The Ghost of Marmalade

minnow at minnow at
Thu Sep 16 17:12:51 EDT 2004

Philip wrote distractedly

>Something has been bothering me, off and on, for a while.  At last it's
>bothered me when I'm in a position to do an internet search (no luck) and
>finally ask the list.
>AFAICT, DWJ has written only two ghost stories as such: Time of the Ghost
>and {Black|Aunt} Maria.  (No, time ghosts do _not_ count!)
>In both of these, the characters quote, or misquote, a couplet, in such a
>way as to suggest that everyone is expected to know it.

No we aren't, 'cos she didn't know what it was really meant to be herself
until I read Jennifer's post to her.

She put it in as a deliberate mystifier.

She says that there ought to be occasional deliberate mystifiers in
everyone's lives and she has a duty to add them just in case someone
happens to have a deficiency.

>        I am the ghost of [someone whose name I can't spell];
>        This parrot cage goes on the table.
>Or something like that.
>Where does this come from?  What is it?  Where do I find the whole thing?
>Is it worth pursuing?

DWJ's son Richard brought home the words "the ghost of marmalade" from
school when he was far too young (about four, she thinks) to understand
that joke, which had presumably been told to him by an older child.  DWJ
was fascinated by the idea of the ghost of marmalade, and eventually got
the rhyme as she put it into the book out of him: "I am the ghost of Able
Mabel, this parrot cage goes on the table."  He knew it was meant to be
funny so he *made* it be funny with the marmalade and the parrot-cage.

She says there is a deliberate mystifier in *Eight Days of Luke* too but
she won't tell me what it is, and I haven't spotted it, which I suppose
just goes to show how easily I accept things as making sense even if they



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