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Richard Walker

Denys Watkins-Pitchford's Motto

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When I was very young, I have been told, I was sick down the back of Denys Watkins-Pitchford, a friend of my father. Watkins-Pitchford was an artist and an author of children's books, writing as 'BB' but illustrating them under his true name. His books are less well-known now, but perhaps worth a revival.

At the front of every book BB included his motto, which his father had recorded from a tombstone in the north country apparently.

The wonder of the world
The beauty and the power,
The shapes of things,
Their colours, lights and shades,
These I saw.
Look ye also while life lasts.
I had fogotten this but was reminded when our little book club picked 'A Midsummer Nights Dream' for the next read, and that got me thinking about fairies and then other beings from folklore. I was reminded of 'The Little Grey Men', a story about the last four gnomes in Britain. Then, 70 years ago, we were susceptible to the sadness of this fact, and we'd heard of the fate of the Dodo, but we didn't really register how many non-fantasy species we will probably end up driving to extinction.

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