In honour and memory of our inspirational, hugely talented – and complex – mother Audrey, her ashes now safely stored under our Sheringham stairs awaiting Lifeboat dispersal at sea next month, here’s posting a scanned and carefully edited copy of possibly the most influential book I have ever read, or had read to me.
Conceived, written and illustrated by Mum somewhere in the early-to-mid 1950s, The Crow Who Feared a Popgun tells the story of little Mark and next-brother-down Hugh on an airborne adventure to Africa.
Rediscovered while clearing our mother’s house, the story is very probably the reason I continue to adore crows, ravens, jackdaws, magpies and rooks. It could explain how I was inspired to spend much of my life travelling the world, though rather less so recently given the impact on us all of a different kind of Co(r)vid.
Looking at the dynamic between these two little boys illustrated and encouraged by Mum (“How kind Mark is to hold your hand…”), and with a psychotherapist’s later-life perspective, I can also appreciate perhaps more clearly the roots of my younger siblings’ occasional complaints against me of “Big-Brotheritis”…
Feel free to print, to read to your own kids, and as we were to be inspired.