Sunday, September 28, 2008


An Audience With Whimsy

A friend visited our home for the first time a while back and wandered through every room before turning to me and saying, “You know what I like best about your house? I can tell that real people live here. Real eccentric people.” I had to laugh. Not only was his statement meant good-naturedly, it was rather refreshing in its honesty. And it was also quite true. Yes, that’s a life size wooden rocking horse in the bedroom.... yes, you do see a collection of witches’ hats in my office .... on that table by the window? yes, that is indeed a tiny, perfectly formed dress-wearing china pig sitting inside an architectural model of a Victorian gazebo holding a spyglass to her eye.... and those antique velvet shoes with the turned-up toes and feather trim resting on that stack of art books? Well, they could be part of an early theatrical children’s costume, or they just might have belonged to a forest
wood nymph....who knows for certain?

Through all the seriousness of life, one thing I have happily carried along with me from childhood is a love of, and charmed devotion to, whimsy. When one enters the star-strewn hallways of the imagination, that soft laughter one hears coming from one of the more colourful corridors to the left, is whimsy. Whimsy is the unseen velvet clad fellow who visited J0 Rowling on the Manchester train one evening to whisper in her ear about a certain school called Hogwarts.... his is the voice art decorators heard when they designed the sets for the movie Nanny McPhee. P.L Travers politely asked Mary Poppins to jump into a pavement
painting at his suggestion, and it was he who informed J.M. Barrie that the best way to Neverland was out the window. Oh, his influence has been, and continues to be, phenomenal. The lake-diving pig in the Michael Sowa painting, that sweet, timid lion trying to get through Oz, the muffler-clad faun leaning against the lamp post in a land called Narnia, a trespassing rabbit named Peter. All created by adults following a well-timed audience with whimsy.

While allowing him autonomy of one’s imagination is never recommended, I have heard that he behaves most poorly when kept locked up for too long. Indeed, if unfairly treated or worse, ignored, he has been known to vacate the premises entirely, which is just about the saddest thing conceivable. Let him loose occasionally. Seek his counsel every now and then. Let him choose a book he’d like to read, or a movie he might enjoy, perhaps even a scarf to wear on a blustery day. He’ll be full of ideas.

And lucky for me, one of his favorite holidays, Halloween, is almost upon us, and I do need to seek his advice on which of those good witches’ hats to don this year.

41 comments:

  1. We have a four foot inflated Emperor Penguin named George (after George Smiley - because he often is unaccountably not noticed in our tiny apartments.)

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  2. The world could not whirl without whimsy.

    Well done Pamela.

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  3. I love your posts so much. They make me feel like i can be that small child again, the one with the incredible imagination, the one who believes in fairies, who knows she has friends that most people can't see. She's in there somewhere, i just have to let her come out to play.
    Thank you for making me see that it's ok to just be myself and that it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks as long as i'm happy.
    I need to go and release my inner child :-)

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  4. Imagination is a wonderful thing. Where would we be without it? In the stone age, no doubt! I love children's books and whimsical traditons. Perhaps that is why Fall is so appealing. It is the start of the seasons of magic!

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  5. I feel a little sorry for anyone that doesn't let whimsy into their life. :(
    They don't know what they are missing! :)
    Hope your day is filled with whimsical wonder!

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  6. Congratulations on a post thats reaffirming. You're a delight!

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  7. Whimsy thrives in my head and in my home also. I love this post.

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  8. Hi, Nice to meet you thank you for stopping by my blog....I do love your post on Whimsy! We all need a bit of whimsy in our lives and I seem to get more of it at this time of the year...

    Priscilla x

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  9. This was a beautiful post. Pop over and visit this post of mine http://3yrplan.typepad.com/soeursdujour/2008/06/whimsy.html
    I saved the bottle because I loved the label so much.

    Cheers!

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  10. As usual, beautifully written and so very true. Your writing is so lyrical, I could read it for hours :)

    Whimsy has been popping in to visit our household lately, but my daughter often invites him in more than she should ;) Still, it's where a lot of my inspiration comes from.

    Kim x

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  11. I-magination takes many forms and whimsy is just one.Thank you for reminding me of a word whose real meaning I had not given much thought to before.

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  12. I love your blog more each time I visit...sigh....

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  13. Whimsy, such a lovely word. I had only thought of it in terms of those little china figures people used to collect. A truly inspiring post, Pamela.

    Love from Buster
    xx

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  14. Whimsey is what make me collect pop up books and music boxes, rubberstamps, sea glass and pretty postage stamps! It's good to keep a sense of wonder about about little things.

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  15. Pamela, I love the charm of whimsy.. It takes me away and I feel lighter..

    The life of J.M.Barrie was rather a soulful one and from that rather sad life he brought much happiness to the world...

    You are such a fine story-teller.. Thank-you!!

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  16. I adore whimsy. I insist on their being a little whimsy throughout the rooms of my house. Of course, the Bebbers is also a bountiful source, he's a very whimsical dog, with his crooked bottom teeth and fluffy expressions!

