mahogany chest of drawers I was working on. 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 ran her fingertips slowly along the chest’s glowing top moulding 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. Gesturing towards the wax polish in an old fruit tin she urged seductively “You must give me your recipe”.

Recognising an opportunity for a bit of harmless fun, 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!” she enthused.

“It’s actually very simple” I assured her. “I have a friend who is the Head Elephant Keeper at Chester Zoo and twice a year he sends me a quantity of elephant’s cerumen. “Elephants’ ear wax” I reaffirmed.

Molly was now staring, mouth agape. I glanced about again and continued, “I blend the cerumen with beeswax and turpentine to produce the definitive furniture wax; the results of which you see here.”

“Fascinating! Truly fascinating!” Molly gushed. “The director of London Zoo happens to be a very dear friend of mine. I shall call him the moment I get back to London.”

Did I go too far? Possibly. 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!


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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