A story I wrote in 1985 and just rediscovered. I rather enjoyed reading it again (I hope that doesn’t sound big-headed) so thought I’d share the piece. I think there may be a bit of self-observation buried here somewhere. Anyway, here it is …
The Mud Lark.
Underneath his fresh brown coat of mud, the Mud Lark is a beautiful blue, grey and white. If you could catch a Mud Lark and scrub it clean, you would see these colours for yourself. This bird is, however, rarely seen in the clean state.
The first thing he does every morning is fall into the first muddy puddle or ditch he can find and roll around, pretending it is an accident. The Mud Lark spends the rest of the day in some thorny thicket or secluded tree top – he is not fussy – and makes an imitation of preening himself. He does not become significantly cleaner.
This is the way his whole life is spent, rolling in mud and pretend to preen. In the evenings he may find a couple of berries to eat, and then rests. With a little effort he could be as beautiful as any of the other birds, but nobody has managed to catch him yet, let alone tell him how fine things could be without all the mud.