Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The mudlark

Ain't the internet a wonderful thing? As tonights movie wound toward the inevitable conclusion (the bad guy, the one in the black hat, was gunned down) I was turning tonights post over in my mind before writing it. I wanted to start with a reference to George Orwell but considering that his collected essays and journalism runs to 1350 pages and I couldn't remember exactly which essay contained the reference I wanted it seemed I might have to forego the reference.

Google to the rescue; the very first result pointed me to the exact article I wanted.

So let's get started shall we?

In his 'As I please' column from The Tribune, December 1 1944, George Orwell relates the following story[^].

A few years ago I was walking across Hungerford Bridge with a lady aged about sixty or perhaps less. The tide was out, and as we looked down at the beds of filthy, almost liquid, mud she remarked:

'When I was a little girl we used to throw pennies to the mudlarks down there.'"

"I was intrigued and asked what mudlarks were. She explained that in those days professional beggars, known as mudlarks, used to sit under the bridge waiting for people to throw them pennies. The pennies would bury themselves deep in the mud, and the mudlarks would plunge in head first and recover them. This was considered a most amusing spectacle."

"Is there anyone who would degrade himself in that way nowadays? And how many people are there who would get a kick out of watching it?"

Well I know one person who might! My wife no less! You'll remember I wrote a while ago about her Europe Trip[^]. I'm still snacking on Cheetos at the office and still taking the silver out of the change jar. Just the other night I watched her taking the change out of her pocket and ostentatiously put it in the jar. 'Why not just hand it to me?' I asked. 'Oh, it's much more fun watching you pick it out of the jar' was her reply.

I'm the twenty first century mudlark!

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