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more missing going on

Sorry, I haven't meant to make these last two posts sound miserable, it's not all like that. But yesterday I was missing my sister, and today the very young neighbour girl came over on her first day back from visiting her mum in Nigeria, while her dad had to rush back to Nigeria because his mother had died. She held it together very well, helping me make apple-pear-raspberry crumble, making tracings on my light box and digging up my how-to-make paper airplanes book while I got on with some work. I often forget how young she is because she's so self-assured and perky. But after dinner, her mum rang again on her mobile and she collapsed into hard-core grieving and we had a long cuddle while Stuart and the aunties had crumble. Then I just didn't know what to do, but I spotted a Holly Hobbie book called Toot & Puddle next to the sofa and, wow, Holly Hobbie, I totally love you now. That book was just what we needed.

The book's about two little piglet friends who live together, and one goes overseas to explore the wide world, while the other stays at home but does lots of exploring there. Each page has a postcard from Toot to Puddle, saying how much fun he's having but also how much he loves and is thinking about his good friend; and we get to see Toot's wild globe-trotting adventures on the left-hand page and Puddle's exciting but much more North-American looking exploits on the right. At the end, they come back together and go to sleep in beds side by side in a warm pool of lamplight.

Okay, a little background on Holly Hobbie. I really liked her when I was little, but her signature girl in a bonnet and gingham didn't age very well and I wrote off her work as being a bit naff. But she seems to have reinvented herself with these Toot & Puddle books and her watercolour work is atmospheric and technically amazing. I saw the Toot & Puddle website and it looks a bit like they've had the Disney-style Winnie-the-Pooh treatment, but the two books I have - Toot & Puddle and Toot & Puddle: I'll be Home for Christmas - look simply gorgeous. Hobbie has remarkable skill at painting light and knowing just how to use warm and cool colours to create cosiness without being heavy handed. Her images are not, perhaps, something that's going to make swish London designer types go nuts, but then again, as much as I admire the work of someone like, say, Sara Fanelli, hers wasn't the kind of book we needed just then. Hooray for Toot and Puddle.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 11th, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC)
These ar the same neighbours whom you drove to the hospital the other day ? You're basically becoming part of the family ?
Jan. 12th, 2009 12:15 am (UTC)
No, much more exciting, we went in an ambulance! (I don't drive in Britain, it's one of the things I love about it here! I practically had to live out of my car in Seattle.)

But yes, it's the same people. We live in a block of flats where we're lucky enough to have several great neighbours. You can't really ignore people who live ten feet away and when you can always smell what each other is cooking. And I think there's something about living in a city and so many of us being immigrants, you sort of look out for each other. It was the same when I lived in Moscow, you wouldn't believe how well I was looked after - almost to fairytale proportions - by other expats, from lots of different countries. Even just when I've been in trouble in other countries, other foreigners have helped me out; like the time I was stranded at the Russian consulate in Antwerp with an expired credit card, not enough money for my Russian visa, and had to get back to Amsterdam to catch my non-refundable Aeroflot flight back to Moscow or lose my job.I'm going to make a comic about that someday, it was an adventure and a half, full of very kind foreigners (and a few kind local Dutch and Belgian people as well).

I remember reading some sort of book that mentioned this in high school (possibly 'The Jungle' by Upton Sinclair? I can't remember.) I didn't understand the way that immigrants stand by each other but I've come to appreciate it so much that it would be hard going back to living as a non-immigrant. Even the tower block in my comic, Vern & Lettuce, is based on a block of flats where a Greek friend from Moscow moved with her Russian husband after leaving Moscow, where she was working with Sudanese refugees.

What about at your hostel? You must have travellers striking up great friendships there all the time. I've met some amazing people the times I've stayed by myself in youth hostels, some great memories.
Jan. 12th, 2009 07:58 am (UTC)
Great friendships ? Sometimes yes. Most of the times it's just casual encounters and discussions, which is already great. I mean the purpose of youth hostel is to allow (mostly) young people from every horizons to meet each others.

I've learned a great deal about Egypt and Chile from an egyptian guy and a chilean girl with whom I spend half the night chatting in a hostel in Budapest...

Every time I wonder if I should keep doing this crazy job, working those crazy hourss, I think to all these people from all over the world who meet here and get to know how other people see the world I think "yeah, it's still worth it"
Jan. 12th, 2009 12:09 am (UTC)
Oh, I love the play of light and shadow and cool and warm colors in the Toot & Puddle books and was appalled when I saw how they Disney-ed them on the website. Toot & Puddles' Charming Opal is one you should definitely check out.
Jan. 12th, 2009 12:16 am (UTC)
Awesome, thanks for that, I'll look it up!
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Jan. 12th, 2009 07:15 am (UTC)
Hi, there! No, I'll never say 'permanently', because I never know which circumstances life will throw up. But I've been living in London for ten years, which is by far the longest stretch I've lived anywhere since I was 17. Pseudo-immigration is fun, too. :-)
Jan. 13th, 2009 12:30 pm (UTC)
Wait, wait, wait... You've been in England for 10 years ?

And you've never managed to see a single hedgehog ? Badgers, I can understand. They're pretty shy... Have you stayed in London this whole time ? Never been to the countryside ?
Jan. 13th, 2009 12:37 pm (UTC)
No, I lived deep in the countyside in Lancashire for nearly a year and I only ever saw hedgehogs squished on the road, no live ones. I really was looking, honest! I think I have very bad hedgehog luck or something.
Jan. 12th, 2009 10:09 am (UTC)
What a lovely story!
Jan. 13th, 2009 12:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
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Jan. 13th, 2009 12:39 pm (UTC)
I agree, books are amazing that way.
Jan. 13th, 2009 11:01 am (UTC)
Those books look incredibly comforting.

Love and long-distance cuddles for your wee neighbor.
Jan. 13th, 2009 12:39 pm (UTC)
Yes, they are such cosy books. :-) Neighbour seems to be doing okay, yesterday we had a mad session in the stairwell with paper airplanes.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )