I met a shipwrecked sailor there, sitting on the rocks…
I left the noise of the funfair,
And found a wild beach,
Where the only sounds were the wind and waves,
And the seagull’s lonely screech.
I met a shipwrecked sailor there,
Sitting on the rocks,
He introduced me to his crew;
A toucan and an old sheepdog…
I first published this illustrated poem in 2008. I have recently re-printed it with improvements- higher quality paper, richer print quality and some slight changes to the illustrations and text.
It all began when I had a picnic on the wild Beach to the east of Hastings, beyond where the tourists go. You have to scramble over huge rocks to get to this beach. It is a magical, desolate place where the strangest drift can sometimes be found. The boy in the story finds the strangest drift of all: a shipwrecked sailor with his broken boat and crew- “a toucan and an old sheepdog”.
The poem-story follows the boy as he sails off with the shipwrecked sailor and his crew to “the enchanted misty place where the horizon meets the sky”. The illustrations mix photos of Hastings with my drawings. Here’s some details from the book:
I visited a school in Brighton who were doing a project on the book. One of the children asked if I could do a recording of it to help her sleep! Here it is:
The language and rhythm of the poem was inspired by the verse of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll. Poems like ‘The Owl and The Pussy Cat’ are strange and nonsensical but have a wistful surrealism that feels very true. I’m going for something similar in this book!