Back in 2014 my third book was published. Hedgehog – part of the Reaktion series of monographs examining the iconography of different animal groups is, in my humble estimation, rather fun – and it allowed me to uncover facets of the hedgehog I had not even imagined were possible … so strange were some of them that they ended up forming the basis for my show at the Brighton Fringe last year … very much an adult only event that one. Who would have thought that researching this charismatic animal would so swiftly lead one into the seedy world of very odd pornography … let me introduce you to ‘The Hedgehog’ … aka Ron Jeremy:

ron-jeremy-covers-wrecking-ball-music-video
It was an innocent mistake – I was trying to find some research on penis length in the hedgehog … take my warning, do not google that question. Though his re-imagining of the Mylie Cyrus song ‘Wrecking Ball‘ is something that is worth a watch … if you have a strong stomach (and are tone-deaf).

The reason for this post is, that despite years delving into the many worlds of the hedgehog, I am still being surprised by new versions of the stories that accompany the animal. Yesterday I followed a link to an animation from North Korea that tells the story of a plucky hedgehog (North Korea) seeing off an offensive tiger (USA) – not being able to understand what was said, I have probably missed some nuance, but it is well worth a watch just to see how the hedgehog can be used to portray pretty much anything – from porn stars to dictatorships!

Please let me know if you come across any more peculiar hedgehog stories – thanks.

I am currently writing another hedgehog book, while I wait for the revision for Beauty in the Beast to appear. This time I am doing it for love – I am pretty much paying the publishers for the pleasure. But I love the series it will be part of from Reaktion Books and really could not contend with anyone else writing it! It is far more about the iconography of the hedgehog and the way we relate to it – and not about my personal ramblings … though hopefully it will not be without humour. And today, after hitting a low in discovering that my ‘A Prickly Affair’ contains a mistake (I suggested that Nungunungu was Swahili for hedgehog when in fact it means porcupine – and the real word is Kalunguyeye) I found this amazing website – The Cursing Hedgehog – from Finland. I have written to the artist, Milla Paloniemi, for permission to use images in the book – these two in particular:


I am finding it fascinating how the hedgehog takes on so many different characters around the world – which is good news for the book!

I had promised a posting about opera – but first the news … for those of you who enjoyed A Prickly Affair (or The Hedgehogs Dilemma as it is in the USA) and would like to hear more from me, 2012 promises to be a good year; as long as the planet still exists … I am not so sure about this Mayan prophecy … so their calendar ran out in 2012 … perhaps this is more to do with running out of paper and ink?

And if there was to be an ‘end of times’, I am sure that there would have been some mutterings in the hedgerows. You don’t get much more planetary-connected than a hedgehog, and I have heard not a whisper … and I would be horrified to think that they would keep something of this scale from me. Though what I am to do about it, I do not know.

Perhaps follow the hordes to Bugarach in southwest France? According to the Telegraph (and many others) this has been identified as the one place on earth that will survive the apocalypse thanks to it being the parking place for the extraterrestrials who are using a cavity beneath the mountain as a saucer-park. Strange to think that Bugarach actually translates as ‘stupid-buggers’ in Alpha Centuarian … maybe there is something in it all …

But, the good news is that even if the world does end on the 21st December 2012, there will have been time for BOTH my new books to emerge into the world. And I will be saved the agonising over sales figures – so bring it on …

Both … you noticed? I am in the middle of the second – Beauty in the Beast – and loving the process of writing (if a little daunted by the May deadline … diminution of blog output will be caused by this I fear). I have been forced to meet some fascinating people and get them to try and seduce me (away from hedgehogs, you understand) – the serious narrative though is the quest for a tattoo on my right leg … what species? I have found a pretty good contender …

Back to the ‘both’… I have been asked to write the Hedgehog contribution to Reaktion Books Animal series. The series is amazingly varied – Bees, Camals, Cockroaches, Ducks … Tigers, Tortoise and Whales. It is not so much a natural history of each species or group of species, but an un-natural history with diversions into the iconography and lexicography, literature and poetry.

I have to get that finished by the beginning of November 2011 … so no pressure then.

And here is a taster … operas featuring a hedgehog? How many can you think of? I was lucky enough to meet the composer Peter Ash over dinner who told me about his friend Donald Sturrock had written the libretto for Tobias Picker’s opera, Fantastic Mr Fox. Peter started to wax lyrical over the closing aria by Miss Hedgehog – he even broke into song.

But then the bombshell … oh, here are the words, see if you can spot the slight problem with this beautiful romance:

“MISS HEDGEHOG Is this the one…

PORCUPINE ..that I’ve waited for?

MISS HEDGEHOG I feel a tingling…

PORCUPINE ..I never felt before.

MISS HEDGEHOG Could it be him?

PORCUPINE Could it be her?

MISS HEDGEHOG I feel excited.

PORCUPINE I feel insecure.

MISS HEDGEHOG He’s spiny handsome!

PORCUPINE She’s prickly bliss!

MISS HEDGEHOG His eyes are sparkling.

PORCUPINE She’s too good to miss.

MISS HEDGEHOG Can it be true?

PORCUPINE Things are moving fast.

MISS HEDGEHOG Is it me and you?

PORCUPINE This is love at last.

TOGETHER Hand in hand, foot in foot, over leaf, over stone We will wander together, sleep never alone – Though our quills may go grey and our prickles fall out, We will grow old together, always snout to snout!”

As we all know (and Donald now knows) hedgehogs are insectivores, porcupines are rodents … and they are very very unlikely to become romantically involved.

I hope that one day they will put the opera back on – in the meantime, here are some photos from the production – featuring designs by Gerald Scarfe.