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  17. Another wonderfully inspiring post! I think Mr Whimsy visits our place too!
    ~Kalianne

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  18. Your description made me smile, good old Whimsy!

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  19. Hi Pamela! Shall read your blog later but have had to come to your site to say "How astute of you" - you say our beck reminds you of "Wind in the Willows" - well Kenneth Grahame, the author, stayed at Constable Burton Hall, a mile down stream from my photograph, and it is said he first got the idea for the book while staying there. The actual story is thought to be influenced by Mapledurham on the Thames, but the original idea could well have come from our beck.

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  20. Whimsy is such a sweet force; especially after reading this, it seems like the world be just a bit happier if everyone indulged him when he came to visit.

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  21. Cheers to capricious days and whimsical carefree imaginations that need tending to by each of us.

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  22. Morning! I so like how you have described a few of my fav things. Nanny Mc Fee- the colours were so wonderful, the ability to fly, what if you could jump straight into a picture? It;'s the same spirit which made people build follies just so they could look out or live in somewhere a little less ordinary. In Faringdon Oxfordshire UK is a folly tower I grew up knowing. I'd make up stories about it. Whimsy like the imagination of childhood is vital in every society.

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  23. I LOVE this post! Whimsy is one of my best pals! And what a gorgeous illustration!

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  24. Like some others have commented, whimsical is a superb word.IMO, the most interesting and welcoming homes are certainly those with whimsical elements that truly reflect the people (and animals of course) who live there. A home should always have a feel of being lived in, IMO..I have no doubt that you would have a welcoming home, Pamela...Have you noticed that most dog owners( or pet owners in general) seem to have homes that make you feel welcome?...

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  25. I'm so glad you stopped by my blog. Thinking here (when reading your thoughts on whimsy) that I've found a new favourite. I look forward to reading further as soon as time permits...

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  26. oh, such a nice post. it brought back some wonderful memories of wonderful whimsical characters! i, too love whimsy!

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  27. Loved this post- I would love your house! I think the most whimsical thing I ever did was to put a chandeleer in the outside loo. I'll have to end you the link for the Shedblog site- now that IS whimsical...........

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  28. Oh what an inspiring post Pamela! Thank you! You have made me realise that even though Whimsy has an open invitation and a definite presence in our home I have been taking him for granted lately. Thanks for the reminder!

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  29. Great post on all things whimsy!

    "it was rather refreshing in its honesty"--I tend ot be that way. Too honest at times in my aesthetic opinions no one ever asks for! LOL.

    ...Love the pic, btw.

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  30. Wonderful post, made me smile on such a grey day - a day for a little whimsy, perhaps? :)

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  31. I really enjoy your magic blod and love your choices of art work.
    Was it Casper David Freidricj some 3 days/posts ago?
    I've been in England and am a bit out of the loop and will catch up with you soon.
    All best wishes

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  32. Your home sounds like a wonderful place to visit! So often people lose the best parts of childhood...like whimsy...imagination...just having fun.

    Inspiring post!

    Gillian

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  33. Pamela, your sense of whimsey is exactly what makes this blog so much fun. I love your description of your home and the delight you take in your friend's honesty. Not everyone can look in the mirror and appreciate the beauty of a fun-house reflection.

    Hey, tell Edward that Stella and I wrote a special post for him this week, Dog Beaches and Dogged Beginnings. Stella says woof. If only I could train her to type....

    I love the photo below of the Cumbria - I have to go there one day. Is that you in the photo?

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  34. I have a giant-sized stuffed Tiger in the spare bedroom. His name is Richard Parker.
    I also have a black and white asian-style cat cookie-jar, and plastic butterflies stuck to my windows to prevent the birds from hitting them.
    I have two wooden ducks complete with button-down vests standing next to the fireplace (their names are Colin and Justin) and we have a very large, flat, stuffed black and white cat lying in front of the gas-stove. We call it the "faux-Daisy" since it looks just like out little feline, Daisy.

    Whimsy does live here!

    Lovely post, Pamela.

    By the way, I am agog at your gorgeous feather gown for the Willow's ball! (I spent some time with Edward talking about poetic forms and it was quite rewarding).

    Kat

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  35. Pamela, once you can drag your head off thet down pillow, mind you don't step on the crown!, fancy keeping Edward out till all hours of the morning, just as well he took a liking to Richard...
    Anyway, when you do finally get up, pop over to my blog, there's a little something awaiting your pleasure there..no hurry, of course you can take an aspirin or two.. a Ball like that, par for the course.

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  36. Nice to see that there are still a few unusual people around! Makes life less boring and predictable. I loved the post and can identify with it totally as I function on the same wavelength.

    Greetings from London.

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  37. What would we do without whimsy....and I like quirky too. Lovely post, Pamela.

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  38. I had to chuckle while reading this. Through the years my kids have said to me, "you're weird," to which I quickly respond, "thank you." To me, that is a good thing. Sounds like you were given a more sophisticated version of the very same compliment.

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I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!