Dear BBC: 22 years of life without a tv

Dear BBC,

Just a quick note to let you know that my circumstances haven’t changed. I didn’t buy a tv, so still don’t need a licence.

I am a bit concerned that if you visit my house to check that I don’t need a licence you might be a bit shocked. It’s dusty, with cobwebs ( they hold the house together) and really rather full with books. Somehow, no matter how I try to get rid of them, more arrive, like migrating birds, to settle on my shelves.

Below are books that show something of what I have been doing instead of watching tv, over the last 22 years. You see I began working in the children’s book industry 22 years ago. This involves a good deal of colouring in, some writing, lots of hard work, long days. When I paint I can listen to the radio. When I write, think, I need silence as the word arise from ‘an interrogation of silence’, as George Mackay Brown once said. I am not sure if he had a tv, or a licence. He is dead now, but from what i hear that doesn’t stop you sending out demands to people for licence renewal. You should stop that. I think it can be upsetting for people. ( Obviously not the dead people, for they don’t care, but perhaps for their friends and relations.

Anyway, as I was saying, the shelf below is 22 years of work, books in translation etc. The other shelves are taken at random in my house.

shelf7The books are untidy, higgeldy piggeldy, but for the most part I know where each and every one is and some are well thumbed and some pristine. There are two copies of Pirates, because I misplaced one for a while.shelf2There are books about words and books about birds, stories, and picture books and books about cats.shelf3Some are short stories, some are long, some are by friends, some by people from long ago and far away. And some aren’t even on shelves but lie tumbled over the floor.floorshelfSome are wedged between a stuffed stoat and another bookcase. Some are very old. Some once had adventurous lives in the hands of other readers, telling their own stories with names and dedications inscribed inside.shelf5Some are covered with jacket designs I have made for them, golds and silvers shining. (The pots are by Adam Buick, moon jars, beautiful. He lives close by and makes huge pots, mesmeric films, wonderful work)shelf6And below, more, with jackets by me. Spot the David Icke books. They are from way back, before I even lived in Wales.shelf8shelf1So, as you can see, my house is chaotic and book filled. There are many tripping hazards, including a headless stuffed hare ( well, not strictly headless, but it’s head does come off which some find a little alarming.

Anyway, as i said, no change in circumstances. But I think I will share with you something beautiful, a film, just because I love the irony of showing a film to the BBC, so here is one from Adam. I hope you like it. It is where I go to write. If you watch you can see the weather, the turning of the tide and the world, and much more. In the second clip, you pass through a storm to the turning world and the Northern Lights. And I ask, when I can go out to see the stars, to hunt for moonbows by the light of a full moon, to see the world turn, why would I stay in to watch tv?

Earth to Earth – the beginning… from Adam Buick on Vimeo.

Earth to Earth – Aurora Borealis from Adam Buick on Vimeo.

Yours, Jackie

 

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About some cards

Mary said she wanted to show people the cards, published by Graffeg and taken from the covers from the wonderful books by Robin Hobb. She said they had been sitting on my desk for too long, as I try to settle to work, which is always difficult before a book is launched. I didn’t have time, so Mary and Little P and Leopard said they would help.

First she decided to show the back of the card with the story on, about how the covers came to be.

11c Then she showed the dragon cards, and Little P helped.

9c 8c 7c 6c 5c Next came the animal cards, and the fish.

4c 3c 2c Little P says he likes the one of Nighteyes best, and…..

1cthe panda horse.

pandahorseThen Mary said that we should have a competition.

I love all of Robin’s books, and the ones she writes under the name of Megan Lindholm. I have 20 cards, and I will get another pack of dragons, another pack of animals.

Tell me, in a comment to this post, who is your favourite character in the worlds of Robin, or Megan, who, and why. Share the post if you wish. I will, at random, over the next couple of weeks ask Mary and Little P to pick people out at random from the list of comments and will write and post a short note written on one of the notecards and post to where ever you wish it to go, on this good, great and beautiful earth. Anywhere, anyone. Just tell me.

And also Little P  will pick out two people from the comments and send a pack of the animal or the dragon cards.

If you cannot wait, or you are not feeling lucky then go to Solva Woollen Mill, online or in person where you can order these, and many more things. (Little P says he is partial to the Nom Nom chocolate, from Wales).

So, tell us……….and if you haven’t yet wandered into the world of Fitz and the Fool I envy you as you have so much adventure ahead of you. ( Start now, with Assassin’s Apprentice)

Read.

( Ps, Leopard says he took the photos)

I now have stamps that can travel with the cards on the envelopes. Will try and pick one person every few days. So, comment, share, and thank you. But most of all read.

