Gruff’s latest obsession is dinosaurs and the Ice Age. He particularly loves a show called ‘Andy’s Prehistoric Adventures’ and his favourite book is a dinosaur encyclopaedia he seems to expect me to read from the beginning (‘At first there was nothing…’) skimming through lichen, trilobites, ammonites, early fish, herbivores and theropods, mammoths and giant sloths, all the way to humanity (‘And we lost our fur and got cleverer and cleverer…’) As ever, though I’m getting slightly fatigued by the sheer intensity of his interest, he has made me look at the world in a different way, and think about deep time.
This weekend we even went to Charles Darwin’s house in Kent, where we could see his children’s’ animal toys and stair slide; peer at his beetle collection and diaries; potter to his greenhouse to see orchids and fly traps; admire photographs of his enormous beard. What a trip around the world he went on! Watching volcanoes, meeting tribes, eating ostrich dumplings and armadillo (like duck, apparently). I felt quietly jealous as rain lashed the windows. Afterwards I bought Gruff some fossilised Shark’s teeth to go with his new coprolite (a 38 million year old crocodile poo). And then on Sunday I got a mother’s day card featuring his favourite dinosaur, the hilariously faced Pegomastax.
I haven’t written any poems about prehistory yet, but perhaps something is evolving. I have Penelope Lively’s memoir ‘Ammonites and Leaping Fish’ in my handbag and have ordered Ruth Padel’s ‘Darwin: A Life in Poems’. And I’ve been thinking about dinosaur poems too, although there seem to be few good ones- Rebecca Perry’s ‘Dear Stegosaurus’ and Matthew Gregory’s ‘Young Pterodactyl’ and Danez Smith’s astonishing ‘Dinosaurs in the Hood‘ come to mind, but let me know if you think of any others…
And talking of the passing of time, my FINAL Ovid show is on in Manchester this Thursday! It’s part of a fantastic sounding evening as part of the Wonder Woman Festival called ‘Written in the Margins’ – there’s also a panel on female singer songwriters chaired by Stuart Maconie, and the fabulous Serafina Steer has made my Medea poem into a ‘Live Soap Opera Mini Drama’ with Natalie Sharp! Tickets only £3 !