Today I’ve been reading the Brothers Grimm because it’s David Hockney’s 83rd birthday. Obviously.
I inherited my love of Hockney from my mother as most of the prints we had on the walls when I was a child were his. And then when I worked in Leeds, escaping to Saltaire was one of my most favourite things. And then when I went to college, I got to study his photography. And then, of course, I’ve called all of my cats Little Boodge, despite none of them being dachshunds.
But incredibly, what I hadn’t known about Hockney was that he made a whole series of work based on six of the fairy tales of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm; Old Rink Rank, The Little Sea Hare, Rapunzel, Fundevogel, Rumpelstiltzhen, and The Boy Who Left Home to Learn Fear.
And more incredibly, I’d been staring at one of those prints (not the original!) hanging in my mum’s house for at least the last 35 years. Home turned out to be the first plate to illustrate The Boy Who Left Home To Learn Fear. So with all that synergy flying about, I thought I’d read that.
I haven’t read the Grimms for years. They’re not my most favourite of fairytale tellers, I’m more of a Joan Aiken/Jan Pieńkowski, William Goldman, Herman Hesse kind of reader. But the story bounced along quite happily with a protagonist who wants to understand what shuddering is all about, so consequently encounters a spooky curate, some burning corpses, a frisky bed, some black cats, and a man with his beard cleaved in twain by an axe, plus the obligatory chattel bride. I had thought it was going to end like the episode of The Storyteller, Fearnot, but it was *spoiler alert* the fish what did for him in the end, not love. Although I’m sure there’s a euphemism in there somewhere.
Just when I thought I couldn’t love Hockney more, he goes and does this (albeit before I was born). I’m off to marvel again at his etchings, they really are quite beautiful. Even the crones.
Barometer Watch – the green water is almost at 12 despite it being a very drab day, no change with the balloon jar.