CEZgdmmW8AEafqK 11200625_10152904119441314_9157668217823840631_n 11206083_10152904119326314_2460584697499143795_n 11205174_10152904119171314_7923500484909952075_n 11036802_10152904119056314_5931585497093285719_n

(pps. Mary and Little P and Leopard were born at Celestine and the Hare where truly marvellous films happen, and creatures are born)

 

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TV Licence: or Dear BBC no 2.

Dear BBC,

I have been informed that despite letting you know that I still don’t have a tv so do not need a licence you will continue to contact me every two years incase my circumstances change. Two years. I suppose you do not wish me to feel harassed, so feel that two years will be a good time, enough time for things to have changed maybe and for me to have bought a tv and somehow forgotten that I need a licence? But circumstances change so quickly so I thought I would let you know each week that I still do not require one. I would not like you to worry.

So, today I did not buy a tv, or watch tv live on my computer. ( Broadband is relatively new to me. I suppose I could watch live tv but after a lifetime of not doing so I suppose I am just not in the habit)

So, this is what I did do today instead of buying a tv or watching tv.

I read a little, drinking coffee in bed with a weight of cats keeping me warm. I read something of a child called Barbara who lived many years ago. A beautiful child. A writer.

bI am also reading The Wild Places by Robert MacFarlane, a book that makes you wish to walk.

I then drove to Solva with a sofa in the back of my van to deliver it to my lovely friend. Then for a walk on the beach, along the waterline where Ivy chased seagulls and found an egret. There was blackthorn blossom down to the rocks where lichen patches echoed the colour of the flowers. Lime kilns like low castles hunkered at the beach edge. The sky was heavy with cloud, but the light was bright.

b2 b3 b4If you look in the picture below you will see the bright white egret flying, right in the middle, light against the green. Like a tick.

b5We took only photographs, and a handful of shells, the fragile bone homes of sea creatures, to show to Mary and Little P when we got home, and we left only footprints, me and Ivy.

b6Next we went to Solva Woollen Mill, because I have a book launch next Friday and my new book has arrived and we needed to talk about the launch ( Me and Anna, not me and Ivy. Ivy doesn’t talk much because she is a dog) and I needed to sign books. The launch is at 5pm-7.30 on May 8th at Solva Woollen Mill. But I was signing books for people who can’t make it because they live in Australia and Canada and New Zealand and England.

b10 b8I loved signing this one, for Sally, for her 70th birthday.

b9Home. Lots to do. Ivy and me gave Mary and Little P the shells and they want to know now what creatures lived in them. One is small and pink like a baby’s fingernail. Little P asked why some have holes in and I told him it is because birds have pecked holes in to eat the small creature inside. Mary said we should find the big book about shells and learn the names, because names are important and I said yes, lets.

Little P, Mary and Leopard looked at the shells and I looked at my painting, The Unquiet Dreams of Swift Footed Longdogs, and I thought, perhaps a little more blue, smalt and ultramarine, and then it will be finished.

shells shells2 desk23

So now I am cooking, friends coming for supper, some venison with plums and red wine, and purple sprouting that looks like the best kind of flowers, and when they are here we will talk with each other, telling stories. I am listening to Colm Mac Con Iomaire’s music which is beautiful and soulful. I am alone in my studio so do not need a licence to play it as no one else can hear. After my visitors leave I will walk the dogs and cats around the starlit village. I will go to bed and learn just a little more about a child who could see through the veils of the world in the book I am reading, a book almost as old as myself.

So, as you can see, I do not have time for tv, nor the habit of it. And I am glad one does not require a licence for books.

Tomorrow I will paint a piece for Kids Need to Read, for their calendar, to raise money for children in USA who don’t get enough access to books.

I will let you know again next week if my circumstances should lead me to the purchase of a tv set, and thus a licence. I hope they do not. My life seems richer without one.

 

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TV License: or Dear BBC

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Dear BBC

I recently received a letter from you. Every two years or so I get one. This one suggested that there was an urgent requirement to address the problem of my lack of a tv licence.

I am sorry, but after 25 or more years I still do not have a licence, and now I have run out of patience. I understand your need to ensure that people who have a tv should have a license for it, but as someone who has been without a tv or the need for a tv for a  half of their lifetime I think it’s time you cut me some slack. I think this and the tone of your letter, and threats of visits, and suggestion that in some way I am a liar is what finally got my goat . ( I do not actually have a goat either. This is an expression in common usage, although even if I did have a goat I do not believe I would require a licence for it.)

