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The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse

This is the most delightful book by Charlie Mackesy (2019 Penguin Random House), written he says ‘for everyone, whether you are eighty or eight’.

The hard covered book is finely bound. It feels special with thick, ‘forest certified’ watercolour paper that is wonderful to touch and turn.

The text is in a black ink scrawl and the inked and watercolour washed drawings have an innocent childlike quality. Many of the scenes with the four characters have echoes of E.H Shepherd’s sketches from Winnie the Pooh.

The book reads as a simple fable but is full of wise insights.

Many I found personally pertinent and relevant to my writing life as well as my life on the land in a drought.

“Sometimes just getting up and carrying on is brave and magnificent.’

When the dark clouds come, keep going.

The greatest illusion is that life should be perfect.

There is so much wisdom here and it is possible to dip in and out or start right in the middle and not lose any of the gifts. There are messages about love and friendship and the care many need especially after enduring the trauma of bush fires, here in Australia. I hope all my friends who were affected can be made hopeful and happy again.

‘What is the bravest thing you have ever said?”asked the boy

‘Help,’ said the horse

Imagine how we would be if we were less afraid.

Charlie Macesy attempted university twice but left both within a week. He never went to art school but spent three months in America with a portrait painter where he learned about anatomy and how to deal with bed bugs. Charlie began as a cartoonist for The Spectator and a book illustrator for Oxford University Press before being taken on by galleries.

Apart from his drawings and writing he is an ambassador for a project in Zimbabwe called Mama Buci which has changed the lives of communities by producing honey. 70,000 bee hives have been constructed  which will produce over 400 tonnes of delicious raw honey this year alone and generate funds to set up local schools.

Charlie Mackesy thinks  G. K. Chesterton sums it all up well: “At the back of our brains, so to speak, there was a forgotten blaze or burst of astonishment at our own existence. The object of the artistic and spiritual life was to dig for this submerged sunrise of wonder.”

I think I will write that above my desk, to remind myself of my creative gifts each day.

Dig for the submerged sunrise of wonder