Monthly Archives: March 2019
The Pineapple Purloiner of London Proper
While it’s true that the pineapple was brought to Europe by Columbus, it was actually fairly difficult to grow them in that climate. Pineapples, because of this, were in such demand among the elite that they became a symbol of wealth and status. After they first appeared in the 1500’s they were all over paintings and walls and pillars, generally exotic and decorative. But the average man had no way of ever meeting a pineapple in person.
The only people who could grow them reliably in Europe, were the Dutch, and I’m not sure if you know this, but we weren’t on the best terms with them in the 1700’s. That being said, they could be bought for a price by very rich men. What sort of price, you ask? Well, it amounts to about $7000 per pineapple. No, I’m not making that up.
It was back during the reign of Charles II, after the Commonwealth, for those of you who care, and I was a scoundrel. Now I mean it when I say that. I was also an accomplished sneak thief and made it my business to fund much of my preparations for leaving the Old World for the New by taking things from rich people. You may ask how and why I was so good. I will tell you that it is easy to be a thief if you always know when people are awake, where they are, can move silently, get up the sides of buildings, and so forth.
I won’t tell you who I was robbing, because to be honest, I don’t recall, but I know it was out around what is now Kensington, by Brompton Park. It was a wealthy house and I knew there would be something worth the trip. I came in on the second floor, as I recall, and went floor by floor. I found on the larder table, a pineapple. Now I knew of them, but had never before seen one except in sculpture. People would set them on tables until the things fell apart and never use them, if you can believe it, because the status symbol was more important. So there I was, trying to steal their wealth and all I found was an over ripe symbol of it.
So I sat me down right there and tried to figure out how to eat the damn thing. This was tricky, I grant you, and involved hacking at odd parts until I could make sense of it. I will never forget that first taste or the way my mind shifted so suddenly, it was as if I’d felt the very breath of God. I ate the whole pineapple and left the bits sitting there. If I’d had the sense Nature gave the pineapple, I’d have collected the top and tried some sort of gardening trick, but no, i was an idiot and missed out on that adventure.
Instead, I made it a point to steal every bloody pineapple I could get my hands on. To do that, I had to find them, and to find them, I had to go to some truly rich homes, often with guards, and the trouble there was, the only truly wealthy homes in London were the King’s or belonged to members of his family. I stole several pineapples from the smug bastard and his many bastards and I regret none of it.
Had it been the Victorian, I would have been in every penny dreadful from Fleet to Southwark as the Pineapple Purloiner, because no pineapple was safe from me. If I smelled it, it was mine. For five years, I did this. For five years, every decorative pineapple was only decorative for as long as it took for me to nose it.
I once walked out of the Royal Exchange with an entire box of pineapples and not a soul stopped me.
Then the fire happened and some things changed, technology evolved and pineapple growing became manageable in massive hot houses warmed with ovens. Pineries, they were called. Pineapple growing became the horticultural competition of the wealthy and well, I didn’t need to steal quite so sneakily. A few years later, I moved from the country altogether and thought that I’d be without pineapple. But no, it found me here.
No one ever found out about my treachery, for I assume they thought the servants had stolen the fruit. I never did hear ladies in fine hats whispering about the mysterious vanishing of pineapples. Too bad really, because my criminal enterprise was more organized than the mob. But it’s been long enough. I can take that acclaim, and happily too.
Pineapples are splendid and proof that the Bible is rubbish. If God really had run the garden of Eden, He’d have had pineapples in it, because they’d have been worthy of absquatulating from heaven, fruit in hand.