 

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It’s not that I hate the BBC. I love Radio 4 with a passion. I have listened to the radio all my working life, but was given to understand that one does not require a licence for the radio now.

Here is a list of other licences I do not hold:

I am sure there are many more. I do not have a wild animal licence, or maybe that is a permit? although I do have a tiger. Neither do I have a licence to practice medicine, dentistry, law. I do not have a licence to board animals, although several seem to live here. Not working for MI5 I do not have a licence to kill.  I do have a driving licence however. And I am hoping to acquire a pedlar’s licence in the near future to pedal books in towns where there are no bookshops.

None of the other boards who administer the above licences have ever written to me threatening to enter my home to discover whether I have in fact, eg been practising art therapy without a licence or serving food to paying guests.

Lady&the_Bear.h

Oh, and I don’t have a tv aerial either, though I do have a very beautiful weather vane designed by Karen of Greensvanes. It draws dreams to my house.

dreamaerial

Why don’t I have a tv or a tv licence?

Because I read books.

Yours insincerely

Jackie Morris

 

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Badges

ba2And I said, “What have you got there, Mary?”

And Mary said, “Badges.”

badges1

badges3

badges4“I like badges,” I said.

“I know,” said Mary. “There’ll be some more soon. Then I will tell you what we will do with them.”

Hmmmm.. I thought. Mary does like a secret or two. Like the time she said she didn’t want to come for a walk to see Spring, and we all thought she was at home, reading a book, but she had gone to buy Little P a windmill, because she knew it would make him smile.

Mary went to the shops and bought Little P a windmill.

A video posted by Jackie Morris (@jackiemorrisartist) on

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Where the White Cat Walks in Sunshine.

blossom Outside, blue sky, blackthorn blossom.

The White Cat went walking. I was half way up the hill before I realised he was following. Or maybe he had crept out from the hedge where he hunted, thinking to leave the mice for later and join our adventures.

15 Up the hill he followed Ivy, where the trees reach over the green lane to make a tunnel.

14 13 violets Beneath his paws shy violets grew.

11 And on the rocks on top of the hill he sat and watched blue sky and bluer sea.

10 The tangle branched tree grew out from rocks coloured like The White Cat’s fur. Bright green leaf buds pushed out from hard bark.

9

In the shadow of the wind he sat for a while, soaking in sunshine, turning it to rainbows.

thewhitecatshead8 6 5 3 2 1Back home Glyn’s house was open for people to see how the changes were made. Phil said that the cats were constant, in and out, through windows and doors, checking on the work, on progress. Glyn would be pleased.

g The White Cat checked out the twigs that had fallen, dropped by the jackdaws still trying to nest in the chimney fawr.

chimneyfawr2 And the old pegs were there still, and the screens that divided the rooms. And new old tiles were down on the floor and Welsh slate in the kitchen.

inside The cats come and go through the open windows, leaving their footprints, hunting for mice.

bathroom chimneyfawr fireplace Now The White Cat sits in the window, where once Glyn sat. The room is lighter, brighter, cleaner. He would have loved to sit here, like this, The White Cat beside him, thinking and reading and watching the world go by. But maybe he does.

windowseat

Taken by David Wilson, who is a wonderful photographer and was a good friend to Glyn.

Taken by David Wilson, who is a wonderful photographer and was a good friend to Glyn.

Mr Glyn Griffiths- Roy Essery DPAGB -6

Taken by Roy Essery, showing Glyn’s house as it was towards the close of his life.

 

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Hats off for sunshine

“I take my hat off to you, that’s a mighty fine view.”

hatoff“Are you sure that’s your hat, Little P?”

hatoff2“Erm, no. I think it’s another panda’s hat.”

hatoff3“Well, how could that happen?”

“You know how it is with pandas. And hats. And as I said before, it is a mighty fine view.”

hatoff4And it was.

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Looking for Spring

And so it was that we went looking for Spring, me and Leopard and Little P.

violetsIt was a strange day. Warm, but the sky seemed low and heavy, pewter grey. The sea was calm as a whisper. First we found shy violets, just a few. Then more.

violets2Next we found celandine. Although it was late in the morning they were still closed, fooled by the odd light into thinking the sun was still sleeping.

celandineNext there was thrift, bright pink in a cushion of tiny thin leaves.

“Mary would like these,” said Little P.

And I said “Yes. I know  a place where the thrift is like a cushioned carpet of flowers, high on the cliff top. Shall we take Mary there to see when the sun comes out again?”

“And Leopard can come too?” asked Little P. And I said “Yes”.

thrift thrift2Before we went home we found may blossom, out so early in the middle of April.

hawthorn

gorse2And we found golden gorse.

