Scarecrow's ruin? by Sandra Horn
Funny how things turn out…Little did I think when I wrote Tattybogle all those years ago that it would be found in hospices as a source of comfort, involve me in a broadcast conversation with a vicar about the Resurrection (NB Tattybogle is a scarecrow, not Jesus), be turned into a schools’ musical and now start a dialogue with someone from a distillery in Scotland.
The ‘resurrection’ element is there in that, as we know from the Theory of Conservation of Matter, our atoms keep on getting rearranged as we pass from one kind of life to another:
I am closer to my after
than I am to my before.
This lively mass of atoms
I now know as ‘me’
was here at the beginning,
scattered after the Bang,
then gathered, dispersed, re-grouped
times out of mind, shapes out of imagining:
slime-mould, starlight, dormouse, willow tree,
man, beast, parasite, building block,
blade of grass, hoverfly, china clay,
drop in the ocean, carousel, grape-pip,
earthworm, raincloud, prickle, soot —
and when I am no longer me
what will the new
arrangement be -
slime-mould, starlight, dormouse, willow tree?
I’m not sure that an incursion into physics/philosophy was my first intention, but somehow it emerged like that; the old scarecrow appeared to have disintegrated but ultimately grew into a tree – a beautiful golden tree. At about the same time that Andersen Press let it go out of print, it was taken up by Starshine Music and transformed into Tattybogle the Musical, which brought years of joy and travels to many places. The demand for the book followed and we ended up buying three successive print runs from Andersen to keep the supply going. We are now down to the last 50 or so of what will be the final batch as demand has dwindled to a trickle. End of, as they say. Then, two weeks ago, a friend and ex-colleague was visiting a distillery in Scotland and saw the name Tattie Bogle (Scottish word for scarecrow) in their shop, on bottles of gin. She told them about the book and they were interested in having it in the shop and maybe in a new adventure for my Tattybogle in which he visits the distillery! Whoa there! Tree pulls up roots and heads for booze-making factory? Can’t see how it would work as a picture book somehow.
I’ve sent the very nice lady in the shop a copy of the book and cd of the songs from the musical and explained that we have only a few copies left now and there won’t be any more, so we can’t undertake to supply them on a commercial scale. I’m still chuckling whenever I think of this latest idea in the book’s trajectory: end-of-life care, the Resurrection, schools musical, gin shop. What a shame Hogarth isn’t still with us; I can just see the sequence of pictures!