Friday, December 16, 2016

Drinking Blackberry Tea With Toby Twirl And Friends

I received a Christmas card from my brother yesterday. This is an event worthy of note in that I have never received a Christmas card from him before. Indeed, in the email accompanying the card (if truth be told it was a digital card), he freely confesses that this is the first Christmas card he has ever sent to anyone in all of his 74 years! He went on to consider the wisdom of sending me a card featuring one of his paintings, but given that his work usually features the naked human body (you can get an idea by visiting his blog), he decided on a rather decorative book cover for the card.

As soon as I saw it, childhood memories were released like corks out of a bottle of vintage champagne. I had this book when I was a child and in the intervening six hundred years I had forgotten all about Toby Twirl (think of him as the poor man's Rupert Bear) and his pals Ely the Elephant and Pete the Penguin. I was just thinking to myself of his serendipitous discovery of an image of a book that I used to own, when I noticed a second image of the inside page.

Quite clearly, the book had been purloined and re-assigned to Trina, one of his lovely daughters. But this is Christmas, and I forgive everyone their sins (although I might make a few exceptions in the political sphere). The stories were always written in rhyming couplets and my brother tells me that he has added one to the final page.

“Oh yes!” said Uncle Ali, and hugged her hard.
“Well, come along,” said she.
“It’s getting late, so let’s go home
And have a blackberry tea.”

This seems a most appropriate addition to the text. Happy Christmas to all my family in Dominica, the Virgin Islands, and the UK.


  1. Oh, old childhood books do conjure up so many memories, don't they! :)

  2. It is eerie when you read a book you knew well and loved as a child. You know what is coming next, because it is so amazingly familiar, yet you couldn't predict what it is going to be, because you've forgotten it! :) Toby Twirl is lovely.

  3. Wonderful book and card! Happy Christmas and New Year to you, Isobel and Alexander and your family.

  4. And who said , "Christmas is for kids?" Have a Happy Christmas.

  5. That sure is a blast from the past. Happy memories for Christmas.

  6. Happy Christmas!
    Some of my Beatrix Potter books say "to darling Georgina with love from Granny & Grandpa" and then in rather staggering blue crayon "Neil Neil Neil Neil Neil". I guess that's what brothers are for.

  7. Merry Christmas! Great story.


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