Little Jack Horner
by Anthony Powell
Horner had got himself established as far as possible from the centre of the room and I was suddenly made aware, as one often is by actions which are in themselves quite commonplace, that he was about to do something which would give him enormous satisfaction. He had somehow acquired a large seasonal confection which he was beginning to attack with a degree of enthusiasm I had not seen him display since the midnight feasts we had enjoyed at school. Eschewing the normal recourse to eating utensils, he plunged his hand through the pastry and extracted an entire fruit, an achievement which was accompanied by a cry of self-congratulation and a beatific expression reminiscent of some of those on the faces one sees in the more popular of the pre-Raphaelite portraits.
Prof. Alan Alexander; reproduced in EO Parrott, Imitations of Immortality; Penguin, 1987. Originally written for New Statesman.
[Contributed by Noreen Marshall]