Basil the friendly maggot  

The rather eccentric house in which some friends lived at St Andrews had many novel and quite engaging features. It had no electricity, only gas lamps. Its carpets were worn to the point of threadbare in some places. Its sofa and armchairs sagged in the middle. These attributes all helped give it a comfortable air.

The heating was by a gas fire whose heat-reflecting ceramic columns had to be replaced periodically. They were very brittle, and could easily be broken during the process of lighting the fire. Above it was a mantelpiece, probably as old as the house itself. It was adorned, as students did in those days, with items and trinkets from their lifestyles and experiences.

One such object was the label that had once adorned a tin of tomatoes. We all regularly made spaghetti Bolognese using tinned tomatoes. The reason they had saved this label was that it proudly proclaimed, "Tinned tomatoes – with basil." On opening it they had found a white grub, perfectly preserved. It was either a maggot or maybe a small caterpillar, pickled, perhaps during the preparation of the tomatoes it accompanied.

Obviously, my friends deduced, this was the "Basil" advertised on the tin, so they christened him "Basil." He was placed upon a small plinth in front of the label from the tin, with his name on a little placard. At one stage he was even given a tiny top hat made of paper. He thus achieved a fame and immortality that other grubs could only dream of, if indeed they dream at all.