Showing posts from July, 2010

The glory that is the comic story

I admit I was never much of a one for comics as a child. My sister took Bunty , and I used to flick through it. We had a couple of ancient Bunty annuals bought for us from a jumble sale. I flicked through those too if I'd read everything else within reach. I like pictures as much as the next person, but what I really like are words; tons of them - great long streams, packing out a story, and I like something I can settle into, not something that's over and done with in a few minutes. Earlier this week I had an unexpected package. I have never grown out of the thrill of a parcel arriving in the post, which is quite convenient when your job involves you buying books (for research purposes, natch), which means parcels arriving in the post. Usually I have a pretty good idea of what's due, but I had no idea what was in the parcel that I picked up on Tuesday was, though I was intrigued, as I recognised the writing: Vanessa from Fidra's. I opened it up, and there w


Norman Thelwell was probably best known for his ponies. He was the illustrator of many pony-mad children’s childhoods: not the lovely dream of a matchless grey swishing round the show ring, festooned with rosettes, but the foul tempered pony determined not to be caught and entirely deaf to any suggestion that it be schooled. Much though I would have loved the matchless grey, what I got was a succession of riding school ponies, each more inured to the charms of a child than the last. Like Thelwell’s girls though, hope sprang eternal. Penelope et al were always convinced that their day as Pony Club champion would come. So was I. Despite years of solid evidence to the contrary, so was I. I was not so lost to sense that I did not know that there was a large gap between what happened to me every weekend, and my dreams. The first time I came across Thelwell, it was as though a light went on. Thelwell drew my experience, and made it funny. It was genius. He had a gift of getting

New books - Alison Hart: Whirlwind

Regular readers will know how struck I was by Alison Hart's Shadow Horse , and how much I wished there was a sequel. Well, now there is. It's out now, and Alison is kindly sending me a copy. Watch out for the review.

Jane de Bargue Hubert - an interview

One huge benefit to writing about pony book authors on my site is that they get in touch. I’m delighted that Jane Hubert, who wrote Water Wagtail under the name Jane de Bargue Hubert, contacted me, and agreed to be interviewed for this blog. JB: You wrote Water Wagtail when you were very young. What inspired you to start writing it? JH: I had rheumatic fever when I was 8, and had to lie flat for weeks and weeks. My mother gave me a notebook and pencil and told me to write. I wrote a book then called ‘Happy-star, the wild pony of the moors’. That started me writing. ‘Happy-star’ got lost years ago. I wrote ‘Water Wagtail’ later - I think I started at about 10 or 11, but I can’t really remember. I don't remember what gave me the idea for Water Wagtail. I desperately wanted a pony, and to be part of that sort of life, I suppose! JB: Did your family know you were writing the book? JH: Yes, but I don’t think any of us thought of it as an actual book! JB: How did

No pony? A bunny could be just as good.

Thanks Susannah for sending me this. Bunny puissance, bunny long jump - what's not to like?

I go out.

I don’t go out terribly often: with a husband who works very long hours, and something of the same tendency myself, by the time we’ve both finished for the day there’s not exactly time. Going out usually takes weeks of close planning to achieve; the careful application of the sort of hours that I used to devote to my appearance when I was a teenager. I used to take hours to get ready: two was often not enough. There was the careful clothes shopping; the buying of the right coloured tights (this was the 1970s, and Dior did every conceivable colour, and I think I spent my Woolworths wages on every conceivable pair); finicky application of eye shadow, peering in the mirror to check the eyes matched. This was trickier than it might have been as I was, and am, extremely short sighted and couldn’t get on with either form of contact lens then about. The thought of having to get ready in less than two hours would bring on the screaming hab dabs. And my daughter is the same. This Satu

The previous inhabitants

This post I originally put on Mumsnet, in reply to an original post thanking the people who had owned the poster's previous house before her. Thank you, she said, for leaving it in the state they did. The thread struck a chord, as plenty of other people had posted their tales of what they moved into. Here is mine. As our speciality was buying houses no one else wanted, I have a lot of stories about what can be left, but first, I'd like to award a special prize to the mother who came to look round our first house with her daughter when we were selling it. "ALL these cats," she said, glaring at me, "and NO CHILDREN!" I was very, very pregnant with my son at the time. I was vast. Couldn't be missed. We only had two cats. We've always wondered what on earth she was on. Anyway: thank you to those who sold us houses for: House 1 Cutting off all the light fittings and leaving dangling flexes. Thought this was an urban myth until it happened to me.

Why I'm not a Cybermummy

I have Radio 4's Woman's Hour on at the moment, and am listening to a piece about the phenomenon of mothers who blog. I am a mother who blogs, but I don't blog about my children; my family or, generally, what's actually going on in my soul. This is partly because what's going on in my soul is generally spectacularly dull: if you want a small window into the thought processes of J Badger, at the moment I am hoping that it will rain in a meaningful way so that OH and I do not have to lug buckets up to the field to water the potatoes; thinking of a friend I know is having a rough time; hoping son will find a job; hoping my income improves; feeling quite pleased that the church youth group I co-run now has 14 members and we had an excellent time yesterday bowling and that is pretty much it. I just think, that, if it were me, I would absolutely loathe to read, either now or in a few years' time, my mother's descriptions of how ghastly I was to wean; my spat

She's back!

