Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Keats and Chapman: Avicultural Merchandise

Chapman was idling along Grafton Street in Dublin one day, musing on the vast array of expensive designer-wares being offered for sale. He raised his eyebrows at a shop window containing nothing but handbags, all with their labels on the outside. "Perhaps they forgot them and had to add them later", he ventured. He encountered an emporium of dubious women's clothing which acclaimed itself to be haute couture for the aficionado, but averted his eyes lest he be tempted to impure thoughts. Imagine his startled face, however, when but a few yards further along he came abruptly to a halt in front of 'Keats & Co: Ornithologist's Requisites and Supplies. Purveyors of Feathered Friends to The Gentry.'
Beads of sweat emerged on Chapman's forehead as he pondered the significance of this unexpected and alarming development in the world of commerce. Keats had hitherto not been one for trade, considering it beneath his calling as an intellectual and philosopher extraordinaire. Chapman feared the worst but he knew that ultimately he would have to enquire of The Great Man sooner or later or face the consequences of a diatribe against his inclination towards indifference. He stepped across the threshold of the boutique to the accompaniment of a tinkling bell above the door.
"Ah, Chapman, my good fellow!" enunciated Keats. "Good to see you have joined the throng of twitchers and fellow-travellers beating a path to my door in search of the necessaries. What is your pleasure?"
Chapman blushed. He had not intended a purchase, merely an explanation. He ummed and arred for a second or two and shuffled nervously.
"I sense some uncertainty," Keats continued, "Perhaps I can elucidate a little. You see before you a man hitherto reluctant to dirty his hands with the workings of Mammon. But I am on a mission! We must encourage our fellow man to take more than a passing interest in zoological affairs, particularly where the feathered varieties are concerned. Not only do they provide a vital link in the endless ecological firmament but, if domesticated, they can be a companion to the lonely and disabled. Why, imagine John Silver without his parrot to console him in his dejection after being outwitted by Jim Hawkins!"
Chapman's eyebrow raised itself skyward. "Yes, a lonely and disabled wretch indeed. And I see you have some parrots here in your shop. These are for sale, I presume?"
"Most definitely. They have been exciting much interest amongst the locals who are unused to the flying denizens of the tropics. Down here by your kneecaps" Keats pointed, " We have the psephotus haematonotus, or red-rumped parrots and up there by your shoulder, psittinus cyanurus, the blue-rumped variety. Both are very fine specimens but you should be aware that the blue fellow will cost you more in the long run."
"Oh, and why is that?" queried Chapman.
" Ah well. That's because they are on higher perches," explained Keats.
Chapman grimaced and, fuming, exited the premises.

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