I’m not much of an artist, and usually I’m not much interested in things I can’t really do, but over the last few years I have begun to develop an appreciation for drawings. For sketches and cartoons. Especially, it must be said, for political cartoons. One of my favourite cartoonists is the late David Low.
I picked up The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse by Charlie Mackesy more out of curiosity than anything else. And because of the beautiful cover. Not that I judge books by their covers. But it is beautiful. And so is the story.
This is not really a story, though it has a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s more a series of sketches and watercolours with connecting handwritten captions. It’s the sort of book you can pick up and open, anywhere, and begin to read, whether it’s the first time you’ve read it or the eightieth. And it’s suitable for readers of all ages, as well.
It is a beautiful book, to look at and to read. I particularly love the mole, who seems to have something of a one-track mind regarding cake. The mole’s philosophy, you see, is simple: “If at first you don’t succeed, have some cake”, which he says works every time. A simple, but effective philosophy. It’s full of all sorts of cheery advice like that.
Turns out, Mackesy was The Spectator’s cartoonist for a while. And he didn’t go to Art School.