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Palmed Off

In the Man Booker prize winning LIFE OF PI (now made into a major motion picture by Ang Lee) there is a tiger in a lifeboat. The tiger is called Richard Parker. According to the Internets, in his book THE LIFE OF PI, author Yann Martel has the tiger misnamed Richard Parker as the result of a mix up. The hunter responsible for capturing the tiger is called Richard Parker. Sure, that may sound like sitcom nonsense to you and me, the sort of thing that might have happened on Gilligan’s Island, but it’s actually part of a Man Booker award-winning novel, dude, so it must be hell plausible and well written.

Anyway, I find the name of the tiger instantaneously annoying, Neither Richard nor Parker is a good tiger name and when said jointly, the irritation factor is extremely high. If the tiger is referred to as Richard Parker every time, then this conceit has the quality of a small child saying a phrase over and over, just for the sound of it, all meaning having been lost hours previously.

My gig is the restoration of meaning. It says so on my business card. So for a while I wanted to refer to the tiger as Richard Parker and the Rumour after musicians Graham Parker and the Rumour.  But it felt a little cumbersome. I have settled instead on another entertainer, the late Robert Palmer. Palmer was a popular English singer-songwriter who had chart success during the 1980s . He is probably best known in the zeitgeist for the mega-hit, and the accompanying music video, Addicted To Love

In future when I read passages from the book or about the film, I will mentally install the name Robert Palmer rather than Martel’s original handle. If a friend or acquaintance mentions the novel or the film, I will inform them of my actions, and ask that individual if they would like to join me in this act of substitution.

Doubtless, there are those who would argue against this suggestion and that is your right. However I like the idea that every time the tiger in the lifeboat is mentioned, those of us embarking on this important work, will now see and hear the presence of Mr Robert Palmer.  I look at this as a low key tribute to the man and his smooth pop-rock stylings. Consider joining me in this quest.

Elevate the Insignificant.



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