A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Hooptedoodle #106 – Charles Folkard (1878-1963)

I’m sorting out my office/den. Since there are now two desktop computers in here, it follows that there are also two desks and, since the books and CDs keep arriving from somewhere or other, a serious outbreak of re-organising is now under way.

A new bookcase is on order, and I managed to bring myself to throw out an old, though working, hi-fi system (ouch!), and shifted a few things around, and suddenly there is space for everything. Two notes, in passing:

(1) I have realised that lying-down A4 box files – such as one might keep soldiers in – fit beautifully, two abreast, in an 80cm-wide IKEA Billy bookcase. Good. Excellent, in fact.

(2) My hi-fi was a decent collection of kit for its day, but its day was long ago, and its main attribute was that it was BIG. Enormous, matt black, separate components – mostly full of dust now – I believe that the unnecessary size was intentional. In those days, big stereo kit was impressive. Maybe small has become the new big, I don’t know, but among those units was the first CD player I ever bought. I was late on the scene with CDs – I’d already collected a mountain of vinyl LPs, the cassettes were starting to pile up, and I didn’t wish to commit to yet another technology switch until it looked as though it might last. The thing that settled the matter, I remember, was that John Scofield brought out a new album called Flat Out, and the title track was only on the CD, for goodness sake. I was so annoyed I just bought the CD – that’ll teach them, I thought – and then, of course, I had to buy a player to go with it. I bought a Kenwood unit – this was back in 1985. All these years later, after I have spent an amount I would rather not think about on optical media, and after a steady stream of broken and worn-out CD players has moved on to the landfill site, that 1985 Kenwood was still going perfectly when I ditched it on Sunday.

Anyway, it’s gone now. No doubt someone will rescue it from the town dump – I hope so.

I’ve been looking at how my books may be arranged once the new bookcase arrives, and I kept getting distracted, finding books I forgot I had, or hadn’t seen for a while. One such is The Land of Nursery Rhyme, which doesn’t sound very promising, but I retrieved it from my mum’s house recently, and the handwritten dedication in the front tells me that my Auntie Monica gave it to me on my first birthday.

As these things go, it is pretty much what you’d expect – the rhymes are nothing extraordinary, complete with the political insensitivity which you would expect, but it is charmingly illustrated throughout by Charles Folkard. Wow – stop right there. I opened the book and was transfixed – some of these illustrations are hard-wired in as some of the earliest recollections I must have. I can remember every picture in that book, though until recently I hadn’t seen it since infancy. The standard forms of elves and medieval kings in my imagination mostly come right out of Folkard - that's quite a legacy when your imagination is as off-beat as mine.

The end-papers show a simple little map which I used to gaze at for hours when I was little. I loved the river running past the villages and into the sea, the windmill on the hill, the whole idea that places fitted together into some kind of a whole. Never mind that the map was of The Land of Nursery Rhyme – it was the concept. I have always loved maps – I used to draw maps of imagined countries when I was 10 – maybe that book got me started. I love to see places from the air – as a toddler I imagined what it would be like to fly like a bird and see the world laid out beneath me. Right through life, I’ve always had a strange fondness for the idea of villages snuggled into valleys in rounded hills – when the radio tells me that it is raining all over Scotland tonight, I have a vision of little communities sheltering in a landscape very much like the work of Mr Folkard, bless him.

Anyway, it’s an image which once intrigued me, and which is still there somewhere in the wiring.


  1. A beautiful map. Thank you. He really had a lovely clean line.