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Letter to America: The Pitcher of Dorian Grey On:2022-10-11 03:00:51

My Dear Americans,
    The fridge was filled with the rich odours of, well just the sort of things you would expect to smell in the fridge of a young man of extraordinary personal beauty.

In the centre of the fridge was a portrait of the aforementioned young man.
The portrait was not, as one might expect, clamped to an upright easel, but at the moment our story begins it contained full fat milk of uncertain age: it was, in fact, a portrait in the form of a pitcher, commissioned from an itinerant Toby Jug salesman of consummate skill---and it was the best thing he had ever done.
Perhaps you are not familiar with this art. The Toby Jug is a small pottery pitcher originally (originally being in the mid-eighteenth century) originally modelled in the form of a jolly, stout man wearing a long coat with low pockets, waistcoat, cravat, knee breeches and buckled shoes, holding a (we guess temporarily) full mug of beer, and topped with a cocked hat, a corner of which served it as a spout. Ralph Wood is credited with introducing the Toby, his first model of the kind being the "Toby Philpot" of about 1762 possibly in honour of Sir Toby Belch from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, or after an inebriate character in the 18th-century song Little Brown Jug. Philpot being spelled either with an F (as in one who fills a pot) or with a PH representing (possibly as a hat-tip to the America of the Classical Revival) one who is a lover of the pot (and no doubt empties that pot with alacrity), the pot being of course placed by metonymy for alcoholic beverage. Such was its origin, but by the time of our tale the pitcher had become the vessel of portraiture of the famous, the notorious, the political or, as in the case of our fridge denizen, the individual.

Our individual was Dorian Grey, and he was, unfortunately for others, as dissolute as he was handsome. He practiced every manner of vice until he was really quite good at them all. And the strange thing was that however excessive or debauched his actions they seemed to effect him not one jot.
At first no one noticed this apparent inviolability, even he took his situation for granted---until one day after some particularly sordid affair (that we hardly need cater to the purient-minded here) he happened to open his fridge. He started back as if in surprise, and closed the door looking somewhat puzzled. He then came back and opened the door again bent over his pitcher and examined it.
Its expression looked—different.
One would have said that there was a touch of cruelty in the the mouth---and the contents seemed to have spoilt. He put it back in the fridge and threw himself into a chair and began to think.
He suddenly remembered a mad wish he had made as the itinerant Toby Jugman had finished his work---that he should remain young whilst the pitcher should grow old and bear the burden of his deeds.
Surely such fairytale stuff could not be true! But it seemed to be so. As time went by so his depravity increased, but he looked as innocent and unmarked as a child and the pitcher grew progressively more ugly and ravaged and, frankly, green and hairy.
Until one day there was a girl, as light and lovely as he seemed and as innocent as he wasn't. And with that horrible inevitability of fate she fell in love with him. And with an equally horrible inevitability he inveigled her back to his rooms. He went to his bedroom, he said to change (or something), leaving her alone in the kitchen.
She was overcome by a sudden thirst and naturally looked in the fridge. "My" she said "the dear! But he does let his fridge get messy." And so she started to clean it. She had not been working for long when she heard a cry---a cry so horrible in its agony that she almost dropped the now pristine Toby Jug.
Running to his room she saw lying on the floor a [Gasp!!] dead man.
He was withered, wrinkled, loathsome of visage and with a faint aroma of spoilt milk.
He also seemed to have green mould growing all over him. In fact... in fact it was not till they had examined the rings on his hands that th ey recognised who it was---well that and the DNA test.
Kindest regards,
Richard Howland-Bolton
and, of course,
Cheerio for now
from me!


(Not in recording) Next week: the story of a young and beautiful Baseball team manageress who kept a rapidly aging player locked in her attic. Watch out for The Pitcher of Doreen Gray




Notes:

You might want to compare this with my story.

Or this:

Or even this:





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