By gum

This just happened. I’m researching a project – can’t tell you about it yet, sorry – and you know what it’s like whenever you dig into something. You find interesting things.

Usually it’s a little fact, some detail and it Is incredibly exciting to you – though, okay, maybe not to anyone else.

Such as a time I was reading the original typescript of a novel I love but which has a startling mistake in it. A plot mistake, I suppose, but one that made a character so wrong that you just ignored it.

In the manuscript, I found a last-moment change to something else and that fix is what created the mistake later. I ran to the archivists to enthuse. They were very patient.

Anyway, sorry, this is not the kind of thing I just found.

I found chewing gum.

Included in with a letter sent in 1978 is a single, unwrapped stick of chewing gum. It’s a little jokey present to the letter’s recipient, and it fell out of the envelope into my hand 41 years later.


Four-decade-old chewing gum.

Both the sender and the recipient are now quite long dead, I remain upset to tell you, and I’m doing this research at their request.

So I am now the recipient. That chewing gum is now meant for me.

I put it back in the envelope.