A Tour Around My Study

My ‘study’ is not just a room in my home, but also an extension of my ‘thinking space’, in other words, what’s going on in my cluttered, un-organised mind! Whether on holiday, in bed or travelling on a bus, in the garden or supermarket, people, animals and happenings stir my imagination, sparking off ideas. But remembering these great ideas would be impossible, if it wasn’t for my regiment of dog eared notebooks filled with doodles and daydreams. But oh, what a time waster I am! For I’m often left wondering: ‘Help! Whatever was that great idea I had last week? And which one of my notebooks did I write it down in?’marias-study

The actual place where I write and illustrate my stories is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a vast, well-equipped, book lined studio with windows that flood the room with natural light by which to paint – I wish! Maybe that will come when I’m rich and famous! No, but I do have my own cosy little cupboard in which to work. Well, not quite a cupboard; measuring just 5’3”x 6’5” (for oldies like me) and 1m 6cm x 1m 96cm (for my younger readers) it contains everything I need.

In the centre, a swivel chair, with cushion, gives me the freedom to swivel and reach all corners of my little empire. In front of me is the window with curtains drawn, as the computer screen stands in front of it. To front and both sides, a work top runs round with shelves and drawers under and more shelves and cork notice board above. To my rear is a narrow, floor to ceiling cupboard, housing among other things, my art stuff, old photo albums, empty picture frames, a stack of odd bits of cardboard, a varied collection of envelopes, coloured copier paper, a bundle of used copier paper for re-use on the back, fancy writing pads, magnifying glasses and paper cutter, some tired, well chewed cat toys and a pair of walkie-talkies, left over from earlier camping days.

As I look around, to my left is the telephone and a document stand, a stack of printed notes and old emails and at least two of my precious notebooks. On top of the shelves to my right are six well labelled ring binders with information from all the departments at that are dealing with the publication of my book. (That’s one thing I do keep in strict order). Below are a dictionary, a Thesaurus, several well-thumbed computer reference books, CD’s, DVD’s , old photos, letters waiting for replies, sticky labels, jars of pens and pencils, scissors, glue, cellotape and a kitchen timer in the shape of a black and white cow I call Marcia Moo.

Marcia Moo is essential. I set her to one hour so I don’t overdo my working on the computer before resting my eyes and making a mug of tea. However the alarm at the end of the hour is so shrill, the shock of it sets my ears ringing and my heart racing! I tried hiding Marcia in the cupboard to muffle the sound but this worked too well. A couple of hours later, with eyes dry and out on storks from staring at the silver screen, I dragged my mind back to reality only to find the alarm had gone off over an hour ago.

When working in my study I am rarely alone. Bambi, our very beautiful but shy Bengal Leopard cat, hides beneath my chair. With golden ears constantly on the alert, she is poised and ready to run should I suddenly move and begin to swivel. Whether curled on my lap, draped round my shoulders or acting as a furry screen cleaner or purring paper weight, Gracie, our Russian Blue, is my personal assistant. This little cat is my advisor on all things feline and the inspiration for Dame Pusska, the founder of the Pusska Moggyinsky Ballet Company.

My First Blog

Hi there! Welcome to my very first Blog.

Asked why I write, sketch and paint, my answer is: I simply must! It is part of me.
You see, I am a dreamer, and to put it rather grandly, my mind is filled to bursting with characters and stories desperate to emerge from the chrysalis of my wild imagination. Written words give life. By writing down my thoughts, putting words to paper, the wall of my filmy cocoon of dreams begins to tear. My characters, wriggling towards their great escape, bring me joy and satisfaction and the ability to share my dreams and imaginings with others.

I love to sketch and paint. Through these mediums, the scenes and characters of my imagination step out from the written words. Like photographs of the images dancing around inside my head, my pictures take on form and life for all to see. Held close in my heart are memories of the wonderful creatures that have shared my life. By writing about them and painting the characters they inspire, these creatures live again.

maria-gemmaAmong their number is springer spaniel, Lady Rolly, my very first dog. A gift for my seventh birthday, she was boot polish black, beautiful and vain. Lady Rolly liked nothing better than to be draped in satin and lace (old curtains) with a string of pearls adorning her long silky ears and a tiara of buttercups upon her small neat head. When dressed in all her finery, she would pose gracefully for her adoring fans. Laughing was forbidden, for this fine beauty commanded soft words with many ‘oohs and ahs’ of admiration. Because of her refined artistic taste, Lady Rolly was the inspiration for my character, Rolly Rembrandt, Scenic Designer of the Pusska Moggyinsky Ballet Company.
Funny, self-willed Goody, an orphaned black bird has yet to make her appearance in my stories. She was rescued, nursed and befriended by Gemma, the proud but gentle German shepherd dog who is the inspiration for Chief Inspector Gemma McBone, Head of Security and Conductor of the Moggyinsky Musical Ensemble.

Sweet natured Willamena, a tiny baby wallaby, left by hunters to die in her dead mother’s pouch, inspired the character of Cook and Canteen Manager, Willamena Wallaby. Peter Pan, my wilfully stubborn, part Exmoor pony, is waiting in the wings for a story of his own.

And how could I ever forget the cats (over the years, far too many to name and still counting). Independent and ‘stand offish’ they may marmite-berlioz-at-homebe, but behind those sly, calculatin
g looks, fussy appetites, swishing tails and rudely disdainful, retiring rear ends, they really do have so much love to give.

One of these felines (still with us I’m pleased to say), a sprightly though rather dribbly sixteen years of age black moggy, has asked if he may tell a little story about his own and his brother Berlioz’s young life. May I introduce to you, the real-life inspiration for the character of Marmie Moggyinsky, Director of the Pusska Moggyinsky Ballet Company?

Marmite Harris

After leaving our mother, our first home was a pretty pink cottage in the small village of Eye in Suffolk. One bright sunny morning, my brother Berlioz and I decided to take a stroll next door to meet our new neighbours.

Not finding anyone at home, we were about to go, when we noticed the kitchen window was open; a delicious cooked chicken had been left cooling on the windowsill. Thinking this was a present for us, we quickly pulled it down and dragged it back to our own garden where we ate as much as we could. Then, feeling rather full as well as greasy and dirty, we staggered back into our cottage.

Unfortunately, Ian our dad was horrified to see the state we were in. He gave us both a good telling off and a bath in warm soapy water in the kitchen sink. Ugh! But we both agreed afterwards, it had been well worth it! Mind you, what the neighbours thought about their disappearing dinner, we never did find out.