This little cut-out was inspired by an A.A Milne poem that I always loved when I was little (and still do).
There are many images from A.A.Milne‘s poems floating around in my head – the mother of James James Morrison Morrison who goes down to the end of the town; Jonathan Jo with his wheelbarrow full of surprises; the King who only wants a little bit of butter for his bread…all so wonderfully illustrated by E.H.Shepherd. Maybe I wouldn’t remember them so well if I hadn’t read them to my own children in recent years.
As a child I felt so very sorry that the dormouse’s beloved flowers were replaced, and only partially satisfied by the idea that he could be happy imagining that they were still there. I think I also felt a child’s indignation that he hadn’t been listened to by the doctor…that his voice wasn’t heard.
So here’s to listening to each other and, if all else fails, pretending we’re surrounded by our favourite flowers…
The Dormouse and The Doctor
Alan Alexander Milne 1882-1956
There once was a Dormouse who lived in a bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red),
And all the day long he’d a wonderful view
Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue).
A Doctor came hurrying round, and he said:
“Tut-tut, I am sorry to find you in bed.
Just say ‘Ninety-nine’ while I look at your chest….
Don’t you find that chrysanthemums answer the best?”
The Dormouse looked round at the view and replied
(When he’d said “Ninety-nine”) that he’d tried and he’d tried,
And much the most answering things that he knew
Were geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue).
The Doctor stood frowning and shaking his head,
And he took up his shiny silk hat as he said:
“What the patient requires is a change,” and he went
To see some chrysanthemum people in Kent.
The Dormouse lay there, and he gazed at the view
Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue),
And he knew there was nothing he wanted instead
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red).
The Doctor came back and, to show what he meant,
He had brought some chrysanthemum cuttings from Kent.
“Now these,” he remarked, “give a much better view
Than geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue).”
They took out their spades and they dug up the bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red),
And they planted chrysanthemums (yellow and white).
“And now,” said the Doctor, “we’ll soon have you right.”
The Dormouse looked out, and he said with a sigh:
“I suppose all these people know better than I.
It was silly, perhaps, but I did like the view
Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue).”
The Doctor came round and examined his chest,
And ordered him Nourishment, Tonics, and Rest.
“How very effective,” he said, as he shook
The thermometer, “all these chrysanthemums look!”
The Dormouse turned over to shut out the sight
Of the endless chrysanthemums (yellow and white).
“How lovely,” he thought, “to be back in a bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red.)”
The Doctor said, “Tut! It’s another attack!”
And ordered him Milk and Massage-of-the-back,
And Freedom-from-worry and Drives-in-a-car,
And murmured, “How sweet your chrysanthemums are!”
The Dormouse lay there with his paws to his eyes,
And imagined himself such a pleasant surprise:
“I’ll pretend the chrysanthemums turn to a bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red)!”
The Doctor next morning was rubbing his hands,
And saying, “There’s nobody quite understands
These cases as I do! The cure has begun!
How fresh the chrysanthemums look in the sun!”
The Dormouse lay happy, his eyes were so tight
He could see no chrysanthemums, yellow or white.
And all that he felt at the back of his head
Were delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red).
And that is the reason (Aunt Emily said)
If a Dormouse gets in a chrysanthemum bed,
You will find (so Aunt Emily says) that he lies
Fast asleep on his front with his paws to his eyes.
This weekend I have been creating a prototype horse hat for my daughter’s school pantomime. The ears actually stick upright and not out (I forgot that when I was doodling).
At the moment it looks like it could be pretty much any animal…despite the addition of a dodgy-looking mane. BUT something fancy and a bit circus-horse-ish will happen on the top. I hope. Then I’ll need to make four of them!
Two weeks ago I had a big Summer Studio Sale to make a bit of space for new work (and to sell things of course).
I covered the walls of my studio with old illustrations,which had been lurking in portfolios stuffed behind my drawing board.
Although I haven’t been working with such thick outlines and bright colours much recently, it was good to see everything up together. I also found some etchings that I’d done years ago in a print studio in London, and a huge pile of rather silly mono prints. It reminded me how much I love printmaking and how I’d like to experiment more with prints in the future.
I put up some of my more recent ink illustrations too, but I was surprised to find that I kept quite a lot of them back at the last minute, as they just felt too newly-done to sell. I don’t usually feel like that, but I think it was because a lot of the illustrations were about my family life, and I just wanted to hang on to them.
It was a very busy day and I sold lots of paintings – it was easy to part with the old ones and great to know that they were going on people’s walls. I did sell one of my favourite family illustrations – to a very dear friend. This moment in the bathroom trying to clean two of my children’s teeth one morning reminded me that it’s not all about rushing out of the door to get to school on time…