The Secret Dalek of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4

The Secret Dalek of Adrian Mole

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4.

In other news: My six year old laptop has been replaced! This one is so fast! And shiny! Also, here is a series of drawings I did of a friend’s family, with bonus Godzilla: Family Group with Godzilla. And I have almost finished NaNoWriMo (and soon, the story!), after which I will start sleeping again. And using words in other contexts.

Family Group with Godzilla

The lovely Alex Adsett, of Alex Adsett Publishing Services, commissioned a set of drawings based on her family for her father’s 60th birthday. 

The drawings are in pen and ink with a touch of light watercolour, and a “little, insinuating” cat appearing in each. They sound like a most wonderful and energetic family, but I only agreed on condition I be allowed to include the Godzilla suit.

Family Portraits

(You should have the option to view a larger version if you click on the picture and go to its Flickr page, or go here).

Dalek with the Wind

Dalek with the Wind

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind which, I confess, I have never read. I suffered through the movie several times as a child (I associate it and the Dirty Dancing poster with a very hot spare bedroom in summer in Charleville, but can’t recall whose house that must have been), and it was only a few years ago (and in air conditioning) that I realised how interesting the story is – if you can get past the swelling orchestral soundtrack.

The book is being read by Sophie in Delia Sherman’s The Freedom Maze, so this is not my first Margaret Mitchell drawing – Belle Watling gave her name to the statue in the maze (although Antigua took that place on the final cover).

In other news: We saw two stone bush curlews with a chick when we were out walking this morning! I had a full night’s sleep last night for the first time in weeks (sleep is so inefficient!) and dreamed someone took me LARPing but all the chairs in the tavern were adjustable executive chairs (I attribute this to too much law conference + Community fan conversations). Aimee and I stayed up late reading the deaths of Marian and Robin in Robin Hood and his Merry Outlaws and the achingly beautiful Robin Hood scene from The Last Unicorn (I may have got a little weepy). I am replacing my computer, so will soon have to find something else onto which to displace all my frustrations and angst. And I only have 8000 words left to write to finish NaNoWriMo this year – and only a few more than that to finally finish the draft of this story!

Illustration Friday: Vanity

Illustration Friday: VanityThis is in pen and ink, with colours in watercolour. The original is quite small (2.5×3 inches).

Whether the moral of the story is vanity, or gullibility, or the perspicaciousness of children, I have always had a soft spot for the Emperor in “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. He, like so many others, must have pictured wonderful things of that unseeable suit of clothes, only to have all their imaginings snatched away by a sharp remark.

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with the golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams beneath your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams…

“He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” – William Butler Yeats



I Capture the Dalek

I Capture the Dalek

These traps are very effective. I once caught a flock of chatterjacks in one. There is absolutely nothing useful one can do with a flock of chatterjacks, so I let them go (they were not particularly fazed by the experience), but I felt I had proved my hunting credentials.

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Dodie Smith’s novel I Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith also wrote 101 Dalmations, but I refuse to draw 101 Daleks in one sitting).

The first half of the book is utterly enchanting – part Jane Austen, part Eva Ibbotson, with the mad blocked writer of a father, the model nudist stepmother (“not wicked”), the crumbling farmhouse/castle and the world of books and hunger, ideas and green fabric dye, bluebell perfume, fur coat inheritances and the arrival of the American neighbours.

The second half, however – oh, it hurt when I first read it. The fragile disconnected fairytale 1930s childhood breaks down into a modern, adult, anguished story, and felt both true and hurtful. I still loved the book, because it is so beautiful – Rose all romantic with a practicality two hundred years out of date, Cassandra wistfully pragmatic and wishing they could afford to send Rose to the movies to learn how to live in the modern world. But I wished it could have ended otherwise.

Perhaps I have learned a little more since then. When I last read the book, I realised that it ended just as it should and – more – that the ending was not bittersweet at all but a mix of happiness and hope. A tentative, contingent hope, but better by far than the ending I would have forced upon it.

The movie is very lovely too – gentle and charming, with Bill Nighy perfectly twitchy and neurotic, Tara Fitzgerald silvery and raincoat-clad, Rose Byrne gorgeously pre-Raphaelite, Romola Garai mousy and bright-eyed, David Bamber perfectly charming as a vicar (almost overwriting my image of him as Mr Collins), and Henry Thomas… well, he does have the perfect look for the era, but I only worked out why he was so familiar halfway through the movie and spent the rest of it trying not to hold out my finger towards the screen while saying “El-i-ot!”

I’ve previously illustrated the opening line of the novel, “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink” (it’s also been embroidered!):

Illustration Friday: Diary

In other news: I’m still on track for NaNoWriMo, and last night I finished a commissioned caricature of an author who may hurt me (it was commissioned by another author and I will link to it when it appears) and a fantasy-and-science-fiction themed wedding invitation illustration. And at my day job, I won today’s bakeoff with a Snickers rocky road adorned with marshmallow flowers. It was the first chocolate and sugar I’d had for about two months and I nearly defied gravity.

Daleks for Elephants

Daleks for Elephants

This instalment of The Dalek Game is for Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, which was a very charming, carnivalesque toffee-apple of a book, with a glitter that was missing from the movie.

The novel was also originally a NaNoWriMo piece. Now, every November writing circles tend to have a vigorous debate on whether NaNoWriMo is a good or a bad thing – for literature, for publishing, for one’s own writing. These debates miss the point. It is essentially the world’s largest and most extreme parlour game, and as such is a Good Thing and everyone should be forced to participate.

In other news: Tonight I went to the most beautiful birthday party: open-air backyard night time cinema, cushions on the lawn, candles in hanging bottles, reading lamps, carpets, armchairs, old oil paintings hung on the fences, long whatnots set with glass bottles and striped straws, big glass jars of peach tea and lemon-lime&bitters with fruit floating in them, little brown paper popcorn bags stamped with Shayna’s little wolf and boy stamps, big bowls of flavoured popcorns (cinnamon, salt, hazlenut praline) with old teacups to serve… It was like – oh, Alice in Wonderland and a midnight feast and a carnival. Happy birthday Shayna, it was amazing!

Dalek of the Apes

Dalek of the Apes.

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes. It is not a very wonderful ape, but few of the cover apes are – this one is my favourite. This silhouetted cover, however, is lovely. Also, see the Picture Book Report for Andrea Kalfas beautiful Tarzan illustrations.

I never read Tarzan growing up, which was an oversight on the part of my parents. My mother did sometimes dance around the kitchen singing the theme to George of the Jungle and Ray you-will-regret-watching-the-video Stevens’ “Gitarzan” (“Shut up, baby, I’m tryin’ to sing!”), so my childhood wasn’t completely deprived.

In other news: I have also posted some playing card portraits for a sketchbook exchange and two speechless fairytale heroines for Illustration Friday. I made pumpkin pie today. And… oh, right. It’s November. I spend most of it looking like this.