We are delighted to welcome the latest contributor to our publication. As a non-native to our shores we look forward to sharing his thoughts on our life and times.
Greetings, readers of the Marylebone Monthly Illustrated!
I, Inky Quill, have had the great honour of being invited to contribute to this distinguished publication.
My aim is to amuse you with my observations on life as—borrowing from my countryman Mark Twain—a Connecticut porcupine in King Arthur’s Court. Clever phrasing, but imprecise, as my current residence is not a court, but rather Regent’s Park.
But here I am putting the end at the beginning, and that will not do.
My tale begins, as all good tales do, with poetry.
It was an ordinary day in an ordinary American forest and I, an ordinary porcupine, was going about the ordinary task of deciding if, for the purposes of my sonnet, the light upon the dew-damp leaves was, in fact, ‘gentle’ or perhaps ‘tender’ when a net settled on me in a manner most antithetical to both those words. I was transported to the city and put on a vessel with a menagerie of fellow captives.
As is so often the case in life, many things only make sense in hindsight. At the time, I did not know that of the words printed on crates about me—JAMRACH ~ LONDON—only the latter was a destination. I did not know that a violent storm such as besieged my floating prison was, in fact, quite common. It pains me to report that all life perished in the waves, save that of this lowly rodent.
With my only rations the eleven sprigs of clover and a half-piece of bark hidden amongst my spines, my raft—which I named the JAMRACH ~ LONDON for its stencilling—drifted from sea to river, carrying me into the heart of a metropolis the likes of which I had never before seen.
Strolling down the avenue, agog at my new surroundings, I heard a tiny voice.
“Hello, sir! Are you lost?”
Beneath the numbers ‘221’ sat a small, but perfectly formed, mouse.
Being of the same order of Rodentia, we naturally fell into conversation, and her whiskers trembled as I recounted my misfortunes. She hospitably offered me lodging at 221, but I declined. A fellow accustomed to forest life will find himself ill at ease surrounded by walls. She quite understood and guided me toward greener pastures.
And that is how I became an interim resident of Her Majesty’s Zoological Garden.
Interim because there is a carefully concealed egress by which I may exit the Garden and go about visiting the city and beyond. And the humans, those who maintain the Garden and those who visit it, do not seem to mind—or indeed, even, note—when my friends, an anteater and a hedgehog, understudy for me on stage, so to speak.
Mouselet and I became fast friends, and I came to know many of her associates, including the editor of this fine journal. And so ends my journey from America to 221 to your breakfast table reading. Until next month, I remain,
Your humble servant,