Fox Beckingham’s Peacock Pie Tee-shirt. Object Post 25
Source? Fox screen-printed the shirt to his own design
Significance? The shirt annoyed Cat Mahal on sight, but represented something other than the obvious
Fate? No doubt Fox still wears it
Author’s inspiration? Inspired by items I consider so ugly I can’t imagine why people would want to have them
First appearance? The Peacock’s Pearl
I thought the shirt, which had Peacock Pie written across it, was in really bad taste. Who wants to see his family emblem upside down with its feet kicking free of a pie shell?
Cat Mahal disliked Fox Beckingham’s tee-shirt on sight. As she put it:
“No.” I stared at his shirt. It was appalling.
The shirt failed to improve on closer acquaintance and halfway through the book, a carved panel on the Beckingham Bride Chest brought it back into Cat’s mind.
[The carving] wasn’t much like any peacock I’d ever seen, but at least it wasn’t upside down in a pie shell with its feet kicking in the air. (No one but a bike boy with orange hair turned up to the max would ever wear such a disgusting tee-shirt. They say Australians are the only people who eat their national emblem, but Bike Boy baked his in a pie. Who did he think he was: the cook in Sing a Song of Sixpence?)
Eventually, Cat found out more about the shirt and the information changed her perspective.
‘I designed it myself,’ he added, ‘so if you diss the shirt you diss me.’
Now I really judged him.
One: For being precious about His Art.
Two: ‘In what world would you design—and wear—a shirt that implies you routinely bake your family emblem?’
‘Huh?’ He sounded genuinely surprised.
‘Peacocks are the Beckingham family emblem,’ I pointed out. ‘You’re displaying the emblem in a pie shell. Kicking.’
He laughed. ‘This is not about the family emblem, Cat Mahal. Well, it is, indirectly, but not the way you think. See, when I was a kid Dad was concerned that I was missing out on my ‘heritage’. (He actually gave that word air quotes.) ‘So, Mum rectified the problem in her typical Mum-like way.’
Fox went on to explain his mother bought him a book called Peacock Pie, but died before they could read it together…
‘I still don’t get why you’d come up with that.’ I indicated the shirt.
‘It’s a visual pun, that’s all. I did design in Year 12. And it’s not about baking the bird. It’s about breaking free of conventions and getting out of the frame or, in this case, the pie. It’s also about inverting expectations… I presented a peacock from an unexpected angle, focusing on the—'
‘Am I boring you, Cousin Cat?’
He wasn’t, but I still wasn’t buying this obsession with the escape of an unbaked bird.
‘Okay. Want the real reason?’
I nodded. ‘I do.’
‘Peacock Pie was the last thing Mum bought me. It came in the post and she was on her way out. She gave me a hug and said we’d start reading my new book when she got home. I could read just fine, but poetry was something we did together, so I promised I’d wait for her to come home…’
And of course, she never did. After this revelation, Cat still disliked the shirt, and still found Fox Beckingham annoying, but she did come to look beyond the ugliness and annoyingness to see the symbol of a lost and beloved bond.
About the Blog
Sally is Sally Odgers; author, anthologist and reader. You can find you way into her maze of websites and blogs via the portal here.(Sally is me, by the way.)
The goal for 2017 was to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. 2017 is well behind us, but I ran out of year before running out of books. As of June 2018 I STILL hadn't run out of books, but many of those still to come are MIA by which I mean I don't have copies and remember little about them. There are more new books in the pipeline, and I'm certainly showcasing those, but in between times, I'm profiling some of my characters, places and objects. Thank you so much to everyone who's come along on this journey so far!