Catnip Publishing have re-published the first two Jinnies, and here (with many thanks to Catnip for sending me the photos) they are: The chestnut Arab is rather gorgeous. It's been a bumper year so far this far for the reissued pony book, with Jill's Gymkhana, Follyfoot and now Jinny. Ironically, despite being far more like Jinny (a bit of a loner, always drawing, and with a head often elsewhere) it was Jill I preferred as a child. Jill always seemed so very sorted out, and nothing phased her. It did me. It did Jinny too. I've come round to Jinny far more as I've grown older; perhaps because I now appreciate Jinny for what she is. All power to Catnip, who are the wild child's latest publishers. The Summer Riders will be out in October this year.

The Adventures of Black Beauty

How could I celebrate the website's fifth birthday and not even mention Black Beauty? Well, I have mentioned Black Beauty, but only in passing. Richard Carpenter is one of the authors I've just added to the website. He wrote 17 of the 52 scripts for The Adventures of Black Beauty . He started off his working life as an actor, but when parts became thinner on the ground, he changed tack and started writing scripts. Black Beauty wasn't his only success, by a long way. He was also responsible for Catweazle, Robin Hood and The Ghosts of Motley Hall. Catweazle and Robin Hood passed me by but I loved The Ghosts of Motley Hall. This was classic Sunday tea time viewing for us. I remember loving it, possibly just as much as I loved The Adventures of Black Beauty . This of course was another TV favourite of mine: not a great deal to do with Anna Sewell's book (well, virtually nothing at all if I am honest) but it had a horse - and how I loved that horse. Even at

5 today!

I've done various things to keep the wolf from the door in my time, and one of them was training people how to use computers. In the dim and distant past, having the Internet in the office was a New Thing; so much so that I would spend months in some London offices introducing people to the mysteries of Alta Vista and email. In the times when boredom almost became too much for me (and when you have shown the 100th person how to do a search for Chelsea Football Club it is difficult to resist the urge to scream) I would explore the Internet. Everything, I was told, was on there. Except that it wasn't: not if you liked pony books. I'd resurrected my pony book collection and read it again. Where were the internet sites on Ruby Ferguson? The Pullein-Thompsons? Nowhere. Someone will start something at some point, I thought, and went back to building my collection. This was in the heady days before Monica Edwards' titles had gone well beyond the normal purse. We used to holi

Website's 5th birthday

On Wednesday 7th July, it will be my pony book website's 5th birthday , so to celebrate, there will be a quiz on the site (with prizes!) as well as special events on the forum. I'm also planning a couple of interviews and special blog posts. The quiz is all ready to go now, though I think I had better calm down from the thrill of actually getting it done before I give it another proof read. I do earn some of my living proofreading for other people (and I'm actually not at all bad at it) but I found on about my 8th look through that I'd left the answers in one bit. Sometimes I worry about myself.

The Garden

The garden is getting even less attention than normal, but fortunately the roses are taking care of themselves. Gardens are supposed to reflect their owners, in which case I am untidy, a bit overblown, and not given to deadheading. Chapeau de Napoleon - after a run in with an incorrectly labelled specimen from a garden centre, here is the real thing. Comte de Chambord, with a few astrantia lurking in the background. Whatever colour my astrantia are supposed to be, they all come up looking rather bleached. Not sure why. Alba Maxima (white rose of York) Felice et Perpetue, which is supposed to spread 10 feet. Mine has plans for world domination; well founded. It's already spread 18 feet, and shows no signs of slowing down. Told the chap at the Peter Beales stand at Cottesbrooke that I never fed this rose, and he was horrified. Goodness knows what it would get up to if I did. Comte de Richelieu, which were I to get my act together, would be ideal for making rose sy

News: Monica Dickens - Follyfoot

T he first book in the Follyfoot series is now out. More details here . I think Jinny should be out this month, and am checking. More news as soon as I know.


"Mom, why is there a pony cart in the back seat?" Why indeed?

Morning walk

Blogging has been in short supply recently, after my OH was carted into hospital rather dramatically with a kidney stone. He is now out (of hospital; the stone is still where it was alas), but he is not exactly firing on all cylinders. Anyway, he has now managed to get up, so I am trying to re-connect with the world. Illness is an odd thing for the non-ill: as well as the constant nagging worry (not like this at all when one is ill oneself) and the sheer bloodiness of watching your nearest and dearest being terribly unwell, is the odd sort of half-world it casts you into. Everything is carrying on around you remarkably normally but you, as you sit in Tescos waiting for the promised but not yet faxed through prescription to appear, petrified in case things are getting worse at home, are not. The natural world continues, as does my ineptitude at harvesting anything. I attempted to make elderflower syrup, but think I now have to accept that the browned mess on the side has gone to