Doodling and chatting

I don’t enjoy video calls much. Something about seeing my own face blinking with a tiny delay, perhaps. Something about seeing friends who are and are not there. I miss them. And I miss overhearing conversations about everyday things.

So I have started streaming videos where I chat with them and draw, and all you see is the drawing. No faces. It’s like a holiday.

Here are the first two, Ricky and Alex.

The Naming of Cats

Two minutes of poety for you. Close your eyes and think of your ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular name.

(The painting is a portrait of Jane Porter’s cat Carl, by myself. I painted a hundred cats in ink last year, or maybe the year before, I’ll tell you about it another time perhaps.)

“The Naming Of Cats” by T.S. Eliot, read by Fede.

Letters to a Young Poet

As promised, I am starting to post collected readings of things to curl up with for a little while. Here is Fede, reading from “Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke.

I think of you often, dear Herr Kappus, and with such concentrated wishes that it really must help you in some way. Whether my letters can truly be a help, I often doubt. Do not say, “Yes, they are.” Accept them calmly and without many thanks, and let us wait to see what will come.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Darwin and the earth worms

When Charles Darwin was old, he stayed at home and observed the earth worms in his garden scientifically. He observed them at night by candlelight, he played musical instruments at them: the piano. The tuba. He noted how they reacted to the light, to the sound, to different tiny meals he offered them.

Friends and colleagues from around the world also observed their local earthworms and sent him letters with collected data.

Darwin wrote a popular science book about his process and findings. It’s here, at Project Gutenberg, for free. It’s a wonderful read.

Elephant Time

I am a bit frightened of creative challenges. Life is a creative challenge already.
Then last week Jane told me that she was making an elephant to show off via video to her sister and her mum, who were also making one each – as the first instalment of a weekly challenge.
Watching them all present their elephants to each other, having kept them secret all week made me feel calm and happy, and it also made me laugh.

Maybe I will make a hat with birds on it for next Sunday and call Jane up to show it. Maybe I’ll just hope that I’ll get to see their faces when they see each other’s hats. Thank you, Jane!

Jane Porter is an author and illustrator of many wonderful books. If you want her instructions for making things to play with and show off to your family: here are some!

Quietly Remarkable

Cos you’re the Moon
And that’s ok
You’re doing fine
You’re here to stay
Quietly remarkable.

Welcome to Radio Hedgehog. This is our first transmission.

Last year, Dom Conlon sent me a collection of fifty poems to illustrate, all about the moon. I put them all into a small box which I carried with me. I took one out every time I found myself in a quiet place, and sketched out an illustration.

When they were all done, Dom decided to write one more poem, which seemed to be needed, to replace one that was all about amazing skills one might have. It’s a poem about just being there, like the moon is.

Dom read it on Twitter, and people liked it a lot. I sent it to my friend John, who made a song of it. I have been listening to a lot over the last couple of weeks, because it always makes me happy.

Listening to it, I remember that it’s okay to slow down. You can just be there, shining bright sometimes, going dark sometimes, moving the tides from a distance.
Cos you’re the moon
And that’s okay
You’re doing fine
You’re here to stay
Quietly remarkable.

It seems the right song to start with. I’ll be back now and then with more sounds and ideas to curl up with. They will be nice things that people made for themselves or for friends and which caused some joy already, tiny reports and recordings.

“This Rock That Rock” by Dom Conlon, illustrated by Viviane Schwarz, (the collection that this poem is from) is published on April 8th 2020 by Troika Books.