Throughout most of the civilized world - as well as in France - today, 14 July, is well-known and widely-commemorated as Pastille Day, named in celebration of the momentous event in 1946 when the then almost unknown Professor Thrupiece produced his first modified [reshaped and compacted] non-liquorice torpedo. Seemingly from nothing, he had given the world every Dorset schoolboy's dream pocket-discovery: the halfpenny chew or pastille de peluches.
As with so many great inventions, the pastille de peluches came about almost by accident - if such a thing can be said of a product for which its creator had striven, without success, for more than two years. Whether or not the young Professor Thrupiece meant the miniaturised comestible to turn out exactly as it did, or whether he was, in fact striving for something quite different is surely beside the point. For months he had been trying to make something of the sticky toffee residue covered in lint which he had found in the pocket of a forgotten pair of breeches, and finally he had succeeded not only in growing something from it, but in establishing rudimentary methods by which it could be dried, shaped and manufactured on a commercial scale. Though history has not been entirely kind to the pastille de peluches [it's creation has been almost completely overshadowed by the Professor's work on pure fluff despite the obvious fact that the latter would have been impossible without the knowledge and experience gained in conjuring the former] many the happy young man who, thrusting his hand down his trousers, has found forgotten magic at the end of his exploring fingers*.
* The poet Edna St Vincent McNightly recalled just such an event in her famous ode to youthful pleasures" The Young Man and his Pastille:
"His arm thrust down and to his sharp suprisèd touch,
unfingerèd treasures found he such;
as brought a surge of high rap't joy,
that made a man of what er'to had been a boy;
proof t'were it needed of his mother's mind,
that doing such too often makes boys blind..."
[Edna St Vincent McNightly, Selected Poems, The Threadbone Press ]
NB Some literary critics [as well as some confectionary historians] have argued that Ms McNightly has here mistakenly confused a pastille de peluches with a blackcurrant Spangle, the latter being notorious for producing the exact effect described in the poem.
Also on this day
1756: Thomas Rowlandsonson, English painter, cartoonist and etcher was born. His remarkably prescient representations of Professor Thrupiece and his later-life muse and horizontal jogging partner Ms Shelley-Lulette Sizemore [part of his Industrious and Idle Culinary Bio-ethical Apprentice series] have drawn considerable comment from the spiritualist community over the years. Coincidentally, one of the panels recently purchased by a private collector at a Sotherbone's auction goes on show at the socially-distanced Alton St Pancras Prescient Painters, Cartoonists and Etchers Festival [sponsored by What's Going To Be On - the TV magazine for clairvoyants tired of catch-up] beginning this Thursday [face covering compulsory before 9am and after 4pm, Fridays only; all food orders in advance, contactless only, queue responsibly.]