Tag Archives: People

Is Julian Assange the New Pandora?

A strange thing happened when I successfully launched my picture book, Pandora, on Kickstarter  this year.

Kickstarter is a crowd-funding site, where people can pledge to support a project to allow the creator time and funds to complete it.

Flushed with success, I contacted all the people in the Cherished Supporters tier, asking them for posting details, etc. and also for the name to print on the Cherished Supporters Page of the book.

Can you imagine my surprise, when I came to lay out the artwork for the page, to find that one of the Cherished  Supporters was Julian Assange the founder of WikiLeaks!

I contacted the garbled, jumble of numbers and letters on the anonymous gmail address of the kickstarter supporter and asked – “Are you actually Julian Assange or a well-wisher?”

I felt that I should add a note of explanation to the book package I was about to send to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. There might be security issues, especially as the book was sealed in an envelope with a “Do Not Open!” sticker.

It was a special, signed, first-edition with all sorts of warning labels and seals to prevent anyone, but the most curious, from opening the book and finding out what happens.

An anonymous email came back approving idea, explaining that the supporter wanted to send the book to JS as a gift. No reason why. No suggestion of being a supporter or an opponent.

I sent the book to the Ecuadorian Embassy, in London, with a covering letter explaining what was in the package and why. I’ve not heard back from anyone at all and the book has not been returned. I’ve no idea how it was received. I’ve no idea why it was sent!

Since publication, and presenting the story to both children and adults, I’ve thought about the story of Pandora a lot, and children have helped me take a sideways look at it too.

I’ve removed the Eve story, the creation of woman as the cause of all evil in the world. That just has no place in the world today. The story is left with the themes of insatiable curiosity, disobedience and just plain minding your own business.

I agonised over wether I should be telling young children to always do as they are told. For a five year old, that’s generally very good advice. But there are times when it’s not just good, but right to shout out loud about something that is wrong.

But age and curiosity should breed wisdom too, a sense of knowing when to keep quiet – to mind your own business. Or knowing when to lift the lid of the box and release the powers that you may never have imagined possible.

The story of Pandora is a warning: Be careful what you ask for, be careful what you seek! If you are completely minded to go ahead and unleash something you don’t quite understand, be prepared for all the unintended consequences. Your brain is not big enough to compute the potential good or bad that you might set free into the world nor that which might come back to haunt you.

The children I’ve read this to have taught me that the world must have been a very boring place before Pandora opened the box. All the bad things the world had never know before act as mirrors to all the good things. Yin and Yang. Counterbalances. Without one, the other means little.

Pandora also released hope into the world – but, unknowingly, she also released the powerful and destructive force of creativity that formed the world we live in today.

How does that relate to Julian Assange? I’m not sure. It’s a long game that history will eventually decide upon. Maybe he too will become a myth – Mandora?

You can buy signed copies of Pandora here.

Or get them from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2S81IiL

Visit to Rudyard Kipling’s House – Batemans

On wednesday, followinging on from yesterday’s blog, I visited Batemans, a National Trust property in Kent that was once the home of the Nobel Prize-winning writer, Rudyard Kipling – who wrote the Jungle book.

He also wrote the Just So Stories. I loved those stories so much as a child, that I ended up re-writing them to make them easier for children of today to understand.

It was a wonderful job. I could feel Kipling breathing down my neck, checking that I was doing the right thing by his masterpiece.

I removed a lot of high Victorian language and whimsy, revealing fresh, modern writing underneath. I also had to rewrite some bits which have become politically incorrect over the years, since the British Empire waned.

Kipling is often criticised these days for the attitudes expressed in some of his writing, but I honestly don’t think Kipling was racist, especially for the time he lived in. He always wrote warmly of India and it’s peoples, but there are one or two words and attitudes, that were acceptable at the time, that I had to “smooth out” for today’s sensibilities.

The Just So Stories are written for and addressed to “My Best-Beloved”. This was Kipling’s daughter, Josephine. She died of pneumonia when she was six. Kipling had pneumonia at the same time. They didn’t tell him for six weeks, until he was strong enough to hear the awful news.

That story has always affected me. Finding myself in front of things that belonged to Josephine caught me quite by surprise – a very emotional moment.

find out more about Batemans here: 

More about Oast Houses used for drying hops which give flavour to beer – and are grown all over Kent.

School Visit to Dover

I’ve been down to Dover this week, to visit Whitfield Aspen Primary School. It meant that I got to walk along the famous White cliffs of Dover. There were no Bluebirds because we don’t have Bluebirds in Britain!

Dover is the main port to France, where the Channel Tunnel goes underground and where ferries ply back and forth with trucks, cars and passnegers.

The next video tomorrow will be about my journey home where I stopped off to visit the house of the Jungle Book author, Rudyard Kipling. See it here