Vol. 3, Issue 18, July 26, 2005
The Joy of Liquid Shrimp!

An Unexpected Guest

Ezekiel F. Watley, Esq.

As every writer Knows, there are few things in the World as fickle as a Muse. One minute the scintillating Light of Inspiration may shine forth from their beneficent Smiles, spurring Feverishly quick scribbling of the Pen; the next, they have stepped out of the Room for a quick Powder-break, leaving one with pen Poised in the air and an expression almost, but not Entirely, devoid of Dignity and Intelligence. And when these gracious spirits deign to Return, it is often to drive one in a different direction Altogether: one has the impression that whatever ambrosial Spirits they imbibe are perhaps a tad Strong for the early morning.

Such is the case even for modest Journalists such as I, who do but essay to shed a modicum of Light upon events of the Day. There are times when I finish half a bottle of Bowmore with nary a word to Show for it. Fate, it seems, often Conspires against the very Finest of ideas.

For example, this past week a distinguished Colleague suggested that an interview with the estimable author Herbert G. Wells would provide a most Illuminating perspective on society to-day. I readily Pounced on such a splendid suggestion and directed Ephram forthwith to make the necessary Travel Arrangements to bring the noted gent to my Office. Quick now, a bit of Dusting there, a fresh log in the Fire, five or six rather Choice bottles of Scotch: the stage is set, and I eagerly await his Arrival.

The door opens at Last, a bit of smoke billowing through from the News-room (doubtless a By-product of Ephram's travel arrangements), and in strides a dapper figure, a Mustachioed gentleman in Frock-coat and Spats. But as I extend my hand in Greeting, I realize there is something Amiss: the gent's tread on the Carpet is much Heavier, the mustache much Fuller and more Luxurious than expected. By Saint Eustace's beard, it is not mister Wells at all, but former president William Howard Taft instead.

"What an unexpected Honor," I say with Aplomb. "Do have a Seat, mister president!" As the corpulent gentleman eases himself into a strenuously objecting Armchair by the Fire, I gesticulate Fiercely at my nephew, who is now mysteriously absenting himself from the Premises. Ephram, this is not my intended Guest! What to do?

In vain I try to steer the conversation to the confines of my original Intent, but it turns out that Taft is not so very Interested in comparing the unbridled materialism and rampant consumerism of to-day's Society to the grim Morlock tribe, nor of Speculating on the long-term prospects of the Human Race or allegorical Visitors from the Red Planet. Mostly, my distinguished guest wishes to deprecate Teddy Roosevelt and complain about the difficulties of getting a decent Bath-tub installed in the White House.

It is, at least, a congenial Visit, in which several Pipes are smoked and an excellent bottle of Oban emptied. Taft's service on the Supreme Court, of course, provides Plenty of fodder for conversation: jurisprudence is always of Interest to two old lawyers such as We. But I am afraid such matters are hardly interesting to the general Public; my fascinating column planned around the distinguished absentee Author is sadly consigned to the Rubbish-bin, along with so many Other ideas that simply never work.

So fickle Fate conspires once again to divert me from my plan, leaving only a confused and slightly pointless narrative in its wake as it passes across my Desk. Perhaps, with luck, circumstances and the Muses will cooperate more Fully with me the next time. Now if you will excuse me, I must assist my esteemed guest in returning Home. Does anyone know which train-route stops in 1922?

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