“I know a place where the gorse is so thick it seems as if the sun has fallen to earth and the air is scented with the coconut scent of the rich gold flowers,” I said.

Little P was excited.

“Can we go there? Can we? Can Mary come too?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said. “We’ll go home now, and I’ll do some work and we’ll see if Mary has finished reading her book and we’ll wait for the sunshine to come back again, and then we’ll go. We’ll find the gorse and the bluebells too and the wood sorrel that tastes like lemon leaves, and the wild garlic and blackthorn.”

Little P and the Leopard were happy. Spring had come, flown in with the swallows. Now all they wanted to do was to go home and tell Mary all about their adventure and all about what would happen next.

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What Mary Said

Mary was very excited. She gathered together All The Bears in the World to tell them the news. It seemed that Something About a Bear had been shortlisted for an award. The English Association 4-11 Picture Book Award.

“This is the book I was born in,” Mary said. “In fact, this is the book we were all born in, when she wrote us and Karin made us in her shed.”

maryb1

“She made me first,” said Mary. “To say thank you for something. That’s why I was born. As a thank you. And that’s why I feel so lovely. Because to be made for a thank you is a very fine thing. It has a lot of love in it. Then she made all of you, the Karin did, in her shed, far away in the Land of Celestine and the Hare.”

“Why?” “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” “Why?”

Eight little bear voices shouted, all at once and one after the other at the same time. Little P was very quiet.

“Why, what?” said Mary.

“Why did she make us, the Karin, why?”

“Well,” said Mary, “let me show you.”

maryb2

 

“She made you because you are all in the book, because the Jackie was going on a tour of books, from Cornwall to Scotland. And I think perhaps she made you all to keep me company.”

And sure enough, there they all were, one by one, in the book, on the pages of Something About a Bear.

“And me?” said a small voice. “Why did she make me?”

“Well,” said Mary,  “let’s have a look.”

And Mary turned the pages until she found Little P. All the Bears in the Wild Wide World were quiet as they looked at the picture of Little P, curled in the arms of his wonderful mum.

maryb3

 

“I think she made you because every woman needs their own Little P,” Mary said. “And I think she made you, the Karin lady, to be a very special friend for me.”

And Mary cuddled Little P close, just as his mum had done in the painting, and Little P was again as ‘soft and small as peaches’.”

Then came a small voice, a soft growly brown voice.

“But where did I come from?” said the One Little Brown Bear.

“Well,” said Mary, “let’s have a look.”

Together they turned the pages back.

maryb4

“There I am,” said the One Little Brown Bear. “But where did I come from? The Karin Lady didn’t make me, did she?”

“No,” said Mary. “You, One Little Brown Bear, are a mystery. You are old. Perhaps you are older than the painting lady. Nobody knows how old you are, or where you came from or whose bear you were.  But everybody knows that, where ever you came from, now you are one of us. You are the One Little Brown Bear. That’s all we need to know. And we love you.”

And All the Bears in the Wild Wide World, Little P and Mary and the One Little Brown Bear, all of them, were so pleased that the book they were born in was shortlisted for the award. And so was the painting lady. For alongside their book were lots of others by authors who love to write.

image-1

(Little P particularly like Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill, published by Flying Eye books. And Mary and Emily liked Smelly Louie by Catherine Rayner because Louie looked like Ivy.)

 

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Fool’s Quest

Yesterday saw the ‘cover reveal’ for Robin Hobb’s next novel to be published in August by Voyageur in the UK.

robinhobbcoverThis is the first time I have produced a cover for Robin Hobb without having read the book. Such a complex tale cannot be rushed and yet Robin’s deadline for publication loomed and the text was still being edited while I was working on the cover art, so we talked and she sent me a paragraph or two, then we talked some more and I did one rough for the main image.

hobbrough

 

piedcrow

Then later talked more both with Robin and Jane Johnson., Robin’s editor about other things that might be added, to illuminate the letter. A vial of red liquid, swirled through with silver flecks. Those who know Robin’s books well will know what the bottles contain.

unusedvial vial

 

There are more things. The hardback of Fool’s Assassin has lovely gold endpapers. This one will also have something similar, but different. The aim of Dominic at the Harper Collins design Studio is to make an object that is covetable. The finish he puts on the silvered uncoated paper is lovely.

So, I wait. Hopefully I will get a proof copy. The small amount I have read, no more than 500 words or so, had me spellbound. I suspect that once I have the whole book in my hands, for a while  little will be done in the house apart from a silent slipping between the covers and into another world, another adventure, with Fitz and with the Fool, I hope.

 

 

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