Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Monday was a damp day, raining on and off. Just enough water to lie in the puddles and not wet the crown of the road. I had an appointment in Cockermouth, so I turned off onto the Tallentire road at Arkleby, just past the Hall where the band of smugglers' women attacked the customs men sometime in the 18th century.

Incidentally, the customs men had to abandon their recaptured cargo and go for reinforcements. Which leaves me wondering if the smugglers had gone home earlier, sheepish and sniffing, saying, "Darling, the customs men took our rum back," and the wives went, "The RUM is GONE?" and went out to get it back. I mean, when the smugglers got into a fight, they sent for the WOMEN to back them up? Who you gonna call.... ball busters.


Tallentire road.

I came round a bend and into a slight dip where a row of cottages sit between trees up against the road.... and nearly ran into a flock of chickens.

There's a little braking doing on, and I can see that three chickens are scattering right and one's going left, accompanied by a couple of chicks - not the yellow fluffy stage, but the scraggly mini-chicken stage. I'm going to miss them all, no problem.

And the last chick turns back.

He double takes, right there in the road in front of me, looking at something on the tarmac, and you can almost see him saying, "Ooooh! A Worm!!!" as he doubles back to peck at the ground.

My foot is now welded to the brake, and I stop (no skidding, either, thankyouverymuch) in the middle of the road, with the chick almost out of view, dead centre in the middle of the road.

At which point he turns back, and the look of gastronomic satisfaction is wiped from his little chicken face as he comically remembers why he was crossing the road in the first place.

Because there was a big car going to kill you, you idiot.

He does the flapping wings, dancing on the spot thing for a moment, then dives for the roadside.

I'm left thinking, was it worth it?

Chicken Little was running for his life, but was effectively distracted from flight by a delecacy. Run Away! Run Away! Run Away! Oooh! A Worm!!! Greed outranked survival.

Now, we could just say he was stupid. He's a chicken, after all.

But I started thinking about when we, and when characters, let one of the Seven Deadly Sins become the most important thing in a moment, if not in our lives.

You see plenty of lust in romance novels. But Lust? As in, a deadly sin? Not so much. You see more Anger, and Pride, I think.

Gluttony? Now that's one I haven't seen all that often. I have to wonder what edge it would add to a villain, and whether this is a flaw a hero or heroine could never carry off.

The German chick in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade reaches back for the Grail cup, not for Grain Mustard. It's a golden coin that causes all the trouble in Pirates of the Caribbean, not a chocolate one.

After all, I can't imagine any of my characters choosing food over life.

Can you?


At 11:06 am, Anonymous Julie Cohen said...

The enneagram book I have widens the definition of "gluttony" as a deadly sin to include a craving for all experiences, especially new ones. So I went with "gluttony" as my heroine Jo's deadly sin in Married in a Rush, meaning she craves excitement and novelty, always going off with the next man or on the next project without sticking with the one she actually has.

I don't think food gluttony would work for a heroic character, though it certainly works to create comedy, as in your wonderful chicken episode!

The anti-hero of Perfume by Patrick Susskind is overcome by gluttony, though it's for scent rather than taste. That's the only character I can think of off the cuff.

At 11:09 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was once in the Ginza (Very posh sector of Tokyo with many elite jewellry shops) with a collegue and hubby in pre-hubby days. My colleage was trying to tempt me into the shops to show me the expensive engagement rings. But I was only interested in the various food vendors on the street (especially unagi - eel, which they barbecue and smother in soy sauce - gorgeous) This made my colleague laugh and said to hubby "You are very lucky, she is more interested in food than in precious stones. She will make a cheap wife!!" So I suppose gluttony can have it's upside as well!

See you soon

Love BearXX

At 11:10 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

damn! I just noticed a naughty illegal apostrophe - It only happened cause I'm rushing and thinking about food!


At 11:55 am, Blogger Anna Lucia said...

Oooh Bear, does this mean we ARE going to the Carlisle Great Food Fair on Saturday??? ;-)

Very good point, Julie. I probably shouldn't dwell on the implications of my being obsessed with food-related gluttony...

Thanks for the comments!

At 2:53 pm, Blogger Melissa Marsh said...

I am completely intrigued by the smuggling story. I would LOVE to put that in a book someday!

And it doesn't surprise me that the chicken went back to get his little dessert. But I am glad you were able to stop in time. ;-)

At 6:56 pm, Blogger Gabriele C. said...

I agree, someone should write a novel about those smugglers. No, not me, I have enough plotbunnies already, thank you very much. :)

*goes back to her Romans and Saxons*

At 2:21 pm, Blogger Silvia said...

I'm glad I discovered your blog, Anna, this story was delicious. It's funny that Julie mentioned Grenouille in 'Perfume' because I was thinking the exact same thing. Gluttony, or better yet, greed or simply desire, is often distracting or engrossing. In the end, it all comes down to this: how much we're willing to risk to get what we want. In the chicken's case, his fearlessness is natural as part of his condition as a fluffy animal. Or maybe he just figured his life was so petty that he had nothing to lose :) I, too, am glad you stopped in time.


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